On Fridays once in a while I engage with a few teenagers and a couple of my adult friends. We discuss matters of mutual interest. Lately it’s been about climate change and global warming.
I am persuaded that the young are being systematically misled by a committed group of interested parties that have an agenda to profit from misdirection and misinformation.
The image of a TV meteorological report at the top of this post exemplifies my point about misdirection.The top part is colored green and the bottom part red. They are five years apart. The impression conveyed is that the world is melting due to high temperatures but if you care to notice, you’d see that the temperatures reported are pretty much the same.
This has to be resisted. In the following, I present a bit of what I recently wrote to the group of teenagers I engage with on Fridays. Here it is, for the record.
One of the reasons we have these occasional conversations is for us to become better informed. Being better informed is essential for us to be able to reason about the world. The world is a complex place and we cannot hope to understand it without a good deal of effort. We cannot rely on just looking at the world superficially. We have to examine the evidence and reach our own conclusions. We have to be careful not to simply swallow whatever is presented to us uncritically.
We should learn how to think. That’s hard. It is easier to just go along with what people tell us. They are telling us what to think, and what to believe. They want power over us to lead us to their preferred destination.
We have to learn how to think and not be told what to think.
There are topics on which reasonable and well-meaning people disagree. But the much trumpeted climate crisis (not climate change) is not one of them. The climate crisis agenda is pushed by people who are both unreasonable and ill-willed.
I use this taxonomy. There are four types of people:
- Type A: informed and well-meaning.
- Type B: uninformed but well-meaning.
- Type C: informed but ill-willed.
- Type D: uninformed and ill-willed.
Types A and B are well-meaning. A is informed and B is uninformed. All of us start off uninformed, and most of us are well-meaning. Most of us — not all — begin as type B.
Then if we type Bs take the trouble, we become informed type As and therefore due to our good motives, can help with problem solutions. Being well-meaning is not enough; we have to become informed to be effective agents of good change. In short, we move from type B to type A, the best kind of people, if we put in a bit of serious effort.
Most of us don’t mean to do harm but being uninformed, we could do unintentional harm. Greta Thunberg is type B but if her ideological blinders are removed, she may become type A.
Types C and D are dangerous. They are morally evil and are ill-willed. They are in it for narrow selfish reasons. They are preying on the innocent, the powerless, the uninformed. They are into scare-mongering of the worst kind. What’s the worst kind? The kind that robs young people of hope, of optimism, of the desire to work hard and help solve problems, to improve the world.
Types C and D are typified by people like the late Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC. He used — repeat USED — children to advance his agenda. He epitomized moral evil employed for personal advancement.
Pachauri and his type have all the information they need but they are motivated by ideology and are least concerned with truth and accuracy.
The type B — uninformed but well-meaning people — are the useful idiots of the C and D types. These type B are people who deface painting in museums and disrupt traffic. They mean well but are too stupid (emphasis on the word stupid) to make the effort to examine their assumptions. They get easily manipulated.
The informed but evil can be easily identified in events like the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In conclusion, here’s my position. I am passionately committed to helping make the world a better place, in whatever little way I can. To that end, I told myself that I must get informed. Like everyone else, I began as uninformed and ignorant. There’s a way out of ignorance — make the effort to study and learn.
As an undergraduate, I was trained as an engineer and later studied computer science in graduate school. But I had no idea of how the world worked. To know how the world works, I had to study economics. While studying economics was fun (and it still is fun), it is not easy.
I had certain beliefs about the world such as what are the big problems and what should be done about that. After I learned economics, I realized that practically every of those beliefs were wrong. Not just a little wrong but 180 degrees wrong.
We probably cannot be entirely right about the world since it is too complex. But we can be less wrong with a bit of effort. We owe it to ourselves to be as less wrong as we can be.
We can be less wrong if we learn how to think critically. Gather the evidence, examine the evidence, and then reach a tentative conclusion — in that order. Don’t reason from conclusion to evidence; go from evidence to tentative conclusions.
The attitude should be “strong opinions weakly held.” Have opinions but be willing to change your mind if the evidence supports a change.
I am particularly distressed when I come across teenagers who are even mildly worried about the “climate crisis.” Mental anguish and pessimism among the young is not a pretty sight.
My advice: get informed. Teach yourself well.
Here’s a video that I recommend as an early step. It’s 19 minutes long. Watch it carefully. The main lesson: that ideology-driven agenda can be very harmful.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
5 thoughts on “Learn Before We Act”
Maybe Greta Thunberg was Type B when she started off as a little girl, but now she is a 20-year-old adult. She has had plenty of time and opportunity to study and evaluate her blinders. What makes you think she is still Type B? Type B people under certain circumstances and under duress can turn into Type C and Type D people.
I think some Type A people are folks like Jamshedji Tata, Charlie Munger, and Bill Gates.
I largely agree with your comment, Anirudh. But I vehemently disagree that Bill Gates is type A. I used to think that he was well-meaning. But with his WEF connections, and his connection with Jeffrey Epstein, and his horrible behavior related to Covid lockdowns and vaccination shenanigans, I am convinced that he is not well-meaning at all.
Read “Climate Change Denial:Heads in the Sand” by Haydn Washington and John Cook.
A couple of points:
I’m sure you would agree that both Carl Sagan and the late Freeman Dyson were type A people (well-informed and well-meaning). But, they are 180 degrees apart on this global warming issue. So whom should we believe? I’d go with Sagan, because his area of expertise was planetary science and exo-biology, while Dyson’s was mathematics and quantum electrodynamics. Also, Dyson was a member of JASON, a think tank notorious for global warming denial.
The embedded video “Why there is no ‘climate crisis’?” is from the channel Sky News, a Rupert Murdoch outfit, so very heavily biased. But, MORE IMPORTANTLY, most, if not all of the “everything is fine and dandy, and things are better than ever” graphs in the video are from the same source: ourWorldInData. A website largely funded by Bill Gates, and of highly questionable integrity. For an example of how reliable or questionable their data is, see:
A response to Max Roser: how not to measure global poverty — Jason Hickel