Everything You Think You Know Just Ain’t So Part III

One popular delusion among leftist greens is that industrial wind farms and giant solar arrays will soon replace coal, nuclear, and gas power plants in modern societies. In this case, as in many others, everything they think they know just ain’t so. For example, what proportion of Germany’s electric power is provided by wind and solar?

If you spend too much time reading environmental websites you could be forgiven for believing the figure to be anywhere as high as 50%. The actual figure is 2%, according to BP’s latest statistical review of global energy. Wind power fares slightly better at 3.3%. This figures make it rather clear that if Germany is showing how we can get to 100% renewable energy, it has a long way to go. _Robert Wilson

Children often acquire life long beliefs at delicate ages, when they have near-total trust in particular authority figures. If they never learn to think for themselves, they may avoid questioning many of these beliefs. The cognitive dissonance alone is quite unsettling, to say nothing of the crippling fear of losing that powerful feeling of knowing that you’re right.

But in a rational world, how does one know that one is “right?” That may be the wrong question. A better question may be: “How does one avoid either overconfidence or underconfidence?”

Being well calibrated – that is, having judgement that on average is neither underconfident nor overconfident – means that the confidence expressed in corresponds closely with the frequency with which the respondent is actually correct.

The typical research finding, however, is that people’s confidence exceeds their actual performance. For example, the actual number of correct answers for judgements expressed with 70% confidence is less than 7 out of 10. This form of overconfidence is naturally called overestimation.

Overprecision refers to “our excessive confidence in what we believe we know, and our apparent inability to acknowledge the full extent of our ignorance and the uncertainty of the world we live in”. To be overprecise is to underestimate the degree to which one’s judgement may err. Subjective beliefs about accuracy are too sharp relative to true accuracy. We believe we are close or spot on far more often than we actually are.

… At the very least it is important for decision-makers to be aware that people are prone to overconfidence, and that to assume one is not is to unwittingly fall prey to the bias. Most of us can improve the calibration of our judgements by simply considering the question “How could I be wrong?” ___Judy Curry Climate Etc Comments on “I Know I’m Right”

In the piece above, Georgia Tech climatologist Judy Curry is looking at the topic of “precision” and “overconfidence” from the standpoint of climate science. As one of the few honest academic climatologists in the English speaking world today, Curry attempts to temper the hubris of her colleagues, and suggests that policymakers use extreme caution when implementing policies based upon uncertain science.

But in a world where popular opinion can be easily swayed by a mass media of questionable objectivity, policymakers can be caught in a quandary. Do they give the people “what they want,” or seem to want at that moment in time, or do they implement policies in an incremental fashion — so that the policies can be easily reversed if found to be ineffective or destructive?

The same problem exists for any large scale politically tainted question, where powerful vested interests choose the tools of mass media, mass academia, and mass activism to sway “public opinion,” as a cover for their own self-interested manipulations.

The public certainly believes that it comes by its firm opinions honestly. Perhaps even a few journalists, professors, and activists are true believers — not having yet reached the more advanced stage of ideological cynicism.

But George Orwell pointed out one of the dangers facing opinion shapers and spinmeisters: Tomorrow, it may be in the interests of the powerful that public opinion shifts to another stance. Should that happen, one does not want to leave a long paper train that may lessen the faith of those few citizens who may actually look back for perspective. For the sake of erasing one’s trail, electronic media can often be useful, if one is careful about it.

The average IQ of Earth-based humans is roughly 92, on a Stanford Binet scale. Which means that half of the world’s population have IQs below 92. That point estimate is dropping visibly, over time, as dysgenic policies of government have taken over most of the advanced world.

This is an ominous trend. While executive functions of the prefrontal lobes are just as important to life success as IQ, without a significant number of persons with sufficiently high IQs, a high tech world cannot sustain itself.

Even if population IQ stayed the same, the problem of mass delusions would persist. But with a declining global population IQ, the problem becomes much more severe: Even if a few people were able to see through the manipulations, there would not be enough persons of sufficient IQ and EF who could be convinced to change the current momentum of large scale public policy.

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