Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pascal's Wager style argument for taking action on AGW

Quick argument in which the presenter asks you to run through the argument yourself, see if you also agree that, all things considered, we should take the Pascalian route, and act as if the primary cause of the allegedly warming globe IS human activity, and take action accordingly. Note he labels the matrix GCC for "Global Climate Change", but surely must mean to have us consider anthropogenic climate change, for if global climate change (if indeed it is occurring) finds its cause in cosmic rays, or some other natural process that we cannot possibly stop, nor whose effects we cannot possibly mitigate, then the argument does weaken. So, assuming he is indeed talking about AGC or AGW (whatever the presently preferred term of art is) then we can ask; does the Pascalian argument follow?

You'll note that the four celled Pascalian choice matrix assumes in the lower right quadrant, that IF AGC/W is true, and we choose to do nothing apocalypse will ensue, including economic, environmental, and etc, bad craziness.

Now, taking a look at the upper left quadrant, the one where AGC is false and we act as if it is in fact true, he claims that taking action will bring on a mere economic apocalypse.

Further, he seems to claim, but does not argue, (or at least neglects to consider) the real possibility that economic catastrophe of a global scale will bring on the political and other social catastrophes that he believes will occur in the lower right quadrant. Additionally, if the GC is changing in some major and dangerous way thanks to natural processes that we cannot control, nor mitigate, then, it seems that the best he can come up with is a toss-up. For, if that is the case, then we get the full-on big hairy catastrophe in the upper left quadrant. This also holds if there is reason to believe our acting as if AGC/W is true would bring on environmental bad craziness. (Hey, if we can have major impact by acting, might not that major impact be negative? What if we dangerously lowered CO2 levels in the atmosphere?) So, given these possibilities, and assuming that at least some of them are as likely as those the speaker emphasises, we do not get the Pascalian play it safe conclusion the presenter wants, but a flip of the coin ambiguous situation. Whatever we choose to do, bad hairy craziness ensues. So, it would seem.

Immanuel Kant (his ethics at any rate) in three minutes.

A bit off color at points, and misses some nuance, but still basically pretty accurate, and hysterical.

David Hume according to "Three Minute Philosophy"

Hysterical, and pretty accurate:

"Bundle Theory = Bat-shite balls to the wall lunacy"


Phil struggles for Christmas gift ideas. Frankie Remley to the rescue. Alice chagrined.

A Mink or a Dishwasher for Christmas? 12-11-1949

"What a perfect friendship. One guy's a moron, the other one's his yes man."

Julias Abruzio

Waiting in line to mail Christmas presents.

With Fibber McGee and Molly, 12-10-1940