Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 4, 2016
Discuss this article at the Science & Technology Table inside the Diner
Recently we published an article about Fake Newz here on the Diner. This concerns itself with all the false or misleading information you have to sift through when either watching on TV or YouTube or reading either the MSM or alt-media Blogs. If you are a person who is looking to ferret out the "TRUTH" with a Capital T, it can be mighty difficult at times. You are just as likely to get a completely false story from the New York Times or the Washington Post as you are to get one from Zero Hedge or Infowars. It might even be more likely since Da Goobermint is always feeding Propaganda stories out to the MSM to promote a particular agenda. The nonsense about Iraq and WMDs would be a typical example. You pretty much can't believe anyone on anything until you do a lot of drilling down and researching other websites and links, which can be a mighty time consuming task on any individual story, much less trying to get a handle on a complex topic like Geopolitics or Climate Change. It gets even worse if you try to pull it all together to get a comprehensive view of what is occuring with collapse. Many articles every day on many topics, and you can only click and read so fast on any of them!
The problem isn't strictly confined to the Newz either, it is perhaps even worse in the field of Science. We live in a society where the "Scientist" is revered as someone who is knowledgeable and who you can trust to give you truthful information. Science has ruled our world since the Enlightenment and brought us all those wonderful inventions over the years like the Automobile and the Iphone, so for the average J6P the Scientist is almost God-like in perceived wisdom.
On the internet as you discuss issues of Collapse, you periodically run into people who claim the Mantle of Scientist and use that to justify their opinions and beliefs. They wield this term like a club, it's known in argument as "Appeal to Authority". No matter what complete bullshit comes off their keyboards, you're supposed to buy it because they are "scientists".
Now, what makes a person a scientist? Generally, they have a Ph.D. in some particular field of science like Physics, Chemistry or Biology, but not always. Sometimes people with Engineering degrees also claim to be scientists, and they may not even have a Master's degree, just a B.S. in… Bullshit. lol. But they work in some field like Geochemistry where they are part of a team publishing papers in some Journal, and so this makes them "scientists". Sometimes people in the Medical professions also claim to be Scientists. They studied a lot of science of course to get the ticket to be a Doctor of,,,something. Could be investigating your anus for the presence of polyps, could be drilling your teeth to nail those nasty carries giving you a toothache, whatever. Doctors generally speaking do science by investigating your bodily orifices and then fucking them in some way. Probes, Drills, Catheters etc they got plenty of fucking tools. If there are not enough normal holes to do investigative science, they cut some new ones. Nurses study "Nursing Science", so they can claim to be scientists too! On the scale of Scientists though, Nurses generally fall pretty low in respect, and the Doctors shit on them every day. The Nurses then shit on the EKG and Ultrasound Technicians and they shit on the Janitorial Scientists who keep the toilets clean in the hospital. The IRONY here is that it's probably the toilet scrubbers doing the most important scientific work in keeping everyone alive in said hospital and keeping Super Viruses from escaping into the general environment. The Pharmacist scientists don't shit on anyone, they're too bizzy counting out pills.
Once you claim the mantle of scientist, people are supposed to listen to you and BELIEVE you because you are an "expert". But are scientists experts in reality?
"Science" is a very broad term covering many fields of study. The prototypical scientist has an undergraduate series of courses which cover the basic areas of science and math, then picks one area to specialize in and does further study to get a Ph.D. in that area. It further specializes from there, because the Ph.D. candidate has to pick a specific topic within the area of study to write her/his Dissertation on. Then assuming said student is awarded a Ph.D. and gets a job either in industry or academia, they go on to a career of looking at a specific topic and publishing papers on this topic. So, a student who majors in Physics might go on for a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and then write a Dissertation on Black Holes and spend the rest of his life researching how Black Holes affect the Magnetosphere surrounding the Earth, or something like that anyhow.
Does this highly specialized knowledge make this person any more competent to decipher economics than a typical math major with only a B.A. who maybe has a a job as a bookkeeper? Not in principle, not really. In fact, such a scientist might be LESS competent, since they had to specialize so much in learning all along the way. All you can say is this person is probably generally intelligent since they managed to jump through the academic hoops necessary for getting a career going as a scientist, but other than their own particular area of expertiese they aren't any more expert than anyone else with a reasonably good knowledge of the basic sciences in anything else.
So OK, we got scientists out there to be sure, and they are generally smart but very specialized. They also have opinions like everyone else does, and they have different agendas depending who they work for or their own particular set of beliefs. So in the area of Climate Science for example, one scientist who get his funding from Exxon-Mobil will come up with a hypothesis and paper that says one thing, while another scientist who gets his funding from NOAA will come up with a different one. So now it is Scientist vs. Scientist and you have to decide which one you WANT to believe. I stress the word WANT here, because generally speaking most people do not have enough background to understand all the modelling that was done, nor do the papers always make clear all the underlying assumptions of the model. So you really don't have the information necessary to make an informed decision, you just pick the one that sounds right to you, based on your own preconceived notions.
The other way the non-scientists out there try and decide who to believe is on the "weight of evidence" method, where you pick the side that has the MOST papers out there or the MOST scientists who seem to more or less agree on a topic. So in the area of climate science for instance, most scientists seem to believe that climate change is real and anthropogenic, but they don't agree on a lot of other important things, like how fast it will occur, what might be done to mitigate it or whether it's possible to mitigate at all.
You have a similar effect going on in the world of energy, where there are a whole bunch of scientists who say we are resource constrained with fossil fuels and then others who say, no, there's plenty of fossil fuels still in the ground to dig up. Then there are some scientists who say we can substitute renewable energy sources for fossil fuels and others who say, no, we'll never get enough energy that way to maintain our current energy usage. These scientists then all produce papers to demonstrate their POV is the correct one, and which one do you WANT to believe?
I bring this topic up here today because I have issues with two people who claim the Mantle of Scientist as a validation of why THEY should be believed. One is a radical former Biology Professor now turned Extinction Guru, Guy McPherson of the blog Nature Bats Last. The other is an Anonymous contributer to the Diner Forum who goes by the handle MKing and I often refer to as "Professor Moriarty", who claims to be a World Class Expert Geochemist and King of Frackers. I tend to give Guy a little more credibility than Moriarty, because at least he lets you know who he is, but generally I find neither one of them very credible. They are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum as well, Guy on the one hand believes that due to the burning of fossil fuels Homo Sap will go Extinct by the year 2025 in his now latest timeline I am told. Moriarty on the other hand believes there is plenty of fossil fuel energy left in the form of Natural Gas mostly that we can still frack up, and then transition to a fully renewable energy system into the far future. He obviously doesn't believe we'll go Extinct in the near term, nor does he think further burning up the NG that can be extracted will do any damage to the environment. Regardless of what his credentials are, he's not a scientist, he's a shill for the Energy industry.
REAL TITLE: Extinction Guru REAL TITLE: Energy Industry Shill
Beginning with Guy, first off his area of science was not Climatology, it was Biology. He's never done any research in the area of Climatology, all he ever does is cherry pick the journal articles of other scientists who specialize in climatology. He's a walking, talking database of these articles and he can spit them out faster than an AR-15 on full automatic spits out lead.
Here is how a typical lecture complee with Power Point Slides on a Big Screen TV from Guy goes:
"On page 74 of this article published by Dr. Joe Brilliant in the Journal of Nature, Volume 9, issue 6 published on Dec 21, 2012, Dr. Brilliant's graphs reveal that Global Temps will rise by 1000C before I finish this lecture and you will all be fried to a CRISP!"
Up goes the slide with Dr, Brilliant's graph for maybe 10 seconds, then Guy is on to the NEXT reference!
"Professor George Genius in this article published on October 18, 2008 in the Journal of Applied Stupidity, Volume 66, Issue 666 shows clearly in the tables that NO HOMO SAPS can possibly survive a 6.66C rise in temperatures so every single one of you in this room will DIE by 2025, so just live with it and Live a Life of Excellence for the next 8 years!
I'm not fucking kidding here folks just Google up the lectures! Rat-aTat-aTat, the shit comes at you so fast you can't even take a breather much less have a sip of beer! I will say I have never personally attended one of Guy' lectures, but I watched plenty of the videos up on the web and I DID try to have a reasonable discussion with him during the period I hosted his website. Epic failure there.
Now, after having been treated to one of these exercises, about how many of the people leaving such a lecture actually go and dig up all these references and read through 75 pages of justifications for a a given conclusion? Answer: The number asymptotically approaches ZERO. So you are either buying the shpiel or not here and accepting that His Guyness has thoroughly vetted all these articles he cites and they are all TRUTH with a Capital T. The likelihood of this one also approaches ZERO.
However, he'll never brook any argument to counter his hypothesis, he'll just brandish his mantle of Scientist and call you a deluded fool who is filled with Hopium. This type of argument techinque does not inspire me with confidence to believe a fucking thing he says. The conclusions he draws on the timeline to extinction are also FAR ahead of any other scientist out there researching the topic, although there are a few out there who will say it could come by the end of the century if we don't change our ways. Who am I supposed to believe here and why?
Moriarty is even less believable than Guy from his side. First off he CLAIMS to be a scientist but never backs up his claim because he won't reveal his real identity. He doesn't appear to have any more knowledge than the typical internet devotee of Peak Oil related websites who has spent a few years browsing these sites and reading some technical journals. His arguments also run counter to just about everyone else writing in these areas from other scientists who actually do publish their names and stand behind their work like Arthur Berman, David Hughes, Ugo Bardi, Richard Heinberg, etc, etc, etc. When confronted with this fact, he basically just calls them idiots. Since he won't reveal his identity, I can't even set up a debate between him and one of the many people he has insulted over his years trolling the Diner, which besides the scientists he thinks are idiots also includes the bloggers he thinks are idiots and the other Diners he thinks are idiots. Plus he also claims to have STALKED me incognito at the SUN☼ Booth at the Inman Harvest Festival. This behavior is not particularly scientific and does not inspire much confidence in his opinions either.
On a more general level than just Guy McPherson and Professor Moriarty though, the problem of what is "Real Science" vs what is "Fake Science" is just as troublesome in trying to ferret out the TRUTH as the Fake Newz vs Real Newz problem. There are just TONS of theories being pitched around out there, a real popular one is that there is a Planet X on a collision course with Earth and that's what is causing all the geological disturbances that appear to be on the increase. There are theories that Oil is abiotic and will replenish itself over time, although the timescale on that one does not appear to be fast enough to make up for the current depletion rate. There are theories that Cold Fusion is possible coming from Italian scientists. Elon Musk has theories that he can produce enough Batteries to run EVs forever, and build a colony on Mars too!
Can I possibly vet all these theories and say, "yea, that's GOOD science and TRUE" and another one is "BAD Science and FALSE"? Even if I wanted to TRY to do that I wouldn't have time for it in the day. So generally speaking for myself, I read as much as I have time for and then use my Occam's Razor of COMMON FUCKING SENSE (CFS) to decide what I WANT to believe. Which is hopefully as close to the Truth with a Capital T as I can get.
For all the rest of you out there, you also have to use CFS when reading either Newz stories or Scientific theories. When me or some other Diner publishes something, it may or may not be vetted for its accuracy, and the posting probably reflects the bias of the poster, one way or the other. Only you can figure out for yourself what is the TRUTH here, and buying the opinions of "scientists" just because they claim that mantle is a fool's game. Some "scientists" like Guy McPherson and Professor Moriarty have clear agendas they are putting forward, and this is not science in any way, shape or form. It's opinion, argument and propaganda and must be viewed as such. Besides that, they're both assholes. 🙂