Climate Skeptics, Your Brains Just Aren’t Fully Evolved

 

brainLet’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.

Published in Science & Technology
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  1. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    When your scientific frame of reference for the brain is ‘mushbox,’ can a load of rubbish be far behind?

    If the hard work of getting at nature’s secrets (i.e., science) fails to produce the desired result, appeals to emotion and ad homs are the rhetorical weapons of choice. Looking on the sunny side, such tactics are signs of desperation that are seen in the final stages of a dying cause. On the other hand, sometimes such appeals are successful. It’s up to us to persist in appeals to reason and evidence so the dark forces do not prevail. That’s the lesson and admonition of the Enlightenment.

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    I try to read…But hard…So many words…Brain hurt.

    • #2
  3. user_2967 Inactive
    user_2967
    @MatthewGilley

    “Evolution, he said, had trained us to respond quickly and viscerally to threats.” – I’m sure Gore’s masseuse would agree.

    • #3
  4. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Mr Merchant fails to ask the right question and therefore misses the solution staring him right in the face.  It is evident that miraculously the brains of European elites and American progressives have evolved to the point of transcending the limitations our poor species has labored under for tens of thousands of years   Wouldn’t an enhanced emergency interbreeding program among them accelerate this welcome change for the human race?  Perhaps conducted apart from those less blessed and utilizing some of our deepest mine shafts which could be adapted for longer term use with a ratio of ten females to each male.  Naturally, it would be absolutely vital that our top government and military leaders be included to foster principles of leadership and tradition.

    • #4
  5. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    They need to keep trying to massage that data.

    uscrn-trend-plot-from-ncdc-data
    America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend

    I have no doubt the Glaciers will  be  advancing on the Illinois/Wisconsin border and they will still be frantically cooking the data to show warming.

    • #5
  6. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Which part of the ‘butcher’s brain map’ shows the portion where we’re supposed to worry about the bankruptcy of the welfare state? Any of these ‘scientists’ see evidence of this in Greek brains? We’re gonna go broke long before the glaciers melt and the polar bears attack beach goers.

    • #6
  7. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    And to think, Vice.com was co-founded by Gavin McInnes.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    11111230_505985142895942_2585272138631289196_o

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

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

    Actually, the real common theme across the entire long record of human history for thousands upon thousands of years has been hysteria over non-existent apocalyptic threats.

    It’s precisely why virgins were thrown into volcanos and why humans feared solar eclipses for millenia, and it also provided the impetus for innumerable holy wars.

    Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change is merely the priest-kings’ latest kick at the powermongering can.

    • #9
  10. user_139157 Inactive
    user_139157
    @PaulJCroeber

    The brain has no interest in what happens after we die (to our soul, financial or familial concerns et al), that is the province of the mind.

    Long term climate panics are merely a function of short term concerns being obviated by contemporary comforts.

    • #10
  11. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Having now read the article it would be worth an old time “fisking” if it weren’t so completely stupid (query – does that actually support its thesis?).  It’s full of garbled data, unsupported assertions and the author actually contradicts himself as he goes along of which he seems completely unaware.  And, by the way, the Jared Diamond thesis has been ably undermined by scientists who actually do work on Easter Island.

    • #11
  12. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Has there ever been a “long term” threat to civilization that has actually materialized?

    I think the problem the global warming people have is that it isn’t very clear just how “harmful” one degree more will be, but it is very clear just how harmful not having an automobile or access to electricity is. We know life existed on this planet when things where much hotter, no reason to think it won’t continue to exist now.

    In reality not getting overly anxious about dim low probability problems of the future seems like a great adaptation for a species capable of imagining such things. Fear is a powerful emotion with strong physical manifestations, if we could so easily talk ourselves into a panic we would never have made it. We would have been too busy worrying about the potential of uncontrollable brush fires started by the improper regulation of campfires to worry about the saber-tooth cat stalking us.

    • #12
  13. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Now, thanks to Il Poopa, we are also immoral as well as stupid for not believing in man-made climate change.

    • #13
  14. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    Perhaps the most enduring human brain vulnerability is it’s willingness to accept the stories narrow elites use to stay elite and powerful.   I understand that 97% of brains will accept anything the elite tell them.

    • #14
  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Valiuth:Has there ever been a “long term” threat to civilization that has actually materialized?

    Currency devaluation, deficit spending, and pointless foreign wars.

    It wasn’t environmental change that did in the Romans, the Bourbons in France, Alexandrian Greece, the Southern Song Dynasty, the British Empire, the Second Reich, the Ottomans, etc.  It was bad economics and/or military overreach.

    (Unchecked immigration also played a role for some (many?), as in the case of the Romans and the Ottomans, not to mention North American Aboriginals who really should have policed their borders better in the 16th and 17th centuries. ;-)

    • #15
  16. ParisParamus Inactive
    ParisParamus
    @ParisParamus

    Valiuth: I think the problem the global warming people have is that it isn’t very clear just how “harmful” one degree more will be, but it is very clear just how harmful not having an automobile or access to electricity is.

    Again, since there’s no evidence of any human-caused warming, or any significant warming beyond historical normal (the warming that began about 300 years ago to take us out of a mini-freeze), why do you even give the idiots this much legitimacy?

    • #16
  17. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

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

    So what? I am also incapable of tasting the color blue or smelling music.  Just because some PhD thinks our brains should have a capability doesn’t make it defective or unevolved.

    • #17
  18. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Jim,

    It’s like they have crossed begging the question with ad hominem to create a hybrid logical super-fallacy.

    A hybrid logical super-fallacy!!!

    Whooaaaa Baby! Com’on man let’s crank the word processor up and start the grant application. DOD has got to be interested.

    That’s how we stop Putin that’s how we take the Iranians down! We saturate them with a hybrid logical super-fallacy!!!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #18
  19. user_348375 Inactive
    user_348375
    @TrinityWaters

    Only one word: Steyn.  Check out his address at the Heartland Institute.

    • #19
  20. user_184884 Coolidge
    user_184884
    @BrianWolf

    I think people have done too well at predicting planet wide apocalypse and over reacting that prediction.  The Aztec’s detected a long term cooling trend in the Sun and solved it with human sacrifice that kept the Sun burning.  Lots of people were sacrificed to keep the sun going.

    We have often been willing to sacrifice people for the greater good like the Ana-baptist off shoots in Munster who saw the end of the world coming and killed thousands in anticipation of it.

    The main debate over global warming really isn’t about the science which is really just arguing over the severity of the climate changing, which it is always in the process of doing.  It is really over the solution given for it which is world wide Socialism.  The problem really comes from people taking any crisis, over population, global cooling, global dimming, global warming, nuclear weapons, American hegemony whatever and proposing the solution is world wide socialism.  I am sure if we adopted world wide socialism the Global Warming Alarmists would be hunted down and thrown into prison because now that we were all socialists climate could only change for the better.

    • #20
  21. user_650824 Inactive
    user_650824
    @T

    This Vice article is nothing new.

    In 2011: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-conservative-white-maes-are-more-likely-climate-skeptics/ (note the irony of the misspelling of “males” in the url)

    There are others, take my word for it.

    Basically, the left’s argument here is “we’re smarter because our position is evolutionarily novel and since we all know novel is better… shut up conservatives”. Assuming the liberal brain is capable of accepting more novel things doesn’t mean it’s beneficial for humanity. It could just as easily mean the exact opposite.

    One of the foundational legs that evolution rests on is that evolutionary change, like the ability to think about the future of mankind in a novel (in this case, liberal) way, needs time to find out if it’s a beneficial change for an organism or not. If it’s not beneficial and too many members of our species adapts in this way then it will have a negative effect on our species.

    Stepping away from the global warming issue and the liberal’s “ability” to think about its effects in a novel way we have a real example of how conservatives, as defined in the modern way, think in novel way: capitalism. Capitalism has ushered in the most revolutionary reorganization of how members of our species interact since the beginning of presently discovered recorded history.

    Before capitalism the only means of societal organization were as a tribe. Sure, there were big tribes, but that is where all of the power lay. Today, thanks to capitalism, individuals have much more agency over their own actions than in any other period in history.

    That’s a clear cut, novel way of thinking and it’s a way of thinking that terrifies liberals. Every solution they derive harkens to a bygone era where only the government, the tribe, could solve problems.

    The question we should be asking is simply: Do the liberals who print these articles every couple of years truly believe their brains are more evolved than ours or do they print these articles to convince the rank and file liberals that their reliance on a more powerful political elite is the only way to salvation?

    • #21
  22. user_3130 Member
    user_3130
    @RobertELee

    Valiuth:Has there ever been a “long term” threat to civilization that has actually materialized?

    Sure, war.  Just about always a war going on somewhere.  Technology, too.  I mean, look how much civilization has changed in the last 6,000 or so years despite our best efforts to keep things static.

    • #22
  23. user_3130 Member
    user_3130
    @RobertELee

    People need not worry about the human brain evolving.  Just look at the last couple of presidents Americans voted into office, or the current crop of presidential candidates.  Nope, there isn’t much hope for intelligent life on this planet.

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    James Gawron:

    [Buckaroo Banzai trailer]

    Regards,

    Jim

    < pop culture tangent mode = on >

    With Hollywood’s penchant for reboots, I’m flabbergasted that we still don’t know more about the World Crime League.

    < pop culture tangent mode = off >

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Robert E. Lee:

    Valiuth:Has there ever been a “long term” threat to civilization that has actually materialized?

    Sure, war.

    War doesn’t end civilizations. Military overreach paid for by bad economics does.

    Lots of “warrior civilizations” lasted for ages. North American tribes raided each other all the time. The Vikings raided their neighbours constantly. Genghis and Kublai Khan. Etc. Etc.

    These civs didn’t collapse because of war. They collapsed because they ended up spreading themselves too thin. War’s fine (strategically-speaking) as long as a) you can pay for it, and b) you never come up against an opponent who can kick your ass.

    Rome was built on war, and it lasted for almost a thousand years. The near-constant wars of pre-industrial Europe didn’t “end” Western Civilization (though governing dynasties certainly came and went). Europe lost its empires because they no longer made economic sense and they became too expensive to defend. Etc.

    Robert E. Lee:

    Just about always a war going on somewhere.

    And yet the number of lives lost to war as well as the share of GDP devoted to war have been in dramatic decline since the end of World War II.

    This was also true of the final years of the Roman Empire. They hadn’t had any genuinely significant wars for centuries when Rome was (actually, rather suddenly and unexpectedly) finally sacked. They really couldn’t afford wars any more.

    • #25
  26. user_3130 Member
    user_3130
    @RobertELee

    Depends on which war you’re talking about doesn’t it?  North American tribes may have survived war with each other but they didn’t do so well against the Europeans, who did indeed end their civilization as they knew it.  The victims of the Vikings, the Khans, the Moors, etc. didn’t fair too well, nor did their civilizations.

    I’m a historian, I understand that history of humanity is basically war and it’s aftermath, including what I consider advances to civilization.  But our civilization is build upon the body and bones of all those civilizations that came before it.

    • #26
  27. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Robert E. Lee:Depends on which war you’re talking about doesn’t it? North American tribes may have survived war with each other but they didn’t do so well against the Europeans, who did indeed end their civilization as they knew it. The victims of the Vikings, the Khans, the Moors, etc. didn’t fair too well, nor did their civilizations.

    I’m a historian, I understand that history of humanity is basically war and it’s aftermath, including what I consider advances to civilization. But our civilization is build upon the body and bones of all those civilizations that came before it.

    Fair point, but the question was about failing to foresee long-term threats to civilization.

    When a war ends a weak civilization, it usually happens very quickly and is generally unforeseeable. Plus, the civ was already weak before the war. It wasn’t the war that made the civ weak.

    The American tribes were strong when they fought off the Vikings. It wasn’t until they were weakened by disease that they couldn’t fight off the invasion by technologically-advanced aliens. Rome couldn’t really predict a united Germanic invasion, and by then was too weak to fight anyways.

    That’s why I don’t think war qualifies as a long-term threat to civilization, while bad economics and/or military overreach do qualify. If your economics are bad then you have no capacity to fight off threats even if you can foresee them.

    • #27
  28. user_3130 Member
    user_3130
    @RobertELee

    Misthiocracy:That’s why I don’t think war qualifies as a long-term threat to civilization, while bad economics and/or military overreach do qualify. If your economics are bad then you have no capacity to fight off threats even if you can foresee them.

    Fair enough.  Bad economics and/or military overreach seem to be symptoms of diseased government and a lack of will on the part of the people to fight off the disease.

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    Mistheicracy and Lee,   Losing wars ends civilizations.   I think Mancur Olsen’s insight into the “Rise and Decline of Nations” adds important insights to this as does Hayek’s,  “The Fatal Conceit. ”   Some civilizations become successful then stagnate and die.  Olsen and Hayek capture these two processes not as historians but as economists who reach beyond their tool kit.

    • #29
  30. Artemis Fawkes Member
    Artemis Fawkes
    @SecondBite

    Verdict first, trial afterward.

    The left can pull it off because their brains are more evolved.

    Same old same old.

    • #30
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