American Elephants


Are We Getting Dumber? Or Does It Just Seem That Way? by The Elephant's Child

I just questioned (online) the vaguely remembered claim that most Americans cannot name the three branches of government. It was supposedly only 26% who could not name them, then it got turned around to 75% of Americans could not, and just 26 percent who could, and only 33% who could name a single branch. Well, that’s informative. No wonder President Trump speaks of “Fake News.”

It’s clear that people don’t know how to think about the climate. Popular thinking runs somewhere from total panic because the earth is ending in just 5 years, to this article I ran across today: “A Relatively Painless Guide to Cutting Plastic Out of Your Life.”

Last year may have been the beginning of the end for plastic. It may have taken a while for the average person to wake up to its dangers, but many were shaken into action by the images and videos of plastic’s impact on the natural world that flooded the media in 2018.

A viral video showed a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose. Stories about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch revealed how island-sized trash mounds had collected in the ocean between Hawaii and California. And then there was that National Geographic cover of a plastic bag floating in the water, beneath the scrawled words “Planet or Plastic?” The issue publicized a remarkable statistic: Despite the world’s efforts to recycle, 91 percent ends up in the trash.

What, you are telling me that we have these huge, expensive recycling programs, and they don’t work at all? Not to worry, the plastic in the oceans apparently comes from China, which is actually worrisome. The United States has done a remarkable job of reducing noxious emissions — more than any other country.

This is from SEPP’s weekly newsletter (Science and Environmental Policy Project’ free newsletter)

Appropriate Models: Mathematics is the language of science, but that does not mean that mathematical models correctly describe physical phenomena. Or that a mathematical process in a model used in analyzing physical evidence (data) from observations and / or experiments suitable for one phenomenon is suitable for other phenomena. The model may or may not describe the subject phenomenon. That is one reason why Richard Feynman stated that hypotheses (guesses) must be tested against all relevant data. Experimental data is preferred because other possible influences are controlled to the extent possible, but observational data may be necessary.

Benny Avni writes in the New York Sun that as America’s Democratic Presidential Candidates promote programs borrowed from Europe’s traditional left, Europeans are increasingly pushing back against them. Angela Merkel was blamed for dragging Germany’s Christian Democratic Party too far to the left. France’s National Rally Party beat President Macron’s centrist faction. In Poland, Hungary and Italy, politicians of various right-wing parties are now in power, and anti-leftist parties are on the rise. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau is struggling to stay in power after his Liberal party suffered parliamentary seat losses. Lot of Politics out there.

I got my hair cut yesterday, and picked up a copy of the old familiar Readers Digest  in the waiting room. No longer a big thick magazine, it had dieted down to maybe a quarter of an inch thick. Magazines and newspapers are clearly dying. I’m more concerned about the dumbing-down of society. I suspect that the online opinions flashing across computer screens suggest that people don’t read anything of length. Some websites are suggesting, beside their stories, that it is  only a 4 minute, or 6 minute read, to encourage those who have a tiny bit of time to pause long enough for their story. Reminds me to be brief and get to the point. But it suggests that we are becoming more superficial, less informed, and more open to bad information. What do you think?



The Delusion of Diversity Destroys Our Common Humanity. by The Elephant's Child

Heather MacDonald, on how the Delusion of Diversity Destroys Our Common Humanity. Well, yes. “Diversity” has become one of the big judgemental words. You have to measure up! But why and who is doing the measuring?

I would suggest that you can find more real diversity among groups of all one race, or all one ethnic origin than among a university’s sophomore class, But it’s always valuable to question one’s assumptions! That’s one of Heather MacDonald’s greatest skills.



We Really Are Getting Stupider by The Elephant's Child

I have become increasingly concerned about the media and the state of the internet. I think the proliferation of short bits of information on social media are causing people to ration (way too much) what they read. Twitter, Facebook encourage one to read bits, not full articles. More scholarly articles now may come labeled with minutes and seconds, to say how long it will take to read the piece so the reader will not be too soon discouraged. We are getting stupider.

I just wrote a bit on climate confusion or rather, climate panic. The Earth has been far warmer in the past, and far cooler as well. There is nothing to worry about in today’s climate science. The climate always changes as it has done for millions of years.

A woman at Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s town hall today took climate extremism to the next level. She likes AOC’s Green New Deal, but it isn’t fast enough. We have only weeks and months before it’s all over. We have to start eating the babies.

How could this young woman get such utterly goofy ideas in her head? AOC’s “Green New Deal” was the epitome of ignorance, and utterly impossible. Based on scaring people into accepting unacceptable socialist government, even admitted to by AOC’s former chief of staff. Have we reached such a state of ignorance that we just accept what is said by someone with no particular qualifications? There are highly qualified climate scientists. This young woman  even had tee shirts printed up. Unbelievable.

ADDENDUM: Tee- Hee! Alexandria Occasia-Cortez insists, today, that the baby-eating supporter at her town hall was really a Trump supporter. Why am I not surprised?



Defining Reality, Or Explaining What is Really Going On by The Elephant's Child

Clearly it is time to explain what is really going on. One gains enormous wisdom by staring at the blank walls of a very fine hospital. So somewhere between a second civil war and an impeached president, or the election (this time) of good old Hillary, there must be, somewhere, some clarity. Elections are always contentious, but this is ridiculous.

We are in a battle over defining reality. To quote Daniel J. Boorstin, the late Librarian of Congress and notable historian at the University of Chicago, in The Americans: the Colonial Experience:

We have too long been told that a “unified” scheme of knowledge is required to give meaning and unity to society; that men have a greater sense of sharing values and of working to a common end if they are united by a grand overarching system of thought; that somehow an articulate and systematic philosophy is likely to provide such a system of shared meaning. The stock example is, of course, the Middle Ages when such theologians as Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus constructed monuments of speculative philosophy. that has become an unexamined commonplace that a more unified philosophy will produce a more unified society, that ours  would be a better and more meaningful  world if we in America possessed such systematic and “unifying” thought.

But is this really true? It may have seemed so in earlier societies where the frame of meaning was supposed to be accessible only to a priestly or ruling class. Could it remain so in a modern literate society where most people would be expected to understand the purposes of the community? One cannot unify such a society by mere concepts, however refined and subtle, however vivid to a few philosophers or theologians. “The attempt to bridge the chasm between multiplicity and unity is the oldest  problem of philosophy, religion, and science.”

You may have noticed that “the ruling class” is not in particularly good grace at present, a problem rather than a solution. They are unaware of their predicament, are unwilling to give up the slightest bit of their cherished power.

Those who supposedly report on the society and the people and the ruling class assume that, instead of accuracy, their task is to get attention by featuring what celebrities or politicians may have to say, not because it might be of interest, but because the celebrity or politician might have a bit of click bait interest to promote the career of the reporter. Their interest is not in attempting to describe reality, but what, instead, might be sensationalized. They’re not on our side either. Which President Trump grumbles about as “fake news”. Which in turn infuriates the press, because they differently define their assigned task.

It’s only human nature to wish to advance one’s self, to look for what is readily available rather than work hard, but there you are. The current debates and argument is over the nature of reality, which is up in the air, struggling to be properly defined.



Is Communism Once Again Rearing Its Ugly Head? by The Elephant's Child

The current bunch of Democrats remaining in the contest for the Democratic nomination continue to astonish in their very odd understandings of America and Americans. How Bernie Sanders can remain on the list with significant support while professing Socialism as the solution for the government of the United States of America is astounding.

Supposedly one out of three millennials (31%) say they are a democratic socialist or a socialist and would identify as either, according to a poll. The poll found that nearly half of all millennial Democrats (48%) identify as democratic socialists or socialists. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 50 percent of American millennials view socialism or communism as the ideal political ideology. Our colleges and universities have a lot to answer for, raising up a generation of ignoramuses.

Nazism is an accusation thrown around by the Left at President Trump and his supporters. They apparently fail to understand that Nazism was just another form of socialism. But it remains a choice insult because of the known death toll from the Holocaust:

Between five and six million Jews. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war. More than two million Soviet civilians. More than one million Polish civilians. More than one million Yugoslav civilians. About 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical handicaps. More than 200,000 gypsies.

Nazism came to a distinct end with the defeat of Nazi Germany. But the death toll from communism encompasses many countries and many regimes. Socialism often turns directly into real communism,  depending on the party’s will for ever more complete control.

Communist regimes did not just commit criminal acts, they were criminal enterprises in their very essence; on principle, so to speak, they all ruled lawlessly, by violence, and without regard for human life.

This is from The Black Book of Communism. It offers a rough approximation, based on unofficial estimates to give some sense of the scale and gravity of these crimes.

USSR: 20 million deaths
China: 65 million deaths
Vietnam: 1 million deaths
North Korea: 2 million deaths
Cambodia: 2 million deaths
Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths
Latin America: 150,000 deaths
Africa: 1.7 million deaths
Afghanistan: 1.million deaths
The international Communist movement and Communist parties not in power: about 10,000 deaths

You might conclude that there is some sort of pattern here, and that perhaps regarding it as an ideal political ideology is beyond ignorance, and approaches insanity.



Victor Davis Hanson Writes on Today’s University by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson wrote yesterday for American Greatness about the decline and fall of the American University, an essay with the subhead “The damage that the modern university has wrought has now outweighed its once-positive role.” Ouch!

Dr. Hanson is not only a noted historian, but he has long been a college professor in an American university, though in recent years he has been a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

It certainly sounds like an article one would want to avoid if they were about to send a potential victim off to begin a college career. However, knowing the hazards helps to avoid them or prepares you to do battle as the case may be.

The rest of us need to know and understand what is going on in our universities, and how young people are being mis-educated, and overcharged. Can’t help to change things if you don’t understand what you are fighting against.



Should You Panic About The Planet? If Not, Why Not? by The Elephant's Child

It seems that Google is sponsoring a climate camp for the well-heeled at a resort just out of Palermo, in Sicily. They are flying in in their private jets to the Palermo airport, or arriving in their large motor-yachts to demonstrate their concern for the climate and settle on just how few years we may have left before climate catastrophe. It’s all those dirty fossil fuels, you know. Need clean natural wind, clean natural sun.

Carbon dioxide CO², is not a pollutant!  If one remembers back to high school biology and photosynthesis, CO² is what we exhale. The plants in the world take in CO² and release oxygen, which we use in the air we breathe, and exhale the CO². The slight increase in CO² in the atmosphere means the greening of the earth, crops are growing, trees have more healthy leaves, the change in the greening earth can be seen from space. Hungry people are being fed with more bountiful crops.

NBC News Claim: ‘Climate scientists drive stake through heart of skeptics’ argument – New research shows that the recent rise in global temperatures is unlike anything seen on Earth during the past 2,000 years.

Reality Check: 

‘More than 700 scientists from 400 institutions in 40 countries have contributed peer-reviewed papers providing evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was real, global, & warmer than the present.

2019: Antarctica was warmer one thousand years ago — and life was OK

Something that seems to happen with some regularity is climate panics. Can start with some bad weather of some kind, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, hailstorms, wildfire, things that happen now and then from perfectly ordinary recognized causes, and some people decide it is but a harbinger of more and worse whatever. We just had an example in Northern California with wildfires blamed on climate change instead of the dry undergrowth gone unattended and Power company sparking wires. It is normal human instinct when something bad happens to want to blame it on a bigger trend, or a more dramatic cause. Tonight and tomorrow night, I think I read, we are expected to have a black moon, apparently a normal occurrence if not common. There were bad floods in the Midwest, from the Missouri River, I think. If a flood is a big one that takes out some of your buildings, you’re not likely to write it off as a common occurrence even if you have regularly had floods for years. You will find examples of all kinds of climate panics in the past.

I vaguely remember a story about a whole town of people who went out to the hillsides locally to wait out the night for the end of the world, back in the 1800s. And people on the west coast retreating to the hills for fear of a tsunami that never came.

For those who are fearing the warming of the climate, Minnesota’s 121-year-old  Cold Record has just been toppled.  Coldest July 30 since William McKinley was president. 37°F this morning.

And then we have the young Swedish climate wunderkid Greta Thunberg, who has aroused European kids to skip school to urge climate change because she is quite sure she can see CO² molecules in the air. Well, a university gave her a doctorate degree, and I think I saw that she is sailing to the Google event in Italy.

For the fearful, here is a good brief discussion of global warming from Dr. Roy Spencer who manages the satellites that measure the temperature of the troposphere around the planet.




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