Friday, May 29, 2009

eye opener

We all have our little pet peeves. Precie hates the word irregardless. robin s hates bad education systems. EE hates authors. So it is.

Apparently, one of my pet peeves is willful ignorance. It's beyond my comprehension when people wish not to know stuff or cannot think in a coherent fashion.

I discovered this yesterday when I ran across an article about volcanic activity perhaps triggering extinctions. As I become more familiar with the topic, I can see that the article is poorly written. What it's really about is the greatest mass extinction in the history of the earth that occurred at the end of the Permian era. We know the extinctions occurred, but the mechanism or mechanisms have been elusive and remain controversial. Volcanism is one suggested hypothesis with pros and cons for it, and some researchers are now providing some additional evidence for volcanism. The popular article, however, doesn't get much past "scientists think volcanoes killed everything 260 million years ago."

Regardless of the state of science journalism, when I scrolled down to the comments, I didn't expect much in the way of controversy. I mean, who gets upset about volcanism at the end of the Permian other than researchers who prefer the methane explanation?

Apparently, lots of people get upset about this. If you click on the link above and scroll down, it will take you to the comments. What will the comments be like? Possibly some science folk who have their own pet theories? Perhaps a lot of people worrying about this happening next week?

Not at all. Instead you get things like:

- typical of the country's lib media
- science = satan (I started off assuming this was a joke, but I think it's real.)
- why do scientists get paid to make up crap like this?
- text-bookcase [sic] of global warming
- guess the dinosaurs didn't paint their roofs white!
- this is Real! The scientists were there to see it with their own eyes. They also found that dinosaur tastes like chicken
- I must have missed the news flash of the working time machine these scientists traveled in to gather their astounding data

These aren't the exceptions but the main response. As the comments go on, there are repeated jokes about Al Gore, repeated religious declarations, and even more just simple denial.

And it's really that last crew that I think bugged me more than anyone. How can you categorically deny something when you know nothing about it? (as becomes really clear when the discussions start). I couldn't help myself and entered the fray, losing a few hours to this.

It really was an eye opener. I guess I had gotten sheltered here in academia, since almost everyone really does attempt to use evidence and stuff here. And they mostly have a curiosity about the world. I suppose I was also taken aback by the dominance of these opinions. The "fringe" is the mainstream apparently. My favorite thing I learned from my debaters was that the biblical flood is likely responsible for the destruction of marine life. Think about that. But, with their version of the Bible, there's no room for any general destruction other than that one. And so they are left with too much rain killing the fish.

I don't know. Form your own opinions. I can't take it anymore. You will see me in a couple comments and mostly in replies under the familiar name of pacatrue.

Oooh, oooh, is this the closest I've come to a rant? Maybe so. Yay!! I ranted!


Anonymous said...

*sniff sniff* I miss Precie.

Yay for ranting! Boo for those religious people who make us other religious people look like uneducated morons! Yay for dinosaurs tasting like chicken!

Actually, my kids /do/ have dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. They must be fossils.

Sorry, Paca. I know you're in earnest. My defense against people who refuse to think is humor, because otherwise I'll....well, go volcanic on their asses.

blogless troll said...

We recently had a full week of nearly non-stop rain. Granted, it wasn't enough to kill any fish, but it severely screwed up my pool chemistry. I'm talking emerald green water with tadpoles and stuff.

As far as I can tell, the current debate lays the blame for the world's current weather on either a) God, or b)fossil fuel-burning Americans who don't subscribe to global warming theories. I really don't care which one it is. I'd just like it to be settled once and for all so I know who to send my chlorine bill to.

Precie said...


Um, while I'm in your camp on this, paca, I hate to tell you that I know a few very nice and otherwise reasonable people who believe not only that fundamentalist creationism is the Truth but that therefore dinosaur fossils were basically "planted" by God...basically that scientific facts that prove evolution are God's red herring.

Given that logic, how does one even begin to approach common ground on this issue?


pjd said...

@troll: are you sure those are tadpoles and not baby gators? My pool was so green a few weeks ago I think evolution was taking place beneath the surface.

Religion (with a capital "R") is the only thing I know of (after third grade, that is) that is actually self-proving. God exists because there is no proof that God exists. And if proof appears somewhere, then it's actually proof that God works in ways we don't understand. It's brilliant, actually. A claim where every counter-argument can be turned around as proof of the original claim.

I love the text-bookcase.

PS: I think I will choose wilful ignorance on some items as my boys enter their teen years. Sometimes it really is better not to know.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I think I need a text-bookcase.

Generally, I find the people who choose to comment regularly like to stir the pot and see what kind of reactions they get. They love the attention.