Under the influence of ‘Big Firewood’

A little tale to illustrate how alarmism works.

Story submitted by WUWT reader Andre Bijkerk

“Ward’s Lumber & Wood; Bethel, Vermont” – from a Kickstarter project documenting family run businesses.

A long time ago, during the ice age, the tribe wizard called the tribe together to tell them something very important and the next discussion emerged:

Tribe wizard:
“Dear tribe, I have returned from my long and dangerous quest for the truth and on the mountain top, I have found out why the river stays frozen and the land white, although the sun is high and the moon is old. Friends, it’s a very serious matter. There are strange and powerful creatures who call themselves gods.”

Old sceptic tribe idiot:
“That’s baloney, been there long time ago. Nobody is there, just barren rock.”

Tribe wizard:
“Don’t listen to that fool, dear tribe. These creatures only show themselves to the chosen ones like me. Anybody else cannot see them. And they are in anger as our tribe has displeased them and they are punishing us with casting the cold spell.”

Old sceptic tribe idiot:
“Nonsense, we had severe winters when I was young. It’s just natural variability”

(crowd murmers)

Tribe wizard:
“Quiet, quiet, don’t listen people, he is paid by the firewood companies. Luckily I have managed to calm down those gods and they promised, if I bring them all our goodies, that they will bring the summer back and the globe will warm again”.

Old sceptic tribe idiot:
“Baloney, if you give him all your goodies, you will just die sooner and nothing will change the natural course.”

Tribe wizard:
“Thou dreadful denier, how dare you risking  future of our tribe, no, even the end of the world by calling upon us the wrath of the gods? Ban him! Ban him!

And thus the old sceptic tribe idiot was gone, the tribe wizard returned to the mountain with the goodies and sure enough it worked, the summer returned and the tribe knew for a fact that the gods of the mountains needed to be kept satisfied or the world would come to an end.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Some interesting references to give it a scientific hue:

Mercier and Sperber 2010, Why do humans reason? BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2010) 34, 57–111 doi:10.1017 /S0140525X10000968

http://evolution.binghamton.edu/evos/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Mercier-Sperber-Why-do-humans-reason.pdf

(we argue to win and dominate others, not to find the truth).

Moral Panic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic

Moral enterpreneurs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_entrepreneur

Folk devils: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_devil

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33 thoughts on “Under the influence of ‘Big Firewood’

  1. If their thesis is correct, what are we to make of Mercier and Sperber’s reasoning? And why should we believe it; by their own arguments, doesn’t that make us marks?

  2. Bill McKibben waxes exceedingly rhetorically alarmist in:
    Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is
    e.g.,

    the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

    He apparently has not heard of climate persistence or Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics.

    A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.

    He ignores evidence that nature thrived when climate has been substantially warmer with higher CO2.

    NASA scientist James Hansen, the planet’s most prominent climatologist, ” . . two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster.”

    Appeal to authority fallacy.

    study after study predicts that carbon emissions will keep growing by roughly three percent a year – and at that rate, we’ll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years

    A rare recognition of pragmatic reality.

    We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn.

    Relief that there are still some oil, coal and gas reserves to tide us over until we can make sustainable fuels cheaper than gasoline from crude oil.

    We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate.

    “Give up all your goodies so we can survive”!
    Meaning “We must keep nature pristine at all costs”.

    If you put a price on carbon, through a direct tax or other methods, it would enlist markets in the fight against global warming. . . .sending everyone in the country a check each month for their share of the added costs of carbon.

    That most harms the poor – most of whom are outside your borders.

    As Christopher Monckton quotes: “

    “As they say on the London insurance market, ‘When the premium exceeds the cost of the risk, don’t insure.’”

    McKibben has apparently never studied the geological evidence etc. shown by Don Easterbrook or the likelihood that the rate of temperature rise will likely decline over the next three decades, possibly resulting in actual global cooling!
    By the way, why are most migrants leaving the colder climates for warmer climates like Florida and Texas?

  3. Bull Hockey pucks. My best arguments are against my own best ideas from the day before. Creativity works best when you treat your own ideas no more respect that you treat others.

    The most successful creative teams respect each other and don’t waste mental effort trying to dominate each other. Ego building may work among the cubicles but doesn’t impress mother nature when the finished product is far away and not ready for prime time.

  4. When I read the caption of the photo first I thought: What, Kickstarter now funds lumber business?

  5. Of course many of the other tribes (Russia, China, India, etc.) will NOT give their “goodies” to the “gods” under any circumstances, so we’re stuck with the anger of the gods, whether we give them our goodies or not. I say we keep our goodies and use them to survive whatever curses (or blessings) the gods bestow.

    Oh yeah, we should also fire James Ha–er, the wizard–and give him a job more in line with his aptitudes, like shoveling manure.

  6. …the summer returned and the tribe knew for a fact that the gods of the mountains needed to be kept satisfied or the world would come to an end.

    Then one evening, as the shaman (who was now the plumpest member of the tribe) came waddling down the mountain after delivering the latest batch of goodies to the gods, a sudden gust of cold wind carried the first snowflakes of the blizzard into the village.

  7. There is a story that one year the Indian chief forecast a brutally cold winter because the white man was stocking a whole bunch of firewood.

  8. Remember when you use some of that firewood or goodies:

    “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,”
    “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that — somebody else made that happen.”

    Obama 2012

  9. Mark Twain was not only very funny he was a skeptics skeptic. His most skeptical and darkest work is “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyberg”. It’s plot as I recall is not all that different from what is going on with the Church of Climatology.

  10. Truth is found by falsification and not by defending (arguing) your favorite ox from being Gored by Al. Argumentation is not argumentative.

    That firewood by Kickstarter brought immediately to mind the Emerald Ash Borer and Wisconsin’s 600+ Million ash trees. I am told that people still drag firewood-coals to New Castle.

  11. “Folk devils” thanks for that reference.

    Wikipedia on the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake:

    … One particularly pernicious rumor was that Koreans were taking advantage of the disaster, committing arson and robbery, and were in possession of bombs. In the aftermath of the quake, mass murder of Koreans by brutal mobs occurred in urban Tokyo and Yokohama, fueled by rumors of rebellion and sabotage. Some newspapers reported the rumors as fact, which led to the most deadly rumor of all: that the Koreans were poisoning wells. The numerous fires and cloudy well water, a little-known effect of a large quake, all seemed to confirm the rumors of the panic-stricken survivors who were living amidst the rubble….

  12. David L. Hagen says:
    July 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Remember when you use some of that firewood or goodies:

    “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,”
    “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that — somebody else made that happen.”
    Obama 2012

    Said the Community Organizer who would not know what it takes to run a business or how to even split firewood if his life depended on it.

    If you are successful or have started and run a good business it is because of YOU and no one else. No one else can make you learn what is needed, no one else can put what it takes into a business to make it successful.

    This whole mindset of ‘we are just mindless replaceable ants in a big ant hill’ is a denial of the ingenuity of each individual. Unfortunately it is now permeating businesses who no longer value individuals and their contributions but only see people as disposable and interchangeable “Human Resources”

  13. Speak for yourself, Chuck, I argue to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women. Just sayin’

  14. Doug Jones says:

    July 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Speak for yourself, Chuck, I argue to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women. Just sayin’
    ===============
    Kipling ?
    Maybe not.

    “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.”
    Rudyard Kipling

  15. That “Old sceptic tribe idiot” reminded me of John Stossel while he worked for 20/20.
    See “No, They Can’t” (2012).

  16. Hmm. Makes me wonder if those Clovis people worried about global warming when the Laurentide ice sheet was retreating or if they just said something like: “Cool, more hunting grounds”.

  17. Chuck says:
    July 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    My brain must be defective. I argue to find the truth. I have no desire to dominate others.

    That’s because you don’t care what other people do, as long as it has no practical impact on you. But there are people who do care how others live, what lifestyle choices we make and they have very strong opinions about it. They use “Butterfly Effect” arguments that anything you do could impact them and, therefore, they should have a say in how you live.

  18. Our fires in the last 3 years have increased by a factor of 2 every year. This is after an almost 15 year hiatus when we hardly used the lovely beast. Because it was warm and comfortable in the evening. Homes in my county, and there are many without fireplaces, primarily built in the 80’s, are now buying area heaters, as I had as a child, for a home built in the ’20s, when fire places were rare. because they were unnecessary. A look at fire place construction will likely wield a better understanding of decadal temperature than that provided by Mr Hansen and his minions.

  19. AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    Rudyard Kipling

  20. HR says (July 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm): “eeemmmmmmm! Nice pile of wood.

    I got wood envy!”

    Sheldon Cooper on wood:

  21. Re Gail Combs @ 3:59

    I don’t usually bother to reply to the politically-oriented comments, but how about the whole quotation?
    “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

    So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

  22. A story of global warming

    [snip . . looks like a double clip and paste . . kbmod]

    Once upon a time, thousands of years ago there was clan of cavemen. The whole clan lived together in a cave and spent all their available hours hunting and gathering to keep from starving.
    On day, while out hunting and gathering on his own, one of the clan members, Al, came across some strange tracks at the edge of the clan’s hunting area.. He wasn’t sure what they were from but they seamed really BIG. Young Al thought about it for awhile and decided that these tracks could be from the dreaded Saber toothed tiger.
    Al had never actually seen a saber toothed tiger nor had he ever seen their tracks. But, thought Al, what else could the tracks be from?
    Al rushed back to the clan cave to tell the others of what he had discovered. To young Al’s surprise most of the clan didn’t seem too concerned. Al said “ we need to take precautions to keep the saber toothed tiger from killing us” “ We need to build a high fence around our camp to keep the tiger out.”
    To this the clan elders said “ Sorry Al, we don’t have time to stop hunting and gathering to build a fence. We have to hunt and gather every waking hour just to keep alive. We don’t have time to waste on fences to keep out a tiger that probably doesn’t even exist”.
    “ But”, Cried Al” I saw the tracks, there may even be lots of saber toothed tigers about . I can’t be sure how many tracks I saw”
    The clan elders sat young Al down and tried to explain things to him.
    “First”, they said, “ You don’t know what those tracks were from. Could be from a big fluffy dog named Rex. Second, nobody around here has ever even seen a saber toothed tiger. We don’t even know if they still exist. Thirdly, Even if they do exist, we don’t know that they would hurt us. Fourthly, Even if all you said was true, we don’t know that a fence would keep the tiger out.”
    “ Tell you what, You go out and get some really good solid information and we will re-visit the issue”

    Well, young Al didn’t like that response. He vowed to do whatever he could to save his clan. Al went back and took a second look at the tracks he had found. The tracks had been trampled over by other animals and were hard to distinguish. Now it seemed to him there were many more tracks than he first thought. Maybe the tracks of a HUNDRED tigers. He also saw something that looked like a spot of blood. Probably from an eaten member of a neighboring clan. Also, he was able to calculate that the tiger was at least 10 feet tall. So now he had his proof. There were over a hundred tigers. They were ten feet tall and they loved to eat cave dwellers.
    “ Now they will have to believe me and build that fence.” Thought Al.
    When young Al went to the clan elders and explained of his very scientific findings he was very surprised that they still refused to stop hunting and gathering and build a fence.

  23. A Tiger named AL
    A story of global warming

    Once upon a time, thousands of years ago there was clan of cavemen. The whole clan lived together in a cave and spent all their available hours hunting and gathering to keep from starving.
    On day, while out hunting and gathering on his own, one of the clan members, Al, came across some strange tracks at the edge of the clan’s hunting area.. He wasn’t sure what they were from but they seamed really BIG. Young Al thought about it for awhile and decided that these tracks could be from the dreaded Saber toothed tiger.
    Al had never actually seen a saber toothed tiger nor had he ever seen their tracks. But, thought Al, what else could the tracks be from?
    Al rushed back to the clan cave to tell the others of what he had discovered. To young Al’s surprise most of the clan didn’t seem too concerned. Al said “ we need to take precautions to keep the saber toothed tiger from killing us” “ We need to build a high fence around our camp to keep the tiger out.”
    To this the clan elders said “ Sorry Al, we don’t have time to stop hunting and gathering to build a fence. We have to hunt and gather every waking hour just to keep alive. We don’t have time to waste on fences to keep out a tiger that probably doesn’t even exist”.
    “ But”, Cried Al” I saw the tracks, there may even be lots of saber toothed tigers about . I can’t be sure how many tracks I saw”
    The clan elders sat young Al down and tried to explain things to him.
    “First”, they said, “ You don’t know what those tracks were from. Could be from a big fluffy dog named Rex. Second, nobody around here has ever even seen a saber toothed tiger. We don’t even know if they still exist. Thirdly, Even if they do exist, we don’t know that they would hurt us. Fourthly, Even if all you said was true, we don’t know that a fence would keep the tiger out.”
    “ Tell you what, You go out and get some really good solid information and we will re-visit the issue”

    Well, young Al didn’t like that response. He vowed to do whatever he could to save his clan. Al went back and took a second look at the tracks he had found. The tracks had been trampled over by other animals and were hard to distinguish. Now it seemed to him there were many more tracks than he first thought. Maybe the tracks of a HUNDRED tigers. He also saw something that looked like a spot of blood. Probably from an eaten member of a neighboring clan. Also, he was able to calculate that the tiger was at least 10 feet tall. So now he had his proof. There were over a hundred tigers. They were ten feet tall and they loved to eat cave dwellers.
    “ Now they will have to believe me and build that fence.” Thought Al.
    When young Al went to the clan elders and explained of his very scientific findings he was very surprised that they still refused to stop hunting and gathering and build a fence.

    When Al came back the next day and told the elders that he was now sure that there were a THOUSAND tigers and that they were 25 feet tall they still weren’t convinced. In fact they seemed even less convinced.

    That’s when he knew what he had to do. He packed his bags and headed to Copenhagen. If those stupid clan elders wouldn’t believe him, He’d talk directly to Obama. That will get some action. Maybe even a few hundred million of those new paper dollars he keeps hearing about. Al wasn’t going to let no tiger cause any GORE in his cave.
    Hey, Al thought as he headed for his private jet, He would need a last name when he got to Copenhagen. Maybe that would make a good last name, “Tiger”, He would be: “ Al Tiger” That would be a COOL name.

  24. “””””…..Skeptic Tank says:

    July 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Chuck says:
    July 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    My brain must be defective. I argue to find the truth. I have no desire to dominate others.

    That’s because you don’t care what other people do, as long as it has no practical impact on you. But there are people who do care how others live, what lifestyle choices we make and they have very strong opinions about it. They use “Butterfly Effect” arguments that anything you do could impact them and, therefore, they should have a say in how you live……”””””

    Well in some civilized countries, they hold to the principle that each is innocent until proven guilty.

    So anyone who wants to tell me how to live, is welcome to present his PROOF that “how I have lived” HAS NEGATIVELY impacted “his/er” life; and include in that proof how his/er own lifestyle has NOT had ANY adverse effect on his/er life, commensurate with any attributable to me; nor has had ANY adverse effect on MY life.

    Other than that I don’t care how you live (legally).

  25. “””””…….Gail Combs says:

    July 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    David L. Hagen says:
    July 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Remember when you use some of that firewood or goodies:

    “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,”
    “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that — somebody else made that happen.”
    Obama 2012

    Said the Community Organizer who would not know what it takes to run a business or how to even split firewood if his life depended on it…..”””””

    And Gail, I’m betting that YOU did not miss, that the community organizer could not help starting his first public comments on the most recent tragedy, by saying WE are all one community, in this together. I had nothing to do with it.

  26. Howzaboutthat says (July 20, 2012 at 6:28 am): [snip]

    If your purpose in extending Zero’s quote was to make him look worse, you’ve succeeded. He conspicuously left parents off the list of helpers and failed to mention that taxpayers, not the moochers he favors, paid for the roads, bridges, dams, and internet. Contrary to the President’s assertion, the businessmen and workers who paid the taxes jolly well did “build that”!

    So basically all you’ve done is reveal the full depth of his incompetence. Well done.

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