Nature Fakery

Bruce Thornton takes this as the title of an interesting piece he has written at Defining Ideas — A Hoover Institution Journal.

Professor Thornton explains his title, “Nature Fakery” by referring to a turn of the 20th Century quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

At the turn of the twentieth century, President Theodore Roosevelt became embroiled in a public controversy over how some writers and naturalists described the natural world in overly anthropomorphic and sentimental terms. In a 1907 article attacking Jack London, among other writers, Roosevelt popularized the moniker “nature fakers,” those writers whom Roosevelt called “an object of derision to every scientist worthy of the name, to every real lover of the wilderness, to every faunal naturalist, to every true hunter or nature lover. But it is evident that [the nature faker] completely deceives many good people who are wholly ignorant of wild life.”

The “nature” the sentimentalists described was not the real nature, but one conjured from old myths and imaginative projections of human ideals onto an inhuman natural world. Unfortunately, a century later “nature fakers” are still promoting their sentimental myths about nature, only now with serious repercussions for our national interests and security.

The thesis of Professor Thornton’s article is, “The vogue of environmentalism stems from two ancient myths disguised today by a thin veil of scientific authority.”

What Teddy Roosevelt called “nature fakery” now goes by the name of environmentalism, especially the extreme radical kind which dominates today.  We all want a healthy environment because we all breathe the air, drink the water, and live, work and raise families in the environmental surroundings in which we live.  The so-called environmentalists engage in Roosevelt’s “nature fakery” by trying to convince us they care about the environment more than we do, and we are heading for disaster if we don’t agree there fatuous trillion dollar bromides for one alleged “crisis” after another.  It’s no coincidence that Al Gore has increased his net worth to in excess of $100 million over the last decade as a result of his global-warming advocacy and investments in government-subsidized “green energy” businesses.  Following his narcissistic demands will deliver us not into a bright and simple future but into an unnecessary austerity and penury, infinitely complex and impenetrable, all while he basks in the lap of luxury earned at our expense if we foolishly take him seriously.

The ancient myths to which Thornton refers are “The Noble Savage” and “The Golden Age.”  These are powerful myths that reflect the natural longing for a simple existence of pure living in harmony with nature [a state which has never existed]  before the rise of the “complex human world of language, law, culture, cities, crime, trickery, trade, and technology.”  He explains these myths, where they come from and why they exist, and shows just how they mislead us and limit our future prosperity and happiness.  It’s time to grow up and stop acting like children, a point Thornton makes without saying it is no many words.

Man is fallen from innocence into knowledge.   Having been run out of the Garden of Eden, we can’t get back in no matter how hard we try; the Garden itself is a useful mythology.

Professor Thornton’s column is recommended reading for anyone wanting to understand how none-ending environmental “crises” and their multi-trillion dollar “solutions” gain so much political traction in a supposedly rational age.

Bruce Thornton has written several books, these are two that I have read and respect highly:

Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge

The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama’s America

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