Scandalously Bad Science – No Data on Coral Growth Rates for 15 Years

Reposed by request from Jennifer Marohasy’s Blog

January 2, 2020 By jennifer

CORALS are animals, closely related to jelly fish, but they differ in having a limestone skeleton. This is hard-stuff, calcium carbonate, and it can persist in the environment and provide an indication of changes in sea level, and also the growth rates of corals, over thousands of years.

Porites corals are typically used to estimate growth rates the Great Barrier Reef. I photographed the surface of this coral when I visited Bramston Reef with Peter Ridd in August 2019. It was so soft, like a carpet, but firm from the corallite: the limestone skeleton supporting individual coral polyps.

Porites corals are typically used to estimate growth rates the Great Barrier Reef. I photographed the surface of this coral when I visited Bramston Reef with Peter Ridd in August 2019. It was so soft, like a carpet, but firm from the corallite: the limestone skeleton supporting individual coral polyps.

There are well established techniques for coring corals, and then measuring growth rates. But as Peter Ridd explains in the following article just published by The Australian, since 2005 there has been no systematic study* of coral growth rates at the Great Barrier Reef.

It is the case that lots of claims are made about declining calcification rates and also declining water quality. But the data is either missing or could actually tell quite a different story.

This is the first in a series of blog posts planned on what Peter is calling ‘The Coral Challenge’. Graham Lloyd has a companion piece, also in today’s The Australian.


Great Barrier Reef Truth May Be Inconvenient, But It Is Out There
By Dr Peter Ridd

We have no data of Great Barrier Reef coral growth rates for the last 15 years. Has growth collapsed as the Australian Institute of Marine Science claims?

Is the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) being affected by climate change, the acidification of the ocean, and the pesticides, sediment and fertiliser from farms? One way to tell is to measure the coral growth rates. Our science institutions claim that coral growth rates collapsed between 1990 and 2005 due to stress from human pollution. Remarkably, despite having data of coral growth rates for the last few centuries, there is no data for the last 15 years. We don’t know how the GBR has fared since 2005.

Corals have yearly growth rings similar to tree rings. By drilling cores from large corals, scientists can measure the growth rates over the life of the coral. The yearly rings are roughly 10 millimetres thick so a coral that is many meters across can be hundreds of years old. In a landmark study, the Australian Institute of Maine Science (AIMS) took cores from over 300 corals on the GBR and concluded that for the last three hundred years, coral growth was stable, but in 1990 there was an unprecedented and dramatic collapse of 15%.

With Thomas Stieglitz and Eduardo da Silva, I reanalysed the AIMS data and, in our opinion, AIMS made two major mistakes. The first was incorrect measurement of the near surface coral growth rings on most of the corals that were giving data from 1990 to 2005. After years of argument AIMS have begrudgingly agreed that they made this mistake. The other problems is that they used much smaller and younger corals for the 1990-2005 data compared with the mostly very large and old corals of the pre 1990 data: they changed their methodology and this is what caused the apparent drop at 1990. When we corrected this problem, the fall in growth rate disappeared.

AIMS continue to dispute this second error and still claim there was a worrying reduction in growth rate between 1990 to 2005. This disputed work is quoted in influential government documents such as the 2019 reef outlook report. I am not cherry-picking a minor problem. It is a fundamental problem with a keystone piece of GBR science.

We thus have a situation that arguably the most important data that tells us about the health of the GBR is highly questionable from 1990 to 2005.

What is far worse is that we have no data whatever since 2005.

The science institutions have not only failed to investigate probable major errors in their work, they have also failed to update measurement of this fundamental parameter while claiming, in increasingly shrill tones, that the GBR is in peril.

But ironically, this failure provides a fantastic opportunity: The Coral Challenge.

For the last 15 years we don’t know what growth rates have been. It is easy to fill in the missing data, and check the previous data, by taking more cores from the reef. AIMS have effectively stated that coral growth is falling at 1% per year. According to the AIMS curve, growth should now be 30% lower than it was in 1990 – a disastrous fall.

I predict it has stayed the same. Either way, it would be nice to know what has actually happened – is the reef really in danger or not?

Ridd-versus-Aims-768x558

Peter Ridd is predicating that when the data is finally analysed it will show little change in growth rates, perhaps some improvement. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), in contrast, is predicting a significant fall in coral calcification rates.
Science is a method. The best test of competing theories, hypotheses and claims is with the data.

But a second and almost equally valuable outcome of measuring the missing data is that it will be an acid test of the trustworthiness of our major science institutions. AIMS have dug in their heels and denied they made a major methodological mistake. Let’s do the experiment and see if they are right, or untrustworthy. Same for me. If this measurement is done, and done properly, and it shows there has been a major reduction in coral growth rates, I will be the first to accept I was wrong and that there is a disaster happening on the reef.

The coral challenge is a measurement that will have to be done sooner or later. The longer it is neglected the worse it will look to the public. Farmers who are accused of killing the reef are especially interested.

We need to make sure these new measurements are done properly and without any questions about reliability. They must be supervised by a group of scientists that are acceptable to both sides of the agricultural debate on the reef to ensure methodology and execution is impeccable.

End of article by Dr Ridd.
___

*There have been some recent studies of calcification rates at a limited number of sites, and these contradict the media headlines and the landmark AIMS study. For example:
‘Long-term growth trends of massive Porites corals across a latitudinal gradient in the Indo-Pacific’ by Tries B. Razak, George Roff, Janice M. Lough, Dudi Prayudi, Neal E. Cantin, Peter J. Mumby in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Volume 626. The Abstract reads:

“Previous studies have reported recent substantial declines in the growth rates of massive Porites corals under warming oceans. However, the majority of these reports are from inshore reefs, and few have explored growth responses in offshore reefs from remote locations with low levels of pollution, sedimentation or nutrient loading. Here, we examined continuous growth records of massive Porites from remote locations spanning a 25° latitudinal gradient in the Indo-Pacific, including Palau, central Sulawesi, West Papua and the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Between 1982 and 2012, no significant changes in calcification or extension anomalies were observed at any study location, despite significant increases in sea surface temperature (SST) at all sites. Skeletal density increased linearly by ~0.4% yr−1 in Palau, but no change was found in Sulawesi, yet skeletal density showed a significant nonlinear change in West Papua and the GBR. Skeletal density displayed a significant positive linear relationship with SST at Palau and West Papua, whereas no relationship was observed in Sulawesi. In the GBR, skeletal density exhibited a nonlinear parabolic relationship with SST, with strong negative anomalies occurring following major thermal events. Unlike the ongoing declines in growth rates of inshore corals that have been widely reported, we found that calcification and extension anomalies of the majority of Porites from offshore remote locations do not appear to be exhibiting negative growth responses to warming SST. Our results suggest that reefs experiencing low levels of local stressors may show increased resilience to warming SST in an era of rapidly warming oceans.

Further Reading

There is more background information on Peter Ridd’s work in this area in the book that I edited: ‘Climate Change: The Facts 2017’, specifically the chapter entitled: ‘The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Corals, And Problems with Policy Science’. Go have a read!

This is a close-up of the corallite walls, of the same coral that features at the very top of this post. It was photographed at Bramston Reef in August 2019. According to Professor Terry Hughes this reef does not exist, at least that is what he told 4,500 delegates at an international conference in Cairns a few years ago. The picture of the mud flat that has apparently replace it was featured on the front page of the Cairns Post. That fake news story was written by News Ltd Journalist Peter Michael.

This is a close-up of the corallite walls, of the same coral that features at the very top of this post. It was photographed at Bramston Reef in August 2019. According to Professor Terry Hughes this reef does not exist, at least that is what he told 4,500 delegates at an international conference in Cairns a few years ago. The picture of the mud flat that has apparently replace it was featured on the front page of the Cairns Post. That fake news story was written by News Ltd Journalist Peter Michael.

The coral featured at the top of this blog post is a huge Porites, perhaps 1,000 years old, that the experts claim does not exist because they deny the inshore reefs off-Bowen. I rested on it, while exploring south of Bowen in August 2019 with my paddle board. The black case (the Jarvis Walker) is for my drone Skido, who comes with me paddle

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63 thoughts on “Scandalously Bad Science – No Data on Coral Growth Rates for 15 Years

  1. It is all about the data. Similar to the Polar Bear stories. Looking forward to report of the missing data!
    Keep up the good work Peter Ridd and J. Marohasy.

  2. The data is assumed/asserted, the conclusions are inferred, and the missing links are infilled with brown matter, or in computational slang: fudged.

    • Yes. Today I read an article explaining that warming is killing sea weed and corals in various island areas. Then an other article shows up elsewhere explaining how various islands/ coastal areas are banning sunscreens with certain chemicals for the same reason. Looks like one maybe doing that correlation – cause mistake……gee, I wonder which…..

    • I’ve got to lay off the Christmas candy…….corals….DO NOT grow symmetrical

      take 3 different cores….all 3 will have different band groupings

      and that’s the problem….people tend to take only one core

    • I suspect they have taken core samples more recently and found they didn’t like the results so didn’t publish them. I also expect Peter Ridd has done some preliminary testing and is reasonably confident he’s right.

    • Is it possible for a relevant individual to make a freedom of information request. regarding coral studies in the last 15 years?

  3. The GBR challenge is something that would seem ripe for crowd-source funding like Anthony Watts’s impactful Surface Stations project. Need impeccable, honest marine scientists, a review panel, an agreement on the best practices for collecting samples (even better, use the ‘establishment’s’ procedure). It must be free from cherry-picking, probably gridding the GBR and randomly selecting sample sites over it.

    I think we are in need of an independent data set for all climate related metrics. Fund Susan Crockford to hire a team to organize a definitive count of polar bears, others for Adelie Penguins, polar ice extents and thicknesses, mountain glaciers, sea level and Pacific Islands, river deltas….

    • I think we should crowd source the dog “Kenji Watts” to perform the coral survey.

      Kenji is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and otherwise seems to be a more adept scientist than the crew at AIMS.

      • Pillage Idiot
        January 2, 2020 at 5:53 pm

        Yes, Kenji has proven himself to be much more capable than most climate scientists in doing this sort of research.

  4. BTW a similar absence of recent data exists regarding Glacier National Park glacier melt. The past three years have been record-setting snowfall years in Montana. Some anecdotal and photo evidence suggests some of GNP’s glaciers may have grown slightly. Yet official government data ends at 2015–five years ago.

    Here is the government’s most recent published data: https://www.usgs.gov/data-tools/area-named-glaciers-glacier-national-park-gnp-and-flathead-national-forest-fnf-including .

    (Note that there are significant problems with the way the data is gathered and presented. Especially for older dates (for which USGS scientists apparently used old black and white photos to estimate or reconstruct).)

    But beyond that, the gaping recent absence of published data cries out for explanation. We know there are data gathering stations at these glaciers which would allow the data to be publicized almost in real time.

  5. Is there a wager involved? I’d like to buy a share on Peter Ridd’s side of the bet.

    How about if Ridd is proved right, then James Cook U. agrees to immediately drop their appeal and pay in full the judgment against them?

  6. We should a bit more tolerant about climate ‘scientists’ predictions failures.
    MSM just reported on what the RAND corporation (collection of the best brains) predicted in 1964 to happen by:
    1980 – robots as household servants
    1980 – manned landing on Mars
    1995 – human lives artificially extended by 50 years
    1998 – directly recording information to the brain
    1999 – a military force on the moon
    2000 – two-way communication with extra-terrestrials
    2015 – long-duration coma to allow a form of time travel
    2020 – breeding of apes and other animals for menial work
    The above predictions failed because the baby boomers were just too lousy in achieving aims set by their parents. /sarc

    • “Vuk January 2, 2020 at 11:44 am

      1999 – a military force on the moon”

      Are you saying the TV show Space 1999 was fake? How DARE you!

        • “An alternate universe” thanks, that explains it.🤦‍♂️ I always wondered how they used chemical rocket motors to decelerate and accelerate from interstellar speeds. 🤨😂

          • In the models in Space 1999, they used up-turned butane rattle cans that just spat out the propellant. Nice effect (If ya didn’t know how they did it).

      • you remember it?
        wow
        no one else I know does.
        I used to enjoy it.
        and i havent seen dvds or youtube of it either, not that i looked that hard, admittedly,

    • Upon thinking about it Vuk; you didn’t need the /sarc. You’ve got a truer statement there than you realized.

      Other than the last three, the rest was perfectly plausible; and if they weren’t protesting wars, protesting animal testing, protesting oil, protesting mineral extraction, protesting “green” everything; they could have made it happen.

      • However, change is on the way, and the Brits are leading the way; quotes from a rather unusual but fascinating job advert:
        “We want to hire set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, the categories are:
        1. Data scientists and software developers
        2. .. etc
        6. .. etc
        7. Weirdos and misfits with odd skills
        We need some true wild cards, e.g. Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB …..
        Send a max 1 page letter plus CV and put in the subject line ‘job”

        Absolutely true from: We’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos
        https://dominiccummings.com
        Now if you think it is a joke, think twice after you have googled Dominic Cummings, that is if you didn’t know who the ‘D. C.’ is.

      • Uh, I’m a “boomer” who never participated in a single protest. Just went to engineering school and then spent 42 years working. Pretty boring, now that I come to think about it.

        I think that we should probably be more careful with generalizations, as “it only takes one” contradictory data point to disprove it.

        Happy New Year, y’all.

    • 1999 – Military force on the moon…Could already be there, who knows for certain? Can’t see the other side from here
      2000 – two-way communication with ET’s. Again could be happening at area 51 or any other black ops sites right now.
      2015 – long duration coma as time travel. (we do that every night, go to sleep and wake up 8 hours into the future.)
      2020 – Animals are already bread for menial work (hauling, toting, packing, )
      😉

    • My better half was deeply sedated for 8 days in 2009, then came back over the next several days – a total of about 12. It takes a lot of smart folks to accomplish that. She then had open heart valve replacement. 10 years ago now.
      She came back as smart and sassy as ever.

      Neither of us will be applying for the “long-duration coma to allow a form of time travel.”

    • At least Rand Corp wasn’t trying to kill 80% of us and put remaining non Champagne Socialites on bread and water.

    • Vuk, back in1969 I took part in a Delphi Technique prediction exercise. Heart transplants happened much sooner than predicted, similar with DNA identification and manipulation but Nuclear Fusion is still to happen. Progress depends on the need and the amount of research spending. The funding on medical research has been enormous in all countries. Just think the first heart transplant happened in South Africa. IVF is now commonplace with something like 80% success in Australia. Nuclear energy, including fusion would be now much more advanced if there had been a need (no coal and running out of oil & gas) and more money spent.

      • Hi there, good to see that the old grey matter is still in a perfect functioning order.
        1960s were probably the most intensive years of technological advances of human endeavour with the 1961 Gagarin space flight up to the 1969 landing on the moon. Many young people including myself were inspired by those events to pursue science and technology career.

        • Yes, I remember reading the first Scientific American article on lasers sometime around 1960.

          (Too bad Scientific American started becoming political around that decade by supporting the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and their 2-minutes-to-midnight clock. — Now look where they are: 12-years-to-the-end-of-the-world calendar. — or are we now at 11 years?)

  7. Interesting. There was a screaming headline a few days ago that someone had found some miracle corals in the Arabian Gulf that are flourishing in warmer waters. So miraculous was it that scientists from all over were flying to inspect this resilient coral. Quite unlike our local stuff.

    I can’t find the article just now perhaps someone can follow it up or I will look tonight.

    Why is this lot growing while ours is dying was the thrust of the article.

    Time for data.

    • Worlds most resilient Corals found in Gulf of Aden.
      Thousands of Scientists flock to the site for research.
      Resilient corals get examined to death.
      Official Scientific Report on new Coral Species…
      “Move along folks, nothing to see here. The initial reports were incorrect. There are no corals in the gulf of Aden”

  8. The only thing we know for certain is that the Great Barrier Reef will not last forever regardless of what we do – fact.

  9. The links “just published” and “companion piece” take you to “The Australian” paywall, so for most of us, these are useless.
    I have recovered at least some of the material by alternative means and posted it at
    https://tinyurl.com/wsowym3
    [My Dropbox account]
    The behaviour of AIMS, JCU and associated sycophants is a gross insult to all of those people here in the north who have done REAL WORK to address the problem of nutrient run-off, reduce excessive sediment discharge etc. [Local councils, farmers, cattle ranchers, LandCare, Green Corps etc, even former JCU Department of Civil AND SYSTEMS Engineering. Buffer zones, filter beds, stabilising watercourses, etc.]
    Maybe we should start a GoFundMe to sue these agencies for defamation, culpable negligence or whatever, but maybe wait until the the Peter Ridd court case is completed?
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/peter-ridd-legal-action-fund
    Final word: if you catch a Crown of Thorns starfish, don’t chop it up and throw the bits overboard. Each bit will become a new starfish.

  10. This seems to be an argument for more funding control by the one actually doing the research. How much is lost writing grants, politicking, writing reports, etc.? Instead of actually trying to solve a problem, does this result in creating them? My recollection is that when NSF started this was the idealistic intention, taken over by others siting in various offices.

  11. Similiar heat resistant corals can be found in seas close to the equator all around the globe if anyone wants to look. I suggest New Ireland, north of New Guinea, where there are more coral species than anywhere else in the world.

  12. It doesn’t look like the $A443m given to the Australian Institute of Marine Science by the Turnbull government was well spent, mainly going to water quality projects, traditional owner reef projects, community reef projects,restoration projects and a few other hangers-on, and not a scientific project in sight to determine the health of the reef
    Well done Peter Ridd for continued efforts for objective science,

  13. What? The $Alarmist science groups monitoring corals don’t have any data for the last 15 years? HOW?

    They might be working like US Government workers…i.e. hardly at all for a decade and a half (unless you call Play Station Gaming on the job work)…OR they have been taking regular routine samples BUT THE DATA was way too non-Alarmist to publish. MY guess is BOTH…Lots of government non-work activity and lots of hiding data from the people paying for it.

    I can tell you right now how an honest review of the coral growth and density will turn out…because the Alarmists have already communicated the results by the absence of ROUTINE DATA.

    THERE’S A BILLION CORALS out there…Millions of easy to find big ones to provide good samples…what’s the issue with getting routine core samples? Gotta be that the data was too good to fudge enough and still get away with it.

    The Press SPIN should be interesting when the results of the contest is in.

  14. Blocking funding to studies that could easily prove your political agenda wrong is a criminal act.

  15. Just when JCU thought they had got rid of Ridd.
    The old adage keep your friends close but your enemies closer!

  16. Since the coral skeletons are calcium carbonate – emphasis on the CARBON in carbonate – doesn’t the growth rate and perhaps even the existence of corals depend on the carbon dioxide in the seawater? No CO2 = no growth = no corals? Conversely, increases in CO2 should / could / would stimulate the corals to more / faster growth?

  17. Ain’t Climatology grand?
    Funny how the “changes” are so urgent,yet measurements are not.
    If the current state of the weather,oceans and atmospheric composition is so critical,why do we not have better monitoring systems and more of them?
    Why are monitoring systems still only “Good enough for government”.?
    Just out of curiousity what is the calibrated range of current electronic temperature sensing equipment?
    Cause after the transition from mercury in glass, the next best way to bump up the temperature “records” is to measure the transient highs instantaneously and cut off the low temperatures as being “out of range”.

    Strange how good news is never welcome in the Cult of Calamitous Climate.

  18. If you really want to start off 2020 with a good rolling-the-floor laugh your ass off, just go read the bios at SciTechDaily’s Editorial Board. It’s a hoot.
    https://scitechdaily.com/editorial-board/

    Then go read their “About Us,” here:
    https://scitechdaily.com/about-us/

    Once you read the bios and About-Us, You’ll realize SciTech Daily simply lives for web-clicks for revenue.
    No doubt, the more ridiculous and alarmism-concocted the headline, probably the more clicks they get.
    “Please pass the gravy bowl,” is probably a popular refrain at your family Christmas dinners and at SciTech Daily no doubt.

  19. Hmm, OK, here is a way to solve this once and for all.

    Dig up 1/3rd of the coral, grind it into sand and weigh it. Then in 5 years dig up another 1/3rd, grind it up, and weigh it. In 10 years dig up the remaining 1/3, grind it up and weight it. Plot the weights and you get the trend – end of argument. And no matter what the results, it no longer matters because you ground up all of the coral.

    (Sorry, but sometimes sarcasm is the best weapon to use… Just like when they went inventorying all of the worlds amphibians so they could measure how much damage the Ozone Depletion was doing (answer – none), and spread a killer fungus to all the pristine backwater regions killing a lot of their animals and possibly wiping out many species…scientists never learn. How about controlling real water pollution and leave the corals the heck alone? Take pictures, not core samples.)

  20. The evidence continues to mount in favor of enjoying our fossil fuels and all the benefits they bring! None of the advertised calamities alleged to come with increasing atmospheric CO2 are happening.

    Increase in severe thunderstorms? NO
    Increase in hurricane number and intensity? NO
    Spread of disease? NO
    More famine? NO
    More drought? NO
    Fewer Polar Bears? NO
    More acres burned? NO
    Disappearing islands? NO
    Climate refugees? NO
    Increase in sea level rise? NO
    Increase in heat-related deaths? NO
    Destruction of coral? NO

    The list goes on and on. Nothing we were supposed to be afraid of is happening. Instead, we are enjoying a huge benefit from the CO2 fertilizer effect! Overall, the weather has been a little more mild. Too bad that won’t last! We are in the fading centuries of the Holocene and have been slowly cooling for about 8,000 years. We are certainly heading for the next crippling glacial period. Of course, that could take several thousand more years, but we are cooling in the long run. If increasing CO2 slows that process, our ancestors will be eternally grateful for our efforts and wisdom!

    Save the planet! Emit CO2!

  21. Coral reefs around Australia have the Crown of Thorns starfish (As well as other invasive species) infestation to worry about. CO2 “acidification” and warming water not so much.

  22. Science in the general media is necessarily long on drama and short on data and analysis. Sometimes the drama takes hold, and sometimes it doesn’t. What ever happened to cloning animals from adult cells? (You know: Dolly the Sheep, and now we’ll be able to make another Barbra Streisand.)

    The question is, how long can the catastrophic climate change story last without confirmation before most people cease to believe it? This could be quite a while. Communism lasted seventy years, and Christianity is still a thing with millions of otherwise rational people. People who would never read a play by Shakespeare unless they had to pass an exam or impress a girlfriend will tell you that Shakespeare was the greatest writer in the English language. We seem awfully good at believing stuff we don’t really, because belief in it is in fashion.

    • Careful Ian. You are getting precariously close to a postmodern philosophy that throws the baby out with the bathwater.

      Stories are a necessary part of the human experience because our brains function on pattern recognition. It is the key to our survival and ascent to the top of the food chain. Pattern recognition is basically story-making. We have no need to see 1,000 relatives get eaten by a saber tooth tiger to come to understand that saber tooth tigers are dangerous. One encounter will do. In fact, one sight of such an animal will do if we already have a story about animals with large, sharp teeth. The story thus becomes the key to our survival.

      Postmodern philosophers have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to prove any of our stories (which is true), and, therefore, all stories are invalid (which is throwing the baby out with the bathwater). They rejected the validity of archetypal stories that had developed over centuries, and were largely responsible for the rise of civilization. In the process, they have revealed that humanity will adopt any story if there is a vacuum of stories in the population. This is an invitation to tyranny and endless power struggles!

      As individuals and as a race, we need our stories in order to survive and thrive. Archetypal stories are simply those that have proven themselves to be useful over Centuries and Millennia for our survival and thriving. Christianity is an archetypal story derived from a collection of archetypal stories that had already stood the test of time when Jesus was born. By rejecting Christianity and the archetypal stories it is based on, we revert to tribalism stories, which have never stopped dominating in the war torn Middle East and parts of Africa, and are appearing more often in the Western World, in the form of identity politics and group power struggles.

      Other Eastern philosophies developed from archetypal stories in the same way as Christianity. Consequently, they have very similar principles and rules, because they are derived from common, human experience.

      The story of man-made climate change is not derived from common human experience. It is made up entirely from assumptions with weak empirical foundations and no supporting evidence. Furthermore, it has produced only costs, and no discernable benefits. Like communism, it is argued that the benefits will become clear in the future, but the future is now and there are still no benefits to the story…only costs.

      Not all stories are created equally and not all stories are ‘bad’. It is the role of society, and indeed, the entire human race, to decide which stories are the most beneficial and which stories cause the most harm. We must decide which stories will dominate our lives. We cannot judge our stories on their provability, because no story is provable. We must judge our stories on costs and benefits, which makes it very complicated. Whose costs and whose benefits are we talking about? Our archetypal stories of morality are the guiding principles we use to answer that question. If we throw them out, it becomes every group for itself and we revert to tribalism, chaos and increased human suffering.

  23. “is the reef really in danger or not?” Don’t worry. After another 500,000 years or so they will have a new island off the coast.

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