Jun 19, 2015 - 0 Comments - Environment & Energy, Science -

Climate Skeptics, Your Brains Just Aren’t Fully Evolved


Let’s face it. If you’re not freaking out over climate change, there’s something wrong with your brain. At least that’s what the climate alarmists think.

Brian Merchant’s article at Vice.com’s Motherboard blog, “Apocalypse Neuro: Why Our Brains Don’t Process the Gravest Threats to Humanity” discusses the ways primitive brains just can’t handle the looming threat of climate change.

Our brains are incredible little mushboxes; they are unfathomably complex, powerful organs that grant us motor skills, logic, and abstract thought. Brains have bequeathed unto we humans just about every cognitive advantage, it seems, except for one little omission: the ability to adequately process the concept of long-term, civilization-threatening phenomena. They’ve proven miracle workers for the short-term survival of individuals, but the human brain sort of malfunctions when it comes to navigating wide-lens, slowly-unfurling crises like climate change.

Humans have, historically, proven absolutely awful, even incapable, of comprehending the large, looming—dare I say apocalyptic?—slowburn threats facing their societies.

Climate alarmists and left-wing progressives—redundant, I know—love this sort of thinking because it lets them avoid addressing any logical flaws in the settled science. It’s like they have crossed begging the question with ad hominem to create a hybrid logical super-fallacy. They are right by definition and if you disagree, you’re a mental defective. What they probably enjoy most about this sort of analysis is what it implies about themselves, the true believers. They are more evolved than those who believe differently. Their brains have moved beyond the base animal instincts to a consciousness far above the plebeian skeptics. Is there anything a progressive enjoys more than affirmation of his own intellectual and moral superiority?

The article cites psychologists, geologists, and even noted neuroscientist Al Gore on how skepticism is an evolutionary mistake. In 2009, Nature reported the former Vice President’s expert opinion on the matter.

Climate change, he said, is “ultimately a problem of consciousness”. He went on: “What is being tested is the proposition of whether or not the combination of an opposable thumb and a neocortex is a viable construct on this planet…

Evolution, he said, had trained us to respond quickly and viscerally to threats. But when humans are confronted with ‘a threat to the existence of civilization that can only be perceived in the abstract’, we don’t do so well. Citing functional magnetic resonance imaging, he said that the connecting line between amygdalae, which he described as the urgency centre of the brain, with the neocortex is a one way street: emotional emergencies can spark reasoning, but not the other way around.

The basic evolutionary concept makes some sense. Our brains focus on immediate threats over indistinct, far flung (often imaginary) possibilities. That’s just practical. If cavemen had spent all their energy imagining how their discovery of fire would cause skyrocketing milk prices in 2015, they would have all been eaten by toothy critters with a superior talent for living in the moment. The instinct for self-preservation is not in dispute, but using it’s existence to prop up an evolutionary argument for why someone thinks you could be wrong is beyond arrogant and ridiculous.

The more highly evolved among us are even now scrambling to disprove the “hiatus” in global warming.

Scientists have long labored to explain what appeared to be a slowdown in global warming that began at the start of this century as, at the same time, heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide were soaring. The slowdown, sometimes inaccurately described as a halt or hiatus, became a major talking point for people critical of climate science.

Now, new research suggests the whole thing may have been based on incorrect data.

You see, if the data doesn’t support the predictions, then the data must be incorrect. The prediction is “settled science” after all. Only an Australopithecus could possibly think otherwise. In reality, the fact that such a discrepancy needs to be explained at all is proof enough that the science is far from settled. Who knows what else has been based on incorrect data?

As to the evolutionary argument, there are alternative ways to apply the brain’s inclination toward self preservation to the climate change kerfuffle. For instance, how does it drive the oft-repeated statistic that some 97% of scientists agree that man is harmfully altering the climate?

The biologist who invested decades of his life earning a PhD and becoming the world’s foremost expert on the courtship rituals of the three toed Venezuelan banana lizard doesn’t want to be ridiculed and accused of being under-evolved for publicly expressing doubts about the gospel of global warming. His “short-term survival” concern is maintaining his professional reputation, getting published, and securing his research grant. His path of least resistance is to focus on his lizards and otherwise keep his mouth shut if he isn’t 100% sold on all the doomsday predictions currently in fashion. In terms of his individual survival, there is little—perhaps nothing—to be gained by challenging the dominant paradigm, but virtually everything to lose.

That’s not to say the majority of scientists aren’t confirmed adherents to climate change orthodoxy. They most probably are, but of those who are not, you can rest assured that very few have dared to say so publicly. The 97% figure is likely as reliable as the study cited by Vice President Neocortex Amygdalae in 2007 claiming that the arctic ice cap might be gone during Summer by 2014.

What we have is a situation where one must assimilate into the consensus or be deemed intellectually—and now, in fact, physiologically—inferior to those who accept “the truth.” Historically speaking, that sort sort of thing seldom ends well for anyone.

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