Category Archives: Philosophy and Science

FREEDOM FROM POSSESSIONS?

‘Freedom is nothing left to lose’ (Song: Bobby Mcghee).

Conversely, can acquisition of a product bring true freedom?

True freedom is much sought after. Giving away one’s possessions may be undertaken to achieve freedom. Is going without honourable, to people other than stoics? Some religions offer poverty as a virtue bringing salvation.

Can giving and impoverishment be a hangover cure for a binge of hedonism?

A person can give and take, at different times, without contradiction. 

Reciprocation is expected. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)

Why is taking balanced by giving? It makes sense in economics but maybe not in ethics.

What if the person gives all they have and it is not reciprocated? Would their condition be pitiable or enviable?

Minimalism removes the distraction of excess possessions so you can focus more on those things that matter most.Adam Smith described a state of “perfect liberty”— which became known as laissez-faire capitalism, freedom to make money — as most socially desirable. Or is minimalism the selfish squandering of opportunity?

Giving can mean transfer of more than you have, by sacrifice. Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect. According to Noam Chomsky: The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have. An individual’s first responsibility is to himself and his family, according to Jordan Peterson and Ayn Rand.

Should a person try to balance their giving and taking, so as to stay in credit?

Philanthrocapitalists like Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk and Bevos have achieved “spectacular fortunes” in the marketplace and may feel compelled to make a bigger impact, outside the marketplace, by giving. Carnegie gifted what would amount to billions of dollars today by taking a “modest salary” and donating the rest during his life and in his death. He believed that it was not only a moral imperative, but a social responsibility of the elite to support and grow local economies for lower classes. Noblesse Oblige prescribed that with great wealth comes the responsibility to give back to those who are less fortunate than oneself. Was this balance between taking and giving true freedom?

Ordinary individuals may want to balance their giving on a reduced scale.

The conundrum seems to have three dimensions: Freedom; Responsibility; Self sacrifice.

Through acquisition, giving and tolerance, independence may be possible daily.

My blog: https://martinknox.com

CLIMATE TALK RULED BY STEREOTYPES

Why do people talk passionately using theories they often don’t understand in situations that are not defined? Climate change is a sport and knowing the moves of the sides can limit dirty play. 

BELIEVERS want their majorities to rule over everyone by the consensual decrees of international forums. They don’t want further investigation because they are already sufficiently mobilised by their beliefs. Their edicts contradict and overrule scientific and democratic freedoms, which is autocracy at best and at worst hegemonic tyranny. 

DENIERS is the name Believers use to label as heretics those who challenge their monotheism with arguments they are unable to counter with reason. The heresy is claimed to be self-evidently false, dishonest, illogical and too stupid to be considered. Denying is often claimed to have motives corrupted by greed, ignorance and self-interest.  Believers sometimes call for reprisals against deniers. When they reject others’ beliefs, believers lack convincing evidence and their defence usually fails miserably. There is little evidence and beliefs are so fragile that compromise between believers and deniers is impossible. 

SCEPTICS simply don’t know and their views are less acceptable to believers than deniers, because they are a moving target of doubt, compared with deniers who have an alternative reality. Sceptics remain to be convinced that climate change is significant when there is no accepted standard for significance and there has been bias. Sceptics want climate change to be significant before launching into remedial action. They want evidence that there is a greenhouse effect and that CO2 traps more infrared, molecule for molecule, than N2 and O2, rather than the same, which is what respectable theories suggest. Most scientists would be sceptics if they had the courage.

Believer, Denier and Sceptic, like The Three Monkeys, operate with different engagement, as mankind migrates across the savannah of human understanding of climate. Believers lead the migration to better environments, creating different survivors. They are opposed by deniers who, like predators, select their prey from the ranks of the young, the old and the disabled and pursue them in arguments to exhaustion. More agile believers are advantaged by sacrifice of the weakest. Sceptics apply reality tests to believers’ progress, checking their theories for veracity by science and logic. Sceptics try to mediate between believers and deniers.  Sceptics must win, eventually, when the believers stop believing in a better climate.

My speculative fiction novel The Grass is Always Browner considers Australia 250 years in the future.

https://martinknox.wordpress.com

COVID INFECTION NOT JUST A GERM

Covid testing measures the presence of pathogens, omitting the absence of immunity. It is more difficult to test immune resistance but it is, arguably as much a cause of infection as is transmission of the pathogen. Immunity and immune defences are insufficiently recognised in controlling the Covid pandemic.

Husserl’s revolution (1859-1938) in discovering phenomenology was to pull back the focus of objectivity, from the material out there in the environment, to the psychological perception of the observer. It was a new perspective of reality, called existential phenomenology and it is still popular today in understanding ‘being’. Virology seems to be stuck with focus on germs but could have its own Husserl who would give more emphasis to a person’s immune system. 

Objectivity in traditional health’s description of infection is preoccupied with pathogens and pays little attention to immune defences. Pasteur’s germ theory focussed on pathogen transmission (objective). Bechamp (1816-1908), a contemporary of Pasteur, extolled the virtues of immunity (subjective) but for some reason his theory has been overlooked in a controversy from which germs emerged victorious. Bechamp argued that the underlying condition of our body determines the risk of disease, not just the germs itself.  In his “terrain theory” he postulated that a weak body attracted disease, while a healthy body resisted it, Rumor has it that Louis Pasteur himself admitted on his death bed that there was more merit to the terrain theory, but modern medicine had set out on a new course by then.Essential nutrients, clean whole foods, reducing toxic exposures, supporting gut bacteria, etc go a long way towards creating a healthy terrain.

If immunity was considered more important, public restrictions would less severely constrain exercise, healthy eating, social gatherings, fresh air, relaxation, morale, jobs, school attendance and economic activities. These are more than places for pathogens to invade: they are places we use to strengthen our immune systems. I ask authorities to un-restrict them pronto. We may not be able to rely on vaccines to provide all our immunity!

These comments need validation before action.

My writing on Covid is at https://martinknox.com

GREENHOUSE TEAPOT

Philosopher Bertrand Russell ridiculed the existence of God by positing a teapot in space between Jupiter and Earth. It has not been falsified nor can it be. Below I liken the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect to such a teapot.

Some people believe there is a teapot (Enhanced Greenhouse Effect) that is causing tea (global warming). Their belief is bolstered by hot Venus (96.5% CO2) and glasshouses (glass acts as a convection barrier) that are supposed to be warmed by a similar teapot (conditions are so different the analogy is irrelevant). Infra-red back-radiation rains down like tea, causing temperatures to rise and ice caps to melt. The teapot uses ‘teabags’ (GHGs: carbon dioxide and methane) made from the waste products of combusting fossil fuels. Their conclusion is that we must stop producing teabag GHGs. Believers do not acknowledge that the ‘tea’ (global warming) could come from something else.

Global warming could be resulting from one or more of these processes:

  1. natural changes in the Sun’s interior;
  2. natural changes in the Earth’s interior;

3.       non-anthropomorphic thermal pollution, from bushfires, volcanoes, biochemical processes;

4.       anthropomorphic thermal pollution from energy production inefficiencies and consumption;

5.        thermal pollution from enhanced agriculture, biodecomposition, biodegradation and cows’ digestive processes;

In view of the above alternative explanations for the ‘tea’, a teapot may not exist. It is not possible to dismiss the possibility of a teapot. The case for it would be improved had its hypothesised tea-producing effect ever been measured and reported accessibly. I have heard of it only as a supposition elaborated by qualitative theories. In some instances, the relationships have been acknowledged by the theorists who have confounded them. The absence of experimental data is preeminent in the websites I have perused. 

Is it possible that a teapot could send its ‘tea’ to stay on Earth in daytime without much going out into space, even at night, having an effect like an electric blanket? Classical modelling of radiant transfer processes by Stefan Boltzmann has energy absorbed equal to energy emitted. I have not been able to find a method of calculating a Greenhouse Effect based on measurements in controlled experiments.

You may want to dismiss my lack of success in finding this evidence as incomplete or indicative of incompetence at desk research. Although I have not been employed as a climate scientist, I am a chemical engineer and during a career spanning 50 years I have studied thermodynamic processes, including radiant heat transfer, worked as an energy supply engineer, applied complex numerical simulators to problems, analysed climate reports and data as a high school science teacher, written educational materials on climate science for Education Queensland, been a blogger on climate topics, witnessed the proposal of a greenhouse effect teapot and the apotheosis of renewable energy technologies. My fruitless search for the ‘teapot’ has been mostly online — my research skills have been acknowledged by employers.

I am not at all convinced by the predictions of climate models because overfitting occurs when there are too few degrees of freedom. The ‘degrees of freedom’ is the number of observations minus the number of explanatory variables. If the number of variables is the same as, or greater than the number of observations, there are not enough observations and predictions are not sufficiently deterministic to have any confidence in them. I would like to hear from any modeller who has explained more global climate observation averages than variables he/she has tweaked. 

If a teapot is causing the tea heating Venus, then the teabags it uses are 2500 times more concentrated, the sulphuric acid clouds on Venus are absent on Earth and the tea there is so much stronger, over 400oC, that the planet’s thermodynamic balance does not substantiate that a teapot there would have processes able to be scaled down to conditions on Earth with any reliability.  There is nothing about Venus that is evidence for a teapot in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A greenhouse effect is a theory that lacks the respectability of being validated by empirical science.

Glasshouses warm up in daytime and cool down at night. They have heaters. Is there a greenhouse somewhere that is getting warmer and warmer, as it is supposed Earth is?

Karl Popper’s philosophy of science is that anyone can put up a hypothesis without evidence, like a ‘teapot’. In his view, it is scientists’ role to try and falsify it. A dearth of evidence for the Greenhouse Effect does not falsify it, but you should be doubtful because I have presented several sound alternative explanations. My explanations, which are 6 hypotheses that explain the ‘tea’ and increased presence of ‘tea bags’, are respectable and demonstrably testable. If the ‘teapot’ has other evidence for it, let’s hear it. If you cannot provide such evidence and the ‘teapot’ story has captured your imagination, then think again. Faith is not a sufficient reason to abandon technologies that are serving the public well.

Bertrand Russell used his teapot analogy to illustrate the idea that the burden of proof lies on the person making the unfalsifiable claim rather than shifting the burden of proof to others. This is more demanding than Popper’s position. Because a Greenhouse Effect teapot cannot be falsified, then the onus is on scientists to ‘prove’ that it exists and does not require me to prove that it does not. When I apply Popper’s more relaxed condition, am able to dismiss the teapot as whimsy until I obtain evidence to the contrary. It is logical for me to adopt a sceptical position.

The energy we consume warms up the Earth: energy does not disappear. It all ends up in the environment as entropy, or thermal pollution that is at too low a temperature to be re-used. It stays in the environment, only slowly being radiated away into space and replaced by energy from the Sun. The amounts are enough, I have calculated, to account for all of the warming reported. I can show you my numbers.  The amount of warming by greenhouse gases is relatively uncertain and I know of no incontrovertible evidence that they cause any warming at all.

It is logical to reduce entropy production to decrease atmospheric warming. This should be pursued by insisting on the most efficient energy supply technologies to convert fossil fuel and renewable potential energy with least wasting of energy due to production technology inefficiency. Coal fired base load technology has been relatively efficient.  Renewable energy has so far been relatively inefficient, see hypothesis #4, and would increase global warming. Redirection of electricity production to efficient and away from inefficient technologies is not occurring as it should. The redirection of electricity production to the least efficient technologies has raised the cost to electricity consumers. Falling electricity demand will mitigate the increase in entropy production, so might be less ‘tea’ but not less than there would have been without the ‘teapot’ and without the ‘teabag’ scare. The hysteria has impose costs on ordinary consumers that are unwarranted. The concern about ‘tea bag’ production should be put aside until there is more evidence of a ‘teapot’. It could take evidence that does not exist anywhere, as far as I know, to change my mind.

https://martinknox.com

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