Acton Institute Powerblog

Intellectual Honesty Overcomes Radical Agendas

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An apocryphal quote often (incorrectly it seems) attributed to John Maynard Keynes goes something like, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Eliot Ness, as portrayed by Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, answers a reporter’s question about the lawman’s plans once Prohibition is repealed: “I think I’ll have a drink.”

The point of these quotations, though fictional, is to draw attention to the virtue of intellectual honesty.  For real-world, verifiable intellectual honesty one can turn to a June 13, FrontPage essay by Arnold Ahlert. In it, Ahlert names leftist environmental activists who actually did change their minds in accordance with a deeper understanding of facts.

Unfortunately missing from Ahlert’s roll call are those religious and clergy affiliated with the Interfaith Council of Corporate Responsibility and other organizations that submit proxy shareholder resolutions for a variety of leftist environmental causes having nothing to do with verifiable science and everything to do with a radical, misinformed and secular view that has more to do with worshiping Mother Earth rather than God.

Those who do make Ahlert’s list include Mark Lynas – identified as “a leader in the movement against Genetically Modified (GM) crops” – who “apologized for demonizing ‘an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment,’” and Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who said that some of his former environmentalist friends “have abandoned science and logic altogether.” And this:

Lynas is also seeing the light in the energy arena. “Nobody can look you in the eye and say you shouldn’t be worried” about nuclear energy, he says in the new documentary “Pandora’s Promise.” Yet he, along with author Richard Rhodes, writer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Making of the Atomic Bomb”; Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog founder; and Michael Shellenberger, a man Time magazine labeled a “hero of the environment,” have decided nuclear power is an integral part of our energy future….

Right on, as we used to say back in our hippie activist days when protesting nuclear power plants seemed like a surefire way to meet Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen. But when the facts changed and The China Syndrome became a cinematic and scientific relic, so did our minds as well as our hearts – for many of us, anyway.

Those ICCR members issuing proxy resolutions against GMOs and energy derived from nuclear and fossil-fuel power plants, for example, could definitely benefit from a reboot of their faith as well as their knowledge of science and economics. They may not get to hang out with rock superstars, either, but they’ll certainly do more to benefit the world’s poor.

Read the remainder of Ahlert’s article here.

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.

Comments

  • Curt Day

    To me, the question when it comes to the environment is not whether someone I read or listen to is worshipping mother earth, it is whether they are helping me be a better steward of my portion of the earth. And the facts seem to point in a bad direction when we look at where our environment is going. And those who are opposed to changing our lifestyles and society to help the environment are doing so for business reasons.