Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, Politics and Economics

Can We Legitimately Base Policy on Presumption of Guilt?

Twilight and Shadow, Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore

Parts of this post are drawn from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/  and from http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/science.html and also from http://thefederalist.com/2014/02/26/the-original-sin-of-global-warming/ and some of the ideas occurred to me while reading at http://observer.com/2015/11/why-progressives-are-wrong-to-argue-against-cultural-appropriation/

justin-trudeau3The Great Canadian Carbon Tax being pushed down our throats by the Ottawa Liberals has focused my thoughts on the multitude of fallacies built into the “settled science” of global warming. Can you see the error hiding in my title? Probably not, if you are the product of the “modern” education system.

This is because the obvious cultural biases of a late-20th-century modern progressive exhibit a crystal clear animus against the profit motive and a pre-established belief that industrial civilization is “ravaging the earth.”

Again, these are the obvious cultural biases of any late-20th-century modern progressive from the most ignorant, uneducated, or trained, up to and including those with the exalted title of PhD (a misnomer if there ever was one – how does one earn a “Doctorate in Philosophy” in a system that doesn’t even teach or value philosophy).

And, to our civilization’s great misfortune, these folks predominate and proliferate in overwhelming numbers in the modern educational system at all levels and in the vast and ever increasing halls and offices of government. This creates a perpetual feedback loop such that all one can hear is the overwhelming screeching of this colossal flock of aggrieved progressives shrieking “Mine”, “Mine”, “Mine” as they impale the sails of our national and global economy.

So in the “Global Warming Theory” debate the proponents of the “evil industrial complex”  theory offer us a binary choice to consider only two alternative theories (each attributable to the “evil profit driven industrial complex”) —that we are destroying the planet by cooling it down, or we are destroying the planet by heating it up—and calls proliferate for more of other people’s money to figure out which is correct.

But this bias prevents anyone from seriously considering an obvious third option: that our effect on the Earth’s climate is negligible, that any heating or cooling is within the normal range of natural variations, and the empirical, provable, measurable, fact based benefits of industrial civilization far outweigh any possible “theoretical” negative effects. But if we don’t treat this as an option, much less as an equally likely option, no government funding (other people’s money again) is likely to be devoted to pursuing that theory. Any person bold enough to suggest this third path is immediately vilified and marginalized as a “Denier”.

This is the original sin of  the “Global Warming Theory” religion: that it was founded in a presumption of guilt against industrial civilization. All of the billions of dollars in government research funding (other people’s money) and the entire vast cultural establishment that has been built up around global warming in academia and government, were founded on the presumption that we already knew the conclusion—we’re “ravaging the planet”—and we’re only interested in evidence that supports that conclusion. Just follow the money …

On other fronts, we are experiencing an “unusually cold” October – temperatures have not risen above zero degrees Celsius for a while and the projections are for more of the same. Is there any truth to the theory that temperature is a zero sum game and that because we are colder than normal, somewhere else on the planet other people are warmer than normal.

This sounds a lot like the theory that wealth is a zero sum game and that because some have more there must necessarily be others who have less because of that and it is the role of government to take that “excess wealth” and redistribute to others who have less, to “balance the playing field” for the uninformed and who will coincidentally vote for the folks giving away the freebies thus perpetuating the above mentioned feedback loop.

So we have an absolutely orgasmic situation for progressives in the form of a “Carbon Tax” which allows us to fix the “theoretical” Global Warming problem while at the same time redistributing the “excess wealth” to more deserving program recipients. WOW!  A twofer! Progressive Nirvana …

Oh Earth Oh Earth Return, Bill Douglas, 1996

Now, let’s take a moment to talk about “truth”. Science can never prove a theory “true” (by definition), but can only ever proceed down a path of ever increasing attempts to disprove the theory. So it is obvious to anyone that “truth” really has no place at all in science. By “truth” I mean what is “really” going on.

Science can’t really help us with “Truth” because science really can’t tell us what is really going on. All science can do is show that any “theory” enables us to make predictions with a fair degree of reliability, about what will happen if we do “X”, or don’t do “Y”. Science is straying out of it’s ballpark when it starts dabbling in “causes”.

Truth has to do with ultimate causes, which are always elusive and beyond the realm of science. Science deals with theories, usually mathematical, which predict outcomes of experiments. For example, if we drop a rock off a cliff, the law of gravity combined with theories of air resistance and other forces can be used to calculate just how long it will take to hit the ground, and how fast it will go, etc.

But science does not and cannot answer the question of just exactly what gravity is, or why things fall to the ground. It just states that given certain conditions, they will fall. Likewise, we can observe all kinds of weather phenomena and we can say with some degree of reliability that when certain phenomena are observed in some degree of conjunction then certain other outcomes become “more likely”.

Have you noticed that all the weather predictions these days are couched in terms of “% of probability”, like a 30% “chance” of rain. Just visit the link and check the POP numbers if you don’t know what I mean.

aasacrificing-to-their-god-lfs-990-600x466Does anyone understand that % verbiage more precisely than if the weather people were simply saying “It might rain” or “It might not rain” or even more obviously “we don’t really know for sure but our opinion is:”.  So too with “Global Warming theory”. The proponents seem quite willing to sacrifice the good of all on the alter of their opinion dressed up in the lipstick of “settled science”.

We have “weather forecasts”, and “storm warnings” and numerous other products of humanity’s attempts to predict climate outcomes, but as soon as we slide into making pronouncements about “causes” we have left the realm of science and ventured into the realms of opinion or even religious belief.

Whatever the facts may be, any statement about “settled science” in relation to weather and climate, only reveals a great lack of understanding on the part of  the speaker. The speaker is appealing to an authority which does not exist to support an opinion which may or may not have any element of truth in it at all.

We most often hear these types arguments in the schoolyards or after work in the bars and often in government circles and the lower levels of academia,  but the vehemence of the debate simply does not add anything to the veracity of the claims. Of course the arguments, at least in government and academia, are invariably followed by  demands for more of other people’s money.  Just follow the money ….

In general, science answers questions like “how,” “when,” “where”, but never “why” in the ultimate sense. Our medieval ancestors understood Theology to be the queen of the sciences. Her twin sister Sophia (the Greek word for “Wisdom”) was also venerated in the discipline of Philosophy. It was hard to tell the two beauties apart, but together they once ruled the many domains of human knowledge because they dealt with “Truth” and “Ultimate Causes”. In our modern Progressive Western English society Philosophy and Theology are increasingly irrelevant backwaters

As an example of the interplay of the 3 concepts of observations, theories and truth, consider the courtroom. The observations may be that a man was seen shooting a gun and that the person hit by the bullet died. The theory may be that it was cold-blooded murder, but the truth may be that it was self-defense.

Truth tends to be invisible and hidden, such as someone’s motives, whereas observations are usually visible. Courts are very interested in truth, where the motive (the ultimate cause) for actions is given considerable weight. The distinction between first-degree and second degree murder is based on intent. Motives are not as yet observable in science, and hence are beyond science.

So it is also with the word “Fact“. The word “fact” has several meanings, which can be very confusing. In popular usage it can mean either “observation,” “theory,” or “truth.” As an example of each, one can say, “it is a fact that every time I have dropped this ball, it fell to the ground.” That is what has been observed so far, and the word “fact” can be replaced with “observation.”

One can also say, “it is a fact that every time I have dropped this ball, gravity pulled it to the ground.” Even though this statement appears very similar to the first, “gravity” really refers to a theory proposed to explain why the ball is observed to fall. Finally, if one so thoroughly believes that the theory of gravity is really “true,” he could replace “a fact” with “true,” which would take the meaning beyond science into the realm of his personal convictions or beliefs.

This confusion can often be avoided by always replacing the word “fact” with “observation,” “theory” or “truth,” whichever seems to convey the intended meaning best. Remember that if the meaning is “observation,” then it is as fallible as the observer. If it is a “theory,” then it also could be dis-proven someday.

If it is claimed to be “truth,” then it is a statement of the personal conviction of the speaker, which is outside the domain of science. There is no such animal in our real world, fact based, menagerie as “settled science” or “truth”. The existence of these beasts are firmly rooted in the world of personal conviction or belief.

But here in flyover country we still have to pay more now to heat our colder houses. And it is calculated (in the same way that we calculate how fast a ball will fall to earth when dropped) that these changes to our daily reality embodied in a Carbon Tax based on the “settled science” of global warming will cost us all about $2500 per year or somewhere north of $200 per month.

Now, if you work for academia or government at any level then this is a trivially insignificant change because everything you get paid is all other people’s money anyway. You are the folks playing in the tax pool and splashing money around like water.

For the real taxpayers – those who actually create wealth or work for folks who create wealth and actually put real money into the tax pool for the swimmers to splash around in – this is a real palpable hit amounting to perhaps 10% of one’s remuneration.  And still we see no noticeable gubmint programs on the horizon to provide “heating cost relief” – yet.

Cheers

Joe

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