Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Carbon tax: the Pope and Larry Summers are not dealing with facts fairly

The Catholic Church enjoys its first left-wing Pope, in the modern sense of the word. He often talks – about egalitarianism and other things – as if he were just another left-wing activist. It doesn't mean that no previous Pope had a similar social thinking. But no previous Pope operated in the world where the left-wing activism represented a powerful mainstream movement.

Just to remind you, John Paul II was still a politically neutral religious figure with a strongly anti-communist image while Benedict XVI was a conservative religious leader and, to a large extent, a right-wing thinker. Francis is different. He is also planning to issue an encyclical, a Pope-authored bulletin, dedicated to the climate hysteria, a psychiatric disease whose proliferation the religious leader plans to endorse. Given the ideological roots of the climate hysteria and Pope Francis' left-wing bias, I am simply not surprised.

It doesn't make sense to waste much time with Francis' proclamations – they don't really differ from mediocre left-wing kibitzers' comments about the same issues. Pope Francis could easily go to the pub with Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince Charles, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to mention a few other science-illiterate nuts who love to imagine themselves as the saviors of the world. But the Pope's views be more far-reaching due to his influence on 1.2 billion Catholics in the world.

As a Christian atheist, I have mixed feelings about the power of the Catholic Church. It's a church that has given our civilization – and perhaps, it is still giving us – some good stuff. Religious belief has some virtues and many of the moral standards believed by good contemporary atheists have Judeo-Christian origin. But faith – especially blind faith – may also hurt and the Catholic Church turned out to be the church that is able to reform, adapt, adjust, and modernize itself and this is a part of the reason why the modern industrial capitalist civilization was born in nominally Christian countries.

The Pope's decision to link himself with one of the most atrocious and kitschy pseudoscientific myths of the present is unfortunate and dangerous for the future of the Catholic Church. As a non-Catholic, I don't really care much but I think that the Catholics should care. To say the least, such climate activism is likely to polarize or split the Catholic Church. And because prophesies and other statements by the climate fearmongers are being proven wrong on a daily basis, the assumption of papal infallibility is guaranteed to be questioned.

I would like to point out that the Popes have had a pretty good record in being immune towards similar pseudoscientific totalitarian memes in the Past. For example, Pius XI (1922-1939) issued encyclicals against eugenics which was the main counterpart of the climate hysteria of his era. His successor Pius XII (1939-1958) was an anti-Nazi who criticized the invasion of Poland and other events, too.

It took 359 years (1633-1992) for the Catholic Church to figure out that Galileo Galileo was right when it came to heliocentrism, after all. Francis suggests that he may accept that the Earth revolves around the Sun, too. And he even says that life has been ramifying via evolution, while God's role is reduced to that of the primordial author of the initial conditions. But Francis seems to confirm the speculations about the "conservation laws for stupidity" in the Church so he replaces geocentrism and creationism by the climate alarmism.

If history is a good guide, the Catholic Church will revoke Pope Francis' delusions about the climate hysteria in 2374 AD, many centuries after it will have become obvious that the climate hysteria will have been hot air.

Summers, market, and what the surplus of oil means

But I want to mention the text by a man whom I slightly know in person, Larry Summers. His text in The Washington Post advocates a carbon tax:
Oil’s swoon creates the opening for a carbon tax
Summers argues that the carbon tax isn't a sign of the Big Government or planning. Instead, the carbon tax follows from the very logic of market economy, he thinks, because without the carbon tax, people and companies are not paying the full expenses associated with their actions and some costly behavior isn't really discouraged which is what a functional market does very well.

I would agree with this template for the argument. However, Summers' numbers – and indeed, the very sign – are completely wrong. What are the costs and benefits of the carbon emissions? Well, the only really noticeable economic effect of additional carbon dioxide is the enhanced growth rate of plants – and, therefore, increased efficiency of agriculture.

Each year, the CO2 concentration increases by about 2 ppm – from a level around 400 ppm. So the relative increase of CO2 is about 0.5 percent per year. Because CO2 allows the plants to reduce the number of pores for them to breath, they lose less water and become able to grow larger and longer. This 0.5 percent increase of CO2 per year may translate to something like 0.25 percent increase of the efficiency of agricultural activities. Because agriculture in the world produces a few trillion dollars per year, one year of industrial CO2 emissions increases the annual output of agriculture – in the next year and every other year in the following century or so – by 0.25 percent of a few trillions which is a (more than) few billion dollars. As I said, this benefit exists almost for a century – before most of the CO2 is reabsorbed by the oceans – so we may estimate that the annual emissions bring hundreds of billions of dollars of integrated benefits for the agriculture in the whole future.

Because the world's annual CO2 emissions are almost 40 billion tons per year, we may see that one ton of CO2 emissions creates benefits between several and 10 dollars. So all these rational arguments could indeed justify a carbon fee reaching almost 10 dollars per ton of CO2 but this fee would have to be paid in the opposite direction than Larry Summers preposterously suggests.

This discussion isn't new: CO2 is beneficial, not harmful, which is a basic fact about life on Earth that the proponents of new and higher taxes including Larry Summers prefer to obscure, hide, and distort.

But I want to discuss a newer technical point mentioned already in the title of Summers' article – and many places of the body. He claims that the fall in oil prices makes the case for a carbon tax "overwhelming". Later in the article, he also argues that the carbon tax is a good method to reduce America's dependence on the Middle East oil producers.

If you look at all these ideas rationally and fairly, you will see that they are illogical or plain dishonest.

First of all, we live in an era when the oil prices are low. This makes it easier to add some extra fees such as the carbon tax – because people are currently feeling that they may afford to increase the low price of the fossil fuels. But the point is that this is largely a distorted illusion caused by the special feature of the present era, one in which the oil price is low. The oil prices may also return to higher values and the carbon tax could turn out to be a big problem. I think that a responsible economist should emphasize this distorted optics we have today – emphasize that something that doesn't look like a big problem now may become a big problem if and when the oil prices are higher again which may very well happen (especially because the new consumers of the cheaper oil are likely to emerge at some point). In other words, sensible people should be aware of the fact that if we're capable of some long-term thinking, our desire to introduce the carbon tax should be much lower than what it is because of the current low oil prices.

Summers' argument is also demagogic for a related reason. He has mentioned another argument that has been traditionally used to defend the carbon tax in the U.S. A reduced oil consumption would reduce the U.S. dependence on the Middle East which is a good thing for political reasons, too. How does the current oil glut affect this argument?

Well, it's easy. The oil glut is partly if not largely caused by the fracking revolution in the U.S. So in recent years, America's dependence on the Middle East oil producers was decreasing (America may very well become a net oil exporter soon) – and this is another way to describe or explain the ongoing fall in the oil prices. And because America's dependence on the Middle East oil is decreasing, the aforementioned prominent argument in favor of the carbon tax – that it is good to reduce the dependence on the Middle East – is weakening, too. America no longer has a strong geopolitical reason to reduce the oil consumption!

So the honest conclusion and title of all these considerations would be the opposite of Summers' title,
Oil’s swoon weakens the key arguments for a carbon tax.
But it's just another sign error that the champions of the Big Government and large and increasing taxes aren't afraid of. The final result – the claim that there should be many taxes, higher taxes, new taxes, and more intense redistribution – is actually not a result of any credible, rational argument. It is an assumption, a dogma that leftists start with, and once they start with this assumption, they write down something like an op-ed or a paper that formally looks like an argument ending with the right conclusion. Many people will buy it, anyway, won't they?

Sorry, Larry, but the intelligent readers will still be able to notice that your logic is upside down and filled with sign errors and illogical twists and the corrected version of your arguments leads to the opposite conclusion than one that you have provided your readers with.


  1. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/pdfs/OSUCarbonStudy.pdf
    That study says women add 5.7 times her own lifetime emissions as a "carbon legacy " with each child she bears.
    So the Pope should help the most by telling The 1.2 billion flockers to stop having children.
    Oh wait that would not go over well, will it? :-)

  2. It took 359 years (1633-1992) for the Catholic Church to figure out that Galileo Galileo was right when it came to heliocentrism, after all.

    No, it didn't.


    Ordinary common sense should suffice to create huge problems for the "359 years" claim. If the Church had espoused geocentrism or objected to heliocentrism at any time during the 20th century or much of the 19th century, this would be very well known. You have failed to ask yourself what the world would look like if your statement was true.

  3. The tragedy of the Pope's and Larry Summers position is that if policy results in legislation that becomes law, both will cause the price of energy to rise. The people most affected by such policy will be those who use leverage fossil energy to do useful work like truck drivers, machine operators, resource extractors and the like. They all will make the least well off a little poorer. The pope has obviously put his politics ahead of his religious foundation, the secular has precedence over the divine. That's fine in government but not religion.

  4. The presence of religion has created so much evil, pain and death in the world. I wonder how much of the bad stuff would have occurred without it.

  5. If the Dark Ages had persisted another 1000 years, Christ and heaven with Him would have returned to Earth. The One True Church promised! Now we must begin again, shutting down civilization as people bleed for their faith under the tutelage of sadistic homosexual gourmands. How dark the comfort of Man.

  6. Increased CO2 is also good for Israeli agriculture (semi-arid to arid region) as lower stomatal opening in plants is required in high CO2 micro- (and thus presumably, macro-) environments, increasing water-use efficiency and hence 'greening' of the desert as CO2 concentration here esp. is a limiting factor, second only to moisture availability itself. variations in precipitation are much more complicated and regionally variable, and in some semi-arid to arid regions, like North Mexico, higher temps are associated also with higher precip due to ENSO variability and other synoptic pattern variations. Hence, increased temp does not always translate into higher moisture stresses.

  7. “-sadistic homosexual gourmands.” Wow!

  8. First, we don't know what Pope Francis will say, so it's a bit premature to critique it. And, no, I'm not Roman Catholic.

    Second, the article stated, "everyone knows we have an obligation to care for the planet." Even if so, we aren't doing a very good job of it. We also have an obligation to care for one another -- something else we aren't very good at and need reminding of.

    Even if climate change is a complete sham and can be misused by totalitarians who want further control for themselves (and I agree with Lubos that this is something to fight fully), we still need to live in better balance with Nature. IMHO, YMMV, etc...

  9. I highly recommend the blog Armarium Magnum, which is written by an atheist who has an interest in history. His review of the book God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam is a powerful antidote to the Galileo myth.

    Ok. Three posts on one article. That's enough.

  10. Every act of giving requires an act of taking. End all mandated charity. Keep what you earn, starve if you don't earn. Studies show motivation can be motivating.

  11. Papal infallibility is routinely misunderstood. The pope is only considered to be infallible in ex cathedra speech and in the canonization of saints. Ex cathedra pronouncements are very rare - perhaps one per century. They tend to be about deep matters of faith, not temporal trivia like economics or climate change.

    As a result, Francis' errors on climate change won't lead to any crisis of confidence among Catholics. We are certainly disappointed (at least, those of us who are climate skeptic Catholics). All popes make errors, and many have been far worse than this.

    You are right that he has a significant left wing tilt. I think it comes from being a priest in Argentina, which is not a good environment for learning economics. He no doubt saw lots of oppression of the poor by the rich. However, so far his actual pronouncements on economic issues have been far milder than what one would guess from the press coverage. The press, with its own strong left wing leanings, magnifies way out of proportion even the slightest tendencies of the church or its leaders to move towards modern mythologies such as climate change or radical feminism.

  12. I was writing a comment saying just that, so thanks for saving me the job. And as a Catholic agnostic, I would add that Catholics have a long tradition bypassing the teachings of the Church in almost every respect (premarital sex, contraception, homosexuality ...), and my guess is that this case will be one more to add.

  13. kashyap vasavadaJan 6, 2015, 8:53:00 PM

    @Alex and Shannon:
    I agree with Shannon.Overwhelming majority of the people killed during 20th century were not killed in religious wars. Hitler, Musolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pat,North Korea's Kims, Vietnamese communists etc were nor religious by any stretch of imagination!!

  14. I doubt Al is any kind of antisemite. I could be wrong though, but he's never given me that impression in the past, at least none that sticks in my memory.

    My money is on irony here. I'll give you 5 to 1 on on that.

    I'll give you 4 to 1 on that he's Jewish himself.

    I'll give you 100 to 1 on he likes irony. Mixed with bucket loads of sarcasm.

    Hold your fire. Wait until you see the whites of their eyes. :)

  15. Lubos, as a fan of your blog, I have to say that sometimes you get things wrong on history of science. I'm sure there's not any bad intent, but there it is.

    It also took a lot of time for the scientist to figure out that Galileo Galileo was right when it came to heliocentrism. With all the necessary observations and physical theories and all that. (And idea that Church accepted Galileos theory only in 1992 is very wrong.)


    It's interesting, in 200 years when we realize that there is no danger of climate change/warming, everyone will be speaking about evil Church and stupid Pope who accepted unscientific theory. (There will be jokes about Pope installing solar panels on his roof because he was afraid that if he doesn't do that, adriatic sea will rise like in Noah story.) No one will talk about all the scientist who agree, just like in the Galileo story.

    Wish you all the best in new year,

    catholic Reader

  16. I agree with that.

    Moreover, generally speaking religious wars are not* faithful to their respective religions, not as I know them anyway.

    The exception occurs where pisslam is involve. But then it's not really an exception, because it's not a religion — it's a severe psychiatric disorder and a huge pox on the world.

    * Wars between Catholics and Protestants, for example, were essentially political. The doctrinal differences were largely a red herring. That's my take. Also, the Conquistadors did NOT act like Christ. Quite the converse. So laying the blame on Christianity for that one is nuts. I know virtually nothing about, say, Hinduism or Buddhism but I imagine the same applies.

  17. Your written English is of unusually high quality, mesocyclone. Thanks for making the extra effort. It does save time and effort for your grateful readers.

  18. I'll give you 200 to 1 he doesn't have all his marbles. Some clues maybe found here: http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/

  19. Archer, you remind me of Archie, a guy we used to watch in the 70's


  20. Sadly, the famous Czech priest Jan Hus was killed before he could launch the Protestant Reformation ahead of Luther and the rest. If he had lived you might be talking about how great Protestantism was for creating economic success.

  21. "Wars between catholics and protestants were essentially political" true but let's not forget Oliver Cromwell's crual crusade against the catholic Ireland. He got his head chopped and impaled back home, but only a few weeks after he was dead.

  22. Yup. The tidal effect of the moon is approximately (+-) 2 * G * M * delta_r / d^3, with M the mass of the Moon, d the distance Moon - Earth and delta_r the radius of the Earth.

    Same for the Sun if you substitute the correct mass and distance, so the ratio of the tidal force of the Moon vs the tidal force of the Sun is (M_moon / M_sun) (Dist_sun_earth / Dist_moon_earth)^3 which is only about 2.1. Not much difference in fact.

  23. Don't tell me — it's gotta be in the name, right?

    Here it used to be Alf Garnett that "racial and religious bigots™" were likened to but the collective memory of the 1960s is fast fading now. I hear the Archie Bunker character was an even more sanitised version of al beeb's dinky straw man but no doubt with a lot of that repulsive cloying schmaltz added for good measure.

    By the way, I think the West should start by enacting the same laws and punishments here for muslimes that are applied to non-muslimes in say saudi arabia but with the obvious flip of what is considered 'kosher', as it were. So no mosques for a start.

    What do you say?

    "It's only fair!" as the left would cry?

  24. I said it correctly, John. The specific gravity of the sun varies by orders of magnitude depending on distance from the center but as long as you use the AVERAGE specific gravity all is well. Obviously, the mass of a spherical body is the product of its volume and its average specific gravity, no matter the distribution.
    Newton first proved that the gravitational effect of a spherically symmetric body is equal to one with the entire mass concentrated at the center. This is a consequence of the inverse square law and it holds equally for the electric field due to a spherical charge distribution.

  25. It is only KSA as a Vatican does not allow. There is no such restriction in the other 56 countries. I keep reminding you , John Archer, Christianity was invented here in the Middle East and Muslimes consider Christiandirty(just a joke) to be one and the same, if you don't know that you must read more. The original Arabists criticism of Islam that it has just copied Christianity, all that before the new age spin.

    Anyhow, the UK government is not as stupid as you think, a part from the political repercussion, you also have this


    and that is the tip of the iceberg.

  26. I was surprised long ago about the amount of religious people around the world, and then for every year that passed I got more and more surprised until I realised that most people simply live in quite strong belief, be it religious, ideological, statistical etc, (we know of course that belief cannot be escaped entirely).

    But, I was however most surprised during my reading of your article that you called yourself a Christian atheist. To me, atheism is a very "neutral belief system" that at many times are treated with bad explanations and misleading words. I "believe" that most people connotate atheism as simply the non-belief in a religious God, but I rather want it to mean a system of thinking where belief is at the minimum, eg. collect as much information as possible and make up your mind about the likelihoods of different scenarios. Because as we know, things are strictly between 0 and 1. This, (I think, or believe) is what you mean by, maybe then, for the sake of it, "pure atheism"? I am also very curious about what you mean by the word Christian in the "As a Christian atheist, I...", and would be very delighted if you could elaborate!

  27. Cromwell — good and bad. We needed a civil war. The executive was out of control. But yes, I agree, he was a real cunt to Paddy. A great shame that. (Another was the 1840s' famine.)

    But don't forget there were also barbarities in England at that time too, so Tommy got a share as well, just not so much. But any is bad.

    Lesson: People need FULL CONTROL over WHOEVER is governing them, and in a war it's always much better to be on the winning side.

    As for Cromwell's rotting corpse dug up and his head stuck up on a spike, what do you expect after the Restoration? A happy-clappy prayer for his soul? :)

  28. Ah! Something we can agree on! :)

    As for Christian on Christian, I doubt many saw it in those terms, not once the patriotic blood-&-soil genie was out of the bottle. Something far more primitive. Real primal, I'd say. The inner reptile takes over.

    I attend to mine well. :)

  29. I can't speak for Luboš but I interpreted his remark as saying that he is an atheist as far as religion is concerned but one with a definite Christian cultural heritage.

    I'm similar but I'd call myself a Christian agnostic, because I'm not so sure. Nevertheless I gather we both worship at very similar shrines so I'm not too fussed about precise doctrinal differences. :)

  30. Hi there Christian agnostic. I am Catholic Christian agnostic. ;-)

  31. Gene,

    "Newton first proved that the gravitational effect of a spherically symmetric body is equal to one with the entire mass concentrated at the center."

    Funny you should mention that. It was specifically this happy result of his I had in mind. What a coincidence! :)

    But I'm not sure if we're not talking past each other here.

    In any event your original comment was specifically about "a spherical body". And my response was made specifically in that light.

    But now...

    "<>If two deformable bodies are close enough for tidal effects to render them non-spherical...
    " [My emphasis]

    This changes things. I agree it all gets more complicated.

    But going back to my response to your original comment, as far as I can tell, my point still stands.


    "The sun has a smaller effect on earth’s tides than the moon only because it is less dense."

    This bothers me too. If we could squeeze the Sun down to a point, the tidal effects it has on Earth was be almost identical to what they are now. Its density just doesn't come into it here, only its mass, especially so at that distance. No?

  32. Thanks, Scooby. I agree with your ∆ gravity calculation.

    By the way, why did you choose the notation delta_r for Earth's radius and not simply r?

    If it were me, I would have called it ℵ₌ and insisted on a nice shade of scarlet for the font to match my mood. :)

  33. Without sheep there would be no wolves.

  34. That all sounds cool (on a personal, have few drinks in a pub level) but I don't see anything implementable there.

    Is 4th generation German good enough a countryman for you? What about 2nd generation Czech?

    The specific legislation targeting only (and only) Muslims, that's another thing. That's nothing generic, left to interpretation by the courts.

    That will never fly in the US, but, if Europe is as specific case as Lubos claims it to be, that in should be shown as a specific case.

    Let's see EU banning Islam and immigration on anybody subscribing to Islam as his religion. Let's see deportations to Islamic states based solely on religion.

  35. heresy and socialism have a long history, read The Socialist Phenomenon by Igor Shafarevich.

    fun fact: our word 'bugger' comes from Bulgar, because a priest from Bulgaria preached socialism and free love in the tenth century. This heresy spread as far as France.

  36. Thanks for posting the video and it was very nice Frame Foto

  37. I am a Jewish Catholic agnostic atheist. I know I should feel twice the guilt but I just don't believe.

  38. With all due respect, you can't be catholic and jewish at the same time.

  39. Hey Lubos, Jesus said something like this "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
    needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."" Now would you also call Jesus a communist or leftist?

  40. Father jew mom catholic.

  41. Dear Catholic reader, happy new year to you, too.

    Apologies but heliocentrism was always right and a convincing body of evidence was available not only during Galileo's life but already during Copernicus' life.

    In the Catholic Church,there could have been individuals - mavericks - who knew that for a longer time but the Catholic Church as an institution only adopted the teaching in 1992, after a 13-year investigation by the Vatican:


    I mentioned that people will remember the unscientific attitudes of Pope Francis in the future - and not the attitudes of generic alarmist crooks - because I was assuming that the Catholic Church will survive up to that moment while the climate alarmist "scientists" will be forgotten in the dustbin of history much sooner than that. Indeed, they are totally analogous to the forgotten, equally politicized, crappy "scientists" who were opposing Galileo.

  42. Surely that makes you 100% catholic as Judaism comes down the female line ?

  43. Dear John and Gene, I agree with John, the visual diameter of the other body is irrelevant because all spherical sources of gravity with the same mass have the same gravity.

    By tidal forces, I simply meant that one considers the gradient of the gravitational acceleration - but this gradient is nonzero because the *Earth* has a nonzero size, and not due to Pluto, Gene. One takes the derivative of G*M*m/R^2 with respect to R because one is changing the Pluto-Earth distance by the Earth's radius or so, and one gets G*M*m*R(earth)/R(distance)^3

  44. Catholicism accepts the questioning.

  45. "...in a war it's always better to be on the winning side", That is silly John, one cannot know which one is the winning side until the end of the war... so in your lesson the war never ends!

  46. Yes, of course that I would and I do. I am using the same standards for everybody. Sorry if this approach is a heresy from your viewpoint.

  47. Oh please, Lubos, this has nothing to do with politics... What Jesus said is that when you enter the kingdom of God you have to be light in your soul and humble (not "carrying" your wealth which you cannot bring with you "up there").

  48. Shannon, nope, teaching about wealth - and any claim by Jesus - is always a matter of politics.

    And nope, Jesus didn't mean to say a vacuous poem. He meant it very literally.


    If you accumulate wealth etc., you are living against the actual teachings by Jesus. You're not the only one. ;-)

    But this inconsistency doesn't prove that Jesus wasn't a leftist. It proves that his followers are cherry-picking hypocrites.

  49. You are definitely not a catholic then Lubos ;-).

  50. LOL, that's not a big discovery, I am not a Catholic. I have attended one Catholic mass in my life. It was really the left-wing intellectual Halík's sermon but I ate the bread, too.

    The Catholic Church would look more tolerable to me at that moment, but for certain reasons, I had much deeper and more frequent encounters with protestant churches.

  51. Which protestant church ? There are 30,000 protestant denominations ! ;-)

  52. Dear Shannon, I didn't say I had tight contacts with the protestant "church" - but "churches"! ;-)

    For example The Unity of the Brethren, Church of Brethren, Christian Fellowship, KMS, plus Mormons (my dad and half-sisters were baptized in a swimming pool once), Jehovah Witnesses (lots of polemics with the door-to-door missionaries whom I almost never rejected), and others.

    It's great that the Catholic Church is united and large. But the fragmentation probably has some advantages, too. I don't know and due to my mixed attitude to the churches in general, my opinion about what is more effective isn't important, anyway. ;-)

  53. I called it delta_r because I assumed it's much smaller than d, ((delta_r / d) being the small parameter of a Taylor series expansion). But on second thought yes your choice is much better ;) ℵ₌

  54. Yes, it was pretty funny! And with the accumulating experience, I became more familiar with the things they find important, so it was increasingly funny.

    On Liane BBS, I had a pretty good e-friend, Bubrak, who was a Witness of Jehovah, too.

  55. Yes, John, it's exactly what I meant.

  56. Didn't Rehbock mean Jewish in the ethnic sense? DNA goes both lines, right? ;-)

  57. Having been exposed exactly to the same excuse during communism so many times, I have never bought it. Many of those who joined the communist party and chairs controlled by the party would say that they had to do it because otherwise it would be done by worse people, so they effectively improved things, and so on.

    This excuse fails to acknowledge the fact that the root of the problem is that the pseudo-religion (or communist party) is so strong, and by adding new members, the problem becomes worse. In other words, it's self-evident that dealing with the problem from outside is the cleaner path towards improvement.

    At any rate, this is a speculative comparison because I don't really believe that Pope's support for this pseudo-religion is just a trick. It is as genuine as it is from Leonardo DiCaprio or any naive enough person who is lacking the scientific background, who has no benefits from joining, but who has been made to believe that pseudo-religion, anyway.

    I understand that you are expected to be loyal to the Pope. But God bless us if this will be the attitude picked by most Catholics (1.2 billion) in the world.

  58. LOL, I also let them in to my appartment in London once (for inglés practice only), and I think if they had been 15 minutes more, they would have gone as perfect atheists from my house :D

  59. Thanks for the blog reference. I hadn't known about it. It seems to be a very good blog.

  60. When they come to my house I tell them I am a catholic and perfectly happy in my belief. They never try further. If you let them know you are atheist or agnostic or whatever that will show that you are not 100% sure they will use the foot in the door strategy.

  61. My understanding is that we are talking religion here, which transcends ethnic groups ;-).

  62. The Pope is not a politician. We have to bear with him. Believing in God is only damage control on humans. That is all it is Lubos. What do you believe?... that the only fact of believing makes you a God-who-knows-everything?
    It doesn't.

  63. they are those rings that people insert into ear piercings to enlarge the openings...

  64. Lubos, for once recently you're not aggressively anti-religious enough! I did appreciate your relatively conciliatory comments, nonetheless.

    My reaction to this latest encyclical can be summed up briefly:

    Mater si, Magistra no.

  65. Wasn't that Max Weber's thesis?

    Although he largely credited Calvin, not Luther.

  66. How is this one Lubos, "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10. In the surrounding versus Paul is very critical of church members who live off of the work of others. "Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat." (12)

  67. Calvin was very specifically focused on understanding the original intent of the Bible. He was actually a lawyer by training. It could have been anyone who methodically analysed the Bible and was willing to disregard the last 1400 years of Church decisions. The ideas involved come from the Bible itself and very early Church history as confirmation.

  68. If respectable parties do not take up the issues of the people, then the people will turn to unrespectable parties.

  69. This is really a silly comment because the adjective "respectable" is subjective and a party preferred by some voters is obviously respectable according to them.

  70. It's what is happening in Sweden as the top parties struck a power sharing deal for about 10 years or so. Only a far right party is willing to tackle immigration now.

  71. Even if the planets alligned to exert a force exactly large enough to compensate the earths gravity, we would not feel it, because the earth would feel the exact same force per mass, and we would still be in an (not newtonian) inertial system. So it would be kind of lame and we could not fly anyways.

  72. I wrote the same thing, including the correction - the tidal forces caused by the fact that the other planets' gravitational field isn't uniform - can be felt. They contribute to tides etc. Those forces go like 1/R^3 where R is the Earth-planet distance.

  73. Sorry, didn't read that.