Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend edition: The conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid

This is a good but dull book - a handbook of upstream oil process – how a drill works, all the processes involved in guiding drills, essentially a technical manual aimed at scientists and engineers who want to get up to speed (and hence useful) in the management of upstream oil and gas.  If that is what you want I highly recommend this book.

I do not believe in investing in any industry until you understand it – and this will give you a very good understanding of the oil and gas industry.  If your fund manager doesn’t read stuff like this then find a different fund manager.  (This book is about widening your circle of competence.  I am hardly recommending it for general reading – but we found it useful.)  

The real purpose of this post

Norman Hyne is very matter-of-fact.  For instance – without reference to whether such a thing should exist – or without reference to the vast scientific revolution that was required even to say such a thing – Hyne talks about 14 thousand feet of sediment.  Sometimes he talks about 20 thousand feet of sediment.  And it goes without saying that the world must be very old for this sediment to exist.  The author won’t even bother entertaining the idea that the world is 6000 years old (and that the sediment was all laid down in some biblical flood).  That notion is of no use whatsoever to a field petroleum engineer.  

Likewise there is a chapter on analysing drill core samples.  This is done by analysing micro-fossils – weeds and seeds.  The organising principal of the theory is evolutionary biology.  Creation Science is not entertained.  Norman Hyne is a practical guy – and he wouldn’t mention such “theories” because they are no use in drilling for oil.  Indeed you will find no worthwhile petroleum geologists who view creation science as a useful theory in finding oil.  

We have just had a US President whose fortune was built on oil.  We had a VP who was CEO of Haliburton – a major upstream oil contractor and technology provider.  These people know that Creation Science is useless – that it will not help you find oil or make money.

Yet – admittedly with political considerations at heart – they were active or passive supporters of creation science crap.  They knew it would keep the constituents poor or stupid – and yet – for understandable political reasons they backed it.

One of the more famous conservative blogs is called the Conspiracy to Keep you Poor and Stupid – but I have only once found such a conspiracy.  And that was on the conservative side of politics.

I have said on this blog that conservatives sometimes have a better grasp of reality than liberals.  They tend to have a more realistic view of the human condition than many starry-eyed liberals.  However this is another example of conservatives becoming the anti-science reactionaries of American politics.  Lots of real reform (eg greenhouse) will not be done well until conservatives engage properly with the reality.  This is yet another plea for American conservatism to get back its intellectual strength.  It really is time...  

John Hempton

I have been criticised in the email and in the comments for a political sermon - the belief that creationism is a straw man to beat the political drum on.  

I wish it were true.  Over half the US population in some surveys believe this crap.  I have seen high profiles conservatives describe evolution as "the liberal creation myth".

These are the same conservatives who have anti-science belief elsewhere.  Everytime I mention greenhouse the blog goes wild.   The temperatures of over 120 farenheit that my parents in law (rural southern Australia) experienced on the weekend  may not be driven at all by the greenhouse effect - but my feeling is that the burden of proof is now totally on the climate-change-deniers.  A couple of hundred dead (in the resulting fires) tends to focus the mind - and my mother in law - usually a tough old woman - spent most of Sunday crying...

Once Maggie Thatcher argued (indeed demonstrated) that lots could be achieved if you appealed to individualism.  She was right.  She had a decent understanding of the human condition.  I might not agree with all she aimed for - and ultimately I think there are non-market goals.  But the position had strengths and we should keep the good bits of it.

But the Maggie Thatcher view that financial markets could regulate themselves is now a smouldering ruin called the Royal Bank of Scotland.  

How we get a facts-and-circumstances driven politics is something that regularly makes me ponder.  Its is also the central political question of the next ten years - how we keep the good bits of the Thatcher/Reagan revolution (a general belief in markets and the worth of the individual) whilst tossing the bad bits (lack of environmental responsiveness, failed financial market regulation etc).  

If I sound like I am giving a sermon I apologise in advance.  But my guess is that the same people who believe in creation science are the people who believe that climate is the realm of god - not the realm of human ingenuity and destructiveness...


Finally - the real issue with greenhouse for this blog is the notion that it is real and it will effect investments.  For instance if heat-waves of the kind experienced in southern Australia are common then fruit trees in the Goulburn Valley are not worth what they used to be.  (You have a hard time growing peaches when the temperature is 120 farenheit.)  

Likewise governemnts will do things and that will change the value of all sorts of assets (coal, nuclear, hybrid cars and lots of things I can't think of).  All of that is worthy of consideration.  


Wille said...

I enjoy your blog most of the time, but is the political sermon really necessary?

Every time you bring up "conservative" and "liberal" you speak as if only the extreme, caricatured versions exist, as if there are only two view points.

The fact is there are more than two viewpoints, some don't fit the traditional "conservative" and "liberal" pigeon holes, especially not the "right-wing nut" pigeon hole. There is a whole world of nuance in between, and lo and behold, sometimes people have viewpoints on certain issues that are "conservative" and others that are "liberal".

The whole "my team" vs. "your team" is tiresome, and the real "conspiracy" to keep you stupid if you will - people resort to partisan hackery rather than critical, individual thinking.

(as a side note: creationism is bunk not even worth addressing in a serious debate).

John Hempton said...

I wish it were true - but the rejection of science is most pronounced on Greenhouse - but if I mention that the blog goes wild.

If you haven't noticed a very large proportion of the US population believes in Creationism.

I guess though Ann Coulter is a caricature... so on that I have to agree with you...


Isam Laroui said...

Thanks for this post. Blogs exist for exactly that, spur of the moment from the heart "political sermons". Obviously if I didn't agree with what you said, I would feel differently but I happen to agree 100%.
It seems like every good idea (or ideology) eventually becomes a parody of itself and often very harmful. That's why we need fresh good ideas all the time so they can displace tired farcical ideas. Maybe what we need more than a free-market economy is an idea economy, whatever that means.

Namazu said...

There was a survey (Rasmussen) that showed that 1/3 of Democrats believed that 9/11 was an inside job and that another 1/4 thought it was possible. So if I accept surveys at face value and follow your chain of inference, I could say that most liberals "believe in" global warming (whatever that means) because they're nut jobs. Don't forget that Al Gore had been framing his brand of environmentalism as a quasi-religious crusade up through the release of his movie. I draw two bright lines to see if someone is serious about the issue: 1) do you believe the science is capable of predicting the net effect of ALL influences on climate, human and otherwise, or do you see climate change as more of a matter of preparing for tail risk? 2) do you believe a carbon reduction scheme is capable of mitigating that effect, and can it be successfully implemented by international bodies that can't even level the playing field for poor farmers in developing countries? I think my position relative to these lines is clear, and I'd caution anybody against criticizing the irrational beliefs of others (even if they involve, say, snake handling) before examining their own.

John Hempton said...

The surveys that show that Democrats believe 9/11 was an inside job are also crazy.

Anyone who believes that is unelectable.

I can't think of any elected person who believes that.

I can find plenty of elected people - including the VP candidate from the last presidential election - who are both (a) oil industry types or apologists and (b) creation science believers.

Still there are some strange things believed by elected politicians of all stripes - and I have had strange and erroneous beliefs in the past - and probably still do. So I can't get too holy...

Namazu said...

*** Anyone who believes that is unelectable. ***

I have what some might consider a counterexample: Howard Dean, at the time former Vermont Governer and future Dem. Party chairman, said in an interview (referring to W) “The most interesting theory that I have heard so far… is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis.” I'd bet a solid interrogation would reveal at least one or two virulent racists of both major parties in the US Senate. American politicians with their eye on the higher offices all profess religious piety, leading to odd situations like supporters of President Obama minimizing his controversial church affiliation by saying he really didn't believe any of it and joined the church just to "have his ticket punched." In short, it's hard to know what these guys actually believe.

John Hempton said...

You may well have the counter-example. I have not followed Dean - but the populism of his presidential campaign left me cold.


Anonymous said...

After meditating on Genesis chapter 1 for an extended period of time
-- I am quite troubled by the success of the Cult of Darwin -- I have
come to realize that the heliocentric model of the universe proposed
by Copernicus is, in fact, in direct conflict with God's Word. That
is, scripture tells us that the Earth is at the center of the universe.
In fact, the very notion of a giant, expanding universe comprised of
galaxies and large stars is completely mistaken. Of course, "mistaken" is a poor
choice of description, since The Enemy is clearly behind it.

I expect that this information comes as a great shock to you, as it
did to me, but the true meaning of scripture is evident when one
consults the original Hebrew. Genesis 1:6 (KJV) states And God said,
Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide
the waters from the waters. The word firmament is a translation of
the Hebrew word raqiya, which according to Strong's Hebrew
Lexicon means:

1) extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament

a) expanse (flat as base, support)

b) firmament (of vault of heaven supporting waters above)

1) considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting
'waters' above

That is, God created a solid object that separates the waters of the
seas from the waters of the rain. It is to this firmament, which is perhaps
shaped like a dome, that God attached the sun, moon, and stars. This
is clearly stated in Genesis 1:16-17 And God made two great lights;
the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the
night: [he made] the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of
the heaven to give light upon the earth.

An additional piece of evidence for the true nature of the universe is
found in Genesis 7:11, which describes the Great Flood of Noah: In
the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the
seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of
the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
Knowing what we do about the nature of the firmament, it is clear that
this verse describes an opening of a window in the solid surface that
supports the waters above. Rain comes down through windows in the dome
above us! To think we have for so long believed the theory put forth
by homosexual scientists that rain comes from clouds!

You are most likely deeply disturbed by how wrong your understanding
of the cosmos has been up until now, but you will feel much better
once you realize how this can ultimately be used to overthrow the
tyranny of homosexual atheism. For more than a century we have battled
the Cult of Darwin with only moderate success, and they have
ultimately been able to parry our attacks because no one can prove
what took place in the past. Rather than using geological and fossil
evidence to argue over what happened long ago, we can instead focus on
what exists NOW. That is, we need only prove the existence of the
firmament in order to debunk the entire body of homosexual scientific

I propose we found a Christian space program. Perhaps not "space",
since that is a satanic lie, but something along that line. Perhaps we
can simply call it the Christian Firmament Project. If we can manage
to reach the firmament with something like a rocket or a hot air
balloon, then we can prove to the world its existence. I cannot claim
to understand the logistics involved, since I know nothing about
homosexual science and math, but I am certain we can find someone in
our community who was in the fields of rocket science or hot air
balloon engineering before he was saved.

Our first step is likely to publicize this initiative so that we can
get donations and volunteers. Of course, we must be careful about how
we approach this, as The Enemy will go to great lengths to stop
us. That is very clear when you consider that the Space Hoax is so
elaborate that Satan has created NASA and faked the moon landing.

These are exciting times! Soon we will reach the firmament, and the
morality of our people will be restored! I expect an unprecedented
revival will follow. Pagans will come to Jesus in billions.

Oh, one last thing. We cannot construct a tower, for God would strike
it down as he did the tower of Babel.

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