[ExI] Existential hysteria

Tara Maya tara at taramayastales.com
Tue Jul 29 16:46:44 UTC 2014

On Jul 26, 2014, at 10:54 PM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> What are the consequences?
> For a Type 1 error, governments will provide incentives in order to
> urge the population to change their behaviour. This could include
> conserving energy, recycling, and developing alternative energy
> sources (wind, solar, hybrid). This error is basically just doing
> sooner, things which will have to be done anyway.
> A Type II error means continuing business as usual while humans
> continue to change the earth's climate. The cost of a Type II error is
> the damage brought about by AGW. Rising sea levels and temperature,
> increased pollution and wild climate changes, will have an impact on
> health, agriculture, forestry, water, coastal areas, as well as on
> many different species and the ecosystem.
> The consequences of a Type II error are so serious that they should be
> avoided whatever the cost. The consequences of a Type I error are that
> we will take the same steps that we would have had to anyway at a
> later date. The logical course of action is to always conclude that
> global warming is caused by humans.

Maybe we need to add a third category, a Type III error. A Type III error is where the problem is real, but the solution makes it worse instead of better.

An example is AIDS in Africa. The problem is real, and so doing nothing to stop the spread of AIDS is a bad idea. 

But raping virgins, which some have proclaimed as a "cure" for AIDS, is a worse idea. In that case, it would have actually been better to do nothing.

Humans have made many, many Type III errors over the last century. More than enough to give us pause before accepting the argument "we must DO something!" 

Must we do something? No. We must do something that provably helps. There is a difference. The logical course is not to always conclude that global warming is caused by humans; the logical course is to be very suspicious of people who justify taking huge amounts of power away from the individual by means of scare-mongering.

Tara Maya
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