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12 February 2008 @ 11:02 am
Sage Skeptics  
"Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie."

~Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

"If we have such an emotional stake in the answers, if we want badly to believe, and if it is important to know the truth, then nothing other than a committed, skeptical scrutiny is required. It is not very different from buying a used car. When you buy a used car, it is insufficient to remember that you badly need a car. After all, it has to work. It is insufficient to say that the used-car salesman is a friendly fellow. What you generally do is you kick the tires, you look at the odometer, you open up the hood. If you do not feel yourself expert in automobile engines, you bring a friend who is. And you do this for something as unimportant as an automobile. But on issues of the transcendent, of ethics and morals, of the origin of the world, of the nature of human beings, on those issues should we not insist upon at least equally skeptical scrutiny?"

~Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience
Purrsia Kat: bwahahapurrsia on February 13th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
That first one...before you get to the last line could apply to global warming.

Miusheri: Thomas Painemiusheri on February 13th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)

I don't have any hard opinions on the global warming front. The only things that seem irrefutably clear are

A) The climate of the Earth has changed many many times throughout history.
B) Al Gore is a raging hypocrite. All fine and good to make the little people scrimp and sacrifice, but goodness forbid your lifestyle has to change, eh?
C) Change will never take root by asking people to reduce their standards of living. Come up with "green" alternatives that are better and cheaper than what we have now, make them widely available- that can work.
zra42 on February 14th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
Re: C.) Taxing things that are bad tends to be much more effective at eliminating bad things than subsidising things that are good. Further, loopholes in the definition of "good" or "green" will eventually lead us to things like tax breaks for hybrid Hummers and SUV's, which is pretty ridiculous. "Green" technology doesn't even really exist yet, and it won't just be automagically cheaper even when the cost of R&D on the scale that's needed becomes justified. Government has to step in to the market to *make* it the most economically efficient choice. (It's theoretically possible to remove negative externalities without government intervention, but it requires everyone to act rationally, and that's just way too much to hope for.) So, in some sense, people must eventually be forced, rather than asked, to reduce their standard of living, at least temporarily, until technology catches up.