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Friday, March 05, 2010

If It Feels Good, Believe It

Teabagger with misspelled, racist signSomething disturbing is happening. Somehow, a significant percentage of Americans have decided to celebrate ignorance. It's been going on for some time, but it's really seemed to come to a head recently. In the 2008 presidential campaign, for example, Sarah Palin was presented as "aw shucks" know-nothing. And we were supposed to believe that this was preferable to Barack Obama, who as a Harvard graduate and one-time law lecturer, was an ivory tower intellectual and a fancy-pants elitist. A big chunk of the McCain/Palin campaign strategy can be summed up as "Shut up, Poindexter!"

This worked with a percentage of Americans. Don't bother us with facts, they say, we feel stuff -- truth isn't about facts, it's about the stuff you believe with all your little heart. Liberals and intellectuals and scientists with their facts and knowledge have just made the world worse. Bacon cheeseburgers are bad for you now, because "they" invented cholesterol. They invented evolution, which turned us all into stinking monkeys. And now they've invented global warming. Science just brings bad things, so we should stop listening to scientists.

Or, even better, find some sort of counter-science we can appeal to. We can build an entire belief system that revolves around the stuff we feel is true. The things that we know in our hearts is right, because we believe it so strongly. And we can use that to pull the smartypants out of their ivory towers, so we get to eat bacon cheeseburgers again. Huzzah for made-up belief!





New York Times:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

[...]

Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming.


Of course, if I were a teacher in one of these situations, my response to these laws would be to obey them. But I'd add the caveat, "OK kids, I'm required by law to lie to you for a while. Go ahead and read comic books if you want." Besides, the language is idiotic. Presenting "all sides" of the evolution v. creationism question would take you the rest of your life. You'd have to teach every creation story from every known religion and culture that ever existed, from Aztec to Zulu. But this isn't about what is or isn't a good idea, it's about what feels like a good idea. So "all sides" is evolution vs. the Magic Christian Ghost Living in the Sky Who Grants Wishes theory.

Don't like evolution? Then it's not true! Global warming too scary? Then it's a hoax! It's all up to you; reality conforms to your personal beliefs if you just wish hard enough and believe. We used to call this "magical thinking," now we're supposed to believe it's common sense.

If you want to see how frightening it is, let's look at what global warming's doing right now.

University of Alaska Fairbanks:

A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.

The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.

“The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans,” said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF’s International Arctic Research Center. “Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap.”


This may be the tipping point -- the point at which warming has progressed so far it can't be reversed. If we're thinking about getting around to doing something about climate change, now would be an excellent time to get started. "Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide," the report tells us.

But that's why we should hate scientists. It's bad news. We don't like bad news. We like good news. So there's no such thing as global warming. Just ignore all that methane. It's not going to do anything. Maybe it's not even happening. In any case, if things get too bad, Jesus will come and save us. He's like Superman that way.

Just don't make us feel bad. If you do, we'll make up something that makes us feel good and believe that. It's the new American way.

-Wisco


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4 comments:

Eric Lester said...

And don't forget those liberal myths about gravity, electricity, and atoms. All theories -- yet shoved down the throats of our unwilling kicking screaming students! If Jesus were here today he would put a stop to this communist propaganda!

People: just believe, believe, believe, and Santa will bring you what you want!

Amen

M said...

"A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting..."

"...the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere."

That's really bad news. Normal methane venting sends bubbles to the surface in bodies of water all over the world like a never ending fart in a bathtub. Any major change in the geological barrier like the ones occurring in these findings is distressing.

It seems like there's been an unusual frequency of earthquakes around the world lately. We had a measly 4.4 here in Illinois last month. I never felt an earthquake in Illinois before, though we've been said to have them every so often. I've lived in Illinois my whole life. Feeling the ground shake and the walls tremble was a new experience for me.

If the methane is stuck and already showing widespread venting and instability, it will find a way. A little temperature increase here, some jarring earthquaking there...game over, man.

This is startling news. Humans could be facing a smelly, gaseous extinction, much sooner than previously estimated.

Keep fucking that chicken, people.

mancko said...

Honestly, I work as a video producer for the NSF and while not a scientist, I pretty much have to muck through science every day to do my job.

Climate change is real but that isn't the problem. The oceans will probably rise but THAT'S not the problem.

It's not that people are too scared and want to ignore it. It's that they don't want to change what they do every day. Because it'd be a pain in the ass.

My feeling is, at this point: let it happen. Let climate change kill or displace millions. It's not like we care that that kind of thing is happening now anyway. We can go on doing our thing when Darfur is happening, we can pretty much surf for porn and stand firm on our party lines and nothing will change anyway.

So yeah. Let it happen. We'll figure out a way to keep the rich population ok. Sea walls or some shit.

Anger doesn't change it. Righteousness doesn't change it. Not even logic changes it.

We're just another species and we'll go extinct. Only by our own hand.

People who call environmentalists "tree huggers" and "Earth worshippers" are idiots. Trees don't care. The Earth sure as HELL doesn't care. We aren't saving trees. We're saving us.

So we'll go extinct.

How long will America Last? How long did Rome last?

Forever?

Forever is a long time...

(with apologies to J. Heller)

vet said...

"Okay kids, so what are the advantages of the theory of evolution?

"Well, it gives us a clear account of how the world came about. It explains all those fossils and things. It means we can understand why different types of animals live in different places. No other theory explains these things. And it gives us modern medicine: without the theory evolution, we'd never be able to understand viruses, and we'd never have come up with the idea of aseptic surgery. If anyone you know has ever had an operation, then you've benefited from the theory of evolution.

"And what are the disadvantages? Well, the theory creates an account of the world that doesn't need a God to control it. Therefore, some people tend to stop believing in God. This causes a social division between believers and non-believers.

"So if you think medicine and truth are good things, then the theory of evolution is a good thing. If you think that social conformity is more important, then the theory of evolution is bad.

"Any questions?"