June 26th, 2009

Capping Trade Through Cap and Trade

photo credit: sharply_done

Like a sugar addict does on Halloween, our federal government is trying to grab everything in sight for itself. This illegitimate acquisition of power demonstrates itself in nearly every executive order, Czarian mandate, and congressional bill; very little of what comes from Washington these days passes Constitutional muster. The latest of a steady stream of attacks on individual liberty and the free market comes in the form of "Cap and Trade"—a federal limit on carbon emissions and creation of a credit-based system through which companies may acquire or sell extra privileges to pollute.

The nickname "cap and trade" came about because this legislation would put a limit ("cap") on the carbon emissions each company could produce, as well as allow companies to buy or sell ("trade") extra credits to other companies. It is especially ironic that this nickname describes the destructive effect the law would have: the imposition of government limits on carbon emissions would effectively cap trade itself (trade being a synonym for economic exchange). Think of it this way: if the government were to cap dollars themselves (we can all fantasize, can’t we?), there would be less money production, which would mean less money circulation, which would mean less ability to exchange dollars for goods, which would mean less demand for goods, which would mean less production of goods, etc. The artificial barrier imposed on a productive enterprise by government—even those with supposedly noble intentions—discourages investment, production, and consumption. In an economy stuck in a quicksand pit, one would think that this would be the last thing our government would try and foist upon us.

A recent Wall Street Journal article elaborates on this intervention cycle, showing that the Democrats trying to ram the 1,500 page bill through Congress have little concern for the impact on Americans’ wallets and overall effects on the economy:

The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.

Even as Democrats have promised that this cap-and-trade legislation won’t pinch wallets, behind the scenes they’ve acknowledged the energy price tsunami that is coming. During the brief few days in which the bill was debated in the House Energy Committee, Republicans offered three amendments: one to suspend the program if gas hit $5 a gallon; one to suspend the program if electricity prices rose 10% over 2009; and one to suspend the program if unemployment rates hit 15%. Democrats defeated all of them.

If you thought the trade deficit and off-shoring were issues before, just wait until the Democrat-sponsored draconian global warming clampdown takes hold. The citation above made mention of moving operations overseas to locations not restricted by carbon emission limitations, and that’s an obvious likelihood. But in an effort to save face and placate well-connected lobbyists and voting blocs, Congress will soon find itself having to intervene even further to try and soften the blow a little:

Knowing that the costs associated with cap and trade will send hard-pressed U.S. consumers and producers to lower-priced imports, some legislators seem keen on trade barriers as the easy solution–thereby raising the costs of foreign products and making them less competitive in the U.S. marketplace. For these legislators, the potential risks of global warming trump all other policy concerns, including the long-term prosperity of Americans. From their point of view, if protectionism in U.S. cap and trade becomes the standard for other countries to follow–or ignites a trade war with countries refusing to trade economic growth for curbs on emissions–all the better.

Once again we have interventionism on display, with few realizing what they’re seeing. As in war where we rebuild the bridges we blow up, so too in the economy do our power-lusting politicians aim to fix the problems they themselves have created. Few dare to point out that the whole chain of events would be eliminated were we to reverse the root problem. Instead, this politically unacceptable self-restraint has long been cast aside for the "we-can-do-anything-we-please" style of governance. The double dose of intervention (cap and trade, and then protectionist trade barriers) is but the continuance of a long cycle of economic interventionism—albeit a massive one.

Cap and trade will (if passed, possibly even this afternoon) do great damage to our economy, shrinking our GDP and stifling incentives to produce, invest, and manufacture domestic goods. Our dependency upon cheap products created by countries not restricted by such global-warming-inspired lunacy will increase, thereby forcing us to rely further on countries who certainly do not have our best interests in mind. If we truly wish to improve the economy, cap and trade should be strongly rejected. The alternative is a very real cap on American trade, and an onerous restraint on the peaceful, productive pursuits of far-from-free Congressional guinea pigs (formerly referred to as Americans).

63 Responses to “Capping Trade Through Cap and Trade”

  1. Neal Davis
    June 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    Very little of what has come out of Washington in many years would pass Constitutional muster, frankly. Now I’ll go back and finish the article.

  2. loquaciousmomma
    June 26, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    Does anyone else feel like we are under attack from all sides? I don’t know which battle to fight, I have limited time and resources and there are so many battles to be fought. We are being ambushed.

    Healthcare “reform”

    Cap and trade

    Food Safety and Enhancement Act of 2009


    Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act

    Employee Free Choice Act

    I am sure I can come up with more, but these are off the top of my head.

    Where do we start?

  3. Carborendum
    June 26, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    If they continued to slooowwwlllyy diminish our rights, they would eventually win and we would be playing out Animal Farm. But instead, the nature of power is that it, like a drug, demands more at an exponential rate.

    Eventually, that exponential rate stretches the confines of public tolerance which moves at a linear rate. When it is stretched to breaking, a violent revolution occurs.

    At some point people will realize that elections have done nothing to change the policies enforced upon us that most people are against. At some point, we will live out Kennedy’s warning,”Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

    I look upon that day with both hope and dread. I know I’ve contemplated this myself. It is only years of brainwashing into the good little boy that I am, that has kept me from it. But at some point, those mental restraints may snap. I just hope I won’t be the first.

  4. Reach Upward
    June 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    Thanks for pointing out that this whole thing is simply part of a continuously recurring political cycle — the political hero journey.

    Politicians create a mess. Politicians come down from Mt. Olympus with promises to clean up the mess (i.e. election campaigning). Politicians play the part of the hero, benevolently tweaking a few things to make it look like they have slain the dragon, all the while using sleight of hand to obscure the fact that they are simultaneously creating yet another mess. Throughout the process, power over the lives of people is fought for and traded like so many pieces of silver.

    Rinse, lather, repeat.

  5. Daniel
    June 28, 2009 at 1:49 am #

    I’d say this post seems overly calamitous. I’ve been wanting to see a C&T system for some time, though I haven’t looked closely at the details of this plan yet.

    See, in the old system, companies could pollute as much as they wanted to because the cost of dumping waste in the air and the water was zero for them.

    With cap-and-trade, the ability to pollute will (in theory) be limited, which places a cost on polluting. This will incentivise companies to be thrifty about doing it, and if companies want to pollute disproportionately, it’ll cost ’em. ¡Viva la market!

    Also, it seems to work well under some conditions.

    What would you like to do instead? Can I at least assume you’re not in favour of unconstrained pollution?

    (Straight Dope link for Carb.)

  6. Josh Williams
    June 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    First let me point out that oil is a lot cheaper in the US than it is in most other countries, excepting the Persian Gulf countries. (Partly this is due to domestic production, but keep in mind that oil from the US is traded at the same prices as that from other countries.)

    No, I think the major reason for this is the favorable tax breaks and subsidies doled out with prejudice to the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel has been lobbying for decades for the protectionist status and artificially low consumer prices it enjoys. They’ve been using the exact same argument, that higher prices will hurt the economy (read: hurt them.) They say that not only should the gvmnt. give them special treatment, but should even intervene to artificially deflate prices because that makes things go! This state of affairs is no more constitutional than the Cap and Trade system is.

    I have noticed that congress much prefers to write new policies, rather than simply revisiting old. The old sunk-cost fallacy, I guess.

    Secondly, it is not necessary to speculate about the effect higher energy prices will have on the economy. You need only examine countries that already have higher energy prices. They don’t seem to have any of the problems you’re predicting, Connor.

    There are a couple of reasons for this, I think.

    If energy prices were to double, labor would still be far and away the biggest liability to most industries, except for a select few. Generally these would be the companies that otherwise profit the most from waste. There’s also a paradoxical sort of law when it comes to energy usage. The more efficiently we can produce it and distribute it, the more IN-efficiently we tend to consume it.

    See, in the old system, companies could pollute as much as they wanted to because the cost of dumping waste in the air and the water was zero for them.

    So, in a sense, the cap and trade is not an interventionist policy, but an attempt to bring rule of law into a currently lawless system.

    The citation above made mention of moving operations overseas to locations not restricted by carbon emission limitations,

    I think the argument that jobs will get shipped overseas is a scare tactic, and a tired one. You claim companies will move to countries that have “more favorable” energy policies; but which industries would those be? And which of those industries haven’t already benefited from lower overseas labor costs? In reality, most jobs in the US that can be easily outsourced, already have been. Services generally can’t be outsourced, which is what most people in the US do.

    I do have a criticism of the cap and trade system.

    I think that myopic and inefficient, not to mention corrupt government, damage the economy far more than higher energy prices. I think that byzantine and convoluted rules and policies are a far bigger obstacle to business. Now, I’m not in favor of anti-regulation, I’m in favor of straightforward regulation, based on empirical evidence, not ideology. In other words, it’s easy to claim that society WILL be better off with this policy, it’s harder to claim that society IS better off.

    Simply taxing carbon is the simplest, most effective, and most just solution; just as raising water rates is the most effective solution during a drought. It costs little to enforce and requires little new regulations. The people who pay the most in the end are the people who cause the most harm.

  7. Edward
    June 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Are there not already are regulations on pollution in place? Companies can’t pollute as much as they want. If they are it is because they are either not following the rules, or have lobbied to remove specific rules regarding their industry. An unholy alliance between large corporations and the government is just that. Cap and trade is only going to increase the opportunities for abuse.

    And don’t insinuate that somehow those against cap and trade are “in favor of unconstrained pollution”. I consider myself an environmentalist–it is because of that, not in spite of, that I am against furthering a government system that large corporations are always able to take advantage of.

    So what’s the solution? How about we take away the power of the corporations and the government in regulating and put our faith back in the people where it belongs? Every time we further delegate something as basic as caring for the environment of our communities to the government, the people grow yet more ignorant of their responsibilities. Government creates yet more dependence–this time we expect that the federal government is watching so that the factory in my community doesn’t pollute–or at least charges them extra money if they do. Does that really cut it? Is that okay if that factory is making the community sick? My community will be sick, but what can we do about it–the Fed is in charge.

    Consumers have shown time and again that when they see that they are in control, they will talk with their dollars. It happened in cases as small as dolphin safe tuna, to reusable grocery bags, to the ever growing and more environmentally friendly “Buy Local” movement. People care and if you let them decide they will. Delegate this responsibility to the government and we’ll have more of the same–corruption, abuse, higher cost of living, all without really creating less impact on our environment.

  8. Josh Williams
    June 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    I like Reach Upward’s comment about the Political Hero Journey.

  9. loquaciousmomma
    June 29, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    I know a woman who was born and raised in the UK. She said that in her home country the heat was shut off to homes in the middle of the day for a period of time. This was to save energy and protect the environment. Fuel was much more costly than here because of high taxes-the environment again.

    People will generally adapt to harsh situations, we have to live after all. But when I asked her about it, she said she purposely kept her home here in the US toasty warm all day because she could.

    She preferred it here.

    Cap and trade may “work” in other countries, but with a cost.

    The science isn’t even settled with regard to global warming-er I’m sorry , ‘climate change’.

    The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about the lack of consensus on the reality of climate change.

    And here is a blog entry by a scientist who claims to have been misrepresented in a recent CCSP report by the Obama administration.: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/06/obamas-phil-cooney-and-new-ccsp-report.html

    He actually doesn’t see any evidence of severe changes in climate in the US “over the long term”, in fact they have been declining.

    Must we really totally overhaul our economy for such weak science, with very little to gain from it?

  10. Daniel
    June 29, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    So what’s the solution? How about we take away the power of the corporations and the government in regulating and put our faith back in the people where it belongs?

    Your approach sounds suspiciously like ‘doing nothing’. That’s done a crackerjack job so far.

    The science isn’t even settled with regard to global warming-er I’m sorry , ‘climate change’.

    This is the wrongest thing anyone’s said on this page, perhaps even this blog.

  11. Carborendum
    June 29, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    Daniel, Josh,

    You’ve been duped.

    I want a clean environment too. If you remember how bad most major cities were in the 70s (was anyone else concious back then?) and compare them to today, we have made HUGE strides towards cleaner air.

    You give politicians and beaurocrats the power of determining what industries are “polluters” and which are not, that will create excessive regulation.

    We pretty much ALL agree that politicians don’t know what they’re doing. They are incompetent especially in matters of science.

    Cap and Trade has little to do with the environment and everything to do with changing our economy into a government controlled system.

    I’m in favor of straightforward regulation, based on empirical evidence, not ideology

    What do you think the entire idea of “climate change” is?

    This is the wrongest thing anyone’s said on this page, perhaps even this blog.

    No, Daniel. It looks like we find each other on opposing sides again. We have had many discussions about this on previous articles already. I’m surprised you hadn’t read them.

    If you KNOW that our carbon emissions are so great that we can change the entire planet, then tell me how the greenhouse effect really works. Once you do, I have a series of questions regarding the effect that will guide you into understanding that the Earth is self-regulating. And it would take a lot more than oil to change that.

    Every time I ask these questions of adherents they have to admit they don’t know (except one guy claimed to know, but just wasn’t going to waste his time with me). But they still believe in it.

    Does this sound like science or ideology?

    Check out Cecil’s take on it.

  12. Carborendum
    June 29, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    One more thing about this system:

    Supposing it has passed and we’ve all accepted it as a part of life. Who decides what is a pollutant? Who decides how much is appropriate? Politicians? They aren’t smart enough to recognize real science if it kicked them in a warm dark place!

    When we’re looking for “the appropriate level of pollutant” it needs to be based on real science as we know it. How much is too much? I’d bet that any single person on this blog would be capable of listening to experts and making a more sound decision than ANY politician I’ve heard of.

  13. Carborendum
    June 29, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Regarding shipping jobs overseas:

    Most recently, my career has steered me to the refinery and power inudstries. As of 2007 we had reached a peak in US jobs. Everyone was seeing 10 years of excessive overtime pay and huge pay raises every year.

    We followed somewhat the decline in employment that the rest of the country has experienced. But because of how important the power plants and refineries are, we’ve maintained a minimum employment that other industries can’t match.

    Due to already strict regulations in these two industries, and the rollercoaster ride of prices from oil, coal, & other fuels, many of these companies are barely making a profit. Many of them are running in the red.

    You add even more regulations or taxes, especially in these difficult times, how many do you think are going to be operating anymore?

    In the mean time I’ve found job openings all around the world for my position (specifically in Russia, South America, & The Middle East). I can’t find a job here in the states. If these taxes cause me to lose my current job do you think for a second that I’m not going to head to Russia as soon as I can?

  14. Daniel
    June 29, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    loquaciousmomma argued that the science is not settled. This is a lie. Scientists agree that climate change is happening faster than even the most pessimistic estimates.

  15. Connor
    June 29, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Scientists agree…

    Excuse me for laughing. A lot.

  16. Daniel
    June 29, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Also, I find your blanket generalisation of all politicians as incompetent to be unhelpful. Some politicians are dumb as rocks — we call them Republicans — but to tar them all just undermines good will in our elected public servants, and doesn’t replace it with anything constructive. However, I shan’t argue this further, seeing as undermining government is more or less the raison d’être for this blog.

  17. Carborendum
    June 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm #


    Who? What? When? Sources? Your statement is a lot more propaganda than verifiable data. This is less than I’ve come to expect from you.

    Are you just trying to stir things up? Or do you really believe this?

  18. Daniel
    June 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    Thank you for the oblique compliment.

    The Wikipedia page on this topic (and Wikipedia can never be wrong) lists no dissenting scientific organisations, not even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

    I can’t tell you what’s truly happening, but I can tell you what scientists — who know a lot and are spending their lives working in this area — think about it. And there it is.

  19. Carborendum
    June 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    If it’s written down, it MUST be true. 🙂

    OK, Daniel. I’ll look into it.

  20. rachel
    June 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Daniel, the only reason you think the scientists all agree is that the mainstream media only gives time to those who say that global warming is a true threat. And why don’t they call it global warming anymore, but now it is “climate change?” Because the evidence was piling up against the warming theories. They will conjure up anything to gain control of the people. It’s called “management by crisis.” They scare us, then tell us they have the solution, we plead for them to save us, then they make some law or take some liberty away and gain more and more control over the citizenry while we sleep or watch American Idol.

    Earlier you commented that you “haven’t looked closely at the details of this plan yet.” I suggest you read the bill, but make sure you have some snacks because it’s 1200 pages. In my humble opinion, you don’t fully comprehend what is happening.

  21. Connor
    June 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    …it’s 1200 pages.

    Actually, with the 300-page amendment snuck in under the cover of night (literally in this case, as it was inserted at 3am on the day of the forced vote), the total is now around 1,500 pages. None of which Congress had time to read before voting, of course. (Not that they would have read it anyways, had they had the time…)

  22. rachel
    June 29, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    “On June 2, as Congress debated global warming legislation that would raise energy costs to consumers by hundreds of billions of dollars, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book challenging the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects.

    In “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.

    The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.”

    Read more at http://www.nipccreport.org/

  23. rachel
    June 29, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Connor, I watched the debate on C-span. The 300-page amendment (at least one of them, maybe there was another) was taken apart almost page by page by John Boehner who said that no one had had a chance to read it since it was submitted at 3:00am the day of the vote, so he spent the morning going over it. He was given 2 1/2 minutes and took over an hour, much to the chagrin of Mr. Waxman. The speaker in charge said it was customary to hear what the minority leader had to say. He exposed the amendment for what it was (outrageous, even at one point allocating money to Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac) and it achieved a healthy defeat. Soon thereafter, it was time to vote on the bill, but right before the vote, Mr. Waxman yielded to Nancy Pelosi who said she could sum up this bill in four words: “Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Let’s vote for jobs!” she shouted. All I could do was shake my head and have a stiff drink to help ease the pain.

  24. Connor
    June 29, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    Yeah, I was watching it online as well, and had to restrain myself from shouting at Waxman for his sniveling idiocy and whining. I found Boehner’s stint to be entertaining, reminding me a little of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. The House doesn’t do filibusters, but his lengthy reading of portions of the blitzkrieg amendment was a bit entertaining in an otherwise (mostly) dull and depressing political body.

  25. Daniel
    June 30, 2009 at 12:17 am #

    Daniel, the only reason you think the scientists all agree is that the mainstream media only gives time to those who say that global warming is a true threat. And why don’t they call it global warming anymore, but now it is “climate change?” Because the evidence was piling up against the warming theories.

    Okay, Rachel. Then if you have some better information, why don’t you edit the Wikipedia page to include the evidence you have? You’d be doing us all a favour, and we could see how long your edits last under the scrutiny of other Wikipedians. Unless they’re in league with the mainstream media! My goodness, this conspiracy does go deep.

    I believe it was dissembling ferret Frank Luntz who coined the term ‘climate change’ to make it sound less severe. But I don’t mind. It does highlight the difference between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’, which escapes many people who complain that it still gets cold in winter.

  26. loquaciousmomma
    June 30, 2009 at 11:56 am #


    My teenage son assured me that you were joking in your statement that “Wikipedia can never be wrong”. Now I see that you were actually serious!!

    I only use Wikipedia for the external links section at the bottom of the page. It gives me the opportunity to go to the source, not to accept someone’s interpretation.

    I did a little bit of research and found that Joanne Simpson, a very respected meteorologist who worked with NASA for over 20 years, made some interesting statements last year.

    The first sentence letter she wrote points out the terrible state of science over this issue right now:

    “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receive any funding, I can speak quite frankly”

    The reason she could not speak “frankly” before is clear as you read her description of the situation in her field:

    “Both sides are now hurling personal epithets at each other, a very bad development in Earth sciences…The situation is so bad that the front page of the Wall Street Journal printed an article in which one distinguished scientist said another distinguished scientist has a fossilized brain. He, in turn, refers to his critics as “the Gang of Five”.

    She then goes on to say that:

    There is no doubt that atmospheric greenhouse gases are rising rapidly and little doubt that some warming and bad ecological events are occurring. However, the main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system. We only need to watch the weather forecasts

    This is from the woman who discovered the “heat engine” model associated with hurricanes.

    Now, to be fair I will share the next part of her letter:

    What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical.

    So, she is still in favor of governments taking action, basically taking the “better safe than sorry” road.

    But she clearly states that the science is not settled on this matter.

    She does say, however, that there is a program that she worked on that will hopefully shed some more light on the subject, known as TRMM.

    The point at which I started becoming adamantly opposed to the whole green governmental scheme was the point at which carbon dioxide was classified as a greenhouse gas to be regulated. This is too convenient for tyrannical governments. Basic elementary level science teaches us that plants and humans have a symbiotic relationship in which they provide us oxygen and we provide them with CO2. If there is too much CO2, plant more green things.


  27. Daniel
    June 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    LM: You caught my gentle joke about Wikipedia. Yes, it can be wrong. But remember that a Wiki page has had a lot of eyes pass over it, with a lot more chances for correction.

    True, individual scientists have come down against anthropogenic climate change, and the Wikipedia page names many of them, along with their opinions. Maybe one day, other scientists will come around and their view will be the majority view. It happened on continental drift. But to do that, Joanne Simpson (or someone else) will need to bring the evidence, which to date they haven’t done.

    Finally, just a tip.

    If you suggest that we can fix the climate change problem by simply planting more trees, or by any other simple method that someone like you or me with basic elementary level science could work out, I can guarantee you that scientists (some of whom have been working in this area for ten or twenty years) are not going to collectively donk themselves on the forehead and say, “I never thought of that!” It’s more likely that they have already thought of that, and they’ve run the numbers on our good idea, and it won’t work (at least not all by itself).

    I do think planting more green things is a good idea though.

  28. Harold
    June 30, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    My position as a director of environmental regulatory issues in industry affords me a perspective on this that I have not seen reflected in most posts following the blog. First, emissions from industry are heavily regulated in the US and companies must adhere to strict risk-based limits in most air permits. Believe it or not our air is so clean, we now seek to reduce emissions from cattle. Not cattle operations, cattle themselves! But, I digress. What motivated American industry to set up shop in the US pre and post-WW’s was freedom, freedom to innovate, freedom to operate, and freedom to make a profit. Over the years, modern society has seen fit to increase regulations and taxes on industry for the mostly demonstrative good of the people. Now politicians and scientists, with the politician’s backing, have convinced the world that climate change is inevitable. Guess what they are right! Geologist’s have been taught the same thing since Lyle, but that does not mean we should spend money we don’t have to fix it, does it? Nor, is there any suggestion of evidence we can do anything about it. Very strong odds are that we can’t! Why not do what animals do, adapt? I can assure you that is what companies will do in this global marketplace. They either will adapt here or adapt with what few industrial jobs we have left somewhere where the profit potential is greater. That is survival of the fittest and the the evolutionary process? But most politicians don’t really believe that or they would not be so hellbent against change. So bring on the Cap and Trade to regulate the mystical, imaginary, and omnipresent demons and then, watch the survivors adapt.

  29. Harold
    June 30, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    My position as a director of environmental regulatory issues in industry affords me a perspective on this that I have not seen reflected in most posts following the blog. First, emissions from industry are heavily regulated in the US and companies must adhere to strict risk-based limits in most air permits. Believe it or not our air is so clean, we now seek to reduce emissions from cattle. Not cattle operations, cattle themselves! But, I digress. What motivated American industry to set up shop in the US pre and post-WW’s was freedom, freedom to innovate, freedom to operate, and freedom to make a profit. Over the years, modern society has seen fit to increase regulations and taxes on industry for the mostly demonstrative good of the people. Now politicians and scientists, with the politician’s backing, have convinced the world that climate change is inevitable. Guess what they are right! Geologist’s have been taught the same thing since Lyle, but that does not mean we should spend money we don’t have to fix it, does it? Nor, is there any suggestion of evidence we can do anything about it. Very strong odds are that we can’t! Why not do what animals do, adapt? I can assure you that is what companies will do in this global marketplace. They either will adapt here or adapt with what few industrial jobs we have left somewhere where the profit potential is greater. That is survival of the fittest and the evolutionary process. But, most politicians don’t really believe that or they would not be so hellbent against change. So bring on the Cap and Trade to regulate the mystical, imaginary, and omnipresent demons and then, watch the survivors adapt.

  30. Carborendum
    June 30, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    OK, folks. My eyes are red. I’m sick and tired or reading everything from Daniel’s Wiki link.

    Here are my findings.

    1) The Wiki article is valid but deceptive. Vitually all of the sources were regurgitations of the IPCC report. They didn’t offer any new evidence, new logic, new anything. It was a lather-rinse-repeat job. I only went through about the first 30 or so. I can only read the same thing so many times. I tried looking further through several generations of links as available. But they just repeated themselves.

    2) The statement,”no scientific body of national or international standing” is deceptive since it only refers to government sponsored bodies. I find this upsetting since we’ve all heard what deception the IPCC bureaucrats executed on the panel.

    3) To be fair I looked up the source material of other groups who are global warming skeptics. Most of them were funded (some only partially) by big oil and energy companies (or others with an agenda). Curiously, I couldn’t say that about the NIPCC that Rachel brought up. I’m still looking. But so far so good.

    4) The article said “It does not document the views of individual scientists, individual universities, or laboratories”–This is interesting because it links to several of them in the source material. But it only links to those who agree. I’ve found several that disagree. Now, why would they do that?

    So, I’m left thinking we can’t trust anyone anymore. Take your pick. Every group of scientists are being forced or paid off to say what they’re saying–either by politicians on one side, or big corporations on the other. Of course politicians then are also motivated by still other corporations.

    So some corps are using the strong arm of government to enforce their will (I’d like to see what Al Gore’s investment portfolio looks like). Other corps use non-profit think tanks to forward their agenda.

    We have no one who’s just saying what they honestly believe without some agenda being pushed. Government has won because they have the media and public school on their side.

  31. loquaciousmomma
    June 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm #


    I get that the situation is much more complicated than my solution.

    I never intended it to be a solution for the entire situation. I just reject the idea that Carbon Dioxide is responsible for ruining our atmosphere.

    A little more research has led me to some more interesting information.

    First: There has been a noticeable correlation between rising temps and rising CO2 emissions in the earth’s history. Lowell Scott, a professor of Earth Science authored a study that found that the increase in CO2 actually followed the warming associated with the end of the Ice Age.

    “The climate dynamic is much more complex than simply saying that CO2 rises and the temperature warms,” Stott said. The complexities “have to be understood in order to appreciate how the climate system has changed in the past and how it will change in the future.”

    Second: There is a paper on the Nasa website that explains the scientific issues with global warming. There is an interesting graph toward the bottom of the page that shows that this is actually a time of relatively low CO2 levels.

    Even after including the information that the IPCC report contained, the bottom line conclusion was:

    First, we are most likely within the increasing phase of a global warming trend, probably a repeat of warming patterns following previous Pleistocene glaciations. Second, humans are almost certainly responsible for some of the (seemingly larger and faster) increases in warming. But the relative proportion of the first to the second still is not quantitatively ascertained to everyone’s satisfaction. And, while one can safely specify some of the consequences of warming, and ice melting, we do not yet know the degree of “direness” nor whether we can moderate or even reverse the apparent inevitable. Thus, it may be wise just to accept warming as a part of the future even as we try to control the negatives. Is reducing the rate of CO2 gases into the atmosphere a bad thing. Probably the opposite. Good! But at what price. Stick around – the younger readers should see some answers to these concerns.

    (Emphasis mine)

    My last comment was in response to your assertion that:

    loquaciousmomma argued that the science is not settled. This is a lie. Scientists agree that climate change is happening faster than even the most pessimistic estimates.


    This is the wrongest thing anyone’s said on this page, perhaps even this blog.

    I wanted to prove that the science is, in fact, not settled.

    And as I have shown, it is not.

    Finally, classifying CO2 as a “greenhouse gas” subject to regulation, gives more power than I am comfortable with to the government. My imagination can go to places where, like in China, births in the US are restricted “to save the planet”. Or, in places where the government already has their hand in health care, seriously ill people can be allowed to die without intervention, to reduce the population, thereby reducing CO2 and “saving the environment”.

    It is already being asserted that cows are partially responsible for global warming, so we shouldn’t eat much beef. And there is a campaign by the center for food safety and the cornerstone campaign called Cool Foods Campaign that seeks to encourage people to reduce their “food print”

    The more intrusive this whole subject gets into our lives, the more I demand to see real hard science with a reasonable consensus that doesn’t discourage dissenting opinions.

    If you are going to force me to change my lifestyle, you had better convince me that it is absolutely necessary, or else I will consider you a tyrant.

  32. Carborendum
    June 30, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    NEWS: Cap & Trade is an old story.

    The 1990 Clean Air Act did pretty much the same thing as this C&T bill. So, why all the hubbub?

    The difference is that the previous one targeted things like SO2 & NOx. This bill targets CO2. SO2 & NOx are peripheral products. They are not central to the reaction. ANY combustion based power generation we have today generates CO2 as the PRIMARY byproduct.

    I just found out the following earlier today from a guy at my office who’s been working the industry for 40 years.

    Here is how C&T actually works for the power industry. They know how much they’re expelling. They know how much they will be over. Then they build additional plants on the cheapest land and don’t bother with transmission lines, buy the cheapest equipment, design it to allow for the highest limits. Then they NEVER run them. Then they can sell an awful lot of credits EVERY year to . . . (fanfare) themselves.

    So, I guess there was not much to worry about.

  33. Carborendum
    June 30, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Here is why the debate is not over.

    Most agree on these issues but . . .

    1) There has been warming over the past century. People disagree on the cause. They also disagree on how much. But it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 degree celsius.

    2) The phenomenon of greenhouse effect is real. People disagree on how much it has changed and what the major players are. And what effect we have on it.

    3) Water is the most powerful greenhouse gas that behaves in the oddest ways. No one is able to predict how this most powerful player will behave in the midst of all these variables that most only guess at. So most ignore the most powerful variable in their models. — or worse–assume water behaves in a way that will support their theory. UGH. You call this science?

    4) CO2 is probably the weakest player that is even considered. But most models use it as the biggest player.

    Here’s how things work:

    A) Sunlight comes in but it doesn’t go out. How? No, it doesn’t behave like a greenhouse — technically. A greenhouse prevents convection from taking heat away. You don’t consider convection with outer space. Instead, the light that comes in is a wide frequency passing right through to the surface of the earth where it is altered and reflected back in discreet frequencies (many of which can be absorbed by greenhouse gases).

    B) Water behaves much differently. Sunlight comes in and hits clouds and bounces out. So here, the most powerful greenhouse gas is actually causing cooling. What??? Cooling??? Yes. But there is only a specific amount of water in the atmosphere. It varies with precipitation, but there is an equilibrium level that the earth maintains. The only way to increase atmospheric water is when things get warmer. Wait a minute. Something said. If global warming causes more ocean water to evaporate, we have more water content in the atmosphere. So it should be self-regulating right? Wrong.

    C) We don’t know how water will behave. The reflecting back to outer space only works if we have clouds up high. The rise in temperatures will only guarantee more humidity. We don’t know if it will rise up high enough to create more clouds.

    D) The nearest real-life model we have is EL NINO. It is the closest thing to a real life laboratory of global warming that there is. But each time it comes around, it has completely unpredictable effects. Sometimes NO unusual weather patterns occur. Sometimes it effects the entire world with extreme weather. This is the butterfly effect in action. (I’m referring to the mathematical model rather than the esoteric philosophy).

    E) Even if we have no change in cloud levels, two other effects occur with highly humid air at ground levels–1) The temperature is more moderate. Higher lows and lower highs. 2) Plants will grow faster and absorb more . . . CO2.

    I’m sitting here thinking that it is self regulating. Yet others (whom I trust and believe to be knowledgeable) have assured me that there are other factors. I’ve found one so far, but I’m still researching.

  34. loquaciousmomma
    July 1, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    Carb: This is why I keep coming back to this site. Everything we debate turns into an opportunity to learn! It is also generally a great opportunity to discuss things that usually devolve into name calling and foul language elsewhere in an intelligent fashion.

    Everyone: Thanks for your part in this exciting community!

    Connor: A special hats off to you for your creation!

  35. loquaciousmomma
    July 1, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    I realize that I used the word ‘community’ when in fact it is a blog, with lively debates in the comment section. It has become, for me, a community, however, much like a forum, only much much better.


  36. Steve
    July 1, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    I laugh when people say the scientists all show how the facts point to global warming and climate change… These are the same scientists who cannot develop a model to give an accurate 10-day weather forecast. But they are definitely right about the macro-climate??? Say what?

    What is coming to light is that climate change scientists manipulate data to fit the end-results that will appease those who give them grants and funding. Whenever they make a pronouncement, just check to see who is funding their work and you will see what their motivations are…

  37. James
    July 1, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    Daniel, please read:




    Climate change is undisputed. The climate changes every day. Anthropogenic global warming though? Really? Really? Come on.

    – sorry i didn’t use the pretty hyperlink method…

  38. Daniel
    July 2, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    Boy, this sure is a complicated issue! Not just for the science of it, but also because a lot of people have vested interests in the outcome, and many people are trying to spread misinformation, and when that happens, the likelihood of finding out what’s really going on approaches zero.

    I’m noticing that people here are trying to downplay CO2, or even claim that it’s a relatively trivial factor. Obviously CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas. There’s also methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and so on. And, as Carborendum says, atmospheric water is another variable. But most of the literature I’m seeing suggests that CO2 is a huge player because of the sheer volume of it. Methane is more potent, but less plentiful.

    LM, the Stott article does have some interesting info about CO2, but Stott is quick to say this:

    “I don’t want anyone to leave thinking that this is evidence that CO2 doesn’t affect climate,” Stott cautioned. “It does, but the important point is that CO2 is not the beginning and end of climate change.”

    Which is fair.

    The NASA page is interesting. The overall tone is captured by this quote:

    The most obvious conclusion: Reduction in both particulates and greenhouse gases should overall be a mandatory necessity for mankind to survive in safety and comfort even as population grows. The corollary: emissions from all major sources MUST be reduced, preferably more than halved present and projected amounts. Since warming and dimming are global, it follows that this is an international threat and should therefore be met head-on by all nations.

    The interesting thing was that you pulled a graph from it to show that CO2 doesn’t correlate with temperature change. About this, the authors say:

    At first glance this would seem to score one for the anti-global warmers who say “don’t worry”. But, keep in mind the time frame: over 10000 years, the averaged rate of increase is only 0.18° F per 100 years – far slower than the present and forecast rates that are now several degrees in the 21st century.

    In other words, for both of the articles you’ve cited, the authors foresaw your objection, and addressed it, but you ignored that and tried to get to the exact comclusion that they warned you against making. What you’re doing is called ‘cherry picking’. It’s what someone does when they care more about their foregone conclusion than about what’s really happening. Ideally, one would try to stay open, understand what the sources say, and try to reflect that accurately, changing one’s opinion when necessary.

    From Steve: I laugh when people say the scientists all show how the facts point to global warming and climate change… These are the same scientists who cannot develop a model to give an accurate 10-day weather forecast. But they are definitely right about the macro-climate??? Say what?

    Once again, there is a difference between climate and weather. This is exactly the kind of uninformed comment I was talking about in #25.

  39. James
    July 2, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    okay, climate is the long-term average temperature, I agree, but the point is still valid. climate and weather both change, going up and down, due to forces much greater than those from humans.

  40. loquaciousmomma
    July 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm #


    Your point is well taken. I would like to point out, however, that I was not arguing the pros or cons of global warming. Rather, I was pointing out that there are valid questions. There are people in the know who are not completely convinced that global warming is both man made and changeable.

    The very next paragraph says:

    All of the above is quite interesting but, what does it tell us about the future (does the apparent trend seem so dire that humans must start acting decisively to curb global warming?). Various investigators have put forth predictions extending to the end of the 21st Century…

    (there was a graph here)

    The worst case scenario predicts about a 5° C increase by 2100 A.D. That would place global temperatures in a range experienced by the dinosaurs at the beginning of the Mesozoic. Life flourished then, including vegetation. We find no evidence of drastic negative environmental conditions at that time. But, then, it didn’t much matter whether coastlines were drowned and tropical plants encroached upon the poles. Changes must have occurred. Many would be detrimental to large segments of the world population if similar ones happened in this century. However, Man has grown ingenious at adjusting to situations that appeared adverse at the time. As long as mankind doesn’t face starvation, or some other form(s) of extinction, even if global warming has threatening aspects, we on this planet will accommodate much of the global warming threat.

    The basic message is that even if the worst case scenario happens, the human race is resilient and will adapt, and even flourish in the changing conditions.

    The next section of the paper discusses the 2007 IPCC report. Even after this, the writer has this to say:

    So, from all this, what is the bottom line: These two premises seemingly have now been substantiated: First, we are most likely within the increasing phase of a global warming trend, probably a repeat of warming patterns following previous Pleistocene glaciations. Second, humans are almost certainly responsible for some of the (seemingly larger and faster) increases in warming.(emphases added) But the relative proportion of the first to the second still is not quantitatively ascertained to everyone’s satisfaction. And, while one can safely specify some of the consequences of warming, and ice melting, we do not yet know the degree of “direness” nor whether we can moderate or even reverse the apparent inevitable. Thus, it may be wise just to accept warming as a part of the future even as we try to control the negatives. Is reducing the rate of CO2 gases into the atmosphere a bad thing. Probably the opposite. Good! But at what price. Stick around – the younger readers should see some answers to these concerns.

    So, basically, scientists with a long view of the Earth’s existence see recent developments as a possibly part of a natural cycle, in which human contribution may have actually had a part in accelerating. Nevertheless, whether anything we do will reverse the trend, as opposed to simply stopping the acceleration, is still in question.

    Daniel, you have yet to acknowledge my points. Instead you look for weaknesses in my arguments. What say you about the state of science? Will you acknowledge that the science is not settled?

  41. loquaciousmomma
    July 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    I was told about this article by a friend.

    What I find is interesting is the actual paper itself, which can be found here. (It is a pdf file).

    The executive summary lists reasons to question the necessity of labelling co2 as a greenhouse gas, the first being that global temps have declined.

    Here is a link to a Nasa page that supports this claim.

    He then says that at the same time as temps have decreased, co2 levels have increased. This calls into question the relationship between co2 levels and temps.

    He gives several more reasons to rethink the call to regulate co2.

    I won’t list them all here, but I do think it is worth reading.

  42. Daniel
    July 3, 2009 at 2:42 am #

    Ah. I see we’re talking bout slightly different things.

    We’ve been kicking around four different ideas here.

    1) Climate is changing.
    2) It is at least in part caused by humans.
    3) We should reduce carbon emissions.
    4) Reducing carbon emissions may not help.

    So is the science settled? Well, on points 1, 2, and 3, I see near-unanimity. I haven’t seen a scientific organisation that opposes them, though as I’ve said from the beginning, there are individuals who take a different view.

    Point four is, I’ll agree, not settled. I do see a bit of debate on this. Some think it’s already too late.

    To return to the OP: is it possible that reducing carbon emissions could be good for the economy? One researcher from Yale thinks so. Interesting.

  43. Carborendum
    July 3, 2009 at 3:21 pm #


    I played around with the Yale model. I wasn’t impressed. I’d really like to see the algorithms for the coefficients he’s using.

    1) He doesn’t ask any options about inflation or the effects of alternative energy on inflation.

    2) He doesn’t talk about population growth. The GDP may not be as important as the GDP per capita.

    3) He also doesn’t ask about what industries would be put out of business or what others would thrive under a severe restriction regime.

    Remember he is an environmental scientist, not an economist. NO ONE has enough knowledge to really determine the effect of such a change on the overall economy. There are always ripple effects and unintended consequences of any change. And history has shown that when the government is the driving force behind the change, it usually is a negative consequence. And the bigger the change by government, the worse the unintended consequence.

    The reason why I would lean towards believing it would harm the economy is that the entire economy thrives because of two things: Energy and Transportation. You make one or both of them more expensive than business as usual and you get higher inflation. No real economist will argue with this premise.

    I was not a worse case scenario guy. But my assumptions showed a “less than business as usual” projection. This meant about a 10% reduction in per capita income with a straight line projected population growth. With most people pulled to the limit as it is, there is not much more belt tightening the average person can do.

  44. Daniel
    July 3, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    You’re probably right there. One thing I will say though: the age of cheap oil is coming to an end, if we’re not there already. The next technical accomplishment we have to achieve is the transition from oil to solar/hydro/something. If carbon reduction makes that more attractive/likely, then I’d be glad to see that happen.

  45. Carborendum
    July 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    I’d really like to see more nuclear power myself. Of all the alternatives currently available, it is the most dependable, most plentiful, safest, & has the least overall impact on the environment.

    If the government regulators would get out of the dark ages and realize that many of the restrictions on nuclear power are too strict, it would also be the cheapest.

    The biggest thing I fear with this current bill is that it can give government the power to do pretty much anything. People breathing expel co2 into the air. If they can’t pay for an offset, then they can be put in prison. Yes, this is the extreme. But just look at what’s been happening the past century or so and we’re not too far from it.

    What LQM said earlier is not fanaticism. What happens when people talk about OCTO-MOM? Everybody I hear except for Libertarians say,”there should be a law against having too many kids.”

    Everytime I go anywhere with my family they ask,”Are you done yet?” or “Gee I hope you don’t have any more.” Never do they even ASK if I’m able to support them on my own. It seems that it is not just a matter of public assistance or not. People think it is a moral wrong to have a big family, period.

    A bill like this in the wrong hands is lethal to Constitutional protections. After all, where in the Constitution does it guarantee the right to procreate?

  46. loquaciousmomma
    July 4, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    I looked at the seeforyourself site too.

    First, I never have seen how a system that allows you to buy credits so you can still pollute reduces pollution. It basically allows the larger, wealthier companies to keep polluting and forces the smaller companies to reduce emissions or go out of business. I suppose that would then lead to lower emissions, but it would also lead to fewer jobs and more monopoly interests in industry.

    Second, the assumption on the site that people will adjust to be more energy efficient due to the increased costs forgets the plight of the poor, especially those on fixed incomes like the elderly or disabled. The recent changes in refrigeration usage dramatically increased the cost of refrigerators. This has forced people in this demographic to use older ones that they can find cheaply, which use more energy. When energy becomes more expensive due to cap and trade, these people will not be able to go out and buy newer energy efficient appliances in the hopes of lowering their bill. They will not be able to pay for a geothermal heat pump system, or a solar, or wind system to reduce their usage. They will be forced to rely on the government’s heat assistance program, or suffer with even less money to live on.

    I agree with Carb. Taking the macro view of the economic effects of this bill is misleading. This bill will concentrate money in the economy in certain sectors, and take it from others. GDP might increase. However, before this recession started the income disparity in our country was at an all time high. We were prosperous in a macro sense, but the average american felt the squeeze long before the economy collapsed. Which led to the temptation to borrow to maintain their desired lifestyles, which expanded the effects of the downturn exponentially. Regardless, it does ultimately hurt the economy when we allow money to concentrate in certain sectors over others. Will the Waxman bill create an renewable energy bubble that will bust the system?

    Food for thought.

  47. loquaciousmomma
    July 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm #


    I challenge your assertion that there is “near unanimity” on #3.

    The Nasa paper said that it would probably have a good effect on the atmosphere to regulate carbon, but “at what cost”?

    You keep saying that you want to see major organizations that disagree, rather than individuals. Given the current political climate, and that organizations need money, this is a tall order.

    Take Michael Griffin, for instance. In 1997 as head of NASA on an NPR program he said:

    I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had, and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.”

    He ended up having to apologize to NASA for creating a humongous controversy. He was called an idiot, and (my favorite) in denial. He didn’t apologize for his beliefs, but for saying anything in public. He, of course, was released when President Obama took office.

    Another guy who was very successful that was marginalized for his opinion that

    There’s a lot of hogwash in this.

    is Professor Lawrence Solomon. He has seen his funding dry up, and is ignored by mainstream science, even though up until he said anything he was very successful and respected.

    Basically, any organization that would want to question climate change and the need to regulate carbon would have to be very certain of their funding sources to do so. They certainly wouldn’t be able to expect funding from the government.

    Remember what Joanne Simpson described in her letter as I pointed out in my post #26, the atmosphere in the scientific world around this issue is rife with conflict. It is not a good environment to get real science and truth out there to the decision makers who really want to know what the truth is.

    I have found at least two different stories of people who have come out against government reports that have included false information. I listed the first in post #9.

    The second is Chris Landsea who works at the NOAA. He was furious when the IPCC came out in 2005 with a report that hurricanes would increase due to global warming, saying that scientists agreed. The reality was that no study had been done at the time that said such a thing. He refused to work with the IPCC again after they refused to listen to him when he raised objections.

    The funny thing is, when a scientist disagrees with the “consensus” on global warming, he is called a “denier”. It sounds like a religion to me. I thought the scientific method was all about asking questions? Do we call scientists who retest Einstein’s theory of relativity deniers? No, we have always welcomed the challenge, hoping to learn something new from the research.

    We can agree to disagree on this, Daniel. I don’t see how you can be sure that there is a consensus on the need to regulate carbon, but that is your prerogative. I realize that you have full faith in the institutions that we have always relied on for science.
    I just happen to have lost trust as politics has taken an ever greater role in the funding and acceptance of scientific work.

    As for my assertion that the power to regulate CO2 in the hands of the government is frightening. Carb has a good point. In fact, the concern about population reduction being seen as a solution is very real. Here is an article in the London Times in which green activists there are saying that the UK needs to cut it’s population in half. The link between CO2 and population has already been made.

    As for allowing the ill to die, euthanasia is already legal in Oregon. That is the first step, toward acceptance of such an idea.

    And, as Carb said, there is already considerable social pressure against large families. I was shocked to read in my developmental psychology textbook a vignette about a tragedy, in which a two year old was left in a bathtub alone and drowned. This was the youngest child of a family with several children, and the mom had stepped out of the bathroom to check on dinner. The person writing the story said the child would not have died if it was the wanted and only child of two loving parents, placing the blame squarely on the fact that the child was in a large family. Think about it! I was furious and sent an email to the author of the book, but I don’t think that vignette was in there by accident. It simply reflected the current view of the educated portion of our society. Large families are a problem, not a welcome part of society.

    CO2 regulations can certainly be used to enact some horrible policies against large families, and the weaker segments of our population, which is just one reason to reject the cap and trade bill.

  48. Daniel
    July 5, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    LM: Congratulations. In this thread alone, you’ve hit three of the four major indicators for a bad scientific argument.

    Although I’ve never seen anyone try the “Scientists want to kill us” argument. That’s a new one. But then I’ve also never seen anyone try and link CO2 reduction to euthanasia, so you’re just full of surprises.

    Have you ever considered running for governor of Alaska? I hear there’s an opening.

    Sorry for the snark, but honestly. We were having such a good discussion, and then you had to go and do that.

  49. Carborendum
    July 5, 2009 at 8:05 am #


    Boy! Have you swallowed a big one.

    Take a real hard look at those four principles again and use that cognitive brain you’re so proud of touting as the source of critical thinking. Do you honestly believe these are accurate guidelines?

    Let me rephrase them into more plain English.

    1) If someone points out an argument that no one has brought up before, you should ignore them.

    2) EVERYONE in the scientific community has ample opportunity to be heard and NEVER is dismissed.

    3) Anyone who points out major holes in current theories should be discredited.

    4) If you’re not a papered, certified expert in the particular field at hand, you’re an idiot with regard to that field.


    1) If they TRULY are new (and not just old ones that has been disproven so much that no one talks about them anymore) then they should be researched even if it comes out of the mouth of a three year old. The test should be whether we’ve already looked at this question or not.

    2) While I agree that the scientific community tends to listen to reasonable arguments, when politicians and corporations run the show, it is quite a different story.

    When the IPCC report first came out, every major news outlet was stating that we now KNOW that man is the culprit behind the HUGE crisis of global warming.

    My first reaction (remember, I’m somewhat on or near the fence on this) was,”OK. So, now we know. HOW or WHY?” It took me several days to find out that NO ONE was asking this question–even skeptics.

    Skeptics just came out with the same old arguments. But they didn’t really need new ones. As I later found out, there were no new arguments by the alarmists.

    There WAS NO WHY OR HOW. They simply got a big report together that stated that there are still a lot of unanswered questions. But the politicians came up with an executive summary that didn’t even match the paper itself.

    The media, not daring to question the politicians on a subject the media was well prepared to use for their own agendas, perpetuated the statement.

    When the issue at hand fundamentally divides the population (like evolution or global warming) even scientists tend to dismiss things on an emotional basis rather than a logical one.

    3) Do I really have to talk about this? First I’ll point out that this is essentially the same as #1. It’s just applied slightly differently. So, we have these all-important rules and they’re like: 1) don’t eat sugar 3) Don’t eat candy with sugar in it. Thanks for that.

    What. Did he run out of criteria and so had to fudge one?

    Christopher Russell, a professor of geophysics and space physics at the University of California?Los Angeles said, “Three of us who work on Earth, Venus and Mars got together and compared notes,” Russell told Discovery News.

    What did they discover? A long held consensus (older than global warming–this time around) was that Earth’s magnetic field protected us from losing our atmosphere due to solar wind. After comparing notes, they realized the earth was losing more atmosphere than Mars or Venus.

    4) I once saw a legislative proceeding where the legislators were talking about failures of a new piece of technology the body had bought for government use. When they described to the vendor the unacceptable failures that were occurring, the vendor’s “experts” said,”That’s impossible. The system . . .” Cut short by the irate legislator.

    “Don’t tell me it’s impossible! I saw it with my own eyes.”

    SOMETIMES (hear me? SOMETIMES) common sense is more important than scientific theories.

    Have you ever read “A Brief History of Time?” I thought it was wonderful. But he started talking about time-travel and completely missed what time itself is. Here is probably the smartest man on Earth who is so caught up in theoretics and high level quantum mechanics that when he talks about something as basic as time, he puts theory over definition.

    If you’re going to put forth a new theory that defies not only conventional wisdom, but current definition, you have to at least provide the new definition and reasoning why. He never did that with time reversal at the implosion of the universe.

    When doing a complex math problem, you have to step back and look at the final answer and ask,”Does this make sense?” If I don’t do that in my business, I could cause the death of millions of people. In theoretical science, there is no final responsibility. That is why common sense sometimes goes out the window.

    Additionally, it is rather elitist to state that if you don’t have the right papers, you’re not an expert. Can’t anyone with appropriate intelligence and inquisitive mind read lots of reports and books on a subject and become an expert?

    If not, what are we all doing here discussing ANYTHING?

  50. Carborendum
    July 5, 2009 at 8:10 am #


    If you truly believe in these four rules, why did you leave the Church?

  51. Daniel
    July 5, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    Because it wasn’t true. The LDS Church (and indeed all religions) teaches ideas that are either unsupported by evidence, or refuted by evidence. But I’m afraid I don’t see what you’re getting at with your question. Anyway, you can find out more about that on my blog if you’re curious about my views on religion.

    The guidelines from the article are good guidelines (not rules) because science is self-correcting in the long term. Many many scientists are always poring over the body of current knowledge, looking to overturn it.

    This is why I reject loquaciousmomma’s claim that scientists are somehow in a conspiracy to ignore the facts because they need funding. If someone could demonstrate conclusively that anthropogenic climate change was a myth, they’d cause a revolution in the field. They’d be famous forever. And grant money would come pouring in. I don’t think scientists are these noble individuals with a thirst for truth, although some are. No, they stick to the facts because if they don’t, someone else will eat their lunch. That’s how it works.

    Compare that to the other approach, where the goal is to protect the belief system (have faith in it, perhaps), and glom onto anything that helps the cause, no matter how tenuous or disingenuous.

    Now maybe these so-called denialists (or ‘mavericks’ if you like) are right. If that’s the case, they’ll bring the evidence, others will confirm it, more scientists will come around, and their view will (long term) become the dominant paradigm. I think it’s good that smart people have other views — it shows that other views are not really being suppressed — but they’ve got some work to do.

    Allow me to address your summaries.

    1) If someone points out an argument that no one has brought up before, you should ignore them.

    No — as I’ve said, we laymen are unlikely to come up with something that’s gone unnoticed by the vast majority of experts. Very little is new.

    2) EVERYONE in the scientific community has ample opportunity to be heard and NEVER is dismissed.

    Yes — fringe views do get aired, and one person can change the field. But there are a lot of cranks out there. It’s very common for people to claim a conspiracy when the consensus is against their view, but this is a weak response. It’s more often what they do when they can’t provide the evidence for their view.

    3) Anyone who points out major holes in current theories should be discredited.

    No — but generations of scientists are unlikely to have missed elementary flaws in the dominant paradigm. (This one is a bit of a repeat, isn’t it.)

    4) If you’re not a papered, certified expert in the particular field at hand, you’re an idiot with regard to that field.

    No, there’s lots of room for enthusiastic newcomers if they bring the facts — but people who have done the hard yards in that field are more likely to be right. As a linguist, I’ve already heard lots of the naïve mistakes that non-linguists make about language, so it would be fitting to listen to me or other linguists. And I’d best accept your expertise on matters of oil and gas engineering.

    Can I just say that if Connor and others on this blog have one problem, it’s that they’re terrible at picking reliable sources. They just seem to pick the fringiest people as the most reliable, as long as those sources confirm what they already think. This is probably baggage from being in a minority religion (‘Through erring schemes in days now past, The world has gone astray’ etc.). I wish I could get this one thing across: The best approach we have to getting closest to the truth on an issue is to find the consensus from people working in that field. Over the long term, they’ll end up being the closest to the right answer. Of course, we live in the short term, so we need to realise that our current understanding may change. So we need to be ready to change and not be dogmatic about what we think we know. It’s hard.

  52. Carborendum
    July 5, 2009 at 10:54 pm #


    1) It looks like we agree in principle, just not in application. We agree that pointing out what has not been gone over is welcome. What we disagree on is recognizing when something is truly new.

    Also, as a layman, I have to stick my nose into things when what others believe to be true starts to interfere with my every day life. If any expert is going to state something that will cause me to make lots of changes, it had better be pretty concrete. So far, I’m not getting that about global warming.

    2) Just a little different focus. It is not just the scientific community at play here. Many scientists are genuinely listening to alternative points of view. They are real scientist. Unfortunately politicians and the media have overrun their otherwise more scientific methods and replaced it with science by mandate rather than science by consensus through scientific method. It is this perverting of the scientific method by politicians and media that is in question here.

    A good example is of pellagra. Dr. Joseph Goldberger did an extensive study to determine that the diet fed in the poor south lacked certain nutrients. At the time he couldn’t isolate the nutrient, but he did identify certain foods that would cure it. But because he showed the poor Southern diet was the culprit, the media twisted this otherwise good find and defamed him for criticizing the poor.

    It took over 20 years to bring the truth back to light when Niacin was discovered as the missing nutrient. This, because the media had their own agenda and twisted the scientific method into a social commentary. Do you really believe the media to have learned anything since then? If anything I’ve learned that they’ve gotten worse.

    3) I agree with this principle as well. But we only have one generation of scientists mostly controlled and muted by politicians and media. Around the time of the industrial revolution, we had global warming alarmism in the media backed up by some scientific research. It was getting warmer after all. The American people just didn’t accept it and it went away. In the 1970s global cooling was the consensus. We all thought we were going to lose all our heat. It went away–no one cared. Now we’re back to warming again. And I guarantee (as evidenced by the change in language to “climate change”) that it will go back to cooling again.

    4) I will only partially agree with you on this one. I have met many contractors who never graduated high school (much less college) that could put engineers to shame with their knowledge of structures and construction especially. You’d probably agree that someone with years of experience in a field (in lieu of a piece of paper) would also qualify as an expert.

    And the other side of the coin: In the past year I’ve met three engineers who got high marks from prestigious schools who couldn’t calculate the strength of a beam!!!

    I’ve noticed a pattern (again go back to education these days) that people graduating from high school as well as Universities simply don’t get basic concepts in their chosen field. ACI (American Concrete Insititute) has said that they are reformatting their entire CODE because they have gotten too many complaints from students and recent graduates stating the code is “too complex to understand”. Come on people!!! We’re engineers. Codes are what we live by.

    What. Are they going to do away with calculus for engineers now? How ’bout trig identities? That was something that gave ME headaches.

    AND FINALLY: This is the third time (that I’m aware of ) that you’ve blamed your idea of a false premise, logic, or conclusion on being a member of the Church (three different articles on this site). With my usual cynicism, I could easily fall into that trap. But I don’t.

    I recognize that pretty much ANY human being is stupid, ignorant, & unable to discern the difference between the three sides of every story. The joke I often repeat is,”We know how stupid the average person is. Now remember that half the people are stupider than that!”

    Everyone is part of some group that is a minority. You should know what that’s like. Does that mean their entire zeitgeist is based on that identifier? For some, yes. For most, I sure hope not. And I don’t believe that is true of most of the people who frequent this site.

    And no matter what group we are talking about or how stupid or ignorant an individual, almost EVERY one I’ve ever met has taught me something valuable about life and understanding my place in it.

    Maybe you’ve answered my question without answering it. I take it you had these faults you now criticize while you were active in the Church? Now you blame others for the same faults?

    Daniel, I don’t want to get into a pissing match over the Church’s truth or (in your opinion) lack thereof. I would just like to ask that if you have a disagreement, disagree with the argument or evidence, etc. Don’t just attack the character of the messenger–especially based on a person’s faith. I don’t recall anyone who has characterized any of your arguments because you were an atheist.

  53. Carborendum
    July 6, 2009 at 9:40 am #


    Re: your comment about “community”. This is actually one reason why I frequent this blog a lot more than others. There are enough individuals with differing opinions to make for lively discussion.

    I especially appreciate that there are not clearly drawn lines every time (e.g. — Everybody against Daniel-although it may seem like it sometimes) :).

    Other blogs I visit from time to time have so many people talking over each other, it is difficult to even have much of a discussion. Or there are so few people who are infrequent visitors, that you don’t really get to know them or you don’t have much of a discussion.

    Over the year or two? that I’ve been coming here I’ve felt like I’ve gotten to know most of the common visitors. I like most everyone on a personal level whether we’re on a topic we agree or disagree on.

    You can’t agree on everything. And I believe I’ve switched sides enough to know what it feels like to be on both the attacking and receiving end of lots of the more heated issues. But that is what makes blogging fun.

    On more than one occasion I’ve been shown the obvious folly of some of my arguments. Of course it didn’t feel good. No one likes a blow to their ego. But in the end one has to admit when another makes a good point. At least we’re learning.

    Yes, I second your characterization of this blog as a community. And kudos to Connor.

  54. Thomas Dyches
    July 6, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    The above explains Cap & Trade in a way that just about anyone can understand. Now write the follow-up, Cap & Trade for Dummies and send it to Congress. 😉

  55. loquaciousmomma
    July 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    Daniel: I don’t have the time tonight to address your post completely, but I want to make it clear that I do not believe that

    “Scientists want to kill us”

    I never said anything of the kind. I DID say that there were environmentalists in the UK who have stated publicly that the population of the UK needs to cut its population in half.

    A quote:

    Rapley, who formerly ran the British Antarctic Survey, said humanity was emitting the equivalent of 50 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

    “We have to cut this by 80%, and population growth is going to make that much harder,” he said.

    Such views on population have split the green movement. George Monbiot, a prominent writer on green issues, has criticised population campaigners, arguing that “relentless” economic growth is a greater threat.

    Many experts believe that, since Europeans and Americans have such a lopsided impact on the environment, the world would benefit more from reducing their populations than by making cuts in developing countries.

    This is part of the thinking behind the OPT’s call for Britain to cut population to 30m — roughly what it was in late Victorian times.

    Christopher Rapley is the director of the UK’s science museum and a former head of the British Antarctic Survey, hardly a man on the fringe.

    Here is a report by the Optimum Population Trust, a think tank in the UK that is specifically organized to study population’s effect on environmental issues, that has begun a “Stop at Two” campaign, which introduces a pledge for couples to take to limit their families to two or fewer children.

    I was merely making the point that CO2 regulation can lead to a situation in which policies that are politically untenable right now, would be accepted, even demanded.

    Perhaps the euthanasia example may have gone a little further out there, but remember, I specifically said I was using my imagination. The world as I see it could realistically stoop to such a level as to refuse to waste precious resources on the seriously ill. The term “useless eater” comes to mind. Cutting population for the purpose of reducing CO2, would be a convenient excuse for a despot to use. Why not?

    To clarify, it is the politicians I am concerned about, not the scientists.

  56. Daniel
    July 7, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Carb: Ugh. The media. I think there should be a class to teach reporters how to do science reporting. I still remember when the BBC reported that cows have accents.

    About the church thing: no, I don’t think that religious people are stupid. I certainly wasn’t when I was religious (at least, no more than now). It’s just that religious belief systems promote memes that are antithetical to critical thinking. Let me explain.

    Scientific consensus is often a useful shortcut to finding good answers to big questions. That’s because more heads are better than fewer, and no one has the time to replicate all the findings in the world all by themselves.

    But in Mormondom (and possibly other religions), scientific consensus doesn’t matter much. That’s because of a meme in Mormonism that I call the ‘Wicked World’ meme. As a Mormon, you’re basically one of a tiny minority among the world’s believers, but the ‘Only True Church’ meme tells you you’re right and they all aren’t (or, in more charitable moments, they are less right). How can that be? Well, the world has gone astray. So the ‘Wicked World’ meme helps you feel okay about that minority status.

    Unfortunately, once the ‘Wicked World’ meme takes hold in someone’s mind, it tends to bleed over into non-religious areas, as we see all over this blog. Why isn’t everyone a constitutional conservative? Why do scientists not think the same things I do? The wicked world. Everyone is wrong (or ‘less-right’) except us.

    And so, with scientific consensus safely neutralised, you can believe what you like, perhaps even take on the role of ‘fearful and persecuted minority’, if you like. Not that you would, of course.

    Mind you, it is possible for you to be right and everyone else wrong, but it is staggeringly unlikely.

    This does not malign church members. It merely shows how a meme can create a blind spot. I get them all the time. Take it for what it’s worth.

  57. Carborendum
    July 7, 2009 at 9:07 am #


    Again, I think you are pointing at a fault in members of the Church and failing to recognize that it is not just the Church. It is a HUMAN failing. Think about it. Of all the people you’ve met personally, how many of them really practice critical thinking? In my experience, staggeringly few (and I work in a field where it is a REQUIREMENT). Now in the Church, how many? Staggeringly few. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Church. EVERYONE does this. It is merely YOUR projection that blames this on the Church.

    Whatever the specific mechanism (like the wicked world) every group or individual has SOMETHING that excuses critical thinking. Don’t just blame the Church. Blame humanity. This is my point.

    As an example of where we do NOT state a fact is merely a distortion by the wicked world: The student manual for the Book of Mormon states that archaeological evidence has shown no horses in the Americas during the time of the Book of Mormon. Yet the BoM talks about horses being in use. The manual acknowledges it as a fact (that nothing has been found yet). But it also says there must be an explanation. We just haven’t found it YET. Does it mean we can forget it? No, but we have patience and we keep looking and keep asking questions.

    This sounds very much like how the lack of SUFFICIENT intermediate species in the fossil record does not detract from your (and my) belief in evolution. It just means we either haven’t found them yet, or there is some reasonable explanation. We just haven’t come across it yet. We actually have FAITH in evolution. That it will eventually vindicate itself. We keep looking and we keep asking questions. Our belief in things that we DO know supports us through those things we DON”T know.

    Back to your point. I’ve given you an instances where a FACT would be detrimental to our beliefs (one in theology, one in atheism). Yet, we acknowledge it as FACT. And our faith is not threatened by it.

    Yes, I’ve seen many Evangelical Christians and atheists do the same thing.

    NOW, here is WHY humans do this.

    1) Everyone has multiple elements of their belief system. If not, they are generally considered a simpleton. Often these elements come in conflict.

    2) There is SO MUCH to human knowledge that we simply don’t have sufficient time to learn everything about everything that WE ourselves believe in, let alone what others believe in.

    3) There will always be things in our beliefs that are dangling threads. For every why there is a because and every because creates another why. There is NEVER a simple end to a complex idea.

    It is the blind men and the elephant. I believe in the leg. I believe in the ears. But if I don’t even know about the body how can I reconcile these two beliefs? I can’t.

    To truly answer all the questions you really need to know everything. Obviously, this is impossible. So, we satisfy ourselves with patience and (gasp) faith.

    Consider the trial at the end of the movie “Contact”. Even the atheist had to admit she simply didn’t have evidence for or even a logical way of explaining things to others. She simply knew it. In essence, she had faith. Only LATER was the omnicient audience privy to the bit of evidence that was required to back up her faith. But she herself went on in faith alone.

  58. Daniel
    July 7, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    This is an interesting direction for this discussion. I feel like you’re taking my criticism of LDS memes personally, and I don’t mean it that way. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to insult you by soft-pedaling. I know you can take it, and I hope you’ll take my comments in the spirit of good old combative exchange with a thinker I quite like and respect.

    I think it’s a relatively trivial and uncontroversial assertion that the LDS Church (to put it mildly) does not go out of its way to promote critical thinking. I have mentioned a very specific example of a meme which is explicitly promoted in the LDS Church, with an explanation of how that meme might play out in other areas. In response, you have asserted:

    1) that the LDS Church is not responsible for the promotion of this meme, and instead that it represents a human cognitive failing.

    A human cognitive failing it may be, but one that the Mormon Church benefits from, and expressly teaches. What’s wrong with calling this spade a spade? It doesn’t mean you can’t be a very good Mormon and reasoner. Just be aware that this meme helps you feel good about ignoring scientific consensus, which is a good tool for finding good answers. If you didn’t pick up that meme in church, that’s fine. As my Mom might have said, I don’t care where you got that thing, just don’t bring it in the house!

    2) that other people besides Latter-day Saints have trouble with critical thinking.

    Of course they do, but what of that? If non-Mormons are rotten critical thinkers (and they are), it doesn’t give Mormons (or anyone else) an excuse to cling to bad memes.

    It is interesting that they decided to include the discussion about horses in the Book of Mormon manual. But a Latter-day Saint who knows about the lack of evidence, and then keeps believing that there actually were horses in America then, hoping that someday they find fossils is doing the wrong thing. You don’t cling to a counterfactual belief, hoping that someone will find evidence for it someday. That’s like a Scientologist sticking with their belief that Xenu really did blow all those thetans up with hydrogen bombs, and then waiting for someone to find radioactive traces near volcanoes (or something). Or a fundamentalist Hindu who believes that Sanskrit has existed in its current state for a million years, ignoring linguists who talk about sound change and Proto-Indo-European, figuring that someday those linguists will discover what they already ‘know’. It’s just a way to hold on to a comforting religious belief. I don’t blame anyone for doing it, because I guess people need to feel comfortable. But I think there’s value in knowing what’s really going on even if it’s a bit abrasive, and I don’t really see self-deception as helpful.

    As to evolution, I think your discussion of it is not quite correct. No one needs to have faith in evolution. I don’t have faith that evolution is true, and I don’t even particularly hope it’s true. Evolutionary biologists do not get together every month and say, “I would indeed feel ungrateful if I didn’t stand here before you today and tell you… that I know… that the theory of evolution is true. I just know it.” If something else explains the complexity of life on earth better, and conforms to the facts better, fine. I’ll go with that. Scientists will happily rewrite the books.

    As it turns out, though, Darwinian Evolution is a theory that’s backed up by mountains of physical evidence. As to the example you mention, you may be interested to know that there’s no lack of intermediate fossils in the fossil record. Creationists like to claim that there are huge gaps, and then when someone finds a fossil that fits right in the middle of the gap, they say, “Well, now there’s two gaps.”

    I suppose it is fitting, however, that you’ve mentioned evolution, because both climate change deniers and evolution deniers (and 9/11 truthers and holocaust deniers*) use precisely the same tactic: search for any ambiguity or uncertainty in the theory, and then claim that these gaps represent a victory for their side.

    I never saw Contact. If the fictional atheist ‘just knew’, she wasn’t doing science. We don’t ‘just know’ things. They need to be confirmed by evidence, and if we don’t have it, we don’t believe it. Anything else is wishful thinking.

    * Not to say that these are all equally bad.

  59. Carborendum
    July 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    More examples to support my point:

    I have a friend at work that is highly against modern medicine. He’s always talking about what they’re doing wrong.

    As examples, he points out some things that German doctors refuse to do that American doctors do habitually. Then other times he finds support for his positions by looking at some report from an American doctor that German doctors have failings in.

    My question to him was,”Why is it, when you find a doctor that disagrees with you, he’s a quack. But when you find a doctor that agrees with you, he obviously knows what he’s talking about?”

    I went to a nursery and found one of the lead caretakers there. Remember he’s an expert in the field.

    Me: Do you carry any species of nectarines?
    Him: Citrus fruits won’t grow in Colorado.
    Me: Nectarines aren’t citrus.
    Him: Yes, they are.
    Me: Do you know what citrus are?
    Him: Yes, it’s my job. They’re warm weather fruits.
    Me: No. (I then explained to him the definition of citrus).
    Him: Yah, we don’t carry citrus.

    Everyone does this when it is something they believe they know anything about. Science is no different.

    There was a kid in college who somehow got the definition of AC and DC backwards as a kid. And this kid was pretty bright. By the time he was in college, he KNEW it as a fact. He was having trouble in physics class. His parents knew I was an engineer and asked me to help him.

    When I explained to him what was wrong, he told me I was wrong. It didn’t matter what the textbooks said, he found some other way of interpreting things that would support his paradigm. Even though he considered me an authority, he still didn’t accept my explanation.

    It took me a month of two hours a week with him to get him to change his understanding.

    You think that believeing we’re the only true Church makes us more stubborn in our beliefs? That may be true of religion. But for me and many I know, it instead says we only know truth because of revelation. Most of the time revelation only comes about religious things. Anything else — you’re on your own (usually).

    Of course there is always individual guidance. But there is NO reason to believe that because you’ve had some individual guidance, you should then project that on others.

    Many times (even on this blog) people have either openly stated or hinted that they’ve received personal revelation that X is true. Thus everyone should believe it as well. My response in each case has been:

    1) I find this to be true as well. Yey us!

    2) I have received no such revelation for me. So let your peace be yours. But I’ll keep looking for mine.

    Please don’t go off on another tangent regarding personal revelation. I think we’ve jacked this thread enough already.

  60. Daniel
    July 8, 2009 at 1:18 am #

    All these examples you’re listing are great examples of people not updating their information when they oughta. I already agree that people shouldn’t do this. Does this have something to do with our discussion?

  61. Carborendum
    July 8, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    The discussion you brought up was:

    MORMONS are particularly guilty of not looking at evidence that threatens their paradigm. Whatever mechanism you blame that on is your choice.

    My examples show:

    EVERYONE chooses to shelve (or entirely ignore in some cases) evidence that threatens their paradigm. Then they hold as HIGHER those evidences that support their paradigm. Everyone has their own mechanism by which they do this.

    All my examples were of people who are NOT LDS. The only one that wasn’t was the BoM manual that showed we’re NOT guilty of the accusation.

    It was not a matter of UPDATING information. For instance, the Book of Mormon manual updated just fine. And it essentially said,”we’ll keep looking”.

    Instead each instance was a matter of resistance that ANY human being has to changing their paradigm. The gardener that KNEW nectarines were citrus. This was not an updating issue. It was complete resistance to changing his definitions. The same was true of the kid with the AC/DC.

    Your selection of the fossil record is a good example. You find one fossil in the middle and one side declares now there are two gaps. The other side claims that is proof there are intermediate species. Who’s right? In my mind, they’re both right. Each side chooses that portion that supports their side and ignores the arguments of the other side.

    Notice that I did not say (as you did) that there are NO intermediate fossil records. I said there are not SUFFICIENT. This is why I do believe in evolution to a point. As far as there is evidence, I believe in it.

    You actually have more faith than I do.

    I say,”If we have evidence of B, we’ll accept B as a truth for now and go with it. But we are still skeptical of A & C. We’ll keep looking and see what we find.

    You say,”See here is evidence of B, therefore, A & C must also be true.” While this can be true a lot of the time. It is also false a lot of the time. That is why we do two things: 1) Remain skeptical & 2) Keep looking for further evidence and asking questions about what we find.

    I’ll explain why I say it is not sufficient evidence. In order to truly see the change, we need to have dozens of subspiecies to go from one species to another. There are selected spieces that can successfully mate with others. But that is very rare.

    The best man at my wedding and his wife were having trouble getting pregnant. They went to two fertility doctors who said there is nothing wrong with either of them. They went to a third who confirmed this, but decided to try all the tools in his toolbox for increasing their chances.

    They got pregnant three times and miscarried each time. The doctor finally showed them an article from some fertility journal that said that humans actually have several subspecies that cannot successfully mate. Even though we all appear human in every obvious detail, this one issue is really the determining factor for defining species.

    I didn’t get all the details. But what they were being told was essentially, these two were so far apart on the genetic spectrum that they couldn’t have a baby. They were both even of similar ancestry.

    You can argue that the article was not thoroughly researched and was obviously lacking whatever . . . I don’t know. I didn’t read it myself. But we have two people who were healthy in every respect. They were both looked at by three fertility doctors who didn’t find anything wrong with their ability to procreate.

    If humans have this much difficulty within their own species, how close to other species have to be in order to successfully mate? We can talk about Lucy or the archaeoptryx. But how close are they to their closest known species? Could they have successfully mated?

    Resistance to change is both good and bad. It is the maintaining a healthy balance that enables mankind to progress while protecting ourselves from harm by the unknown.

    If you haven’t seen Contact, I really think you would enjoy it. If you saw the context of the exerpt I refer to, you would see that your argument doesn’t really fit. I mean, I see what you’re saying and you have a pont. I just don’t think it would fit in that setting. It was that setting that I was trying to impress upon you. But you’d have to see the movie.

    Now I’ll have to go read the book. Great. Thanks a lot (sarcasm intended).

  62. Carborendum
    July 8, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    BTW, the book was written by Carl Sagan. He’s a known atheist. Based on some quotes, he might be considered a Humanist. The movie was not trying to say Atheists don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Instead, the two main characters, an atheist scientist, and a “new age pastor” were both held up as characters to be held in high esteem.

    At the same time there were two supporting characters, an atheist politician, and a religious scientist who were both made out to be the bad guys.

    Based on one of the last lines spoken by the pastor, I believe the movie’s point was that we all seek proof in our own way. We choose to be satisfied in our beliefs in our own way.

    Often times, it is not the method of choosing the truth that is as important as the truth we choose.

  63. Carborendum
    July 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    Sorry, Daniel. I missed some important paragraphs in comment #58.

    No, I don’t think you were being abrasive, and no, I’m not excusing anyone from critical thinking. I’m just saying you can equally blame all people for the same failing. But you seem to be going out of your way to point the finger at LDS who do the same thing that everyone does.

    Are we guilty? Of course. We’re human. Are we any worse than others? I really don’t think so. Not after all the people I’ve met from many different walks of life. The things people state as fact!!! Ugh.

    As for the comment about the Church NOT going out of their way to PROMOTE critical thinking is interesting. I’m not sure. Sometimes I feel stimulated intellectually as well as emotionally and spiritually by some talks I hear in General Conference. Ditto for things I hear in church talks, lessons, testimony meetings. (And please don’t “do testimonies” again. I find fast-and-testimony meetings annoying enough as it is. No need to parody it). Obviously there are times I don’t.

    When I gave lessons in various levels I found out I did things that others did not. I read the manual. I studied all the scriptures in the lesson. I cross-referenced with other scriptures. I asked myself the questions at the end of the chapter and held a debate with myself. Etc. Etc.

    The interesting thing is — all those things (except for the self-debate) were items that were outlined in the manual. Those items do promote critical thinking. And people would often tell me how much they got out of my lessons (pat myself on the back).

    The leaders of the Church put all these tools into the manuals. It was the deficiency on the part of the instructors who DON’T follow the manual that fails to promote critical thinking.

    Faith. I believe we have different definitions of faith. In this context let us look at a belief system as the picture on the box of a large jigsaw puzzle. Gathering and organizing the pieces are like gathering evidence. Being able to see those areas of the picture (from the box) when we don’t actually have the piece in place–that ability is faith.

    Faith in the generic sense is not just about some supernatural being. It is about being able to see what is missing and “visualize” (for lack of a better word) what should be there, even when we don’t have the piece in hand. We look for the piece. We have patience that in that massive pile, we can find it.

    My sister had a malicious tendency to hide two or three pieces of the puzzle to the end so that she could be the one to finish the puzzle. I don’t know. She got some kind of thrill out of it. — just a side note.

    And this is what evolutionists do. I count myself in that camp too. I can see that there should be additional species in between. And I await patiently where we can find some fossils to fill those gaps in eventually (we’ve already found many). But I also allow the possibility that there will be some areas that will not be filled in during my lifetime. Is this not some version of faith? Is my sister hiding those pieces too? 🙂

    It is not “counterfactual” belief. It is faith in the not yet discovered. I readily accept that the CURRENT fossil record does not show horses here during the time of the BoM. But it is a lot harder to swallow that we will NEVER find such evidence.


    I have had numerous discussions with the local atheist of my office. He sounds an awful lot like Eyore. So, that’s his nickname. His primary reason for not believing in God or any religious system is that it isn’t testable. He holds that there is a difference between “testable” and “proveable”.

    Technically he’s right. But the end result is the same. We hold tests to hopefully prove or disprove something.

    While I believe in the scientific method for much of human knowledge, I have two problems here.

    1) The testability of something is limited by our current understanding and technology. Imagine cavemen trying to test whether electons and protons were oppositely charged particles. First why would it even occur to them? Second, how are they even going to be able to perform any kind of test?
    2) It is the rare test indeed (nowadays) that provides data that no reasonable, informed person could not refute wth some reason why the test was flawed. And we are now at the level of human knowledge where we are aware of so MANY variables that it is really impossible to isolate things to truly test for those items without recognizing that there were many variables we simple could not account for or preclude from the experiment.

    Is it not possible that the things of God are so advanced and complicated that they are simply beyond our current ability and understanding to perceive of the experiment? Is it not possible that His methods of proving things are different than OUR method of proving things?

    Could it not be that His logic and critical thinking is different than ours?

    One day we will discover that time and space are simpler than the Human Equation.

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