The Problem With Bold, New Thinking: Its Rather Old and Worn Out

Jeffrey Taylor in The Atlantic reviews Jerry Coyne’s new book, Faith Versus Fact and has this to say:

…Primarily, though, Coyne focuses on the epistemological. He notes that religion has always advanced hypotheses about the cosmos and the origins of life—matters that he argues belong within the realm of science. He bluntly evaluates faith’s record of teachings about the natural world as a “failure of religion to find out the truth about anything.” Worse, he states, faith from the start leads humans toward “thinking that an adequate explanation can be based on what is personally appealing rather than on what stands the test of empirical study.”

Coyne is clear in his argument that to understand the cosmos there is no need of a “Creator.” What science says about the temporal nature of our own solar system, in fact, renders more than improbable the existence of a divine plan for humanity. “Human tenure on Earth,” he writes, “will end when the sun … vaporize[s] the Earth in less than five billion years,” while the universe “will also end [through] heat death,” with temperatures falling to absolute zero. What does this say for those who insist there’s a divine plan for mankind on Earth? The “God of the gaps,” Coyne argues, is losing out as science fills in the missing pieces…

Gee? Really?  Well, that settles it – since this universe of ours is doomed to die, there must be no God.

Do people really believe this sort of thing?  Have the people who make such statements ever so much as cracked open a theological book? As for humanity surviving five billion years until the Sun vaporizes the planet – seriously? Anyone who is betting on humanity surviving 500 years is taking a sucker bet. If there isn’t a God who is going to save us by miraculous action, I wouldn’t be surprised if humanity was finished 200 years from now – we’re already dying off as a species at this very moment (one crucial aspect to survival of the species is having children; the global birth rate in 1950 was around 37.2 kids per 1,000 people; as of 2015, it was about 19.4…and if it keeps up, it’ll be 13.4 by 2050).

Continue reading

Global Warming is Destroying the Sahara Desert!

Interesting – via Hot Air:

A few thousand years ago, a mighty river flowed through the Sahara across what is today Sudan. The Wadi Howar—now just a dried-out riverbed for most of the year—sustained not just fish, crocodiles, and hippopotamuses, but also agriculture and human settlement. As late as 1,000 B.C., a powerful fortress stood on its shores. But then the Sahara dried out, turning from a green savannah into an inhospitable desert. The culprit: climate change. According to desert geologist Stefan Kröpelin, who has studied geological data for the eastern Sahara going back 6,000 years, the desert spread as temperatures dropped. Global cooling meant that the air had less capacity to hold moisture from the oceans, leading to fewer rains and more arid climes.

Now, that same process is happening in reverse. As temperatures rise, the Sahara and other dry areas are greening on the edges. “I’ve been studying the Sahara for 30 years and can definitely say that it’s getting greener,” says Kröpelin, who specializes in desert archaeology and climate history at the University of Cologne. Where there used to be nothing but desert, he says, there is now not just grass but shrubs and acacia trees–and he has the photos from 30 years of extensive field study to prove it.

Grasp what is happening here, Warmists – 3,000 years ago the world was so warm, much warmer than it is now, that parts of the Sahara we know as burnt-over desert were lush savannah. How can that be? Could it be – is it possible? – that perhaps the climate has changed a lot over the ages? That we go up and down and up and down in global mean temperature for so many variable reasons that no one can really figure out why one age is relatively warm and another relatively cool? Could it be, also, that plant and animal species adapt to these changing conditions?

I know: bizarre and freakish theory. Just can’t be true, though – because if it is true, then there’s really no way to blame it on straight, white, Christian males…

The Continuing Death of Science

Some time back around 2006, I wrote an article on the then-Blogs for Bush about the death of science. Unfortunately, I can’t link it here because those old articles have all been archived and I’m not energetic enough to pester Matt to drag it back out. The basic premise of the article was that as science has strayed away from a rigid search for truth it has come up with so many bogus ideas that people have lost respect for it. One of the more egregious examples has been, of course, the whole anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hoax – but that was just one of very, very many (and, also, in the public mind AGW hasn’t been entirely discredited – it will be though, when we get to ten years past Al Gore’s “ice caps will be gone” prediction). I think that most of us who come here are old enough to remember when coffee and eggs were considered veritable poison – now, not so much. Time and time again “science” has been dragged out to tell us this, that or the other thing and it has turned out to be greatly exaggerated, when not flat out false.

Recently there has been a debate around Neil deGrasse Tyson and his abilities as a scientist. When it first came up, I first hadn’t the foggiest notion of who he was, because I just don’t watch a lot of TV (mostly home improvement shows because that is what the Mrs likes). Turns out, he hosted the reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. What started the controversy was deGrasse Tyson’s use of quotes from people – including former President Bush – which turned out to be bogus. And not just a little bit bogus, but incredibly, stupidly bogus. Ace of Spades has a good run down of it here. The bottom line of it all is that deGrasse Tyson, purported super-genius, (a) didn’t know what he was talking about and (b) when called out on it got all huffy and essentially demanded we forget about it and continue to honor him because he’s still so much smarter than us numbskulls – because Science, or something. Of course, an alleged scientist who doesn’t check his sources is, well, someone who isn’t a scientist, at all. He might be all sorts of things; might even be quite a clever fellow, but science is all about arriving at certainty as far as possible.

I hate to twist the knife here (well, truth be told, I don’t – its rather fun to point this stuff out), but the scientific method is a Christian invention. Specifically, a Catholic invention. Final twist: it was mostly developed by Catholic monks. You see, growing out of the Jewish tradition, the Catholic Church held that as the world was created by a Creator, and this Creator had a plan for his creation, the world then was comprehensible to the human intellect. In other words, by study, experiment and logical reasoning, we could come to understand the world as it is. This is actually quite different from all other civilizations, including the Greek which came closest to this understanding (but never developed a scientific method – and thus the Greeks, technologically, never advanced to an industrial civilization). Because monks sitting in their cells at the monastery knew that the world could be understood, eventually it was – the truth of it all was revealed. And passing out of the monastery, others picked up the threads and amazing things were learned and done. But it could only be done by strict adherence to objective truth. You can’t lie – even if your reputation is on the line. We’ve lost that.

We lost it as we shifted from being a Christian to a post-Christian civilization and the very concept of truth began to waver and grow thin. Two thousand odd years ago one well educated man asked, “what is truth?”, and for a long time after that Christians provided the answer – and in adherence to that, massively advanced human learning. Round about 150 years ago, that started to fade. We started to lose our connection not just to truth, but to a desire to know the truth. People started to doubt there was even such a thing as truth – or even such a thing as things which could be quantified and studied and understood.

Now, to be sure, there are plenty of men and women involved in science who are still out there finding the truth about things – but what we popularly know as “science” these days is a product of a very unscientific method. Its not whether a thing is true or false, but whether or not it supports a position, obtains a grant, burnishes a credential that gets it into common currency. What got deGrasse Tyson into trouble was a quote attributed to former President Bush which made out that he was an idiot – and this in service to a particular goal: making people like deGrasse Tyson seem smart and worthy of our respect; and, furthermore, making people who disagree with people like deGrasse Tyson seem utterly contemptible and not to be listened to under any circumstances. Some real scientist is out there working on a method to transport people to Mars – but he isn’t going to get the TV show, isn’t going to have the best-selling books and won’t be consulted on public policy. That sort of thing is reserved for “scientists” who will just make stuff up which, once again, supports a position, obtains a grant, burnishes a credential.

First and foremost, before you do anything else in life, you have to define your terms. That is, you must assert a dogma – and then find out whether your dogma has anything to support it. You must find out if it is true. Its no good saying you’ll find the truth and then assert it – you have to assert something and then see if it is so. You find out the truth of it by, variously, logical thinking, observation and experiment. You do that to the best of your ability and you’ll find out soon enough if your dogma is worth keeping – or whether it needs to be modified, or tossed into the scrap heap. But a rigid adherence to truth is the key – if you don’t believe that absolute, objective truth exists, then you’ll never get anywhere – well, except perhaps to a pile of money, a TV show, and the utter contempt of people who actually think.

I am not a scientist – don’t have the patience or the self-discipline for it. Most people don’t – and just because someone has a science degree doesn’t mean they do, either. The only way to tell if someone is a scientist is by what the produce. By it’s fruit shall the tree be known – if the fruit is a useful device or a solid explanation of events, then you’ve got a scientist on your hands. If its a bag of gibberish which is making its author a millionaire, then you don’t have a scientist – and you don’t need to be a scientist to tell a true scientist from a charlatan; you just need common sense and a little time to think things over in the light of truth.

And, so, science is still dead – killed by hucksters who want money and fame at the expense of the service of truth. It may still come back, one day – if we, on the whole, re-discover a desire for truth; an acceptance that some things are absolutely truth all the time, and some things are false no matter how you dress them up. Of course, that would be a rather earth shaking change in our society. In fact, most people would be flabbergasted by a society in love with truth – and a lot of people wouldn’t like it, at all.

Global Warming Hoax Update

From Don Surber:

After 35 years of telling us carbon dioxide is melting ice in Antarctica, New Scientist is now saying carbon dioxide has caused the ice to grow for 35 years.

What they said before:

From January 2, 2001: “Ice in the heart of Antarctica is retreating and causing sea level rise, scientists have shown for the first time.

From June 23, 2007: “Rising sea levels could divide and conquer Antarctic ice.

From March 25, 2008: “Antarctic ice shelf ‘hanging by a thread’.

From January 21, 2009: “Even Antarctica is now feeling the heat of climate change.”

From March 10, 2009: “Sea level rise could bust IPCC estimate: Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice fast and could end up taking sea levels to nearly twice predicted levels by 2100.

From July 31, 2011: “Antarctica rising as ice caps melt.

Got that?

Year-in and year-out, the editors at the New Scientist have warned us that the ice in Antarctica is melting fast…

So, what is New Scientist saying now? That the Antarctic ice cap is larger than ever, and that global warming is the cause.

Face it, we can’t actually win this debate – if glaciers start to cover half of North America, the global warming alarmists will be out there saying it is because of global warming. It doesn’t matter what the facts are because global warming is replacing religion in the lives of people on the left…they have to believe in something, and they’ve decided to believe that (a) humanity (mostly Republicans, it goes without saying) are destroying the planet and (b) only they – the liberals – can save it. You can’t beat someone’s religious beliefs; you can’t argue them out of it. All we can do is hope to win elsewhere enough political power to prevent these numbskulls from wrecking things in the name of saving the planet.

That Second Hand Smoke Thing? Yeah, it Was BS

From Reason:

Several years ago I was talking to an epidemiologist who is skeptical of the idea that smokers pose a mortal threat to people in their vicinity. Although he supported workplace smoking bans, he was frustrated by the willingness of so many anti-tobacco activists and public health officials to overlook or minimize the weakness of the scientific case that secondhand smoke causes fatal illnesses such as lung cancer and heart disease. He wondered when it would be possible to have a calm, rational discussion of the issue, one in which skeptics would not be automatically dismissed as tools of the tobacco industry. I suggested that such a conversation might take place once smoking bans became ubiquitous, at which point the political stakes would be lower. Judging from a recent article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, headlined “No Clear Link Between Passive Smoking and Lung Cancer,” that conversation may have begun.

The article describes a large prospective study that “confirmed a strong association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer but found no link between the disease and secondhand smoke.” The study tracked more than 76,000 women, 901 of whom eventually developed lung cancer. Although “the incidence of lung cancer was 13 times higher in current smokers and four times higher in former smokers than in never-smokers,” says the JNCI article, there was no statistically significant association between reported exposure to secondhand smoke and subsequent development of lung cancer…

This is what I knew from the get-go: it was always nonsense to think that second hand smoke was a huge killer – or even a risk, at all.  Certainly no more of a risk than going outside on a smoggy day in Los Angeles and just breathing.  The amount of tobacco smoke a person would inhale via second hand smoke – even if they lived with a smoker – would be so tiny as to be inconsequential as a health risk. Remember, even for very heavy smokers, not all of them get lung cancer – smoking increases the risk of cancer, but it isn’t a 1 for 1 thing.  If you smoke, it doesn’t mean that smoking will kill you.

Hopefully this will open up a debate – and get us away from the idiot idea that smoking is some sort of massively hideous thing which needs to be banned.  Smoking is just a thing you can do – like eating cheeseburgers or having a coke.  Not the healthiest choice.  Not something any doctor would recommend, but it is something to do – for pleasure.  You know, to enjoy life.  Probably be better if all of us smokers ditched the cigarettes and switched over to pipes as we’d probably end up smoking far less (and mostly smoking much higher quality tobacco), but its still just one of the pleasures of life that someone may engage in.  And like all things in life, there is a risk involved.  Of course, the rule is, “eat right, exercise, die anyway”.  Main thing to remember about life is that no one gets out of it alive.  At some point certain, in a more or less painful manner, we will all exit this world.  And if before I go I can have a smoke, that’ll make it more pleasant than going, as I must, without a smoke.

Global Warming Hoax Update

Interesting:

Critics of those who claim that man-made global warming is a serious threat to the planet and settled science frequently point to the fickleness of scientists on the issue, noting that in the 60s and 70s scientists were warning of just the opposite. It now appears the critic’s claims may have merit as a new consensus is beginning to once again return to the global cooling model…

Of course, this won’t stop our liberals – they’ll just say  its “climate change” and that it’s still all the fault of humans, especially Americans.

The bottom line of all this, however, is what I’ve been saying for years:  we don’t know what is exactly happening with the climate because our data are insufficient; if the world is warming (or, as it turns out, cooling) we simply do not know the primary culprit; finally, if it is changing and even if it is our fault, there’s not much we can do to stop it at this point so we’re just going to have to adapt to changing conditions…as life on this Earth has done again and again over the ages.

The reason I’ve called it a hoax is not because it is impossible for our climate to be changing, but because a hoax is a con…and people are trying to con us out of or wealth and our liberty.  This is, bottom line, a mere attempt by self-selected “leaders” to take charge of all aspects of our lives…and for these leaders to live very well while dictating to the rest of us.  It is just one in a very, very long line of scams.

Global Warming Hoax Update

From Canada Free Press:

Global warming is likely to be less extreme than claimed, researchers said yesterday. The most likely temperature rise will be 1.9C (3.4F) compared with the 3.5C predicted by the Intergovern­mental Panel on Climate Change. The Norwegian study says earlier predictions were based on rapid warming in the Nineties. But Oslo University’s department of geosciences included data since 2000 when temperature rises “levelled off nearly completely” – John Ingham, Daily Express, 26 January 2013

The Earth’s mean temperature rose sharply during the ­Nineties. This may have caused us to overestimate climate sensitivity. We are most likely witnessing natural fluctuations in the climate system – changes that can occur over several decades – and which are coming on top of a long-term warming. – Professor Terje Berntsen,University of Oslo, 24 January 2013

These results are truly sensational. If confirmed by other studies, this could have far-reaching impacts on efforts to achieve the political targets for climate. – Caroline Leck,Stockholm University, 25 January 2013

Remember the hoax wasn’t the claim that the world is warming – there is data to indicate that is true – the hoax was that human-produced CO2 was the primary culprit.  That was the hook – that was the way global socialists hoped to gain political and economic control of our lives, because they ostensibly had to control how much CO2 we emitted or the world would suffer catastrophe.  Now, after a decade of no measurable warming, a bit of actual science (not a “consensus” that the world is warming up being hitched to a claim that massive government intervention is needed to save us) is showing up in the debate…and if the world is warming, it will be far less than the alarmists expected, and may not be bad for the world.

Now, I wonder if Al Gore will give back the money he made pushing this scam?

How Old is the World?

Turns out, they don’t just ask that of GOPers whom the Democrats have commanded the MSM to destroy – seems that our President was once upon a time asked the question.  From Instapundit:

Q: Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?

A: What I’ve said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know.

Which is actually a pretty good answer – a bit better than Rubio’s which also wasn’t too bad.  Of course, we don’t know if President Obama has “evolved” on this issue or decided it was above his paygrade.  We’ll need a follow up question – which I’m sure the MSMers will ask at his next press conference in 2015 or so.

The proper answer is, of course, “as old as it is, I suppose” because no one really knows.  You see, the main trouble with pre-historic events is that they are, well, pre-historic.  What happened wasn’t written down in contemporary documents and so we can’t review the material and come to a conclusion about what happened.  We can make some surmises from what we can analyze in the here and now, but we can’t know how it all came about.  One of the troubles we have in studying the distant past is that there is so little evidence for us to go on – and so, all too often, the scientists studying it grasp on to whatever scrap of evidence they can find and run entirely too far with it (this is especially true of paleontologists and their tiny collection of bones).  So much of what happened in the past has entirely vanished – there are a lot of wild guesses about what our primitive ancestors did, for instance, but I find no real profit in looking in to the matter – we’ll never really know.  I’m just grateful that, apparently quite early on, one of them figured out how to make beer.

The fundamental problem with evolution as it is expressed these days it not in the concept that a positive thing called an ape slowly turned in to a positive thing called a man – that is something which no theology can have the slightest problem with.  The error comes in when a proponent of evolution insists that it was all blind, random chance – first off, the chances of it happening are so vastly small as to be nearly zero:  it is a greater miracle that we exist by blind chance than the miracle that we exist because the Word called us in to existence.  Secondly, if it was all blind chance then everything is merely the result of a prior cause; there is no free will and thus no actual thought…including the thought that we evolved.  You see, if all results are merely the blind working out of forces beyond anyone’s control (as they must be if there is no Creator) then there is no validity to the thought that we evolved by blind chance:  the random atoms in your brain just happened to be worked in to a position where your mind spits out the “it all evolved blindly” thought; but a slight alternation in the atoms a billion years ago and you’d have spit out the thought that we all grew out of a rock in the garden – and neither thought is worth commenting on because each are equally meaningless.   The thoroughgoing evolutionist cuts his own intellectual throat.

To me it is just plain as a pikestaff that God created the universe and ordered it towards a certain end.  I really don’t grasp how anyone can think differently – one thing happening can be ascribed to random chance but the tens of billions of things which must have happened to result in my typing on a computer in 2012 makes me highly suspicious that there is an Author to the play I am acting in.  I don’t know if this Author spoke everything in to existence in 6 days or if he decided to go about it through 6 billion years – and to me the whole debate is rather academic.  At the end of it all we are, indeed, here and have to do the things we must do.  The only thing which irks me in this debate is the insistence upon some that in our public life we subscribe to an asinine theory saying that there can be no God in the process of life.  That is just to shut down a massive area of intellectual inquiry – it is a closing of the mind and made doubly irritating because the people who are shutting their minds say they are doing it in the name of openness.

Global Warming Hoax Update

From the Daily Mail:

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years…

Just to re-state my views:

1.  It is not certain that average global temperatures have been rising.  They may be, but we lack sufficient exact data over a long enough period of time to make an absolute assertion one way or the other.

2.  If average global temperatures are rising we do not have sufficient data to know if they are rising towards some historic norm or rising higher than a historic norm.

3.  If average global temperatures are rising above an historic norm then we do not have sufficient data to determine if this will be a net negative or positive for the species inhabiting the planet.

4.  If global temperatures are rising we do not have sufficient data to determine what would be the primary cause of this increase.

5.  It seems to me that the tiny fraction of a fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere which is caused by human activity is unlikely to be the culprit if, indeed, average global temperatures are rising.

6.  Given all we don’t know, any plans to deal with an alleged increase in average global temperatures are not based upon hard science but upon the merest guesswork.

7.  I refuse to massively change the way we live based upon mere guesswork.

The reason I call it a hoax is because it is always Number 7 which is the real bone of contention – with all we don’t know, the global warming alarmists yet insist upon massive tax and regulatory changes to society (all of them tending towards an increasingly undemocratic form of government).  As this works out to a massive power and wealth grab by a self-selected group of global elites, it has in my mind the mark of a hoax – a scam, if you will.  The day I see jet-setting global warming enthusiasts move in to a mud hut after leaving one last warning for me, then I’ll sit up and take notice.

 

Global Warming Catastrophe

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a Global Warming update, and it appears that we failed to act soon enough, and now we’re all going to drown.

There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening.

What we are seeing, here and now, is the transformation of the atmospheric physics of this planet. Three weeks before the likely minimum, the melting of Arctic sea ice has already broken the record set in 2007. The daily rate of loss is now 50% higher than it was that year. The daily sense of loss – of the world we loved and knew – cannot be quantified so easily.

The Arctic has been warming roughly twice as quickly as the rest of the northern hemisphere. This is partly because climate breakdown there is self-perpetuating. As the ice melts, for example, exposing the darker sea beneath, heat that would previously have been reflected back into space is absorbed.

This great dissolution, of ice and certainties, is happening so much faster than most climate scientists predicted that one of them reports: “It feels as if everything I’ve learned has become obsolete.” In its last assessment, published in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that “in some projections, Arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st century”. These were the most extreme forecasts in the panel’s range. Some scientists now forecast that the disappearance of Arctic sea-ice in late summer could occur in this decade or the next.

As I’ve warned repeatedly, but to little effect, the IPCC’s assessments tend to be conservative. This is unsurprising when you see how many people have to approve them before they are published. There have been a few occasions – such as its estimate of the speed at which glaciers would be lost in the Himalayas – on which the panel has overstated the case. But it looks as if these will be greatly outnumbered by the occasions on which the panel has understated it.

The melting disperses another belief: that the temperate parts of the world – where most of the rich nations are located – will be hit last and least, while the poorer nations will be hit first and worst. New knowledge of the way in which the destruction of the Arctic sea ice affects northern Europe and North America suggests that this is no longer true. A paper published earlier this year in Geophysical Research Letters shows that Arctic warming is likely to be responsible for the extremes now hammering the once-temperate nations.

I’m really sorry we didn’t listen to our obviously wiser Liberals while we still had time to do something.  And even though it’s probably too late, I’d be interested in hearing from our resident Progressives, after the well-deserved I-told ya-so’s, just exactly what we should or could have done to avoid the impending climate Armageddon.  A big mea culpa is all I have to offer at this point.  I don’t even think we need to bother with the election in November.  I mean, what does it matter in the overall scheme of things?