30 March 2009

obfuscating obfuscations...

Yesterday's New York Times Magazine had a great article on Freeman Dyson, one of the most brilliant people who have lived, at least in the 20th Century. As one piece of evidence was the idea that his college mentor told him that a Ph.D. would be totally useless for him. He knew more than anyone else already.
Among Dyson’s gifts is interpretive clarity, a penetrating ability to grasp the method and significance of what many kinds of scientists do. His thoughts about how science works appear in a series of lucid, elegant books for nonspecialists that have made him a trusted arbiter of ideas ranging far beyond physics. Dyson has written more than a dozen books, including “Origins of Life” (1999), which synthesizes recent discoveries by biologists and geologists into an evaluation of the double-origin hypothesis, the possibility that life began twice; “Disturbing the Universe” (1979) tries among other things to reconcile science and humanity. “Weapons and Hope” (1984) is his meditation on the meaning and danger of nuclear weapons that won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Dyson’s books display such masterly control of complex matters that smart young people read him and want to be scientists; older citizens finish his books and feel smart.

The title of the article refers to Dyson being a heretic because he just doesn't see global warming as a real threat. In a nutshell, he says that people like Al Gore and James Hansen, the major proponents of the crisis, are merely believing their own hype. Dyson, on the other hand, says it is not really a crisis of the magnitude they say - yet - nor will it necessarily become one. It's nature doing what it does.

One of the things he cites is that cooler places may be getting a little warmer but hot places are not, and it is really limited to specific areas where there is a CO2 problem.

Personally, I've not liked the term global warming. Instead, I have preferred climate change because it more accurately describes what is happening in different parts of the world. It also is not as frightening. The earth has recorded many climate changes over the millenia. Maybe we are quickening this one, but who is to say that it is not just a normal process that is supposed to happen?

The article on Dyson is fascinating for many other reasons and I really recommend spending the time reading it. He is a subversive as he calls himself and truly brilliant in many areas. He has spent his life obfuscating obfuscations...

Again, its The Civil Heretic

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