There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Mark Twain

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Why Heretics Are Necessary

Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson is a physicist at the Princeton Institute of Advanced Study and has been for many years. His work, to another physicist, is incredible. I first heard him speak on the aspects of increasing CO2 in our atmosphere many years ago at IBM Research Center in Yorktown Heights. The following is an essay from his book, A Many Colored Glass, on the need for heretics in science.

As a scientist I do not have much faith in predictions. Science is organized unpredictability. The best scientists like to arrange things in an experiment to be as unpredictable as possible, and then they do the experiment to see what will happen. You might say that if something is predictable then it is not science. When I make predictions, I am not speaking as a scientist. I am speaking as a story-teller, and my predictions are science-fiction rather than science. The predictions of science-fiction writers are notoriously inaccurate. Their purpose is to imagine what might happen rather than to describe what will happen. I will be telling stories that challenge the prevailing dogmas of today. The prevailing dogmas may be right, but they still need to be challenged. I am proud to be a heretic. The world always needs heretics to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies. Since I am heretic, I am accustomed to being in the minority. If I could persuade everyone to agree with me, I would not be a heretic.

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Thorium Nuclear Power

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Electrical Costs Ongoing

The cost of electricity has many parts. In the United States, deregulation has broken those costs into so many disingenuous parts so that the causes of excess cost are not easily discernable. However, two aspects are clear. First, hydropower has the lowest cost if it can be maintained through environmental law suits. Second, solar and wind energy are the most expensive forms of energy, always requiring one or more forms of state subsidy. A look at the variation of price across the United States compared to countries where renewables have been emphasized is useful because prices directly reflect costs.

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Fear Mongering

Yelling fire in a crowded theater is a crime, but only if it incites imminent lawless action. People rushing to the exits may be harmed, but no lawless action was encouraged. So what about yelling climate change during the impact of two large hurricanes? The same thinking applies. People will undoubtedly be harmed by the rush to poor public policy, but no lawless action was encouraged. But just as a snow storm is not evidence against global warming, two large hurricanes are not evidence for climate change, let alone man-made climate change. Anecdotal evidence is unscientific. In terms of recorded data, the current hurricanes are not even that unusual.

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Irma


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College Bound

Is college worth the cost purely in financial terms? Apparently that depends on many decisions, including the student’s preparedness and career choices. According to a recent study, the median college graduate will earn approximately $300,000 more over a lifetime than a high school graduate. But, of course, that depends on the choice of major, followed by employment. And it depends on graduating in four years, not five or six. And it depends on the reduction of college cost by student aid, frequently restricted to certain income strata. And even then, only 75% of all graduates do better in the long term. So college is a risk, as are all choices that increase income. Risk is the major generator of income differences. So how to make that choice?

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The Front Yard

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Before the Fall

Incredibly Detailed Map Of The World’s Religions Code for religious types below  Continue Reading

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Time And Space

How can anyone talk about healthcare in the current environment without carrying a lot of deplorable baggage? For instance, a lot of imagery involves the concept of single-payer healthcare versus the free market. But healthcare has not had a free market since the advent of Medicare in 1966; the federal government has manipulated and twisted the market in dozens of different ways. To see just a glimpse of that landscape, take a look at a summary of a health care plan that is supposed to minimize that manipulation. The number of workarounds to government interference boggles the mind. The direction for serious discussion should be to put the entire system in its proper context.

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Stone To Live By

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