Friday, December 9, 2016

A bunch of nonsense, obviously. But why does it persist?

Science, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the human species, in its ever-increasing scientific knowledge and broad diffusion of said knowled... wait, that's not right.

Problem with science popularization

A lot of what passes for "science" in the public arena is complete nonsense. Pure, unadulterated bovine feces, metaphorically speaking, if one may be so bold. And one may be so bold, because the nonsense is bold: boldface bald-faced lying to the general public, promoted by those who know nothing to those who know little for the benefit of those who know the right people...

Thunderf00t has posted a couple of more-or-less sciencey videos (why not do things a little more precisely, I ask...? Patreon him some moolah, maybe he'll be able to afford a haircut), one on the EM drive and one on spinning solar cones nonsense:

As for the EM drive, I like Lubos Motl's approach better (emphasis added):
I am sorry but if this stuff was allowed to be published in a journal, it only means that aside from the 7 men listed as co-authors, there exists at least one additional imbecile who was hired as a "referee". So there are at least 8 imbeciles in the world. What a profound discovery. In reality, there are surely billions.
The spinning solar cones nonsense is nonsensical, and TF does a reasonable job of ridiculing it. It does raise the question, though, of why this nonsense keeps coming, and why it keeps coming from the alternative energy crowd. I think I can venture a guess or two, having interacted with a large number of IGORs whose attitude to knowledge ratio approaches infinite.

Why the nonsense keeps coming: because it's profitable for those purveying it.

Why in the alternative energy crowd: because most people who understand energy production and transmission avoid this crowd like the plague (it being filled with IGORs), unless they profit from the crowd's ignorance; so the crowd is composed mostly of well-meaning ignoramuses and con artists exploiting their ignorance.

As an aside, there are some very effective solar-powered electricity production facilities. They are called hydroelectric dams. (What? You didn't know that the Sun powers the water cycle on Earth?) Personally, I am ambivalent about these dams, as their reservoirs destroy usable land but also create large artificial lakes for recreational boating.

Most of the alternative energy crowd wants to do something to save the environment (laudable, that), but they don't know -- and don't want to learn -- engineering and science (not so laudable, that), and therefore fall victim to the publicity-seeking, ignorant statements of uneducated celebrities, opportunistic politicians, and greedy eco-preneurs.

Problem with science popularization

One might surmise that falling victim is not their fault, but in fact they don't just fall victim, they jump in and call for more victimization. (I believe there are some clubs in San Francisco SoMa that cater to a similar set of preferences.)

If "communications studies" graduate Bob talks over Nina the electrical engineer when she tries to explain how wind generation without efficient storage isn't a practical source of energy, that kind of arrogant ignorance is definitely Bob's fault.

(Nina looks like MIT Materials Engineering professor Donald Sadoway in this video:


When Bob's retort to Nina's question "how many Joule in a kilowatt-hour?" is to call Nina a nerd and accuse her of destroying the planet (with 6th-grade science questions, apparently), that's definitely Bob's fault.

I don't pity the Bobs (or IGORs) of this world, as their ignorant arrogance is their fault. I pity those who have to live in places where the ignorant arrogance of the Bobs and IGORs is exploited by uneducated celebrities, opportunistic politicians, and greedy eco-preneurs, to get publicity, political power, and unearned money, all at the expense of the general public.

It's almost as if large numbers of ignorant arrogant people were a detriment to technologically advanced societies.

Australia: proof the correlated risks aren't just for finance
Oops… [in Australian]