Monday, July 20, 2015

Morons and Global Warming

I like to look at the orign and uses of words, how their meanings change over time, and why they come into use and go out of use.

At the bottom of the post, I have listed a number of words that at one time had a specific, legitimate medical use which have since fallen out of favor: idiot, cretin, moron, retard, imbecile and lunatic. All are Greek or Latin derivities, transferred into English as medical terms. All of them have similar meanings to the English word "fool" which itself is derived from Latin.  All of them are "no longer in technical use; considered offensive."

So what do morons have to do with the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) hypothesis?

I do not wish to imply that those accept or deny the hypothesis are morons. Rather I wish to illuminate something about the shift from using CAGW to using climate change.

Over the last 5 years or so, proponents have shifted away from using CAGW, or even just global warming (GW) to using climate change. Why?

The first reason I see is that CAGW and GW have become "considered offensive." That is, the shrillness and the extremism of CAGW proponents have become offensive to ordinary people and to some scientists.

The second reason is that the more extreme predictions (the "catastrophic" part) have already failed to pan out and climate warming is in a hiatus (only relieved by manipulating a single set of data). No one likes to be reminded of their failures.

The third reason is that "cimate change" is new, and there is no negative connotations.

The fourth reason is that it is a neutral phrase, not implying warming or cooling. It is a "safe" phrase. It is also cowardly because all climate phenomena can now be ascribed to "climate change:" warming or cooling, drought or floods, ice caps melting or increasing, increased storms or decreased storms.

Additionally, anyone who disagrees with CAGW can now be called a "climate change denier." This is a straw dog logical fallacy because no one denies that climate changes. The deniers can be dismissed as "anti-science."

In conclusion, the shift from CAGW and GW to climate change is an admission of failure on the part of advocates of the CAGW hypothesis.

Word study:
The definitions are word origins are from online resources include the online Webster Dictionary.


a stupid person.
synonyms: fool, ass, halfwit, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, moron, imbecile, simpleton; More

MEDICINE archaic: a mentally handicapped person.

Psychology. (no longer in technical use; considered offensive) a person of the lowest order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.

Origin of idiot

1250-1300; Middle English < Latin idiōta < Greek idiṓtēs private person, layman, person lacking skill or expertise, equivalent to idiō- (lengthened variant of idio- idio-, perhaps by analogy with stratiōtēs professional soldier, derivative of stratiá army) + -tēs agent noun suffix

Psychology. (no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) a person of borderline intelligence in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having an intelligence quotient of 50 to 69.

Origin of MORON

irregular from Greek mōros foolish, stupid
First Known Use: 1910

Psychology. (no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) a person of borderline intelligence in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having an intelligence quotient of 50 to 69.

Mentally retarded. 

subaverage intellectual ability equivalent to or less than an IQ of 70 that is accompanied by significant deficits in abilities (as in communication or self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning, is present from birth or infancy, and is manifested especially by delayed or abnormal development, by learning difficulties, and by problems in social adjustment

In reference to low intellectual ability, the terms retarded, retardation, and mental retardation [and retard] are now usually perceived as insulting.


affected with lunacy :  insane

Middle English lunatik, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French lunatic, from Late Latin lunaticus, from Latin luna; from the belief that lunacy fluctuated with the phases of the moon
First Known Use: 14th century


Definition of IMBECILE

usually offensive :  a person affected with moderate mental retardation

The noun imbecile is used informally as an insult to mean "fool". Its origins are in the Latin word imbecille, "weak or feeble," and it was an official medical term for people with a specific (and low) I.Q. in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Patients who were classified as imbeciles were said to have no more intelligence than a seven year-old child.

Origin of IMBECILE

French imbécile, noun, from adjective, weak, weak-minded, from Latin imbecillus
First Known Use: 1802


n. a person suffering from cretinism. Cretinism - a congenital disease due to absence or deficiency of normal thyroid secretion, characterized by physical deformity, dwarfism, and mental retardation, and often by goiter.

Word Origin and History for cretin
n. 1779, from French crétin (18c.), from Alpine dialect crestin, "a dwarfed and deformed idiot" of a type formerly found in families in the Alpine lands, a condition caused by a congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones, from Vulgar Latin *christianus "a Christian," a generic term for "anyone," but often with a sense of "poor fellow." Related: Cretinism (1801).

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