Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Will Colorado Join the "Stupidest states"?

Bill Maher on his HBO show (Real Time), has a special segment that he's been running for the past 10 or so episodes entitled: "The Stupidest States in America". Each week he highlights one or more states and then explains the justification(s) for including them among the stupidest. Not surprisingly, most of these are from the former Confederacy.

In his last show, he highlighted in turn: Alabama, Florida, and Texas as well as Mississippi. The inclusion of Alabama and Mississippi had to do with their "bible punching" status which rendered their population collectively stupid in terms of understanding reality. Thus, anyone (or state) which turfs out evolution to accept Adam and Eve and creationism, is already dumb as a sack of hammers. Any state which attempts to mount the Ten Commandments on court house steps, as if our jurisprudence is based on them, is also a collective pack of morons.

Meanwhile, Florida capped 3rd place in the state stupidity race by virtue of its ridiculous "Holy Land" theme park in Orlando, which contributes to millions of people continuing to accept fairy tales that have no historical backing, as opposed to the truths: that no god-Man ever existed who worked miracles, and that 'Adam & Eve', 'Noah's Ark' and Jonah being swallowed by a whale and kept in its belly for three days are all old wives' tales that no sensible, serious adult accepts.

As for Texas, that state earned its position on Maher's list (two spots behind MS, as the stupidest) by virtue of its plan to issue a revisionist history text that elevates the "Constitution" of the Confederacy, and its President Jefferson Davis, to be worthy of study along side the Founders of the United States. It elevates, then, a degenerate rebel secessionist and his bastardized pseudo-nation to be worthy of study along side the U.S. Constitution, Thomas Jefferson and the Bill of Rights. To put this in perspective, it'd be roughly like one of the German states, say Bavaria, forcing all its students to learn from a text that taught The Third Reich next to the Weimar Republic.

Now, however, Colorado may make Maher's list. This is thanks to a bunch of simpletons called the "Independent Women's Forum" which is currently pushing a 'documentary' (if I can dignify it by that name) called "Not Evil Just Wrong". This farrago of lies and misinformation seeks to achieve "balance" in class rooms in respect to the issue of global warming. It offers "lesson plans" that purport to present the "scientifically accurate truth about global warming" and was created as a counterpoint to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth".

The pseudo-documentary not only presents frivolous and erroneous interpretations, such as the trope that warming has "ceased since 1998" but also delves into the political views espoused by Tea Party nitwits and their anti-cap, anti-carbon tax, anti-mainstream media and pro-traditional carbon platforms. (E.g. "Drill Baby, Drill" - even after the horrendous Deepwater Horizon blowout and leak).

Spearheading the push is one Rose Pugliese, which has rendered her the poster child for "Balanced Education for Everyone". They've even gone so far as to establish a pseudo-basis and national test case for keeping teaching about human influence on global warming out of science classrooms.

Brenda Ezwurkel, a climate scientist, makes no bones about Pugliese's push in the Grand Junction school district. She notes it is "very troubling" because the vast majority of scientists around the world agree that global warming is accelerating because of the effects of human acitivities on top of natural warming. Indeed, the most recent report from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering states that climate change is advancing and that "a strong, credible body of evidence shows it is caused in large part by human activities".

Ezwurkel added:

"To keep this information out of schools is really anti-education. It seems to me it would be equivalent to teaching that if you smoke tobacco there is no risk you will ever develop cancer".

Even with the Colorado numskulls mounting their feral plans to dis-educate and miseducate children (topping off what they've done in respect of preventing the teaching of evolution) the reports have arrived that ocean acidity is increasing at unheard of rates.Two weeks ago, the National Research Council released a report noting the oceans are now 30% more acidic than they were before the Industrial Revolution.

The enhanced acidity is a direct result of increase absorption of excess atmospheric CO2 in the oceans, leading to the reaction: H2O + CO2 -> H2 CO3.

In other words, carbonic acid is being produced. The scientists reporting the results observed that unless (carbon) emissions were reined in ocean acidity could increase 200% by the end of the century. This would annihilate almost all life forms except for the hardiest, and even they would die out when all the extant food chains collapse. According to one senior scientist, James Barry:

"Acidification is changing the chemistry of the oceans at a scale and magnitude greater than thought to occur on Earth for many millions of years and is expected to cause changes in the growth and survival of a wide variety of marine organisms, potentially leading to masive shifts in ocean ecosystems".

The NRC Report added that carbon dioxide emissions are increasing so rapidly that natural processes in the sea that maintained pH levels couldn't keep up.

Why, despite such reports, are the skeptics rallying around a curriculum which will dumb American science teaching down even more.

One reason may be the hacked emails from East Anglia University, despite the fact that a special council of peers has found all the involved scientists to have not violated any academic processes. In other words, they did not "fudge" or skew any of the published science. They were reprimanded for using loose language in their emails that could have been construed in very negative ways.

Another reason is the growing voice of meteorologists. According to an article ('Hot Air: Why Don’t TV Weathermen Believe in Climate Change?’ ) in the Jan.-Feb. Issue of The Columbia Journalism Review , a sizeable proportion of meteorologists don't buy anthropogenic global warming. Among the reasons advanced by author Charles Homans:

1- Given their familiarity with the defects in their own extended predictions, meteorologists looking at long range climate questions (such as global warming effects) are predisposed to “see a system doomed to terminal unpredictability”.

2- Most skeptic meterologists (like Bob Breck, an AMS-certified chief meteorologist at New Orleans WVUE) didn’t properly recognize the limits of their own scientific training – and hence the implausibility of their pronouncing on climate science.

3- Because of (2) the skeptic meteorologists tend to see their own “informed intuition” as the source of some kind of ersatz scientific authority – particularly if the skeptics are also excellent communicators, or fancy themselves so.

Some of the paradoxical statistics that were cited in the article, based on surveys carried out by Emory University Journalism lecturer Kris Wilson, included:

-29% agreed with Weather Channel mogul John Coleman’s take that global warming was “the greatest scam in history”.

-Only 24% believed that humans were responsible for most of the change over the past half century.

-50% were certain this wasn’t true and that humans weren’t responsible.

-Only 17% of the opinionated TV weathermen “received a graduate degree, a prerequisite for an academic researcher in any scientific field”.

These are startling, but in more ways than one the above sets explain why many AMS members' skeptical take doesn’t surprise or shock me. They are simply conforming to the statistics and inclinations of the meteorologists the article pigeonholes.

Discarding the Meteorological community, or most of them (as non-climatologists), it may interest readers what surveys of the actual climate science community have to say on the issue of global warming. In their analysis of the extent of scientific consensus on global warming (Eos Transactions, Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 22) , P. T. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman found that (p. 24)

“the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”

In their analytic survey for which 3146 climate and Earth scientists responded, a full 96.2% of specialists concurred temperatures have steadily risen and there is no evidence for cooling. Meanwhile, 97.4% concur there is a definite role of humans in global climate change.

The authors concluded (p. 24) :

The challenge appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact (non-existent debate among real climate specialists) to policy makers and a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate exists among scientists

Evidently, it needs to be communicated to the meteorologists, and also the scientific knuckle-draggers attempting to remove the teaching of human-caused global warming from the curriculum in Colorado.

Or, maybe they really want to make it to the top of Maher's "Stupidest States" ranking.

Hey, at least it's something!


Robert Hagedorn said...

Yes, I think it's important to think. Sometimes something can appear to be stupid until one takes a second look at the "stupidity." For example, let's take a second look at the supposedly stupid story of Adam and Eve. The original sin (whether it actually happened or not is irrelevant) was anal intercourse. For the exegesis, google the first scandal Adam and Eve. Then click, read the 20 posts, and comment. You won't like what you read. That's a guarantee. So there must be something wrong with the exegesis. But what's wrong with it? When you discover what's wrong, with whom will you share your discovery?

Copernicus said...

" For example, let's take a second look at the supposedly stupid story of Adam and Eve. The original sin (whether it actually happened or not is irrelevant) was anal intercourse"

So, what is your point? That 'Adam & Eve' (despite being a myth) still has a message? That 'Adam & Eve' conceals a larger truth about "original sin" or that the sin (so-called) trumps anything else?

As for "original sin" as an atheist that carries no meaning. The whole basis for "sin" - original or other- is to elevate the importance of humans to a station they otherwise wouldn't possess in the grand scheme of the cosmos.

We are, when all is said and done, little better than naked apes with highly organized brains - and apes perform all kinds of intercourse all the time. But they lack the neocortex and language centers to utter inane profundities about "sin".

The point remains that the Bible is a collection of regressive and dopey tales that might have some benefit for the less educated but offer absolutely nothing to the better educated among us. (See also my conversations with the spiritual scholar John Phillips)

Unknown said...

copernicus wrote:

"We are, when all is said and done, little better than naked apes with highly organized brains - and apes perform all kinds of intercourse all the time"

Of course! Why make such a big deal out of something that most of the primate world does as a matter of course? Original sin? Nonsense! I sometimes think the accelerated growth of the neocortex did humans more harm than good. Gave us too much power in the language centers to invent nonsense that has no bearing on reality and doesn't merit serious discussion.

Like Adam & Even, OR Original Sin.