Thursday, 18 February 2010

White Coat Syndrome

At some point in the last century we in the West replaced religion with science as the dominating force in our lives.

It was hardly surprising that the White Coat would replace the casssock as the symbol of knowledge and wisdom. The pace of technological change in the last 100 years has been vigorous and immediate whilst the church has remained rooted in the middle ages. Vicars could offer to pray for your sick relative, whilst scientists would set to and heal them, rejuvinate them and send them to Disneyland by supersonic jet. There really was no contest.

But then I believe we started taking our adoration of scientists too far and let our trust take the lead untempered by common sense.

CJD was a classic case when the entire Nation quaked in their boots at the nightly prognostications of "Goverment Scientists" predicting decimation of the populace from mysterious Prions, and we've since had Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola Virus, MMR Autism .... and so on. Our belief in the cool logic of science is so strong that we fall for it every time.

The most recent Scientific consensus is the biggest of them all. Global Waming, Climate Change and Carbon Feet. In fact it has made such an impact on us that anybody putting their hand up to query the thinking behind it is immediately placed in the same category as flat-earthers or holocaust deniers.

Well, I would just like to make a few simple observations.

1. The only certainty about the future is that it cannot be forecast and is, er, uncertain.

2. The entire World ecosystem can be typefied in chaos theory and "the butterfly effect" which makes it impossible to predict even the weather beyond a few days in advance.

3. Global warming theory, however complex, is fundamentally taking measurements and extrapolating them for decades in advance.

4. The fact that man is screwing up the World we live in by squandering finite resources is worthy of a grant from the J. Cleese University of the Bleeding Obvious.

5. The World is desperate for cleaner, greener sources of energy which don't involve producing a long term Nuclear inheritance for our great great grand children.

My point, if any readers have managed to stay this far, is that there is obviously an urgent and massive problem of resource mismanagement but nobody should pretend to be categorical about where it is all leading. The fact that the green movement have taken the "Global Warming" banner to run with makes something of a hostage to fortune, as if it turns out that emissions are actually blocking solar warming from the atmosphere the entire campaign will be thrown out with the bathwater and the oil companies will all set their PR machines to "I told you so" mode.

Let's push for international cooperation on the conservation and use of finite fuels and resources, let's invest strongly in green "renewable" technology, let's cut into the massive areas of waste in our decadent Western Society. Let's also be aware that it would be kinder to campaign for World population growth reduction rather than sit and wait for inevitable conflicts to do that job.

But please, let's drop the steadfast clinging to one particular "Warming" scenario and just get on with the things that obviously require to be done.


Dave said...

Let's put the men in cassocks back in charge. Throw your light bulbs away and use candles. If you need a bit more light, try burning heretics.

Dave said...

Bring back rag and bone men with a horse and cart.

zIggI said...

I got as far as "international cooperation" then realised this was one of your jokes ho ho ho :)

Rog said...

Dave: Some positive suggestions there. I think you'll find if we acquired a horse the horse manure quotient on this blog would be even higher.

Ziggi: We can all dream.

Liz said...

Rog for Prime Minister!

Dave said...

But think of the roses.

Sarah said...

*But please, let's drop the steadfast clinging to one particular "Warming" scenario and just get on with the things that obviously require to be done.*

What wonderful Zen philosophy Rog....have no attachments, to anything, including the outcome..!
now where's my robe and Oryoki Bowl..

Vicus Scurra said...

I find myself in complete agreement with you. Are you even more worried now?

KAZ said...

I've always loved extrapolating.
Nice post Rog.

Roses said...


I'll pass on burning the heretics, Dave, for obvious reasons.

But Rog?

Hear! Hear!

Geoff said...

World population growth needs to be reversed but that's impossible unless every country acts even more ruthlessly than China.

Any way we can make having a vasectomy something to be proud of?

Anonymous said...

At some point in the last century?

I think Galileo, were he not some centuries past being worm food, might be a little offended by your flexible approach to history.

Dave said...

No, Rog is correct. He didn't say that science was invented in the last century, he was merely pointing out the decline of the role of the Church (accelerated by the First World War) and that science filled the vacuum.

Rog said...

Liz: A frightening thought!

Dave: She wouldn't like it.

Sarah: I read Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance once. Still couldn't fix the gasket on my Vespa 125.

Vicus: Liz: An even more frightening thought!

Kaz: I've heard about your extrapolation activities!

Roses: Dave says he's thinking of you (see above)

Geoff: I'm proud of mine!

Hesspartacus: Welcome! I can't think of Galileo without Bohemian Rhapsody inserting iteslf in my brain for 3 hours. Bizmillah, No! I will not let him go!!!

Dave: I never thought I'd hear three of those words in that particular order!

Christopher said...

I glanced at the title and thought this was going to be about paint. Then I thought aha Vicus has ghosted this and has even disguised himself thinly in line 6. Then when I reached the end I looked at the pun counter and was surprised to find it read 0. But I found myself nodding with enthusiastic agreement all the way through and now have a stiff neck. But it was worth it.

Richard said...

Modern candles are unfortunately made from hydrocarbons.

Of course the unfortunate fact about our commonsense approach is that there's very little money to be made out of it.

phil said...

Can you expalin why the scientist (actually he looks more like a time and motion expert for a dental surgery) is accompanied by the number 485? Is that the new number of the beast - perhaps increased after global warming?

phil said...


I'll just get my coat.

On the other hand, I have proved that global warming doesn't exist...

Rog said...

Christopher: There must have been a pun in there somewhere!

Richard: The even bigger problem is that I came dangerously close to Jeremy Clarkson!

Phil: G'day and welcome! I think you may be on to something. I rang the number 485666 and it turned out to be Jeremy Clarkson.