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The Lawrence Samuels commentary in Sunday’s Monterey Herald wouldn’t really have bothered me if they had done a decent job of explaining who he is. The piece was bunk, a layman’s attack on the fact of climate change and global warming, but if the paper had described him a rabid practitioner of libertarianism, readers would have known that little or no science was committed in the production of his essay.

Instead, Samuels was described as “author of the 2013 book ‘In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action.’” In case you didn’t know, chaology is the study of chaos, something that Samuels seemingly supports. The tagline went on to acknowledge that he lives in Carmel Valley.

To my mind, that isn’t enough context to explain what qualifies Samuels to opine publicly that global warming is a hoax partly because “all the computer power in the world could not provide a perfectly accurate picture of impending weather a week from now.” Good to know. Samuels in recent times has also written in the Herald that the proposed public takeover of California American Water smacks of 20th century European fascism.

Other than the somewhat cryptic title of Samuels’ book, the only hint that his writing is shaped by politics rather than meteorology or some other form of research is in the final paragraph in the Sunday piece: “I believe it (the quite solid notion of climate change being driven by human causation) is just political. Some people want more political control and money. An epidemic of fear can rack up a lot of political points … . Some (climate change scientists) are just ideological determinists who oppose the right of people to make free choices.” As opposed to ideological determinists who have won awards for promotion of libertarianism. (See Samuels’ self-written Wikipedia entry for details.)

Samuels finally does, in the very last sentence of his Herald piece, write something that is likely true: “Whatever the case, the laws of science will eventually trump the absurdities of politics.”

Years ago when I was responsible for the content of the Herald’s opinion pages, I had a guideline. With some exceptions, local guest commentaries should only be written by people with some special connection to or expertise in the issue at hand. Without such a rule, relatively savvy Herald readers such as Samuels were likely to write about any old nonsense and call it a commentary when something they had written turned longer than a letter to the editor.

In some cases, there is nothing wrong with someone from the community writing about whatever topic strikes their fancy. Some nice essays can emerge from such a situation. But readers of the Herald would be better served if the editors would not provide significant space for people who can only pretend to bring some sort of expertise to their topic and who may seek to obscure their agendas.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bob Coble June 12, 2017, 11:52 am

    Sadly the Herald is no longer a worthwhile newspaper like it used to be in days gone by. Every time I see that Lawrence Samuels is the author of something in any publication I know that the report will be full of gross distortion and definitely not worth reading.

  • Jo Ann Novoson June 12, 2017, 12:26 pm

    Long suspected this to be the case with this guy. Context is everything.

  • L. Parrish June 12, 2017, 12:31 pm

    Thanks Royal for this post. Samuels is a well known, published Libertarian – something he never publicly admits. I guess he’s not all that proud of it. And also a well known nutcase and distorter of fact. One could even call him dishonest and be correct in that assessment. As for chaos, ask his neighbor across the street about all the beer cans his kids throw in the neighbor’s bushes.

  • John Dalessio June 12, 2017, 12:49 pm

    Samuels is not a true libertarian. The closest that we in Carmel Valley have come to describing his politics is “Curmudgeonism,” or the art of being old and nasty, without pretense to charm.

  • Deborah Warcken June 12, 2017, 2:08 pm

    A lot of argument from ignorance.

  • Anna Yateman June 12, 2017, 3:14 pm

    I’m so appreciative of your efforts to communicate logical , truthful news. I miss you at the Herald which now is nothing but regurgitated junk.
    How can I help support the Partisan?
    Anna Yateman

    • Royal Calkins June 15, 2017, 9:58 am

      Thanks for the kind words. There is a PayPal button at the top of the page, and contributions also can be sent to 84 Harper Canyon, Salinas, 93908

  • Tom June 12, 2017, 3:28 pm

    Global cooling (70s-80s), I mean global warming (80s-90s), I mean climate change (present)…..or what ever they’ll call it next when the present label fails to reflect a believable reality, is a kind of religion. You either believe in it or you don’t. There’s not enough historical data to build realistic climate computer models that accurately define past climate patterns and certainly not any that accurately predict future climate activity, so current models represent a classic computer example of “junk in – junk out”. I don’t know about the rest of you readers out there, but when I was in school, we were taught that “scientific fact” was based on systematic observations that build and organize knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions…not to mention, repeatable. Believers call it “fact” because a number of scientists “concur” that it’s so. When did partial agreement ever establish a “fact”? Several hundred years ago, primitive scientists or philosophers agreed that the earth was flat. The real danger comes from the political side of the question. On the one hand, social control freaks want to use this phony data to control human activity, particularly if it is capitalistic in nature. On the other hand, as with the Paris Accord, it uses climate change as an excuse to redistribute wealth among nations – ours in particular! If you want to really know what climate change is all about, follow the money. The high priests of climate change seem to be doing pretty well, financially. Here’s some homework for you: Check out who the principle investors are in carbon credit exchange banks!

    • Helga Fellay June 12, 2017, 3:51 pm

      Tom, I hope your house is not at sea level. If it is, and as the oceans are rising at a rate commensurate with the melting of polar ice, just stay in your house, sleep in your bed, and when the waves come crushing in through the windows, sleep on secure that this can’t be real because it is all just a political game played by the high priests of climate change.

      • Tom June 12, 2017, 9:11 pm

        I’ll take my chances.

    • Royal Calkins June 12, 2017, 4:29 pm

      Tom: There will always be dissenters and crackpots, even in science. The scientific method does not require unanimity. We’re not talking about “a number of scientists” concurring. The issue is settled.

      • david fairhurst June 12, 2017, 5:40 pm

        No the issue isn’t “settled”. Just because the “Left” keeps screaming “the sky is falling” doesn’t mean it is so. There are other studies and even the original Manchester one (which seems to be the birth mother of climate hysteria) show too many variables to be taken as gospel. The real issue is World Government control over “climate” or “global warming” and the repressive laws and taxes that are resulting from it. “Political power or office often gives those who possess it the illusion that they control events” and now those politicians deceive themselves and others that they can control even the climate. May I humbly suggest refreshing oneself with the story of the 12th century Danish King Canute (you know back when Greenland was so much warmer than now the Vikings grew crops and grazed livestock) and the lessen that no man can control the tides, the elements or even the weather, no matter how many “carbon credits” one buys from the State.

      • Tom June 12, 2017, 9:10 pm

        Sorry, Royal. It’s not settled. Still no definitive “real” proof, except in the minds of true believers. That’s why I mentioned early on that this issue was more like a “religion”. Did you check to see who the carbon credit bank investors were yet?

        • Royal Calkins June 13, 2017, 10:14 am

          Of course there are people making money by investing in carbon credits. Someone makes money off just about everything. Did you check to see who besides the oil companies is paying the “scientists” who argue that all is fine?

          • David R Henderson June 15, 2017, 9:41 am

            Actually, Royal, I don’t know if you know this, but Exxon Mobil expressed upset that Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord. That doesn’t quite fit the model of political incentives that you’re proposing.

  • Dan Turner June 13, 2017, 8:04 am

    I’m not joking when I say that the main consideration for The Herald, when deciding to publish a screed like Samuels’, is that it’s free.
    It’s just another way of cutting costs, which seems to be one of The Herald’s most important core principles.

  • bb June 13, 2017, 8:53 am

    In As You Like It, Shakespere said “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”. This is an example of the Dunning–Kruger effect, where a person suffers from illusory superiority when they mistakenly assess their cognitive ability. low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

  • Karl Pallastrini June 13, 2017, 7:01 pm

    Anna’s question…”How do I support the Partisan?” its easy. Send money as defined in the instructions. Nothing is free. It’s ironic that the best reporting and thinking in the county is found in the Partisan, available to all who read, but do not necessarily pay. The Herald is expensive. Politics in the Editorials are largely designed to cruise the “middle” of issues. Why? They dare not offend the big pocket advertisers. Open the credit cards and checkbooks. A true bargain.

    • david fairhurst June 22, 2017, 9:32 pm

      As much as I disagree with much of what is written within this blog, I sent in my hundred bucks and have been nothing but happy about it. Royal’s site has been a true accolade to free speech and information for community involvement. You understand a “conservative” sends their money to a worthy cause of their own choice, not expecting the Government to take it from others as “liberals” do, and distribute those taken funds as they see fit.

  • bill leone June 13, 2017, 11:39 pm

    The book Merchants of Doubt, followed by the movie of the same name, is a well documented expose’ of the “Public Relations” industry which was spawned to create doubt & confusion regarding the scientifically proven link between smoking, & use of tobacco products, & cancer. The effectiveness of their exploits are also detailed in a more recent book, The Emperor Of All Maladies.

    Both the book & the movie describe how the same public relations firms that stymied government warnings on cigarette packaging, are now hard at work, & have successfully sown confusion & doubt in many people’s minds about the scientific link between carbon emissions & global warming.

    Libertarian political ideology is both bankrupt & infantile. Read the Federalist Papers, which provides a a rationale for the Constitution & the existence of a Federal Government.

    • david fairhurst July 3, 2017, 8:43 pm

      I prefer the “Anti-Federalist” papers that gave us the “Bill of Rights” explaining individual rights as GOD given rather than being subjected to the decisions of the “collective” State.

  • Phillip Crawford July 8, 2017, 2:14 pm

    The largest ever psychological study of self-labeled libertarians reached interesting conclusions:
    “We found that libertarians do indeed have a strong sense of self and the self’s prerogatives, and a correspondingly lower sense of attachment to others. They exhibit a high degree individualism, a low degree collectivism, and generally report feeling less bonding with others, less loving for others, and less feelings of a sense of common identity with others. Libertarians have a lower degree of the broad social connection that typifies liberals as well as a lower degree of the tight social connections that typify conservatives.” In other words, libertarians are emotionally stunted.
    See: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0042366
    A recent survey found that “libertarians” (people who are economically conservative but socially liberal) are almost non-existent.
    “It’s not just hardcore libertarians who are absent. Even vaguely libertarian-ish voters are functionally nonexistent.
    “The study breaks down voters into four quadrants, defined by both social and economic liberalism. But virtually everybody falls into three quadrants: socially liberal/economically liberal; socially conservative/economically conservative; and socially conservative/economically liberal. The fourth quadrant, socially liberal/economically conservative, is empty.”