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Flat Earthers

Flat Earthers - RF CafeOur president and other pontificating politicians - particularly, it seems, those who hold college degrees in non-science realms - have recently taken to referring to anyone who does not hold their points of view as "Flat Earthers" and anti-science. BTW, these are the same people who regularly chastise their opponents for name-calling and uncivil discourse. So, if to them others are anti-science, then they obviously deem themselves to be pro-science. Would you consider a person who laments the invention of the ATM machine because it replaces bank tellers or a ticket kiosk at the airport for robbing counter clerks pro- or anti-science? What about people who prefer to cripple society with a blinders-on approach to energy production by insisting on using "renewable" sources while ignoring advances in fossil and nuclear power sources? Excuse me for getting all sciency[sic] on them, but how is any form of energy production "renewable?" Once energy is extracted from wind, sunlight, or water, can that spent energy be used again for something else? Of course not; that energy is converted into electrical energy so it NOT RENEWABLE!!! Unless a wind generator has 0% efficiency (i.e., no electricity produced), its blades slow the air by robbing it of kinetic energy. Air exits the blades at a lower speed, possessing less energy.

Yes, you might be able to argue that the energy in the wind is "renewed" in the form of electricity, but so also is the energy in the nucleus of an atom renewed in the form of electricity when fissioned or fused, and the latent energy in coal is renewed in the form of electricity when burned. Call it "clean energy," but it is NOT renewable - that is clear ignorance and/or denial of science.

Another popular proof of evidence of anti-science-ness is not bowing to the altar of algae. I do a lot of reading on alternative energy production forms, and wholeheartedly support the research into all of it (yes ALL of it), including the use of taxpayer money to help fund it... as long as it is not clearly a scam. In fact, I support most forms of pure research into everything (especially by students since it teaches experimentation skills) even if it is something I have no interest in so long as it is legitimate. I do not, for example, condone governments funding research with an agenda, like paying for junk science in order to support an argument against law-abiding citizens owing firearms when unbiased studies show that society is actually safer and freer when those same citizens keep and bear arms. Alas, though, I digress. The argument made by the scientifically ignorant is that holy algae is a great way to reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuels; i.e., oil. The morons don't seem to realize that algae also produces the byproducts of petroleum refineries only in a matter of days rather than millennia. That's right, the stuff that comes out the the tailpipe of an algae machine is oil. In order to use that oil to produce energy, it has to be burned. Burning produces hydrocarbons in the air - the same kind as processed petroleum! If you want to produce electricity or move a car with it, you still have to murder the air. Today, a break-even process has not been found, but we're close. You have to get a lot of energy out to offset the energy and pollution caused in growing, reaping, and transporting all the switch grass, corn stalks, animal offal, etc., used in processing.

I doubt any amount of true scientific evidence for or against Global Warming will ever convince the religiously devout adherent of either side's well-established dogma. It probably is insignificant, but a few years ago after a marked decrease in solar activity, when the temperatures across the Earth began declining, the name was conveniently changed to "Climate Change," a phrase totally devoid of meaning since climate is always changing. Yes, climate is a long-term trend versus weather being a short-term phenomenon, but since records have been kept, cyclic cooling and warming has always followed the 11-year sunspot cycle. But hey, that's just my pro-science side talking. Personally, I think that local temperatures are undeniably affected by human activity (i.e., anthropogenic) in high density population centers, but the Earth as a whole seems to have a way of evening it all out over the long term. Volcanoes have nasty habit of spewing crap into the upper atmosphere, blanketing the Earth from some sunlight with an attendant drop in global temps for a while - sometimes for many years. Oceans warm and evaporate at higher rates creating more cloud cover with a resulting reflection of sunlight back into space.

Self-proclaimed pro-science types (as opposed to those dangerous anti-science types) like to champion the upside of their chosen cause célèbre while ignoring the downside ramifications. One of the best examples is the proliferation and ubiquity of electronic devices - from cellphones to plasma TVs to electric vehicles to LED light bulbs. I appreciate all of the great stuff, but also acknowledge the consequences of having it all, like the poor souls worldwide who labor in extremely hazardous environments in order to produce the raw materials that go into the production of all these things, and then the many other men, women and children that expose themselves to toxic smoke and chemicals in the process of reclaiming components and metals in trade for a bowl of rice or a handful of wheat. The hypocrites are the same ones who launch boycotts against clothing manufacturers that exploit workers in third-world countries while having a closet full of the company's products. Recall all the OWS'ers with trendy garb (albeit filthy) and the latest iPhone.

Science extends beyond the physical sciences to including social science, economic science, behavioral science, etc. If you choose to ignore or dismiss any type of science, even that which studies and reports on the human condition, does not that make you anti-science? The worst kinds of pro-science grandstanders are those who denigrate others as anti-science while they themselves are as guilty as those being accused. It's called hypocrisy - like regularly wolfing down greasy hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes while being in bed with others who tell everyone else to eat carrots.

International Flat Earth Research Society (aka Flat Earth Society) founder Samuel Shenton famously dismissed direct observational proof of a spherical Earth by arguing, "Would sailing round the Isle of Wight prove that it were spherical? It is just the same for those satellites." Those who so regularly impugn dissenting voices as Flat Earthers have a lot more in common with Mr. Shenton than they might imagine.

- Kirt Blattenberger

posted  3/16/2012

These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with the "cafe" genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme of RF Cafe. Note: There is also a huge collection of my 'Factoids' (aka 'Kirt's Cogitations') that might interest you as well.

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