Acting out is a psychological term from the parlance of defense mechanisms and self-control, meaning to perform an action in contrast to bearing and managing the impulse to perform it. The acting done is usually anti-social and may take the form of acting on the impulses of an addiction (e.g. drinking, drug taking or shoplifting) or in a means designed (often unconsciously or semi-consciously) to garner attention (e.g. throwing a tantrum or behaving promiscuously). In general usage, the action performed is destructive to self or others and may inhibit the development of more constructive responses to the feelings in question.
– Wikipedia, “Acting Out“
Presidential Wannabe Senator Ted Cruz (R, Texas, of course) convened a special meeting of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness on December 8. Senator Cruz wanted once again to debate whether climate change is for real. Senator Cruz convened the hearing, which he titled “Data or dogma? Promoting open inquiry in the debate over the magnitude of human impact on Earth’s climate.”
Senator Cruz is a climate change denier. This careful parsing of his National Public Radio interview makes the extent of the Senator’s wrongheadedness apparent. Senator Cruz’s definition of “open inquiry” might be a little different than yours and WC’s. An estimated 97% of climate scientists agree climate change is real and anthropogenic. Senator Cruz didn’t invite any of them to testify. Instead, he found two of the 3% of scientists who claim (or are paid to claim) that there is no climate change. That was it for science; the other two invitees were the director of a conservative think tank and a conservative talk show host. Remember, “open inquiry.” Both of them were featured speakers at the recent Heartland Institute‘s pity party for climate change skeptics.
The scientists were Georgia Tech professor and blogger Judith Curry and John Christy from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The pundits were William Happer, a retired Princeton physicist and chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, a conservative think-tank1 and Mark Steyn, a conservative radio host and columnist.
For Senator Cruz, then, “open inquiry” means hearing from that tiny 3% minority and firmly excluding anyone who disagrees. The Subcommittee Democrats frustrated Senator Cruz’s plan a bit by calling former Navy Rear Admiral and current Penn State meteorology professor David Titley. Titley calmly attempted to explain the basics of climate science, highlighting the fact that nothing is ever 100 percent certain in science, yet we understand how to act on risks despite imperfect knowledge.
What’s really going on, of course, is that Senator Cruz’s sagging in presidential polling has distressed him, his self-control has slipped, and he is acting out. He is seeking to garner attention in the face of unpleasant events in his life. As is usually the case, the Senator’s acting out is harmful to others; e.g., the rest of the planet. So Senator Cruz, demonstrating the emotional maturity of a twelve year old, pretended to have a hearing while really creating a photo opportunity for his presidential campaign.
Not the emotional maturity or honesty WC looks for in a president.
- Ars Technica reports Happer became a story in his own right earlier in the day, when Greenpeace released e-mails with Happer in which they had pretended to represent a foreign energy company. They asked Happer if he would produce a report extolling the virtues of CO2 but without disclosing their financial support, and Happer agreed this was something he could do. Happer explained that Peabody Coal Company had paid him $8,000 to testify at regulatory hearings in Minnesota. But WC is certain Senator Cruz considered this awkward circumstance. ↩