The Luddites are Winning

I came across an interesting article earlier that sparked my thinking. It seems that the President of the European Commission usually has a chief scientific advisor. The role of this office is to advise on any topic having to do with science and technology. However, bowing to pressure from groups like Greenpeace, the EC has done away with the position entirely. The reasoning behind this? The former advisor spoke in support of data, versus emotion, when it came to genetic modification.

What is our scientific world coming to? Climate change debates rage on, over whether the science of it is settled, and how much should be dictated by sociopolitical expediency. Does climate change? You bet your booties. Do humans influence that change…. Ah, now there’s where the wicket gets sticky. But when it is ‘cool to be green’ and certain lobbies get huge government monies for their research or alternative energy plans (dare I say Solyndra?) then yes, of course humans must be to blame. Sadly, with massive computer programs needed to predict what the climate might do, it’s all about the data that is fed in, and how it is massaged to get the results. As time goes on, it’s clearer and clearer that those results are pretty much what the lobby that paid for them wanted to hear. And the global economic impact is stunning.

And the scientists? They are doing what they have to do survive. Publish or perish. You can’t publish on certain topics unless you have the ‘right’ credentials, I’m told by a classmate who is studying geology. And that brings me to the next thing. The invisible thing. Which actually has to do with why the EC no longer has a scientific advisor. It’s about the children. No, not for the children. Rather, it has to do with the little things, the words, which we never see and think about, but which subtly alter the perceptions of the very young until they don’t ever think to object when they hear them. Science is bad, they learn. Technology is to be feared. Then they grow up and join Greenpeace and PETA and…

I can remember the first time someone told me that water was an endangered resource. I was more than a bit boggled. Water doesn’t just vanish. That would violate the law of conservation of matter, which I already knew about. Now, as an adult I can say, well, maybe water could be broken down into the component atomic elements of hydrogen and oxygen, but I also know a lot more about the energy involved in that decomposition, too. So… water? Just vanishes? No. But this is what children are taught, and they never think to question it, because it’s something they’ve always been told.

Like my college Spanish class, where we are learning all about el medio ambiente, and !el peligro! Our world is in. Most of the students in class don’t even question it. Of course all factories pollute, except the one that is handily labeled la energia de sol, and has no smoke emissions, unlike the other sort of factory. Of course recycling will solve all the ills of the world. Don’t ask questions, just do what you are told.

The Green Revolution not only goes untaught in schools, but genetically modifying plants to use less fertilizer, less pesticides; that is demonized at the same time the use of fertilizer and pesticides is decried. How many people do they want to starve to death to get their way? I remember the horror I felt, just a short time ago, as a professor casually mentioned that perhaps the millions of deaths every year due to easily treatable parasite loads (specifically to worms, like Ascaris) was how the world keeps from being overpopulated. And yet… we don’t need to die of starvation, nor does anyone outside our prosperous little bubble. But the accepted answer is that GMO isn’t safe, and mustn’t be allowed. With technology a better life is possible, has already been improving for well over a century, but I still see people who claim much education espousing that a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is so much healthier, body and soul. The myth of the noble savage is perpetuated, and modern science suffers.

What does all this have to do with writing? Well, I think most of us read and write science fiction. I suspect most of us saw the article in Wired recently about dystopia and the rising fear of technology that it fosters. I submit that fear of technology is being fostered in far more places than literature, and that fear in media such as games and television has a far greater impact. In places like textbooks at the elementary level, where flawed and false concepts are presented to children who are not yet capable of critical thinking.

I’ll quote Michael Solana in that Wired article again, because he says it beautifully. “Our fears are demons in our fiction placing our utopia at risk, but we must not run from them. We must stand up and defeat them. Artificial intelligence, longevity therapy, biotechnology, nuclear energy — it is in our power to create a brilliant world, but we must tell ourselves a story where our tools empower us to do it. To every young writer out there obsessed with genre, consider our slowly coalescing counterculture, and wonder what side of this you’re standing on. Luddites have challenged progress at every crux point in human history. The only thing new is now they’re in vogue, and all our icons are iconoclasts. So it follows here that optimism is the new subversion. It’s daring to care. The time is fit for us to dream again.” 

What happens to us, should we stay here on Earth, with no adversity, no new frontier to conquer? We run the risk of our children and children’s children becoming like the students at UCLA, who make up things to have temper tantrums about. Perpetually caught at a child-state of development, with no incentive to grow up and develop calluses, they become “what tort law calls “eggshell plaintiffs”—preternaturally fragile individuals injured by the slightest collisions with life.”

So for me, I will write fiction that conveys a sense of wonder, of counting one’s blessings to find what can be rejoiced over even in the depths of despair, because to fall into the abyss of depression lies madness, and the diminishing of the human race. For all that every other animal who shows the least sign of intelligence is held up and crowed over, humanity remains the different one. We are not animals. We have hope, and dreams, and can plan and think for the future. If we need water in a place, then we can look at the problem and draw up plans to desalinate the ocean water from the nearby coast. Or to colonize the asteroids.

After all, despite the red rag of a shirt being waved to obscure our vision, we did, after all, discover what is on the comet, and before it, the hydrated minerals on the asteroids. What do organic molecules there mean? Well, we need to keep launching ourselves fearlessly outward if we are ever to discover the answers.

109 thoughts on “The Luddites are Winning

  1. Darn straight! This anti-civilization, anti-science is mind boggling. Here in Texas I get it from both sides. The religious right tries to push creationism into the science curriculum. But, IMO, the worst damage to science is going to be from the AGW push, which owns the government at a much higher level. They have succeeded at getting their version of reality into the schools from top to bottom.

    And you know? It gets a lot easier to not respect/trust/believe science when you see it being perverted like this.

    1. It’s the classic Straw Man, writ large. That thing they vilify is not science. It has “sciency” things it references, and it uses props and effects to fool even intelligent folk. They have graphs and numbers, and things they call “data” (which are not what they think it is). I’ve seen quite elegant powerpoint presentations from the AGW side.

      The most basic grounding in history, actual science, and math makes all the tomfoolery of Arctic sea ice disappearing, or skyrocketing global temperatures, or Young Earth theories look like the nonsense that it is. Some of the greatest minds of history were religious: Gregor Mendel, for one.

      The scientific method gives the worst of the greenies fits when you apply it to their pet theories. And asking folks with a background in statistics and analysis about the methodology you find there can be a treat (though some ought to come with a spew warning…).

      1. Johannes Kepler, to name another great religious scientist. My childhood hero.

        The greenies want you to have faith, but unlike the great Christian scientists, they don’t want you to TEST that faith!

    2. They are getting the science they pay for, and when someone doesn’t agree with them… kxxxzt

      Which is why we need science and research that isn’t dependent on Gov’t funding. Sigh – I don’t know if that’s a likely outcome.

      1. That’s more likely to be found outside of the US, more and more, I’d think. Because while the government pointy heads are shying away, the businessmen aren’t. In the long run, given the wide scope of greenie influence, they’re going to drive jobs out of the US.

        I’m kinda really glad that the greens’ power has been very limited over here in Australia since Abbott came to the Prime Minstership. Gillard was too easily manipulated. They DO have a push for the adoptation of solar panels here, but it seems largely driven by economics. Ergo, putting in good solar panels = reduction of one’s power bills. The money saved goes elsewhere. Water conservation is normal because of most of Australia being desert, but that POV is largely determined by area from what I can tell. There’s plenty of pools here in Queensland.

        There’s some attempt to put in feels over facts but so far it’s not getting as much traction as they’d like. Most Aussies are too pragmatic for it.

    3. There’s a distinction to be made between science and “Science!”. (And yet another distinction between either of those two and Agatha Heterodyne saying “SCIENCE!”)

    4. The funniest thing about this is that the same people doing this are the same people who also decry the ‘stupidity’ of religious belief.

      Then I found out about atheists who didn’t believe in science or evolution. Yeah, my brain kinda went and stuttered on that one.

  2. My father – who was a real scientist (research biologist) would be heartbroken to see this going on – he managed to inculcate a respect for scientific method in all of his children, and likely those of his grandchildren who were old enough to be influenced. I make an effort to decry the ‘global climate change’ nonsense whenever I hear it, to the dismay of my daughter.

        1. Well, I’ve been run out of a place before for asking the wrong questions and daring to say they weren’t being consistent. Guess I have a reputation to uphold. 🙂

    1. Good, modern, well-tested and durable nuke plants would make life *so* much easier. Cheaper power means cheaper darn-near-everything.

      1. But, but … Chernobyl! Three Mile Island! You want us roaming around the Capital Wasteland with two-headed cattle and supermutants?!

        Back in reality, I really hope the fusion boffins at Skunkworks are on to something with their new design. We could do with a gamechanger of that magnitude, despite the chaos that would ensue.

        1. You want to really set the green at all costs crowd frothing at the mouth? Point out that deaths from nuclear power – even including Hiroshima and Nagasaki – are orders of magnitude lower than from any other power source.

          Then go on to prove that more people die in traffic accidents *every year* than have been killed by nuclear energy. And that the so-called “renewable” energy sources are much, much dirtier than nuclear or coal (because the materials required to build the things are so much more exotic and require much more complex manufacturing processes). This also applies to corn ethanol – the process to extract it is much more energy intensive and dirty than the process to refine crude oil into gasoline.

          It’s quite entertaining.

          1. But but, I have been told by a “responsible business owner” with a degree “in the sciences” that Fukiama killed 18,000 with direct nuclear kills and the death toll is from the radiation is going much higher! And they got their facts from open news sources and all of us that don’t believe it are liars

          2. Done that.

            They start making up numbers of people who were 1/94th killed because of third-hand exposure to radiation or similar tail-pulls. Kind of like the numbers for air pollution killing more than cold….

            1. And then flap most entertainingly when asked for references… Which of course works even better when you have references to give them.

        2. Actually, the greenies don’t want people looking too closely at what *really* happened to the ecosystem around Chernobyl. Endangered species returned. Life flourished. So, according to that one datapoint, radiation makes things ALL BETTER! (Real reason? Absolutely no humans, not even the ecologically sensitive leaving only footprints. Everybody was frightened away by the radiation.)

          1. If I remember right, there’s evidence that above-baseline radiation is actually healthier than baseline– lower rates of all cancers combined and such. (I want to say it was related to granite intense areas in high elevations, so it was multiple sources of radiation– related to research about if granite kitchen counters were killing people.)

            Folks just freak out because the gov’t did its usual “play it safe” thing and did a straight line of risk for calculating exposure– baseline to “we know this has bad effects right away,” and somewhere in the upper middle being “has bad effects pretty soon,” and then assuming a steady buildup.
            They were pretty sure at the time that wasn’t how it worked, but when you’re making a “how much of a risk are we going to put our guys in” chart…..

            See also, the effect of double the CO2 on plants. It’s AKA “aerial fertilization.”

            1. Radiation hormesis is the term. Jerry Pournelle mentions it every now and then.

              It’s an intriguing hypothesis, and would be nice if it were shown to be true, but Very Important Scientists have apparently (per Wikipedia) decided the matter is not to be studied.

              Oh, well; it must be a worthless idea after all.

          2. I just love that national Geographic show about the animals at Chernobyl being so badly irradiated. Actually I wished that they talked to professionals and realized that the vast area of the exclusion zone and indeed anything outside the sarcophocus isn’t really radioactive enough to be lethal anymore. The animals seem to do just fine anyway.

      2. what you do is pair the nuclear plant up with a desalination or a wastewater treatment plant, the power not going to the grid goes to the water plant. That way you can design the nuclear plant to run 100% all the time. Makes for a cheaper and safer reactor and you get very cheap water.

    2. Well, yes, but they would say that, wouldn’t they. They evil (corporation, duh) and they want our money, and control over our reproductive bits, and once they …


      Do kids even want to be astronauts when they grow up, anymore? I wanted to be Buckaroo Banzai, though I didn’t know it at the time. Astronaut, rock star, brain surgeon, roboticist. Now, through the power of imagination, I get to do all that without any of the downsides. Or the paychecks, pity. I saw that the gecko-skin tech is successful: you can use gloves to climb glass like Spiderman. And yet…

      And yet…

            1. This is why I got so excited about the Rosetta and Philae when I was reading up on them. Organic molecules on a comet? We can’t let this momentum fail. Setbacks need to lead to leaps forward.

    3. Yeah. At our current level of technology, we renewable energy is supplementary to the usual ones. There are practical reasons for wanting to use renewable energy though, and I’m watching the Japanese on this one for advancements – I figure this would be something they’d be keen on.

      I’m told though you probably wouldn’t want to try drinking the water, that results as exhaust, but it’s perfectly fine for irrigation. Ergo it’s no different from the brown water use for flushing toilets and watering gardens.

      1. Hydrogen as a means of powering transport is more like a battery than a fuel. generating hydrogen by cracking water requires lots of electrical power. thus, a hydrogen car is similar to a Volt–in many areas of the US, they are coal-powered cars, since they run on electricity coming from burning coal. of course, witless ‘Greenies are unable to reason, and thus cannot see this.

        1. *chuckle* Yep. They don’t seem to mind if something is inefficient, if it satisfies their feels.

          Of course, they don’t see a rather basic thing I did when I was a kid either – that a volcanic eruption tends to send out more of the same gases that is commonly considered pollution, that we could hope to generate. Add to the fact that there are places on earth that have volcanoes that are constantly doing that…

          Or pointing out that trees, being living things, are a renewable resource…

          Things like this -well, facts generally do – break a greenie’s brain. Feels isn’t a scientific degree.

  3. Cedar, the GMO furor isn’t about modifying a genome, but about insistence on secrecy. That’s profit driven, and what it’s doing is subjecting all us us to a huge experiment, to find out whether those GMO foods really are harmless.
    Remember Thalidomide? I do. It was, and remains, a pretty good drug, unless you’re pregnant. The mother benefits, the fetus doesn’t, but it took millions of trials before we found that out.
    I personally object to not telling me what’s in my food. Label it, all the hissy-fits will die down. Then, if it turns out that some mysterious ailment is affecting people who consume GMO foods, we’ll be able to zero in on that fairly quickly. But unless we know what they’re eating, it’s going to take a lot longer to isolate the source.
    And while medicine searches, Monsanto and the other GMO producers are profiting. They get the profits, we take the risk, without even the chance to object because we’re denied the knowledge we need to choose.

    1. And frankly, I think labeling is being used to drive the anti-modification furor. I have no problems with labeling, but where do you stop? Something like 80%-90% of the food produced in the US is already modified to some extent. Might be easier to slap labels on the food that isn’t modified.

      1. As far as I know, everything we eat has been modified. Now most of that was in the field, either by nature or by humans, but it is the same thing that is done in the lab. The lab is just a lot faster and more certain. Think of it as evolution in action. 🙂

        1. Sam,

          The lab is just a lot faster and more certain.


          Science is like a drunken drug addict stumbling around in the dark. Though they mostly get to where they are going it’s never in a straight line and with out falling a few times along the way.

    2. It’s already perfectly legal for any food fad around to establish a certifying body, set standards and enforce them on a group that wishes to be labeled as whatever that fad is; my parents raise “certified natural” cattle that way. See also, the various Kosher groups. If a lobby formed to force all food that isn’t Kosher to have “non Kosher” certification, I’d oppose it exactly the same way.

      They don’t want to set standards and advertise that their offerings meet them.

      They want to force their competition to spend money to change labels to say something they’ve successfully demonized or spend money on inspections, the public to be forced to spend money to establish and enforce the standards, and to still set what “counts.”

  4. One word: Divergent. I’ve only read the first book, but the constant Erudite bashing put me off reading more.

    But on the bright side, Tony Stark is a great role model.

    1. Um… well, ok, for values of role model. I haven’t read Divergent. My daughters enjoyed it, but they are all at the age where angst is appetizing. I can’t stomach it.

  5. As for climate change: it can be reversed in as little as ten years, we can all help, and it’s easy to prove for yourself. I sent the following letter to members of the IPCC Working Groups:
    “A commentary on the report released by the IPCC working groups:
    The science involved in the following letter is not new, but my interpretation involves conclusions that I haven’t seen elsewhere. This letter also summarizes the result of an experiment I performed.
    According to the report, you’re looking at the trapping process of the greenhouse effect by concentrating on the composition of the atmosphere to find a solution. Such will be expensive, time consuming, economically disruptive, and politically undesirable.
    A better way can be found by examining the origin of the greenhouse effect.
    Reduced to essentials, atmospheric absorption of re-radiated heat is the greenhouse effect. This re-radiation depends on temperature at the surface, which means the greenhouse effect is highly localized. The warmer the ground, the greater the re-radiation, hence the more energy is released that can be absorbed by atmospheric gases.
    Conclusion: most of the greenhouse effect happens not in the high latitudes but in the hot deserts north and south of the equator. If we change a part of those desert zones from strongly-absorbent to less-absorbent/ more-reflective in terms of insolation, this will reduce the greenhouse effect, thereby reducing global warming.
    Advantages: it’s cheap, we can do it immediately, the results are incremental, and they’re easily modified.
    Even in the deserts, some Critical Zones are more important than others. The information about where they’re located is readily available online. This is only one link showing insolation:
    To rapidly change the planet’s temperature, I suggest installing reflectors in the Critical Zones. Such reflectors might include PV installations, although I haven’t tested these for shielding efficiency. Still, I think they’d be as efficient as my test panel was.
    I suggest that cheap plastic units, such as the one I built and tested, would serve well as the primary reflectors for modifying the greenhouse effect, with PV installations as a supplement.
    I used plastic film for the reflector and supported it on poles 1.5m above the ground; this is a temporary reflective panel, suitable for testing, but a ‘permanent’ installation might be made of aluminum coated with a mirror film.
    I measured temperatures at three locations in the morning, noon, and afternoon. The test surface was below the reflector (the shaded area), the control was the unshaded area beside the panel.
    I also measured the temperature of the plastic film and found that it was ambient temperature, 41ºC. This indicated that the reflector wasn’t showing a false conclusion, intercepting the heat and re-radiating it so that the sum of temperatures of the ground surface and the reflective surface equaled the control.
    At 1 pm local time, the temperature difference between the shaded and control surfaces was 20ºC.
    I performed the experiment at my home in New Mexico, USA.
    The above summary has been extracted from an essay I intend to publish soon. This summary is intended for those literate in science, while my essay is intended for those who lack such understanding. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    So far, no answer. As to how everyone can help, consider coating your roof with one of the reflective coatings that are already available. That’s easy, and it’s cost-effective if you live in the southwest. For testing, put up your own reflective screen (the materials cost less than $50, even if you buy a roll of mirror mylar from Amazon instead of using a scrap of plastic, as I did, or a white-painted sheet of plywood. That will produce some results, just not to the level I measured.

    1. Full disclosure, sir: I am not a proponent of the global warming theories currently popular these days. But from a science perspective, which admittedly I have but little of and that being in biological classification and measurement, there are a couple of things for you to look at.

      The area you mention, call it the Tropics (around 23dg N to 23dg S) is largely ocean. All that water probably has some effect on global temperature, though getting the data to accurately describe that would be difficult (and more, for greater degrees of precision). If one wishes to affect global climate *quickly-* and ten years is bloody fast in geologic terms- this probably should be taken into account.

      Coating your roof with reflective material makes sense if you live in the desert Southwest- it also helps cool your home. Every house, office building, warehouse and doghouse would cover a surface area measured in the single percentile range. The problem, then is of scale.

      If you want to give ever square kilometer of Tropical earth a sun-shade, that will have an effect on local weather, for as long as it lasts: can you imagine *sweeping* those sun shades? Every calendar day of the year? That would be an issue, as well.

      I don’t mean to rain on your parade, good sir. Just a few layman’s comments to think on.

      1. You miss the point, sir, and it’s an important point.
        Climate change (global warming) is actually a relatively small change in efficiency in the planetary greenhouse effect. Far from covering the entire desert region of the globe (welcome, Ice Age!), I suggest that putting those reflective panels in the deserts would have a relatively large effect because that’s where most of the greenhouse effect takes place.
        I accounted for the oceanic effect and the band of clouds that surround the equatorial region; it’s why I suggested that the best place to take control of the planetary greenhouse effect is in the hot deserts.
        I covered this in a longer essay which is available by writing to me at the address I included in my original post.

        1. And I believe you missed mine, alas. Once again, I am not a proponent, believer, follower, nor do I profit any at all from the various theories of global warming, climate change, AGW, and whatever flavor of the month it goes by these days.

          I will not argue with your sincerely held belief. Carry on, good luck, and may you keep looking for ways to disprove your theory.

    2. You may be reflecting the sunlight off your roof, but the Conservation of Energy (the law of thermodynamics, not the environmental movement) dictates that that solar energy goes SOMEWHERE. Maybe not into your roof, but into the air (Think of one of those mirrored solar energy plants that is frying the birds in mid-air, only less-well-aimed.)

      The Tunnel-vision of many of these activists who don’t see the big picture (like the fact that when the north pole ice is melting in the summer, it’s accumulating on the south pole) is a really big problem when it comes to credibility. It’s like pointing out that electric cars eliminate exhaust, but not noticing that it also causes increased output from coal-fired power plants, and the heat losses from long transmission lines.

      1. Reflected energy is essentially at the same frequency as what passes through the atmosphere from the sun.So birds flying over a roof won’t get fried, nor will birds flying over a flat reflective surface. That only happens when the sunlight is concentrated in some way, as happens with a parabolic reflector.
        Reflected energy doesn’t heat the surface. Hence, it won’t be re-radiated at a frequency that can be absorbed by atmospheric gases. Instead, the reflected energy passes back into space as part of the Earth’s albedo.

          1. A lot of it does. It has to do with molecule size and wavelength.
            Are you aware that the ‘atmosphere’ doesn’t absorb RF energy, that specific gases such as water vapor, methane, and Carbon dioxide do because they’re the right dimensions molecularly to absorb infrared (‘heat’) re-radiation?
            Nothing about this is controversial; you can look up the references on Wikipedia, among others.
            Without spamming this group, how about we take this conversation private? I’ve got numerous citations for all the things I mentioned, things that a physicist would know about; I omitted them because the letter was intended for professional scientists at the committee I mentioned. But I’ll be happy to list the sources so you can check this for yourself.
            Two things only are ‘new’, in that they haven’t been considered before; that most of the greenhouse effect takes place in the hot deserts of the world, and that there are certain ‘critical areas’ within those provide even more heating effect than do others. Would it surprise you to know that the maps of such places are already on-line, free for viewing?
            The other new thing is that I actually did the experiment, which I urge you to try for yourself. A description of what I did (and intend to do again next summer, where I hope to take the idea public by inviting media out to view it and see for themselves). The information is among several essays on my non-fiction blog, You can write me at
            Note that I sent that letter to professional scientists. Whether they ever actually read it is unknown. I’ll also mention that I’ve sent this to friends who are members of Mensa, professional engineers and scientists.
            No one has ever pointed to any of the science involved, any of the logic, and said “That part’s wrong.”

              1. That and depending on how much energy they dumped when they reflected off the mirrors/solar panels/whatever reflected them off earth, the IR can change frequency and miss the frequency window to get back out of the atmosphere.

              2. I give up, Dr. Mauser. Email me and I’ll do my best to teach you elementary physics and meteorology; I’ve given you my email already. I won’t spam this group with further argum…ah, discussions.

                1. I’ll pass, I’ve had enough patronizing condescension for one day. But a few white-painted roofs aren’t going to make a whole lot of difference compared to black ones when you consider the tiny proportion of the sunlight receiving area that is made up of roofs. Maybe I can e-mail you some links about geometry and calculating area. Put simply, you could mirrorize every roof in the world and barely touch the planet’s albedo.

                2. So you insist that using reflectors to stop the sun’s energy from heating the surface won’t warm the air as it passes through it a second time, and yet, you insist that most of the greenhouse effect warming takes place over deserts, where most of the light is reflected back into the air…..

  6. I keep running across an odd dichotomy between “science” which is good, and “technology” which is bad. The mindset seems to be that if it is publicly funded it is above reproach and must be taken as absolute gospel, but anything that produces a product that actually works in the real world and that people are willing to buy is to be dismissed as unnatural meddling with the natural order.

    1. One of my chemistry professors was telling me about a woman who was excitedly talking about some product that reduced chemicals in food… my professor gently interrupted her and suggested she change that to ‘harmful chemicals.’ It’s a joke to us, the people who read this blog and have a half a brain (I’m still getting coffee in me!), but the whole dihydrogen monoxide prank has me vacillating back and forth between amusement and horror that people really do think any kind of chemical is bad.

      1. Try asking people who insist on “organic food” to define “organic”. They can’t, because it’s a marketing term, not a scientific one. Organic chemistry involves certain classes of compounds, some of which occur without human intervention and some of which are created by humans.

          1. I get a laugh whenever I hear someone say their food is free of chemicals. So, what’s your food made of if it contains *no* chemicals? 😉

            1. I have silicon muffin pans, does that count? Only you can’t make popovers in them, the dough won’t ‘grab onto’ the sides and rise, you wind up with pale hockey pucks.

        1. Foxfier,

          My problem with the linked post is that he is conflating complexity and simplicity with danger and safety.

          The danger is not the complexity of the compounds but that we are introducing them into a complex chemical engine (us) that we still do not have a complete understanding or map of.

          1. Actually, it’s making fun of the common flip-out of “just look at the list of ingredients, it’s full of big, scientific words!” (If you haven’t had this inflicted on you, either count yourself lucky or come visit my cousins some time. Or just visit Portland.)

            Complexity or understanding of systems has nothing to do with it, it’s a cousin of the “ban dihydogen monoxide” petitions.

  7. Can we make up our minds on this.

    This annoys me. Instead of questioning what are the consequences of our action, we are told everything is fine by those very people that have a vested We should be asking the questions of how can this harm us.

    How about we not assume one way or the other.

    Science is about testing to failure. It’s not about proving things to be true.

    We are humans. We are fallible. Some how I just supposed to believe that these guys over there are getting it wrong, but these guys over here are getting it right.

    How about I question everything, because our assumptions have a tendency to comeback and bite us on our collective asses.

    The questions are more important than the answers.

    But I keep getting told, “You can’t question the march of progress.”

    1. Have we ever told you not to ask questions? 😀 more seriously, yes. This is the nexus of the scientific method, to ask questions, and test, and test again. Because if you can’t repeat it, then it never happened.

      1. And no matter how off those model predictions are, they keep tweaking the input instead of admitting that their assumptions about the strength of the effect of increased CO2 is wrong.

  8. Spot on, ma’am.

    Oh, and when anybody tells you the “science is settled” they should be mercilessly mocked. When a scientist tells you the “science is settled” they should fall under close surveillance, as they’ve sold their integrity (possibly their soul) and might get up to worse mischief.

    1. I would be interesting, and perhaps useful, sometime when I can take time, to make a list of all the things we knew to be true, settled, set in stone… that weren’t.

      1. Maybe you should limit yourself to a timeframe? If you go after all the things we won’t see anymore books outta ya!

  9. Idea– what do “recycling solves problems” and “water gets used up” have in common?

    They’re things that are fairly accurate on an individual scale– of course water doesn’t get “used up,” it’s just either not in a state to be currently used or is in the wrong place for your purpose. Recycle, reduce and reuse is a perfectly sensible goal for an individual or household.

    They just are nonsense to build your community policy around, let alone a national one. Communities can actually do stuff to change the situations that individuals have to just deal with.

    1. And I don’t have a problem with recycling, it’s just not a panacea. And the water thing is caused by improper presentation of facts that leads to mass delusions.

      1. *dryly* My family’s so old fashioned, we consider recycling to be “don’t be wasteful.”

        Somehow, I don’t think most of the folks pushing recycling wash out their ziplocks, save tin foil or even got scolded for ripping the wrapping paper at Christmas.

        1. Doesn’t everyone wash out their ziplocs? 😉 And I went to festive bags years ago, so much easier to reuse. Just don’t write on them. Or make sure the same kids gets the same bag.

          1. I grew up with washing ziplocs and bread bags. I’ll still reuse them many times but generally for the same stuff and after anything messy they get thrown out. When I was in college I washed out my plastic bags and had them hung on clothes pins and one of my friends laughed at me for it.

            I don’t worry so much any more but as an illustration of how careful we were not to waste or use disposable stuff, out of necessity, when I was a kid, after I was married and out on my own I bought pretty paper towels with a design printed on them and put them on the hanger in our apartment and burst into tears. How pointlessly expensive are paper towels when you’ve got a wash cloth?

            1. We reuse shopping bags that aren’t perforated by holes as bin bags. The ones that are hole-y we put in a separate bag and put in the bin back at the shop for recycling. (Aussie money is nifty like that, apparently!)

              Some things I’ll take as disposable. Diapers being one of them, as well as sanitary period pads and baby wipes. I remember too well the smell of soaking cloth diapers. No thanks. <.<;;;

      2. I have a problem with recycling. For those cases where there isn’t a compelling economic reason, recycling seems to effectively be a religious ritual.

        Which means that for a practicing Christian, it is perhaps akin to the ‘worship the Emperor’ laws, or other practices that the early church faced. Like the situations where the butcher would sacrifice the animal to some pagan idol.

        1. And a lot of the stuff in Recycling bins continues right on into the landfill, once they pick out the stuff that is actually worthwhile to recycle, which is basically just the Aluminum. Sometimes glass.

          1. One of the contracts I cleaned had a recycle bin under each desk and in each conference room. It was required, so they could conform to some state green business code and get a tax credit. Only they didn’t have an actual recycle dumpster. So we’d go desk to desk, emptying the trash and recycle into the same barrel. One of the offices in the building belonged to Solyndra.

  10. I was just thinking about this while cooking my breakfast…

    How does their tendency to want to return to pre-industrial levels of technology coincide with how many of them like the Hunger Games books, where it is a bad evil thing that the coastal elites are forcing most of us to live at pre-industrial technology levels?

  11. Recently there was an IPCC climate scientist who expressed the hope that there might be engineers who think on the timescale of a hundred years or more. Implication being that those that did could make renewables work.

    1) Renewables might essentially be politically defined, and refer to those practices that are inherently unworkable and less economic. Such that if some serious engineering work makes electric cars more viable, the requirements might be changed to wind-up.

    2) Lack of responsiveness to one’s desires may not be a good measure of how many engineers think in what time scale. An engineer might run everything through the bullshit detector and conclude that the IPCC does not appear to have to meet the structural requirements engineers must in certain jurisdictions when making decisions impacting the public welfare. An engineer might use their knowledge of history, how often a ruler can control choices fifty or a hundred years into the future, to conclude whether or not climate change solutions seem to have adequately investigated alternatives.

  12. Not that derailing things is every a seriously considered risk around here, but I see the same mindset in the crowds gathering around just waiting for the excuse to riot in Ferguson. They are basically confident that the mob can produce a better outcome than the Justice system.

    Basically, they don’t really believe that their version of the truth (White cop sees his badge as a N*gger-hunting license) will survive the close scrutiny of a grand jury with access to all the facts of the matter. To them, The Truth =/= Justice.

    The mental contradictions they must be holding in mind to justify this has to be right up there with the so-called scientists who see what their data says, and then write computer programs to alter it to say the opposite so they can get more grant money.

    Makes me wonder which Soros-funded shell corporation is paying the professional agitators who are down there teaching the rubes the best way to riot….

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