Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blaspheming against the new religion

The National Post has an article this weekend, on Vancouver-based author and mathematician David Orrell's new book, Apollo’s Arrow: The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything.

... in its myths of the Fall and the Apocalypse, its saints and heretics, its iconography and tithing, its reliance on prophecy, even its schisms — the green movement now exhibits the same psychology of compliance as religion.
“The track record of any kind of long-distance prediction is really bad, but everyone’s still really interested in it. It’s sort of a way of picturing the future. But we can’t make long-term predictions of the economy, and we can’t make long-term predictions of the climate,” Dr. Orrell said in an interview.
“If you go back to the oracles of ancient Greece, prediction has always been one function of religion,” he said. “This role is coveted, and so there’s not very much work done at questioning the prediction, because it’s almost as if you were going to the priest and saying, ‘Look, I’m not sure about the Second Coming of Christ.’ ”
...many religions, environmentalism included, continue to struggle with the curse of literalism, and the resultant extremism.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I think all this is wrapped up in our belief that we can predict the future,” said Dr. Orrell. “What we need is more of a sense that we’re out of our depth, and that’s more likely to promote a lasting change in behaviour.”
Projections are useful to “provoke ideas and aid thinking about the future,” but as he writes in the book, “they should not be taken literally.”
The “fundamental danger of deterministic, objective science [is that] like a corny, overformulaic film, it imagines and presents the world as a predictable object. It has no sense of the mystery, magic, or surprise of life.”
The solution, he thinks, is to adopt what the University of Toronto’s Thomas Homer-Dixon calls a “prospective mind” — an intellectual stance that is “proactive, anticipatory, comfortable with change, and not surprised by surprise.”

One of the major tenets propping up the new religion of environmentalism, is the sacredness of recycling. "Recycling lets us do our part as individuals, to save the environment! It cuts down on pollution! We're running out of space for our garbage, so recycling helps the scarcity of landfill space! Especially recycling paper: we get to save trees! And it creates jobs while cutting manufacturing costs, all the while helping preserve the environment!"
We have become so endoctrinated into believing these dogmatic assertions, that it requires almost an act of will to imagine them as dogmas in the first place.

Helping us to place the religion of environmentalism in its proper perspective, here are those irrepressible iconoclasts, Penn and Teller, in two hertical 30-minute episodes from their cable series "B*****t!", dedicated to exposing some of the migsuided, unprincipled and self-serving priests of this new faith.

[profanity warning for these two videos]

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