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Eco-fascism and Overpopulation

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 A post by Jacopo Simonetta  "Eco-fascist" is the usual insult directed at anyone who dares to mention overpopulation. This is funny to me because, as far as I know, fascists are usually concerned with denatality, race purity and similar morbid fantasies, but not with overpopulation who is just about the number of persons and not about skin color and so on.Here, I will not go back over the purely demographic aspects of the issue to which several posts have already been devoted (on "Effetto Cassandra" and on "Apocalottimismo", both in Italian).  Instead, I would like to talk about this singular cultural taboo, characteristic (though not exclusive) of industrial civilization.To begin with.To understand what we are talking about, let us consider that today there are almost 8 billion of us with a growth rate of about 80 million per year, it means 220,000 per day, over 9000 per hour, 75 per second.  This means an estimated human mass of about 400 million tons.  The world's average human population density is 55 people per square kilometer (excluding Antarctica), which means a square of not much over one hundred steps per side per head.  In Italy we are about 200 per square kilometer, which means half a hectare per person, but if we consider only the agricultural surface the square becomes only 40 steps per side (about 2000 square meters).However, the number of people is only one of the factors involved because we use livestock, fields, industrial structures, buildings and much more to live.  All in all, the 'anthroposphere' (i.e. us with all the trappings) weighs about 40 trillion tons, which is something like 4,000 tons of concrete, metal, plastic, plants, livestock and so on for each of us. On average and very roughly.But number is not the only element. Since 1800 the population has increased 8 times, but total consumption 140 times, and if it has started to fall in some countries, like ours, it is still growing globally.The third. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

Eco-fascism: an insult against those who propose that overpopulation is a major problem

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 A post by Jacopo Simonetta  "Eco-fascist" is the usual insult directed at anyone who dares to mention overpopulation. This is funny to me because, as far as I know, fascists are usually concerned with denatality, race purity and similar morbid fantasies, but not with overpopulation who is just about the number of persons and not about skin color and so on.Here, I will not go back over the purely demographic aspects of the issue to which several posts have already been devoted (on "Effetto Cassandra" and on "Apocalottimismo", both in Italian).  Instead, I would like to talk about this singular cultural taboo, characteristic (though not exclusive) of industrial civilization.To begin with.To understand what we are talking about, let us consider that today there are almost 8 billion of us with a growth rate of about 80 million per year, it means 220,000 per day, over 9000 per hour, 75 per second.  This means an estimated human mass of about 400 million tons.  The world's average human population density is 55 people per square kilometer (excluding Antarctica), which means a square of not much over one hundred steps per side per head.  In Italy we are about 200 per square kilometer, which means half a hectare per person, but if we consider only the agricultural surface the square becomes only 40 steps per side (about 2000 square meters).However, the number of people is only one of the factors involved because we use livestock, fields, industrial structures, buildings and much more to live.  All in all, the 'anthroposphere' (i.e. us with all the trappings) weighs about 40 trillion tons, which is something like 4,000 tons of concrete, metal, plastic, plants, livestock and so on for each of us. On average and very roughly.But number is not the only element. Since 1800 the population has increased 8 times, but total consumption 140 times, and if it has started to fall in some countries, like ours, it is still growing globally.The third. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

Epistemic Calibration Bias and Blame-Aversion

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People typically treat having an importantly false belief as much more problematic than failing to have an importantly true belief.  They're more concerned about being over-confident than being under-confident in their credences.  But why?  Is such an epistemic asymmetry warranted?I'm dubious.  The ideal is to be epistemically well-calibrated: to have just the degree of confidence in an important proposition that is warranted by your evidence, such that in the long run exactly X% of your "X% confident" beliefs turn out to be true -- no more and no less.  Moreover, it seems to me that we should be equally concerned about miscalibration in either direction.  If we are underconfident (or withhold judgment entirely) when our evidence strongly supports some important truth, that's just as bad, epistemically speaking, as being correspondingly overconfident.In thinking about this, it's important to distinguish two dimensions of confidence: what we might call credal value and robustness.  To see how these come apart, note that I might have weak evidence that something is very probable.  My credence in the proposition should then be high -- for now -- but I should regard this credal value as tentative, or likely to change (in an unknown direction) in the face of further evidence.  "Bold beliefs, weakly held," to put the idea in slogan form.This distinction carries over, in obvious fashion, to expected-value judgments.  Given high uncertainty and lots of important "unknowns", our conclusions should generally be tentative and subject to change in light of future evidence.  But this is compatible with their having pretty much any first-order content whatsoever.  One could, for example, tentatively hold that the expected value of some policy proposal -- given one's current evidence -- is extremely positive. Indeed, this is my view of my preferred pandemic policy.  It strikes me as having. . .

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News source: Philosophy, et cetera

Republican Response: Call for Unity with the Haters

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After Trump supporters attacked the capitol, the Democrats moved quickly to impeach the President for inciting this insurrection. Trump is probably safe from being convicted for a crime, but impeachment is a political matter.  As noted in the previous essay, some Republicans initially tried to claim that Antifa was behind the attack—but this lie was quickly refuted by the FBI. While this lie is still popular on social media, Trump’s defenders have employed two other tactics: accusing the Democrats of being haters and calling for unity. Claiming Democrats are the party of haters has been a standard tactic for some time and is often used to defend Trump. The simplest version is the mere accusation of hate, such as saying “I’ve never seen such hate” in response to a criticism of Trump. Variations also include such things as accusing Democrats who point out racism of being “the real racists” or accusing them of “Trump derangement syndrome.” While sometimes used as a mere insult, the accusation of hate is commonly used to “refute” claims. For example, Nancy might argue that Trump fomented an insurrection, and the “refutation” might be to say that Nancy hates Trump. This is fallacious reasoning. Even if Nancy did hate Trump, it would not follow that her claim is false. This fallacious reasoning is a version of the accusation of hate fallacy (it can also be considered a form of ad hominin attack):   Premise 1: Person A makes claim C about person B. Premise 2: Person A is accused of hating person B. Conclusion: Claim C is false.   As my usual silly math example shows, this is bad logic:   Premise 1: Dave says that Adolph is wrong when Adolph says that 2+2=7. Premise 2: Dave hates Adolph. Conclusion: So, 2+2=7.   While hating someone would be a biasing factor, this does not disprove the alleged hater’s claim. If it could be shown that a person’s hate biases them, then this would impact their credibility—but this would never suffice to disprove a person’s. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Republican Response: False False Flag

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After being incited by President Trump, his followers attacked the nation’s capital. After the mob departed, some Republican legislators emerged from hiding and responded to the attack by accusing Antifa of being behind it. This echoed the right-wing media’s narrative about a false flag operation. While there does seem to have been at least one left-wing activist at the capitol, the Antifa claim has been utterly debunked. But the idea of a false false flag is an interesting matter. A false flag operation is an action conducted with the intention of disguising the identity of those responsible and placing the blame on another party. There are numerous historical examples of such operations, which often involved ships attempting to deceive enemy combatants about their identity. There are also cases in which nations use false flag operations as a pretext to start a war: the nation wishing to start a war engages in an attack that is made to look like action taking by the nation they want to go to war with. In the context of domestic American politics, a false flag operation would involve members of one political affiliation or organization conducting an operation while identifying as members of another affiliation or organization. For example, if a white nationalist put on a BLM t-shirt and went to a BLM protest to vandalize property and thus get BLM blamed, then that would be a false flag operation. In the case of the assault on the capitol, the claim put forth by some on the right is that those who engaged in and incited violence at the capital were either Antifa masquerading as Trump supporters or that Antifa members masquerading as Trump supporters incited Trump supporters to engage in violence against people and property. As noted above, it does appear that at least one left-wing activist was encouraging the insurrectionists. This person denied association with Antifa but did say he believed that black lives matter. While I should not need to point out the. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

The Hydrogen-Based Economy: Is it Enough to Paint Something Blue to Make it Green?

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A hopeful image for a hopeful article by Bertrand Piccard. "Blue Hydrogen" seems to be popular, nowadays. But is it enough to paint something blue to make it green? It turns out that "green" hydrogen, assuming it exists, is too expensive for what we need to do now in order to move away from fossil fuels and stabilize Earth's climate. Hydrogen has come a long way since the time when it was discovered by Henry Cavendish as a component of the water molecule in the 1700s and then given its name of “creator of water” by Henry Lavoisier in 1783. It was later discovered that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and the main component of stars. Using hydrogen as a fuel is an old idea. It was, again, Cavendish who discovered that it can burn. The idea that hydrogen could be cycled as an energy storage medium is probably as old as the “fuel cell,” developed by William Grove in the early 1800s. In the 1950s and 1960s, the dream of "energy too cheap to meter" associated with nuclear technologies made it possible to think of hydrogen as an energy vector able to carry energy to the points of use, even vehicles, from a limited number of large nuclear plants. The first explicit mention of the concept of “hydrogen economy” was made by John Bockris in 1970. The nuclear promise never materialized, but the concept of the hydrogen economy was later linked to renewable energy. The idea of the hydrogen economy gained a lot of traction with the 2002 book by Jeremy Rifkin, titled “The Hydrogen Economy.” Conferences were held, research contracts were awarded, and prototypes were built. Sometimes, we saw lavishly illustrated pamphlets of the hydrogen-based world of the future, often depicted as something reminding the science fiction of the 1950s, except that it was quieter and greener. Then, it waned again when it became clear that the promises of clean prosperity could not be maintained except at stellar prices that no one was willing to pay. Today, we may be seeing a. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

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