Tuesday, April 19, 2011


While some of you were watching John Muir, we were watching a rerun on the National Geographic channel on the conspiracies surrounding 9/11. Actually I think the Muir program came on later in our area. We had the Roadshow at eight and then a program from OPB on Oregon Oystermen. Anyway, back to the conspiracy theories. The program was interesting. I was aware of the various “theories” floating around but was not aware of just how impervious the truthers are to any attempts to prove that they just might be a couple of stubbies short of a six pack. Along with the birthers, deniers (climate change), and worders (Biblical literalists).

At least until I ran across this. It might have been The Parish blog or researching something I read on Greg’s blog. There are at least two ways people organize information. There’s the “give me a chance to study the facts and I’ll adjust my world view to fit them.” This world view gave us scientists like Galileo, experimental science and the Enlightenment.

“Everybody” just knew that if you dropped a one pound ball and a two pound ball from the same height the two pound ball would fall twice as fast. So Galileo took two balls up to the top of that tower in Pisa, probably yelled the Italian version of “look out below” and dropped them. Which was followed by “?????????” when both balls hit the ground at the same time. Which was probably followed by sending an increasingly tired assistant down to retrieve the balls so he could do it again. Which led to the knowledge that falling objects accelerate at the same speed no matter how heavy they are as long as wind resistance is the same. A one pound feather might not drop as fast as a one pound ball of lead because the shape is different.

Then we have the other group. They are the poster children for “my mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Except that they aren’t confused; confronted with what the rest of us call facts, they simply refuse delivery. The 9/11 program took up each objection. Scientists or engineers used computer models or designed experiments to test their objections as best they could, presented the information and were hit with “it couldn’t have happened that way.” They don’t really know how the towers came down, except that it was a huge government conspiracy and they aren’t changing their minds any time soon. In spite of the fact that any of their scenarios would have required so much time to set up and so many people to pull it off that somebody, somewhere would have set up shop in a country without extradition treaties with the US, written a book, made a fortune, bought a house with a state of art security system and hired a very competant crew of body guards.

We see the same attitude the birthers. It doesn’t matter how many people examine the information the state of Hawaii has released and swear on a stack of Bibles that the president was born in Hawaii, they won’t believe it. Ok. They’re several degrees off plumb. It’s distracting and/or infuriating but they aren’t really hurting anyone else….at the moment.

But, those other two groups. Hey, I’m somewhat open minded. Maybe all of the climate change we’re seeing isn’t caused by human intervention. Sure is funny how the CO2 levels started spiking around the time the Industrial Revolution started though. And how industrial level livestock operations give off more green house gasses than our cars. Think that just might be hint that you can't treat steers like widgets? Yes, CO2 levels were much higher in the past. Say about 250 million years ago when Siberia literally erupted and kept erupting for millennia. Before it was over most life on the planet was extinct. The atmosphere was full of CO2 and sulfur dioxide. The seas warmed, currents that brought cold, oxygen rich water to the surface collapsed and the oceans nearly suffocated. The earth survived, cleansed itself and life recovered. Uh, guys, the earth will survive. We, most or all of us cantankerous humans, might not.

Then there are the Worders, the folks that believe that the Bible must be taken literally. And that those who don’t agree with this and their interpretation are wrong. Not just wrong but heretics and apostates. I wouldn’t mind that so much except that some of these folks put environmentalists, even Bible believing environmentalists, and their attempts to clean up our messes on their lists of heresies and apostasies. As best as I can understand their beliefs, the Second Coming is just around the corner. The earth will be renewed. Jesus will take care of it. At this point words fail me. Frankly I didn’t stick around, I got the heck out of Dodge as quickly as possible.

Yes, the Deniers have freedom of speech, and the Worders can claim freedom of religion. But, in the famous words of Mark Twain “your freedom to take a swing at me ends where my nose begins.” Your right to your opinions and beliefs ends when it endangers the lives and safety of others. Don’t expect us to sit by in silence.

P.S. Just realized I left out the whole Intelligent Design crew. Heck, lump them in with the Worders. They pretty much overlap. Ran across a copy of a page of coloring book put out by these (fill in with description of your choice, nuts springs to mind) with Jesus riding a velociraptor complete with saddle and bridle. Again, words fail me. Unfortunately I may have some relatives that fall into this camp.

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