Furthest Right

Scientists always miss the big picture

This is great comedy:

SCIENTISTS say they are haunted by the failure to convey to the world just how close Earth is to climate catastrophe.

Top researchers who gathered in Copenhagen for a climate change conference said they were worried that people could not psychologically deal with the enormity of the problem and were reverting to doing nothing.

French glaciologist Claude Lorius, one of the first scientists to publish in 1987 evidence that global warming was real said he despaired of getting the message across.

“At first, I thought that we could convince people. But there is a terrible inertia,” he said.

“I fear that society is not up to the challenge of a crisis like this. Today, as a human being I am pessimistic.”

The Daily Telegraph

Glad you’ve come along to the party, Dr. Lorius. Let me explain a few things:

  • People are accustomed to being manipulated by the media. They don’t trust you to be telling the truth and not just tweaking all of us for your own gain. For example, it’d be convenient to demand action on global warming to equalize rich countries with poor and create a powerful world government. Many of us don’t want that.
  • You have a terrible track record. The last 20 crises came and went and we’re still here. Nuclear war, drugs, hackers, Nazis, Satanists, UFOs, global cooling, etc. Some of these were just crises we blew off that got worse — pollution, overpopulation and nuclear proliferation — but in general, we’re not motivated to act.
  • People are individualists. They’re not lazy; they’re self-centered. They act as if the world is there for their benefit, and all that matters is that they get what they want. They don’t care if society falls down as long as it doesn’t happen during the years when they’re young. Global warming will take another 20 or 50 years to really get cooking? Well, deal with it then, they say, feeling wiser for having ducked a bullet.
  • People fail it. Most people have no money, no power, and can barely live their own lives coherently. In fact, numerically most of them live as disasters. You expect them to do what… sell all their stuff, buy new stuff, and devote themselves to being green? They can’t put dinner on the table every night and end up ordering pizza twice a week. They can’t pay their taxes on time. Their homes get repossessed. It’s not that they lack the money — they’ve spent it on other things, or lost it due to their own stupidity. You want them to do what again? By the end of this paragraph, most people, like 90%, will have forgotten the topic.
  • Our economic and social system forbids it. We can’t tell others what to do or talk about offensive truths. Furthermore, we cannot do anything that causes us to lose money, or someone else not doing that thing will come in and wipe us out. How do you explain that to your family?

So in other words, even if we accept what you’re saying as truth, our dysfunctional society has failed us. Remember all those old people in the past dozens of generations telling us stuff was getting worse? Looks like they were right. But not for the reasons you mention, Dr. Lorius.

In general, the academics I’ve met have been strikingly clever but not smart at all. They know the right specialized vocabulary, usually an additional 5,000 words; they know the topics of currency and have a thesis to handle each of the five big issues in their discipline. But beyond that, they’re useless. They have no knowledge of the world. This is why all philosophers should be thrust into the world to make their own way, according to the wisdom of an ancient philosopher.

Yet academics kept this society surging forward as much as anyone else. You supported political correctness. You supported big industry. You supported fond notions that if we stop all offensive words, we’ll turn out OK, and that those words can be defined subjectively. You supported relativism. And now you want us to snap to your command?

Forget it — you blew it years ago, Dr. Lorius. But you didn’t notice because you were in your lab, thin intelligence that you are, looking at partial representations of reality. Go back.

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