High School Physics!
What person, other than those who go into science, engineering or medicine EVER uses it? What average 35-yr-old can explain to you the equation for the force of an impact – probably the most basic of physics equations; or acceleration; or something so mundanely ordinary as gravity. And I don’t mean being able to derive the equations form first principles. I mean being able to explain, in every—day conversational tones, why a large object exerts a greater force at impact than a smaller object, even though they might have had the same velocity and how the size of the object relates to the gravitational attraction which results in the impact.
Why is almost every American high school student who is headed toward any post-public-school furtherance of their education required to study this rigorously mathematical subject, even though they might be going off to become an opera singer? As important, nay as fundamental, as physics is to science, engineering and medicine, it is no more than arcane, academic ardor to an aspiring accountant.
Hell, physics does not even garner a single question on the SATs. And it is one of the hardest classes for most high-schoolers. Why are we required to study this devilish subject if we are not expected to remember the first thing about it, even at so near a date as the end of the current academic year?
What about High School Chemistry. Very difficult course and critical to understand if you are going to work in any of the technical professions. Of what import is it to you, however, to get into college and go on to a fruitful and rewarding life in the myriad non-techie endeavors? Well, other than having achieved a grade which has not materially devastated your H.S. GPA, it is apparently useless, because the College Boards will have no clue, based on the SAT, as to whether you could balance the simplest of formulae.
Biology. That is useful, isn’t it? EVERYONE takes biology in H.S., although not everyone then takes BOTH chemistry and physics. So biology must have greater application in the world at large. Ummm… not based on the SAT blueprint.
There seems to be a disconnect. At a guess, perhaps 15% of graduating high school students go into the technical professions. The remaining 85% either go directly into the work force or go on to college and later out into life at large, blissfully unfettered with any vestige of knowledge of the three heavy-weight science courses they had to study before they were pushed out the door to commence their path to lifelong contributions to society.
Unfortunately, that same 85% of the population, after apparently wasting precious adolescent time studying the rudiments of the three fundamental sciences, are wholly unprepared to consider, weigh evidence and decide on issues in their own communities, states and the country at large. Issues which pivot on an understanding of scientific matters. Even more unfortunately, there indeed ARE very timely public issues about which knowledge of those subjects would inform people’s decisions. To name but three (one for each discipline):
- Nuclear Power (Physics)
- Water Pollution and Remediation (Chemistry)
- Genetically Modified Foods (Biology)
Would the inclusion of questions in the SAT from those three major branches of science make people more science savvy as adults? No, sadly. But the fact that they are NOT required in a de facto exit exam underscores the attitude toward science in society at large. Shove facts and rote methods into kids’ brains for three successive years on three successive, and complex, disciplines, never ask them to think about them again, let them know by their third year that they won’t be responsible for recalling any of it, and then expect them to make informed decisions as adults, 25 years later.
Well, inadequate as it is, at least those three subjects are actually taught to public school students. And, as important as the issues listed above are which ride on the public making science-based decisions, they are NOTHING in comparison with the most significant science based issue EVER to be put to the world’s public: so called Global Warming, no, no, wait, I mean Climate Change, no, it’s now known as Climate Disruption.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this non-issue is actually an issue about which we need to make decisions pertaining to how to combat it or something like that. No! this is truly a non-issue which governments (and, consequently citizens) spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually ‘studying’. And those governments are now proposing public policies which will cost additional hundreds of billions of dollars in the short terms and trillions of dollars in the long term. LITERALLY.
People WILL vote on this issue, either directly, or indirectly via the candidates between which they must choose come election days, and almost everyone, perhaps yourself included, is almost wholly unequipped to decide whether they are being provided sound scientific data and interpretations, or a bill of goods. The result is that politicians can, and do, tell the populace ANYTHING it finds expedient with respect to so-called global warming, climate change, climate disruption, with the confidence that no-one will know whether they are honest and concerned about something real, whether they are just plain ignorant themselves, or whether they are out-and-out lying to our faces.
This has been possible because the population of first-world countries (those that are pushing this agenda) consists of hundreds of millions of people who have an exquisitely fine-tuned, almost a studied ignorance of the Earth on which we all live. All those millions have been brainwashed (yes, that is hard to swallow, but true) by a relatively small cadre of crusaders who preach a holier-than-thou environmentalism which is espoused with the disingenuous rationale of ‘saving the Earth’ – yes, that same Earth about which they, along with the multitude of green neophyte disciples who are guilted into going along with the mantra because no-one would dare say they are AGAINST environmentalism – know absolutely NOTHING. These eco-priests and inquisitors think they know there is something out of balance with the Earth (there is not) AND they think they have the inside scoop on how to remedy their own undiagnosed prognosis.
I am not speaking in generalities here about the duping class and the dupees. Allowing for the occasional person who knows a little, my direct experience as a geology professor and as a practicing professional geologist with a significant enough sampling of the populace at large supports the conclusion that the actual scientific knowledge about the Earth contained in the minds of the citizens of any country could fit on the proverbial head of a pin, still leaving enough room for several thousand angels to have a high-flying dance.
This appalling state of affairs is not to be blamed on the persons themselves, so you are guiltless and can read on without fear of chastisement. Rather, it stems from the attitude of our collective State/Province/Regional Education Boards which have decided that Physics, Chemistry and Biology are the curriculum which comprises ‘science’ and any other discipline, such as geology, meteorology, astronomy, oceanography, the sciences which deal with out-of-laboratory, real-world, empirical observations of what happens on Earth, don’t actually count. And of course, let’s not forget that NONE of the sciences rate high enough in terms of Scholastic Aptitude to be tested at the culmination of the decade-long infliction of a public education by the tutelary genius of the enclave of state education gurus.
We have developed an extreme dysfunctionality in our attitude about technical intellect. Somehow it has become acceptable, even laudable in most social circles of the cognoscenti, to admit absolute ineptitude, even stupidity, with respect to technical knowledge. How often have you heard proclaimed at parties, by some very successful and intelligent people, something akin to “I stink at science”; or “I am abysmal at math.” I am always astounded that an educated person wouldn’t be too embarrassed to admit to something so fundamentally wrong with their intellectual capacities. But why should it be that such seems to be not only acceptable, but the norm? Why is it a badge of camaraderie in social settings to jokingly denigrate your own mental training and to concur with others that it is just fine to be terrible at math, or hopeless at science? And why is the person who DOES know science or math treated with humorous condescension at a social gathering when they answer a question, or correct a statement pertaining to their field of knowledge? The usual response is: “Oh, thanks Einstein. Glad we asked,” (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). No-one is patronized in a similar manner if there is a political discussion in such settings and a political analyst weighs in with some heavy-duty monologue. Conversations about government, the economy, social problems, literature, art, foreign affairs are not only open to everyone but those who are real experts in any of those topics are welcome to elucidate and they will not be made to feel like an pencil-necked outsider.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not whining. I am only too pleased to laugh at myself when it is pointed out that the geek saturation limit has been exceeded if I have gone too far in a scientific explanation. It’s why I married a non-scientist (apart from the fact that I fell in love with her) – she keeps me in line. So, back to the point.
The proposals for somehow avoiding/controlling/negating/reversing global warming, or climate change, or climate disruption which are currently on the table at the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change are hopeless – nay, feckless – prattlings, and come at a cost which would constitute no less than a fundamental re-shaping of the world’s governmental and economic structure. By our electoral choices, we are going to be voting on this issue and deciding whether we even WANT to re-shape our society, and whether the underpinning rationale provided as to why we SHOULD do just that makes sense or is just a chimeric phantasm.
Some house-keeping. The epithet: ‘Global warming’ was abandoned when it was conclusively proved that the world was not warming. The name ‘Climate Change’ was adopted as a safe bet because change is what climate on Earth does – at any time in Earth’s history if the climate has NOT been warming, it has been cooling. The one thing the climate definitely is NOT, is static.
BUT! The rate of climate change was not fast enough for the world of the politcos and sound-bite peddlers of doom and gloom. In fact, it was not changing at all, and has not changed, at time of press, in just shy of 19 years. So the title was changed yet again to “Climate Disruption.” Now, every weather event around the world, and many events which are not related to weather at all, are claimed to be the result of man-added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as if there were never any storms or droughts or tornadoes or floods in the past. But, and this is the point, when pressed, the hawkers of this nonsense have to admit that what the carbon dioxide (on which they blame climate disruption) actually does is WARM the ATMOSPHERE, which causes imbalances and results in extreme weather; i.e., GLOBAL WARMING. Unfortunately, as I said, the world just isn’t warming so they play a nomenclatural shell game with all of us rubes.
I say that this is all a bunch of feckless prattling because, in terms of climate change, it can not be negated or reversed or controlled, and, specifically, in terms of so-called man-made climate change/disruption, it is not even happening, so there is nothing TO negate/reverse/control.
Despite the lip service paid to this chicanery by people of all ideological stripes, and despite the kowtowing to the political correctness of not being a ‘denier’ of climate change, the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels is NOT warming the globe, and is NOT changing or disrupting the climate.
There is SO much evidence to support that statement that I can’t list it here and keep your attention. This, despite the increasing ferocity of the catastrophic rhetoric in the run-up to the American presidential election coming to your neighborhood this fall and during the recent Paris climate treaty at which the current POTUS threw out the baby with the bath water by agreeing to pay reparations to all poor counties for the ‘devastating’ effects of climate change caused by we bad western First-Worlders. This, despite the fact that not ONE of those countries can point to any single change and correlate it to any change in the global climate – or their own local climates.
The long-awaited, salient point of this post is that this global charlatanism has been possible because, almost without exception, the world is populated by people who know absolutely nothing about the Earth. This global warming guilt-trip would not have been possible, and would currently be impossible in the face of a scientifically literate society with specific knowledge of the Earth and its systems. Taking my home state of Pennsylvania as representative of the U.S. at large, the percentage of the population who are licensed professional geologists is approximately 0.0192%. Allowing for unlicensed geologists (University professors and similar who are not licensed as professionals) that is about 2people in 10,000 who know something about the Earth and its various systems (I know this because I am on the state licensing board and know how many geologists are practicing in PA at any time). So for every large town/small city across America, we can estimate that there are a couple people who recognize AND understand the inept manipulation of facts and the reliance on quasi-facts and/or outright distortions (lies) foisted on the American public in an attempt to scare us into believing that we need to act to stop global warming NOW or we will all be slow roasted. Based on the most recent polls, I also know that at least one out of every three people do not accept the global warming scare mongering, but those people simply do not have the ammunition to fight back as a result of the absence of specific knowledge of Earth science.
Now, after berating you, and I hope you are not about to leave because I have insulted you about the general absence of knowledge, I will say that, although most Americans are IGNORANT of Earth systems and processes, those same people are not STUPID. Not knowing something is NOT the same as being incapable of understanding it.
I spend a lot of time talking to the public at large public meetings about a variety of scientific topics including climate, hydraulic fracturing, energy, and Earth Science in general. I have yet to come across a single country farmer or car mechanic who is incapable of understanding those system when explained to them. Those same people demonstrate their complete grasp of the concept by asking very intelligent and pointed questions in their own effort to reconcile what they have just learned with what they had been told previously. The difference is, rather than tell them the sky is falling, I explain to them (figuratively, of course) what the sky is and why it is not possible for it to fall – and they not only get it, they feel good because they now have the knowledge to be unafraid and the power that comes with that knowledge to be free from further coercion into a state of fear – or worse, guilt.
So, what am I advocating? That by inclusion of Physics, Chemistry and Biology in the SATs the citizenry will be more equipped to deal with global warming politics? NO! Unfortunately, that will not be the case.
Am I looking for mandatory earth science and geography study in high school as two core requirements for graduation? Well, of course I think that would be a good idea, but, alas, not the earth science and geography according to current educational mores. Currently, Earth Science is a semi-science course (disparagingly referred to as “Rock-for-Jocks”) in which students are exhorted with ceaseless diatribes that the Earth is in terrible shape (it’s certainly not), their futures are doomed, it’s all the fault of their parents and grandparents and their generation can save everything by not having kids and adopting a life-style and standard of living lower than their parents. In fact, a standard of living equal to that of their great-great-great grandparents (yes, persons living in the early 19th century).
How would an Earth science education help? According to statistics, persons who are dissenters from the current global warming catastrophic ideology are more likely to be better versed in the scientific issues involved than those who accept the doomsday scenarios that the Earth is a dead end street unless we abandon modern western civilizations – immediately. And that makes sense. It is not a comfortable position to be one of a few in opposition to the trending mores of almost all your peers. To take such a position requires knowledge, which lends one the power of confidence.
My position that dissent from the main party line is a good thing is not simply a reflection of my own bias. It is the hallmark of a scientist. Science only advances through vigorous dissent and debate. Just look at the vehemence and vitriol flung between scientists arguing for decades over the African Replacement vs the Multi-Regional theories of recent human evolution. It was a rigorous debate that raged and raged, and in the end, data prevailed and science advanced. I could go on with many examples of the same. There are the endless arguments over proper nutrition; there’s the “What killed the dinosaurs” debate, which rages on unabated 26 years after the ‘consensus’ explanation hit the scene like a meteorite, and so on. In not one instance have the proponents of the competing explanations been vilified and threatened with legal action because they espouse a competing hypothesis. They have not been shunted to the rear as second class kooks. What prevails in all cases, and is the deciding factor, is the data – empirical data, not computer simulations. And as long as there is even one observation which is not consistent with the prevailing ‘consensus’ explanation, dissenting scientists can not – that is CAN not – be silenced. The only way to silence them and end the debates is to provide the hard data to support the prevailing explanation and the dissenters will be forced to join the consensus.
The one and only exception to the heated debates endemic to science throughout the entire history of science is climate change ‘science’ which does not allow debates. It doesn’t even allow questions about the party line that the modest change of temperature of +0.2° C from 1977 to 1998 was caused by human emissions of CO2 – PERIOD, EXCLAMATION POINT. If you make the seemingly innocuous statement that such a change is in line with all other known changes in temperature which were natural (because they occurred before we were adding CO2 to the atmosphere in any appreciable quantities) , they will scream you down, call you names, discredit you in the eyes of the public and tell you that the data show that the Earth’s climate was static until we burned coal and oil. Despite the indisputable fact that such a position is 100% false and they know it, the fraternity of Earth-Science illiterates which comprises the main-stream climate science elite actually disdain and discount empirically-derived data, so they fabricate their own to suit their virtual fairy tale. Their position is so untenable that, rather than debate like other sciences do, they have tried to enlist the United States Federal Government, as well as various State governments, in an attempt to silence anyone who officially disagrees with them. Sound familiar and more than slightly Soviet?
Back to the point!
The reasons this modern display of snake-oil-mountebank hucksterism is possible is because we have a scientifically bankrupt educational system and, with scientists disagreeing about most issues and politicians distrusted about everything, the ‘authority figures’ to the average person are Hollywood celebrities and professional sports stars.
In other words, the authority figures who are the most admired advocates on the natural systems of the Earth (think DiCapprio, Streisand, Thompson, Clooney) consist of people who either practice subterfuge as a profession, or play games for their livelihoods (http://www.sporttechie.com/2015/12/06/4-eco-athlete-stars-fighting-climate-change/ ). In either case, those people are collectively devoid of the merest inkling of Earth Science knowledge, but they are believed by the populace in preference to the thousands of real Earth scientists who do not subscribe to the climate hysteria storybook.
When you get your guidance on complex Earth systems from sports heroes, you have substituted real knowledge which could have been gained in “Rocks for Jocks” with empty chicanery distributed as “Jocks for Rocks”.