Warped Sustainability

One of the great deceptions of modern times is that humans have only recently become consumerists. This myth/prevarication is propagated by the fanatic environmentalist faction.

Which is not to say they don’t have a good point but they rather ignore why there is a problem and that is overpopulation. It isn’t completely clear how many people we need for humans to continue but it’s between a million and a billion so there’s lots of room for downsizing.

But the string I want to oscillate here is about humans as consumers.

Humans have always been consumers. Back when we (our predecessors) were still in the trees, we consumed fruit of the trees and probably an occasional tree rat or dinosaur descendant. Once we climbed down and embraced the risk of bipedalism, we got busy consuming. Albeit mostly “road kill.”

Once we invented technology we got into big time because we had to be Hunter-Gatherers. Because we were consumers. We’d eat an area of a couple of hours walk radius around our temporary camp down and have to march on to a new area. After the population grew enough we had to develop circuits and territories so we didn’t have to kill (and eat) other bands’ members.

Those movements were the type of consumerism we have now. When we stopped we could make shelters, sleeping and cooking rigs, and tools. But when we moved to the next stop we had to leave behind every thing we couldn’t carry and keep up. And that burden had to include toting children too small to walk themselves. This is part of why we have “marriage.” It’s so the men can carry the women’s stuff while they carry bairns.

Just like consumerism today. 

Of course, at some point sedentaryism set in followed quickly by either starvation or the development of agriculture with all its evils. And that may have been the only time – and it’s a big MAY – we’ve worried about sustainment and conservation seriously.

And I sorta doubt that based on some of the evidence.

So sustainability is a valid concern but horribly mangled in presentation.

Outreach Rot

Five day. Muggish, mostly from precipitation, I suspect. Not quite refreshing as I walked in the park. 

I was considering an article [Link] entitled “Science communication training should be about more than just how to transmit knowledge.” This is enough – almost – to damn the whole article.

Science isn’t primarily about training; it’s about education. Or should be. And I get concerned when some derriere-hat talks about scientists as if they were some slightly better schooled handy man (or woman.) This is probably understandable since the author are advertising academics. My guess is that they know less about science than most five year old Nerds. 

I was particularly taken by this:

“But times change. Leaders in the scientific community are increasingly calling on their scientist colleagues to meaningfully engage with their fellow citizens. The hope is that such interactions can improve the science-society relationship at a time when we are confronting a growing list of high-stakes, high-controversy issues including climate change, synthetic biology and epigenetics.

The gauntlet has been issued, but can scientists meet it?”

It seems to illustrate the bad think. Science doesn’t have leaders. It has scientists. Appeal to authority is wrong. Everything has to be testable, at least eventually. 

Engagement does not mean pandering, which seems to be what these snake oil salesmen are proposing. Engagement is a form of communication and that means some effort and adaptation on both sides. And how do we measure meaningful? Sounds like advertising hype to me. Let us not forget that every advertisement contains AT LEAST one inaccuracy (lie, if you will.) 

From what I can see, the gauntlet metaphor is part of that inaccuracy. It implies a duel, at least to anyone who has any knowledge of medieval history. (I shan’t go beyond that inference.) The outreach thing is largely self-inflicted by academics who are trying to sell something. I am not sure it is science. I suspect it is funding for academic scientists. But that’s another blot.

But overall, this is rubbish of the rotting organic type.

Exactly like almost all advertisements. 

The academics would be better served paying attention to Chad Orzel than these panacea purveyors.


The Domain of Imaginity

One Day! Air temperature almost 50 degF so balmy for March in Alibam. Gym sparse and only one weight bouncer. The podcast was a bit disconnected since it dealt with the future and zero marginal cost/ The latter caused the disconnect.

I made myself study economics and finance years ago when I had to learn to live with Yankee government accountants. And I found out zero marginal cost wasn’t even a holy grail. It was pure fiction. Why? Mostly because no one accounts for the true cost of anything.

What does a tree cost? No not what the lumber yard says, what it costs to harvest the tree, prepare it, AND grow a replacement tree. And what is the money value of that latency?

So zero marginal cost is more about fiction than fact. So the podcast failed at its introduction.

My attention wandered a bit until I saw a commercial on the monitor. I forget what the commercial was advertising; I tend to tune that out. But what gathered my attention was a subtitled claim that the people endorsing were “Real people. Not actors.”

I didn’t dwell but passingly on the crux that I have no basis to trust this assertion since I can neither test nor verify the claim. Instead I became fixated on what are “real people”? Is this a mathematical statement. Real as opposed to imaginary? And are humans actually real? Can’t the soul be thought of as mathematically imaginary, contributing to the magnitude but only creeping into reality when it interacts with another imaginary thing?

Humans are resultants of the Big Bang and Evolution. So shouldn’t “real” refer to our natural aspect? And if so, are we not immediately not-real as soon as we interact with other humans to distance ourselves from natural reality? So the only humans who are real are those who live alone, never interact with other humans, and only interact with nature. Does making a hand ax or a fire hardened stick make us unreal?

We can conceive of two realities: natural reality that we evolved in; and imaginary (?) reality that is society and civilization and such. But since we are the product of reproductive congress between two other humans, at least after we became homo sap, then we have always had an imaginary component. So how can any human be really “real”?

Then it occurred that almost all of us are inverted. We have long since gotten to the point where reality – Nature – is imaginary almost all the time and imaginity – Society – is “real” almost all the time. (It seems I have gone and invented another word.) So when the commercial says “real people” does it mean those who exist only in a social context?

And what of the statement “not actors”? Are we not all “acting” when we are interacting socially?

At least I can confirm this commercial upholds the thesis that all advertisement have a false component.

Silent Lies

Mundane day. One day. Back to gym. Air temperature moderate. Crowd low. Podcast episode horrible. EXTRO gushing and gooing. And sadly the whole thing was presented in a good spirit but alienated utterly along the INTRO axis. The only good thing I can say was that it was part one of two and I deleted buth parts after hearing the first.

But I did have desperate attention to be diverted and I watched some video on the electromagnetic audio-video displays of politicians making statements/speeches. The audio is transmitted over an FM channel so that there is only the cacophany of weight bouncer swearing and educationalist outdoor voice conversations. Almost no one has an FM receiver and a primary source of amusement and exasperation are the closed caption feeds that are one continuous stream of errors and failures.

Anyway what I noticed was that absent the noise different politicians projected different things. A scant few, essentially the ones not running for office, projected sincerity and accuracy. A few projected blatant prevarication, most notably relatives of former POTUSes (POTUSi?) Most projected prevarication intermixed with excessive nonsense and blather. 

This didn’t divert me entirely from the bleeding EXTRO podcast but it did make me wonder if it was time to move to Canadia. And whether I could keep my breakfast down after the experience.

Off now to determine the latter.

Expert Lie

Fifth day, the day of Freya. Why so many days named after Norse imaginaries? Is it because the days really get wonky that close to the poles? 

Anyway, off to the park for a constitutional. Managed the requisite number of laps but still at a reduced speed (same distance – obviously! – but more time.) Can’t say much about the podcast. Except diverting from most of the discomfort. But that let me cogitate on the meat of the matter today.

As I have stressed repeatedly, nerds think differently than the whelming ( stifling? nauseating?) bogs. Geeks also but to a lesser extent. One aspect of this is to view all advertisements (commercials) as implicitly prevaricative. Said and said, but I want to mumble on a related matter today.

I recently read Harry Collins’ “Are we all scientific experts now?’ It was recommended by one of my nerd STEM periodicals and since I have been arguing with some colleagues who have become infected with politician’s disorder lately I wanted to expand my landscape.

Collins is an English (British?) sociologist and what he espouses is a taxonomy (four states) of expertness. The book is written for a bog audience so there are no real details or references, just a list of relevant (?) sources at the end. I won’t elaborate the taxonomy because it is a worthwhile book if not taken too seriously. It falls into the category I call meta-physics, which means not physics but might be if a physicist had done it and had insights. No maths, not even stats.

Put simply, the nerd (STEM?) view of experts is the same as advertisements. If someone tells me X is an expert that statement is immediately labeled as a prevarication and the scam is immediately sought. The idea of expert is most strongly espoused these days in two circles: legal and advertising. The latter is obvious; the former is a scam. The idea is that an officer of the court (in violation of his/her oath of honesty and integrity) deploys an “expert” to influence the jury (at least in common law environments.) The credentials of this expert are entirely legalistic and antithetic to STEM and nerdery. A nerd is not an expert; they either know or know not, to paraphrase Yoda. And passing them off is a falseness.

That’s the nerd view of experts.

Enough for today.