You are either for us or agin us

The global climate change debate has something in common with the evolution “debate”. (As an aside, I’d call the former an actual debate. The latter is only a debate in the minds of the deluded.) The thing in common is that in both cases you have one side arguing against scientific consensus and the other side defending scientific consensus.

Generally people who are arguing against scientific consensus point to past failed hypotheses to indicate that science can be wrong, has been wrong in the past and should not be treated as infallible. They are right about this, of course, but they miss a very, very, very important point: it was science itself that corrected these mistakes. It was not op-ed pieces or vague conjectures by untrained people, it was “big science” that found the correct answer.

So people who defend scientific consensus are not defending a particular conclusion, they are defending the processes that make such conclusions possible at all. Without science we can’t debate global climate change or evolution.

The people who argue against scientific consensus often say, “We’re not anti-science, we are against the squashing of debate perpetrated by ‘big science’. They get a theory and everyone jumps on the bandwagon at the expense of other valid scientific explanations.”

They are wrong about this. Global climate change and evolution, to stick with my two examples, are under constant attack by scientists. There are a million mundane (and perhaps a couple profound) controversies that are debated within the scientific community constantly. Literally, it never ends. That is what science is.

If we assume that we have 10 competent, honest scientists in a room and 8 of them agree with hypothesis A and 2 of them agree with hypothesis B, we call hypothesis A the scientific consensus. It does not mean that A is true and B is false, it means that the arguments of A convince more scientists than the arguments of B.

I’m personally not an expert at climate science or evolution. I can’t really make up my own mind based on the scientific data — I don’t have the training. Chances are, neither do you. My problem with the “anti-science crowd” is that their disagreement with scientific consensus is not based on the science but instead based on other factors such as their political leanings or their religion. Those are piss-poor reasons to take a view radically different from scientific consensus.

The bottom line is, either you trust the scientific process or you don’t. The only people capable of creating more successful theories are scientists. Unless you are personally an expert on the scientific matters at hand, your only rational alternative is to defer to scientific consensus.

You are either for us or agin us

Saved by the sun

There was a time when whales were the only major source of oil in the world. A huge, expensive and dangerous industry developed to chase whales around the world and slaughter them for the oil in their blubber. At that time, it seemed like there was a shortage of whales. There were concerns about how the economy could grow without finding more whales.

This same situation is occurring today, but instead of whales it is fossil fuels. We are utterly fixated on oil as the major source of energy on earth. We are just like those people in early America wondering if we were going to have to go to war over whales. George W. Bush and the neocons have successful spent more than $479,769,782,781 dollars chasing whales in the Middle East.

According to a new article in Scientific American “the energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year.” Read that again. There is no energy shortage on earth.

The article outlines a plan for the USA to be powered solely by solar energy by 2050. The government investment in their plan is $400 billion, a number eerily similar to the cost of the Iraq war. In just a few years, nation-building in  Iraq has cost as much as a 40-year plan to get the USA completely energy independent.

Anybody serious about national security has to be serious about energy independence. Our priorities are completely screwed up. We should stop helping oil companies and start investing in renewable energy. The most expensive energy on earth is the energy we need to send our military to protect.

Now, just after the Winter Solstice, when the sun is coming back to us northerners, it is a perfect time to remind you: there is only one long-term solution to our energy problems. The sun.

Saved by the sun

How old is Earth?

I don’t know how it happened but I edited this entry on WikiAnswers: How old is Earth?

I gave a reference to a nice scientific article on the subject and gave the date with error bars. I forget the exact answer right now but as we all know the Earth is around 4 billion years old. We know this from many branches of science including geology, astronomy, biology.

The Jesus Freaks keep editing the entry and putting the answer back to 6,000, the Biblical age of the earth, also known as complete and utter nonsense.

The earth is around 6 thousand years old.

To whom it may concern: The Bible is truth. So when you say to put the truth up there, I am. Give me ANY evidence that the earth is 4 million years old. I base my evidence on truth.

Tell me, please, how can someone write something like that with a straight face? It’s batshit crazy.

So help me. Edit this entry every few days and keep the science haters at bay.

How old is Earth?

Michael Crichton: Retard

Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
– Michael Crichton

UPDATE: Oh, I suppose I should elaborate. You are surrounded by the benefits of scientific consensus. The notion that science has some economic agenda is fucking nonsense. He is talking about one topic he disagree with science on, I’m guessing global climate change, and he has to make this sweepingly retarded comment.

No Crichton, you idiot, scientists are the fucking good guys, white hats, making lives better, saving lives, improving quality of life and otherwise ushering in a fucking golden era of luxury and prosperity to the world. To vilify scientists to make your (incorrect) point about global warming is just plain dumb ass and is the smoking gun of an idealogical agenda that is devoid of real scientific basis.

Michael Crichton: Retard

Theories do not become facts, facts become theories.

Some dumbass at wrote:

The fact is it’s a theory, that’s why it’s called a theory so until you know 100% that it’s a fact, it’s pretty lame to angrily bash other people for having views which are opposing to your own.

That statement, which is shared by many, IS COMPLETELY WRONG. Theories in science are assembled from facts. They explain many, many facts. Theories do not become facts, facts become theories.

The reason people “bash” others is because they have absolutely no clue about the physics of these issues and yet they act like they are uniquely qualified to comment. Read the article in Science and then read all the references in the article and get educated on the subject before you declare it is correct or not. Cosmology is not exactly a science that lends itself to scrutiny by people entirely ignorant of the vast amount of peer-reviewed work that has gone into current theories.

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Theories do not become facts, facts become theories.