The Rise of Willful Ignorance

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This is the third in a series of posts that discuss in more detail what I perceive to be threats to humanity today. It expands the discussion started in my original post that covered seven different risks. It concerns the rise of willful ignorance. This is a disease that may yet cause the extinction of the human race. We can see the effects when the government of a nation consists of individuals who are proud to admit that they are disregarding all scientific evidence, since after all, the scientists have their political agendas that just may show that the preferred action to avoid tragedy will cost a favored political ally some money. And we can't have that. The recent superb book, The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, shows what risks are increased if an administration takes over the reins of power of our complex government without any interest in the functions of the government agencies they now administer. Not only do they not have interest, they exhibit no curiosity as to what might happen if the risks they are supposedly managing actually bear fruit. They actively campaign to reverse the work undertaken during previous administrations aimed at reducing risk, like when they proposed spending 20% less on global nuclear materials security in a recent budget proposal.

 

We as a civilization have created an extremely complex network of interdependencies. We have managed to limit risk to our population through the process of regulations, and through the transparency of government actions. Unfortunately, the mindset of many currently serving in government is that all regulation is wrong, and we must hide the truth from the citizens of our nation so that the increased risk we are taking does not become evident to our citizenry.

 

Part of what has led to this attitude came from those in the nation who reject all claims of knowledge by experts. Just because someone has dedicated their life to the pursuit of knowledge, whether within a government agency, or at a university, why should we believe that they know more about a subject that we do? We don't need no steenkin' math or science, do we? If we can't learn all we need to know with a 5-minute perusal of the internet, then the subject has been made too complex and anyone's opinion is just as good as anyone else's. Thus we have government spokespeople coming out in support of alternate facts. We have conspiracy theories for beliefs that are easily disproven by an examination of the facts, but of course, those facts were reported by the main street media and they are biased and since they are saying that these are facts, we must believe the opposite.

 

This type of belief system is self-reinforcing. Psychologically, it is very comforting to enshroud yourself in a mantle of community, where all believe the same thing and are able to reinforce that belief through daily interactions. It is known as an echo chamber. The internet has played a huge role in allowing these communities to develop, and those who belong to these communities are nigh unto impossible to convince that their beliefs are wrong. This is what convinces individuals to drive hundreds of miles to a pizza restaurant in Washington and fire a gun in order to bring down the evil child sex trafficking ring known to exist in the basement of a building without a basement. It is why many believe there is an active military operation to spread aluminum salts and other mind-altering substances behind jet aircraft, leading to the chemtrails many swear are meant to numb the brains of honest Americans. It is what convinces many to believe that human emissions of greenhouse gases could never be responsible for any kind of adverse effect.

 

Of all of the risks that humanity faces, this may be the most intractable. Other problems may yield to research, or to spending money, or to creating a better climate for administering programs. But this one goes to the heart of humanity. That is, the belief that my knowledge is good, and since it is good, if you oppose it, you are evil. The psychological reassurance you get when an entire community of like believers reinforces you for being a part of the group who is truly in the know. The only known antidote to this sort of willful ignorance is to increase the scientific and mathematical literacy of the population as a whole, so that the folly of the beliefs of the former group becomes evident. However, it is hard to teach this type of literacy when we as a society continue to struggle to teach a basic standard of literacy. Look at communication means such as Twitter. By trying to limit public discourse to a maximum of (now) 280 characters, they contribute to the belief that all discussion can be simplified to fit within that type of strait-jacket. No one needs to understand anything at more than a superficial level, since the entire world is doing just fine using Twitter to conduct our national political discourse. One quote of H. L. Mencken comes to mind from nearly a century ago. He said, "As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." Would he be happy to know that at last, his prophesy had been fulfilled?

 

Posted first on my blog at https://evenabrokenclock.blog/

Comments

The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 27, 2018 - 2:06pm
it is highly irresponsible to equate those who disagree with a so-called "settled" science with the pizzagate and chemtrail crowd. You're a democrat, I've never accused you of being Antifa, have I? Ever called you a nazi? No......so WTF? 
 
As to the climate question, lets just say that we all bend over and accept whatever version your side embraces. What then? What do you really think that we, as human beings, are going to do that will make one shred of difference? I want to know. If this is such settled science then surely these Einsteins have some solutions, right?.....
 
<crickets chirrup>
 
No, the only solutions are coming from politicians. The same politicians who "fixed" our health care. You are too damned smart to not separate the science from the politics. There's your willfull ignorance. It exists on both sides
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 27, 2018 - 2:20pm
I'll give a like even though I disagree with your general premise here. There will always be a dumbass quotient in any human population, regardless which extreme they may fall under.
 
On the climate question it boils down to this: We could wait a hundred years before we could say conclusively that all of this panic was warranted. You and I will both be long dead. If from this day we do absolutely nothing about it in one hundred years one of two possibilities exists: your version or mine. If you are proven wrong then everyone can just have a good laugh over it. If I am proven wrong (this then presumes your worst case is correct) then it wont really matter any more for anyone, will it?
George N Romey Added Nov 27, 2018 - 2:21pm
All of this is leading to a bifurcation of society.  They're will be the sheep that will listen to so called leaders that will spout out dogma.  These are the imbeciles sitting on their lazy ass watching CNN, MSNBC or Fox News.
 
Then there will be the enlightened.  While probably the minority those will seek multiple sources of knowledge and understand the grey matter instead of a can't see beyond the tip of their nose black and white world.  These people will be more happy and likely more successful.
 
Many centuries ago there were those that were starting to understand science.  Others remained in a world of goblins and gods happy to see the world through wizardry.  We've been down this road before.  
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 27, 2018 - 6:51pm
Burghal, I respect your opinion. You have focused on the climate change portion of the post, but the post includes climate change as only one aspect in this syndrome. Basically, I see a significant fraction of humanity that denies the validity of scientific findings, and this goes across party and ideological lines. Most of those who identify as vaccine deniers are probably tilted to the liberal side of the spectrum. I am trying to say that there is such ignorance about what constitutes scientific findings that it is acceptable for any group to discount any finding they find is inconvenient, and with the world of the internet at hand, they can find a receptive community that will affirm their belief and bolster their activism to fight against the scientific finding they disagree with.
 
Hope this helps. Climate change is only one of many scientific findings that is under active resistance due to the rise of willful ignorance.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 27, 2018 - 6:53pm
George, I hope you are wrong but I fear you are right. As to the bifurcation of society, that has already happened. And it is easier than we may think to slide back down the slippery slope of ignorance into the dark ages once more. I hope this is not our fate.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 27, 2018 - 7:01pm
such ignorance about what constitutes scientific findings that it is acceptable for any group to discount any finding they find is inconvenient, and with the world of the internet at hand, they can find a receptive community that will affirm their belief and bolster their activism to fight against the scientific finding they disagree with.
 
and does this not accurately describe those on either side of this debate? The statement could be an entirely apt description of the entire climate change "industry".....look how many have glommed on to this who clearly don't know beans about it and set themselves out as some kind of authority on the topic. Bill Nye, Al Gore, just to name a couple. Are we really supposed to take any of it seriously? Al Gore? The guy is a complete stiff! He doesn't know DICK about ANYTHING and they give his a Nobel Prize? Shit, that makes the Nobel Prize the equivalent of being the best gas station sushi in Alabama
Jeff Michka Added Nov 27, 2018 - 7:39pm
Geeho is, once again, complaining about all those "awful people" that "watch CNN or MSNBC," and Geeho loves to call them sheep, but fails to admit that despite all his sheep talk, Geeho, despite his six-figure gig, can't get into the elites.  Guess Geeho thinks calling anyone with more courage (anyone) than him are sheep, guess the elites aren't looking for "wolves" like tearful Geeho.   For example, Geeho goes on and on about the evils of Amazon, but fails to tell us his irritation has nothing to do with poor working conditions or low pay for Amazon workers, but since Geeho has said he's "working" for a firm that has something to do with cloud tech, Geehos anger with Amazon is that it is likely  the company he works for finds AWS his main competition,  So cry about Amazon, but Geeho couldn't care less about workers, he cares about losing what he sees as his last ticket to "the elites;" Geeho's job.    Maybe if Geeho hadn't cried about elites for so long, they would have welcomed him into their ranks.  Alas, poor Geeho. (tears)
James Travil Added Nov 27, 2018 - 8:54pm
That might be true about GeeHo Jeff, but what say you about Doomsday Book and his statements? Shouldn't they be more pro-doomsday? Or maybe they are and I just missed it? 
 
Anyhow I agree with Clock regarding the lack of regard for science. It's true that scientific maxims change, but does that mean that we should just always disregard science because it's not perfect? If so we should equally disregard, everything shouldn't we? 
James Travil Added Nov 27, 2018 - 8:57pm
TBH they also gave Obama a Nobel prize. It was at that point that the award essentially lost it's prestigious statis, at least in my eyes. At least Gore didn't get an award for peace when he esclatated needless illegal wars. May as well given Hitler the award for race relations! 
TreeParty Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:06am
EABC - The post was pretty long, but I think it is a pretty good analysis. My issue is this: in the computer age, knowledge is expanding at a rate that no one can keep up with. Let that sink in for a moment...
It means that each of us is getting more and more ignorant at an ever faster pace, relative to the sum of all human knowledge, without intention. You alluded to this problem: "We as a civilization have created an extremely complex network of interdependencies." And the treadmill of knowledge generation that is running faster than even the smartest and most well-read can keep up with is no excuse for prideful ignorance, for sure. But you should avoid attributing to malice what can be adequately explained by mere incompetence.
There is a "rise of ignorance" that is not necessarily willful, do you see the point? The more people fall off the back of the treadmill, the larger the population that is willing to support specious and ill- or mis-informed policies. It truly is an intractable problem, but not entirely because people are "willfully ignorant"; probably they just don't know enough to know who to trust. 
What say you?
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:49am
I know this was written against conservatives but could be applied even more strongly toward left-leaning folks. 

No, you can't teach those kids math. Adding 1 and 1, no way. You have to teach them about sex, trans folks, susy has 2 mommies.
 
You have to make sure you are righting wrongs of the past. No child left behind. The entire class has to go at the speed of the dumbest kid there. 
 
Make you stress that they are all evolved apes even though NOTHING that holds water has ever been found that proves this, or even significantly offers evidence toward this. 
 
Every major 'missing link' has been a fraud, forgery, or a tiny fraction of a skeleton that looks like an unrecognizable collection of bones--and STILL often has animal bones that, whoops, how did that get in there. (Piltdown man, Java man, Nebraska man, Earnst Haeckels evolution embryo fraud, the list is endless.) 
 
The lies about the Skopes Trial. It was a publicity stunt. The teacher was never jailed. He was sentenced to pay $100 fine (which someone else paid). He was asked in advance to simply admit to having taught evolution so they could "charge" him and the ACLU could sue and make it the media circus it became. The defense lawyer, William Jennings Bryan, was weeks away from death. He was a tired old man and literally died of a heart attack within days of the trial ending (and him losing). They put defense lawyer, Bryan, on the stand so the ACLU lawyer could mock him and Christianity in front of the country. 
 
That's just like Inherit the Wind, isn't it? Or no....
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:53am
One of the most intact 'missing link' skeletons, Lucy (which isn't very intact), has a baboon bone. How did that happen? 
 
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27325-baboon-bone-found-in-famous-lucy-skeleton/
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:58am
Anyone can verify this on their own, but we've been led to believe that neanderthals were missing links...sort of. Mostly human but not quite there, a different species. 
 
But now, they say, Europeans descend from Neanderthals. Usually different species (humans and neanderthals) can't have fertile offspring. But these 2 did. Hmm.
 
And the latest info is that neanderthals were much smarter than we realized. They had language, tools, etc...
 
Maybe....they were just human beings???
James Travil Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:02am
Sure Cullen, science is all a lie and what, the entire earth is just 6000 years old, dinosaurs are fake calcium deposits from the devil, and the world is flat, right? 
TreeParty Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:08am
Cullen,
You are denying evolution? HaHaHa! You make for strong evidence of EABC's case about "willful ignorance." Evolution is settled science; as settled as anything in science; and all the more so as time goes on and evidence comes in. 
From the article YOU LINKED! - 
"Forty years later, thanks to its age and completeness, Lucy remains an important specimen. It shows, for instance, that our distant ancestors began to walk upright on two legs long before they developed big brains."
Evolution is as true as anything you can name. Thanks for playing.
Flying Junior Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:31am
What then? What do you really think that we, as human beings, are going to do that will make one shred of difference? I want to know.
 
I'm glad you asked that question.  Efforts in the last sixteen years to decrease the total carbon emissions by the United States by increasing fuel efficiency standards, changing over from coal to natural gas and other green energy measures are credited with reducing our percentage of the global carbon emissions from 24% to 16% in 2016.  It really does make a difference.  That's why we are exhorting everybody to get busy.  We can make big changes.  It's simple math.
 
If you are proven wrong then everyone can just have a good laugh over it. If I am proven wrong (this then presumes your worst case is correct) then it wont really matter any more for anyone, will it?
 
That is nihilism at its finest.  TBH, you dropped in right on cue.  Clock was talking directly to you.  You're a clever fellow.  Just what is the disconnect?  I think in your case it's that feeling of emotional reinforcement.  Liberals are fucking pansies, right?  It's an irrational machismo.  A hormonal high.









Flying Junior Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:38am
Clock,
 
If somehow a cosmic force could have plucked the eighteen-year-old Flying Junior out of the summer of 1977 and taken me around the U.S. to see the sights and sounds of the summer of 2017, a scant forty years later...  That bright young person so excited about life and its infinite possibilities...
 
I would have cursed that spirit.  I would have cried out, "No!  You're lying to me!  This is all a lie!  This could never happen to my beloved country!  You are a demon attempting to deceive me.  But I shall never give up hope.  I shall never stop fighting for light and truth!  Away from me now, evil spirit!"
 
I never would have believed it possible.  Sometimes I still don't believe it even though I am one of the frogs in the soup pot.
Flying Junior Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:44am
And of course, it is about more than climate change.  It's about questioning basic truth.  I guess once the true believers can question the validity of science itself, it's an open run after that.  But it seems like the greatest threat is the distrust of traditional news sources.
 
They probably would have hated Walter Cronkite.


opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2018 - 5:35am
EABC - yes I agree this is a huge danger. Once you have successfully discredited all experts and scientists leaders can do what they want with utter impunity.
Trump, like many other leaders, is busy stripping away all safeguards in the pursuit of profit.
This creates risk of war, risk of huge environmental damage, risk of health and safety for employees, risk of social upheaval. It doesn't matter as long as you make a buck or two in the process.
If the 'experts' speak out they are now easily pushed aside as they are political pawns. They are always wrong. They are exaggerating or lying. They can be discounted. We do not believe experts.
This frees these leaders to do whatever they want. It opens the door to tyranny. It takes away all balance and checks. There is now no creditable opposition. The experts are political tools.
George N Romey Added Nov 28, 2018 - 8:16am
Mika and Mogg Turd I think we can classify within the category of the sheep.  
Stone-Eater Added Nov 28, 2018 - 9:24am
EABC
 
Good one ! But first we had simple ignorance, now we have cognitive dissonance. That's even worse. IQ might be replaced by DQ (Dumbass Quotient) in the future.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 28, 2018 - 9:29am
George
 
Mika's not a sheep. Don't underestimate him. On the other hand, don't overestimate others who use an eloquent and sophisticated language but when analyzed one simply finds no content but shallow envelopes. 
 
The real sheep are still the ones whose master is obvious: The invisible guy in the sky. They have the least flexibility to change their POV because all they think and say is covered by the religious blanket.
wsucram15 Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:11am
There is a girl in Flint, MI who helped raise money and continue to deliver water to the poisoned people in that town.
I was changing my fish tank and do levels on the water, I noticed that the levels were odd so I checked with the water department on the levels of chemicals in the water.  I found the ammonia being used was causing another chemical to form in the pipes which is harmful to humans and was killing my rather expensive fish.  It is up to people to check on this stuff as they publish the report.
So everything has filters on it now, even the showers because you absorb most of the bad chemicals not through drinking, but 80% through your skin.
Cleanest water ever my ass...I go out and around, i see the dumping and there are still deformed fish and sea life from louisiana area oil spill which Trumps people are trying to undone prior restrictions on.
Destroyed land masses, melting ice burgs on the tops of mountains in US...on and on.
 
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:14am
Burghal - I am very familiar with the thermodynamic basis for stating that greenhouse gases are resulting in the Earth retaining more heat than it would if they were absent. The heat is being retained, but it seems to be absorbed in the oceans and has not necessarily been reflected in air temperatures. Meanwhile, those who have a vested interest in the energy status quo have ginned up an enormous propaganda machine aimed at saying that cigarettes do not cause cancer - whoops, that was the last discussion of this nature. They are using the same technique to teach the controversy rather than examine the actual science and determine how to take action to prevent the logical outcomes of this. So I will respectfully disagree with your assessment. That's what makes this a ball game.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:18am
Jeff - ? I'm not familiar with your post. Can you 'splain it better for this ignorant soul?
 
James - your statement about disregarding everything is very appropriate. With the advent of alternative realities, one side of the discussion is insisting that it's version of reality is just as valid as that posited by scientists. Unfortunately, cosmic karma is hell.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:25am
Cullen - I'm glad that you have caught up with the fact that there is indeed genetic evidence that homo sapiens did interbreed with homo neanderthalensis. Normally, success at breeding across species lines does not occur, but with closely related species, it is possible. So it is likely that these two groups were closely enough related to have success, but it is not valid to state that Neanderthals populated Europe. The genetic component from Neanderthals is only about 2-4%.
 
As for your other assertions about past skeletons being essentially forgeries, let me say that I saw that sort of thing when I visited the Creation Museum a few years ago, which brought me to hysterical laughter, but only after I had exited so I would not cause a disturbance.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:44am
Tree - you make a good point about the expansion of knowledge. But I do believe there is a difference between being honestly unaware of the latest developments in all of the fields of science and other disciplines, and actively rejecting the premises of them while reveling in the company of fellow travelers who reinforce the beliefs of those who reject the findings of science. That is one reason why I have subscribed to Science magazine since 1980, because I realize that this is the best way to gain insight as to the changes going on in the world. I'm not saying I read the peer reviewed articles, although sometimes I do, but their news coverage and special emphasis sections on a particular discipline stand out.
 
I have used insights I received from Science several times to post in my blog. I was writing about CRISPR long before it became headline news. There was an incredible article about the loss of insect populations last year that only now is receiving more widespread press. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable that magazine is in keeping me informed on a new issue long before any coverage occurs in the regular press.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:51am
FJ - I too am disheartened to see the retreat of not only the US, but many countries from acceptance of scientific findings. And when you look at the global population increase over the past 40 years, along with the projections for future growth, you realize that it is only with the advances from science will we be capable of meeting the needs of this massive population. If we retreat from accepting their advances, we quite literally are doomed. That's why I put this as an existential threat to humanity.
 
Saw a very interesting statistic. Humanity and the livestock we use is now 96% of all of the weight of mammals on the earth. All of the wildlife we have (including our pets) makes up only 4%. Sounds like we are not being very good stewards.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:54am
Mogg, I fight the long battle, not choosing to engage in each and every possibility for skirmishes. Yes, there is a series of these posts, all based upon the original post I made back in May. And your vitriol aimed at any and all mention of global warming being human caused is exactly what I would have expected from your ilk. Now, having said that, have a nice day.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 10:57am
Opher - we are in violent agreement. In the transactional environment that is currently fostered by the government of the US, short term profit is the only thing that matters, and it is only girlie men  who worry about long term consequences.
 
One cannot overstate the insecurity evinced by the current snowflake-in-chief occupying the White House.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 11:04am
Stone - I like the DQ. I will disagree with you a bit on the religious side of things, though. In essence all of humanity has looked for validation of their existence through the belief of a power greater than themselves. I myself do belong to an Episcopal congregation, because the beliefs allow for incorporation of science findings within the realm of belief. I myself find it amazing that we keep discovering more and more about the act of creation and the processes of life, and eventually I believe we will be able to create artificial life forms. Will that be good or bad? Well, some denominations would claim overreach that will bring retribution from God, but I believe that if there is an entity that created the universe, it would be honored to know that on at least one planet, beings brought into existence through its actions were capable of understanding the processes of creation.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 28, 2018 - 11:48am
I don't know if this is off-topic, but does anybody understand the fuzz about the gene manipulated babies? How is this a moral problem? I see anti-science people everywhere that don't explain. But living in Europe, I must say that trusting "experts" for their claims is a very dangerous road. These titles are meted out by people with interests. They are not always deserved. Moreover, also an honorable scientist can get things wrong that his pupils get right. History is full of this. I see a lot of questionable "experts" in Germany and would suggest to develop standards to judge them on their merits and not to judge them on their institutional or media created "reputation". I personally see genetic manipulation as the answer to man made climate change. One cannot regulate these things through internally unenforcable treaties (I don't go to war over smog). One cannot regulate these these big scale things through car sharing. It will eventually be about plants or microbes transforming the atmosphere.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:16pm
I am a clever enough fellow, Junior, to know when someone is pissing on my leg while they are telling me its raining. You all can swallow this as gospel if you so choose and act according to your own conscience for whatever reward it may bring you. I for one am not buying any of it. 
 
Any statistics showing how much the other countries of the world have ADDED emissions? What is the net result?Probably not an improvement is it?If you want to argue on the leg of sound science it seems to me that you should have that information at hand, yet I suspect you do not. Do you rely on places like China, India, or dare I say it, Russia abiding by terms of reductions? Do you also still believe in the tooth fairy?
 
Then, of course, follows the argument that since the US is a) the biggest polluter, and b) the most prosperous, its only "fair" that we should shoulder most of this burden. And there is where you find what this entire hysteria is REALLY about.
 
No one is presenting anything new....I have heard all of this horse shit ad infinitum.  As I stated many months ago in my own article I do not deny climate change. I deny the human capability to so alter the climate as to induce catastrophic changes in same. That is assigning way importance to ourselves as to where we fit in to this entire ecosystem. That is not willful ignorance. That is the proper humility that ought to be shown to the power and rule of nature. No one else really rules us. They think they do and they have all of the trappings, but at the end of the day this planet will do as it will. If we create an imbalance nature has ways and will at the time deemed necessary  take corrective action and there is FUCK ALL your regulations, carbon credits, carbon taxes.....ANY of it is going to make one ounce of difference. 
 
I would submit that your side of this argument's inability to accept this inescapable truth is the pinnacle of willful ignorance
TreeParty Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:34pm
EABC,
   Agreed that willful ignorance is maladaptive for all concerned. (Proud willful ignorance is even worse!) But your headline and your thesis, I think, is that there is a rise in willful ignorance. I'm not sure that's true. Possibly in absolute numbers, but not as a percentage of the population. Possibly in influence within certain political factions, but not across the entire political spectrum.
   We are agreed that the increase in human knowledge is outstripping the capacity of any person to keep up with it, and in that sense, there is arguably a "rise in ignorance" in the populace; that phenomenon is pretty self-evidently real. But I am arguing that the level of ignorance that is "willful" is not necessarily an existential threat. Just anecdotally, for example, the percentages of Americans that believe in evolution, and in AGW, have been slowly increasing over time. 
   Now, is it your contention that the "rise" in willful ignorance represents a growing percentage of the population; or does the "rise" represent the elevation of the willfully ignorant in terms of political power? I will grant you the latter, but would like to see any evidence you can offer for the former. (And you may well have some such evidence! Start with the Nielsen Ratings!)
   If we concentrate on education as a palliative for ignorance, the threat of willfully ignorant political leaders taking us off a cliff can be reduced to the degree that it can be discerned. I'm trying to be hopeful here!
George N Romey Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:42pm
No SEF he is a sheep.  And both of them are assholes.  Most here on WB agree with my assessment.  On the other hand, while Ryan the "mess" is very disagreeable he's not really an asshole.  He's a sad delusional human being that is totally confused about life.
TreeParty Added Nov 28, 2018 - 12:45pm
TBH,
   The "argument" that 7.5 billion humans cannot create global scale ecological impacts is exactly the "willful ignorance" that EABC decries. We have seen, and are seeing, numerous examples of global scale ecological impacts caused by humans, and more all the time. Look up the Montreal Protocol for a salient example. Look up Great Pacific Garbage Patch for another example. You OK with plastic in your food chain?!
"I deny the human capability to so alter the climate as to induce catastrophic changes..."  -  Ignorance.
"I for one am not buying any of it."  -  Willful. 
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 1:05pm
I do not, nor have I ever said that it has NO impact. My position is that the suggestion that said impact is to a degree that it can overtake the natural climatic cycles that this planet has to "regulate" the environment is patently false and wholly politically motivated. It may be science by someone's definition, but it is not good science. More political science if any
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 1:07pm
call me what you want. I will carry on putting my carbon footprint, small as it is, wherever I fucking please
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 1:12pm
Either I am right, in whole or in part, and this obligates your response, or you just like to argue. If it is the latter I'm doing all a service in taking up your time to prevent your further dispersal of this false gospel
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 28, 2018 - 1:51pm
Think about this, we know dinosaurs exist because we find their skeletons all over the world. How many 'missing link' skeletons have we found (between apes and humans)? 1? Lucy (which is 10% of a skeleton with a baboon bone accidentally in there)? 
Jim Stoner Added Nov 28, 2018 - 1:53pm
Thanks for the essay.  The key word is "willful"; on the whole, the level of education continues to improve, and inforation is more plentiful than ever.  Illiteracy is generally defeated.  I would say that the skill of critical thought--it could be called wisdom--still needs a lot of improvement.
I would stick with the notion that the greatest threat to our civilization is the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  In this case, one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch, baby.   Second would be the poisoning of our water or food supplies by biological or chemical agents.   
Finally, as the astrophysicist Tyson says, "Science doesn't care if you believe in it." 
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 28, 2018 - 1:56pm
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170517-we-have-still-not-found-the-missing-link-between-us-and-apes
 
I'm willfully ignorant but the BBC strangely seems to agree with me (as does simple logic). 
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:01pm
education is crucial. educating the young is teaching them how to think. on their own. not what to think, which is indoctrination
Stone-Eater Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:02pm
EABC
 
In essence all of humanity has looked for validation of their existence through the belief of a power greater than themselves.
 
Yep. That has started in the earliest of times, and seen the stage of education stone age man had when he started to wonder that's no surprise.
 
What amazes me that we have transported these archaic ideas about a "god" right until today.
Bill Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:11pm
@Even A Broken Clock:
 
Burghal, I respect your opinion. You have focused on the climate change portion of the post, but the post includes climate change as only one aspect in this syndrome. Basically, I see a significant fraction of humanity that denies the validity of scientific findings, and this goes across party and ideological lines. Most of those who identify as vaccine deniers are probably tilted to the liberal side of the spectrum. I am trying to say that there is such ignorance about what constitutes scientific findings that it is acceptable for any group to discount any finding they find is inconvenient, and with the world of the internet at hand, they can find a receptive community that will affirm their belief and bolster their activism to fight against the scientific finding they disagree with.”
 
In general I agree with your main point. On climate change I would point out that we are “inventing our way out” so quickly that it is already a moot point. We will be well within the lowest “prediction range” on the IPCC chart with or without government intervention. People will stop buying fossil fuels for the same reason they stopped buying typewriters – and it won’t be because we “ran out.”
 
This latter point I’ve run as an experiment for nearly a decade, and incidentally it provides anecdotal evidence to your original point. I got so tired of hearing people saying, almost entirely dependent upon their respective political parties, either that “we are doomed unless government makes a huge investment!” or “the science is bunk!” Not being a climate scientist, I read the executive summaries for the IPCC reports, studied the charts, and realized the report itself did not predict doom – only a range of “what ifs.” The doom ONLY comes in if we keep using fossil fuels for too long. So I asked, “will that happen?” and started researching solar panels and batteries.
 
Turns out both have been on exponentially declining price patterns for over 65 years (my whole life). When one technological paradigm has peaked, another has pushed in and continued the trend. Batteries: Lead Acid; NiCad; Nickel Metal Hydride; Lithium Ion. With some plateaus and other minor variations, batteries have declined in cost (total watt hours stored / released over the useful life divided by price) by half about every 6.5 years, solar about every 3.5 years. It’s never meant much until now because they were always still too expensive; but we are about to hit the tipping point. Solar plus batteries should undercut coal in China by 2028; electric vehicles may be cheaper as soon as 2025.
 
So how did this experiment prove your point? No more than a couple of people over a decade were even interested in the possibility that “climate may be 100% correct – and still not matter.”
 
So, we are left with Wizard’s First Rule: “People are stupid. They will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true.”
 
TreeParty Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:22pm
Cullen,
1) The BBC article does not dispute a LCA; in fact, it depends on an LCA. The fossil record is necessarily incomplete, and always will be. But the existence of a last common ancestor of humans and other great apes is undeniable.
2) There is a very compelling chain of fossil evidence going back to Lucy the Australopithecus Afarensis (different genus, different species) showing the gradual change in form from a chimp-looking organism to humans. You can look it up...
Dino Manalis Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:36pm
 Science cannot be ignored, we should let scientists do their jobs to inform us.
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:41pm
I agree Dino. We cannot keep rubbishing science. Challenging it is one thing - rubbishing it is something else. This is just populist politics!
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2018 - 2:43pm
Cullen - the evidence for human evolution from both fossil evidence and DNA is complete. There are no massive missing links. It would be impossible to have physical evidence of every single mutation.
Neil Lock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 3:09pm
Broken Clock: My take is that what is happening is not, as you put it, the rise of wilful ignorance. Rather, it is a loss of confidence in those that claim “authority.” Not just in government, but in shamans, witch doctors and similar con artists, and in those that claim to be “experts.” Including “scientists,” and, of course, religious proselytizers. I see this loss of confidence as a good thing, not a bad one. If people routinely passed what they are told by those that claim such “authority” through a good bullshit meter, I think the world would be a much better place.
 
I have written on this forum on the subjects both of science and of risk. I’m sure you can find those articles easily enough. The problem I see with the attitude you take here to risk, is that avoiding risk has costs. If the costs of a political action are greater than the disbenefits of the risk avoided would have been, how can that action be said to be reasonable? Particularly if those promoting the action are nett beneficiaries of that action, yet some other people are subjected to harm by that action?
 
As to the knowledge claims of “experts,” I have long liked Steven Weinberg’s aphorism: “An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.” Almost as good is Niels Bohr: “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” “Experts” are specialists, and their knowledge in an area, while deep, can be very narrow. Some of the mathematicians I met in my time at university were perfect examples!
 
Just because someone claims to be an “expert” in a field doesn’t mean you should necessarily believe them. Even – perhaps most of all – when they speak on their “home ground!” Instead, I suggest, you should look at what “expert” claims they have made in the past, and how they panned out. You may be shocked – as I was when I first seriously looked into the “global warming” stuff back in 2008. And it’s only got worse since.
Neil Lock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 4:01pm
Broken Clock: Oh, and a more specific point. You say you heard that: Humanity and the livestock we use is now 96% of all of the weight of mammals on the earth. All of the wildlife we have (including our pets) makes up only 4%.
 
It so happens that I had a discussion with Opher, not so long ago, on this very subject and in this very forum. He gave me this link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study. That article says, in big, bold type: “Of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals.” That’s not saying anything about weight, is it? It’s claiming that of the number of mammals on the planet, only 4% are wild. Which is, of course, utter rubbish; and I showed it’s rubbish, by quoting a generally accepted estimate that the world population of rats alone is not far short of the human population. And now, the exact same meme re-surfaces, only with weight as the measure! That’s bullshit. Isn’t it? And much, much harder to check than the original claim. Prompting the thoughts: who changed the meme, and why did they put forward a falsehood in the first place?
 
Opher is incorrigible; he’s a biologist. But Broken Clock my friend, you’re a chemist, a (relatively speaking) hard scientist. I really do urge you, when you hear claims such as the one you quoted here, to look at them with skepticism. Make back of the envelope calculations to see if the claim is supportable. Look at the history of the claim, and find out how it has changed over time, and who has promoted it. I hope that, before long, you will find yourself agreeing with me that “experts,” and those that report reverently on their pronouncements, ain’t what they make themselves out to be.
George N Romey Added Nov 28, 2018 - 4:16pm
Science has never been exact.  Even the scientists can't agree with the scientists.  The difference now?  The massive expansion of information.  50 years ago if Chet Hutley on the CBS Evening News (or whatever network he worked for) told you scientist said this or that causes cancer that's what people would believe.  After all it was on the 6:30PM National News, it was considered cold stone fact.
 
Today people are exposed to multiple streams of information and views.  What do believe?  Who do you trust?  Just look at the argument over global warming or vaccines.
 
We live in a world of information overload.  In order to achieve a coherent opinion one must evaluate multiple sources and understand there likely is no 100% true answer.  
 
Most people are lazy.  They won't read.  They won't do their research. They will listen to their favorite talking head whether its cable news, Twitter, print or digit media.  If at all, or just make a totally ill formed decision out of the emptiness of their own head.
 
After all going to a library means getting off one's ass.  Given the soaring obesity levels too many Americans just sit on their increasing girth and accept whatever the television or tablet/computer screen is telling them.  
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 4:44pm
Benjamin - I'm very familiar with the CRISPR technology. Here are the moral issues as I understand them.
1. The technology has not proven itself to be without error when interacting with DNA. Therefore there is a risk of unintended consequences that may reveal themselves later in the child's life, essentially making the child an uncontrolled experiment. Because of the experimental nature of the technology, this type of experiment is not yet ready for prime time.
2. There is a difference given between changes that affect a single organism, and one that can be transmitted through future generations. Since this change is modifying the fertilized egg before any division, it is truly going to affect any future generations from these two girls. This also is against the guidelines for ethical practices.
3. This is not aimed at preventing a known defect. If the parents were known to be carriers of a genetic disease, such that there was a high probability of transmitting it to their children, you could understand the desire to "fix" a problem before it could show up. But the stated purpose of making a person who could not be infected by HIV? That is not really a worthwhile goal given the current state of the technology.
 
I am a firm believer that CRISPR technology will find many uses going forward, but this was a bridge too far. In an earlier post I wrote about CRISPR, and indeed, have invested in some of the stocks in this area. But I disagree with this use of the technology. Maybe in the future once the efficacy and safety of the technology has been proven, we will see it in use. But not yet.  Hope this helps.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 4:52pm
Burghal - I do think that mankind is capable of affecting the environment more profoundly than you believe. The atmosphere seems limitless to us, and these gases are measured in the parts per million, but already they are providing 25-33% of the warming effect of water vapor. Yes, what happens with solar influence can overwhelm things. If we are wandering into a repeat of the Maunder minimum, then that effect would more than offset the warming from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. But failing that, I just don't see that there won't be a significant effect from continued emissions.
 
You see the effort to control greenhouse gas emissions as an attempt to gain political power to control the lives of the inhabitants of Earth. I see a species engaged in a desperate struggle to prevent our climate from becoming inimical to human and other animal life. Who's right?
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 4:56pm
Cullen, over the decades I have seen many different stories about hominid fossils that may be interim evolutionary links. Some may also represent evolutionary dead ends. Are you familiar with the hobbit fossils? Let me just say that there are many different fossil remains that have been discovered, and not just your litany of Piltdown man and other celebrated instances of the past.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 4:58pm
branding those who disagree (with good reason) as being willfully ignorant is just an effort to shut them up. Some participants in this thread better prepare themselves to either go back and start deleting all of their old comments or be hoisted on a petard of their own words.
Remember the Kavanaugh hearings? Of course you do, you're probably still steaming over the results. I know your very first reaction...."what the hell? What does that have to do with this?" 
Well, its this: they are not the same thing at all, but they are in one important respect. Both the Kavanaugh hearings and climate science are conducted ostensibly to gather facts,evidence and to obtain the truth, or as near to it as one may arrive with those facts available.
 
Now in the case of the Kavanaugh hearings there were some FACTS, not rumor, innuendo or political hit job, revealed about the accuser, Dr. Fraud....sorry, Ford. Even though there was serious doubt cast upon her credibility, doubts which have since been solidly confirmed, that made no difference, did it? You all were going to have your pound of flesh no matter.....
 
they can find a receptive community that will affirm their belief and bolster their activism to fight against the scientific finding they disagree with.
 
granted, in the Kavanaugh case we are not talking about a scientific finding, but rather a factual finding, one which clearly was at odds with a narrative that you had already embraced.  The fact that the star witness was discredited to a degree that the entire farce just dissolved into the ether would not dissuade you. No, Kavanaugh just HAD to be guilty. 
 
and this climate farce is the same. There are numerous proven instances of data being deliberately manipulated to support a desired result, but no matter. That is just the stuff of deniers, the willfully ignorant. So you say.
 
Just as we were all expected to just blindly accept the vague accusations of an event that supposedly happened 36 years before (impossible to verify with any reasonable degree of accuracy) we expected to accept some vague, ever shifting and unquantifiable theory which can only be truly put to scientific validation 50, 100 or 200 years hence.....
 
You see? It is the same. Not seeing it is not a matter of willfull ignorance. That is a complete waste of syllables. I can give it to you in only two: obtuse
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 5:03pm
Bill - I hope you are right, in that renewable sources of energy will eventually replace fossil fuels due to competition in the marketplace. This is the best of all possible outcomes. There are some incredible stories coming out now about solar cells using common materials like this one:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perovskite_solar_cell
Energy storage is as much of a problem as electric generation, because it is necessary to have some way of load-leveling to accommodate the variable nature of renewable energy. I'm sure that for quite some time, it will require fossil fuels to bridge the load-leveling gap.  I must admit though I am partial to the thorium nuclear fuel cycle that offers the advantages of nuclear energy (huge amount of energy generation without the risk of meltdown or the creation of long-lived radioactive isotopes). I wrote about this last year in a post.  
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 5:05pm
Dino - even though the scientists are trying to inform us, and have the history to show the effectiveness of their solutions, there are many who are choosing to ignore their message. That is the willful ignorance I'm talking about.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 5:12pm
Neil, we agree on more than we disagree about. The quote about the 96% factor though, is based upon biomass as can be seen in this post:  https://www.ecowatch.com/biomass-humans-animals-2571413930.html
 
I have long railed against what I call mathematical illiteracy and believe in the value of having an active bullshit meter in place to knock down invalid claims. But this one I believe.
 
Your note on the narrowness of academics is well taken. The depth of knowledge may not be very broad, and it takes a lot of patience to wade through the really dense stuff to dig out the few nuggets of knowledge. 
 
BTW, loved your piece on the carol.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 28, 2018 - 5:13pm
branding those who disagree with the conclusions is a convenient way to avoid addressing the issue that the "science" has some serious credibility issues
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 28, 2018 - 5:18pm
George, you have said something very profound in your reply:
 
Most people are lazy.  They won't read.  They won't do their research. They will listen to their favorite talking head whether its cable news, Twitter, print or digit media.  If at all, or just make a totally ill formed decision out of the emptiness of their own head.
 
That is one of the key problems we have. To some people, we have been too successful about creating a world where people do not need to understand anything technology to be able to use it. By creating a new world of interaction through social media, folks do not see how it is subtly undermining their intelligence through subverting their drives into an ongoing search for validation through likes. I guess we to at WB have a form of that, but we at least engage others in a discussion of one sort or another.
wsucram15 Added Nov 28, 2018 - 6:16pm
Willful ignorance = self deception.    Isnt the idea of the internet/technology to expand the world and mind?  I dont see it. You have to research to find facts.
 
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 28, 2018 - 6:59pm
@Treeparty - You do realize that scientists create entire 'species' on that diagram based on one skull fragment (example=Handy Man). And many scientists today apparently think he / it (Handy Man in this case) was not an individual species but the same as Lucy. 
 
Look, all the fancy diagrams in the world don't change the fact that we know dinosaurs exist because we dig them up all over the world. That's how often how science works. You study something because it's obviously there. "How did it get there?", "How did it grow?", etc...
 
With evolution, the linchpin of the entire theory is "missing links" (or transitional forms). The ape-man. 
 
So where are they? Why don't we dig them up, intact, all over the world like we do with dinosaurs? Why can't they find a single, intact skeleton of one of these alleged ape-man. It's always some bashed in skull fragment and they draw these pictures of a bent-over caveman like creatures. (How they heck do they know the creature looked like that from a skull fragment?)
 
Evolutionists love to say different species of sea turtle or finches (Darwin) is proof of evolution theory. It's not. Ape-man are proof of the theory and we don't seem to find any. Why is that??????
 
 
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2018 - 7:34pm
Neil - you will deny away the environmental devastation taking place around you until the moment you are standing in a steaming desert called the Pacific.
Just open you eyes and look. It is not hard to see right in your own back yard the terrible carnage in wildlife that has taken place in your own lifetime.
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2018 - 7:37pm
Cullen - just click on google and you will find literally thousands of skeletons through the whole evolution of man. They are not fragments. We have it mapped out.
TreeParty Added Nov 28, 2018 - 9:51pm
Cullen - you wrote:
"..scientists create entire 'species' on that diagram based on one skull fragment (example=Handy Man)"
That statement is simply and drastically false. Here is the truth about homo habilis fossils. 
It is rare to find complete skeletons that are millions of years old, for obvious reasons, which include weather, wild animals, the geological unlikelihood of optimum conditions for fossilization, etc. But just like in the case of dinosaur fossils, human ancestor fossils are out there. It is equally rare to find intact, complete skeletons of dinosaurs - I think you have a mis-informed idea of the completeness  of dinosaur fossils..
And genetics gives us powerful new ways to study genealogical relationships even absent the actual bones. So there are "other linchpins" that cement the validity of human evolution.
You don't seem intentionally ignorant about evolution, Cullen; but you don't seem to have a good grasp of the subject. I suggest further study!
Flying Junior Added Nov 29, 2018 - 1:50am
I have no lack of confidence in the American Geophysical Union whatsoever.

Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 29, 2018 - 5:08am
@TreeParty - in your link there were 9 "important" (only?) specimens of that species. 
 
Here's the description of one of the specimens: 
 

KNM-ER 42703 – a right upper jaw bone dated to about 1.44 million years old, discovered in Ileret Kenya in 2000. It is the youngest fossil of Homo habilis yet found.

So a specimen is a jaw bone. 
 
Or this: 
 

OH 8 – 1.8-million-year-old foot bones discovered in 1960 in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. This partial left foot lacks its heel and toe bones but the foot’s arch and general shape are similar to our own and provide evidence that this species’ walking gait was identical to that of a modern human.

Some foot bones. 
 
My point stands. Where are the intact ape-men skeletons? Where? A jawbone? That's what they've got to imagine a species. 
 
We dig up dinosaur bones all over the world (North America, China, some in Australia). Thousands of dinosaurs we would have never knew existed, we know now because we dug them up. 
 
Darwin theory is the opposite. It says we SHOULD find ape-men skeletons all over the world. But we don't. Dinosaur bones are tens to hundreds of millions of years older than ape-men. We find them but don't find ape-men. WHy is that???????
Neil Lock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 5:14am
Broken Clock: I had a read of the article you referred to about biomass. The organization whose website it came from (EcoWatch) describes itself as "a leading environmental news site engaging millions of concerned individuals every month. We are leading the charge in using online news in the U.S. to drive fundamental change to ensure the health and longevity of our planet." Mmmm... hardly apolitical.
 
I also had a quick skim of the underlying paper from an Israeli university (the paper's primary funder was the EU, it seems). If the paper is right, then cattle, pigs, sheep and other species that associate closely with human beings have good reason to celebrate - they're doing well out of us! :-)
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 10:49am
Burghal - we were cross posting yesterday so I didn't see your latest posts till I looked today. I don't think there is much point drawing equivalence between the Kavanaugh hearings and the science regarding climate change. On the one hand you have the memories of a few people reaching back over 35 years ago trying to confirm what happened at beer-fueled parties, on the other hand you have hundreds and thousands of peer reviewed scientific articles describing the observations leading scientists to believe that there is an unmistakable trend towards a warmer environment on the Earth, and that it is caused by human gaseous emissions.
 
I would say that this is a false equivalence, and reject the concept for myself.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 10:53am
Jeanne - "Isn't the idea of the internet/technology to expand the world and mind?"  Would that this was the case. But the more things expand in terms of knowledge available on the internet, the more some people's horizons contract to the familiar and comfortable environment of their own cocoon.
 
As you can see by the spirited discussion on this topic, we can at least discuss our own biases and knowledge, but we don't have to reach agreement. That is one of the good things about WB is that we can exchange views.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 11:08am
Cullen - I get the impression that you believe that the fossil remains of small batches of hunter / gatherers over the course of 1-2 million years should be found at an equal frequency to that of a bunch of species that were the dominant life-forms on the earth for over 100 million years. I myself find it amazing that we have even found partial skeletons of our ancestors, and skeletons of close relatives who eventually died out. So let me ask you. If you don't believe in evolution affecting human life, do you believe in a divine source of humanity that does not come from other life forms already existing on Earth? And a second question. Do you believe in evolutionary processes for beings other than humans? Thanks.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 11:19am
Neil - I will confess that I did a google search and came up with the headline that showed confirmation of the results without doing a full background check on the organization that published the results. I would agree with you that the organization is not apolitical. So does that invalidate the results of the story? I think not. If you look you will find many other sources that describe the very same statistics, so you can choose your source.
 
As for livestock being grateful to us for making them so dominant in the biosphere, I would say, yes, but at a cost. And don't forget that chickens are the most prevalent bird species on Earth. But I don't know how much good it is doing them, given the lives that many of them face in egg farms or being bred for slaughter. Humanity is the big bully in the biosphere, and we believe that we are entitled to have it our way without the environment pushing back. Well, in the case of global warming, we probably are seeing the first signs of the environment pushing back on our intrusive nature. Just remember that the biosphere has corrective measures for disturbances. If we are the ones causing the disturbance, we more than likely will not be pleased with the effects of the corrective actions.
TreeParty Added Nov 29, 2018 - 12:49pm
Cullen,
You wrote:
"..scientists create entire 'species' on that diagram based on one skull fragment (example=Handy Man)"
Shown that that is a false statement, you nevertheless claim, "My point stands."
It is a lie to claim that homo habilis was "created" based on one skull fragment. (You call this a "skull fragment"?!?!)Before you were shown that there are quite a few bones on which the identification was based, you could claim ignorance. But after having been shown the facts, your claim descends into the realm of "willful ignorance", actually plain old lying to be frank.
As Clock has pointed out, it's a miracle that we have any hominid fossils at all from 2 million years ago. Again, that is because of all the circumstances that prevent fossilization: wild animal predation; aerobic decomposition; erosion over time by water and weathering; disturbance and breakage by excavation; etc. So THAT is the answer to why we do not routinely find intact skeletons of hominids from millions of years ago. Your question has been answered. Any further questioning on the matter can be explained by stupidity or "willful ignorance." Your choice. 
And once more for the hard of learning; there is no doubt that there was a last common ancestor, what you like to call a "missing" link, of humans and other great apes. We don't have an intact skeleton of that animal, but there is utterly no doubt that it existed. There is a huge number of things that existed that aren't around any more, and for which the evidence is incontrovertible. LCA is one of those things. As to "missing links" in general, check this out.
Bill Added Nov 29, 2018 - 1:55pm
@Even A Broken Clock
 
“Bill - I hope you are right, in that renewable sources of energy will eventually replace fossil fuels due to competition in the marketplace. This is the best of all possible outcomes. There are some incredible stories coming out now about solar cells using common materials like this one:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perovskite_solar_cell
 
Well there is excellent news.  The Perskovite cells would be an incremental improvement focusing on manufacturing costs, but are still not a leap in efficiency (requires more land to generate the necessary power).  At least one company is working on a novel way to use carbon nanotubes as nanoantenna arrays to harvest sunlight, with the promise to both lower cost of manufacture and potentially reach 90% efficiency.  For niche applications such as aircraft where weight is absolutely crucial, there is an aluminum flow battery under development which actually exceeds the energy density of gasoline.  It would require physical replacement / swapping of some parts, but even that might be practical for niche markets if they can get the processing costs down.

“Energy storage is as much of a problem as electric generation, because it is necessary to have some way of load-leveling to accommodate the variable nature of renewable energy. I'm sure that for quite some time, it will require fossil fuels to bridge the load-leveling gap.”
 
Not so!  Load leveling is a niche; gas peaker plants more expensive than baseload generators – and thus the economic “tipping point” is already upon us.  Last year Tesla put a peaker plant or two in operation in Australia; this year California committed to three new battery peaker plants.  All are expected to save money over their lifetimes compared to the alternatives - and when those batteries wear out, the replacements by that time will be even cheaper.
 
“I must admit though I am partial to the thorium nuclear fuel cycle that offers the advantages of nuclear energy (huge amount of energy generation without the risk of meltdown or the creation of long-lived radioactive isotopes). I wrote about this last year in a post.”
 
THAT was a tragedy which might have prevented all of the current angst about AGW had they allowed scientists to pursue it after WWII.  This is an area where you can’t “prove” it was a conspiracy – but you know in your gut it was.  Suppression of this technology was uniform in every nuclear capable country.  Why?  Because you can’t make bombs from LFTR plants, and had the reality of clean, SAFE nuclear power been even once demonstrated to the public they would have demanded an end to Light Water Reactors.  I get why they did it – I trained to deliver nukes in my mis-spent youth – but I cannot see nuclear ever getting competitive in price now.  Solar is dropping by half every 3.5 years, the best nuclear can hope for at this point is smaller plants and marginal improvements in cost.
 
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 4:13pm
Bill - re: conspiracy to prevent development of thorium nuclear cycle. I'm convinced you are correct in that it is not possible to generate fissile-capable material from thorium. That is why it did not find momentum for development. But I can still hope. One thing thorium lends itself to is smaller plants, since the critical mass of size is not needed.
 
I grew up in a city near to a molten salt uranium reactor (Hallam in Nebraska). I never learned growing up exactly how it worked, and it was decommissioned in the '60's if I recall.
 
Thorium has yet another thing going for it. It is present in Earth's crust at a greater abundance than is uranium, and it is found in conjunction with rare earth minerals. So if you developed the market for thorium, you would gain a supply of rare earths as a bonus.
James Travil Added Nov 29, 2018 - 4:24pm
I just love how a crackpot like Cullen berates natural science and history, but has no problem believing in historical revisionism and outright MAGIC because a bunch of cave men in the bronze age wrote the Bible. I don't know if that is hypocrisy or irony. But it's certainly stupidity. 
Katharine Otto Added Nov 29, 2018 - 5:27pm
Clock,
You have more respect for science and scientists than I do.  Lately, especially, scientists have come across like some cult, similar to religious fanatics, with the attitude that they have all the answers, or will soon, given the proper funding.  Climate change caused by human-generated carbon emissions?  Of course it's true, because the scientists say so.  Which scientists?  Government and corporate-employed scientists.  Astrophysicists.  Now, there's a newly emerging theory that the earth may experience a mini-ice age because of the prolonged solar minimum of sunspots.  At what point do we reach critical mass on the number of scientists that believe in global warming by man vs. global cooling by lack of sunspots?
 
Then there are the vaccine-deniers who question whether all these vaccines are as beneficial as the "scientists" claim.  Some of these vaccines may do more harm than good by compromising natural immunity, or in some cases, over-stimulating its immune system and causing auto-immune diseases.  Side effects.  Guillain Barre.  It's not an all-or-nothing issue, but the generalization compromises the credibility of the proponents.  Do you really think 20 vaccines in American children before they are 18 are necessary?
 
It occurs to me a big difference between science and religion is that science doesn't even pretend to consider morality.  If it can make money for the corporation or on Wall Street, it is worth all other risks, apparently.  GM food.  The pesticides and insecticides manufactured by your alma mater for industrialized mono-agriculture, in the name of lucrative "scientific progress" scare me more than carbon-based emissions.
 
I would agree that "willful ignorance" is a fact, but I don't know if it's more prevalent now than before.  It's hard to accept new information, especially if it shakes basic foundations of beliefs.
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 29, 2018 - 7:08pm
You can get a single deformed skull fragment for all kinds of reasons. 


Here's a skeleton of a man who had scurvy. His leg bones, back bone all curved. 
 
http://www.manual-of-surgery.com/content/0108-Rickets.htmlhttp://www.manual-of-surgery.com/content/0108-Rickets.html
 
What would you deduce from that? A new species of curve-boned people? 
 
That's the problem with finding a single skull fragment and creating a new species. 
 
You know how they date a lot of these finds? They use the layer they found it in to inform the carbon dating. But they date the layers based on their assumptions of evolution. Beyond of a few thousand years, the dating techniques are almost useless. 
 
I state again, where are the intact ape-men skeletons? I'll answer my own question since you seem unwilling. They've never been found because they don't exist. 
 
I also love how you explain away why we don't find any. Isn't science supposed to be testable? A theory is supposed to have evidence to support it. If there is a lack of evidence, you discard the theory, not make up endless reasons why you DON'T find ample evidence. That sounds like religious faith. You BELIEVE the theory as if it's a religion. And you desperately cling to anything that offers slivers of support for it. 
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 10:28pm
James - that's why I deliberately used the word Willful in the title. Whether it is due to religious reasons, or new world beliefs, or financially induced beliefs due to the benefits of remaining within the status quo, disregard of the consensus view from scientists is willful disregard of the accepted facts. Which is willfully maintaining a state of ignorance.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 10:34pm
Katharine - I respect your positions, but believe you are mistaken in your skepticism over scientific findings. What I keep seeing is that science is relentless in its pursuit of errors in its published methodology. In Science magazine for the past several years, they are looking at the issues of scientific findings not being reproducible. It's not the government doing this, it's the scientists whose reputation is on the line each time some unfounded report is accepted in a peer reviewed journal.
 
Right now one of the biggest risks to science is that there are pay to play, or pay to publish websites that pretend to be the equivalent of peer reviewed science. These journals, primarily sourced out of India, are becoming notorious for accepting almost any sort of report, and if you pay enough, you will see it published. But they are being outed by real scientists. So yes, I do have an intrinsic trust in science. I've participated in some of the steps to develop a scientific finding. It is hard work, and it should be honest. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 29, 2018 - 10:38pm
Cullen, tomorrow I will be going to the funeral of my uncle. I will be unavailable to respond to any further comments in this post until probably Monday. I will be driving within a mile or two of the Creation Museum in Kentucky. But I will have absolutely no desire to visit that den of iniquity that is aimed at brainwashing a vulnerable set of people into believing the literal accuracy of the Christian Bible. I'm sorry that you have been swept up into this group of believers who discount all evidence to the contrary of reality. This is your loss. You are missing a much grander understanding of creation, one that incorporates evolution into the story of an ongoing creation in which we as humans play a subsidiary role at best.
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 29, 2018 - 11:00pm
I'm sorry for your uncle, seriously.
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 12:56am
Katharine Otto -
"At what point do we reach critical mass on the number of scientists that believe in global warming by man vs. global cooling by lack of sunspots?"
There is no serious "number of scientists" that believe in global cooling by lack of sunspots". You've been hoodwinked - not sure how..
So if after 2 or 3 years of the Grand Solar Minimum, global temperature continues to rise, will you admit that it is chiefly the shocking increase in GHG's that is driving climate on Earth?
I await your response..
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 1:13am
Cullen,
For the umpteenth time, the "deduction" of homo habilis is not based on a "single skull fragment"! Sheesh, dude; why do you keep lying about this?!?!
The science of archaeological dating is well-established and is confirmed and validated by multiple converging lines of evidence. That you are ignorant of all of that is your own fault, and does not invalidate the dating to any significant extent. 
"I state again, where are the intact ape-men skeletons?"
I state again, for the (proudly) willfully ignorant; those are very hard to come by, but by no means required for the establishment of an LCA for humans and apes. Why are you having such trouble understanding a simple concept?
"They've never been found because they don't exist."
Wow, major logical fallacy there. Because something has not been found does not mean that it does not exist! If anyone else made that argument, you'd be all over it like flies on rice: Since Noah's Ark has not been found, it does not exist, right?! (Of course, Noah's Ark does not exist and probably never did exist, but that's a separate discussion...)
Look for a post shortly on evolution, to try to dispel some of your regrettable ignorance on the subject...
Jim Stoner Added Nov 30, 2018 - 1:54am
EABC:  Sorry for your family's loss.  
 
You asked this question to Cullen:  do you believe in a divine source of humanity that does not come from other life forms already existing on Earth? 
Sort of an indirect way of asking, but it reminded me of the book "Shikasta", by the Nobel-winning author Doris Lessing.  In it, she essentially proposes a hypothesis that there is a "divine"--eternal, powerful, but not quite omnipotent--actor from the stars who has sought to guide evolution and development of humanity from the original apes.  Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and the others were latter-day efforts by this agent to warn humanity away from immoral behavior.   Humanity comes across as very forgetful, easily confused, scared, or impressed, and not real good at retaining its lessons. 
It was an interesting idea, for sure; an attempt to reconcile what we know of evolution with the myths and legends behind our religions. For example, the common legend of world-destroying floods.  Her prediction (through the novel)  that the superior administrative skills of the Chinese will lead that nation to dominate the secular activity of the planet, in the near future, is one that seems to be in the process of validation.   Anyway, I recommend reading it as a thought-provoking exercise. 
wsucram15 Added Nov 30, 2018 - 9:22am
EABC..I know its always lively on here.  LOL
Katharine Otto Added Nov 30, 2018 - 10:23pm
TreeParty,
The Grand Solar Minimum is just one of many theories I have heard.  My point is that the climate picture is multi-factorial and there are many possible influences that we don't think of or even know about.  However you slice it, there's nothing scientific about predictions, especially predictions far into the future.  That is superstition, not science.  There are "scientists" who say greenhouse gases have a cooling (or modulating) rather than a warming effect.  Furthermore, if burning fossil fuels puts more CO2 in the atmosphere, then it produces twice as much water (at least), and water vapor comprises 95% of so-called greenhouse gases.  Do you hear anyone talking about that?  I don't.  
 
Even if man is responsible for raising the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, what are the "scientists" saying we should do about it, other than levying carbon taxes?  The easiest, most sensible mitigators would be to stop deforestation and consider the major users of fossil fuels are in the transportation and war industries.  You're not going to power jets with solar panels anytime soon, nor is international shipping going to run by wind power, unless we go back to sailing ships.  If the "scientists" want to be leaders, they need to start proposing realistic solutions instead grandstanding about their versions of Armageddon.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 1, 2018 - 2:15pm
Before I forget it. Thanks for this explanation. Yes, I think it should be used for curing deseases first and for a substantial amount of time before one does use it too losely on humans.
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 3:08am
Katharine Otto,
   The climate picture is multi-factorial, but there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room; CO2. Climate scientists have been studying the changing climate for at least four decades and there isn't too much they haven't looked at. The influence of the sun? Check. Milankovitch Cycles? Check. Volcanoes? Check. Water vapor? Check. Albedo? Check. ENSO? Check. To claim that "there are many possible influences that we don't think of or even know about" is just pretty naïve. 
Actually, predictions are a valuable part of science with regard to corroborating hypotheses and to falsification. It is true that the climate is complex enough that precise predictions of future climate conditions is difficult. But the energy that is being trapped in the oceans and the atmosphere year over year by the surfeit of greenhouse gases pretty much guarantees that global temps will continue to rise; that is a safe bet.
"There are "scientists" who say greenhouse gases have a cooling (or modulating) rather than a warming effect." Yeah, no; not really. Those that say that are way out of the mainstream of climate science. Even strong skeptics like Judith Curry and Roy Spencer understand that CO2 warms the planet. Non-argument, Katharine...
You wrote: "If the "scientists" want to be leaders, they need to start proposing realistic solutions instead grandstanding about their versions of Armageddon."
But the "scientists" don't want to be leaders; they want to be scientists! And in case you haven't noticed, when the "scientists" actually advocate for policies that mitigate AGW, the denialist barking fools go ape-spit about a motivated conspiracy to enslave the globe in a communist tyranny. Let's leave the science to the scientists, and the "leadership" to the political leaders. Who, in the current administration, are falling down like bowling pins in their stewardship of the environment.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Dec 3, 2018 - 2:46am
I may be ugly but then again I am stupid. 
Bill Added Dec 3, 2018 - 9:22am

Even A Broken Clock 

 


"Bill - re: conspiracy to prevent development of thorium nuclear cycle. I'm convinced you are correct in that it is not possible to generate fissile-capable material from thorium. That is why it did not find momentum for development. But I can still hope. One thing thorium lends itself to is smaller plants, since the critical mass of size is not needed."
 
I think it still may gain traction in colder / cloudier climates; however, based on what is already in the labs for solar panels, it seems dubious that any form of nuclear or other centralized power generation will ever again dominate the industry.  There will certainly be utility scale solar farms, but I foresee many or even most new construction in the coming decade coming complete with self-contained power generation and storage.

"Thorium has yet another thing going for it. It is present in Earth's crust at a greater abundance than is uranium, and it is found in conjunction with rare earth minerals. So if you developed the market for thorium, you would gain a supply of rare earths as a bonus."
 
You are preaching to the choir, have been a follower of LFTR designs for over a decade.  But, just as I now believe the Fair Tax is DOA for at least a generation because we've already had our "tax reform" for the next three decades, so too I believe that nuclear will be at best a niche market moving forward.  Solar doesn't require mining thorium, and when the sun runs out of fuel we are all stewed anyway unless we develop something like the Sheewash drive.
Even A Broken Clock Added Dec 3, 2018 - 3:04pm
Cullen and Jim - thanks for your wishes. I appreciate them My uncle was quite a character, a person who was a perfect salesman, able to bring deals together for farmland in Indiana. Yet someone who could take younger relatives and help them to create a bluebird house that is still being used each year. I will miss him, and his early 1960's house with its layout of three wings spread out 120 degrees apart from each other. Along with its fully functional fallout shelter I went into one time. At least they got some use out of it during tornado warnings.
Even A Broken Clock Added Dec 3, 2018 - 3:08pm
Tree - on your responses to Katharine, since we did not have modern scientific instrumentation during the Maunder minimum, we will not be able to determine whether the solar output did vary in this time. What we did have was the first modern instrument, the telescope, and with it we could see that there was a dearth of sunspots. Whether the lack of sunspots is truly related to a lack of solar output is unknown, but a lot of people who wish to not believe in anthropogenic induced climate change want to hang their hat on this effect as being proven. We shall see.
Even A Broken Clock Added Dec 3, 2018 - 3:13pm
Katharine - you may be interested in seeing that wind power is being considered as a partial replacement for fossil fuels in ships. See this for information on the technology.  As far as using fossil fuels for defense activities and war industries, well, I wish that we could find the will to reduce those costs.
Even A Broken Clock Added Dec 3, 2018 - 3:17pm
Bill - Nuclear energy has such a bad reputation due to the current technology being used, with its inherent instabilities, and the perpetual toxicity (at least to human civilizations) of its waste products. When (not if) the effects of warming become so apparent that even the current generation of deniers have either died off or have been convinced that the effect is real, then the technology may be dusted off and reinvigorated as a viable option. But under the current political climate, it has no help. Thanks for your comments on this - good to find someone else who believes in thorium.
Bill Added Dec 4, 2018 - 10:22am


Even A Broken Clock
 



"Bill - Nuclear energy has such a bad reputation due to the current technology being used, with its inherent instabilities, and the perpetual toxicity (at least to human civilizations) of its waste products. When (not if) the effects of warming become so apparent that even the current generation of deniers have either died off or have been convinced that the effect is real, then the technology may be dusted off and reinvigorated as a viable option. But under the current political climate, it has no help. Thanks for your comments on this - good to find someone else who believes in thorium."
 
Thorium will be used on the moon and Mars.  It will probably never develop here because the cost of solar and batteries are dropping so fast there will never be a way to make any kind of nuclear power economical.
 
AGW - I am convinced the climate scientists have some compelling evidence of a modest relationship between CO2 levels and temps, all other things being equal (which they never are).  I am MORE convinced that we are inventing our way out of fossil fuels so quickly that, for all practical purposes, AGW is already over.  Once we pass price parity, no later than 2028 according to the experts now, all new and replacement power use will be alternatives.  From that point on, no matter how much governments spend they can't shift the adoption curve enough to make a hill of beans' difference in the peak temperatures "caused" by CO2 - so all of the hand wringing is pointless hysteria.  We are either doomed or it's all a bust, but either way it is literally too late to change the outcome.  Even before we become completely CO2 neutral (apart from what we exhale), Global Greening will be mopping up the excess for free.
 
The bigger picture is whether our current pleasant but geologically brief Interglacial period ends, plunging us back to "normal" temperatures (12 degrees lower) for the Ice age we are STILL IN, or whether the Ice age itself ends, raising temperatures a sunny 12 degrees hotter.  Well, either will take over a century, and by that time we will have control over the world's climate almost completely.
 
There are REAL issues to worry about in the world (red tide, real pollution like mountains of nondegradable plastic, etc.).  AGW is not one of them in the sense that it will resolve itself for economic reasons and the outcome cannot be materially affected.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Dec 5, 2018 - 1:58am
you may be interested in seeing that wind power is being considered as a partial replacement for fossil fuels in ships
 
Were the Pinta, Nina, and the Santa Maria equipped with Wärtsilä or MAN?
 
What's this new fangled wind powering ships stuff? I never!!!!
 
Perhaps there's yet another push to profit from the Flettner drive? Perhaps more of the kites on tethers?
 
What will they think of next!?!?!?!?! 
Bill Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:02am


Jeffry Gilbert 

 



"you may be interested in seeing that wind power is being considered as a partial replacement for fossil fuels in ships
 
Were the Pinta, Nina, and the Santa Maria equipped with Wärtsilä or MAN?"
 
Well, mobile generation is rarely if ever as efficient as stationary installations - especially when such installations must stand up to the sea.  More likely is that batteries continue their 65 year exponentially declining price trend and, in about 8 -12 years, start replacing bunker oil as the power source for ships.  The fuel hose at dock will be replaced with one or more power cords, and all the fanciful talk of adding sails and solar cells to the ships will go the way of the steam engine.

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