I was told recently that as emotions rise, the frontal cortex goes offline: which is important, since that's where we do most of our higher-level thinking.
Stick with me: This post isn't as off-topic as it may look. Although I'll admit to writing it mostly as an excuse to share a hilarious collection of dire predictions.
People on many ends of the political and philosophical spectra have gotten so excited that their frontal cortices seem to have shut down entirely. That may explain some of the odd opinions, presented as facts, flying around: like monkey fewmets in the primate house.
Emotion Trumping Reason: Not Limited to the War on TerrorBeing born during the Truman administration has some advantages: like the opportunity to notice what changes, and what doesn't. When I was in school, experts said there would probably be another ice age soon. The year I graduated from high school, a butterfly expert, Paul Ehrlich, made quite a name for himself:
- "By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people." (1969)
- "By 1980 the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 because of pesticides, and by 1999 its population would drop to 22.6 million." (1969)
Don't misunderstand me: I think it's a good idea not to eat pesticides. But, as I wrote earlier:
"I've been around the block enough times to realize that if there's a viewpoint, like 'vegetables are good for you,' 'we shouldn't mistreat criminals,' or 'it's okay to earn money,' there will be people who take the idea, and run with it: straight off the edge of sanity. And they're likely to be the ones shouting loudest about the idea."
("Obama Critic Deported: It's a Plot, of Course" (October 8, 2008))
It Killed the Loch Ness Monster, and Now It's Coming For YOU!!!I think that some of these people sincerely believe what they've said. Global warming, we've been told, will lead to:
- Overpopulation, which leads to Cannibalism
- The Death of the Loch Ness Monster
- Beer Gets More Expensive
- Pythons Take Over America
(The U.S. Geological Survey and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as reported in USAToday.com)
- Kidney Stones
(A University of Texas study)
- Skinny Whales
(Some Japanese scientists)
- Shark Attacks
- Black Hawk Down
(Massachusetts congressman Edward Markey)
- Frozen Penguin Babies
- Killer Stingray Invasion
- The coming ice age hadn't been replaced by global warming as the Big Crisis
- Paul Ehrlich's application of Malthusian principles had actually happened
- I didn't know that it would be odd - and very disturbing - if Earth wasn't warming up, on average, right now
The thing is, though, that the idea of Big Oil and hair spray being responsible for global warming isn't held by all scientists. Particularly, I'd think, those who have been studying climate change on places like Mars.
But I'm getting seriously off track here.
The War on Terror: It's Okay to be ScaredI'm personally more than a bit upset that there are people who think that flying airliners into the New York City World Trade Center and the Pentagon was a good idea.
But being upset isn't an excuse for not thinking. If anything, a high-risk period like this is a time when a person's thought process should be particularly rational.
---Which Reminds Me of an Amusing StorySkimming through earlier posts, I ran across a one about a 1920 terrorist attack on New York City. At the time, I realized that nobody seemed to have realized that the 9/11 attack could be viewed as an Anarchist plot to avenge the Sacco/Vanzetti indictments.
And so, being in a pawkish frame of mind, I made one up. By the time I was through, anarchists, astrology, Mecca, and the Illuminati were involved in the 9/11 attack. If I'd kept at it a little longer, I'd have worked in Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and the Kennedys.
- "Obama's a Radical Muslim; McCain's a Racist: Facts, Mud and the Anonymous Expert"
(October 7, 2008)
- "9/11 and What They Want You to Believe"
(September 11, 2008)
- "Assumptions; the Ames Anthrax Strain; Ames, Iowa, and Fort Deterick"
(August 15, 2008)
- "911 Was an Inside Job! Our Boys Need to Know!"
(June 10, 2008)
- "No Matter What Happens, Someone Will Blame Global Warming"
FOXNews (December 23, 2008)
- "Mars Wobbles Created Climate Swings "
Space.com (December 4, 2008)
- "Climate change hits Mars"
TimesOnline (April 29, 2007)
- "Gone With the Martian Wind"
Space.com (April 26, 2007)
- "Mars Emerging from Ice Age, Data Suggest"
Space.com (December 8, 2003)
- "Climate Change"
Paleomap (April 20, 2002)