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Comment Re:Glacial samples (Score 1) 252

There were forest fires before humans existed. Does that mean all forest fires are natural?

The way you answer the question is to look for forest fires that were caused by people. One way would be to use induction to imagine a scenario where huamns start fires, which would leave distinctive evidence that wouldn't happen in natural fires, then look for that, and follow-up. (e.g. fire starts near a campground, evidence of runaway campfire, progression of fire is away from campground, guy who camped there admits "okay, okay, yes, we fell asleep and when we woke up the trees were on fire, and we got scared and ran").

Okay, so, one forest fire, is that a big deal?

The way you answer that question is to become more familiar with forests and forest fires. Maybe a lot of them start near campgrounds? If you investigate and study and learn, maybe you get a sense of how many are caused by people, what the historical record shows about fire rates and scales in the past, etc. Computers might not tell you exactly which trees are going to burn in a new fire you've just discovered, but maybe you can refine the model enough that it can provide a good sense of where it's going to go, how quickly it might expand, where are sparks going to cause new fires, which of these 10 spots should we drop crews, etc.

Comment Re:Evidence of the Great Filter? (Score 1) 365

The Great Filter hides a lot in "step 8". It sounds like the only remaining challenge is the physical difficultly of traveling interstellar distances. But consider the variable 'L', in the Drake equation. Maybe civilizations akin to ours evolve relatively frequently, but almost immediately go silent because they've gone the way of yeast. In fact, evolution is predicated on competition, which implies (as Darwin pointed out, after reading Malthus) that there must be an excess of generation, so to speak, which in turn implies that a "successful" species is an overpopulated one. The fact that we think interstellar colonization is the obvious next step isn't encouraging, in that regard.

What would it feel like, if the first words we hear from an extraterrestrial civilization are "Help! We live in an overpopulated world with a collapsing ecosystem! What can we do?"

Comment Re:That's stupid (Score 2) 417

The 3% figure is a canard. (Doesn't help to have a brain if you don't use your reference materials.) This figure pertains to an *annual* contribution, which is cumulative. We add 2ppm of unreabsorbed CO2 every year.

That's why, by now, the correct figure for human contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere is about 43%.

Ask not who the bullshit is called upon.

Comment Re:Fitness tracking? (Score 1) 110

You're missing the optimization! "How about we cut $50 off your bill if you let us watch your biometrics while you surf the web or TV, including some ads?" "Did you hear about the guy whose life was saved because his diabetes app called 911?" "How about $100 off your insurance if you run an app to let your doctor collect heart data periodically?"

Comment "it was us that scorched the sky" (Score 3, Insightful) 407

Seriously?

Someone is destroying your entire ecosystem, and telling you "we can't stop doing that, because we would lose money." And someone else says, "well, maybe if we cause a corresponding rapid radical transformation in ocean ecology it will offset the other catastrophe". And your answer is "hmm, yeah, that might work."

Comment Re:Cut out that "free will" crap. (Score 1) 210

Free will and self-awareness are unrelated concepts.
The soul is a myth.

You are confusing "soul" with popular myths about freedom of will. The soul, as a concept, doesn't depend on freedom from determinism. As with self-awareness, the two are unrelated concepts. There is no reason to presume that a deterministic universe can't include consciousness. (In fact, there's a pretty good reason to suppose that it can.)

Comment Re:First dissent (Score 1) 2416

I can avoid cars and car insurance entirely if I so choose.

This would be relevant if you could also choose to avoid needing healthcare.

The individual mandate is the second best approach to the problem, but it's the best one that gives money to insurance companies. That was the only way the GOP would get behind it. It's why they originally conceived of the idea. The better approach, single payer, would've been too good. "If you're going to try to fix healthcare, we insist on a method that will syphon money to some greedy industry that pays for our campaigns." Okay, okay ... how about that individual mandate thing you designed?

Comment Re:Breathless summary by the clueless (Score 1) 734

I see what you mean. For example, when the Texas GOP platform supports "protection from extreme environmentalists" they just mean the liberal so-called "consensus" wackos that want to "purposefully" disrupt the oil and gas industry with their crazy global warming claptrap, when you and I can easily tune into Fox news and discover that there is no warming, and, besides, people couldn't have caused it.

When they oppose federal ID, but demand the ability to disenfranchise convicted felons, supported by requiring voter identification, they just mean the commonsense local measures that prevent undesirables from soiling our elections, things like having uniformed officers loitering at polling places to make sure you don't try to vote without whatever ID they have lawfully decided you should have. Undesirables could easily get a fake national ID, obviously.

Even more obviously, you can't require religious organizations to violate their own principles just because they are providing a public service to the general public. That's why the GOP demands the right to have public displays of the decalogue in public places, and "in god we trust" protected, so that everyone can know what religious people believe. They add a few details about what God believes, in case you didn't already know that. It's just common sense, really. But for you critical thinkers out there, it's easy to follow-up by checking your bible. That's why the GOP supports praying in school. How else would you learn about stuff like that?

Naturally you don't want judicial activists destroying the concept marriage for healthy people everywhere.

When it comes to the education of children, though, we need to understand what really works. For example, "corporal punishment is effective". Just ask a scientist (not a liberal whackjob scientist, though). This might be part of what was confusing people: "We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced." For example, if some leftist scientist has a "theory" that the earth is older than 8000 years, you shouldn't be spanked for asking him why the bible doesn't say that. If he's so smart, why can't he handle that new data? Huh? I heard it was actually getting colder. Volcanos spit out more soot than any coal plant. Water vapor is actually more of a greenhouse gas than CO2, and, anyhow, 95% of the CO2 is natural. If he's doesn't just have an agenda to destroy the oil and gas industry, and put people out of work, the scientist ought to care about these important facts, and go back and rework his theories. (And are you telling me that if you shake a box full of parts you can suddenly construct a functioning wristwatch? It's obviously absurd. So much for "theories".)

Speaking of theories, it's obvious that when the economy tanks, you have to tighten the belt. You can tell whether someone is capable of critical thinking by whether they can see this. Like liberals aren't. Some of them think you inject money into the economy, but that's just driving up debt. Ask any billionaire. They didn't get where they are by going into debt. Or by condoning a bunch of frivolous class action lawsuits. Those just hurt the economy, as the GOP points out.

Sorry, I got a little long-winded. Just wanted to help you folks understand how reasonable the GOP position really is. Not like you'd think if you just read the headlines in alarmist liberal rags.

Comment Re:Club of Rome Study 2 (Score 1) 816

Idiot Malthusians have predicted the imminent end of the world due to overpopulation for hundreds of years.

What's the name for the kind of idiot who thinks exponential growth can continue indefinitely in a closed system?

The essence of the Malthusian premise, you idiot, is that population tends to expand until limits are imposed on it. For instance, yeast in grape juice multiply until they choke in their own excrement. They destroy their environment, and themselves with it. What makes humans different from yeast in this regard? Well, some seem to think that our big brains allow us to choose to limit our numbers (because, of course, finding technological ways to discover/produce more resources doesn't solve the problem, it merely pushes the date out a little). So far, that thought has no actual, you know, data, to support it. Human population has doubled twice in my lifetime, and is not slowing down.

The result of the Malthusian premise is that there is a Struggle for Existence. That's why reading Malthus gave Darwin the idea that evolution could be a perpetual principle, based on a continuous struggle for existence.

Comment Re:Follow the data! (Score 1) 954

Computer models were based on the data. Apparently, they were based on insufficient data.

Actually, no. The computer models are based on physics, and largely corroborate the data. There have been open questions in the physics, such as the effect of aerosols and particulates, as well as the amount and location of these things, and where they are being produced. One takes computer models with a grain of salt. But they, like the satellite data, the ground based temperature data, the ocean chemistry sampling data, the meteorological data, etc, make it pretty plain what is happening.

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