Hockey stick graphs, again!

Global warming denialists assert that the hockey stick graphs made in reference to global temperatures are highly questionable, if not faked outright. But I wonder if such claims could be justified about world population, which is certainly a factor in global warming. Check these out:









Compare those with the hockey stick graphs made in reference to past global temperatures:


One must wonder, if denialists are so eagar to prove the hockey stick graphs of global average temperatures wrong, why they do not also attack population graphs in the same way.

EVERYONE should be vaccinated!

Many people are opposed to vaccinating children, fearing that they might be prone to autism as a result. But there is no clear scientific evidence that autism is a cause of vaccinations. People merely ASSUME that because their children’s autism starts soon after their vaccines are administered, but most children who are vaccinated do NOT get autism. If vaccinations caused autism, then nearly all children vaccinated would be autistic, and we would probably have discovered the agent in vaccinations that cause autism by now. Coincidences often happen, but unless the scientific method confirms the existence of an actual cause for something like autism, a coincidence is all it is. Assuming that a coincidence and the hypothesis resulting from it must be the same as a FACT without confirmation is actually magical thinking that is anti-scientific.

While the cause of autism may be questionable, the danger of viral diseases spreading because of children being left unvaccinated is not. Viruses can only reproduce when they have hosts that they can attack. And every time viruses reproduce, they have a chance of mutation. And when they mutate, they are likely to become more deadly, eventually making the vaccinations obsolete. That will never happen if all children are vaccinated, but it might happen eventually if only some are. Of course, once vaccinations become ineffective because of viral mutations, anti-vaccination nuts will claim they were proven right. Thus, their insane claims are irrefutable.

Even if vaccinations DID cause autism in a few cases, it is better for a child to be autistic than to be DEAD! If people like Jenny McCarthy think otherwise, then as far as I am concerned they can rot in hell!

The stupidity of “Life After People”

The History Channel is showing a series titled “Life After People”. It is the sequel to a two hour special that was broadcast on the same channel last year.

The assumption in all versions of this show is that humans disappear SUDDENLY, by some completely unknown and unexplained process, leaving all man-made structures to slowly decay and become overrun by wildlife and plants. Some Protestants claim a simular event will occur, called the Rapture, but it will only involve them, not humanity as a whole. Quite simply, this idea is completely unscientific and irrational.

Here’s another version of the same concept:


Let’s face it: While it may be fun to speculate what might happen to man-made structures after we are gone, it is pointless to do so while avoiding the real issue of what might cause humans to go extinct. Why are we so afraid to actually discuss this? It is a process that will take at least 100 years, involve massive death and suffering, and may be preventable. The History Channel is being profoundly irresponsible and cowardly NOT to discuss this in detail.

Besides, its not even history, is it?

P Z Myers and his gang wreck a Christian poll

First, read this blog entry from Pharyngula:

Category: Pointless polls
Posted on: May 1, 2009 10:26 AM, by PZ Myers

Can you bear yet another poll today? The initial results of this one, before all of you readers get to work and use your magic clicky fingers, is mildly interesting. The readership of Christianity Today consists primarily of scientific illiterates and wishful dreamers, split between people who seriously believe the earth is 6000 years old, those who think the Bible is a science text and are willing to stretch a metaphor, and fuzzy thinkers who want a god to have guided natural processes.

I imagine the readership here can rock their little world.

What best describes your view of the origins of creation?

Young-earth creationism 29%
Old-earth creationism 28%
Theistic evolution 26%
Naturalistic evolution 4%
I don’t know 7%
None of the above 6%

Continue reading

Life on Earth is doomed

Today, I was reading the following in a wikipedia entry about the planet Earth:

The world is expected to continue supporting life for another 1.5 billion years, after which the rising luminosity of the Sun will eliminate the biosphere.[17]

The future of the planet is closely tied to that of the Sun. As a result of the steady accumulation of helium ash at the Sun’s core, the star’s total luminosity will slowly increase. The luminosity of the Sun will grow by 10 percent over the next 1.1 Gyr (1.1 billion years) and by 40% over the next 3.5 Gyr.[41] Climate models indicate that the rise in radiation reaching the Earth is likely to have dire consequences, including the possible loss of the planet’s oceans.[42]

The Earth’s increasing surface temperature will accelerate the inorganic CO2 cycle, reducing its concentration to the lethal levels for plants (10 ppm for C4 photosynthesis) in 900 million years. The lack of vegetation will result in the loss of oxygen in the atmosphere, so animal life will become extinct within several million more years.[43] But even if the Sun were eternal and stable, the continued internal cooling of the Earth would have resulted in a loss of much of its atmosphere and oceans due to reduced volcanism.[44] After another billion years all surface water will have disappeared[17] and the mean global temperature will reach 70°C.[43] The Earth is expected to be effectively habitable for about another 500 million years.[45]

Now, there is indeed something interesting about this. We humans as individuals have always known that we are destined to die, and there has also been published speculation about the extinction of mankind as a species. We have even understood that the Sun will evolve into a red giant in about 5 billion years or so and then life on Earth will become impossible, for the Earth itself might be destroyed completely. But the realization that life on Earth will be wiped out much sooner is disturbing, much like a man, at age 30, being told that will be dead at about age 40 when he already knows that his life expectancy is about 70 years.

And it gets even worse:

The Andromeda-Milky Way collision is a predicted galaxy collision that is due to take place in approximately 3 billion years’ time between the two largest galaxies in the Local Group – the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy.[1][2]

Shocking! So even before the Sun dies, our own galaxy will be ripped to shreds.

We humans take pride in our intelligence and our ability to alter our environment to suit our needs. But there is no way we can stop these disasters which are to come billions of years from now. Thus we could simply throw up our hands in despair and say, “We are doomed anyway, so why should we care about anything?” But that is a narrow vision. As science advances, we might find ways to escape the extinction of life on Earth by finding another planet to live on. And the collision between two galaxies would not kill anyone, unlike an auto or train wreck.

We greatly fear change even though we ourselves are a product of change. For example, the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs made it possible for mammals to take over the world and thus for us to evolve eventually. It is only logical and mature to live our lives in the here and now and not worry so much about what will happen a billion years from now. This is not to say that we should ignore the threat of global warming that we humans may indeed be causing. But that is a relatively minor issue within a much shorter time frame. We can handle that, and must. Just like a man who knows he will live only ten more years would be foolish to commit suicide the next day and thus deprive his loved ones of his presence.

Carbon dioxide and its greenhouse effect

Global warming denialists claim that carbon dioxide (CO2) is nothing more than a beneficial trace gas that plants need to make food, and thus the increase in it over the past few decades is nothing to worry about. Let’s look at all the relevant facts:

  1. CO2 makes up about 380 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere.
  2. CO2 is essential for plants to do photosynthesis.
  3. CO2 is opaque to infrared radiation, thus making it a greenhouse gas.
  4. CO2 makes up most of the atmosphere of Venus, which has the worst greenhouse effect.
  5. CO2 is 1.5 times heavier than air in general, thus it would tend to be lower in the atmosphere than the nitrogen and oxygen that makes up most of it.
  6. In one cubic meter of Earth’s atmosphere at ground level the number of molecules is about ten to the 23rd power. (That’s 1 followed by 23 zero’s !!!)

Let’s do some basic math. Ten to the 23rd power divided by a million (ten to the 6th power) is ten to the 17th power. So if CO2 is indeed 380 ppm, that means there are 38 times ten to the 18th power molecules of CO2 in one cubic meter of air, or 38,000,000,000,000,000,000.

The troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere where most of its weather occures, has an average depth of about 17 km (10 miles) in the middle latitudes. A kilometer is 1000 meters. So when we multiply (38 times ten to the 18th power) by (17 times ten to the 3rd power), we get about 65 times ten to the 22nd power. Obviously, the actual amount of CO2 in a column of air 17 km tall, one meter wide and one meter long would be less, due to CO2 concentrating more in the lower levels as noted before, but this is enough to show that CO2’s designation as a “trace gas” means in no way that it cannot have a profound influence on climate. It can because the actual number of CO2 molecules is so great. Only the inability of some people to grasp huge numbers makes them think that any gas that has less than 1% of the atmosphere is therefore insignificant.  So it stands to reason that ANY increase in CO2 also leads to an increase in atmospheric temperatures.

Another thing to consider is how serious the greenhouse effect of Earth’s atmosphere really is. Without it, Earth’s average temperature would be about -18 degrees C, which is about 32 degrees C different from Earth’s actual average temperature (14 degrees C). Again, people who are not scientifically trained have difficulty grasping this, since they think of temperatures below “room temperture” (18 to 24 degrees C) as being cold. But in fact, it is quite warm compared to most of the universe. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, a leftover remnant of the Big Bang, is about 2.7 degrees above absolute zero, which is itself about −273 degrees C. Thus an object recieving radiation from no other source would still have a temperature of -270.45 degrees C. The Earth recieves radiation from the Sun that by itself adds about 252 degrees C to its temperature. That’s a LOT of heat! The greenhouse effect adds only about 1/8th more heat to Earth. But that is still enough to make the difference between a frigid, lifeless planet and one with oceans filled with life.

Still another thing to consider is that it can take only one degree difference in average temperature over several decades to turn a glacier into iceless land or open water. When water ice reaches its melting point, it ALL turns into liquid, thus the loss of a glacier at a certain location would mean a profound difference there. Imagine what the melting and disappearance of an entire polar ice cap would be! It might take decades or even centuries for the polar ice caps to melt as a result of global warming, but unless it is reversed, the melting is inevitable!

ICECAP, a group of fake climate experts

This is a group of global warming denialists who happen to be meteorologists, but are obviously clueless when it comes to chemistry. First, please review my earlier blog entry:

Now, what do these “experts” say about the matter?  They list this on bold as a “myth”, not a fact, and attempt to refute it:    

CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas. 

Not even close. Most of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor, which is about 100 times as abundant in the atmosphere as CO2 and thus has a much larger effect.  

Oh, really?

Suppose you have a planet with an atmosphere composed exactly like Earth’s, with water oceans and a yellow dwarf sun as well. Thus, its atmosphere would indeed have both CO2 and H2O, complete with clouds and typical weather patterns.

Suddenly, all the CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. Without the greenhouse effect it provides, the temperature drops quickly. The relative humidity skyrockets. In some areas, it exceeds 100%, and when that happens, clouds form, increasing the planet’s cloud cover. The clouds block and reflect the sunlight, further cooling the air below them as well as the surface. Precipitation results and the atmosphere loses most of its H2O as well. So the atmosphere becomes colder and drier, until finally the planet is locked in an ice age, which it can never recover from unless CO2 is added. Even the oceans will be frozen up.

Now, we add the CO2 back. With CO2 trapping heat once more, ice begins to melt. Then water begins to evaporate. As water evaporates, the H2O kicks in with its own greenhouse effect, resulting in more ice melting. Eventually, the oceans are restored, and the atmosphere returns to what it was.

H2O alone on Earth cannot keep the planet warm enough to sustain life, because at certain temperatures and concentrations in the atmosphere it forms clouds which act as cooling agents, and on land below a certain temperature it forms ice, which also reflects light. CO2 must be the trigger for the greenhouse effect of both substances to operate properly on Earth. Quite simply, those ICECAP “experts” are either lying or just idiots!

Why do people have different opinions?

One of my most basic axioms is that there can only be one truth and one standard of right and wrong as far as empirical facts as well as ethical standards go, but that the limited vision and knowledge of human beings makes us unable to know absolutely what that truth or that ethical standard is; we can only approximate it in our minds. If this is true, how does one explain the incredible diversity of opinions regarding what is true as well as what is ethical? Why the clash between Creation and evolution, between various religions, and between supporters and opponents of the death penalty, abortion rights, or other political and moral issues?

I believe that we humans, for all our intelligence, are still limited in our minds as well as our preceptions of reality. We can only know so much or sense so much and thus when we form opinions based on our knowledge and preceptions, we are prone to error. The problem comes when clashes between people with different opinions occur. Often, debates result in which efforts are made by both sides to show that the other side is in error. Usually, however, most supporters of both sides refuse to budge in their positions, and so the debates prove fruitless. Why is that, if we all live in the same universe, use the same senses, and sometimes communicate the same ways? What’s stopping us from reaching the same conclusions?

I think the primary factor in people stubbornly clinging to an opinion, even if it is highly questionable, is that a community has formed among holders of that opinion, and there is the ever present fear that being willing to change your opinion to fit all the facts you know would lead to one being ostracized by that community. To reinforce the social bonds of that community, its leadership will put out propaganda, distorting the facts and the issues to demonize the ones opposed to the goals and beliefs of the community, even going so far as to accuse the opponents of being dishonest and unfair, without any clear evidence for this. This gives doubting members of the community all the excuses they need to put aside their doubts and remain in the community.

As an Honorable Skeptic, I find that totally unacceptable. Over the course of my life, I’ve been in and out of several communities, having been a Southern Baptist, an agnostic, a Baha’i and an agnostic once more. Sure, leaving those religious communities when I became disillusioned with their teachings was painful, but in the end I felt being liberated from unfounded dogmas was worth the agony. Sadly, most people seem unable to make that transition. I consider them weak. Meanwhile, they consider me disloyal and without firm principles, which only shows the depths of their own delusions. It was BECAUSE of my principles that I abandoned them and I had more to lose socially than gain from doing so.


Another fake “science” website

This is a direct sequel to:

I’ve discovered another website with a false name:

On its home page it says:

Science: Knowledge and Discovery

Science is the human endeavor to discover truths about the world around us. Scientists seek out answers through observation and experimentation. As we discover more and more, we are able to apply what we’ve learned to develop new technologies and to improve everyday life. But perhaps more importantly, as we gain knowledge through science, we are able to begin satisfying our deep-felt need to know more about ourselves.

Which is absolutely true. But then you start to read deeper. Continue reading

Science needs a new superhero

Carl Sagan died in 1996, yet he still lives in the hearts of those who knew him, whether personally or as the public celebrity he became.

Now the time has come for science to move on and find a new superhero, someone who can command both the public respect that Sagan did and challenge society for the better. Although Sagan was an agnostic who championed skepticism, he did not come across as openly hostile towards all religion, as Richard Dawkins does. Such hostility, even if justified, can turn gentle souls away from science. So who can possibly succeed Carl Sagan? Who can be the champion of reason, rationality, and tolerance for all?

I will. And so can you. And you, you, you, you and you, if only you just care to be as dedicated to science and to the welfare to humanity as Sagan was. I have championed the philosophy of Honorable Skepticism as my tribute to Sagan. But the best way to honor him is not merely to keep playing his COSMOS series and talking about what he did, but to make our own contributions to science, to EXCEED Sagan’s work, to become superheros of science ourselves. We are not expected merely to blindly follow what Sagan taught, for he was by no means infallible. Because he was human as we, we can carry his vision forward, and we will do it by eliminating the concept of “sacred cows” and seeking change to improve our societies, regardless of what short-term and localized interests get stepped on. They deserve it! And we cannot afford to appease those interests anymore. Having a global and long-term perspective is what will save us, not any religion or political ideology.

My vision of science

To me, there are only five divisions of natural science: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, and Geology. The subdivisions within those branches and the connections between them illustrate the futility of essentialism.

Physics and chemistry are the “parent” sciences and biology, astronomy, and geology are the “children” sciences that are built on the first two. Parent sciences do not have a historical element, but children sciences do because the physical and chemical laws are applied to deep time to produce natural history. The scientific method is used to define and confirm all physical and chemical laws.

Having a holistic view of the universe, it seems to me that one can only understand it properly by looking at all its component parts and the various ways they can interact, and thus boundaries between different branches of science must ultimately become meaningless. To become an expert in astronomy, for example, without studying geology or chemistry is a waste of time because you would miss the connections between them and thus limit the scope of your research.

A really stupid way to honor Darwin

The HMS Beagle Project

In 2009, the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth we will build a sailing replica of HMS Beagle. An icon of scientific progress, she will circumnavigate the globe in Darwin’s wake, crewed by aspiring scientists and researchers. They will carry out original research both at sea and on land, updating Darwin’s observations, breaking new scientific ground and relating the adventure of science to enthuse a new generation of young students. If you support our vision, contact us, donate to the build fund, request a sponsorship pack, or visit the Beagle Project Shop USA or Europe/Japan, buy the t-shirt and show ’em you want a Beagle sailing the world in 2009.

Why is this idea stupid? Because you can accomplish a lot more scientific research with a modern ship dealing with present day biological issues rather than merely reenacting Darwin’s voyage. Science is not about taking the road already traveled, but going down a previously untraveled path to see what might be found.  I will not contribute a dime to such a dubious project. Indeed, I think it is a SCAM!

Science, natural history, and evolution

Science is a way of knowing about the world that depends constantly on free inquiry, experimentation and empiricism. As such, anything that is established in science has credibility based on the methodology used, not on the word of any individual scientist. It is the ability of other scientists to duplicate the experimental results that one of their number publishes that makes a scientific law credible.

Physics and chemistry are the two foundational sciences on which all others, including astronomy, biology, and geology, are based. Unlike the first two, astronomy, biology and geology also have hypotheses and theories that are historical in nature. The basic assumption is that all physical and chemical laws are constant, remaining the same throughout deep time. Thus, any historical hypothesis or theory, to also be scientific, must be in strict conformance with all the known scientific laws that were previously established as valid via the scientific method.

Understanding this, we can consistently apply all known scientific laws to deep time to both test hypotheses and propose them. For example, the Doppler effect was used to discover that most galaxies were moving away from us and in proportion to their distance from our galaxy. This was defined as Hubble’s Law, which in turn led to the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins. Likewise, repeated experimentation on living animals and plants in which artificial selection is done to change the genetic makeup of their populations in a laboratory setting establishes the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. It stands to reason that if slight changes can be made in populations of organisms in a short period of time, then massive changes indicated by the fossil record should be possible over a long period of time. But to show this may not be possible, we’d have to do additional experiments to attempt to find the limits of genetic and physical change in such a population and thus possibly falsify evolution. Such an experiment was proposed and detailed here:

It is important to understand that it is impossible to have genuine natural history without a scientific basis. Previous attempts to describe the past history of the universe without science are mythology. Mythology has no references whatsoever to physical and chemical laws and usually involve one or more supernatural deities, thus they are not scientific. Any tests of a historical hypothesis or theory involving deep time can never contradict the scientific laws previously established as valid via the scientific method.

So, is evolution a fact? Is the Big Bang theory a fact? Is the theory of continental drift a fact? Only if you accept as valid all the scientific laws that support them. And those laws, in turn, are supported by the scientific method. That is why the concept of “creation science” is a fraud. It is nothing more than an attempt to support mythology by the misuse of scientific terminology.

Since it is obvious that evolution is scientific, and creationism is not, why is there even a controversy over teaching such concepts as “Intelligent Design” in public schools? Because of politics and religion interfering with science education. And this is nonsense if you just follow the chain of reason that was used from the late 19th Century onwards to support evolution.

The BIG LIE of the giant oil companies

With gas prices in the United States topping $4.00 a gallon in some places, we are now being told that to reduce prices we must drill in more places which oil companies have previously been restricted from going to, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Never mind that people generally condemn such vices as greed and selfishness, that are clearly represented by the desire to drill in such natural places when there are already alternatives available. Even if we had a huge increase in oil supply resulting from such drilling, there is no legal obligation in the United States for the oil companies to reduce their gas prices to the levels one would expect. Since there are only a few major oil companies, it would be a simple matter for them to conspire to keep the gas prices relatively high to enrich themselves further. 

Prices can be determined by both supply and demand. So if we really want gas prices to fall, the surest way to do that is to REDUCE DEMAND for the gas. We can do that by abandoning the gas-burning cars that are currently most popular and replace them over many years with hybrids, or better still with cars with fuel cells that burn no gas at all. Then there are the “electric cars”.  With the concern about greenhouse gases, we need to put pressure on the giant auto manufacturers to END production of standard gas burning cars completely. They are OBSOLETE!

It’s better to do that than allow the oil companies to continue to rape the Earth’s environments, and screw the people with high prices at the same time!

More angry than ever at denialists

Most global warming denialists I’m familiar with are old people who are set in their ways. Such people are most vulnerable to confirmation bias. Younger adults, on the other hand, are not so attracted or attached to dogma.

I, Dale Husband, along with many others, stand for my chosen causes because I beleive in doing what’s right, regardless of whether I get paid for it or not. And it’s not just global warming either. I have also fought for teaching evolution and to get rid of the Bush regime and anything like it from corrupting America more.

I oppose denialists because they appeal to ingrained prejudices based on what certain people WANT to believe, regardless of the actual facts. The big oil companies, including Exxon, certainly feel threatened by the facts about global warming. The idea that we humans are messing up the Earth with greenhouse gases which will lead to global disaster within a century or two is indeed offensive to people’s egos, because it means they and their descendants must make radical changes to their lifestyles to stop the damage THEY THEMSELVES WILL HAVE HELPED CAUSE. So instead, they LOOK for reasons to deny the truth about themselves and what is happening. People who claim to be experts will then put out fallacious claims all over the internet knowing desparate people are out there to grab it and spread it around. They play their victims like an instrument, really. That is the real scam, not what Al Gore and the IPCC do. Uncertainty about the facts is no excuse for denying them. And noting that the effects of global warming can have natural causes is no excuse for denying outright that man plays a role in that phenomenon. Those are logical fallacies and I will oppose, expose and depose them every time I see them, because I WANT THE HUMAN RACE TO SURVIVE INDEFINITLY! And being able to foresee the downfall of humanity (and global warming is but one cause for profound concern here) and not doing anything about it because you let yourself be misled by people that only live for this present reality is the worst form of nonsense I can imagine.

The “EXPELLED” of Global Warming Denialism

Last year, a documentary was made titled, “The Great Global Warming Swindle” which seemed to be a direct rebuttal to Al Gore’s film “An Inconvinient Truth”. I have just seen that documenary and quite simply, it is a load of CRAP!
There are several things blatantly wrong with it.

  1. The film asserts, without any actual evidence, that the Medieval Warm Period was indeed warmer than today. For the explanation of that assumption and its refutation, go here:
  2. The film nowhere mentions the planet Venus, yet it is there that the power of the greenhouse effect, which the film seems to deny, becomes most obvious. Venus, on both its day and night sides, is far hotter than the day side of Mercury, which is much closer to the Sun! Although the clouds of Venus shield the planet’s surface from most of the sunlight, the atmosphere, which is mostly carbon dioxide (CO2), traps the little heat that gets through.
  3. The film indicates that there was one obscure scientist that claimed that the greenhouse gases could cause global warming in the 1970s and that he was ridiculed by most scientists at the time. This is simply a lie! In fact, the relationship between carbon dioxide and global temperatures was understood by most scientists since the 1900s.  The scientist who discovered it was world famous, even winning the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  His name was Svante Arrhenius.
  4. The film claims that “all the climate change models” predicted that the temperatures of the lower atmosphere would be less than the upper atmosphere and that the discovery that this was not the case falsified the models. But this is flatly contradicted by a statement in Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth”. He said, “Global warming heats the lower atmosphere but actually cools the stratosphere…”  This makes sense when you realize that CO2 is heavier than the nitrogen and oxygen that make up most of the Earth’s atmosphere, and therefore would tend to be lower in the atmosphere. An increase in the proportion of CO2 would only be felt closer to the ground, not farther from it.
  5. The film claims that water vapor is a far more important greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But that is not true, because water vapor forms clouds that actually block sunlight and thus act to cool the Earth, providing a counter to the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. By contrast, CO2 never forms clouds and thus can ONLY be a greenhouse gas.
  6. The film claims that the global warming movement was started by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a way of promoting nuclear power at the expense of fossil fuels. This is nonsense, because while nuclear power may not release greenhouse gases, it causes other types of pollution and has its own grave risks, plus like fossil fuels it is nonrenewable.
  7. The film claims that efforts to wean poor countries in Africa off fossil fuels and onto solar energy is harmful to their well-being. Never mind the fact that depending on fossil fuels would require an unlimited number of monthly payments to the big energy companies. But using solar panels, however expensive they may be at first, would only require a one-time payment. Plus, efforts to mass produce solar panels would eventually drive their costs down, if only the big energy companies would permit it. And there is an entire vast region, the Sahara Desert, where millions of solar panels could be built and maintained to supply most of Africa with energy.

Need I go on?

The Afterlife of the Solar System

It is common knowledge that about five billion years from now, the Sun will use up its hydrogen fuel in its core, swell up into a red giant, destroy the inner planets, and collapse into a white dwarf. Most people assume that will be the end of the story, but perhaps not….

Six billion years from now, the remains of the Solar System passes through a nebula and the Sun’s gravity begins to pull gas onto it. Soon, the Sun acquires so much mass that it collapses further into a neutron star. Meanwhile, the planet Jupiter also gains mass from the surrounding gas. Eventually, Jupiter becomes massive enough to ignite thermonuclear reactions in its core, becoming a star. It even acquires a new planet, which I’ll call Euphoria, that is nearly as massive as Earth once was. The gravitational dance of the Sun and Jupiter causes the planets beyond Jupiter to be tossed out into interstellar space.

Ten billion years from now, Euphoria has intelligent life forms living on it, including astronomers. With Earth long since destroyed, there will be no traces of us left for them to know about. It will be as it we had never existed, and from their point of view, the Solar System as it was would probably be only a wild speculation, much like this essay.

Sun Worship

Most people have the preception that “pagan” religions, especially those with ancient roots in polytheism, are inferior to monotheistic faiths like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Many pagan religions featured worship of the Sun or a god that was thought to control the Sun in its travels in the sky. Should we think this irrational?

  • The Sun is the source of light and heat, without which we would not survive. This is self-evident. By contrast, we have no way of knowing even the existence of the God of the Abrahamic religions, let alone what He does for us.
  • We see the Sun every day and we can invent rituals that are based on the movements of the Sun that make perfect sense to the followers of Sun worship. No one has seen God, at least that we have confirmed and the rituals connected to Him in the Abrahamic religions seem to have no relation to natural needs. Is it rational to believe in what cannot be seen?
  • All things in the Solar System revolve around the Sun. It also has 99% of the mass of the Solar System, and science can directly access it. We cannot access God via science, and thus we’ve had constant conflict between science and religion as a result.

I would therefore suggest that Sun worship should eventually replace the Abrahamic religions if we are to renew the spirituality of the human race. Then mankind would become more firmly united and at peace and science would advance more rapidly. Imagine what our lives would be like if everyone on Earth were sun worshippers. No more arguments over dogmas or rituals made up by priests to appease a God that does not speak for himself, but appears to speak through prophets who may or may not be telling the truth. No more scriptures that are claimed to be infallible but in fact are deeply flawed. Issues of sexual behavior would have no ties to religion, making the dealing with those issues easier and more realistic. Of course, the sun also causes storms, heat stroke, and sunburns, but at least we would understand the reasons behind that, instead of wondering why our “god” was either punishing us or allowing such evil to occur to us. And we would STILL have something to center our lives around, day by day, and year by year. Many people have a natural need for such rituals for the sake of self-discipline, and we should find ways to accomidate those needs.

Conspiracy theories, credible and incredible

For any conspiracy to succeed, there are several conditions that may be required:

  1. The participants must be as few as possible.
  2. The conspiracy must be of as short a duration as possible.
  3. The conspiracy must be extremely secretive.

Condition 3 relies on the first two, as indicated in the proverb, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

Thus, the commonly held 9-11 conspiracy theory that many government officials under the Bush Administration were directly involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is far less credible than the idea that a few dozen operatives of Al-Qaeda were responsible. Likewise, it is far more credible that Exxon and its operatives have been planting misleading claims about global warming in the popular press and various blogs over the past couple of decades than that thousands of scientists have been misleading people about global warming since 1896, when Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first identified the heat retaining properties of carbon dioxide (called “carbonic acid” in Arrhenius’ paper referred to below).

People make up conspiracy theories to explain what could be responsible for something they happen to dislike. The “theory” could be more properly considered a hypothesis in science. The problem comes when these people do not take the next step in the scientific method, which is to test the idea via observation or experiment. Instead, they proclaim the conspiracy theory as DOGMA and proceed to interpret all evidence according to that dogma, despite never finding any direct evidence to confirm the theory. Then they abandon all willingness to allow the claim to be disproven.

You can’t do science that way! Just because a theory claims to explain something doesn’t mean it is true. You must ultimately rule out all other possibilities before stating something questionable to be FACT.

A fake expert vs real ones on global warming

A global warming denialist known as Judy Cross has been storming the web community Care2 for over a year, posting propaganda on her beliefs. Here’s an example of her rantings:

“This is a lucid, logical, well-researched 32-page doc, compiled by long time IPCC expert reviewer, Dr Vincent Gray, explaining why the current claims of man-made global warming are a “global scam”. ”

Oh, really? Well, I proceeded to dismantle the credibility of that paper.

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How NOT to argue or do “research”

Note comment #163, which I wrote in reference to some earlier commenters.

(((Interesting comments, these three.

Let’s face it, no one who is not a dissident is going to read links to an HIV dissident site, especially when some of the papers are by Duesberg. People may read papers from mainstream scientists so long as they support their own arguments. Everyone here is interested in furthering their own arguments. Period.
Posted by: wayne | March 19, 2007 7:46 PM

“Not only have I read Duesberg’s articles but I have checked his claims with the ‘orthodox’ literature. It is only after this that I concluded that duesberg is full of crap.”
And therefore everyone reading this blog should take Chris Noble’s word for it. Just like everyone takes nature’s and Science’s “word for it” when they also say Duesberg is full of crap. My guess is that (unlike Chris Noble) 99% of people who take [fill in the blank]’s “word for it” have not actually taken time to examine the “dissident literature” (or even the “orthodox literature” which dissidents allegedly “cherry-pick” and “abuse”). My guess is, 99% of people who dismiss dissidents out of hand do so simply because “everyone else thinks so…”
And then everyone wonders why it’s NOT impossible for such a blunder to have happened…
Posted by: Jake | March 24, 2007 6:51 AM 

 DT said: “I dismiss dissidents because I have taken the trouble to look in detail at their claims, and found them wanting”.
DT, as with most of what you have to say, that statement of yours is not true at all!
DT dismisses the HIV dissidents because DT is a HIV drug rep to doctors for a pharmaceutical company! Doooohhhh!
Posted by: lincoln | April 1, 2007 12:06 AM

 This is an example of what happens when someone gets so fixated on an idea that they can’t stand to lose an argument over it.
Here’s a tip for the denialist fanatics: Just because a concept is acceptable to YOUR mind doesn’t mean it is actually true. You may be suffering from psychotic delusions.)))

Natural selection and the scientific peer review process

Natural selection describes the process by which variations in a population of organisms are edited over time to enhance the ability of the individual organisms to survive and reproduce in an environment. Even if over 90% of all mutations, being random, are harmful to the next generation, natural selection can still eliminate those and keep those others that are beneficial, thus countering the destructive effects of mutations in general.

It is the same with the scientific peer review process. Because science has made so much progress over the past few centuries, most people have the impression that scientists are unusually brilliant, nearly infallible, and totally objective in their views and methods. But in fact, that is simply not the case for most of them, at least as individuals. Scientists can be just as mistaken, corrupt, dogmatic, and failing in their efforts and assumptions as the rest of humanity. A few of them can even be downright stupid!

If that is true, how can science be trusted to produce reliable facts and theories? Because the scientists use peer review as their means to test any new ideas put on the table by one of their number. No scientist’s word need be taken at face value. In order for his idea to be accepted as anything beyond a speculation, he must show observational or experimental data, clearly defined, that supports it. Thus, it should always be possible for other scientists to duplicate the results of the first scientist making the claim. If attempts to duplicate the observations or experiments do not produce the same result, the idea is rejected.

Sometimes the peer review process goes too far in its skepticism, and a valid idea, such as continental drift, is rejected and even ridiculed by scientists even though it explains all the data collected and is contradicted by none of it. But that’s why repeated testing of that idea is required, as long as it is not outright falsified. Continental drift WAS accepted in the 1960s once an overwhelming amount of evidence was found to support it and those geologists who had been bigoted against it in the 1920s had died or retired, and a new generation had arisen that was more open-minded. Those who supported the continental drift theory were able to come up with a mechanism, plate tectonics, that explained it, and once they did opposition to it faded away rapidly.

Individual scientists may fall so deeply in love with their own ideas that they refuse to accept the peer review process when it rejects their ideas. Then they become cranks who no longer do science, but instead put out propaganda to appeal to the scientifically illiterate. This is especially true of Creationists and global warming denialists who happen to have science degrees. They even go so far as to attack the peer review process itself! But it must be noted that they can never produce anything that would produce superior results in terms of seeking objective data in the universe and explaining it.

Scientists who refuse to recognize that an idea of theirs is wrong are like a population of organisms that are too specialized in their lifestyle to adapt to any sudden change in their environment, resulting in their extinction. Fortunately, the progress of science continues even in spite of such incidents, just as life on Earth has continued despite the mass extinctions that have wiped out most species that evolved on Earth before.

Debunking the MWP Myth

2000 Year Temperature Comparison.png

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of increased warmth that is recorded in the history of the North Atlantic region from about 800 AD to 1300 AD. During this period, the extent of the Arctic ice cap was considerably less than today. The purpose of this blog is not to deny the reality of the MWP nor to reject the historical facts associated with it. However, global warming denialists have claimed that because the ice sheets of the Arctic were less extensive than today, the MWP must have been warmer than today and thus there is no reason to think that the current warming period, thought to be caused by man-made greenhouse gases, is in any way unusual. Indeed, they even claim that the readings from scientists indicating that the temperatures of the MWP were lower than today were faked in an effort to deny or cover up the MWP. Thus, I feel it necessary to demonstrate the absurdity of such assumptions.

Let us do an experiment. We take two identical bowls filled with pure water and place them in a freezer. After the water is completely frozen in both bowls, they are removed from the freezer and one, labled “A”, is placed in a refrigerator, while the other, labled “B” is placed on the kitchen table. After about an hour, bowl B has ice that is PARTLY melted. We take a picture of the bowl and then discard it.

A week later, we remove bowl A from the refrigerator. By then, the ice of this bowl is COMPLETELY melted. We take a picture of this bowl and discard it also.

Finally, we present both pictures to someone who knows nothing about the experiment and ask him, “Which bowl would you say looks warmer to you?” He will certainly say, “A”, but he will be wrong, because bowl A was in near freezing temperature for a week before its picture was taken, while bowl B was in room temperature for an hour before its picture was taken.

The point of the experiment is that it is not merely temperature that is the factor in melting water, but TIME as well. The Medieval Warm Period was indeed a natural event, and thus its arrival was gradual and so was its ending. The ice sheets in the  Medieval Warm Period were less extensive because it lasted for several centuries, unlike the current warming period, which has lasted for only a few decades. Thus, the picture of bowl A could represent the Arctic ice cap at the height of the MWP, while the pic of bowl B could represent the Arctic ice cap today. Higher temperatures, but less time to melt the ice cap.

Thus, there is absolutely NO basis for the slanderous claims made against the scientists who have studied the progress of global warming in this present time. Indeed, if the MWP had been only three or four degrees F warmer than today’s average temperatures, we should have expected to see an almost total meltdown of both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, resulting in a massive rise in sea levels around the world. And history records NO such thing!

Lunacy from a racist “Christian”

As much as I despise Ben Stine for making that idiotic Expelled movie that attacks evolution as an inspiration for the Nazi Holocaust and portrays Intelligent Design promoters as martyrs, what’s even worse is when some deranged psycho slams Stine himself for attacking racism as well. I think I’ll just copy and paste the entire piece of nonsense to show what was done. I hope you have your bathroom door open, in case you feel like puking!

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We don’t know enough?

I can’t stand anyone who employs a double standard to attack and deny an idea he hates. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the debate over global warming.

One of the arguments used by denialists on the issue is, “We don’t know enough about this issue to make changes to our economies that will affect the lives of millions.” There are two problems with that claim. First, the emissions of greenhouse gases we made in the past were done in total ignorance of how they would affect the global climate. Only in the past few decades have we gained enough knowledge to understand how the various factors work together over time to change the climate. Second, the denialists NEVER define when we WOULD have enough knowledge to conclude that man’s pollution must be curbed to stop global warming. Since they haven’t done this, how can their claim that we don’t know enough be justified?

Another claim made by the denialists is that “The movement to stop global warming is a scam to destroy capitalism.” Well, how can anyone know that, since there is no proof that anyone can read the minds of Al Gore and others on his side of the debate? Nor has there been any documentation produced to prove that claim.

Seriously, how can one claim that we don’t know enough about the science of climate change to conclude that humans are the main cause of the problem, yet at the same time claim dogmatically that the efforts to combat global warming are a scam? There is one word to describe such an attitude: HYPOCRISY!

An Evolutionary View of Religion

Considering that most of the opposition to evolution is based on religious bias, it is ironic that evolutionary concepts are most useful for explaining the history of religion. It is common knowledge, for example, that Christianity evolved from Judaism, Buddhism evolved from Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith evolved from Islam, and that Christianity has diversified into hundreds of sects including Roman Catholicism, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thus religions themselves illustrate the concepts of common ancestry, mutation, and adaptive radiation as well as mass extinctions (many pagan religions died out as Christianity and Islam expanded, leaving behind “fossils” in the form of published records that are today dismissed as “myths”).

And now I wish to dispel one of the most common misconceptions about evolution: That because humans evolved from ape-like animals, that humans are by nature superior to their ape cousins. And that evolution is a ladder of progress in which all decendants are by nature superior to their ancestors. It is ludicrious to suggest that fish are inferior to mammals. Both fish and mammals are animals well adapted to their environments. If they were not, they’d become extinct. Most fish cannot breath air and thus cannot survive out of water, but the reverse is true of most mammals, which would die if they could not breath air. So from a fish’s point of view, a mammal must seem inferior, even the whales, which must also rely on their lungs to breath, not gills. Evolution is all about change, not progress. A fish is merely different from a mammal, period.

Likewise, Judaism is different from Christianity. There is no reason for Christians to think themselves or their faith superior to the Jewish faith, except by their own arrogance. Judaism has been in existence longer than Christianity, but it has also evolved just as Christianity has. For a Christian to convert to Judaism is not to take a “backward step”, merely to adopt a different set of teachings.

Thus, I totally reject the Baha’i concept of “Progressive Revelation” that implies that the Baha’i Faith is the supreme religion because it came after all the others, and that other religions are valid but destined to be replaced by the Baha’i Faith. Must we assume that because mammals came later than fish, they are destined to replace all fish? NO, that is nonsense! In my view all religions must be seen as equal because all of them have evolved and adapted to their environment. Until this is understood by nearly everyone, wars and discrimination based on religious bigotry will remain a serious threat.