Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yes, Kate, teach all the denial theories too!

Kate asked, when reading that I suggested that both sides of the global warning issue should be presented, whether I thought that intelligent design should be presented in a course on evolution. My first response was "no," that is different.

But then I remembered a lecture I heard by a mathematician about why we shouldn't teach intelligent design in the schools. He proceeded to teach a lot of very interesting science in disproving intelligent design. As I listened to him, I started to visualize students coming to school with backward thoughts and how important it is to their education that the errors in their thinking be discussed.

I'm now visiting my in-laws and had the global climate change discussion with my father-in-law. Like 53% of the tea party, he believed that man probably didn't cause climate change, and that soon it was just as likely that it would cool down as it would start to warm up.

I did feel like taking the other side but quickly realized that I would not be able to convince him that, as my global warning teacher says, we are on a train, doing our "own thing" and that the train is about a mile from the edge of a cliff... and soon we would all die.

I wished then that I could show him charts and graphs proving our demise. What better deed would there be than to save the Earth?

Do we all think that what we believe is fact?

6 comments:

Kate Freeman said...

I took an evolution class some years ago. I would not have appreciated if my instructor would have wasted my time going over creationism. I wanted to learn more about how evolution works. . . not about creationism which I feel is an out dated idea that people with strong religious convictions cling to like a tattered security blanket. After all one could watch evolution unfold with predictable results in a jar of fruit flies in any Biology 101 course.

One day our instructor offered us extra credit if we would attend a lecture by some guy from Harvard that was being offered at the zoo. Naturally I carpooled with a group of people down to the zoo for my extra points that I would get for just sitting there.

At first I didn’t understand why our instructor would care if we heard this lecture. It was so basic. I had learned all this already long ago. There was no depth to the talk what-so-ever. Worse than Biology 101. Bored out my mind. Then there was Q & A and I realized what our instructor wanted us to see.

Young people. Old people. Angry people. Asking flippant questions that barley masked hostility. Some people made no attempt to mask hostility and didn’t even ask questions; rather just made comments that seemed stupid to me. “God made man in his image not in a monkey image!” . . . followed by clapping. The Harvard guy handled himself well. But he was not what my professor wanted us to see. Our professor wanted us to see the audience.

For a creationist to accept evolution, he/she must shift perception in such a way that humanity no longer gets viewed as the ultimate creation of God, but now gets viewed and an accident of natural processes that can be measured and understood by humanity. Oh yeah. . . and we are related to monkeys, which is how the theory often gets summerized.

For global warming/climate change, it’s a bit different. One has to make a perception shift from one where humanity is at the mercy of grander forces of the planet to one where humanity plays the largest role in the major shift of planetary weather patters which effect all living beings. And if one believes the latter, shouldn’t one do something to make sure humanity doesn’t destroy all life on the planet. So not only is there a mind shift, but also fallout behavioral changes (which evolution acceptance doesn’t really require).

Which do you think is more frightening? The possibility of a growing up under the threat of nuclear holocaust or growing up thinking you are killing the planet by continuing to live as you have been living up to this point?

Kim Mosley said...

Yes, Kate, all the threats to our existence are frightening... from poor thinking to nuclear holocaust, terrorist whatever, or depletion of resources. I suppose at this moment not having people working on all of it and not having people working on the how we might live together in peace are most frightening.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever read Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut? In that novel the earth is destroyed when an alien race experimenting with new technology blows up the entire universe on accident. Earth’s demise doesn’t have anything to do with human activity at all; even though humans always thought they would bring about their own demise. Silly humans.

What prompted you to take a global warming class? I am curious as to what kind of class it is. Through a university? Through the zoo? Through the zen center? What have you covered thus far?

I took a global warming class too. It was sponsored by UMSL, MOBOT, and the zoo. I dropped out toward the end of the class when there was discussion about which species would survive the shift in climate. For example, a large tree found in such-and-such location would have trouble migrating to another area as zones (like in gardening) shift. It would be more likely to die off than a creature that could travel on legs to a more suitable habitat.

I was pretty much done by then. It was a super depressing topic. I made it through all the studies showing how they know the CO2 is rising. I heard various studies documenting the effects of the rising CO2. I studied the math that calculated the amounts of the various CO2 sources. I even listened to the political scientists as they discussed the many approaches of governments around the world to deal with the issue. I just couldn’t handle the “what-will-live-on” talks.

I once heard Derek Jensen (who writes about super depressing topics) ask the question if one believed that humanity would voluntarily change behavior in time to stop the coming demise caused by climate change. He felt that if one answered “yes”, then that person would have radically different behaviors than the person who answers “no”. And if one answered the question “no”, then one would start should start to prepare for that fall and that this is a very different mindset than the person who is still trying to stop the fall. By the time you’re talking about how to save species when the zones start to shift, you’re answering Jensen’s question “no”. I think that’s why I stopped going to the class at that point.

I think I tend to answer Jensen’s question “no” most of the time. But unlike Jensen, I feel that a change forced on humanity (as oppose to a voluntary change) can occur before a fall. In other words, we can be forced to change before that train goes over the cliff.

Kate

Anonymous said...

Isn't Slaughter House Five Vonnegut's attempt to deal with the horror of the fire bombing of Dresden which he survived as a POW inside a meat locker?  Yes, there are aliens but their main contribution is teaching him how he can move throughout space and time and choose to concentrate in one place rather than another.  He knows his own death.

My answer to Derek Jensen is yes and no.  We must do both wholeheartedly irrespective of outcome, just like any other work/life practice.  To get into too much speculation about which way things will go and do or not do based on speculation is to think we have control over our deaths.  Silly human!

Anonymous said...

Provocative discussion, I remain confused and undecided about where I stand. H.

Anonymous said...

We must do both wholeheartedly irrespective of outcome --- Anonymous

What does it mean to do both? What does it mean to do one or the other for that matter? What exactly should humans do in order to stop climate change (assuming one believes that humans can do this)? What is ‘right action’? And be aware that one does have to prioritize those ‘right actions’ to make sure one gets the most out of his/her action.

Kate