10.22.2008

State of Fear

It goes without saying that I am an atheist, but I wasn't always that way. I struggled for years with the things I was told were true, or that were part of faith, when many of them just didn't make sense. And I really had a hard time believing that the God of my parents and so many others was flawed and even worse, a fiction. Ultimately, I took it upon myself to read books about religion and its history instead of relying on the opinions of others. Only after myself becoming more informed could I comfortably and assuredly dispel the myths of the gods.

Compared to global warming, that struggle was a piece of cake.

The casual (i.e., not a scientist) follower of global warming often share striking similarities to religious followers, akin to those who blindly believe what they are told. From my 'training' at picking apart religious arguments, the false logic is easy to spot. I have found the most common form of justification by casual believers are appeal to the people (e.g., a majority of scientists believe and therefore it is fact), and appeal to authority (e.g., Al Gore made a movie and therefore it is true). All this tells me is that they don't know what they are talking about. Adamant followers usually just skip to to beratement, or an attack on the person rather than the argument (e.g., what a nutjob!). All of these things makes the notion of global warming smell funny, to say the least.So, admittedly, I came into reading Michael Crichton's 2004 techno-thriller State of Fear with some eager anticipation. Yes, it is a book of fiction, which the author stresses, about environmental extremists trying to perpetrate ecological disasters to try and strengthen their monetary funding for their movements. However, Crichton has done extensive research (the bibliography has dozens of texts in reference), and there are pages of footnoted passages in the text to back up characters' contentions. It all makes for, first of all, a compelling and fun read, but secondly, an eye-opening experience to another point of view.

(The book is not out to dispel man-made global warming (although it does quite well in that regard), but makes a case for a media-driven 'state of fear', i.e., creating a constant state of hysteria and panic to control the masses.)

I'd put the book in the upper echelon of Crichton's books -- somewhere between Airframe and Congo -- and a wonderful read. If nothing else, the author stresses at the beginning and end that the reader should read more and find out for themselves what they think, which I couldn't agree with more.

Side project: Read the comments on Amazon to get an amazingly polarizing view and try to count the number of false logic arguments without going nuts.

In reviewing my own "Post of Note" about Why I Love to Hate Religion, I wrote the following:
    Third would be the mystery of nature itself. The feeling one gets (or I get for the purposes of this little treatise) from laying with your back on the grass and staring up at the clouds or the starry sky. Standing on the edge of the ocean on the beach at midnight, looking out at the murky blackness, the water vast and the horizon infinite. Or, it can be as simple as thinking about a person you haven't seen in years, and then suddenly running into them the next day. The feeling of powerlessness before nature, the vastness, the intimate unknown experiences, the unexplainable connection one feels. If I am convinced of anything, it is that there is more out there, and in here, much more, that we have yet to discover. Religion and the history thereof is a roadmap to many peoples' attempts to either find out more, explain, or manipulate people who are scared into doing horrors.
As it relates to the theory of man-made global warming, I just don't believe that we understand remotely enough about this planet to be able to control it. But that is just belief. I plan to read more and know.

1 comment:

A handsome and powerful man said...

Lucid and coherent once again, Mr. Jones. One question lingers, though: exactly who saw "An Inconvenient Truth" because they equated this "Al Gore" person to an "authority?" Surely there aren't people who believe that?