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I Call Bullshit!

Entry 1424, on 2012-08-09 at 23:38:29 (Rating 4, Skepticism)

There are a lot of things which many people just accept without really thinking about them. I realise that no one has the time to carefully research everything they hear but I think there is a good case to suggest that more people should be a little bit more skeptical about what they hear, even from fairly respectable mainstream media.

When I hear something which I think is unlikely to be true I call bullshit. Usually I'm right because my BS meter is extremely finely calibrated, but sometimes I'm wrong. I do try to follow up my BS calls with some research to see how accurate the call was so I hope my accuracy is improving through that process.

Anyway, having explained the idea let me give a few examples of where I call bullshit...

First there is climate change. There is a lot of nonsense spoken by deniers and I could be constantly calling bullshit on this one. But there is one claim which isn't quite so self-evidently nonsensical. That is the cost of dealing with the problem.

The estimated cost to protect the whole world against global warming is US$175 billion per year. That sounds like a lot and how can already economically challenged economies afford it? Very, very easily as it happens. The economic damage caused by Hurricane Katrina alone was $200 billion. I'm not saying that event was caused by global warming but it is an example of what will happen in the future (and is already happening). Saying we can't afford to prevent global warming is nonsense. I call bullshit!

While we're on the subject of global warming how about this one. Many deniers say that human activity couldn't possibly be making any real difference to CO2 levels and that volcanoes alone contribute far more. Really? Volcanism contributes about 0.0001 parts per million to the atmosphere annually. In 2011 alone humans contributed 2 ppm (the total increased from 388 to 390). Why do deniers continue to make this claim? I call bullshit!

Another common claim is that cap and trade schemes don't work. I would far prefer a tax on carbon but the fact is that cap and trade can work. A US government cap and trade scheme on SO2 emissions effectively stopped acid rain. Emissions are now 50% below what they were in 1980. Cap and trade can't work? I call bullshit!

Many religious people speak as if the existence and reported life of Jesus is a settled fact. They cite the occasional reference to him outside of the Bible, especially in the works of Josephus. But Josephus also wrote about the grand-daughter of Hercules marrying Abraham. Does that mean that Hercules was also an historical figure? I don't think so. I call bullshit!

Many people speak about indigenous populations as being more environmentally aware and in touch with the land than European settlers. This is quite a prevalent view here in New Zealand, for example, but is it true? The Pacific rat, introduced by Maori, caused more extinctions than any other mammal species in the history of this country. Within 50 to 100 years of Maori arriving in New Zealand the moa was extinct. And 34 species were made extinct by Maori, and only 15 by Europeans. Maori are more in touch with the land? I call bullshit!

There are some sources of "news" which are far more susceptible to doubtful claims than others. But it's necessary to be aware of possible nonsense from anywhere. Note that above I have called bullshit on claims which would traditionally come from the political right (global warming denial) and the left (the doubtful belief that indigenous people are more in touch with the environment).

If I read back through my blog I'm sure I could find things I should call bullshit on. If more people doubted their own assumptions the world would be a far better place. Skepticism is good. The idea that faith and acceptance are positive attributes is just... well, bullshit!

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Comment 1 (3419) by klem on 2013-02-20 at 08:47:41:

The estimated cost to protect the whole world against global warming is US$175 billion per year.

Um, where did you get that number from? I think that number is BS!

The UN climate change treaty stated they wanted 1% of GDP from the developed world every year, with the goal of 2% by 2030. The combined GDP of the developed world presently is about $40 trillion a year, so 1% is about $400 billion, with the goal of $800 billion by 2030. And believe me, that would only be the thin edge of the wedge.

What would the UN do with $800 billion annually? Become the worlds governing body, thatís what. The UN is BS!

Cheers

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Comment 2 (3420) by OJB on 2013-02-20 at 08:48:22:

Excellent! You are quite right to call BS on that. I will need to find my source to demonstrate that it isnít, although the actual number obviously is highly debatable since it depends on the extent of action taken.

Clearly $400 billion would provide a greater effect than $175 but even that is a small amount really. I could make a similar case based on that number.

Regarding the UN: I call BS on conspiracy theories!

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Comment 3 (3421) by OJB on 2013-02-20 at 08:48:41:

I looked back at my GW notes and I didnít record the source of that estimate. From memory it was a podcast from Radio NZ, NPR, or maybe Nature. But since I canít find the source I accept your call of BS. An excellent example of the process as it should be!

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Comment 4 (3422) by GWBS on 2013-02-20 at 08:49:47:

I Call BS On the Whole Global Warming Claim, there is not enough to prove it, at the same there is not enough to say its not happening either, you can yell the ice is melting, in some places i would agree in others the ice is getting thicker, no one from the smartest scientist in the world have proven global warming, Climate Change, hmmmm here in NY we have had a record snowfall this year, so how is the OVERALL climate changed? this is the funny part, when all this hype media started, they first called it Global Warming, then they noticed, wow record lows, they were starting to loose everyone on that, so they changed it to Climate Change, that way if it gets colder or hotter they win, and it is so amazing U.S is one of the very very few countries that is buying into this crap, so the U.S alone is going to save the world, i think what only 10 % of earth is land, the rest is water, wow that 10% is making a huge impact on the rest of the world, look up the facts, stop posting B.S, and MEDIA is not FACTS! so i call BS on this whole post, you cant get information that is not yet out there to use as facts, when there are none, you can not 100% prove that global warming or climate change is taking place, so why post it as a fact ?

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Comment 5 (3423) by OJB on 2013-02-20 at 08:50:52:

Well I call bullshit on you calling bullshit! All the reasons you have given are easily refuted. If you are going to call bullshit on a well accepted scientific theory you need to research it properly first!

Iíll quickly go through and show you where youíre wrongÖ Ice melt: in a few small areas getting thicker but much bigger areas melting, overall very strong trend to melting. Record snowfalls: predicted by global warming because warmer air carries more water leading to greater precipitation in some areas. The US is not the only country buying into it, in fact most other countries brought into it long before. The media is irrelevant, Iím talking about science here. And yes, itís not proved 100% neither is just about everything else. Whatís your point.

There, your call of bullshit is clearly bullshit!

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