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A polite and devastating rebuttal

There is a bit of a stir going on concerning a recent, very rude and unpleasant review of Matt Ridley’s recent book concerning how optimistic Man should be about the trend of events. George Monbiot, who wrote the review, is answered, at length, and with great restraint, by Matt Ridley.

Monbiot – known in these parts as George Moonbat – should be ashamed of writing such a piece. But then, as Bishop Hill notes, it is clear that Ridley has really got under Monbiot’s skin.

Optimism, I find, often really annoys a certain mindset, not just on the left, but to a certain “things were better in my day before we got infested by all those foreigners” sort of conservative. A pox on both their houses.

You can get Ridley’s book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves here.

18 comments to A polite and devastating rebuttal

  • Ridley writes: “Monbiot is entitled to his opinions…”

    Not if they aren’t true he’s not.

  • You must remember that individuals are not permitted to be optimistic. Like Sting’s brave soldier in Gilliam’s Baron Munchausen, any who are must be eliminated so as to not upset all those people living, simple, unremarkable lives.

    Wecmust be weak, dependent and defenceless. The State us our protector, guide and it shall determine when and where and in whom optimism may manifest itself.

  • tranio

    I read last year that salmon have returned to the Seine after a multi year absence. I’m on the optimist side.

  • Frank S

    There is almost a service sector all its own built upon scaremongering. I refer to wealthy multinational corporations such as Greenpeace, WWF, and the like. The artificially created alarmism of the IPCC is part of it, and of course Lord Monbiot (I’m not sure of his actual title, or perhaps he is landed gentry without benefit of such) gains advantage as a loud voice on the sidelines paid for by his employer.

    Good news, e.g. ‘I see the polar bears are doing OK these days’ for them is bad news, and will be met with ‘What are you, some kind of denier?’. Truly naked self-interest was never more exposed.

  • Frank S

    I just learned he may be the Duc du Coutard. From the comments on this remarkable posting: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/specials/article/monbiot/

    They were grappling with the weighty question posed here: ‘Who pissed in George Monbiot’s muesli? The green-fingered columnist for the Guardian, a daily newspaper in the UK, has launched an attack on spiked. Again.

    He seems to hate spiked almost as much as he hates aviation (‘flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse’) and laughter (‘the world is dying and people are killing themselves with laughter’).

    With the monotonous regularity of a methadone addict visiting a pharmacist, or something like a Chihuahua chasing a car, Monbiot has spent the past 10 years launching salvos against spiked and its friends. But why?’

  • Kim du Toit

    Some critic (Dorothy Parker?) once wrote: “This is not a book to be put down lightly. It should be thrown across the room with great force.

    Anything written by George Moonbiot deserves no less. Come to think of it, we could do a lot worse than to perform the same action with George Moonbiot himself.

  • Miv Tucker

    Frank S – 1.53pm

    Is it possible you’re thinking of Jonathon Porritt, aka The Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt, Bt – although he has “disclaimed” the baronetcy, so presumably just answers to plain Mr P.

    But it would be nice if interviewers pricked his pomposity by pointedly addressing him as “Sir Jonathon”.

  • Alasdair

    Miv Tucker – could they not aliterally do better by addressing him as “Just Jonathon” ?

  • Alasdair: That was so funny my toes just turned into trombones! I’ll have to use that “just” prefix in addressing such people from now on…

  • Chuckles

    Or even ‘Only just’?

  • Being pessimistic is fashionable amongst the Guardian-reading BBC-watching set, it would seem. Here is an article and comments in which everyone gathers round congratulating themselves about how much cleverer they are than optimistic people.

  • pete

    Monbiot is a good businessman. He sells apocalyptic rubbish to people who like that sort of thing, and seems to do very well for himself.

    His Tory dad must be proud of his son’s success in trade.

  • ian

    Mike said:

    “Ridley writes: “Monbiot is entitled to his opinions…”

    Not if they aren’t true he’s not. “

    So no one you disagree with is entitled to an opinion? Because that can be the only measure of truth surely? You agree with something because you believe it to be true.

    So, in what possible circumstances can anyone express an opinion you disagree with, that you nevertheless consider to be a statement of truth?

  • “So no one you disagree with is entitled to an opinion?”

    Freedom is vital, but so is reason. Infallibility is not a requisite for facing facts, but nor is fallibility an all-absolving excuse for not doing so. Probability statements have their place, but that place is not everywhere all of the time.

  • MlR

    Frankly, I”m fairly despondent about wear humanity is headed.

    However, I feel that way because in large part the Monbiots have won.

  • Tendryakov

    So, Samizdata readers are unfamiiar with depressive realism?
    70 years ago today my uncle died on the aircraft-carrier HMS Glorious largely because the the captain was over-optimistic and thought it unnecessary to have reconaissance planes out. It was bright sunshine in the north Atlantic, and they were heading home from Norway. A couple of hours after being detected by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the Glorious was at the bottom of the Atlantic. Had the captain been a little more cautious, it might have been avoided.
    Caution pays.

  • Frank S

    Not much optimism about whether your first posting had worked, nor even your second posting. But by the third, you were content. This nano waste of resources is as nothing compared with the waste of resources (and the associated waste of the human spirit) that hotheads such as M would impose on us. Caution should be the byword for all readings of their rants. They would sink the good ship Progress in the blink of an eye.

  • Paul Marks

    Moonbat is indeed “entitled to his opinons” – but no one should be forced to treat them other than with the contempt they deserve.