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Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

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Where you come from

I am sure you will want to know this. Violent cosmic events have produced the material for your flesh and bones. In the future we will have graphs showing what dark energy is (if it exists) and what black holes produce (if anything, besides gravity waves).

For myself I do not think that any currently accepted view of the universe – Big Bang, cosmic inflation, dark matter, dark energy, string theory – will survive the next century intact. I say this not because I have doubts or special insights about the contemporary theoretical picture, but because we have gone through several revolutions of cosmology since the 1400s, and we will go through more.

 

The dominance of materialism

The shortest definition of materialism is that it holds that everything in the universe is matter and its motions. Hence for materialists, the “hard problem” is to explain the existence of consciousness. Whereas,for what are called “idealists”, the hard problem is the existence of matter. Does it have existence independently of mind? Then there are those who think that mind and matter both exist, independently of one another.

Here is an anecdote about the philosopher-scientist Rupert Sheldrake:

“The British scientist Rupert Sheldrake told me about a talk he gave to a group of scientists who were working on animal behaviour at a prestigious British University. He was talking about his research on dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and other telepathic phenomena in domestic animals. The talk was received with a kind of polite silence. But in the following tea break all six of the senior scientists who were present at the seminar came to him one by one, and when they were sure that no one else was listening told him they had had experiences of this kind with their own animals, or that they were convinced that telepathy is a real phenomenon, but that they could not talk to their colleagues about this because they were all so straight. When Sheldrake realised that all six had told him much the same thing, he said to them, “Why don’t you guys come out? You’d all have so much more fun!” He says that when he gives a talk at a scientific institution there are nearly always scientists who approach him afterwards telling him they’ve had personal experiences that convince them of the reality of psychic or spiritual phenomena but that they can’t discuss them with their colleagues for fear of being thought weird.”

And here, in a nutshell, is the great Sheldrake explaining why science is so badly constipated by materialist assumptions. Science as a world view has come to constrict the process of open-minded inquiry, which is what science ought to be. Science is a process, not a wholly-owned subsidiary of dogmatic materialism.

For a better explanation of Sheldrake’s views, see his book The Science Delusion.

Rupert Sheldrake is brilliant

Rupert Sheldrake is the British biologist who has been taking a stick to the materialist assumptions of modern science. He does so because he thinks we have conflated materialism with science – the former being a doctrine about whatever could be real with a method of inquiry for determining fact.

His point is that science is blocked because it has been in the grip of materialist doctrines, of the kind that the High Priest of materialism, the Selfish Gene theorist, Richard Dawkins, relentlessly promotes. Sheldrake holds that the universe is not limited to material forces and that it is radically evolutionary.

I have corresponded with Sheldrake on occasion, read his books, and am convinced that he is correct. Regardless, Sheldrake has maintained his composure and conducted himself with civility while being constantly savaged by zealots of materialism. It is one of his amazing strengths.

Sheldrake will not persuade materialists that a) they have a doctrine and b) that it is limiting their science. They would assert that their doctrine is in fact reality and their science is impeccable, because materialist. Speaking of intellectual phase locking.

Sheldrake’s website is here.

The joys of not paying attention

The recent media kerfuffle about some boys from Covington high school and their supposedly awful attacks on some poor old Indian have turned around into a media catastrophe. The leftist press got everything wrong – no surprise – but was apprehended in the act, and had to back off. The entire incident will be forgotten in a week. I present this as an important reason why I try not to participate in the blogging of outrage.

In the time the entire event arose, spread, was refuted, and collapsed, I had to go to hospital for a cardiac procedure. (I am well thank you). The slight risk of actual death has a wonderfully concentrating effect on the mind. I turned to youtube videos about saw mills and cabin building. They are my way of engaging in escapist literature.

More than this, they concentrate me into practical efforts that bring exercise, accomplishment, and deep satisfaction in their wake.

The net tendency of Internet participation is to be constantly aggravated. If you are like me, it will be offended by the leftist assault on reason, history, religion, males, the white race, Christianity and morality. If you are anti-Trump, then everything happening these days will be offensive to you sensibilities. The best way to regain your poise and equanimity is to stop paying attention to the shadow play of politics.

Hokum and voodoo

I realize this is not what a political blog ought to say. Yet I am more concerned with my own health and sanity than I am with Trump, Trudeau or any of the dozens of points of concern, such as Brexit, Venezuala, or building pipelines in Canada. We have to remember that the reasons why we are conservatives is that most of life lies beyond and outside of politics, and it is to those wells that we go to draw our spiritual water.

A non-hysterical view of global warming

I sift through lots of global warming stuff pro and con. I think this guy comes closest to my current position. Geologists, in my opinion, are much more cognizant of the long record of the planet, and way less hysterical than the “climate” scientists. Still, his view of rising oceans within the next century is alarming enough. Britt’s view is that we have stopped the Milankovich cycle in its tracks and that we are not heading into an ice age, as we ought to be by this time, but are heading to significantly greater warmth.

As he points out, the biggest friend of a colder earth was Mao Tse-tung, who kept China in poverty. And that, my friends, is the only way I know to prevent further global warming.

Whatever your reaction to Dan Britt’s science, I find his presentation to be cheerful and gloomy at the same time. Geologists are like that, because the planet has gone through so much more change than most people are aware of.

 

 

Chinese geneticist claims to have gene-edited babies

 

Amidst the usual moral posturing and condemnation, it appears that somewhere in China some scientist – who is a graduate of top US universities – engaged in “washing” the sperm of some HIV infected fathers in order to spare their children HIV infection. The Guardian reports, through a lot of huffing and puffing, the following:

The researcher, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting so far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have: an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV.

He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they lived or where the work was done. There is no independent confirmation of He’s claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts.

He revealed it on Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organisers of an international conference on gene editing that is due to begin on Tuesday, and earlier in interviews with the Associated Press.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” He said. “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or forbidding such science….

He Jiankui studied at Rice and Stanford universities in the US before returning to his homeland to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, where he also has two genetics companies.

He said he practised editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab for several years and has applied for patents on his methods. He said he chose embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a major problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV, the virus that causes Aids, to enter a cell.

All of the men in the project had HIV and all of the women did not, but the gene editing was not aimed at preventing the small risk of transmission, he said. The fathers had their infections deeply suppressed by standard HIV medicines and there are simple ways to keep them from infecting offspring that do not involve altering genes. Instead, the appeal was to offer couples affected by HIV a chance to have a child that might be protected from a similar fate.

He said the gene editing occurred during in vitro fertilisation. First, sperm was “washed” to separate it from semen, in which HIV can lurk. A single sperm was placed into a single egg to create an embryo. Then the gene-editing tool was added. When the embryos were three to five days old, a few cells were removed and checked for editing. Couples could choose whether to use edited or unedited embryos for pregnancy attempts. In all, 16 of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos were used in six implant attempts before the twin pregnancy was achieved, He said.

Tests suggest that one twin had both copies of the intended gene altered and the other twin had just one altered, with no immediate evidence of harm to other genes, He said. People with one copy of the gene can still get HIV.

Musunuru said that even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes faced higher risks of contracting certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from flu. Since there are many ways to prevent HIV infection and it is treatable if it occurs, those other medical risks are a concern.

Thus, sexual selection, and disease, which is the normal way humans and all sexual species have been gene-edited, body by body, phenotype by phenotype, for the last billions of years, that is okay. But getting into the molecular level  and splicing and cutting genes is bad. Go figure.

I can hear the Christians calling me a Dr. Mengele, that the genome is sacred, and I hear that that the bioethicists have “concerns”. [Can you imagine that some people are paid to be “bio-ethicists”?]

I can hear the sound of the Asians flocking to new technologies to make their babies smarter, healthier, more disease resistant, and stronger.

New forms of competition will come to the human species, and it will be genetic, though the practices associated with gene-editing will be tolerated or encouraged by certain races and cultures ahead of some others. Attitudes against gene editing will soon be seen as the equivalent of not allowing the pasteurization of milk. Nothing  can be done to oppose it, except voluntary non-participation. Those cultures or religions that do not participate will eventually be considered to be like those sects that do not allow blood transfusions.

We in the politically correct West will be talking about the non-existence or social construction of racial differences, which simultaneously exists and does not exist, depending on the argument being engaged in. Meanwhile, other cultures or races will be busily experimenting with genetic engineering.

Doom: The Complete Version

 

It is all the fault of fluctuations in CO2. So says Peter Brannen in “The Ends of the World”. This is a terrific book even if you disagree with it, as I do, on no grounds I can think of except that he is a doomist.

Every few scores of millions of years, there have been massive exterminations of species. Brannen relates the best recent evidence for how these extinction events came about. There have been five of them, at least. Usually the underworld opens up and continents of lava spew forth, killing everything in their continent-sized lava flows, and what is not killed directly is then wiped out by ocean acidification (CO2 again). Or so much CO2 is belched out of the ground by volcanism that the planet gets too hot, such as 40C seas at the equator, which is hot-tub hot.

Obviously Brannen thinks that all of current human civilization is pumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere with such abrupt speed that nature has no chance of adapting to it.

It is not hard to find a paragraph that supports his contention.

As a result of this innovation [coal burning], human civilization is now propped up by a continuous explosion f energy, a global megametabolism, with hundreds of millions of years worth of sunlight being released all at once in combustion engines and power plants. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of this new civilizational metabolism, and we now emit 100 times more CO2 each years than volcanoes. This far outstrips the  ability of the earth’s thermostat to keep up with rock weathering and ocean circulation, operating as those processes do on 1,000- to 100,000 year timescales. (at p. 236)

Nitrogen-fixing from the air, which is the technology that gives rise to artificial fertilizers, is also to blame for runoffs that take the oxygen out of seawater.

And it goes on. We are rapidly wrecking large parts of the planet, and he gives the reasons why this is so.

I must confess that Brannen makes my skepticism about the doomist view more difficult to maintain. However, he is well worth the effort, first because his science is good, second because he points out the enormous spans of time this planet has been around –  spans so large that the earth  has in effect been several different planets in the course of time – and third, because I think that every global warming/doomist skeptic needs to know the full argument, not just the IPCC version. Brannen has been hanging around with real scientists, not with atmospheric trend projectors and data falsifiers, such as NOAA and HadCrut and the IPCC pseudo-scientific international bureaucrats.

In my view, doomism is justified if we cannot get human population to shrink. There are several ways that the human race will make less impact on the planet in the next few hundred years.

Population reduction through lifestyle changes are already well underway. Everywhere women can guarantee that their children survive, they stop producing more than two children. See Hans Rosling on this issue.

The other traditional method is war, famine, pestilence and death. That is what will happen if we fail, and maybe it will happen anyway. If the world starts to go to hell through ecological disasters, war will inevitably follow, and with it the usual population correctives.

We could reduce population peacefully by conscious choices and end up in prosperity for the remaining few billions who will be found at the end of this process. We could reduce it by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and end up in a low productivity, high birthrate world, such as we began to get out of on the 18th century.

Maybe we are like bacteria on a Petri dish, and our numbers will expand until we die off catastrophically, as we exhaust our resources. That was the view of the biologist Lynn Margulis.

This question was also ably examined, in a more balanced way, by Charles C. Mann in his The Wizard and the Prophet. But Mann’s book, while more balanced than Brannen’s, deals with two scientists with two points of view, doomist and meliorist, whereas Brannen coneys a vast amount of information about how hellish the earth has been in the Great Extinctions that have ravaged the earth over time.

The disturbing aspect of Brannen’s argument is that, in his view, humans are acting as the unconscious agents of destruction. I do not see any happy outcome, but I hope I am spectacularly wrong.

 

 

 

Susan Ray’s kitchen, Nantucket, 1875 and Bill Gates

Occasionally a picture is worth a thousand words. This painting would have been made sometime in the latter half of the 19th century, around 1875, on Nantucket, a prosperous whaling island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts,

You will note the absence of everything that makes a modern kitchen convenient. Start with the absence of pipes and of cold (not hot) running water. No sink. No wood stove, only an open fire. Mrs. Ray emerges from a larder in which  food is stored.

No electricity: and thus no dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or lights. Scarcely a counter-top on which to cut and prepare a meal. In case you wonder about what is hidden at the other end of the kitchen, the painter did the other end too. You can see a sideboard, a small table, a mirror, a sconce for a candle, and the fireplace. Not even a wood stove!

These were prosperous people of the time. Not rich, but not suffering either. Note the fine piece of furniture below the mirror. Note the wide (16-18  inches?) sawn planks of old growth pine and the lack of water stains on the whitewashed ceiling. They lived in a comfortable house, by the standards of the time.

All this is a world before fossil fuels or electricity. Doubtless it had a very low carbon footprint.

When I read about carbon taxes, and rich magnates like Bill Gates saying we have to get carbon neutral by some date in the near future, I ask myself, do these fools understand what it was like to prepare a meal in Susan Ray’s kitchen?

Says Bill Gates:

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years—and as the IPCC recently found, we need to be on a path to doing it in the next 10 years. That means dealing with electricity, and the other 75% too.

50 years is nearly twenty years less than what I have lived already. Two hundred years would be a more reasonable time horizon.

Read him, he exemplifies a kind of insane rationality that fails to understand that the world cannot get to carbon neutrality at any price we can afford, political or economic, in fifty or a hundred years, if ever. Insanity is not the absence of rationality, but the excess of it. Just think of Susan Ray’s kitchen when you think of a low carbon footprint, but  you should take out the fireplace and replace it with a wood stove, if the authorities will permit it. That is a low-carbon footprint kitchen. Why is it so difficult for the intelligent of our time to understand that they have embarked upon a course of folly and destruction?

Global warming catastrophism is a disease of the intelligent, like Communism in the 1930s.

_____________________

Wikipedia relates

Eastman Johnson, (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906) painted “Susan Ray’s kitchen”. Hewas an American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters, whom he studied in The Hague in the 1850s; he was known as The American Rembrandt in his day.

Ideological deviation at CERN

These are the power point slides that got Alessandro Frumia fired from CERN yesterday.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c_NyUhOZ8erdqU2AGZJZtNfFeA91Kefj/view

Naturally, he was fired from CERN that very day. CERN explains as follows:

CERN is a culturally diverse organisation bringing together people of many different nationalities. It is a place where everyone is welcome, and all have the same opportunities, regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation. Indeed, diversity is one of the core values underpinning our Code of Conduct and the Organization is fully committed to promoting diversity and equality at all levels.

CERN always strives to carry out its scientific mission in a peaceful and inclusive environment.

CERN considers the presentation delivered by an invited scientist during a workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender as highly offensive. It has therefore decided to remove the slides from the online repository, in line with a Code of Conduct that does not tolerate personal attacks and insults.

The organisers from CERN and several collaborating universities were not aware of the content of the talk prior to the workshop. CERN supports the many members of the community that have expressed their indignation for the unacceptable statements contained in the presentation.

CERN is a culturally diverse organisation bringing together people of many different nationalities. It is a place where everyone is welcome, and all have the same opportunities, regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation.

How can you be welcome, regardless of beliefs, and be fired for views that amount to beliefs? Easy. They just have to attack the idea that women are held back in physics because of some male conspiracy.

Different outcomes can only be explained by sexism and racism, never by differences in aptitudes, propensities and drives.

Question diversity.