So instead of a more self-reflexive populace that understands everyone — including oneself — is full of contradictions, and more importantly, that it’s entirely natural to have some analytical imperfections, we’ve become a society of self-denial, where a person’s opinions can be easily discredited unless they practice an impossibly monastic lifestyle. 
If one is looking for an integrity-questionable but nonetheless expedient pathway to dismiss the concerns of those urging greater awareness of peak oil or climate change, pointing fingers at their lifestyles is always available. It’s quick, has a barely-there ring of truth to it, suggests a certain amount of hypocrisy if facts are delved into, and avoids the messy need of discussing the important issues. Belittling is of course a close cousin of this approach.
When those of us expressing our concerns not just about the present facts of fossil fuel production but the likely scenarios which facts suggest will play out, deniers are at a distinct disadvantage. Cherry-picked facts, or disingenuous—irrelevant—talking points have limited utility. After one makes the argument about massive resources, underestimated human ingenuity, previously unimagined technological prowess, or just the general great potential—wonderful sound-bites all—there are few legitimate, enduring facts to buttress the statements.
The tactics are quite adaptable. Recognizing the peculiar efforts summarized above, it’s easy to see those same approaches extended into economic policy debates, climate change, gun control, voter fraud, and a host of other contentious issues about which contemporary right-wing orthodoxy stands opposed. All fine and well … to a point.
The problem is that after all that jockeying and Playbook-following, the challenges we all face are still there. Delaying acknowledgment, much less action, is in the end just delay. And with that strategy comes the inevitable outcome: we’ve made it that much more difficult to deal with the problems tomorrow.
If there’s any real-world wisdom to that objective, it’s hard to discern. Were it not for the fact that climate change and peak oil and income inequality et al did not pose such a threat to the basic well-being of almost everyone, we might not be quite so exasperated by the denial nonsense. Certainly we might even welcome it if we were certain that the adverse consequences which follow denial of reality could and would be limited to the purveyors of such blatant disregard for and ignorance of what is plain as day.
If only we could be so “fortunate.” Facts, however, suggest quite clearly that the obstruction and stubbornness too many offer as their only contributions will do far more harm than good. Continuing insistence that there are no sets of facts justifying at least the possibility of great concern is hardly the mark of a forward-thinking, intelligent culture.
Reaping what we sow is a nice abstract philosophy, but it’s not always certain to bring us nothing but bountiful harvests. Sowing ignorance and denial produce outcomes, too. Might be worth a moment’s pause to contemplate that before heading back to the Playbook for the next mindless tactic.
~ My Wife’s Photo: Arches National Park, Utah – 08.21.07
Thought-provoking inquiries & observations about how (and why) Life does … and does not, work for everyone. [Inspired by my book of the same name]
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Peak Oil Matters is dedicated to informing others about the significance and impact of Peak Oil—while adding observations about politics, ideology, transportation, and smart growth.
 http://www.desmog.ca/2014/03/02/defence-hypocrisy; In Defence of Hypocrisy by Adam Kingsmith – 03.03.14