The Cost of Denial

Remember Dr. Fred Singer? The finest Phd that money could buy? (And it did.)
How many lives were lost to cancer caused by second hand smoke before his denials were countered and measures were taken to limit the effects of second hand tobacco smoke?

The anti-vax movement and COVID; There have been a lot of Darwin Awards here.
The idiot fringe got a good start by initial downplaying and denial. COVID “Will magically disappear”, maybe 50,000 deaths.
Thanks to a lot of good but poorly educated people listening to those that they trust, a lot of people are shunning vaccinations and some of them are dying as a result.
Masking; Again denial. The deniers choose to equate anything less than 100% effectiveness as zero effectiveness. Deniers will take a hypothetical survey showing good effectiveness of mast as proving less than 100% effectiveness, and equate that as evidence of lying.
Anti-masking on its own may be difficult to quantify but anti-masking combined with anti-vaxing has certainly added to the COVID death toll.

Then we have the damage done to public confidence in the democratic election process by denial?

Global warming; Early on, I was unsure of the seriousness of global warming.
Then I saw an announcement that Dr. Fred Singer (You remember Dr. Fred, the finest Phd that money could buy.), Dr. Fred was addressing a convention of Oil Company executives to support the denial of global warming.
From that day, I started to take climate change more seriously.
But, the effects of climate change are still 50 or 100 years away, right?
Maybe not:
This just in:

Antarctica’s 'Doomsday Glacier’ Could Collapse in 3 Years

By Mike Whiter
Published on 12/20/2021 at 9:42 AM
The Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica is the widest glacier on Earth, spanning approx 80 miles. It’s also melting and rapidly becoming more unstable.
The glacier is known as the 'Doomsday Glacier’ because if it were to break up entirely, global sea levels would rise by 2+ feet. Its collapse could also trigger a string of glacial collapses in Antarctica, and if the surrounding glaciers were to fail with the Thwaites, global sea levels could rise by up to 10 feet.
Some reports say it could happen in 5 years instead of 3 years, but a 2 foot increase in even 5 years may be a disaster.
But the point of this is not what has happened or what may soon happens.
What of the lost lives and wasted and lost resources caused by denial.
Is there any way to curtail damaging denials without the cure being worse than the disease?
May I humbly suggest that we avoid nitpicking over details of the examples and concentrate on the issue of denial in general.
How about those who fund public denial?
{s} Dr Fred did not know that he was being funded by the tobacco industry.
Dr Fred did not know that he was being funded by the petroleum industry.
I would have expected more awareness from a Phd, but then he didn’t understand the hazards of second hand tobacco smoke nor the seriousness of climate change.
Maybe he didn’t know who was paying his bills.{/s}
The point is, should industries who support denial be held to account?

I blame the lawyers. They have taught the politicians and others their famous 3 phase defense - deny, deny, deny! No matter how obvious the lie is, deny. It makes me long for truth, honor, and people with integrity who take responsibility.

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“Dick The Butcher” had an answer. grin

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Like a ship. the economy can not be stopped on a dime without some bad things happening. Reasonable alternatives need to be brought to the table, like bio-made natural gas, or reflective roof coatings.
Not the government will tax you if you emit any CO2. The heavy hand of government should be a last resort.
When we see reasonable alternatives, at a reasonable price, then we should take action. That is not to say that someone should not be looking for those alternatives.

I see forest fires, every year, and no one sees an alternative here?

Sure. Pave every square foot of California. Easy. Joni Mitchell wrote the theme song already.

Patrick Moore, well known for his early involvement in GreenPeace commented on clearcut logging;
He pointed out that the worst destruction caused by clear cutting would eventually heal itself.
Once a forest has been paved over to build a city, nature has little chance to repair the damage.
A the trees in a forest will eventually die, decompose and release their trapped carbon. A fire shortens the cycle a little in the time scale of life on earth.
Possibly a greater loss is the loss of a number of years of an area of vegetation where photosynthesis is extracting carbon from atmospheric CO2 and releasing oxygen.

However, harvesting the wood to make homes, furniture, stuff, would extend the cycle for the carbon, and reduce the fire event in size, and likelihood, etc.

Then again, burning wood in central power plants would allow us to capture some of that waste forest fire heat, and the central nature would allow for scrubbing something like a bag house.
There was a study made by EPRI years ago on whole tree burning.

I think they should be held to account as should all everyone with a substantial carbon emissions limit, whatever that should be.

Our problems are not going to be easily solved. We lack the political will and savvy to work together for the common good of humanity. We’ve been fed too many lies and too many have believed them. I did, at one time, too. Actually, I didn’t know who to believe thus what to believe.

How about never listening to a politician when they tell you anything? Seems to work for me.

I listen to my friends, coworkers, family, and I get a mixed bag of opinions which I can easily compare to what I know about the people I know well. I listen to scientists, engineers, doctors, artists, and my garage mechanic when they have something to say about what they know the most about. It adds up to a pretty complete and solid picture of reality for me.

I know an engineer who doesn’t give a damn about music, so we don’t talk about music when we’re together. I know a lawyer who knows about lawyery stuff and also a lot about gardening - I benefit from the delicious stuff from her garden more than stuff she can tell me about law. I have also met some artists and writers, but I don’t ask them to fix my car or program a computer. Of course that would be strange.

How very strange, then, that sometimes I hear people say that they want politicians to tell them the truth about science (or law, or economics, or anything). Why in the world would they expect politicians to know anything about science, law or economics? Politicians don’t need to know anything about these things to become politicians.

My beliefs about many things have evolved a lot over time. Mostly as a result of meeting and learning about new people and things I didn’t know about before. It helps to find out if the source is credible first. This still seems to be working. Why would I mess this up by expecting people who know nothing about a subject to tell me anything useful about that subject?

I’m not claiming that I’m right about everything, or that I’ve somehow proofed myself against being misled or fooled. I’m just saying that by carefully selecting who I listen to, I’m doing all right, and I wish more people would do the same.

I mostly agree with you.
I would expect that a politician would consult with experts in a field before commenting on a field in which he has no expertise.
Unfortunately my perception is that my expectations are met less and less frequently as the years pass.
My jaded, cynical view is that many politicians will say whatever suits their personal agenda.

What is the primary personal agenda of many politicians today?
Often to build support by saying what their power base wants to hear.
Most of their power base doesn’t consult with experts either.

It is very hard to correct someone who has just been told what he wants to hear.

Who is the government?
A retired senior civil servant once told me:
“The politicians THINK that they run the country.
We senior civil servants KNOW that we run the country.”
I expect that either the mandarins or the politicians will be willing to mislead the people if this will serve to further heir plans, projects or agendas.

What about COVID?Personally I don’t pay much attention to either the politicians or the bureaucrats.
I prefer to consult with experts, and I trust my doctor.