Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Fire. For most of us sitting by a pile of burning logs, brings comfort. A feeling of safety and security which is no doubt a product of our evolution. For centuries it was one of the tools that allowed to survive and fight back the myriad things that wanted to kill us, whether it was predators or unseen demons that would be cast out by scorching the flesh of the animals we hunted and killed. Of course we know today that these weren't demons but organisms that were just trying to survive themselves through the process of their evolution. And considering our current course, the comfort of a campfire, may be one of the few things we can afford ourselves in the near future, if humanity continues its course.

Earth. It's easy for us to overlook a simple fact when it comes to our planet. We're so busy dealing with our own problems that we forget to look beyond our homes, our neighbourhoods and the lines in the sand that were drawn due to the will of kings and conquerors. The fact that escapes us is that this is the only colony the human race currently has in the entirety of the Universe. And, considering this fact, it's understood that if anything happens to the Earth itself, no amount of comforts, like fire, will be able to save us from our own annihilation.

Our current comforts have been afforded thanks to our ingenuity through the scientific method and establishing quantifiable truths. These truths however are oddly denied when they are in conflict with our pursuit of the same comforts. This line of thinking needs to end if we are to move any further as a race and survive as a colony that hopes to reach the stars.

Water. It's the lifeblood of all life on the planet and without it, life as we know it ceases to be. When I was in grade school, the population of the Earth was around 4 billion. Within my lifetime, that population has almost doubled. As a result, freshwater sources have been taxed to the point where we're now seeing shortages in the various aquifers we rely on in order to survive. 80% of this is locked away in glaciers and ice that, thanks to climate change, are disappearing into the oceans. Making salt water from our oceans drinkable also poses a problem. Desalinisation is a costly process both in respect to energy requirements, cost and impact to aquatic life. No water, no food, no food, no US.

Air. The Earth's air supply is a self contained wonder. We estimate that at least 50% of the Earth's oxygen is supplied via our oceans, and more precisely due to phytoplankton. Currently, due to the sudden high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, aquatic life has been hard pressed to adapt. Various species are dying at an alarming rate due to ocean acidification, other pollution and massive fishing operations. Coral reefs that used to be abundant in life and colour now sit as bleached wastelands. Upsetting the ecosystem could have disastrous consequences and in time threaten our oxygen supply.


After decades of study and analysis, we've started to see that our predictions have been far too conservative. Couple that with the problems of an ever increasing population. Every piece of evidence that is added for every year we spend studying this phenomenon, from the impact of soil releasing co2 due to warmer temperatures to the arctic showing melting rates and temperatures beyond what we predicted, one thing is absolutely certain.

We're out of time.

If this colony is to survive any future, science needs to be put at the forefront of everything. We need to take action, no matter how difficult, no matter what sacrifices need to be made so that the next generation, that is the children living at this very moment, won't have to face the hardships we've ensured they will suffer. Or at the very least limit the amount of suffering they will have to face. The greatest mass extinction event that nearly killed all life on the planet as we know it, was due to sudden climate change. And we're right on course for a sixth.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Modern tribalism.

Neuroscience has only recently started unlocking the human phenomenon of belief. One thing that is certain is that we're not the free thinking intelligent beings we thought we were. So much so that in situations where we deffer to an authority, we'll be in the likely position to follow instructions without much objection.

In the early years that humans have been around, and even because of our evolutionary ancestors before us. we've adapted to favor a model of compliance within tribes to ensure our survival. Equally essential to our survival was the distrust of competing tribes who may want to press an advantage for their collective. This is not to say that competing tribes didn't work together or eventually merge due to there being a strength in numbers. The larger one's tribe, the better one's chances of surviving. Ultimately, it was still better to be prudent, especially of smaller groups that may be looking to do something out of desperation. The less people one tribe had, the more likely it would be for these people to look to other methods of survival due to disease, failure of crops, inexperienced hunters, etc. Perhaps by sneaking into a neighboring village and pillaging wares while they slumber. Or worse. This could be where the initial distrust of minorities originated from.

Our brains haven't really changed much within the 200000 years homo sapiens have existed. We still have all of those instincts programmed into our heads, influencing our decisions. Findings in neuroscience have already started to confirm this as a reality. Political affiliation, nationality, race, religion, sex, family; these are all tribes we subscribe to and when presented with complications to that identity are quick to dismiss said evidence. This is also where one's belief system starts to manifest depending on the level of compliance of the individual. And, thanks to the model our ancestors used to increase their survivability, those tribes are likely to have a lot more followers than leaders.

It's incredibly important to be mindful of this in our current landscape as we're no longer dealing with the ancient world however we do still possess our ancient and fallible brains. We may think we've arrived to our beliefs out of rationale & critical thinking yet in reality these were only a product of groupthink due to our affiliation to certain modern tribes. We're also susceptible to overlook distressing behavior coming from groups that we're affiliated with, which are glaringly apparent to competing modern tribes.

In order to have an intellectually honest picture of our world perhaps it's time to do away with this kind of thinking, if that's even possible. If the one and only tribe one subscribes to is humanity, perhaps we'll be better off.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Intellectual Parity

There's a certain concept that I've decided to define in my dealings with people when it comes to having a discussion regarding various topics, most notably, climate change and that is the idea of intellectual parity. For me, I use debate to challenge my own opinions and those of others in order to get as close to truth as possible. Lately however, I've found myself in the position of having to argue facts vs those who simply deny them. It's one thing where everyone is on equal footing intellectually but once a conversation moves towards fabrications vs reality, the only participant that stands to truly benefit is the one in denial.

For example with climate change, the majority of our efforts are going towards the discussion between those who accept the facts that have been presented vs those who don't. Those who don't have unfortunately filtered into positions of government that stand to make policies. In this system we don't have intellectual parity and, as a result, decisions made will either have disastrous consequences or potentially viable solutions. Compare this to a system that both parties readily accepted facts and were now in a position to debate those solutions. One might decide to strongly support carbon taxation & the other financial incentives for companies transitioning to clean energy. In this scenario, both parties are moving forward to solve the problem and, because they're at intellectual parity, are challenging each other to make improvements to reach a desired goal. Instead of completely dismissing the idea of taking action, they're criticizing a plan's specifics which will ultimately lead to helping to iron out flaws.

We use intellectual parity in various other practices for very good reason. Doctors are required to have a certain level of understanding of the human anatomy before they can even attempt cutting into someone even with supervision. We go to these painstaking lengths because a person's life is at stake and we want the best possible outcome for a patient. Say we were to do away with all that and simply have someone in an office armed with WebMD and a scalpel. This would be absolutely absurd to any rational individual and yet we're allowing similar scenarios to occur on the political landscape. A more appropriate equivalent would be someone in an office telling patients that there's nothing wrong with them only to have them drop dead a few days later.

Society needs to start demanding a certain level of intellectual parity in government in order to have any hope for progress. We can't afford having a debate on facts anymore at a political level. People entertaining caustic uninformed opinions fueled by fabricated untruths should be removed from influential positions and replaced with individuals who can provide results for those they are representing. Otherwise everyone loses.

Friday, December 23, 2016

You're not a skeptic

Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson. If I asked you what these people have in common, one would likely say that they generally move towards social libertarian politics & heavily criticize the left for its authoritarian ideals when it comes to enforcing social justice. How many of you would peg them for climate change denialists? Because they all are and this is a pattern that has gone unnoticed by a lot of people within the skeptic community. So called rational, intellectually honest, critical thinkers seem to have glanced over this enormous flaw when it comes to individuals on the right even when they've completely abandoned those qualities,

As a skeptic, my ultimate goal is to get as close to the truth as possible. In the realm of the quantifiable however, this task becomes much easier due to scientific endeavors and the peer review process. This ensures that all work and data collected is scrutinized by individuals who also have expertise in the required field. Once enough of these studies are performed supporting a consensus, the proposed conclusions become facts. Scientists don't fuck around. Yet, you'll still have a parade of imbeciles deciding to wave the time necessary to go to school, specialize and author a paper. They'll chime in and tell individuals that the scientists somehow got it wrong. Do they review the collective published works to point out the scientists errors? No. They simply repeat from one of many flawed fabrications and avoid putting in the same amount of work scientists have in the first place.

Those claiming the title of liberal, skeptic and intellectually honest are surprisingly silent when it comes to criticizing the right with the same diligence. I mean here we have a phenomenon that has been verified by the scientific community which has the 6th mass extinction event as a worst case scenario. This is not hyperbole. You'd think, given the weight of verified evidence presented, this would be something to call people out on however there's not even a whisper from these individuals.

We're at a point now where these untruths have become mainstream. Keep in mind this is the House Science Committee for the 2nd largest producer of Co2 which is the US. That tweet was met with myriad responses by climate scientists providing factual data debunking the claims made and setting the record straight. Did Breitbart & the Daily Mail retract their articles or provide corrections for their readers? Of course not. So now anyone who missed that exchange is now armed with this little nugget of complete shit that they'll gladly share at a table whenever the conversation strays in the direction of climate change or how scientists "don't know nothing".

As a skeptic, I can't put stock in what these people and publications have to say anymore. I have neither the time or the patience to deal with those who reach towards fabrications and have the inability to evolve their opinions. It takes far more effort debunking their claims than it does for them to manufacture them. Having a failure of critical thinking on this scale can only lead to repeat offences in all maters. These individuals have no place speaking at any learning institutions as a result. This isn't a free speech thing, this is a motion to have an intellectual standard. We expect students to have a certain level of academic accomplishment, it's only fair to ask the same of those invited to speak there. They certainly have no business in office informing the public.

I mentioned how, as a skeptic my ultimate goal is to get as close to the truth as possible. This happens to be the default position of every scientist. Everything needs to be verified before proven so that collectively, humanity can make informed decisions. Science should be treated as the immovable object unless met with the unstoppable force of discovery.

This era of feel good bipartisan "everyone is entitled to an opinion" mentality needs to end. A reality TV star who believes that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese will be the President of the United States. If you happen to be a citizen there, have the idea that your country has become a world laughing stock sink in. As for the so called skeptics who have let this happen on their watch unchallenged, you don't get to call yourself that anymore. "Right wing shill for batshit insania" would be far more fitting and appropriate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why Donald Won

There are going to be a lot of theories that come out of various people as to how exactly someone a reality tv star with myriad failings, somehow managed to become president of the most powerful country on Earth. A common trend will be how they default to their own messages, what's important to them, yet fail to branch out from that particular narrative to get to one very simple reality. People are stupid.

Allow me to lay the groundwork here with a prediction by Michael Moore. Out of all the journalists, analysts & talking heads I've listened to, he's the only one to hit the nail on the head as to what happened. The 4 states he mentioned were Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all of which ended up voting for Donald. His message to them? Basically bringing jobs back to people.

"But he's a narcissistic pussy grabbing imbecile who wants to wall up the country, has a weak grasp on reality and is unfit to be President!" True. However let me remind you, once again, that people are stupid. Now there's different degrees of stupid. One can be stupid regarding how to properly cook an egg, others how to construct a processor in a clean lab. Stupid has a cure and that revolves around investing time into something so you eventually get clarity. Now how much time do you think someone has if they're in the position where the most important thing to them is getting the jobs they had back to them? These are individuals who have likely been living paycheck to paycheck investing their time in simply surviving.

In order for people to be able to make informed decisions, they first need an environment that encourages them to do so. If someone comes along, promises greener pastures and doesn't have semblance of the previous administrations, they might take that shot simply because they have absolutely nothing to lose. Nor do they have anything else to learn from the various people who have simply been ignoring their situation. They're not going to dig deeply into Trump University, his sexual assault cases, his pension for TicTacs & pussy grabbing nor the myriad other things that make Trump unfit to be President. They're certainly not going to try to grasp a concept like climate change when there's a crack in the foundation of their property demanding immediate repairs that they can't afford either.

Couple that with the apathetic electorate that did not participate. Voter turnout showed that only about 50% of people participated in the election. These are people who didn't see Donald or his base as a threat, likely because they had a clearer idea of what kind of a person he is which lead to underestimation. Not to mention that everyone was saying Hillary will win and it's not even close. Might as well stay home and catch up on the latest tv show right? Unfortunately that's another kind of stupid, one which we've seen before in 2000.

So yeah, these people are stupid but they will remain that way if their environment is in shambles or if they're lazy. That's what Michael Moore witnessed at the primary and what took Donald to the White House. A simple promise to put them on the path of doing a little more than surviving. I fear however, what they get, will be far more than they bargained for.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Paymetons

Since I wrote this there have been some changes revolving around Chris' initial opinions. As a result what's been said here is no longer a reflection of Chris' views and should serve as a simple window into my initial impressions and reaction

When someone's able to course correct so quickly, admit that they were wrong about something, that shows a very rare character trait that I can't help but respect and admire. This is also a quality that entitled cunts don't possess, so on that front, I was flat out wrong. All I can do is say that I'm sorry.

There are however some people who are still holding onto these idiotic notions. On reflection, I'm not going to shy away from calling people out, even though my opinion about Chris changed, as it likely leads to these kinds of changes. People who overreact and use censorship as their shield to protect their livelihood don't deserve my respect or admiration. They deserve to be knocked down a peg, which what I wrote does beautifully.

****

A lot of people are suddenly crying censorship over recent modifications to the YouTube platform. These modifications make it so certain subject matter is automatically flagged and demonetized.  As a result, people are livid however their reasons for their outrage are somewhat suspect.

The video that I linked here by Chris shows some rather heavy adjectives for what's actually going on. Things like "terrifying" or "Orwellian" shouldn't go hand in hand with things like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. People overestimate the importance of these sites and by proxy overestimate their own importance. Private companies, regardless of the amount of people they service, dictate how those services are distributed and who gets to be a part of them. There's nothing terrifying or Orwellian about that. If someone comes to your house, starts acting like a cunt, you're in your right to tell them to leave. Same as if someone comes to your house and they're making you uncomfortable by no fault of their own. If you don't like it, you have the option of making your own website, in essence getting your own house and having your own rules.

The focus of this video is more related to YouTube however and here's where the whole "terrifying" and "Orwellian" crazy train loses steam and crashes into a big steaming pile of shit, which is their argument. For one, censorship is pretty much out the window considering demonetization doesn't mean people can't see your video. All it does mean is that if people do chose to click on the video, an ad won't play and you don't get paid for it. That's it. But somehow this is being tied to some sort of a broken headed conspiracy theory that the "regressive left" or "SJWs - Social Justice Warriors"  are out to get them and prevent them from talking.

In reality if you're YouTube, looking to get kickback from providing free services and relying on advertisers to do so, a moderated environment with options would obviously be the preferred choice. Nobody wants to sell their product over videos that might put said product in a bad light. Think of Pampers advertising over an opinion piece about the bombing of a nursery for instance. To avoid this, YouTube is taking steps to make their platform more appealing to the people actually giving them money and ensuring they themselves can earn a living. Unfortunately YouTube's living isn't provided by the guy with an opinion, time on their hands, a camera and a lazy career choice. There are plenty of people like this to go around.

And this is precisely where the disconnect happens. These people who are doing nothing more than recording their opinions for others to listen to, jazzing it up, uploading it to YouTube, not paying for bandwidth or space allocation feel like they should be paid for that "work". Otherwise they'd simply upload the video to YouTube and call it a job well done without painting demonetization in this light. You know, what they did before they became popularized. These aren't professionals by any stretch of the imagination either and their "work" essentially revolves around reading shit on the Internet and talking about it. These are the same people that will call someone like Anita Sarkeesian entitled because she's raising funds for her project that some people, including myself, find to be a waste of time and money. The second people feel the same way about their body of work however, they'll blame closeted ninja regressive leftists and SJWs. Might as well be blaming the patriarchy for fucks sakes.

Well, advertisers have their opinions as well, and in this thing called "real fucking life", they might not coincide with yours. It's incredibly hypocritical to critique certain aspects of society, yet, when it comes to yours, you should be immune. That's not a thing. Advertisers pay YouTube and YouTube pays you. If you happen to say something that's even remotely on the cusp of turning away revenue, you should put on your grown ass adult pants on and deal with those consequences. Consequences like YouTube allowing you to remain on their virtual property, speak your opinion however not receive money from YouTube for doing so. So fucking harsh and Orwellian man!

"But this is unfair. Look at this video here about a rape joke. That should be fair game". Alright, tell you what. You come up with a method that doesn't require a small country to screen all YouTube videos to make sure the automated flagging system is being fair to a massive group of people who are paying 0 dollars to use the service and you probably get to work at YouTube. When one realizes that an hour of video is going up on the site per second, you'd realize that your demands of the free service are childish, asinine and obtuse. If you don't like it, make your own web site, pay for your storage, pay for your bandwidth & hunt down advertisers that aren't already on board with the superior platform which is YouTube.

In closing, I've never seen a generation of more entitled hypocritical cunts. You'll actually bother to call what you're doing "work" when the cost to you is something that every human being on the fucking planet has. Time and an opinion. Most chose to actually do something where they won't be at the mercy of a single solitary company and build up a resume that will actually get them hired. Take people working at places like the New York Times for instance who spend their days fact checking, travelling and writing a penned product that would put anything you've ever done to shame. Actual entrepreneurs who have moved heaven and Earth to ensure the success of their business should take insult for anyone saying they "post videos on YouTube" and "It's hard work". You've had it extremely easy up until this point. Nobody is preventing you from linking monetized videos in your non monetized ones, nor are they preventing you from advertising your paymetons account. You keep reeling on how safe spaces aren't going to prepare people for real life, well, here it is, kicking you in your ass and telling you to put a little effort in what you're doing. You know, instead of demanding Facebook, YouTube and Twitter be your safe space.


Original source of the Paymetons video and inspiration for the title comes from here

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thesaurus Thumpers

I doubt anyone who has taken part in an actual debate these days has avoided running into someone who inevitably pulls out a dictionary as a means to illustrate the apparent misuse of a word. I've recently encountered this phenomenon demonstrating the intellectual failures revolving around Trump and his followers. Giving people an English lesson is starting to become enough of an issue that I thought I'd drop some knowledge here for the next time these kind of non-arguments come up.

Here's an example from a user by the name of ArmouredSkeptic. His interests primarily lie in preventing an authoritarian approach that will undoubtedly lead us into the inevitable loss of freedoms. Although I understand his motives and agree with him on multiple issues, the approach used in this video is problematic.

The first complication occurs with the word racism. This is a term that's used far too often by those looking to push an authoritarian agenda and not often enough by those leaning towards social libertarian values. Perhaps in that shuffle is where people have become confused regarding its meaning.

Words have multiple definitions. The term race can be synonymous with ethnicity. In fact, this is the definition that most people who have had a formal education, lean towards. It can even be something as nebulous as a "group of people". So when someone's calling another person a racist for systematically targeting Mexicans, they are in fact correct in using the word racist by that extension. Race is rarely used in its biological form because it has been found to be unscientific. Yet for some reason people are still clinging to that definition and using it to stifle argument.

So now that you're armed with the intended and proper definition, let's take a look at Trump and see if it applies. For Mexicans alone he's looking to deport illegal immigrants to the tune of about 11 million which are primarily from that group. He's looking to build a giant fiscally irresponsible wall to ensure no more illegals get in, which it won't and is galactically stupid. He refereed to those immigrating as rapists/murderers. He singled out a US born judge stating that he can't be trusted for the simple fact that he was a Mexican in response to his ruling regarding the shady practices of Trump U. And that's just for Mexicans.

At a certain point there's a threshold where one has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to identifying a full blown racist. In the case of Trump, the burden of proof supporting that claim should be met. Overwhelmingly. Anyone arguing against this is simply disingenuous and is helping this galactically stupid blatherskite's cause. More often than not it's because they've allied themselves with social libertarians who, for some idiotic reason, support Trump.

Judging people solely on a geographical lottery is as authoritarian and regressive as it comes. Perhaps by putting away antiquated definitions people will be better equipped to understand this and come to rational conclusions beyond a Trump level of intellect.