Connecting the Dots.

No, this isn’t a post about the Global War on Terror. It’s a post about logic, reasoning, belief systems, and how they affect us all.
<p>Did you ever have the experience where you can almost put disperate data together in some semblence of order, but can’t quite make all the pieces fit? It’s as if you have one or two missing pieces of the puzzle, and just can’t see the entire picture. It’s like when you know there’s a word you want to use, but you can’t get it in your head – it’s on the “tip of your tongue,” but you just can’t think of it.</p><p>It’s been like that for me, for some time, actually, on the issue of ecology, the environment, and things like “global warming.” I had the vague feeling that a lot of what it accepted as scientific fact, is – in fact – a bunch of unproven and untested theories that have become political and almost religious issues with certain segments of our population. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew something was up. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories – no “vast left- or right-wing” plots for this boy – but I knew that there were some kinds of forces at work that would pick up an issue and turn it into a cause celeb. </p>
<p>Now I get it. Like the “Wow! I coulda had a V-8″ experience, I’ve just had a cold slap upside my head that helped me put all the pieces together. So what happened? I just finished reading a brilliant book, by Michael Crichton – <em>State of Fear</em>. Bought it at Hastings, used, for all of five bucks. Best five bucks I’ve spent in a long time. </p>
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0066214130/qid=1139461636/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-3127528-5310352?s=books&v=glance&n=283155″><img src=”http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0066214130.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_AA240_SH20_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg” alt=”State of Fear” align=”left”/></a><p>In <em>State of Fear</em>, Chichton was able to weave a tale about how facts can be interpreted – and completely misinterpreted by those who have an idelogical axe to grind. He spells out how issues can go from a W.A.G. (wild-ass guess) to become accepted as a terrifying fact of life in virtually no time at all. And he details one theory as to why this happens – the creation and nuturing of the “state of fear” we all seem to live in, in the here and now. </p>
<p>It’s a fascinating book, not because he challenges the theories of global warming, nuclear winter, and the human influence on climate change, but because he dares call into question the way the public is duped into buying off on unproven theories as scientific fact, without so much as a peep out of almost anyone who should know better. </p>
<p>Crichton’s work is all the more compelling, because he offers extensive footnotes throughout the book, citing chapter and verse of serious scientific papers to back up his convictions. It is nothing short of a logical tour de force, that ends with an author’s note that explains his real agenda – the de-politicizing of scientific research. </p>
Chichton offers that it is dangerous to put science in the position of answering to special-interest groups and NGOs (non-governmental agencies) for funding, as they will generally report back with the answers they expect/want to find before they begin their research. He suggests that we’d all be better off with research funded in such a way so that the researchers have no idea who’s agenda they would serve by delivering results skewed in one direction or another. What a radical idea.
<p>One character in the book exists exclusively to put forth a theory on the sociology of fear, and why a trioka of interests – politicians, the media, and special-interest environmental groups – have worked in tacit agreement to whip the world into a state of fear over things like global warming, El Niños, extreme weather (Katrina, anyone?) and concepts like nuclear winters. For me, his most devestating bit of logic revolved around the definition of a “old growth forest.” Like many people, I’d accepted the claims that much of our forests were “virgin,” even with the native Amercians living here, in “harmony” with nature. Crichton points out that, every thousand years or so, forests change dramatically, going through distinct phases. The giant redwoods that occupy some of our national forests did not exist before mankind began changing our environment. He also lays out a case that the Indians (whoops. Sorry. “Native Americans”) used tools like fire to modify the enviroment to control wildlife, improve hunting, and teraform the land. (So much for all that “living in harmony with nature” crap, huh?) </p>
<p>This book was more than an entertaining read – it was a breath of fresh air, in a politically-corect age where it has become all but blasphemy to challenge the accepted “wisdom” of extreme environmental groups. Thanks to Crichton, I’ve been able to connect the dots, and put words to the uneasy thoughts on the periphery of my conciousness. This is no small thing, as now I have both the ammunition and the knowledge of WHY these groups have gotten so much traction, and can now argue with bullets in my gun. No more do I have to stand idly by thinking “I know that’s not right, but I don’t have any proof.” </p>
<p>So, gentle readers, if you’re looking for a page-turner for your recreational reading that will both make you think and inject some much-needed logic and reasoning into the argument over our planet, I strongly urge you to pick this book up and give it a read. Learning to think for yourself is always challenging, but it’s worth it. And with Crichton’s book, more than a little fun. </p>

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