Monthly Archives: May 2017

Don’t Jump to Conclusions on Jared Kushner

By Kent R. Kroeger (Source:, May 28, 2017)

It is always prudent not to jump to conclusions when a news story first breaks, particularly when it relates to U.S. intelligence.  Case in point is the latest twist in the Trump-Russia connection coming from Washington Post writers Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller.

The  entire May 26th story can be read here.

Their story reports about a meeting between President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Russian U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which it is claimed that they discussed creating a secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin.

The first two paragraphs of the story are most important:

From The Washington Post:

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

One of the most important elements of intelligence tradecraft is the art of deception. There is no country better at it than Russia. And as the Washington Post story makes clear, the information behind the May 26th story came, not from direct collection on the Kushner-Kislyak meeting, but from an intercept of the Kislyak’s reporting about the meeting back to the Kremlin.

We are told in the story that no intelligence collection was done on the original Kushner-Kislyak meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower. If so, the only knowledge the U.S. intelligence community has on the meeting comes from the Kislyak’s conversation with the Kremlin.

That fact should give you pause regarding assumptions about the nature and content of the Kushner-Kislyak meeting at Trump Tower. It is entirely possible — maybe even likely — that Kislyak misrepresented the content of the meeting knowing that U.S. intelligence would hear it.

If the intent of the Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 elections was to sow discord and distrust within the U.S. government, it would make perfect sense for Kislyak to feed false information to the U.S. intelligence community regarding the meeting with Kushner.

I am not saying this is what happened. I could not possibly know. The problem is, I don’t think even the U.S. intelligence community knows for sure.

About the author:  Kent Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion for public and private sector clients. He also spent ten years working for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He holds a B.S. degree in Journalism/Political Science from The University of Iowa, and an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University (New York, NY).  He lives in Ewing, New Jersey with his wife and son.

Honestly, the 2016 Presidential Election was about Honesty

By Kent R. Kroeger (Source:, May 14, 2017)

Anyone that spends considerable time with data knows that occasionally it bites you in the ass.

The twelve of you that regularly read my blog know that I am a skeptic when it comes to the “Comey’s Letter Cost Hillary the Election” argument. Nate Silver has provided the most systematic evidence to support this conclusion, but it doesn’t take a data scientist to see where people would come to this conclusion.  This chart, from, shows Silver’s tracking model over time:

The dotted line indicates the timing of Comey’s letter. I won’t belabor my argument that Clinton’s decline began well before the Comey letter and requires explanation from other factors, such as the Obamacare premium hike news on October 24th or the Podesta emails on Wikileaks. I must admit the chart does show a steepening decline in Clinton’s polling immediately after Oct. 28th (the Comey letter).

Nonetheless, I’ve argued that we need to look at individual-level data to understand the potential impact of any issue or campaign on the final outcome. Ideally, I’d have access to the L.A. Times/USC Panel survey data to make more definitive inferences about the 2016 campaign. I do not.

However, we do have the 2016 American National Election Study data released this past March by the University of Michigan and Stanford University. And we are seeing some clear evidence from the 2016 campaign that….I must admit….supports indirectly the ‘Comey Letter’ argument.

Table 1 below shows how voters’ relative evaluations of Clinton and Trump’s honesty was a strong predictor of their vote choice.

Read the table as follows:  Among voters that said Clinton was much more honest than Trump, 94.9 percent voted for Clinton and only 5.1 percent voted for Trump.

As you can see, how a voter viewed the relative honesty of the two candidates was a decent predictor of how they actually voted.

To gain an even clearer understanding of the vote choice dynamic in 2016, we included in our vote model more variables from the ANES 2016 dataset, including party ID, gender, education, age, ethnicity, and a wide range of issue positions. The statistical output for the single logistic model is here:

Based on our initial logistical regression model, we find that ‘honesty’ was one of the dominant factors in distinguishing Trump voters from Clinton voters. Using each variable’s Wald statistic as a comparison, voters’ views of the candidates’ honesty was more important than party identification, Obama’s presidential approval, and voters’ evaluation of the economy in predicting vote choice.

You will notice variables like gender, age and education are not in the model, as they were excluded due to lack of statistical significance. This does not mean those variables are not important, as they most likely have strong indirect effects on vote choice through their impact on voter identification, presidential approval, and other variables in the above logistic model.

As we develop other more sophisticated models of the 2016 election (e.g., structural equation models), we will post those results here. But we are confident based on what we’ve seen so far that the importance of ‘honesty’ is not going wash away with other types of analytic techniques.

The 2016 presidential election was the ‘honesty’ election and it is very likely, in that context, the Comey letter would have had a particularly profound impact on late deciders and on voters that did not have a strong preference for either candidate.

I must agree with Mr. Silver that the Comey letter may well have determined the final outcome.

The author can be reached at:

About the author:  Kent Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion for public and private sector clients. He holds a B.S. degree in Journalism/Political Science from The University of Iowa, and an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University (New York, NY).  He lives in Ewing, New Jersey with his wife and son.

Reflections about my father on Mother’s Day

By Kent R. Kroeger (Source:, May 5, 2017)

Heading into Mother’s Day weekend, I intended to write about my 86-year-old mother, a retired Iowa public school teacher and a great lady.

But…it will need to wait, as I’ve been thinking a lot about my father recently…and Donald Trump.

President Trump’s recent SiriusXM Radio interview triggered my latest reflection. This is the interview where President Trump wondered out loud, “Why was there a Civil War?” According to Trump, President Andrew Jackson would have found a way to avoid the Civil War if he had been around near its start. I’m being charitable in my interpretation of the Trump’s comments.

Link: Trump Speaks About Andrew Jackson and the Civil War on SIRUSXM Radio

I don’t know how I made it  a week before hearing the SiriusXM Radio interview. But, I did — until a former colleague sent it to me.

“This is your president,” she wrote. “Enjoy.”

Full disclosure. I am a Obama-Trump voter (and I caucused for O’Malley). The New York Times, among others, have concluded that the shift of people like me from Obama (in 2012) to Trump (in 2016) explains much of why Clinton lost what was considered a very winnable race for her.

Click here to read Global Strategy Group’s Matt Canter give a more substantial understanding of this shift from Obama to Trump.

Suffice it to say, I had my reasons (such as her aggressive support of a reckless, neocon-inspired foreign policies) and nothing has changed to make me regret my vote. I share actor James Woods’ sentiments on the 2016 election ==> here:

But the Trump interview on SiriusXM was unsettling, nonetheless. He mangled history in a way that would have made my father cringe. It should stagger anyone that values rational thought.

Historical events and figures can have varying interpretations depending on the historian. However, there are socially accepted boundaries that generally limit where insightful historical analyses can tread. This engenders an intellectual elitism found with most academic historians —  but for that modest cost — we, as a society, gain a common understanding of our culture, our nation and ourselves.

Donald Trump wandered into an uncommon place — and it was built from his own synaptic impulses that don’t always serve him well. In the SirusXM interview he offered a nonsensical description of an interesting American political figure (Andrew Jackson) and clumsily tried to pivot into an understanding of the Civil War.

It sounded like something Steve Bannon dreamed up and Trump tried to regurgitate, as best he could, close to its original form.

The attempt failed.

And after hearing the SiriusXM interview, that’s when I thought of my father, Glenn Kroeger.

Though trained as a physicist and engineer, he was an historian at heart. He loved history more than the profession that helped him build a home, raise a family and comfortably retire before his death in 2001.

Growing up in the Great Depression, history books were his escape from the soul-grinding realities of eastern Colorado in the early 1930s.  And unlike our current president, my father cared about how historical knowledge was conveyed. Verbal Incoherence suggests laziness and insults the listener.

My father was trained in math and science. H expressed history as would a mathematician who put a premium on causal ordering and trends. His dinner table dissertations on history didn’t just retell stories, but were interlaced with causal explanations.

His over-arching causal model was a simple one. While often riddled with ignorance, suffering and death, my father saw history as the near monotonic march of progress. The arc of human achievement was an upward trending line with occasional perturbations followed by a regression back to the mean and a return to the onward march of progress.

His optimism mirrored the views at the time of Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, who coined the term “creative destruction” when describing capitalism’s role in advancing society. For someone growing up in deep poverty in the rural plains in the 1930s, my father’s attraction to such a deterministic perspective was understandable. It became part of his political DNA, even as his immediate views on contemporary political issues were often shifting and malleable.

In sharing his love of history with me, my father would often return to what I call his origin stories. These were the historical figures and events from which his personal life philosophy arose.

He talked so often of Genghis Khan, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Otto von Bismarck, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and General George Marshall, I thought they were blood relations. (They weren’t.)

He talked  with awe about the rise of Genghis Khan and how his Mongolian horse archers conquered nearly all of continental Asia, the Middle East and parts of eastern Europe. His descriptions of how Genghis Khan’s army vanquished great cities were so vivid, I thought perhaps he lived through it. (He didn’t.)

My father’s paperback copies of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and “The Age of Reason” were so greasy and feathered, I always intended to buy him new, hard bound copies before he died. (I didn’t.)

You knew not to say the name, John D. Rockefeller Jr., in my father’s presence. Growing up poor in Sterling, Colorado in the 1930s meant you knew chapter and verse how Rockefeller, the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, and their hired goons brutally ended a miners strike in the town of Ludlow.  To end the strike, two dozen people died on April 20, 1914, including some women and children. It was one of my father’s origin stories even though neither he, nor anyone from our family, was directly involved.

There were other dinner table stories I will always remember.

He never forgave Captain Smith for the arrogance that precipitated his driving the Titanic into a rogue iceberg in the north Atlantic. When he would describe in detail how the ‘steerage class’ were prevented from reaching the lifeboats, I can be forgiven if I once believed he was one of the Titanic‘s few third class passengers to make it to the Carpathia.

My father loathed inherited wealth and he used the Titanic story as an exemplar tale. When the richest man in America at the time, John Jacob Astor IV, was found dead in the water by one of the returning lifeboats, my father’s regret was that he didn’t sink to the bottom of the icy Atlantic.

My father’s opinions often lacked gentility. They were sometimes as dry and harsh as the tumbleweed that would sweep through eastern Colorado in the dust bowl years. He would often punctuate political discussions with the question, “Who benefits and who loses?” Years later, in college, I would read Howard Zinn’s, “The People’s History of the United States,” and think, this sounds familiar.

Would you be the savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned? is a line from one of my favorite bands is also a nice summary of my father’s philosophy.

But my father wasn’t a socialist, but close. He was a Democrat, and though he opposed his party on some of its biggest issues (Equal Rights Amendment, busing, taxes, affirmative action, Middle East policy), he despised the Republicans too much to ever consider changing his party registration. He was a disgruntled Democrat to his end.

He joined the U.S. Army near the end of World War II when he was 16-years-old, doctoring his birth certificate to make it look like he was 17. And while he lamented the war ended before he could really participate, I always thought it seemed like the perfect time to join.

He would express to me his admiration for what he called the “Big Three” U.S. Army Generals:  Marshall, Bradley, and Eisenhower. Due to his older brother’s immense suffering in the war’s Pacific theater, he despised  Generals MacArthur and LeMay.

But his deepest animus was towards Harry “ass” Truman, often talking about his approving the needless dropping of the atomic bombs on Japanese civilians in World War II and suggesting he along with LeMay should have been included in the war crime trials after the war.

At the same time, he thought the Western allies should have pushed Stalin out of eastern Europe. While some liberals at the time were expressing admiration for the Russian dictator, my father saw just another example of power elites taking advantage of the common people.

Until his death, my father also blamed Truman for starting the fire that today keeps the U.S. in a near-permanent state of war in the Middle East. At the end of World War II, he didn’t understand why Truman didn’t allow more Jewish refugees into this country. When Truman championed the creation of Israel, my father lamented his callousness in turning a blind eye to the Palestinian people when they were driven from their homes and cities during Israel’s creation.

Over his views on the Palestinians and Israel, some of my father’s friends from the Unitarian Church that we attended would call him an ‘anti-Semite’ behind his back. From that experience I learned the treacherous ease with which liberals like to label others as’racist.’

My father was many things — not all of them admirable.  But he was not a racist. Far from it. Rather, everything he read and experienced passed through historical lenses more sensitized to class and economics than to issues of race and ethnicity. When identify politics took over the Democratic Party in the 1960s and 70s, he knew his party had left him for good. All too familiar under present circumstances.

But my father didn’t hate all politicians. He loved FDR and Ike and cried like a grieving brother when JFK died. {But, Dad, didn’t you often call the Kennedy family a ‘bunch of bootleggers and smugglers’ that can’t be trusted? I would learn years later about how some people are good at compartmentalizing their opinions.}

However, his thoughts towards LBJ and Nixon were consistent and mostly negative.

As for Reagan, my father saw him as a puppet to Republican elites; though, when Reagan took down the PATCO union, my father would say it was about time someone stood up to the powerful unions. This coming from a man that would almost cry relating the story of the Ludlow massacre. This disconnect did not go unnoticed, even by my father, who admitted to me that 20 years in the white collar world as an engineer had changed his views on a lot of things. This is why I laugh when political analysts tell us that the Millennials will  put and keep the Democrats in power for a long time. Yeah, right. Lets see how that turns out.

As he aged, my father became particularly sensitive to politicians’ honesty. He was convinced they would conspire to steal his Social Security and retirement nest egg. He was especially distrustful of  Bill Clinton — and Clinton didn’t disappoint. Regarding the ‘the kid from Hope, Arkansas,’ he would say, “he tells lies even when the truth would sound better.”

He despised Bill, but admired his wife.

Yes, it is hard for me to fit my father’s politics or general philosophy to any coherent governing framework. It covered a lot of ideological territory.

My father’s egalitarianism was non-doctrinaire and elastic, for while history taught him that concentrated wealth hindered the general prosperity of a nation, he also recognized some people are endowed with great ideas and should be encouraged to enjoy the fruits of those inspirations. Hence, even though he admired FDR and the New Deal, by the 1970s he thought the U.S. government had evolved into a tool for laggards, the envious and the over-educated to take away other people’s hard work.

My father was a textbook Reagan Democrat except that, as I mentioned, he despised the Republicans – and, yet, still voted for Ike twice,  and Nixon and Ford once each.

The lesson here? If you assume someone will vote one way because of their identify or past voting history,  you do so at the risk of being wrong…very wrong.

Today, I still find myself drawing chestnuts of wisdom from one of my father’s political rants. He was driven by his childhood traumas and adult insecurities more than from a tight political ideology. That’s OK. Cognitive dissonance never bothered him. He swam in it. As we all do. As Donald Trump seems to do with relish.

By writing about my father here, perhaps I now see Trump in a more understanding light?


Donald Trump talks about history like someone who had no time for it  when he was still a student. His historical musings are devoid of substance, depth, and utility. Its a nutrition-free gruel of superficial knowledge held together with stunted syntax and sudden pauses, all meant to convey to the listener that its chef is a really, really, really smart guy. Of course, it does the exact the opposite — and I think he knows it.

I see the embarrassment in his face sometimes as it turns increasingly red the more he talks. In those moments he is showing the physiological attributes of chronic embarrassment – not dementia or narcissistic personality disorder as many want to believe. Donald Trump is painfully aware of his severe knowledge deficit.

I genuinely believe Donald Trump sits up at night kicking himself for all the stupid things he said during the day.  By 3 a.m., that regret and embarrassment turns into anger — and then we get the tweets.  Loads of tweets.

To be fair, my father also had some quirky interpretations of history (such as, ‘the Germans nearly won World War II’). But even when my father was wrong, it was rooted in a common reality that anyone could at least understand, if not share agreement.

My father said history mirrored the massive rivers that cut through the plains he grew up on. From a surface view, the North Platte River often meanders in inexplicable directions, snaking across the prairie like a rattlesnake. But from a much higher perspective, the river churns through our nation’s midsection with the clear purpose of finding the nearest ocean.

But where rivers seek the geographic low point, my father saw human history as driven by a different but equally deterministic dynamic. In the immediate, it is full of strange cul-de-sacs that defy explanation — but over the long arc of time it reveals its larger mission. Collectively, we humans always seek the next highest point. And from there, the next, and then the next. We can’t help ourselves.

That was how my father came to understand history. His views are never far from my thoughts.

[Mom, I will write about you on Father’s Day, I promise]

The author can be reached at:

About the author:  Kent Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion for public and private sector clients. He holds a B.S. degree in Journalism/Political Science from The University of Iowa, and an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University (New York, NY).  He lives in Ewing, New Jersey with his wife and son.

My last Hillary Clinton column ever — I promise!

By Kent R. Kroeger (Source:, May 2, 2017)

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”

He must have had Hillary Clinton in mind because after watching Clinton’s CNN interview today with Christiane Amanpour, it is clear — Hillary Clinton has learned nothing from her defeat last November.

While some have suggested she accepted her culpability in November’s defeat, the opposite was on display in the CNN interview.

I understand her need to blame others. We all do this, consciously or unconsciously. And, frankly, she is correct in saying Putin had it in for her and Comey didn’t do her any favors.

But this is exactly why the Democrats need to hold her accountable for last November’s election debacle. She was damaged goods going into the election and she lost to the most unprepared candidate in U.S. presidential history.

Why did she lose? For the very reasons she cites for her own exoneration. She made Comey and Putin powerful enough to influence a U.S. presidential election. Hillary Clinton lost because of her own inherent flaws.

She had been in the public spotlight too long, made too many powerful enemies, was overly paranoid (with cause) and was so protective of her privacy that she demanded her State Department work emails be stored on servers she could control with absolute certainty.

The personal email server was Clinton’s creation. Whether the press pursued this story too long is debatable. We know from the State Department’s Inspector General report that this server setup was not to be questioned by the State Department’s IT staff – who did not sanction the setup.

Given that unmarked classified documents were found on Clinton’s home server suggests — at a minimum — a reckless disregard for the security requirements of classified intelligence.  At worst, it suggests criminal behavior was involved, such as removing classified markings from intelligence documents. It would have been a dereliction of duty had the press not pursued the Clinton email story to the extent they did.

Saying the press wouldn’t have pursued the email story if the candidate was a man is overwhelmed by contrary evidence. The Clinton email story had too many angles for the press to ignore:  the potential exposure of state secrets to foreign adversaries, destruction of emails subpoenaed by Congress, and evidence from investigation-obtained emails showing Clinton conducting Clinton Foundation business while serving as Secretary of State. The latter point she had promised in writing to President Obama she would not do. She did anyway.

That’s not Comey’s or Putin’s fault. It’s Hillary’s fault.

As for Putin, it is no surprise the Russian’s were mucking around in our election. I would be surprised if they hadn’t. What does bother me is the extent and sophistication of the Russian information operation to influence the election. It is not an act of war, as some have suggested, but it is a provocation that will negatively impact U.S.-Russian relations for a long, long time.

Yet, to claim the Russians, through Wikileaks, changed the outcome of the election is an academic question on which we will never get a definitive answer. In fact, a persuasive argument could be made suggesting the Russian hacking was so well-known by mid-October that many voters could have turned to Clinton over Trump out of sympathy or a sense of patriotic duty. By Election Day, I had been lectured multiple times about why voting for Trump would be a vote for Putin.

That many voters didn’t care and still voted for Trump is, to my mind, more evidence that Clinton was the problem, not Putin.

We are seven months removed from the election and Hillary Clinton remains unwilling to help her own party come to grips with their defeat. Her supporters even suggest looking for blame distracts the party from the more critical task of opposing President Trump.

But Journalist Glenn Greenwald disagrees: “Trying to understand why the Democrats have so spectacularly failed isn’t a distraction from battling Trump — its the key prerequisite for doing so.” Unfortunately, Greenwald will be disappointed by any attempt to explain the 2016 elections.

Hillary Clinton isn’t the distal cause of anything, including her own defeat.  She was done in by forces outside her own volition.

Political leaders like Clinton are more passengers than drivers of history. They navigate waters they didn’t create and which drive them to their unique moment in history. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Reagan could bring down the Iron Curtain. And only Hillary could lose to Donald Trump.


The author can be reached at:

About the author:  Kent Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion for public and private sector clients. He holds a B.S. degree in Journalism/Political Science from The University of Iowa, and an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University (New York, NY).  He lives in Ewing, New Jersey with his wife and son.



If Bret Stephens’ Opinion on Climate Change is Unacceptable, What is Acceptable?

By Kent R. Kroeger (Source:, May 1, 2017)

One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Contact, has the U.S. government, led by James Woods’ character, head of the National Security Council, taking over a SETI project (led by Jodi Foster’s character) that presumably made contact with an alien intelligence.

You can view the classic scene here.

The scene, originally written by physicist Carl Sagan in his book that inspired the movie, was intended to give the audience the sense of a paranoid, security-obsessed federal government taking over what should have been left to the scientists.

At my first viewing of the movie, I shared that sense of the government’s over-bearing presence. Typical government overreach, I’m sure I thought. Just like what happened in E.T.

Twenty-years later, however, after spending ten of those years in our government’s national security bureaucracy, my take is quite different.

What would  you want your government to do instead? Let the scientists control our society’s contact with this alien society? Yes? Really?

One reason we have a representative democracy is that we don’t want any segment of society to have monopoly control on the information that may be critical to our national security or general welfare. Even if, individually, we don’t have the clearances to see all  of this information, we elect representatives with access and who, we presume, will use this information to the benefit of our collective interests.

Scientists may be good at their craft, but that doesn’t make them an elected representative of the people.

I was reminded of Contact while scanning Twitter on the controversy surrounding the New York Times’ new opinion columnist, Bret Stephens, who questioned the absolute certainty of  the climate change community.

His article, Climate of Complete Certainty, won my admiration when it referenced the analytic arrogance of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. So certain of Clinton’s victory were the ‘big data’ mavens dominating the Clinton analytic team that the campaign all but ignored the ‘old guard’ polling analysts (that would be people like me) that said Clinton’s working-class support was eroding in the Rust Belt.

We know how that turned out.

Stephens’ apparent apostasy  was relating the hubris of Clinton’s data scientists to the current state of climate change research. Regardless of whether that is a fair comparison, he does make two excellent observations in his op-ed piece.

First, two-thirds of the general public, according to the Pew Research Center, is not concerned about global warming – even though many accept that is happening and is caused by human activities.

The reason for the public’s skepticism is simple.  The climate change lobby is incompetent. My evidence, you ask? I am my own evidence.

I believe the globe is warming because of human activities and this will cause many known and unknown tragedies if we don’t convert to clean energy as soon as possible. That said, I am skeptical of anyone that suggests they have the set of policies that will solve this problem and, most importantly, can get China, India and otherss to commit to these policies.

And for those that don’t include a robust nuclear energy component in their policy solution, I’m not just skeptical of their ideas, I think they are just full of sh*t.

As I said, I believe the earth is warming because of human activities. It is hard (though not impossible) for anyone that respects data not to conclude that the earth is significantly warmer than its was at the start of the industrial revolution. More importantly, the rate of this warming is faster than anytime in relatively recent earth history. This is the fact climatologists throw in your face when you begin the conversation about what public policies are appropriate to address global warming in a meaningful and cost-effective way.

Despite the protestations of the climate lobby, the costs associated with trying to reverse global warming is a legitimate issue. Maybe it would be more cost-effective and less growth-dampening if humans just adjusted to global warming instead of trying to engineer a return to our old climate? By the time China, India and most of the world’s other fast-developing countries burn all the remaining oil to fuel their economic growth, it is very possible any treaty signed in Paris or elsewhere to reverse global warming will become null-and-void.

But, at least we tried?  Right?

No, not right. When some in the scientific community tells us we need to spend $44 trillion to convert the world to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 , they are now dabbling in economics.  And even if climatologists are good at predicting the economic costs associated with global warming  (they aren’t), the issue enters the political domain. And rightfully so.

The tragedy is that the environmental movement has from that start chosen to turn its core issue into a partisan battle. When they did that, they did more harm to their cause than a congressional hearing full of climate change ‘deniers’ could ever accomplish.

Stephens’ second point is the one that really rankled the self-appointed thought police that (formerly) subscribed to the New York Times. He writes that anytime science claims total certainty it “traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong.”

I would have re-worded his sentence to say instead, “…whenever new evidence fails to support a climate claim.” It is a subtle difference but an important one. Gains in scientific knowledge are iterative and often non-linear.  Sometimes sample sizes are too small. Sometimes selection bias works against the research aim. Sometimes new evidence, for a multitude of reasons, clouds the situation instead of giving clarity. The practical reality in science is this: not every data point supports your hypotheses or their theoretical construct. Scientists understand that problem.

But this is what met Mr. Stephens on Twitter after his column was published. And lets start with our nation’s future ‘Chief  of Sanctioned Thoughts,’ Nate Silver:

The Daily Wire’s, Ben Shapiro, knocks Mr. Silver down a notch with this excellent critique of Silver’s criticism of Stephens (here). Suffice it to say, talented data analysts (like Mr. Silver) can have ideological blind spots too — making even more ominous Mr. Silver’s soul-chilling support for a data analytic Star Chamber to review and approve all op-ed data references before the opinion pieces can be published. If that isn’t a dog whistle that will send most Republicans into a rage about leftist fascism, nothing will.

However, it is with the scientific community that I find the reaction to Mr. Stephens most disturbing. Climatologist Michael Mann’s tweet pretty much represents the bulk opinion in that community:

While in another tweet accusing Mr. Stephens of setting up a ‘straw man’ argument to challenge climate change orthodoxy, Dr. Mann returns the favor with his own ‘straw man’ argument suggesting Stephens is a ‘denier” (the new scarlet letter). He must not have read Stephens’ piece which emphatically says about his article, “None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences.”

What does the man have to say to convince you he believes in global warming?

If the climate change ideologues wanted to prove Mr. Stephens correct, they couldn’t have done a better job.

I invite everyone to read Mr. Stephens’ piece on climate change. He is asking what every politician and citizen should ask before they commit trillions of dollars to an effort that may ultimately fail to reverse global warming.

Dr. Mann, as a scientist, tell us the probability that the planet, if we commit to all of your policy prescriptions, will be successful in reversing, or at least stopping, global warming? If you respond with anything over 50 percent, to quote someone you know, you are either (a) naive, (b) mendacious, or (c) both.

“But at least we tried,” won’t be a sufficient response to compensate the hundreds of millions of people kept or sent into poverty because the world failed in its costly experiment to proactively engineer the earth’s climate.

I haven’t cleared that last sentence with Nate Silver, yet.

The author can be reached at:

About the author:  Kent Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion for public and private sector clients. He holds a B.S. degree in Journalism/Political Science from The University of Iowa, and an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University (New York, NY).  He lives in Ewing, New Jersey with his wife and son.