Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Index for Confronting Science Contrarians, citizenschallenge

Lets close out 2019 with an index of previous posts.  
Happy New Year (what a shame it rings more hollow than in times past.)  
A healthy democracy requires and informed and engaged citizenry.

My Mission Statement:
We The People have a moral ethical right - along with a pragmatic need - to learn what scientists have learned about this planet's biosphere and climate engine without constant dishonest crossfire.     
We should not tolerate serious scientists always being drown out by amoral, dishonest and frankly ignorant arguments - that an astoundingly ruthless PR factory repeats over and over again, without ever learning a damned thing from the evidence in front of us.       ( email @ citizenschallenge gmail com )

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Diary, 12/25/2019 - Rhetorical Jujutsu, case in point.

If we are not changing minds we are losing!
11)  Confront Trash Talk with Rhetorical Jujutsu
Contrarians depend on personal attacks to distract the discussion from their bankrupt “science”.  Learn to recognize the game, turn it to your favor, be prepared to point out the juvenility of the tactic, while forcing the discussion back to the real world facts your contrarian opponent wants to avoid.
This impeachment process, especially the part where +40% of Americans are simply harding up their passionate support for Trump who clearly believes he's above all laws and ethics, by getting ever passion, if disconnected, from the real world facts by the day.  

Has honesty, dignity, respect for evidence and laws and professional standards of ethics and enlighten-self-interest all been trashed by people who've convinced themselves they have God in their back pockets?   

Worst and genuinely painful is witnessing the continued ineptness of Democratic communication efforts with their own grassroots supporters, let alone their inability to directly confront Republican deception and bullying.  

Democrats haven't explained anything in a way that offers regular voters some rhetorical ammunition when confronted with the Republican's onslaught of ruthless deception and scorched earth attitudes towards others. 

It feels like an all-hands-on-deck situation, but Democrats don't seem to get it.  What I write is uncomfortable, so it's ignored.  I'm told to make it feel nicer.  I say, Democrats need to do better than peddling old bromides.

Since one of my bitches is that Democrats keep talking past Republican bullies when we need to be stopping them in their lying tracks, long enough to educate onlookers, by shoving GOP lies right back down their disingenuous throats with clarifications and explanations.  Succinctly enunciate and clarify arguments in a way that resonates with people.

Here I share an example of what I mean when I suggest talking AT them, rather than past them, as our Democratic politicians do all too well. This has to do with a semi-local issue, but that's beside the point.  I'm simply sharing some food for thought.  

Oh and if any of this is resonating with some editor or agent or writing coach or political staffer type out there, someone who appreciates the potential of what I'm trying to do here.  Please, I need some help.  Might you have any to offer?

Dennis points to ANILCA and cries foul on behalf of Mr. McCombs,  
“There is a law that says the USFS has to grant access to inholdings.”   
Is that a fact?  There’s another side to this story that's worth listening to, particularly if you want to understand the unrelenting opposition to the notion of bulldozing a Village at Wolf Creek into Alberta Park. ...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Questioning the Geologic Column. Mind over Matter

think it's important to add this essay to December's collection.  I like how it reads.  Nothing fancy, all based on a century and more of scientists and other experts accumulating evidence, then engaging in careful study and learned debate - that evolves as more evidence accumulates.  The results of which they (and some intrepid reporters) have then explained to the general public, well, those interested in learning about Earth and keeping up on the latest findings.  In this essay I describe what the Geologic Column is to a faith-shackled character that simply can't bring himself to accept the evidence.  So he ran away to hide from this essay.  

Could you do a better job of connecting?    How would you go about challenging someone who thinks 'I Know "God's Will" for certain'?  What if giving up on trump's 40% is not an option?  If we aren't changing minds, we are losing.  Thoughtful, suggestion and opinions are welcome.
The following appears in the July 2018 issue of the Four Corners Free Press
Working title was: Explaining the Geologic Column to Psalm1Tree. 

Colorado's Grand Staircase's Geologic Column - Wayne Ranney
(click on image for a better view)


Saying No To Reality
Four Corners Free Press, July 2018
Recently, I was minding my own business listening to a fascinating talk on YouTube titled, “Rooted in Earth History: the Devonian transition to a forested planet.”  It was about strategies that Earth’s first ground-hugging plants adapted to escape the confines of Earth’s surface.  They did this in order to reach closer to our sun and further away from plant-eaters. 

This led to Earth’s first forests, which in turn led to an explosion of new environmental niches for life to radiate into. 

I learned some fascinating details regarding questions I’d been wondering about for a long time.  The lecture increased my understanding of evolution on this fantastic planet of ours, which has been a lifelong passion for me.

But my pleasant reverie was shattered by a YouTube comment that blind-sided me.  One ‘Psalm1Tree’ wrote in all seriousness: 

“There never was a Devonian period, just as there never was a Cambrian, Jurassic, Triassic etc. period. That's because there never was a Geologic Column. That is a 19th century construct that has no data whatsoever to support it.”

Besides avoiding the topic of the video, the comment is such an ignorant statement on so many levels that most who know anything about geology and evolution would simply clamp on the head-vise and back away. 

Unfortunately, decades of ignoring such belligerent ignorance about important aspects of our life and planet have led to its becoming so insidious and commonplace that our government is controlled by Republicans who disregard obvious physical realities on personal whim.   Justified only by a hubristic conceit that they are doing “God’s duty,” they are in fact all about pursuing their own EGO’s bidding.

I decided to engage Psalm with a short video that rationally explains what the geologic column is all about.  Then came my second shock.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Examining an Intellectual Juvenile Delinquent, ‘Anonymous, Dec12, 2019

This video is dedicated to Moscow Mitch McConnell

I’m sick and tired, quite literally. Many decades of burning the candle at both ends adds up, now thee ol’body ain’t as tough as it used to be and the extreme stress of watching us destroying what hopes we had for an already guaranteed difficult future are manifesting themselves in physical illness.  
Thus rather than continuing with chores or getting back to working on my Black Tuesday videos and blog post, I wound up going down for the count Thursday afternoon.  Tough times for empathic people who appreciate what we are doing to our planet, all its creatures, not to mention our children’s futures.
Guess this is by way of explaining why I’m not pulling punches in the following virtual debate with Anonymous12/12.  

Why virtual debate?  Because the cowards always hide, it’s been the only way to have a constructive debate with the GOP science slandering contrarian types. 
This post is built around a comment I received Thursday (12/12/19) night.  
(click on images for better view)

I rejected the two part comment because I won’t be played and used as a propaganda billboard for liars.  If you have something to say, or a link to share, be upfront with it, don’t try sneaking in tricky-dick coding.  
If you gotta hide it, you reveal yourself to be a dishonest political operative rather than constructive thinker having a serious discussion.  
Anonymous 12/12 starts out with:  

Peter, Having looked at some links your partner in crime here has links showing a clear political motive
I find it amusing you finish citing propaganda when that is actually what you represent. Let us try to be civil then and stick to the science.   {I added the highlight colors} c

Interesting way to start a discussion. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24hr) part two

Since my introduction was so long I posted it separately.

FourCornersFreePress, December 2019

In the first half of this look at Earth’s 4.6 billion year old pageant of Evolution, scaled down to 24 hours, Earth’s first enduring Life took about 4 hours to claw together an existence within very tiny, very simple, very protective sacks, against an extremely harsh environment.

After that, Evolution progressed very slowly.  Why?  Because Earth’s hostile environment provided limited means, this stifled further development.  Which brings us to a key early scientific breakthrough in perspective, namely that an organism cannot be understood without also understanding the environment it lives within.

Introduction to Cc's Pageant of Evolution project.

They say a true test of how well you've learned about something is how well you can explain it to others and in its essence this months long Pageant of Earth’s Evolution project has been that sort of a self-evaluation for me.  Both to see how well I understand it and to see if I could convey the story in a way that might resonate with regular people.  

Why is that important to me?  Because I believe clearly appreciating Earth and her story is one of human society’s greatest failures - and greatest challenge for enabling any sort of future functional human society, since our avarice has pretty well condemned this globally connected modern society we depend on.  

I keep struggling with; How could intelligent people allow such self-destructive disregard to the need of our life support system, the one that sustains our society?  I mean seriously, never accepting that our long term economy depends on a healthy biosphere (no matter how much we’ve learned about it)?  WTF!  

Proudly proclaiming that endless growth was/is our economic priority and that Greed is Good along with convincing ourselves that Too Much Is Never Enough.  From my perspective it’s always been nothing less than sociopathic self-interest and faith-induced-blindness.  Along with being absolutely self-destructive.  As those who dare to open their eyes and minds can see when surveying the growing carnage covering our planet.  But I digress.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24hr) part one

A nice thing about having my own blog is that I get to do what I want and since I've finally completed the big project I assigned myself this past summer - I'm going to repost the first half of my Pageant of Evolution in 24 hours before sharing the finale in the next post.  

In last month’s celebration of Earth’s Pageant of Evolution I touched on the interplay of tectonics, geochemistry and archaic life. The intimate love-making of Earth's geology and biology - to put it poetically rather than scientifically. 

Getting back to the science, scientists have learned about the why and how of various ocean bottom structures that provide the catalyst between geochemistry and biochemistry, by helping bind basic molecules into complex organic building blocks of life.

This month to convey the immensity of Deep Time I’m scaling down Earth’s 4.6 billion years to 24 hours. A billion years take 5 hours plus change, 3.2 million years tick by every minute. Our human story fits into Earth’s past 4-5 seconds. Imagine that. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Diary, 11/22/19 - November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963, I don't imagine too many are thinking about that day John F. Kennedy was murdered (under circumstances still not fully known) in these days of American's Constitutional Crisis of the first order.  But, I do.  It's as though in some ways the die was set that day, liberals, humanists, children of the enlightenment would never really recover and the dark forces of Oil Money, Corporate Greed and War Profiteers simply got stronger and stronger as we partied.  Then we elected a nasty business shyster and reality TV show host into our White House.  

Now here I sit with my computer about to shut down and the power cord hundreds of miles away, though I had more I'd of liked sharing, guess I'll cut it short.

There are these personal thoughts I shared 6 years ago:
Fifty (six) years and still mourning our loss.


The impeachment hearings have shoved Evolution musings off to the side, besides I finished the second half to my satisfaction just took an extra few weeks.  And, I still intend to share a bunch of related links, when I can.

But, right now we Americans need to face what's happening on the national political stage, this fight is for keeps.  
I'd hoped to get caught up on posting the hearings today, but for that missing power cord.  Stay tuned  ;-)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pageant of Earth's Evo part two... TAKE ONE

I've got this lit it up like a Christmas tree with hotlinks to a variety of relevant articles, videos and such.  All of it accessible to any interested person without much previous understanding, while offering some great information to the initiated as well. For a look at part one link here.
I'm happy to report I regrouped and revisited the challenge and after some more work, I  finished a version that I'm satisfied with and that comes in <1,000 words.  I'll be posting it early December
In the first part of this look at Earth’s 4.6 billion year old pageant of Evolution, scaled down to 24 hours, Earth’s first enduring Life took 4 hours to claw together an existence within very tiny, very simple, very protective sacks, against an extremely hostile environment.  

It took another 17 hours worth of Earth’s geology and biology combining forces to process and tame Earth’s raw materials to the point that descendants of those simple cells, which had been evolving new skills all along, had an environment with the proper conditions (ocean, atmosphere, chemistry, nutrients, climatic conditions, tectonics), to enable spectacular expansion and innovations.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Diary, 11/5/19 - Small Victories, USA's newest Library District

I'll keep this short.  We had two local rural libraries facing closure because of shrinking County financial support, so local citizens took the matter in hand.  Long story short, we gained 400 signatures to qualify for a special tax district ballot measure #6D.  The County Clerk has now declared it a victory.  Truth be told the victory margin of 4% is rather disappointing, but not near as disappointing as losing, so I'll take it.
Long live Fort Lewis Mesa Library and Sunnyside Library and the Southwest LaPlata Library District, the nation's youngest, that will operate them.  Now we simply need to do better job of engaging and winning over our entire rural community.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24hr) part one

In last month’s celebration of Earth’s Pageant of Evolution I touched on the interplay of tectonics, geochemistry and archaic life. The intimate love-making of Earth's geology and biology - to put it poetically rather than scientifically. 

Getting back to the science, scientists have learned about the why and how of various ocean bottom structures that provide the catalyst between geochemistry and biochemistry, by helping bind basic molecules into complex organic building blocks of life.

This month to convey the immensity of Deep Time I’m scaling down Earth’s 4.6 billion years to 24 hours. A billion years take 5 hours plus change, 3.2 million years tick by every minute. Our human story fits into Earth’s past 4-5 seconds. Imagine that. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Demystifying Roger Penrose's Three Mysteries of Reality

In a recent discussion about Sir Roger Penrose’s '3 realms' view of reality, Penrose set the stage by listing his Three Mysteries:

1)   “Mysteries (of) the physical world, physical stuff.”
2)   Mystery of the “mental world that's our experiences, consciousness, feelings about things.”
3)   Mystery of “the world of mathematical abstraction”
(Below the fold I’ve transcribed the full quotes in context.)
Those points stopped me right there.  Before continuing I needed to be able to enunciate why I found the above so inadequate for such an exploration of reality.

Here I take a moment to suggest a more fruitful approach.  When Penrose mentioned “the mystery of physical stuff,”  there was no talk of Evolution.  Why?  

After all, all the physical stuff around us is the product of an evolutionary process that started billions of years before humanity and will continue billions of years after we are dust and forgotten - why ignore that this Earth created us and we will die back into it?  

Seems to me acquiring such an awareness is a prerequisite for any subsequence discussion.  While the omission relegates understanding Evolution to insignificance leaving our outlook on “reality” decidedly egocentric and myopic.

Diary, 10/15/19 - plugging away

Hello, no I haven't abandoned my Pageant of Evolution Video Series, but I'll tell you after the many many good to excellent talks and videos about the Ediacaran and Cambrian, getting into the Ordovician, Silurian it thins out.  Too many sloppy homemade type videos, not enough serious lectures - and not enough time for me to thoroughly search.  Though I finally found some good classroom videos that might work out, it's simply taking more time than I anticipated, or that I have on hand.

I am working on the column itself (deadline 20th) and considering how much I need to cram into a thousand words, it's going well, got a plan, had to change it a couple times, but always getting closer to what I'm wanting to get across and I do think I'll pull it off.

Then we have a local election issue happening, that's also eating up a lot of my time. 

 Trying to save two rural libraries, by taking over ownership before they get shut down.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What about Intelligent Design and Evolution?

Within science respecting Evolution discussions the monster in the closet that's rarely mentioned is Intelligent Design - and when it is, it's immediately beaten right back into the closet.  Why?  What do scientists have to fear?  Don't we have a rational "Intelligent Design" to point to?  Namely Mathematics!  Why not confront the faith-shackled with that reality?

Index, Cc's Pageant of Evolution - Oct 2nd.

An index of this collection of my favorite YouTube videos dedicated to a better appreciation of Earth’s pageant of evolution to date:

September 30, 2019

September 26, 2019

September 23, 2019

September 21, 2019

September 19, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

Martin Smith - Origins Ecdysozoan Body Plans - What a scientist sounds like.

Drawn by, Danielle Dufault

Before moving beyond the Edicarian and Cambrian Periods I want to finish with this wonderful talk by an enthusiastic paleontologist, Dr. Martin Smith’s.  He’s done some incredibly work detailing an accurate anatomy of that most exotic of poster species Hallucigenia, among others.  

His guileless enthusiasm for the fascinating details his work has helped uncover is a treat to behold.  Just as interesting is his descriptions of the debates and questions that scientists wrestle with as they strive to arrive at conclusions and work towards a general consensus, or keep on searching.  Below the fold I include screenshots and further information regarding Dr. Smith's work.
The origins of Ecdysozoan body plans

Palaeo cast  -  May 19, 2017

By Dr. Martin Smith, Durham University - talk given at University of Bristol

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Keith Peterson - Cambrian - Molecular Clock - What a scientist sounds like.

Professor Kevin J.Peterson gives a fun informal lecture at MDI Biological Laboratory's Science Cafe'.  Besides giving a good overview of the state of our understanding of Ediacaran/Cambrian's radiation event, I like it because of the way he acknowledges the provisional nature of our understanding and the importance of the arguments over the evidence that keep science moving forward.  He underscores how we learn from honestly evaluating our mistakes as much as our successes.  Below the fold I include key screen shots plus information from papers mentioned in this talk.  (For why I'm putting together this collection, please see this.)

MDIBL Science Café - Cambrian Explosion: Animals or Fossils?  Professor Kevin Peterson
MDI Biological Laboratory  -  August 21, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2019

Diego Garcia-Bellido - Animal Dawn - What a scientist sounds like.

Not much to add here, Dr. Garcia-Bellido Senior Researcher of Palaeontology at the South Australian Museum and Associate Professor at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide in Australian does a very nice information filled review of what we know regarding the transition from Ediacara Biota to the Cambrian, which set the stage for the further evolutionary revolutions to follow in short order.  Below the fold I post screen shots of key slides to entice and highlight key points.  (If you're wondering why I'm posting these videos see this)

Animal Dawn - Research Tuesday - Garcia-Bellido  Presentation