Why I listen to NPR, part 4
Excellent piece this morning
on the long-running Dioxin controversy. NPR gives the history of Times Beach and notes that the ecoterrorist organization "EPA" is now planning to treat the rest of the country like Times Beach. Anywhere they find even a single molecule of Dioxin, we must evacuate the population, dig up all the earth, and incinerate everything to eliminate the single molecule.
Uniquely, NPR gives close attention to the deep problem with the EPA mindset, namely linear extrapolation. Nature simply isn't linear, and any attempt to treat it as linear leads to genocide.
Allah and Gaia are closely related. Purist thinking, whether Islamic or EPA, always involves a superstition about a substance.
If a large quantity of something is problematic, then any
quantity of this substance is bad. Zero tolerance, literally and metaphorically.
Islam says: Alcohol in large doses causes all sorts of problems, so we must not consume even a single molecule of alcohol. EPA says: Dioxin in large doses causes acne, so we must tear up the world
to destroy even a single molecule of Dioxin.
Nature doesn't work this way. Nature has considerable tolerance, literally and metaphorically.
Nature prefers sigmoids. Our nervous system, most of our biological and chemical systems, most of our social actions, and many natural phenomena like weather, follow the sigmoid pattern. Small amounts of nearly anything are harmless or even helpful.
It's the big gulps that lead to trouble.
Here Polistra is giving Happystar a sigmoid ride. When the input to the system (represented by Polistra's back and forth sliding) increases linearly, the system's response (Happystar's height) moves up very slowly until it reaches a lower threshold point, then increases quickly until it reaches an upper threshold.
= = = = =
The stupid linear tendency is not new at all. In the Laputa chapter of Gulliver's Travels, Swift described the linear extrapolators of 1720, who sound exactly like the elites of today even though computers hadn't been invented yet. They have never worked with any sort of mechanism, never used a tool, never rocked a cradle. Their sole experience is with arithmetic, which forces their minds into a linear mold:
What I chiefly admired, and thought altogether unaccountable, was the strong disposition I observed in them towards news and politics, perpetually inquiring into public affairs, giving their judgments in matters of state, and passionately disputing every inch of a party opinion.
These people are under continual disquietudes, never enjoying a minute's peace of mind; and their disturbances proceed from causes which very little affect the rest of mortals. Their apprehensions arise from several changes they dread in the celestial bodies: for instance, that the earth, by the continual approaches of the sun towards it, must, in course of time, be absorbed, or swallowed up; that the face of the sun, will, by degrees, be encrusted with its own effluvia, and give no more light to the world; that the earth very narrowly escaped a brush from the tail of the last comet, which would have infallibly reduced it to ashes; and that the next, which they have calculated for one-and-thirty years hence, will probably destroy us.
For if, in its perihelion, it should approach within a certain degree of the sun (as by their calculations they have reason to dread) it will receive a degree of heat ten thousand times more intense than that of red hot glowing iron, and in its absence from the sun, carry a blazing tail ten hundred thousand and fourteen miles long, through which, if the earth should pass at the distance of one hundred thousand miles from the nucleus, or main body of the comet, it must in its passage be set on fire, and reduced to ashes: that the sun, daily spending its rays without any nutriment to supply them, will at last be wholly consumed and annihilated; which must be attended with the destruction of this earth, and of all the planets that receive their light from it.
Especially enjoy "ten hundred thousand and fourteen miles", which strongly resembles the mathematics of the Carbon Cult. Pick a number, any number, as long as it sounds big, scary and precise.
Use this number to generate panic.