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Monday, October 26, 2009

Spots on othe windshield

Forgive me for a bit of rambling, but I'm sick with a head cold right now, so lucid moments are rather few and far between today. *L*

In 1954, in Seattle Washington, people began to notice something strange.  Pits, spots, dings and holes began to appear on the windshields of their cars.

At first, it was blamed on vandals.  However, as more and more people reported the mysterious appearance of these spots and pits on their windshields, increasingly fantastic causes were entertained.  BB guns, sand flea eggs, military radio transmissions, cosmic rays, shifts in the Earth's magnetic field, and even supernatural sources were blamed.  Some people reported seeing the glass bubble before their very eyes.  The first reports emerged at the end of March, but by the middle of April, there were 3000 cases reported and people were freaking out.

In the end, it was determined that the pits were always there.  It wasn't until word of the pitting started getting reported by the media that people actually started looking at their windshields closely.  After all, people usually look through their windshields, not at them.  Suddenly they were seeing the pits they'd never noticed before.

What had really happened was another outbreak of what's now called mass hysteria. A varient of this is the nocebo effect, where people's belief that something is harmful is so complete, that they will display physical symptoms of illness, even when there is no cause.There is nothing fake about what these people are feeling, which is what makes the nocebo effect and the larger mass hysteria so potentially dangerous.

I find myself thinking of such things as I go through my morning news and continue my research into the mess surrounding AGW/climate change/whatevertheycallitnow.  How is it that groups like the Caitlin Arctic Survey can have so many struggles due to the cold, including equipment failures and endangerment of their own lives, find ice thicker than expected, find more multi-year ice than expected, all during a time when Arctic ice had increased by 25%, only to come back and report that the North Polar ice is disappearing faster then anyone predicted?  How can we seen increases in total ice coverage in Antarctica, but only see headlines claiming Antarctic ice is melting every faster?  How can people see temperatures plummet around the world while CO2 levels continue to increase, yet claim global temperatures are increasing, and that CO2 is the cause?

The Food Network show, Food Detectives, demonstrated an example of this when looking into the effects of MSG.  Scientific testing repeatedly show that MSG doesn't negatively effect our health, yet people insist that it does.  When serving 30 people the exact same meal in a Chinese restaurant, under the belief they were doing a taste test, they served half the room the meal with MSG, the other without.  Of the 6 people who claimed they felt the effects of MSG from the food they ate, 5 of them had been served the MSG free meal.

Likewise, I hear people talk about how strange the weather has been lately.  It's never been so warm before... or so cold.  It's never been this wet, or this dry.  Spring has been coming earlier.  No, it's been coming later.  Of course, they all blame it on AGW.  Never mind that historical data shows that there's nothing unusual about the local weather.  They're seeing the spots on the windshield for the first time.  Suddenly, having become aware of this thing called Anthropogenic Global Warming, they are seeing signs of it wherever they turn.

It's the only reason I can think of for otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people to throw all logic to the wind and support "interventions" that won't even do anything to effect climate, whether it's carbon capture or cap and trade schemes, throw billions of dollars away on carbon credits, or accept increasingly draconian limitations to our freedoms.  Some even go so far as to try and deny freedom of speech to anyone who disagrees.  I'm not talking politicians or celebrity "scientists," here.  I'm talking regular folks who become so incensed at the suggestion they might be wrong, they verbally attack their "opponent" with insults and threats, or simply shut down even the potential for dissenting voices before they happen - a form of online censorship I've experienced a few times already.

They just can't seem to be able to handle someone pointing out that the spots on their windshield were already there.

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