Michael Shermer: The Importance Of Skepticism

Pyrana, and others…

Kunstler again has pointed out that Capitalism is the system that is the most efficient (best) for exploiting fossil fuels on the way up Hubbert's Peak. But on the way down.... you know where I'm going with this, market forces - can we count on market forces to save us? Let me put it this way: The Tesla vehicle is not likely to survive the next recession.
I am not sure that a form of free market capitalism wouldn't work if we simply were able to value things correctly in the context of what is true.  This is one of the goals of the current hybrid or hyphenated study called environmental-economics.  You can have a dumb, techno-hopeful capitalism, or simply capitalism that deals with truth.. which is not to say that we have much capitalism at all anymore in the era of central planning.. but you get my drift.   

Kunstler doesn't offer solutions.

Martenson says we're in a predicament. And, since climate change is already here, one thing we have to do is to deal with it. Or, we need to deal with it in a more sustainable way. I mean, when hurricane Sandy comes do you encourage people to re-build in that sensitive area? Or hurricane Katrina, before New Orleans was built there were thousands of acres of wetlands that would have cushioned the blow of Katrina - literally.

But to your question of what economic/political system is best for "remedevalization" I will only say that you know and I know that whatever it is, we Americans aren't going to like it.

Nevertheless, we're headed into a period of less resource availability. Maybe we should voluntarily consume less. I suppose there is something anti-capitalist about that.



Interesting idea.  

So a family who decided to have 6 children would get a much larger allocation than a family who chose a more conservative one or two children?  A person who lounged around all his/her life, would get the same distribution as a person who worked hard for 40 or 50 years and saved?  Keep in mind, it was the latter persons work that made it possible for the former person to lounge.

What happens when one family quadruples their allocation, while another family squanders their allocation and becomes destitute again?  Does the first family reallocate funds to the latter?  I wonder where the capital comes from to start a business or build a hospital?

Interesting plan.  I think I'll wait to see if any other ideas crop up, before I jump onboard.

This point needs to be made over and over again; technology is not going to save us.  We already have all the technology (and understanding) we need, but we're not using it yet.

The simple example I keep hammering over and over is solar thermal.  Black boxes that sit on roofs and have pipes in them which heat water for next to nothing after manufacturing and installation.  Nothing sexy, nothing hard.

They work fantastic in MA, would work even more fantastically in more southerly areas.  They make sense on every dimension; financial, ecological, local jobs & investment, and even national security (as fossil fuels not needed to heat water limiting foreign dependence).

There is no logical or rational barrier to not using solar thermal.  The reason we don't is because people don't yet believe we need to.  It's about beliefs, not reason.  

We don't need an Elon Musk to come along and wow us with $80,000 cars that drive as awesomely as we hope such expensive vehicles might.

The difficulty I have with the Shermers of the world is that they have the mental ability to run the numbers, but they don't.  They just wave their hands lazily at the shiny, new technologies and then use the equally lazy magic incantation "market forces."

Together these ideas form an impenetrable fortress of "reason" for many people.  The very height of sophisticated rationality.

The only problem is they have not managed to account for this chart:

How about we don't lazily wave our hands at Elon, but instead put forward a rational plan for replacing 11 billion tons of petroleum equivalents?

It has to happen someday, and, no, "market forces" are not up to the task of replacing denser fuel sources with less dense, more expensive fuels.


I’d say that would be prayer, scripture reading, and quiet labor.
Monasticism can help, but isn’t all that without the other.
You did ask for best, didn’t you?
Perhaps you’d better define the word. Josef Stalin’s boxcars also work, and from his point of view that’s best.

had my mare settled, and now she has freshened…ie.we're pre collapsing. Stalins boxcars seem another method of extraction, just not capitalism?  Natures boxcars would be to solve the over population thru…that is going to happen whether we want it to or not.
I was wondering outloud if society could find a way to remedevalize with out nature forcing acute depopulation. I gratefully lifted the word, remedevalization from JHK.

Would love to see the chart "World a Energy Consumption by Fuel" projected out a few decades or even a century.  Any guesses?
AK GrannyWGrit

This presentation was disturbing (yet stimulating, no complaint here) on a number of levels.
One, the idea that science (the use of cause and effect analysis to predict the behavior of something that lacks free will) is or should be the basis of dealing with people and to base government action, with outcome determinative effects on freedom and liberty and a world view on this  has been hijacked by the elite including their government apparatus.  Most jobs and functions of the "science" and "scientists" presented here ( "I’m a science guy. I have training in the social sciences, experimental psychology in particular") are government apparatchiks who deny our basic freedoms and manage our lives because they know more than us how we should live.  Thus we have government psychology "scientists" in the "science" fields of "psychology, the science of human behavior" and "economics" tell us with authority or simply take actions as in the case of government control of returning veterans (government psychologists take away their guns, limit freedom) and dissidents (put them into mental hospitals to protect politicians from their truth) etc. to restrict them for their own good.  We learn from a "science guy" in human behavior and in the "history" of all science that  "We have to look at the long run and the long term over the course of centuries. I really start centuries or even millennia ago and look at how things used to be compared to now…(therefore) the rich shall get richer."  So lets accept the rapid loss of freedom and the sudden impoverishment of the people in favor of our super rich elite ruling class.  Its really nothing compared with your life 10,000 years ago, so be happy!  This is a standard elite meme, that Warren Buffet promotes.  Do you realize that the formerly middle class (now poor) people in America live better than the Kings of the middle ages?  Be thankful! Nothing to see here, just move along.  We get this same garbage from "I am a PhD economics scientist and I will micro manage your work/economy because I know better than you" from the Federal Reserve that similarly has been hijacked by "scientists."

Trust me, I am a scientist.  As a scientist I have carefully checked the data and it is a basic "scientific!" fact that "The rich shall get richer" so get over it.   

The word "science" and the meaning of "scientist" has been hijacked by a group of people that need to control money "economics scientist" and other people "social sciences, experimental psychology" for THEIR (or their managers) benefit.  The government administration support apparatus of the elite naturally employ such "science" and "scientists" as cover for their aims (as a fig leaf to cover their otherwise raw dictating) and the newly impoverished are beginning to figure this out.  As a result, the meaning of "science" and "scientist" is severely damaged irrevocably in the minds of the populace who no longer trust "scientists" and eventually hate "scientists." This is similar to what happened at the end of the Roman Empire and is one characteristic of the coming dark ages.  Gerald Celente pointed out this problem and explained that any real scientist will have to find shelter in a type of small, resilient community monastery in the years ahead.  
Those of us baby boomers who grew up in the 50s and 60s saw how "science!" was used to sell toothpaste and mouthwash.  This has evolved to a general control/rationalization by the elite in our lives.  In my view thus, the "techno optimism" meme mentioned by Spencer#### is just another tool employed by a (system?) of the ruling elite to have their way with us.



… that your plan would double my cash reserves, meet my housing, and meet my land ownership.
The scooter would be an improvement on my walk today, but a step down from my normal minivan (which is in the shop right now). But if it is as you describe, I think I’d prefer bicycles, with electric assist carts.
Just sayin’.
Say, I have an idea…
… if your state of life is above that which you described, we wouldn’t have to wait for everyone else. You could downgrade, I could upgrade, and we’d be known as early adopters!
what do you think? Give it a go?

I feel a certain amount of guilt to be so blessed to have a "easy" life relative to so many unfortunate people in the world. Yes …I work very hard, and do charitable giving…and am trying to live with a light footprint (solar, rainwater, gardens, etc.), but there is nothing that could compel me to give up my entire lifestyle and immerse myself in poverty.  Obviously the scenario in the earlier post is impossible, but assuming some science fiction moment where the benevolent dictator could readjust all the world's inequities and reset the "fairness meter", it would just be a starting point with everyone having their 32K. It would have to be a one time reset. And you have a point Les, that going forward, things might not be so great. All the people who's wealth had been taken for redistribution would be pissed, unless the dictator had some good mind control tools at her disposal. And the incentive to excel might be missing.
The question is …How much are we willing to give up to try to achieve fairness? And don't we all think that we might be better stewards of our possessions than the next person, and that for the common good many items should remain under our control?

I guess anyone with a conscience grapples with this issue.

Shermer, like many skeptics, doesn't carefully analyze data.  So called skeptics dismiss data that doesn't fit their world view — the antithesis of the scientific method. They also don't understand the limits of science, the politics involved in the scientific process.
When it comes to persistent claims of paranormal or other worldly events, they aren't content to be agnostic. They have to describe in belittling terms, what can't be recreated in a lab setting, as untrue. Simple reason suggests this is blinkered materialism, at it's worst. 

Why not simply admit that much of life is experiential and science can't replicate it. 

I am still waiting to hear what he has to say about 911. I would also like to know more about his take on Csicop, (Psi-cop) and it's ties to Prometheus books and if it's true Csicop had a convicted or suspected pedophile among their membership-- Also if these same members were ever on their board of directors. I want to know, if it IS true,  did they investigate these individuals thoroughly before they disseminated the 'false memory syndrome,' theory into the mainstream. Another question I would ask is why both are headquartered in Arlington, Virginia–Spooksville. 

Totally agree. There has been, in my opinion, out and out blockading of serious efforts to employ tech we already have. This is radiating from within the deep state outwards.  Oil has been backing the dollar, giving it reserve currency status.  That status has subsidized the U.S and also provided a conduit for Saudi money-- funneled right back into American banks.  The American way of life has thus far been running on oil. It feels like this is slowly changing and the control of the financial sphere, globally, will be executed from satellites.  This is no doubt the reason tension is developing towards China, another power poised to compete in that stratosphere. I suggest listening to Catherine Austin Fitts on Dark Journalist. 


I would love to read this but I can't because I will get eye-bleed trying, if it isn't broken into more paragraphs. Bummer, because grammatically, it maybe shouldn't be.  But my eyes. Oi oi oi …what can I say??


I'm not hard over on this one, just putting it out there. Something to consider.

I had this very same thought for the first time earlier this afternoon.

After watching that video, Peak Oil doesn't look as scary as it's played up to be. How's that work for hilling potatoes? Managed to get my old Troybuilt tiller to last 31 years, but they stopped making the Kohler 8 horse engine. Just defrosted my 43 year old freezer yesterday and she didn't break a sweat getting down to temp. My scythe still cuts and my wife and I after 46 years of marriage still bake bread, can produce from the garden and kill chickens together…
Perhaps we should stop focusing on GDP and direct our efforts to making things that last, whether it be animal, mineral or relationships. Skeptics are just realists that get things done. Do we really need more experts to advise us on how to live?

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.  - John Kenneth Galbraith

It is not possible to make Hillary look like a sensible choice.

Hello Mark,
Thanks for answering me. I can see now that you really don't have any answers to the problems poised by climate change. I was actually hoping that you would have some … or at least one. I do have a quibble or two. If it truly is a predicament (as defined at PP,) then, there truly isn't any solution possible - only outcomes to manage.

This statement is totally contrary to accepting climate change as a "predicament." When you implore people to just start doing something, anything … you build on the worry that there is a solution, but we're just not smart enough to find it. There is no solution - only outcomes to manage. Why do you make statements like the above quote?

Earlier in your reply, you stated:

Peak oil/energy can progressively send us back toward the stone age over centuries but humans survived without it before and can do so again, while the rest of nature will actually improve for all of our troubles.
I think you're overly optimistic that we have centuries before we'll be back in the stone age. The economy needs ever increasing energy to function as it has been designed. When energy constraints limit economic growth, debts become increasingly difficult to be paid thus causing banks to suffer. With enough defaults, banks become insolvent. Without solvent banks issuing letters of credit, commerce drops rapidly. Can central banks buy up all the bad debt to keep the banks liquefied? Perhaps for a while, but when Joe Sixpack sees that his friend defaulted without significant consequences, the contagion will overwhelm the central banks' ability to forestall the inevitable.

Knowing how long the economy can function on fossil fuels is critical to building the infrastructure that will replace it. If business as usual can last for centuries, we've got plenty of time to develop and build alternate energy sources. If the economy collapses in 5, 10, or even 50 years, we'd be hard pressed to ramp up these alternate energy sources so they can keep business continuing as usual. Because people have been led to believe we have centuries of oil left, there isn't any rush.

I've started looking into the partial solutions that Doug suggested on the Freedom Fest thread Comment #46. It is relevant here because these are some of "just start doing something, anything" possibilities.

Of these, solar has the most promise and mostly in low latitude locations. As Chris noted, passive solar to heat water is a great idea for individual homes/businesses! There are few moving parts to wear out and it can be built inexpensively. It will augment another water heater, but not replace it everywhere year round. Solar energy is intermittent. When it comes to photovoltaic panels, unless batteries are incorporated in the system, the energy needs to be consumed the moment it is generated or it is lost. From what I understand, cheap batteries wear out rapidly. Good batteries (like nickel iron) are expensive and relatively inefficient, but they last much longer. Either way, solar panel salesmen won't included that in their EROEI calculations.

Wind turbines share solar's intermittent character. I was surprised to see University studies that claimed that harvested energy can replace invested energy in 5-8 months and that these turbines have a design life of 20-25 years. Again, these studies ignore battery EROEI or the need for traditional electrical generation facilities. It makes sense if are willing to use all the energy created when it is created and be willing to not use it on cold, windless, winter nights. I guess I don't buy the 5-8 month payback time.

Worse than that, wind turbines are designed to need regular maintenance. What happens in a Kunstleresq "Lights out" scenario. Without needed maintenance, the machines will eventually destroy themselves.  This 6+ minute video shows some of the other problems with wind turbines.

I'm not sure what Doug means by other renewables. I also suppose Doug can wave his magic wand and create new foundation methods so we don't have to deal with the problems of reinforced concrete. Drilling into bedrock still requires reinforced concrete. What do we do when bedrock is too deep or too rotten? 

Hydroelectric comes with its own environmental issues. I doubt one could be environmentally cleared and built in 10 years. Smaller, older units are being decommissioned and removed across the country. Besides, most of the appropriate sites have already been dammed. Nuclear power plants will flame out in a "Lights out" scenario like a wind turbine … only much more impressively.

Mark noted that he likes Les Phelps' approach to voluntary conservation of fossil fuels. It makes sense on a personal economic basis to reduce the need for fossil fuels, but we can't conserve a finite resource (like oil) enough to make it sustainable. The oil that Les saves will just be consumed by the next person in the gas line. If enough people adopted Les' approach, oil demand would drop … as would the prices. We would still run out of oil. It will give us more business as usual so the world population would grow bigger.

Finally - carbon taxes. What would happen if the US imposed carbon taxes? It would make economic sense for any business that could offshore their work to do so - to avoid the tax. What would happen if every government in the world instituted carbon taxes? Products would become more expensive so people would consume less. (On the surface, that's good.) Businesses would contract. There would be less economic activity (meaning more loan defaults. Below the surface, that's not so good.) What happens when a foreign country decides the economic pain due to carbon taxes is too much to bear? There's quite an incentive to cheat. How are you going to keep them from cheating? If you don't, others will cheat as well. I suppose we could all vote for One World Government. Who's going to keep the "leaders" in check?

This is why I'm allergic to partial solutions.


When you attach your ego to an idea, you've got problems.
You are not the idea. The idea can die and you will lose no blood. I promise.