Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Feel Like I've Been Here Before

Hi, all!

Originally. I thought this blog would just concern my recollections of the Guilty Bystanders. But then, in today's Flint Journal Talk Back section, I came across the following contribution from a reader in Burton:
"It was minus 10 degrees this morning. Al Gore and the people who believe his global warming fiasco are idiots."
I couldn't restrain myself any longer. I have a blog now and gosh darn it I may as well use it!
It's obvious from the comments made in Talk Back that this person doesn't understand the global warming theory. He seems unaware that global warming is a gradual, subtle and worldwide process which is not inconsistant with periodic cold snaps. One 10-below-zero day does not invalidate global warming, no matter what the Talk Back reader from Burton may think.
But how much can I lay the blame on the guy from Burton for not knowing that?
The way I look at things, it's like talking to someone in the early 1980's who only learned about music from the mainstream FM radio stations. Could we REALLY blame them if they thought Journey was the greatest band in the world? Sure, there was an entire universe of great music and amazing bands out there, but if you were to rely solely on mainstream radio for your information, you would have absolutely no idea that these bands even existed. Same thing today. Look at what's popular. Does anyone past the age of 9 REALLY think Miley Cyrus and Brittney Spears are the best musical offerings out there? What's popular in the mainstream media and what's GOOD are often two very different things. And not just with music, but also with other areas... like science, for example.
So that's what I'm getting to. I'm assuming many of you bothering to read this are familiar with the process we went through when we first discovered great alternative music. We had to actively seek it out. We had to read about it in various non-mainstream publications written by people who actually KNEW about good music. And as a result of that process, we learned that Journey and Foreigner were not the epitome of sonic wonder.
Same with science. If you learn about science from the mainstream media, your knowledge of it will be the equivalent of the "Journey-is-awesome" school. Many, if not most, science writers who work for outlets such as - let's just say for example - Fox News, do not have backgrounds in science and even when they do, there is no real outlet for the in-depth nuanced coverage that real science journalism requires.
Just as you had to put some effort into educating yourself about cool music, learning about scientific issues requires the same effort on your part. Seek out in-depth books by scientists who are respected in their field. Check out real science podcasts (CBC's "Quirks and Quarks" is highly recommended as is "The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe"). Scour the internet to find actual blogs about science written by working scientists. (ScienceBlogs is a good start.)
Just as great music has to be sought out. great scientific insights must be sought out as well. There's about as much chance of Fox News presenting real science as there is of Cars 108 playing Dissonance. If you want Dissonance, you've got to look for it. If you want real information about global warming, evolutionary science, environmental issues or astronomy, you've got to look for that too.

Just think of me like the guy who first turned you on to Minor Threat in 1983. You won't regret checking this stuff out!

And that's my rant for today. Those with opposing viewpoints are free to start their own blog.

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