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Things to ponder

Work construction ridiculousness continues apace.

At least we have a few more people back to help with cricket maintenance. And I learned where the construction workers' office is located so I can go yell at them directly, despite the futility of it all.

I need to finish reading about the conservative case for taxing carbon pollution. The Republican rhetorical strategy is fascinating to observe sometimes - how people go about saying "I changed my mind" without admitting that's what they've done.

This piece arguing against early cancer detection is thought-provoking, mostly about how one should not always generalize about such a tremendously complex subject (from the biological perspective). Why is it that people are so willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid cancer, while simultaneously contributing to global warming and other forms of environmental degradation that lead to just as much human pain and suffering? I've been reading through a back-issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that says that studies have found that char-grilled hamburgers are likely to be a much greater source of dangerous small particulate matter pollution than vehicles. And yet the vehicles are heavily regulated, while the family-owned hamburger joints aren't.

I keep on thinking about how people install birdfeeders to try and attract birds, and then spin around and hose down their homes with pesticides to kill off any and all insects, even though birds are major disease vectors and most insect "pests" are "nuisance pests," which means they don't really carry major diseases or allergens, people just don't like them. Apparently it's currently the International Urban Wildlife Conference, so there are related questions being tossed back and forth and pondered on Twitter under the hashtag #iuwc2015 . Someone put it succinctly: to feed or not feed wildlife? Some people say no because it can cause all kinds of problems, while others say yes, because it connects people to wildlife. Another person has pointed out that one of the things that needs to be done is showing the consequences of our behavior for other animals, whether it's our feeding behavior or other things. The general public often doesn't seem able to make this conceptual leap without some facilitation.

Back to work.


( 3 remarks — Remark )
May. 19th, 2015 01:30 am (UTC)
Sometimes it's not even "I've changed my mind" but "I was completely wrong" that is expressed cleverly so as to not actually say "I was completely wrong." Or, increasingly, "I was lying through my teeth."
May. 19th, 2015 01:57 am (UTC)
Hmm, you mean along the lines with how people like to change the stories surrounding the decision to invade Iraq?

When that all started, I was really into button-making. I still have a large button that says, "No Iraq War!" To some extent I wish I hadn't been right about that.

I can see how politicians would have to tread lightly when it comes to declaring, "I've changed my mind," lest they get targeted as being a "flip-flopper." So the rhetoric is necessary to demonstrate that the decisions are carefully thought through.
May. 19th, 2015 03:23 am (UTC)
I think there are a bunch of things going on: in science, changing your mind when new evidence comes up is seen as laudable, whereas in politics, firmness and determination are seen as admirable. Since, in politics, many of the issues are actually opinions about how we should run things, rather than facts, stubbornness is a reasonable mindset. I think most people are more comfortable with that viewpoint than with the changing facts world of science, so A: they're big on determination, and B: they're much more comfortable with strongly expressed opinions than carefully expressed data and as such are willing to disregard the data in favor of the opinions.
( 3 remarks — Remark )

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