Arguing with Idiots
I had the misfortune of sitting amongst a group of left wing Chris Van Hollen supporters while recording video of debates between candidates running in MD-6 and MD-8 this evening. I was able to keep my mouth shut…for the most part.
After the debates, while I was packing up my video gear, there was one particularly objectionable individual in front of me holding court and guffawing over all the perceived “gaffes” he heard from Republicans. One thing he seized upon was a statement Ken Timmerman made about his support for developing methanol from natural gas as an alternative fuel to replace foreign oil.
This idiot was getting big laughs from his fellow lefty drones by pointing out to them how stupid it was to say such a thing because “you get methanol from corn, not natural gas. You can’t make methanol from natural gas!”
Here’s where my keep-your-mouth-shut-and-don’t-engage-the-lunatic instinct failed me. “Actually, you can make methanol from natural gas,” I said. “You’re thinking of ETHanol, which is often made from corn. Ken was talking about METHanol which can be made from natural gas.”
At this point it became a bad riff on Monty Python’s argument clinic sketch.
“No it can’t,” he said.
“You’re confusing ethanol and methanol,” I repeated. “You can make methanol from natural gas and use it as an alternative fuel.” At this point his audience ran for the tall grass while loudly announcing their departure and lack of desire to participate in the “discussion.”
“No you can’t.”
“Yes, you can.”
“You a scientist?”
I stood silent for a moment, beginning to realize what sort of no win situation I had stepped into. “No, but I am an engineer.”
“You can’t make methanol from natural gas.”
“I’m telling you, you’re wrong. You can.”
“No you can’t.”
“Okay, fine. You’ve convinced me,” I said and walked away, which seemed a wiser move at that point than punching him in the head (which was the other alternative then under consideration).
I am absolutely certain the idiot Van Hollen supporter isn’t going to read this but just for the sake of my own sanity I have to post a few links.
- Technology Review 2006: Methanol – The New Hydrogen
- Danish energy conglomerate, Haldor Topsoe: Large Scale Methanol Production from Natural Gas
- American Spectator: Can Methanol Replace Foreign Oil?
- GreenCar.com: Cars on Alcohol – Methanol and Natural Gas
- Wikipedia: Gas to Liquids
- eHow.com: Production of Methanol From Natural Gas
I think you see where I’m going with this. Now, I haven’t studied it enough to know if I would advocate it as a policy. That is something about which I could tolerate a range of opinions. However, the idiot in question refused to even acknowledge the scientific possibility which is beyond proven at this point. (Yet I’m sure he’d be the first one to call someone unscientific for being skeptical about whether we can change the temperature of the planet by raising taxes.)
Next time, someone, remind me, please–Do. Not. Engage. The. Crazy. Person.