Climate Craziness of the Week – Mark Hertsgaard embarrasses himself with 'The End of Pasta'

Global warming kills spaghetti crop

Sigh, “The End of Pasta?” reads more like “The end of journalism”

Short pastaSome days, there appears such blatant stupidity in the MSM, you wonder if there isn’t some sort of award than can be handed out for it. I think Mark Hertsgaard is deserving of such an award for this moronically mendacious missive where he manages to work the two poster children for ridiculous climate alarmism into one paragraph:

Hurricane Sandy’s recent devastation of New York and neighboring states reminded Americans of what Hurricane Katrina demonstrated in 2005: global warming makes weather more extreme, and extreme weather can be extremely dangerous. But flooding coastlines aren’t our only worry. Climate change is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.

This colossal disconnect (name a hurricane that hit the wheat belt) makes me want to call him up and scream at him. His premise is this: 

But if humans want to keep eating pasta, we will have to take much more aggressive action against global warming. Pasta is made from wheat, and a large, growing body of scientific studies and real-world observations suggest that wheat will be hit especially hard as temperatures rise and storms and drought intensify in the years ahead.

Now the important thing to note here is that his piece is being advertised as “science” yet I fail to find any science in it, only unsubstantiated opinion and talking points. Here’s some science; if only Hertsgaard had bothered to check some data like I did. The data plot shows US Department of Agriculture data for corn (in case his next story claims children of the future won’t know what Doritos are) and wheat yields in bushels per acre:

Historic_US_CropYeilds

You can get all the source data right here at USDA, available to most anyone with the ability to open a web browser and do a search.

So looking at the graph above, it seems there’s no obvious worry about wheat or corn disappearing any time soon. Sure, there is a downspike in 2011, due to a summer heatwave and drought in the USA. There were other downspikes of similar magnitude in the last 100 years also, so the 2011 downspike isn’t particularly unique. Despite those downspikes in yield, the trend remains upwards.

The basis of the claim for “end of pasta” by Hertsgaard is this statement:

Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production.

Well, I plotted the data, both for USA temperature (using the alarmist’s favorite temperature data, Jim Hansen’s GISS data) and USA wheat production from USDA, and I call bullshit on the claim:

US_wheat-vs-temperature

Data sources:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.D.txt

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/wheat-data.aspx

Clearly, US wheat production is healthy, increasing, and shows no sign of the 5.5% decrease, and if anything it seems to indicate there is a positive effect from temperature on wheat yield. Improved farming practices and improved wheat seed stocks have helped too. If I really wanted to embarrass these two guys I could add the Keeling curve for CO2 also, and point out that crop yields increase with increases in CO2 as well.

How do people like this get a broad voice to such opinions that don’t stand up under the simplest of tests? I don’t know, but you can write them here to ask them:

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/plantsciences/people/faculty/manthey 

Frank.Manthey@ndsu.edu

David Lobell

dlobell@stanford.edu

There is no contact info for Hertsgaard, so you have to complain to the editors for this dreck:

editorial@thedailybeast.com

The professor may answer, but Hertsgaard is probably a lost cause to mental mendacity, as he also believes (according to some obscure activist group)that Climate Change is killing 1000 children a day.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/27/climate-change-kills-400-000-a-year-new-report-reveals.html

If that were true, don’t you think the rest of the MSM would have daily headlines about it? So far, not a peep.  Apparently, fact checking is not a journalism skill Hertsgaard possesses.

UPDATE – Commenter Richard III writes:

A quick look at the this page will show how just how dangerous a little knowledge can be. There’s a lot more than a 1 degree temperature difference between south Texas and Northern Montana. It used to be that a college professor would know that. http://www.smallgrains.org/whfacts/growreg.htm

UPDATE2— I trust Anthony won’t mind me adding a little historical perspective to this. The best source for this kind of crop production and yield information is the FAO. Here is their history of wheat production and wheat yield.

globalwheatproductionandyield[1]

Note that to put it mildly, Mark Hertsgaard’s pasta claims are true only in some alternate reality. In the larger sense, yield and total production are still rising. – Willis Eschenbach.

UPDATE3 – here is the source of the 5.5% claim by David Lobell of Stanford.

http://foodsecurity.stanford.edu/publications/climate_trends_and_global_crop_production_since_1980

Image of Cover

Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980

Journal ArticleAuthors

David Lobell – Stanford University

Wolfram Schlenker – Assistant Professor in Economics at Columbia University

Justin Costa-Roberts – Stanford University

Published by

Science, May 2011

Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. Here we show that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends for 1980-2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8% and 5.5%, respectively, compared to a counter-factual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields 16 that arose from technology, CO2 fertilization, and other factors.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Coach Springer

A troll under its own intitiative. It does as much harm giving them the time of day except that you can’t just accept the troll declarations of fact. (Factitious is increasingly an important word for these times of junkscience and mental obsession.)

The Sage

And there was I thinking the story would be about the logical end result if more and more grain gets diverted into fermentation for biofuels…

Doug Proctor

Enter modelling:
a) without AGW, food yields would be higher. Proof? Scenario A through C say so.
b) if it’s hotter, then wheat will “burn” more often in the field, therefore we’ll have less to harvest and all those who would have gotten that extra wheat will have none and will start. You don’t need a computer to understand this.
With the right outlook and grade school math, it all makes sense.
Today on the CBC radio, I heard some insurance spokesman say that with the increase in “extreme weather”, hailstorm damage was rising rapidly in Alberta. Nobody asked if the increase was related to inflation, the amount of insurance coverage in either value or area, or if, in fact, hailstorms were increasing in number or observation, including radar imaging.
You can educate ’em, but you can’t make ’em think.

oldseadog

Surely if/when the climate changes, the wheat belt will just move N or S to compensate, just as it always has in the past 8,000 years or so.
Just typical sloppy journalism as is now the norm from MSM.

cedarhill

Ah, but you didn’t factor in the number of bushels used to fuel Hertsgaard’s green ecnomy. You know, the one where you take all the food and convert it to fuel for the Prius and such. Just imagine how many millions of acres it takes to grow and refine the fuel to get all those folks to the next climate conference.

craig

If you heard it on cbc it must be true. Like their comrades at bbc, fair and balanced like a one sided see-saw.

This man never seems to tire of proving himself a chump. I try hard not to lose all respect for some alarmists but this guy really is special.

Climate alarmism is a conclusion desperately in search of a datum.

P.S. There is a spelling mistake in the headline.
[fixed thanks -mod]

Michael Tremblay

Oh Good. I can tell my brother-in-law in Saskatchewan that he can switch to wheat from barley since global warming will mean that it will be easier for him to grow wheat and his competition further south will be wiped out.
I like how these extreme alarmists ignore that if global warming is threatening the crop production in certain areas it is opening up arable land in areas which were previously unusable. The same argument has been used by other environmental lobby groups with regards to coffee and chocolate, ignoring that if these crops can’t be grown in one region they will be moved to another area where they can.

Richard III

A quick look at the this page will show how just how dangerous a little knowledge can be. There’s a lot more than a 1 degree temperature difference between south Texas and Northern Montana. It used to be that a college professor would know that. http://www.smallgrains.org/whfacts/growreg.htm

RockyRoad

What happened to CO2 in their obvious CAGW claims? I thought all this problem was caused by CO2! Or have they completely forgotten the connection between CO2 and plants, of which wheat is a prime example?
I’ve read estimates that trees are growing 30% faster than they did 50 years ago, and that wheat production is up 9-10% for the same reason (other factors contributing to the rest of the increase for wheat).
It rather makes fools of the CAGW crowd–unless their ultimate goal is to reverse CO2 increases so it adversely affects foodstuff production in an attempt to reduce world population. I believe that’s what these selfish, egotistical elites want.

Meanwhile in Canada:
“The CWB, which recently lost its monopoly over selling wheat in Canada, says production of the six major grains and oilseeds could yield 51.6 million tonnes this year — better than the five-year average by about four million tonnes.
“In the decade between 2001 and 2010 we had about 50 million tonnes only twice, so you can see … it’s a pretty substantial production,” Burnett said.”
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/08/22/crop-yield-wheat-canola.html

WUWT says: “So looking at the graph above, it seems there’s no obvious worry about wheat or corn disappearing any time soon.”
There is no “obvious worry” about wheat or corn yields declining dramatically soon from global warming, this is true. However, there is a less “obvious worry” about human caused destruction of our agricultural output, and that is the agreements that China has agressively been seeking from both the EU and the United States.
http://www.seeddaily.com/reports/EU_China_agree_on_ag_sustainability_999.html
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/02/0057.xml
What exactly is US Agricultural Sec Tom Vilsack doing signing sustainability agreements with China for our domestic policy? And, it is a FIVE YEAR PLAN, no less. (BTW I never use caps.)
These “sustainable” farming practices are no less than eliminating pest control and chemical fertilizers, as well as high yield varieties of cereals, as near as I have been able to glean. So when climate scientists, Genetically Modified food critics, water alarmists, politicians, and world banks start threatening that agriculture will suffer in the next five years, you may want to reach for your wallet, because this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy if China and the Agricultural Sustainability movement is able to freeze and reverse our agricultural technology.

Buzzed

Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues. Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.

I think that alarmism has become intense because it was hoped that reduced CO2 could have taken credit for the cooler global temperatures that we will probably see in the near future and that opportunity is soon running out.

MikeH

Now you did it, I’m hungry now. A nice plate of Linguini with White Clam Sauce is dancing thru my mind right now… Accompanied by a nice white wine…
But no! I get to look forward to my PB&J and Chicken noodle soup for lunch.
It’s all your fault..

“Climate change is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.” True, in the sense that, to “save the planet,” our politicians have mandated that we burn our food in our vehicles rather than eat it, by having mandated adding ethanol made from corn to gasoline – and, worse, subsidizing the higher costs, which we fund with (additional) taxes.

Lars P

Alas, as with any religion it is difficult to rationalize the fanatics. Global Warming Church is no difference. I had several blog conversations and see little difference in talking to them…
This person seems to be no difference, if convinced or only repeating nonsense?
He conveniently ignores the CO2 fertilisation factor in his drama – what is tested in hundreds and hundreds of studies, what we all know as common sense:
http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/dry_subject_w.php
http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/t/triticuma.php
http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/z/zeam.php
and pedals on potential possible temperatures from models which have no confirmation but are firm anchored in his religious beliefs.
He conveniently ignores the 16 years of no warming that invalidate the models. Is this science?
I would happily let all warmista live on their dream planet in their collective society that has their ideal world values: with 280 ppm CO2 with 1.5 to 2°C colder average temperature, with electricity generated through wind and solar and some small water where allowed. No fossil fuel, no fission, only bio-fuels.
Unfortunately it is not possible, we cannot split our universe. We have to live with all kind of bigots, so all we can try is tell the other view of science, tell there is another voice and show where the faulty science lies.
It is not that they do not know or do not see that we are right in our arguments, but they believe they are doing the right thing, they believe they are right and we are only looking for the cheap and easy way.

Les Johnson

Pasta is usually made from Durum wheat. In North America, that means most is grown in Canada.
But, there has been no temperature increase in the prairies since about 1988, so pasta appears safe for now.
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-002-x/2011001/ct017-eng.htm
But, oddly, with about a 1.5 deg temperature rise from 1948 to 1988, durum wheat production has increased an order of magnitude.
http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/research-recherche/dexter/hdwb-habd/hdwb-habd-2-eng.htm#fig2

richardscourtney

Buzzed:
At December 12, 2012 at 10:14 am you make the ‘polar bear assertion’; i.e. ‘everything is getting better but it will go wrong’.
You say

Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues. Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.

NO!
Climate changes everywhere and all the time. It always has and it always will.
When a local climate changes then farmers change their crops in that locality.
Simply, farmers lack the stupidity of warmunists.
Richard

Sun Spot

C3 plants like wheat have much better yields at or above 380 ppmv CO2, therefore our current levels of CO2 should give us much better wheat yields.
http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2011/EGU2011-10440.pdf
At 250 ppmv CO2 and below C3 plants are on the verge of starvation.

Global Warming!… You had better stay away from my pasta! You mess with it? And I’ma gonna have to kill ya!!!!

Durum Wheat, the cool northern crop used for pasta and mostly grown in Montana and North Dakota, as well as Arizona, is being contiuously improved for better yields and quality.
http://www.northern-crops.com/technical/introdurum.pdf (2 pages)
Therefore, laws and legislation outlawing certain varieties and restricting water, or causing there to be less planted acres, are the most immediate threat to pasta. This is a far greater and immediate danger to pasta than co2, a trace gas in the atmosphere which we now know is used by plants in photosynthesis to create the oils, carbohydrates, and sugars sustaining all life on the planet. – Except a few smokestack dwellers in the sea. (:
Many families in the world rely on pasta to feed a family inexpensively. WUWT’s strong language (BS) is absolutely appropriate for people who are using science and politics to destroy our cereal yields in the name of a sustainable planet.

son of mulder

I couldn’t resist this classic

David Ross

Déjà vu…

Bill Illis

Wheat was originally domesticated in hot dry South-east Turkey.
Corn was domesticated in hot (and sometimes) dry southern Mexico.
In real terms, prices for Corn and Wheat have been declining but they are up in the last several years.
http://s9.postimage.org/w4bbg8itb/Real_Corn_Wheat_Prices_1784.png

Bill Illis

Also Wheat and Durum are C3 plants which means they will grow much better with higher CO2 content in the atmosphere, particularly when it is dryer.
Corn is a C4 grass so CO2 increases don’t impact its growth rate as much but it will still do a little better with higher CO2 (assuming C3 weeds don’t disrupt growth).

Perfekt

It doesn´t happen often, but sometimes these morons are actually close to being right about something.
There are a number of studies suggesting that that the protein content in wheat grown under higher carbon dioxide levels might decrease.
The only practical problem with this is that it may affect the quality of pasta, since real men get their protein from meat.

mwhite

TomE

I have gotten into the habit of checking WUWT several times a day to look for interesting articles. Another website on my list is Iceagenow.info. Has anyone else been following the real winter weather, road closures, and snow crisis’s occurring in Europe and Asia? Certainly nothing in the US news about it.

Bengt Abelsson

They are perfectly right!
In the latest issue of Nature Climat Change, page 827, the ultimate disater is here!
The Perigord black truffle harvest is declining – guess why!
And without truffle, the pasta does not taste as it should.

MarkW

First off, even if the temperature did manage to increase enough to make one crop unprofitable, there are other crops. Or you can buy a heat adapted strain and continue harvesting the same crop.
Secondly, in the northern hemisphere as you go north, the amount of land increases. Look at a globe and see how much land their is in northern Canada and Russia. Any warming makes all of this land available for harvesting, so even if warming was enough to make the southern most reaches to hot for farming, the land being opened up would vastly exceed the land being lost.
In the southern hemisphere, the amount of land decreases as you get closer to the pole, but first off there is much less land to begin with, and the rate of shrinkage in the south is much less than the amount of growth in the north. So world wide, if the belt at which crops could be grown did shift poleward, it wouild result in a dramatic increase in land available for cultivation.

george e. smith

Well that’s ok by me; they don’t call it “pasta” for nothing. The recipe (flour, water, egg white) is exactly what my grandfather used for his wallpaper paste. I think I licked the back of a pasted strip while helping him hang wallpaper, circa five years old. That’s why I don’t eat pasta today. Any shape, any color, any sauce, any vowel ending; my wife has tried them all. Still tastes like wallpaper paste to me.

MarkW

I thought treemometers proved that plants grow faster when it is warmer. If this isn’t the case, doesn’t this prove we have to through out all of Mann’s work?

Gary Martin

Doug Proctor says, “Today on the CBC radio, I heard some insurance spokesman say that with the increase in “extreme weather”, hailstorm damage was rising rapidly in Alberta. Nobody asked if the increase was related to inflation, the amount of insurance coverage in either value or area, or if, in fact, hailstorms were increasing in number or observation, including radar imaging.”
What the spokesman did not tell the audience is that the insurance industry seeds the clouds with silver iodide to reduce the size of the hailstones. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2010/07/14/calgary-hail-storm-cloud-seeding-planes.html
HMMMMM! I wonder what science is behind this strategy ? Every severe hail storm we see articles claiming it would have been worse if not for the heroic efforts of the insurance companies!
Just wondering.

MarkW

Buzzed says:
December 12, 2012 at 10:14 am
—-
If someone has driven the last 500 miles with nary a pothole in sight, and suddenly your passenger pipes up that we’d better start walking because there are potholes ahead, despite the fact that neither of you have ever driven on the road ahead.
Would you get out and walk, or would you demand that your passenger provide some proof of his assertion?

MarkW

MikeH says:
December 12, 2012 at 10:18 am
It’s all your fault..

Invoking patented evil laugh app.

Gbees

Here’s Australain wheat production since 1960. Same kind of trend with peaks and troughs.
http://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?country=au&commodity=wheat&graph=production

JJ

Buzzed says:
Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues.

Yes, that is what the concern is, and always has been … and always will be.
That’s the basis of the scam. The catastrophy is always juuuuuuuussssssttttt on the horizon: Close enough that you have to worry about it, but far enough away that it can’t be refuted. We’ve already passed about a dozen alleged ‘tipping points’ and the only result has been that the terrible danger that is going to kill us all has receded a little bit farther into the future. Thus runs the politics of scary stories. “The sky is falling!” is not nearly as useful as “The sky is going to fall, trust me!”
Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.
The bridge isn’t out. There isn’t even a bridge in sight. There probably isn’t a bridge, and if there is we will cross it if and when we get to it.

Graeme W

Playing Devil’s Advocate, I have to point out that the graphs are showing bushells per acre, not total crop yield.
Each acre may produce more wheat (and corn), but what is the trend on how much land is dedicated to the crops? That figure is needed to determine whether the actual total yield is going up or down.
Having said that, the main reason for any reduction in total yield will probably be because the land is being put to a different use, rather than climat change, so the basic point stands. I’m just pointing out that an increasing yield per acre doesn’t necessarly equate to a increasing total yield.

Obviously wheat can’t handle any temperature. The LIA was too cold. Today it’s too warm for wheat, even though the wheat flourished during the warmer MWP. I guess the Goldilocks temperature for wheat must have occurred sometime between 1975 and 1980, since Newsweek reported that we were on the verge of a new ice age in 1975 and anthropogenic global warming began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 (intentional sarcasm).
Whenever I run into an Alarmists Gone Wild non sequitur, I always check the math.
Global wheat production data for the period 1961-2010 are available from FAOSTAT and temperature data can easily be downloaded from Wood For Trees.
Wheat yield and production have more than doubled over the last 50 years. Data sources: FAOSTAT and Hadley Center & UEA CRU (via Wood for Trees). Yield is in hectograms per hectare (Hg/Ha), area harvested is in hectares (Ha) and production is in tonnes.
This explains why wheat liked the Medieval Warm Period and disliked the Little Ice Age.

Me

Make your own award to hand out, call it the rubber chicken with something like this to go with it.
http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/zu1u/zu1u0905/zu1u090500011/4939527-rubber-chicken.jpg

Austin

C3 (wheat) plants need high CO2 vs C4 (corn) which can get by with far lower CO2 concentrations. C4 is very efficient with respect to Carbon sequestration. Both Wheat and Corn will have higher yields with higher CO2.
C4 plants evolved due to decreasing CO2 and increasing aridity and feature most prominently in the rise of grasses. C4 did not really take off until about 6 million years ago and that is most probably due to C3 grasses not being as efficient as C4 in the same niches given the long-term drop in CO2 PPM.
Hertsgaard knows little about plants.

AndyG55

Haven’t seen anyone mention biofool. Once they convert the wasted land used for growing these useless crops to create the useless biofool back to regular food crops, there will be a huge rise in available food supply.

Jimbo

Climate change is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.

Let me help you out.

Food to fuel is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.

There, fixed it for ya.
In the meantime some food growers put their crops in greenhouses and pump in 1,000ppm in order to imperil their ability to feed themselves. The biosphere has been greening. The Sahel is in retreat. Stop putting food into fuel tanks.
References:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19206199
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm
http://www.novabiomatique.com/hydroponics-systems/plant-555-gardening-with-co2-explained.cfm
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/24/the-earths-biosphere-is-booming-data-suggests-that-co2-is-the-cause-part-2/
http://www.eoearth.org/article/Greening_of_the_Sahel

Gary Pearse

“Some days, there appears such blatant stupidity in the MSM, you wonder if there isn’t some sort of award than can be handed out for it.”
I think this is a capital idea. I’m sure there must be a reader here that could do this justice. Check out the Darwin Awards – awarded to stupid people who accidentally remove themselves from the genetic pool thereby improving the human race.
http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/

HankHenry

The author is mistaken in his concerned about the durum crop in North Dakota. Eastern North Dakota provides a great example of how people misapprehend what an average can be like when speaking of climate. The depth of Devils lake varies by more than 50 feet and has been doing so since the glaciers. The act of calculating a mathematical average does not make something stable at a particular level.
http://www.swc.state.nd.us/4dlink9/4dcgi/GetContentPhoto/PB-218/640/480

Willis Eschenbach

Graeme W says:
December 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

Playing Devil’s Advocate, I have to point out that the graphs are showing bushells per acre, not total crop yield.

Playing devils advocate, the graphs are correct. “Yield” means the amount of production divided by the area of land used to produce it. It is measured in units of production per unit of land. So it can be expressed in bushels per acre, or tons per acre, or more commonly outside the US, in metric tonnes per hectare.
There is no such thing as “total crop yield”. That is what is actually called something like “production” and is measured in tonnes or bushels. It is not “yield”, which is always measured in something like tonnes or bushels per area of land.
w.

Lester Via

A few years back I complained in a Letter to the Editor of The Washington Times related to climate change,
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/03/a-profession-dominated-by-amateurs/
that journalists seemed to have chosen their profession because they lacked any aptitude for math and science. Surprisingly, I received reply from an editor agreeing with me on that observation – the only time I have ever gotten a comment from an editor about a letter of mine that they published.
The story here, The End of Pasta, in my opinion cannot be explained by a particular journalist’s somewhat less than average ability to understand fairly complex subjects, but instead, seems to indicate profound stupidity.