Sciense and nonsense

Following my theme from last week, thinking about my dad and his influence on my life, I was intrigued by an ad I saw recently from Bayer.  My dad worked for Sterling Drug, which owned Bayer, early in his career as a bench chemist.  Sceptical as I am about a chinese wall being erected between profit making organizations and ivory tower scientists, Bayer is a good company and its intentions with this program are positive.  Children are natural truth-seeking scientists and should be encouraged as early as possible to develop their skills in this area.

I have been increasingly struck by the growing divide amongst a certain segment of our population regarding the validity of scientific evidence and its being equated, erroneously, with speculation, ideology, belief, economics, politics, and frankly nonsense.

It bothers me from the standpoint that, if we cannot even agree about the established and indisputable facts produced by the most accurate and systematic method of knowing devised by humankind to date, we have little hope of solving any of our global or domestic problems.

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Increasingly, our media are merely entertainment arms of large corporate interests. The latest scandal involving Brian Williams should disturb us in that it points to utter desperation and a gross perversion of the fourth branch of government.  It is one thing to simply get the facts wrong.  Most credible people will willingly admit failures or weaknesses in this regard.  It is quite another to deliberately twist or shade reality to attract attention, boost ratings and earn sponsors revenue.  If Brian Williams could be pressured into doing this, imagine what is going on with other so-called newsmen on other stations (including a plethora of ersatz news sites on the internet and radio) with far less integrity.

Is it any wonder that some of us believe the silly ideas that we do? What if you don’t have time or interest in vetting your sources and still believe that what is published, especially via high-profile outlets, is the truth? We can’t expect everyone to know and be able to take the time to chase down every fact.  We have to have some leaders to whom we turn with faith that they are doing this for us.

Let me say, in case anyone reading this takes this personally, what prompted this post was my hearing a candidate for leader of the Western world say in London yesterday that he could not confirm or deny evolution. If you have a conviction one way or the other, don’t punt, admit it. Let us kick the tires and see who we are hiring for the most important job on earth.

Personally, there are few popular reporters I trust to do this. One is Wolf Blitzer, another is Andrea Mitchell. I still respect Ted Koppel. Maybe Steve Kornacki, Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow.  All of these people are highly intelligent.  In the case of the first two, they have had long, distinguished careers without even a hint of impropriety. In the case of the latter three, albeit progressive, with an overt personal philosophy, they are scholars as well as broadcasters and I respect them even if I don’t agree with everything they represent or their sometimes theatrical manner of delivery. Two other people I occasionally listen to, while not agreeing with everything they stand for and their manner of expressing it, are Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann (both alums of my undergrad school). In the former case, Maher and I are both on the same wavelength when it comes to humane treatment of animals.

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I like Olbermann because of his courage to speak out eloquently against wrongdoing, even if it means he suffers financially or professionally by doing so.  I like courageous people and am sick of passivity.  But that is another topic.

What science simply does is give us a systematic method of knowing, i.e., of finding the facts available to us through the physical senses. It will not help us with anything else.  And belief systems and philosophy will not help us establish facts, other than providing in some cases a potential jumping off point for disproving theories about phenomena.  Science is deductive in that it begins from a foundation of previously established fact (through sound research, as established in the scientific discipline in question) and then testing a logical deduction stemming from that solid basis.  Induction is a faulty way of dabbling in any field.  It means that you start from things you see, string them together, come up with a theory that you believe explains their connection and then set out to find more discreet occurrences that fit your theory.  I know of no scientific discipline that uses this method (journalists do all the time and that is what makes what they write journalism, not science), not the social, behavioral and life sciences, and certainly not the physical/chemical ones.  You can have lots of fun with mathematics (which is akin to logic, not science) and game theory.  You can elaborate a complex philosophy and make it an ideology, but you can’t fake science.  When you do, those in the field who have established their bona fides will negate your conclusions and you are done, for all intents and purposes. Where do we find these experts? At the top research universities, as listed here or here, for example.

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Are scientists amenable to debate? Of course, among themselves, including students at credible institutions, they are continually reviewing theories and refining, and updating them — on many, in fact most topics.  However, there are those axioms that short of a Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton stepping forward and negating them, are considered to be absolute and foundational.  Like what? Gravity, tectonic plates, spherical heavenly bodies including this planet (hence the ridicule of flat-earthers), the age of the universe and its bodies, including our solar system (no, not 6,000 years), evolution, earth and agricultural sciences, genetics, aeronautics, and its underlying physics, pharmaceutical action and their basic chemistry, etc.

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This is not restricted to the physical sciences either.  There are solid principles in the behavioral sciences as well and every good psychology, sociology, and anthropology student is trained in them before going on to prepare their own research or clinical practice. You don’t get a marketable PhD in this country by going to the wrong sources, building upon a house of cards, and inserting your own ideation — that would be academic suicide.  The broad, established scientific community has to have confidence that it can replicate and therefore verify your results or you and your work are rejected, ipso facto.

If you enjoy debunking theory, study the scientific debates on string theory, dark matter, efficacy of allopathic medications, human vs animal intelligence, etc.  There are thousands of exciting (I am sure you can find them) topics on which the jury is still out among the world’s leading researchers.  But, there are others where there is no significant daylight left with which to view competing points of view.  They are elementary.

There is simply no credible debate among the scientific community on certain topics.  I know for some people this is a bitter bolus to swallow, but it is so, nonetheless.  I prefer to get my science facts from scientists, not philosophers, politicians, businessmen, carnival barkers and shaman. And one reason I respect scientists is their having no dog in this fight apart from finding out what is, not what they would like it to be.  That is the value of the unfettered puttering in the Ivory Tower and it was the first principle they taught us in our PhD program at Columbia.

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By the way, speaking of  Columbia, read this. One thing to take away is, do we want to change our current living patterns drastically? Are all of you ready to do without the bread basket? To crowd 7.5 billion (and growing) people into Antartica and the North Pole and try to subsist without fish and most mammals, eating farmed plankton and hydroponic fungi? You cannot compare pre-Ice Age conditions with the needs and practices of the human-heavy 21st century.

If you want to live in a fantasy world, you have that right.  I hope you don’t raise your children in it, but many people do and get away with it.  A tragedy for society, because only by bravely and objectively facing “what is”, based on established truth, can we solve our problems and work together for once in our history, and have a functioning, harmonious and joyous existence at last.  I will throw my lot in with rigorously trained, scrupulous Ivory Tower figures over the handful of billionaires who seek to manipulate the truth for personal financial gain.

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This is not a small problem.  It is one that afflicts almost 25% of Americans, an unacceptably high number.  While I do want everyone to feel their points of view are welcomed here, to a point, there are boundaries.  If you come here advocating abuse, championing tobacco use, or if you bring discredited positions on established and settled science, I will not engage in any discussion of them here, whether it is to deny something as fundamental as gravity or the less palatable concept, apparently (for some inexplicable reason), as climate change.

There are certain givens upon which our modern lives are built and now depend.  Wasting time debating those takes valuable resources away from solving real problems, such as, what to do about adverse phenomena.That is where our best mental capital should be spent as a society and here on this blog.  That is what I intend for the serious topics covered here. So let’s not invest in circling a black hole of opinion on such matters. And, as I promised at the end of 2014, I will include plenty of unfreighted topics to lighten the burden we face each day as we interact virtually and actually.

It was in fact that very Respected Scientist,  who first said, “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Coincidentally, that is Caltech’s motto.  It’s mine as well.

 

 

 

 Images: Beth Byrnes archives: California Institute of Technology

 

34 Comments on “Sciense and nonsense

  1. Respected scientists are often wrong! In the USSR truths about genetics and cybernetics made people dead. Science used by politicians and other people in their interests. Global warming is a good example.

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    • I am not sure I would include every “scientist” when I say those who are respected verifying solid and proven axioms like gravity and tectonic plates. People experimenting with genetics probably do often commit errors. I am not sure I would include those doing so in the USSR. I put a list at the top of this post of the best research universities in this country and the researchers there are those I would suggest are respected scientists.

      As for global warming, I am not sure what you mean. It is established fact that the earth has been steadily heating up. Why and what to do about it, are another matter, but not the fact of that warming.

      Thanks for your input!

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        • I think you are not going to change your mind so I will save us both the hassle. JF, I respectfully differ. Nothing in the Soviet Union has anything to do with this. You are looking at the people who as scientists make mistakes. Many do. That is not what I am talking about here. All people make mistakes. There are good and bad doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. There are quack scientists.

          The issues I am talking about are settled science. Global warming is a fact. The idea that there are people out there who contest that fact is also true, but they are not credible.

          It is exactly this disinformation problem that is the crux of the issue for me.

          I put several links on this site and some on last week’s site to respected scientists and journal articles on this topic, that I imagine you have not had time to look at.

          You should just continue as you have. I understand what is happening and think it is a shame but am certain we will not agree on this topic here.

          Peace and love ❤

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  2. We have a Prime Minister here right now (although not, hopefully, for long) who has systematically dismantled scientific institutions that contradict his government’s economic policies.

    He said, a little less than ten years ago, that in a decade he’d institute a new Canada that we wouldn’t recognize. He’s been true to his word- we’ve lost credibility on the world stage in pretty much every arena.

    The credulity of people is a personal beef of mine (as you well know)- and it enrages me that we are permitting our leaders to get away with all they do because we are too intellectually lazy to do the research ourselves. Which is becoming increasingly necessary,since it gets harder to trust our media sources with each passing day.

    Thank goodness for the ones who retain their integrity. We have more than a few of them up here- most working on our Public broadcaster. And I love Bill Moyers, as well.

    Great post, Beth. Thank you for talking about this important subject. xo

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    • Cole, thank you. I am beyond baffled and frustrated by this. I think there is little we can do about the segment of our respective populations who believe the dissembling on a host of issues. They find comfort in something that frankly, I believe, should disturb them to believe. But belief it is and apparently it is unshakable. Inductively corroborating falsehoods is clearly a flawed practice but it is not up to me to enlighten that group.

      But, leaders are a different matter. It is shocking to see how they will pander to ignorance, simply to be elected. It is frightening to think that the US could head down the road that Wisconsin has recently, or North Carolina. Talk about laughing stock. I work with an international clientele and am humiliated to think what their impression of us is right now. For the first time in history, we are embarrassing ourselves on so many fronts.

      I like Bill Moyers too, and Thom Hartmann. I like a quiet, intellectual, rational approach more than histrionics and theatre.

      And, I cannot really fault the people who cling to notions that fly in the face of progress and modernity. But, having to argue on two different channels about invidiously opposite views of this universe is troubling.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It isn’t just the US that is a laughing stock on the international stage… I have a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for years- teaching English to educated professionals. After our current PM was elected she began hearing the same refrain over and over again- ‘what the hell is happening to Canada?’.

    Ugh.

    8 more months of this guy- then hopefully clearer heads will prevail (and bother to vote).

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    • How I wish we had a goal like that to look forward to. The people in charge of our Congress are going to be there for a long while. They are the problem in our case.
      It is depressing.

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  4. YES — Very insightful observations. My best take away, “tectonic plates” !! So wonderful to see you acknowledge Geology as a “science”. And note that Cornell
    is identified as one of the top (2nd) science colleges in the US. Re. their Earth
    Sciences Geology department . And…… their take on global warming. The :Main Stream News , and Politicians all LIE and issue propaganda to make “their point”.
    Best stated–“the ignorance of their ignorance, is the malady of the ignorant”. And
    we suffer it every day . Thanks again for your post.

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    • Not all of them lie, in my experience, but far too many. We need those with the courage and integrity of their convictions, not swaying in the wind depending on which way it is blowing.

      Thank you Bob!!

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    • Now he wants to privatize Wisconsin’s excellent public school system. It truly p*sses me off. Honestly, I don’t understand these people, but I just have to get over it. 😀
      One good thing is that I know that guy will never be President of this country. I think Jeb Bush is fool enough to consider him for VP, even over Joni Ernst, the other crazy choice. Then they will both lose.

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  5. Further to your very prescient observations — “The American people have lost their ability to think, reason, question, do math, control their urges, defer gratification,or realize when they are being lied to by the people they elected to public office. A culture of ignorance, celebration of the absurd, salutation of stupidity, honoring of the inane, being mesmerized by electronic gadgets, and satiating their egocentric shallow impulses on social media, is a sure recipe for societal collapse.” !!!!

    Hat tip –Jim Quinn The Burning Platform blog.

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    • I do think there has been a steady dumbing-down of America. I am not sure it is the fault solely of the toys people have now. I think we used to get our information from fewer and more reliable sources. Now, anyone can hop on the radio, the internet (including me), and cable TV and sound off, whether properly informed and qualified or not. Worst of all, we have allowed this to encroach without questioning it. So we need to be sharper, not duller. Yet how many people are even aware of this being a problem?

      Thanks, Bob.

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  6. *applause* Beth! You rant with style and reason.
    As one of my followers commented recently, ‘You can’t fix stupid’. This, more than anything, a blind indifference to failing practices and outmoded data is a real concern. I deal with it day and daily – not among the kids, I hasten to add. When evidence is staring in the face and still people persist, as if repeating the same will produce different results. It drives me insane. But then, so too, do all those who purport to serve but grind their own axe. Not dependable for anything in my view. Once the trust is gone in their credentials it’s time to look elsewhere.
    ‘Fixing stupid’ has to be a priority. Or at least disclosing it where we find it. I can be stupid too so I’m allowed to say this. 🙂
    Great post, Beth. Run for office!

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    • At least you have the platform, as an educator — and a parent, to correct the record. One reason I left teaching was my frustration with parents who didn’t want to hear anything that contradicted their own notions, no matter if they were mistaken.

      I applaud anyone with patience. You must be a very patient person Anne-Marie. I am afraid I am not!

      But, we are clearly on the same wavelength. Thank you for taking the time to comment here. 😀 xo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Here is something I just found this morning that I think every person should read.

    Especially those of you who have bought into the “climate change” deniers hoax theory.

    If you have the patience to read this. And if you are a student of the history of the past 100 years, you will see what is really operating behind this resistance to the obvious changes that are occurring at an alarming rate in our environment.

    For heaven sake people, let’s wake up!

    http://www.alternet.org/environment/why-gops-vision-north-americas-energy-future-should-scare-all-us?akid=12790.654515.mjfQUA&rd=1&src=newsletter1031810&t=10

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  8. Beth, you know you’re preaching to the choir here. I disagree about your lack of patience, otherwise you’d have given up writing about this long ago. I do believe, however, we need a sea change in order to change people’s minds. No one believes truth and information anymore. We need an obvious and titanic disaster to bring about a paradigm shift in thinking. One that can’t be blamed on progressives or Muslims. Unfortunately, anything less will be sunk in a pool of opinionated, political quicksand.

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    • Well, you are right about one (among many) thing: quicksand. I cannot believe the resistance to facts in some people.

      I keep writing about it, hoping I can phrase it at last in a way that will reach a broader group. I think it is falling on stony soil in many cases. Clearly I have not found the way to convey this so it penetrates the thick mud wall.

      I keep trying. The catastrophe is coming, but the people who turned their backs will not be here. Many of them know full well what they are doing and simply don’t care.

      Thank you Susan, for putting up with this, since it is apparently something I truly care about and am hoping to find the right words to be effective. xo

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      • Great article on Alter.net, BTW. Again, only their audience will read it. It’s the McCains and the Fox talking heads who have to get their heads out of their collective a**es and start informing the public of the truth before they’ll actually listen. Our words will reach those who care now, but I’m afraid they won’t reach the ones who are convinced we’re simply outliers and tree huggers. Yet, we must continue to try, as you said.

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        • I am always leery of posting from Alternet, but this theory is so explanatory of the baffling campaign against climate change and the environment, that I feel we all need to consider it. It just makes all of it make sense.

          I am furious that the so called elected public servants keep secrets and operate, supposedly on our behalves, out of sight, lying to us and making decisions that impact all of us. They truly think all of us are stupid, and in fact, they point to the 25% that do swallow their koolaid and feel justified. After all, if we are so dumb, we can’t be trusted to understand and handle the truth. It is so insulting.

          Yeah, I have been accused of being a tree-hugger because I have a heart as well as a brain. Oh, and thinking while female — how nervy of us.

          I know one of these days I will find the right words that like arrows, find their target. Meanwhile, I will try not to sound like a crank by relentlessly revisiting this subject sequentially. 😀

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  9. Beth: I agree with you — “being leery of posting from Alternet”. As is often stated , one
    is entitled to his own opinions, not his own facts. This post on Alternet is just loaded
    with personal “talking point” opinions. There isn’t a single “foot note” fact attached to
    any of his assertions. Endorsing the Nationalization, or Govt. controls of energy production is totally opposite to the results of such conditions. Simply look at Venezuela ,
    Russia , Mexico , Nigeria , Ecuador . The State control of these resources in these
    countries has resulted in exactly the tragedies this post claims will happen with private
    ownership –now !! And how did these “private” ever end up with the production that
    now exists if they were such destroyers of these assets? We are a world civilization
    existing and totally dependent on fossil fuels energy’s .This won’t last “forever” . The
    next whatever phase , will come from “private” invention and investment. Government
    has never and will never solve these issues by itself. Your Dad, if I can be so presumptive, might be the perfect example of this thought. He was major factor within
    a “private” Drug Co. (Not a Govt. owned (that even today doesn’t exist) Drug Co.).
    And as for Gov. Christie being a reputable spokes person for ANY cause, one has
    to stretch his logic into the either. As yourself , living in the Red Bank (Manasquan)
    NJ area, one has only to look out the front door to see his “wisdom” at work.. To
    post an essay based upon Christie’s pronouncements or beliefs is at fault in its
    very concept.

    Still love YOUR posts. Can’t agree with some of your “links”. Thanks.

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    • Well, there is a lot to unpack in your paragraph here Bob.

      Let me venture a couple of thoughts as I have just read this (on a work break) and then perhaps say more a bit later.

      First off, I think the point about Christie is that he is going abroad so to speak to covertly promise two governments in our hemisphere a cartel-like control over resources for the alleged purpose of combatting other cartels in other locations. The implication is that he is seeking their support and promising this kind of lucre in return should he be elected.

      I am no Christie fan. I think he is a self-serving arrogant blundering bully and am confident he will never be President.

      As for nationalizing resources. You cannot point to the corrupt governments you listed as any gold standard for protecting and keeping resources in the public and national domain. I lived in South America for awhile and am intimately familiar with the economic/political/social and ideological structure and history of that region. When those countries ‘nationalize’ a resource, it simply means funneling the revenues directly into the pockets of a handful of plutocrats who control those governments. There is no parallel middle class there to keep that from happening. In a sense, that so-called nationalization, is really simply theft, and private theft at that. So I wouldn’t use them as a point of comparison.

      I think the point here, and one I agree with, irrespective of the author citing example or including footnotes — I take this Alternet article as a think piece, not scientific research, but analysis, which is perfectly legitimate as an editorial to alert us to what may be going on, under the guise of so-called ‘national trade agreements’, the North American Alliance, and other pan-governmental agreements that are characterized to us as opening of their markets to our domestic suppliers, when they are really just a way of getting around US laws and protections. These trade agreements are all and always have been economic and political Trojan horses.

      I have no problem with this article. When you find a paradigm that is more explanatory of phenomena than others appear to be, it makes sense to apply it to see if it is predictive. In that way, theorists have a place in our public arena. They give us their analyses to apply to what we see going on around us.

      I agree that we are in the grip of fossil fuels — largely due to a lack of foresight, oversight and insight, by both our populations and our leaders. Naturally, those who profit from this status quo are reluctant to give up the feed bag. And obviously, this will not last forever. The point is, will we stop it in time, will we turn this ship around in time, to avert environmental disaster.

      I am not sure we will, if we are continually lied to about why the disinformation campaign has been levied against the alternative energy industry. It is not because those things don’t work, they do. It is not because they are as costly or more so than what we have now, they are increasingly economical. It is very plausible that the war mongers, the military industrial profiteers do not want to relinquish their control over our treasury, both human and monetary.

      I should hasten to add, summarily, that a significant percentage, if not the preponderance, of scientific research in the US is governmentally funded, not privately. And, it has the added advantage, for the most part, of being unencumbered by desired outcomes.

      More on this once I get my work done, perhaps!

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      • Oh boy Beth. This is “fun”. You deserve the highest compliments and my very personal thanks for indulging. For this response I want to go paragraph by paragraph on each of your topics.

        1. Gov. Christie . The Google search showed that he was parroting this North
        American inter country trade concept. Not very popular by any public barometer.
        Which is to say , like Christie , it’s bogus in many respects. As you’ve noted.
        I just couldn’t understand Alternet assigning it so much significance and using it
        as a basic premise for their article.

        2. Nationalized (Govt. run) natural resource assets (oil specifically). Just look at
        Venezuela !! The people can’t even buy toilet paper or medical drugs as their
        economy collapses under the results of the nationalization of their oil industries
        (and many others) while they own some of the largest (said to be second most)
        oil reserves on the globe. How does this benefit any citizen of Venezuela ? Russia
        suffers from the neglect of the oil field infrastructures resulting in major pollutions
        and under production and loss of benefits to the Nation. There are other examples.
        Aside from “oil”, look at Zimbabwe and the results of the “Govt.” nationalizing
        the total economy of the previous country Rhodesia .

        South / Central America. I spent several years in El Salvador (in the textile/garment industry). I saw this Nation go from a really positive economy (my contractor factories
        were sending employees who wished, to school –at the factory’s expense — so they
        could get a skill that would/could move them up the economic ladder.) to their tragic
        leftist so called “revolution” that smashed their economy and the dreams and hopes
        of those most in need of and invested in their jobs and culture. I had sewing machine
        operators apologize to me personally for the revolution and it’s forcing me to
        abandon the country and my business. They have since “recovered” to a great degree. My next adventure was Peru. Here , once again, I had a very valuable
        business association(s) almost destroyed by their leftist “Shining Path” foolishness.
        This , I was fortunate enough to last through , , and have my (their) business come
        back bigger than ever imagined. I had lesser experiences in Argentina, and Brazil.
        I relate to note that in these countries there was ( in their terms) a significant
        “middle class”. I mean by neighborhood living standards and “expectations” of
        those within. I lived in them. Of course there was glaring poverty. But there was
        during my times there, a real sense that an individual could “move up”. Remember,
        this is a different culture and belief system. It evolves under a different standard.
        But by our “measure” they can and have made great strides..look at Chile and
        Brazil. They are not us, but they are making a better place for themselves when
        oppressive “Governments” are absent.

        3. Alternet . A very logical way that you asses their points of view. I can see your
        point of the “Trojan Horse” aspects. I just wouldn’t assign too many negatives
        based on your observations. These “schemes” are everywhere in the world.
        Look at the European Union. Each signatory signs up calculating they “win”.
        Which means in the end nobody gets what they bargained for. I didn’t see anything
        predictive here. Rather “conclusions” logically arrived at per the authors own
        opinions. Real “stretches” of the imagination on a very negative perspective.

        4. Fossil fuels. Agreed. But you should be a little more/less critical of the
        “transition” that has to take place. Look at BP Petro. They have a very
        dedicated clean energy commitment . Until alternate sources replace the
        current, as you’ve stated, we should work as hard as possible toward this goal.
        But even now, the solar systems etc, etc provide , it has been calculated something
        like 0.06% of the electrical power needs. We’ve a long way to go. Of course,
        planes , trains, and boats will never manage without. I don’t think we’ll be around
        for the “pain” to come.

        5. Govt. funded research. Agreed. “Funds” directed toward “private
        enterprises” whatever their fields. My point being , it’s the individual
        “private” citizen that creates — not the Govt. per se.

        Whew–what a screed on my part. Thanks again.

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        • Bob, thank you. I do think it is good to hash these things out with someone who occupies a different spot on the spectrum, as you and I do.

          Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. We cannot compare our government with those of South America and in fact with most other governments.

          We would be better off thinking about a country like Switzerland or Germany or the Scandinavians. I find it funny that you bring up the former Soviet Union/USSR. It must be what the Right continually trumpets. Why even give these fascists (really, all the governments of South America over the years are really run by fascists calling it one or another “ism”. They are not communists, because nothing belongs to the people). As I said in my previous comment, but apparently not clearly, the governments of South America seize assets and hand them to a few of their corrupt super-rich families. That is nothing like our country. I won’t even discuss Russia. There is simply no valid comparison.

          No one should seize anyone’s assets. You should be concerned as well with eminent domain for the flimsy excuse of a terrible pipeline deal that is simply a giveaway to Canadian plutocrats with the help of more than half of our Congress. It is a disgrace.

          Bob, theft is theft whether in the name of nationalism/government/public entities or private, for-profit enterprise. Trashing the environment for the short-term gain of a few billionaires aided by the congressional toadies is stupid and immoral, imho.

          As for alternative energy? Let me tell you something. My entire neighborhood is filled with mulitmillionaires. On the roof of every mansion here are solar panels. The entire town of Valencia is staunchly tea-party Republican. Apparently these folks are saving a bundle on energy costs. Solar and wind are the future until we can figure out how to turn ocean water into cheap energy.

          Meanwhile, every one of us should be doing everything we can to save the wildlife and the food supply on this planet, STAT, before it is too late.

          As for Christie — the mere mention of him I believe was twofold, a journalistic device to draw in the reader and a symbol of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that our so called public servants are engaged in all the time, while, as you say, we are narc’d with our toys.

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          • Once again, many thanks for your considered reply. Seems we’re pretty much on the same page. My ref. to South America was about Govt. confiscation and the
            obvious results. Assets in private hands –where I was — were the only answer
            to those countries economic well being. I saw it with my own eyes ! There were no
            examples of any “super rich families” being the beneficiaires of previous privately
            owned assets being seized and re-distributed . This is the Russian method, along with Venezuela , and the once paradise of Cuba. The other method would be
            Samoza in Nicaragua where all economic activity passes through his Mercedes Dealership. Now it’s Daniel Ortega with the same racket. Same for Honduras. Note
            how backward they are compared to Costa Rica.next door.

            Solar works. I live in Manasquan and there are a ton of solar roof installations.
            Not just on the “multi millionaire” mansions by the beach. They do “save” and
            are “cheap” to install as the Govt. subsidizes with the convenience of OUR TAX
            dollars. Same for WInd Farms. They “work”, but not at any calculated real economy..
            So as you’ve so properly noted , we’ve a long way to go.

            Like

            • Bob, I don’t buy this evil government idea at all, not when it comes to our government. In South America, ALL the beneficiaries are the rich one way or the other. Our government and those governments have only the name in common. Our legal system is based on Britain, theirs on Rome. I lived there and when you are an American you associate primarily with the rich — I too saw things with my own eyes and I studied it extensively.

              But it doesn’t matter. The only value in bringing up any other government is to simply point out how different and irrelevant it is to ours. It simply doesn’t matter.

              Our tax dollars have to be spent on the collective good. What else is the point of living in a society of civilized people? I want my tax dollars spent investing in the future and solar, for now, is that future, so I am on board with it.

              There is government waste, certainly and it should be eliminated. I don’t believe progressives are a bunch of idealistic wanton hippies seeking to squander hard working people’s dollars. That is what the corporatists want us to think and it is a shibboleth. I am not and never was. What we are is compassionate. I lived in a two class society and it was awful for everyone, including the greedy rich. We need a large, thriving middle class and lots of social mobility.

              If my money is spent in part achieving that, I thank God for it.

              Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day — all must be in perspective! 😀 ❤

              Like

  10. Beth: And a Happy and sincere Valentines Day to you also. Such a kind note on your part. I still have a question about this “South Americas” topic. I lived and worked there
    for decades and I didn’t see any of the examples you note –except Venezuela and Cuba
    to the radically negative results thereof. The “question” , in which country(s) did you spend your time and observe your conclusions ? We agree on most all “basic” premises. However this question remains a real puzzle, relative to my personal experiences . Thanks Bob H

    Like

    • All of them at one point or another and without warning played fast and loose with private property, both real and movable. That is one reason I would never live in any of them. Not Costa Rica, not Mexico, none of them. The history and culture are steeped in a medieval notion of haves and have nots that they never shook from Europe. The original settlers of that region were all landed men from their home countries, mainly Spain and Portugal — not working class Puritan families that settled New England. In fact, South America is far closer to our Deep South and so you see the entrenched poverty and Hatfields/McCoy mentality in both.

      So-called capitalism really works in only a very few places and none of them are south of the border.

      Shoot me an email and I will tell you where I lived/worked. I don’t want to offend the very kind people of those countries that I met who helped educate me on what it is like to get out of our American bubble and actually see the world the way the rest of the planet does.

      Like

  11. Your overview of their “culture” is spot on. Way above my casual knowledge. I sort of
    just believe what I see and live through . I “don’t know how” to send you an email.
    That is I can’t find your email address. So easily solved, my email hbobh34@aol.com.
    Send me a note and we can go from there.. FIY — my last 30+ years have found me
    at Bridge ave. Bay Head . Brielle ave. Manasquan , and currently Old Tavern rd, Farmingdale . My Wife chased us out of Manasquan so she could do her “Master Gardner” thing . So we very luckily found a couple of acres bordering the Manasquan
    River by Allaire State Park and down stream from the Manasquan reservoir . All
    restricted “green” areas ( 6 acre zoning) AND next to a 3,000 acre mt. bike park
    which gives us joy beyond description. So we have real “country” 10 miles from
    the Ocean at any number of beaches. And about 20 mins. south of Red Bank and
    environs. I worked out of NYC with the luxury of a one bedroom on E 61st, to relieve
    the “commute” hassle. I’ve provided all this in an assumed anticipation that you
    might ask. Looking forward to your email .

    Like

    • Almost all of New Jersey away from the Newark/Port of NY area is beautiful. Never been to Manasquan — sounds great. My email address is on my About page, but thanks for yours.

      Like

  12. You are so deep and you would fit into my family so well, Beth! My brothers, father and mother taught me how to debate without fighting. Although, they also supported ‘fighting’ for just causes. The truth shall set us free.
    I liked that my Dad worked as a nuclear scientist but still believed in God and all the trappings. He was raised poor, worked from age 11 and got to where he was through his perseverance. I feel his college years, he became close in a fully appropriate way, to an Episcopalian priest. He would say about Evolution, why cannot the six days of creating the world, could you not think of them as time periods. When it came to our finite world, he would exasperatingly argue, “Exactly how BIG is your God?” His God encompassed galaxies and all the different aspects of science, too.
    I grew up with my Mom’s sister, my only Aunt, who married a teacher of Science. His God made him take a black marker and cross out large sections of his high school science textbooks. It frustrated my Dad, but it was my Mom’s relative, so he acted respectful. I am not sure why we are still ‘back pedaling’ when we had fine scientists and researchers from over a hundred years’ ago produce lots of ‘proof’ for so many areas of science.
    I got ‘stuck’ on this aspect of your post, which was very well rounded and fairly presented. Sorry about my apparent ‘rant’ and glad you presented this lovely conversation opener, Beth!

    Like

    • Thank you Robin and forgive this late response. This whole area is one that arises again and again. We are watching this planet be destroyed recklessly by selfish people who have no interest in the treasure with which we have been entrusted. Then they justify it by invoking religions or trying to cast doubt on proven science. I will have my final post on this, on Saturday. I am with your Dad! I see no contradictions and I do not take Genesis literally. 😀 You are kind to consider all this and be so supportive, Robin!

      Like

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