When Did the Age of Critical Thinking End?

New Brunswick Shale - Resource Wise New Brunswick ReportsLynn Farmakoulas
Spokesperson/Communications Director
Resource Wise New Brunswick

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Blind opposition to hydraulic fracturing by renewables advocates is a substitution of ideological fervor for critical thinking, one born of irrational fear.  

When did the age of critical thinking end? Today things are in absolutes, black or white, with no grey areas. You are either with us or against us. If you are against us, then we will use every means possible to intimidate and insult you,  to blame all the world’s problems on you. Am I crazy to miss the days when skepticism was healthy? There’s nowhere this is more evident than when listening to the anti fossil fuels/climate change hysterics.

critical thinking Winter view from the company's office, St. Mary's, NB, 1833, by W.P. Kay, NAC

“Winter view from the Company’s Office, St. Mary’s opposite Fredericton, Looking up the River St. John,” 1833. Lithograph by S. Russell (Day & Haghe Lithographers).

I don’t know about you, but I like to take a nice warm shower in the morning. I like to turn on my coffee machine and have hot coffee. I like to be able to turn on my lights, watch television and use the Internet. I’d hate to have to choose between food and electricity. 

I don’t live in California. I live in Canada. More particularly I live along the foggy Fundy coast. Foggy means no sun and no wind. We usually have snow and ice from November to April. It’s dark from  5pm til 8am in December. Temperatures can hit -40C with the wind factored in, for days at a time. Living in this climate, I refuse to apologize for being skeptical about “100% renewables.”

I have, in fact, a confession to make: I’ve developed an irrational dislike for “renewables”.

It’s easy to develop a dislike for everything “renewable energy” and to want to strike out against its proponents. That’s what the black and white world of anti oil and gas activists has done; it’s either or, no in between and if you like oil and gas you are “evil” and that’s the end of the story. That’s been my experience anyway. I argue it’s time to get back to how you use one (natural gas) to help get to the other (renewables).

tree-cutting-near-st-stephen critical thinking

New Brunswick winter scene from two years ago (near St. Stephen)

The most glaring example of this lack of logic and critical thinking is the ignoring by renewables advocates and others of just how we get from “here” to “there.”  You can’t convince me, living in Canada, that I can put solar panels on the roof of my house and sit comfortably in my living room watching TV in the evening in January with the outside temperature of -30C. Yet, opponents of oil and gas who blame fossil fuels for everything from climate change to unemployment tell me they want Canada to be 100% free of them by 2050.

Aside from the fact I’ll be long gone by that year (unless I’m kept alive by some medical equipment made from petroleum) I find the suggestion we can run THIS country without fossil fuels ludicrous. Reasonable people look for a balance between renewables and fossils. The ideal fuel to use, of course, is natural gas, described by credible scientists as a “bridge fuel.”

Nonetheless, trying to talk logically to anti fossil fuel activists has become an exercise in futility and frustration. They exploit a combination of simple assertion with emotion, facts playing no role in their world and critical thinking being wholly absent. Their speeches may be summed up as:

“We know the risks of shale gas, they completely outweigh any benefits. We know we’ve got volumes of science on our side.”

Words like “likely” and “probably” are now the harbingers of truth to these activists and they wrap it all up in friendly folksy people who you’d let buy your baby an ice cream. Forget about the trap of trying to counter their points item by item.

It’s made me wonder how these anti oil and gas (and logic) people get the air play and attention they do. The only thing I can figure is that it’s much more exciting for MSM to hear “We are killing the planet!” If you repeat something enough, it will become true in the anti world (anti oil and gas anyway).

Reasonable people concede there are positives and negatives to everything.  As with any industry, there can be accidents and human error. And yes, renewables are industrial also. Renewables are not without their dirty side.

People who love renewables, who go into spasms of delight extolling their virtues, ignore the obvious: mining and manufacturing are part of the process there as well. Maybe they think renewables grow on trees or in organic gardens; but they make claims without substance. They accuse supporters of fossil fuels of crimes against humanity and nature. They say things like this:

Critical Thinking

What about being morally and ethically bound to care about our fellow man? The pro-renewable crowd, which is rabidly against fossil fuels, may not have stopped long enough to understand the implications for people, the people for who it claims it’ll be saving the earth. Forget about the history of mankind, forget about the progress easy access to energy has afforded us. Forget that progress is never stagnant and as I write this people are inventing new technologies that will make even the “dirtiest” of fuels like coal, clean. Why does the green crowd want life to become so hard?

Most of us have knowledge of Maslow’s Hierarchy. I’m sure access to warmth is in the first tier, physiological, and most certainly in the second of safety. Why the renewables-or-bust crowd wants to plunge us into darkness is unfathomable. Either it is blind, dumb, or getting well paid to push back against common sense.

critical thinking MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg

It’s time to get real and reasonable in transitioning to renewables. I don’t know anybody who enjoys life with the ease fossil fuels have allowed us who doesn’t support new technologies and independence from the “grid” when possible. I don’t understand why it has to be either/or for these anti-everything’s.

No one is going to call me immoral for enjoying life that easily accessible energy affords me.

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8 thoughts on “When Did the Age of Critical Thinking End?

  1. Well Lynn here is how I view the Antis in two ways. A. they are entirely ignorant of the inefficiency of renewables or B. they know and are intellectually dishonest. I wished there was a Smartphone app that would monitor renewable energy production in a state or province and Ecos had to live by that.. That app would then be tied to everything operating by electricity in a household. If renewables on a winters day accounted for 10 percent of the grid then 90 percent of the energy used in a house would be shut down. The Frig the water heater, the space heater would all go off . Try that for the month of December or January in the Northern part of North America. The exercise could be extended to the very products that makes life comfortable via petrochemicals and fossil fuels No soap , no toothpaste tube , NO SMARTPHONE.

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  2. “I like to turn on my coffee machine and have hot coffee…”

    So do I, and it’s powered by clean wind energy.

    “Words like “likely” and “probably” are now the harbingers of truth to these activists…”

    From Warren Buffet:

    “This issue (climate change) bears a similarity to Pascal’s Wager on the Existence of God. Pascal, it may be recalled, argued that if there were only a tiny probability that God truly existed, it made sense to behave as if He did because the rewards could be infinite whereas the lack of belief risked eternal misery. Likewise, if there is only a 1 percent chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy.”

    The risk is closer to 10 percent, according to economists Martin Weitzman of Harvard University.

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  3. We are living in a time not unlike the pre-Renaissance time, when religion decided what was fact and anything else was heresy. In those days, the church decided that the geocentric model of the universe was THE model. To promote the heliocentric model (as Galileo did), or any view contrary to church doctrine was to be tried under the Inquisition, often under torture, and then put to death. At least Galileo only spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Today we are told by the high priests of Climate Change that ‘the science is settled’ regarding man’s cause of climate change (formerly global warming), the implication being that to express a contrary opinion is to demonstrate a lack of faith that must be punished. Today’s punishment is less brutal than that of those days, but we must think critically and question, for that is the very nature of science. I find it odd that the more liberal folks accuse the more conservative ones of not believing in science, while they themselves are trying to turn science into religion by forcing adherence to their dogma.

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    • You’re trying hard to sound very high minded, Bill, but in reality, your words are just a sophistry, and a very transparent one at that.

      Why don’t you show me science that supports your position? You can’t, and that’s why you engage in this game of asserting that science is merely a “belief” system.

      Science is not religion, it is an act of rational inquiry. Saying it is otherwise isn’t going to make it so.

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      • I was not saying that I think science is a belief system; far from it. I am an engineer, and fully support the scientific method. I was trying to make the point that the current proponents of climate science have adopted a religious fervor, saying that science is settled, and trying to shut down any rational questioning of that position. THAT is far from scientific!

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  4. I should also add: Never in our history has science ever been settled in the sense I referred to above. Consider how we have changed supposedly settled science over time. Our idea of matter, from the Greek idea of matter being composed of indivisible units named atoms to the atomic structure of a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons surrounded by a cloud of electrons to quark theory. Or Newtonian mechanics to Einstein’s theory of Relativity to Quantum Theory. Science is always changing and evolving, and to try to shut down legitimate questions about whether or not humans have any contribution to what is a natural process that has been ongoing for 5 billion years.

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  5. Bill- don’t waste your time trying to reason with condescending cultists like one ML above, who is under the delusion that all his energy immaculate.

    so called “environmentalists” are nothing but NIMBYs. they’d all be pretty pissed if you took away their fossil fuels, they just don’t want them produced in their vicinity.

    earth’s climate has changed radically throughout the millenia. some climate impacts are likely anthropogenic, but that’s not even the point.

    the point is that self righteous PC activists should stop using all fossil fuels or shut up. until you do, you’re just hypocrites. go work on a real problem like population control.

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  6. Interesting article, but I did not read the answer to the article’s title question. Let me try – I have suspected for a long time that critical thinking descended into oblivion about 30 years ago after the school systems in America, excluding TX, were high-jacked by ultra-liberal progressives that brought us the “pc” crowd as well. With their supercilious righteous attitudes, you inculcate young minds into an Alinsky group think, and we wonder why young kids behave like they do today? I don’t after raising two daughters and reviewing their textbooks. There is no critical analysis taught, only what is pc and how to use the IPhone to get whatever you want. I also suspect once this country is actually attacked again, which is probably inevitable, most folks will wake up and realize what a phony world the academia has brought them, but having no ability to think for themselves, it will be very hard to undo the confusion and hysteria that an “imminent hanging” will bring. The Ruffalo’s, Steyers, McKibbens and DiCaprio’s will disappear, and the fact that every war last century had blood and oil involved (not much has changed this century either) will become crystal clear to the population. When a country vilifies its life-blood energy, I can think of no faster course for economic and social suicide.

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