Pondering The Imponderable

I was at a comedy club a few weeks back.

A very angry – and not especially funny, while we’re on the subject – woman who, I kid you not, identified herself as having been a political science major, told a joke (I’ll be generous) about “science”.  She ended with something like “That’s called ‘science’.  Take that, creationists!”

But it started me thinking about the contempt that the left feels for creationists. 

Now, I’m not one of them – if you read the biblical creation story as allegory, there is no conflict between the Bible and the record that is captured in the physical science of the world around us. 

And I wanted to stand up and ask the “comedian” something.

“So if we have to choose between…

Someone who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, and lives their life accordingly – whatever that means?  A belief for which there may be little empirical basis, and even less empirical impact outside the faith community?  Or…

Someone who believes that:

  • raising taxes during a recession helps the economy,
  • banning firearms for the law-abiding lowers violent crime
  • jacking up regulation on market economies will stop the climate from changing like it’s been doing for between 6,000 and 20,000,000,000 years
  • Unionizing daycare providers will alleviate the scarcity of daycare
  • Raising the minimum wage will alleviate poverty
  • Pouring a bottomless bucket of money into Public Education will ever give us a better-educated populace
  • Mandating increased healthcare services without increasing the supply of caregivers won’t raise the price of healthcare
  • “Racism” is harming black Americans more than the Public Education system, a toxic “urban culture”, fatherless families and voting for Democrats who want to keep them that way are
  • Giving terrorists a “save the date” card for leaving one of their homelands isn’t going to result in an epic surge of bloodshed
  • “Anti-Poverty” programs have alleviated poverty over the past fifty years
  • Barack Obama deserved that Nobel Peace Prize,

…which does more actual harm to the world?”

It wouldn’t have made a great “heckle”, unfortunately.

22 thoughts on “Pondering The Imponderable

  1. Increasingly, I’ve found it’s difficult to make the case I’m a fiscal conservative without having to fend off accusations that I’m a Creationist Bible humper. When confronted with irrefutable logic, many people retreat to reductio ad absurdum.

    They also occasionally take things offline on Facebook and threaten you directly, necessitating a copy & paste of the IM convo just in case they actually act on said threat.

  2. My wife dragged me to see a comic whose entire act consisted of insulting the fat guy down front. I got sick of it and wanted to heckle him but was afraid he’d ask “You wanna do this show?” and I’d be forced to reply “No thanks, I don’t have any good material either.”

  3. David Berlinski (an atheist, I believe) once said that if you see a museum exhibition of a fossil eohippus next to the skeleton of a modern horse, the most unnatural, man-made things you notice are the arrangement of the specimens next to each other and the sign explaining that the eohippus became the modern horse.

  4. Yoss, that’s not reductio ad absurdem, but rather argumentum ad hominum (and a lie to boot).

  5. Something that always amuses me is someone who’s completely ignorant in the scientific method appealing to “science!” as the answer to the question.

    Pardon me while I go on a physics rant, but the idea that we “know” beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe is more than 6000 years old is nonsense. If we make the right sort of assumptions about the physics involved (which we know are wrong, since we really can’t explain why the universe is made up of matter rather than equal parts matter and anti-matter), and if we extrapolate conditions as we know them now, and if we extrapolate very small scale particle collider experiments to universe-sized reality, and if we assume that physical constants never changed just because we haven’t seen them change much in the last 200 years, then we can get a theory that works to explain a billions-of-years old universe if we accept that 90% of the universe is made up of stuff we can’t see, can’t directly measure, and has properties we can’t explain. *sheesh* Who’s really grasping at straws in that situation? (Yes, you can see that I view Dark Matter and Dark Energy as nothing more than scientific hack on the scale of the aether. There’s something going on there, but it’s more likely than not to be something we don’t currently understand than our current explanation.)

  6. I just finished reading a pair essays on the influence of the sun on global and regional climate. They were written for scientists by scientists, and because they weren’t discussing human influence on global warming, they were actually informative. The authors discussed the unreliability or outright weirdness of what we see in paleoclimatology (major ice ages seem only to have occurred in the pleistocene, no one knows why). Separating global from regional climate effects by studying fossil beds and sedimentary layers is extremely difficult. Paleoclimatology is a fairly new science and its findings are very much in flux. I found the discussion of the ‘global cooling’ meme of the middle to the end of the 20th century wasn’t just a few headlines in the popular press, at the time it was considered state-of-knowledge climatology. The scientists that pushed the idea were very certain that they had, for the first time, used paleoclimatology to predict the future climate of the Earth.
    The articles are here:

  7. We can’t even determine with certainty whether Shrodinger’s cat is dead or alive, yet we can predict AGM. Science that!

  8. Something that always amuses me is someone who’s completely ignorant in the scientific method appealing to “science!” as the answer to the question

    There is a particular pseudo-political activist/amateur magic-thinker who on the one hand declares himself a Neil DeGrasse-Tyson fan and afficionado of science…

    …who on the other hand says “logic is a straitjacket”.

    Which one is it?

  9. Oh, and when in doubt, create mythical particles wtih catchy names that fit/explain your hypothesis in hope that soemtime, somewhere, someone much smarter than you will find them.

  10. mythical particles wtih catchy names

    To be fair, creating a hypothesis is part of the scientific method.

    Then, of course, testing it, and tossing it if the hypothesis fails.

    But most of us know that.

  11. You can’t go back to the pre-industrial age economy and see if the global temperature drops.
    But you can create models and see if they match data from geologic and fossil records. This is why the reliability of paleoclimatology is so important.
    A lot of the current climate hysteria is dependent on the Earth’s climate being more sensitive to CO2 than it has been in the past. You can’t go back X million years, determine the level of atmospheric CO2 from fossils, and say ‘global temps back then must have been Y!” because the values weren’t tightly coupled back then. But they are now. Or will be in the future. Or so we are supposed to believe.

  12. Geologists tell us limestone and sandstone are sedimentary rocks, formed at the bottom of lakes, in which case Minnesota/North/South Dakota was one huge-a** lake for a very long time. And paleontologists say dinosaurs were cold blooded lizards who lived on the edges of that lake eating ferns as shown by the fern fossils and dinosaur bones in the Hell Creek dinosaur graveyard at the intersection of Montana, North and South Dakota.

    If the climate in dinosaur days had been as it is today, the ferns would have died, the lake would have frozen, the dinosaurs wiped out in the first winter. So plainly, the climate was much warmer year-round in those days. We’d need to experience a significant and sustained period of rising temperatures to get back to normal.

    Global Warming: Return to Normality.

  13. Except for that Earth is cooling thing. It is amazing anyone with half a brain can suggest that any one variable is responsible for a trend in a multi-variable system, where some of these variables have much, much stronger casuation effects than the variable these half wits pull out of their asses. But then nobody ever said liberat AGW morons had a functioning, logical brain – EmeryTheUSAHater and Rick+/-DFL are case in point.

  14. Ever hear of “snowball earth”? Some rock samples from 500M – 1000M years ago (before complex life forms) show signs of glaciation at sea level near the equator. It doesn’t seem possible, even the paleoclimatologists find it difficult to believe.
    Alternate theories proposed by serious paleoclimatologists and geophysicists include:
    -The Earth’s orbital tilt has changed since then (think of the torque that would require!)
    -For some reason the Earth had orbiting ice rings back then and occasionally they would collapse, covering the equatorial region with ice.

  15. I’m pretty sure you could generate that much torque if you dumped some red matter in a dilithium chamber and focused the output through a deflecter array aimed at the upper atmosphere. True, it would kill all the dinosaurs and cause enormous flooding. But if a guy had time to prepare, maybe build a really big boat . . .

  16. (think of the torque that would require!)

    Celestial object? Say the size of the Gulf of Mexico?

  17. JPA wrote:
    “Celestial object? Say the size of the Gulf of Mexico?”
    Timing is wrong. “Snowball Earth” was before the breakup of supercontinent Pangaea. Anything big enough to hit us that hard would have left other evidence that we can’t find.
    A weaker torque applied over eons would do the trick. There are a lot of mysteries out there . . . Earth has an rotation period of about 24 hrs. Mars is about the same size as Earth and is near the Earth and formed in the same era out of the same materials, and its rotation period is about the same as Earth’s. Its axial tilt is about the same as the Earth’s. Venus is even closer to the size of the Earth, formed in the same era as the Earth, made out of the same stuff, but its axial tilt is about 0 deg. and it rotates around its axis in 243 days, in the opposite direction than the Earth and Mars. What’s more, the surface of Venus — all of it — is about 700M years old. Current speculation is that it got whacked by something big 700M years ago, coincidentally close to the time of Snowball Earth.

  18. Current speculation is that it got whacked by something big 700M years ago, coincidentally close to the time of Snowball Earth.

    Hmm. Would prolonged battering by resulting debris do the trick, a la A weaker torque applied over eons would do the trick?

  19. Your guess is as good as anyone else’s JPA. Science is like peering through a fog. More data makes the fog thinner, but when the fog is thick you see shapes and movements that are produced more by your preconceptions than by evidence. Science is never settled, what people mean when they use the term ‘settled science’ is that the answer is the best they have given the current state of knowledge. A century ago it was settled science that the continental plates don’t move. This was because they didn’t know about convection currents in the Earth’s mantle.

  20. Pingback: To Be Fair | Shot in the Dark

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