[ExI] Peak Oil -- Amory Lovins

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu May 31 18:26:41 UTC 2012

On Thursday, May 31, 2012 11:17 AM spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>>> ...Kelly I have been toying with this idea for a long time.  My own
>> outlook might be colored by a daily commute to work I have been doing
>> for the past 17 years...  I think it peaked right around 1999...
>>...This has all the markings of problems with anecdotal evidence...
> Ja.  There is a way anecdotal notions can be useful: when there is some kind
> of observational multiplier.  A perfect example comes from the medical
> world.  Doctors have every observation multiplied many times over because
> they see a lot of patients.  They understand trends because of a privileged
> viewing platform that multiplies their observations.

I'd be careful, though, with doctors generalizing beyond their patients to, say, the general health of the population. Imagine, e.g., a doctor telling you the number of people having cat bites has gone up only to find the overall number has gone down, but the percentage of people of people going to that particular doctor with a cat bite has gone up -- maybe because locally there was some rumor of cats having rabies or of cats spreading FIV to humans.

> Consider the ultra-weird headline from a few days ago: Miami police shot a
> naked guy who was in the process of chewing on another naked guy's face.
> Most bizarre headline I ever saw, had no idea what to make of it.  Yesterday
> a doctor was on the radio when it was mentioned, and explained, in the big
> cities there is a new drug fad, especially popular among homeless people
> because it is really cheap.  It causes the patient to feel hot and makes the
> skin hypersensitive, so they commonly tear off all their clothing.  Then if
> the dosage is sufficient, they go wild and do completely unpredictable
> actions, such as tearing his doper buddy's goddam nose off.

That was actually a real zombie attack, but we at Umbrella have been trying to cover it up by spreading the silly story about bath salts. Anyhow, the zombie outbreak was contained... Then again, we've made mistakes before... :)

> Now that formerly incomprehensible headline makes a lot more sense, ja?
> Doctors have a million of those.

But I think it's probably safer to say doctors don't just see patients here, but also read journals, talk to other doctors, and follow quickly on medical issues -- unlike say you or I trading years old impressions on our commutes. (By the way, I switched to public transit years ago, so I have no impression on what commuting by car has been like for the last three years or so.:)

This kind of reminds me of talking to people who work on A&E or as EMTs. They tend, IMO, to see the world as much more violent, deadly, or accident prone than it really is. The same applies, from what I've read, to people who watch a lot of TV: they tend to see lots more violent crime and disasters, so they presume these things are on the rise and widespread.
> Traffic patterns are an example of an observational multiplier.  We can't
> learn anything by observing a particular car, but we learn a lot from a
> million of them.

I'd still be careful here. The best way to handle this would be, IMO, not to talk to drivers -- unless you really do poll thousands of them -- but to look at various objective measures of traffic flow patterns and other things directly related to car use. (Yeah, it's not an either/or; one can do both. My fear with the impressions, though, might be colored by the nature of the trip. For instance, before I got into audiobooks (actually, got an audible.com account), driving to and from work was fairly grueling. But with an audiobook and even with a slightly longer commute it didn't bother me as much. Granted, that's not me counting cars or giving an impression of how crowded the roads were, but it might bias my reporting. You know, no longer having to be alone with my evil thoughts made things better.:)

>>... Imagine a similar argument about peak coal... In my entire lifetime,
>> I've only seen one home that used coal at all and this was an old burner and
>> hopper that were no longer in use. (I've heard coal is still used in some
>> homes, but I've yet to actually see one up close and personal.:)... Dan
> I get to tell one cool story here.  My wife and I do genealogy.  Long story
> short, we ended up going up into the hills of Tennessee, looking for a
> family cemetery near a waaaay back place called Thorn Hill.  This was in
> 1990.  Found the graves, met some people who turned out to be direct
> descendants of the ancestors in those graves, so they were distant cousins,
> then in their 70s.  Clearly they were puzzled to see people like us way the
> heck off the beaten path.  They invited us to their cabin.  They had only
> gotten electricity back there in 1985.  The only thing I saw in their house
> which used it was a radio, which didn't pick up much of anything.  We
> explained we were aerospace engineers.  They didn't know what that is.
> Satellites.  Not a flicker of understanding.  Their small home, built in
> 1890, was coal heated.  The thing I noticed about it was a distinctive odor.
> Years went by.  We received a package which was a book.  The cousins had
> passed away, and had left instructions to send us this book.  As soon as I
> opened that package, I was immediately reminded of the experience because of
> the smell of that book.  It smelled like coal.  We still have that book, and
> after all this time it still smells faintly of coal.  I don't know why it
> is, but there seems to be a direct line between the nose and the memory, for
> whenever I smell that, I remember details of their cabin and that
> distinctive smell. 

A few years ago, I rode the Cog Rail to the top of Mount Washington (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Washington_Cog_Railway ) and got a lung full of coal exhaust. Most def distinctive. (My excuse for not hiking it? Got there a little too late in the morning. Didn't want to have to back down in the dark... There is no guarantee of a return seat on the Cog Rail for those not doing a round trip and they do turn people away. At least, that was the case back then. I also saw a group turned away because the cars were full and one of them was walking in flip flops! There but for the grace of fashion and common sense go I!:)



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