Keeping the Mind Sharp

Good evening,

Last week I stumbled upon a really fascinating podcast and blog.

You Are Not So Smart

The central theme of You Are Not So Smart is that you are unaware of how unaware you are. There is an old-and-still-growing body of research across several disciplines with findings that suggest you have little idea why you act or think the way you do. Despite this, you continue to create narratives to explain your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and these narratives – no matter how inaccurate – become the story of your life.

You Are Not So Smart is a fun exploration of the ways you and everyone else tends to develop an undeserved confidence in human perception, motivation, and behavior. I hope by reading it and listening to the podcast you’ll rediscover a humility and reconnect with the stumbling, fumbling community of man trying to make sense of things the best we can.

On my 12+ hour total road trip last weekend I listened to quite a few of these casts and found them to be invaluable. When I get paid next month I intend on ordering the books too.

Critical thinking skills are among the many skills one needs in order to survive and thrive in this world. This podcast is definitely a sharpening stone.

Until next time,
Ravn Thor

 

 

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Climate change, why is this even a debate?

When it comes to discussing climate change, too many people in positions of power will start off by saying, “Now I’m not a scientist but…”

Donald Trump believes that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real or not.

The fact is that 97% of climate scientists, along with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and more than 30 professional scientific research societies, agree that climate change is happening because of human actions and that we are in serious trouble if we don’t do something about it.

97% of climate scientists that have dedicated years of study and expertise in this field are not ‘nobody’.

There’s a certain ideology that is present within many climate change deniers. Anti-Intellectualism :

Anti-intellectualism is an attitude that minimizes the value of intelligence, knowledge, and curiosity. Anti-intellectuals believe that science, expertise and “book knowledge” are less valuable than “street smarts” and “common sense.” They also believe that they don’t have to read anything about a field of knowledge before dismissing it with their own “theories”.

What is anti-intellectualism

  • Believing that academics or experts (even in their fields of expertise) aren’t worth listening to because they lack “common sense” or are “out of touch.”
  • Believing academics are “others” and have little concern for the common people. (One must wonder why they are in academia, then.)
  • Pushing conspiracy theories around places of higher education.
  • Believing academics are “elitists.”
  • Believing academics promote “sinfulness” or moral degeneracy.
  • Going with your gut over the advice or studies performed by various experts, because you see it as superior.
  • Not understanding or checking the arguments of experts before dismissing them.

They try to come off as skeptics but in reality they are just denialists. Pseudoscience and antiscience pose as if they are legitimate or hold equal footing.

In a previous post I discussed the topic of the media.  In a lot of ways I find media responsible for legitimizing the spread of pseudoscience and antiscience under the guise of “balance.”  However, this quest for ‘balance’ actually only create false balances.

How is it that 97% of scientists agree that global warming is real compared to 3% of scientists (who, by the way, are employed by the oil industry or through the “think tanks” those industries fund), hold any sort of balance to each other? When the media gives equal airtime to them it makes it appear as though they do.  This is dangerous because it creates bias.

Journalistic Balance as Global Warming Bias

Creating controversy where science finds consensus

One study analyzed coverage of climate change in four influential American newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal) over a 14-year period. It found that more than half of the articles discussing climate change gave equal weight to the scientifically discredited views of the deniers.

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There is a difference between Climate and Weather.

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.

So just because it was -25 degrees and snowed 2 feet in your neck of the woods doesn’t invalidate the fact that climate is changing and getting warmer.  Warmth increases water vapor into the atmosphere which therefore spells a recipe for unpredictable and violent weather patterns such as an increase in snow fall, stronger hurricanes, and so on.

How Climate Science Became Politicized

“It’s the trend that I find in some ways the most disturbing, because in the end, the climate system doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” Leiserowitz told LiveScience. “It’s not like the floods are only going to hit Democrats and not Republicans or that the droughts are going to impact liberal farmers and not conservative ones. In the end, we all will suffer together and in the end, we’ll all have to solve this together.”

What are some things we can do?

On a macro level, weaning off of fossil fuels is in our best interest. It would grant us energy independence, protect the environment, supply an infinite amount of energy, and investing in greener fields such as solar and wind  would create more jobs.  There needs to be a tax on carbon emissions:

from an economists’ viewpoint, is that fossil fuels impose costs on society — “externalities” — that users do not share. These include the increased health care costs that result from fossil fuel pollution, or the infrastructure costs that are likely to result from rising sea levels.

“Taxes on externalities are not inconsistent with the free-market system,” Knittel says. “In fact, they’re required to make the free-market system achieve the efficient outcome. This idea that a pure free-market economy never has taxes is wrong.”

Some things we can do on a micro level would be to make a few changes in our lifestyles.

  • become informed, educate yourself
  • Be mindful of water waste, collect rainwater, etc
  • grow a garden
  • walk more, carpool, public transit
  • when you leave a room turn off the lights, turn off the furnace when going out, etc
  • eat less red meat, support farmer’s markets, eat local produce when you can
  • Vote for policies that ensure the protection of the environment
  • Waste less, recycle more

Preppers do quite a bit in becoming self-sufficient and sustainable. Having self-sufficiency, sustainability, and self-reliance is very empowering.  I have dreams of living off-grid and fully self-sufficient.  Little by little I hope to make that happen.

The climate impacts the whole world and is already starting to show it’s effects.  Climate change is not a question of faith, because whether you believe in it or not it’s still true.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

-Aldo Leopold