Woodie Guthrie, Big Government, Renewable Power, and Prairie Populism

It only takes a couple of generations for all our perceived immutable political alignments to get scrambled. Woody Guthrie’s federally funded paean to hydroelectricity stands as testimony.

More on this mind-boggling story here and here and here.

Woody wrote 26 songs celebrating electricity and democracy and populism and big government over the course of a month. The taxpayer was dinged for this to the tune of ten dollars and a quarter per song.

The Scientific Method

Starts out with the usual mythology, actually (hypothesis first, then theory, then experiment) but toward the end it explains what people don’t understand and how it really works.

1) There is no proof in a mathematical sense about the science. The only proof exists within the theory, nothing can be proven about the relation between the theory (the model) and the reality it models.

2) The way it’s tested is by its coherence with other science, and with observation and experiment, obviously

3) Incoherent (wrong) science is not formally disproven in practice. It is more commonly simply ignored by practitioners.

Nowadays of course, ignored science is pitched to the press. And therein lies our problem.


Why the Climate Makes Climate Change Communication Difficult

The Chapman Conference talks are up. So far they’ve all been worth watching. Simon’s, shown here, ties in to our recent theme about “global warming” as cause or as effect. In short, in a public sphere, language matters. Responsible participants need to tread carefully.

(I also particularly recommend Stephan’s talk, which I think is particularly brilliant, and Richard Alley’s State of the Science keynote. Still watching and enjoying them. -mt)

The Lesterland Rant

Larry Lessig’s much-watched call to action is America-centric, but it has much to offer the rest of us too, especially in parts of the world subject to the infestations of the Murdoch Press. The question relevant to us here really is cui bono, who benefits? Who benefits, that is, not from overstating or understating specific issues, but who benefits from the collapse of civilized discourse itself? Of course, that would be political actors and their fundraising mechanisms. Having an implacable enemy promotes action and sacrifice. Unfortunately it suppresses thought and conversation. Ultimately the last thing those in the grips of this motivation want is a solution to our problems.