at TechCentralStation about the cultural shock that the author experienced in Montreal as a scientist among, well, scientific ignorants. His description seems extremely similar to the story "Is electricity fire?" in Feynman's classic book
Spencer was surrounded by thousands of people who were not interested in actual numbers, calculations of uncertainties, or error margins. People who had no idea how the economy or the real world works. The only way why these people would ever be interested in science was that they wanted to interpret their ancient, provincial, medieval religious dogmas - such as the stupid dogma that what is good for the economy must be bad for the Earth, much like the rabbinistic students who asked Feynman "Is electricity fire?" not because they were interested in science but because they needed to know whether Talmud allowed them to use the elevator on Saturday although it forbids fire on the same day.
Now imagine thousands of people in Montreal complaining about the urgent threat of global warming that required action "now" - when the temperature outside is 16 Fahrenheit. People whose whole careers depend on the wealth of the modern civilization and who consume food and electricity for very many millions of dollars (and, less importantly, who also produce a lot of CO2 during their gathering). The only result that these pompous fools have is that all of them describe the only real scientists at the conference as "Flat-Earthers".
And our society is funding this idiocy. Is not it sad?
Concerning their misunderstanding of economics, we can find a similar example in the same section of Feynman's book.
- There was a special dinner at some point, and the head of the theology place, a very nice, very Jewish man, gave a speech. It was a good speech, and he was a very good speaker, so while it sounds crazy now, when I'm telling about it, at that time his main idea sounded completely obvious and true. He talked about the big differences in the welfare of various countries, which cause jealousy, which leads to conflict, and now that we have atomic weapons, any war and we're doomed, so therefore the right way out is to strive for peace by making sure there are no great differences from place to place, and since we have so much in the United States, we should give up nearly everything to the other countries until we're all even. Everybody was listening to this, and we were all full of sacrificial feeling, and all thinking we ought to do this. But I came back to my senses on the way home.
- The next day one of the guys in our group said, "I think that speech last night was so good that we should all endorse it, and it should be the summary of our conference."
- I started to say that the idea of distributing everything evenly is based on a theory that there's only X amount of stuff in the world, that somehow we took it away from the poorer countries in the first place, and therefore we should give it back to them. But this theory doesn't take into account the real reason for the differences between countries -- that is, the development of new techniques for growing food, the development of machinery to grow food and to do other things, and the fact that all this machinery requires the concentration of capital. It isn't the stuff, but the power to make the stuff, that is important. But I realize now that these people were not in science; they didn't understand it. They didn't understand technology; they didn't understand their time.
- The conference made me so nervous that a girl I knew in New York had to calm me down. "Look," she said, "you're shaking! You've gone absolutely nuts! Just take it easy, and don't take it so seriously. ..."
Well, Feynman was obviously not the only one who had similar reactions to these pompous fools who don't understand science, economics, and the real world. However, he did not have a blog so that he only encountered their moronic comments a few times in his life, not every day as your humble correspondent. ;-)
Roy Spencer attempts to define the basic principles of economics that should be taught before the end of the high school here.