Keep playing dirty: why bother if everyone else cheats?

A great letter in today’s Age on the price of inactivity. Australian sport is currently in crisis,  rocked by revelations of the wide scale use of performance enhancing drugs and the perverse influence of organised crime. Think the Lance Armstrong crisis, but engulfing three football codes. A letter in today’s Age draws a powerful analogy:

Keep playing dirty 

PEOPLE claim Australia is ”ahead of the game” in cleaning up sport. That doesn’t wash. One of the most successful arguments against taxing carbon is that we must not get ahead of the game. And just as all right-thinking Australians believe we should do nothing to make fossil fuels dearer for Australian businesses, so they will believe we should do nothing to make it harder for our athletes to get drugs and continue to win. 

We must insist that nothing be done to clean up sport in Australia that is not also being done in every other country. We must ensure that athletes from Fourth World countries that have never won so much as an Olympic bronze are not enabled to steal our gold medals because we have put our athletes in a politically correct straitjacket. 

What’s the use of cleaning up your economy or your sport while everyone else is playing dirty? If we can live with sitting on our hands and doing bugger-all to secure the future of life on Earth as we know it, surely we can cope with doing bugger-all to save sport in Australia as we know it. 

Colin Smith, St Kilda

Why do anything about climate – or any problem – if no one else is?

Let’s continue to play dirty, lets turn away from challenges.

In fact let’s do better – lets deny there is even a problem.

Crisis solved. Right?


Keep playing dirty.


37 thoughts on “Keep playing dirty: why bother if everyone else cheats?

  1. john byatt says:

    Those like tom foolery seek the middle ground

    Description of Middle Ground Fallacy

    This fallacy is committed when it is assumed that the middle position between two extremes must be correct simply because it is the middle position. this sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

    Position A and B are two extreme positions.
    C is a position that rests in the middle between A and B.
    Therefore C is the correct position.
    This line of “reasoning” is fallacious because it does not follow that a position is correct just because it lies in the middle of two extremes. This is shown by the following example. Suppose that a person is selling his computer. He wants to sell it for the current market value, which is $800 and someone offers him $1 for it. It would hardly follow that $400.50 is the proper price.

    This fallacy draws its power from the fact that a moderate or middle position is often the correct one. For example, a moderate amount of exercise is better than too much exercise or too little exercise. However, this is not simply because it lies in the middle ground between two extremes. It is because too much exercise is harmful and too little exercise is all but useless. The basic idea behind many cases in which moderation is correct is that the extremes are typically “too much” and “not enough” and the middle position is “enough.” In such cases the middle position is correct almost by definition.

    It should be kept in mind that while uncritically assuming that the middle position must be correct because it is the middle position is poor reasoning it does not follow that accepting a middle position is always fallacious. As was just mentioned, many times a moderate position is correct. However, the claim that the moderate or middle position is correct must be supported by legitimate reasoning.

  2. Stuart Mathieson says:

    All of the recent work on pro social and cooperative behaviour demonstrates being tough on defectors is absolutely required. If they get the upper hand not only are you and yours faced with inevitable ruin but the society as a whole is likely to be overwhelmed by more orderly competitors.

  3. john byatt says:

    from the RC model update

    “Given current near ENSO-neutral conditions, 2013 will almost certainly be a warmer year than 2012, so again another top 10 year. It is conceivable that it could be a record breaker (the Met Office has forecast that this is likely, as has John Nielsen-Gammon), but I am more wary, and predict that it is only likely to be a top 5 year (i.e. > 50% probability). I think a new record will have to wait for a true El Niño year – but note this is forecasting by eye, rather than statistics.”

    did I read some wally claiming that UK met was predicting cooler years?

    where do they get their crap?

  4. john byatt says:


    and we think that “girt by sea” is a problem?

  5. Eric Worrall says:

    If we shut down the domestic economy, we shall convince the world to follow us. The increased unemployment, stifled opportunities, brain drain, and personal misery shall all be worth it, because we shall feel good about occupying the moral high ground. When the floods and storms strike (assuming the models are correct), we shall be able to say “it wasn’t our fault”. When world food prices soar, and our hamstrung economy cannot pay the premium required, to our hungry people we shall say “your sacrifice is worth it”. When our daughters (and sons) sell their bodies to wealthy foreigners, for a taste of the good life, we shall say “we made your sacrifice possible”.

    For our glory shall be to show the world that we are the best – we are their moral leaders – and we are what they must become.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Let’s get innovation in business, technology and energy going. I’m all for that!

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Its already happening – and not because of climate change regulation or carbon taxes.

        Sweep aside the regulations, cut the taxes, and let business flourish.

        People with the initiative to innovate respond better to the carrot than the stick – because anyone with the initiative and determination to create new technology, new business models, also has the initiative to leave for better opportunities elsewhere.

  6. john byatt says:

    If we do not take action and cannot convince the world to follow us. The increasing extremes, stifled opportunities, and personal misery shall follow,

    because we shall feel that the world will not listen . When the floods and storms strike (assuming the models are correct), we shall be able to say “it was our fault”. When world food prices soar,as they already are and our hamstrung economy cannot pay the premium required, to our hungry people from such extremes we shall say “” we did not think that you were worth it”. When our daughters (and sons) suffer from the actions of both local and overseas fossil fuel companies (wealthy foreigners), no longer tasting the good life, we shall say “we failed you”

    For our pain shall be to show the world that we have failed – are there no moral leaders – What has become on them?

    • Eric Worrall says:

      If the models are right, if we unilaterally put a price on carbon, and damage our economy relative to everyone elses, who do you think will suffer most when the crop failures and famines hit?

      The strongest economies will be best placed to weather the adverse effects of climate change – even if it is their fault it is occurring.

      • zoot says:

        We have put a price on carbon. We didn’t do it unilaterally. Our economy is one of the strongest in the world. (It’s a pity Whyalla slid into the sea, but that has been the only damage.)
        Eric, why are you such an alarmist?

      • Eric Worrall says:

        John Howard left a good legacy, and companies have a reasonable hope that the carbon tax will be jettisoned in the near future – so it is understandable there is no immediate impact on the economy.

        In the longer term, companies can’t claw back money they’ve already spent, but if ruinous policies like the carbon tax are retained after the election, they can and will choose to invest in future in places which provide better return on their money.

        It is no accident that Europe, which has travelled further than anyone along the path to carbon ruin, is an economic basket case. America has been backing away from carbon pricing, as it sees all its jobs heading to China. And Canada, with climate “denier” Steve Harper at the helm, is one of the strongest Western economies in the world.

        If it wasn’t that I hate the cold, I would have moved to Canada rather than Australia, when I fled the European catastrophe.

      • zoot says:

        So your understanding of economics is as lacking as your understanding of science.

        Better trolls please.

  7. john byatt says:

    all out of carrots

    Professor Kevin Anderson

    Are the climate deniers right? Are some scientists colluding with government to hide the truth about climate change? “Yes”, according to top British scientist Kevin Anderson – but not the scandal you’ve heard about. Top scientists and government reports won’t tell you we are heading toward catastrophic climate change. Emissions are skidding out of control, leading us to a world six degrees Centigrade hotter on average, much faster than anyone thought possible. Why doesn’t the public know?

    Why are world conferences still talking about staying below 2 degrees, as though that is possible?

    In a devastating speech at the University of Bristol Tuesday November 6th, 2012, Professor Kevin Anderson accused too many climate scientists of keeping quiet about the unrealistic assessments put out by governments, and our awful odds of reaching global warming far above the proposed 2 degree safe point.

    In fact, says Anderson, we are almost guaranteed to reach 4 degrees of warming, as early as 2050, and may soar far beyond that – beyond the point which agriculture, the ecosystem, and industrial civilization can survive.

    All this comes from one of the world’s top climate scientists, plugged in to the latest research and numbers. Kevin Anderson is from the UK’s premier climate modeling institution, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and the University of Manchester. He delivered the speech “Real Clothes for the Emperor, Facing the Challenges of Climate Change” at the Cabot Institute of the University of Bristol in Britain.

    His estimates are backed up by recent reports from the International Energy Agency, and now the global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    • Eric Worrall says:

      Perhaps Lewandowsky can write a new paper about the paranoid conspiracy theories of lunatic fringe alarmists.

      • The essential difference is in one case there’s evidence (eg Koch money, Delingpole not running in Corby) and on the other there’s bluster. This mirrors the science – evidence on the one side, bluster on the other.

        How’s Abbott’s eugenics programme going?

  8. john byatt says:

    Why, whenever I hear about carrot and stick approaches do I think that they must be talking about donkeys?

  9. john byatt says:

    PricewaterhouseCoopers., the new fringe lunatics?

  10. Skeptikal says:

    In fact, says Anderson, we are almost guaranteed to reach 4 degrees of warming, as early as 2050, and may soar far beyond that

    If 4 degrees of warming is almost guaranteed, then only an absolute moron would advocate a mitigation strategy. What’s needed now is an adaptation strategy. We need to remove the carbon tax which is hurting our economy at a time when we need to be strengthening our economy. We are going to need a strong vibrant economy to be able to pay for whatever adaptations are needed in the coming years.

    Think of your children. Do you really want to hand them a crippled economy, unable to pay for the adaptations that will surely be needed?

    • john byatt says:

      he is speaking of the emissions path and our inaction,

      At four degrees we have already set ourselves up to go beyond seven,

      the only adaptation at seven degrees is to abandon the tropics and coastal; communities

    • Eric Worrall says:

      I keep hoping we’ll hit one of these tipping points, so the alarmists will stop earbashing us about hitting a tipping point. But it never seems to happen – every time we approach a tipping point date, the date is pushed back.

    • Eric Worrall says:

      My point stands – where is the abrupt change which is due to strike in the next few years? Or is the climate after one of these “tipping points” much the same as the climate before the “tipping point”?

      • For background have a read of

        If the Arctic were to be ice free within the next few years, well in advance of the overly conservative IPCC estimates, would you call that a tipping point?

        Obviously 2012’s record setting American heat wave, record setting American drought, record setting Australian heat wave and record setting English rain weren’t evidence enough of abrupt change for you.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Make a prediction FFS – use your settled science to predict “the arctic will be ice free in 5 years”, or something – anything – which we can falsify.

      • Hansen ’88 did predict. He’s been proven right. The record setting events continue to prove the IPCC is too cautious.

        Use your contrarian Ouija board to say what you think is going to happen. Watts and Goddard said Arctic ice would rebound. They were wrong, of course.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        I don’t have to John – you’re the one who claims his science can predict the climate. All I have to do is show you are wrong, if you ever make a prediction which can be falsified.

        The 16 year flatline in global temperatures, despite a third of all anthropogenic CO2 ever produced being dumped into the atmosphere during this period, is kind of a heavy hint.

      • Hansen and the IPCC have successfully made predictions, albeit too conservative. You’ve lost. Predictions were made and have come to fruition. You’ve lost. You’re afraid to admit it.

        The last decade was the warmest on record according to the surface record. Heat records are outpacing cold records by over three to one. The ocean is warming and acidifying.

        Don’t add liar to denier. Don’t try and hide behind annual measurements of the surface when climate is multi-decadal and the surface represents under 7% of the heat capacity. Heck, it’s a simple, measurable energy equation – more entering than leaving. It the heat isn’t in the very thin surface it’s going to go somewhere. You can’t just magic it away.

        Given up on the arctic ice rebounding then? Good call. Watts and Goddard blew it. Have a read of this minor classic in climate sceance, 2012 was a new low. The IPCC had given the sea ice a few more decades. The smart money is now on it disappearing this decade. Looks like Wieslaw Maslowski will be proven right and Watts proven wrong – yet again.

        A useful science has elements of prediction. Climate science has been vindicated. You won’t predict, indicating you have no science. You won’t acknowledge that the predictions have come true, indicating you may have no integrity.

  11. john byatt says:

    John the overly conservative nature of the IPCC continues,

    The scientists involved in the discussions with the politicians informed those politicians that it was over 99% certain that humans were the cause of global warming.

    The polticians would not sign off above 90% certainty, AR4

    now, rather than push the obvious that the chances that the warming is not due to humans is virtualy zilch, the draft report for AR5 sets the chance at “above 95%”, which way that will go in the final version is anybodies guess

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