“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution

On October 9, Pacific Gas & Electric began shutting down power to about 750,000 customers (affecting as many as 2 million people) in California. The company claims the shutdowns are necessary to reduce the risk that its power lines and other infrastructure will cause wildfires like last year’s Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and and caused $16.5 billion in damage.

The Camp Fire was an extreme , and the blackouts are an extreme response,  but they’re far from the only indicators that Americans should no longer trust aging “grid” distribution systems to reliably  and safely supply electricity to their homes and businesses.

Fortunately, just as the problems seem to be getting really bad, the solutions are coming online fast.

Unfortunately, states’ response to the problem are a strange mix of unneeded mandates and subsidies and unjustifiable barriers, driven by cronyism and hostility to free markets.

Solar panels, wind turbines, large batteries for power storage, and gasoline generators for short-term backup are getting cheaper and cheaper.  Unfettered, markets would proliferate these solutions to most Americans in a fairly short time.

But government can’t resist putting its finger on the scales.

The California Energy Commission has ordered the inclusion of solar panels on all new homes beginning in 2020, citing climate change rather than independence from the grid as justification. A nice subsidy to the solar industry, at the expense of homeowners for whom wind or other solutions might work better.

Nationwide, many localities require homeowners to attach their houses to the grid whether they want to or not — then require those homeowners’ solar systems to shut down during grid outages for utility worker safety, leaving them powerless too.

Extreme weather often results in power loss to large numbers of people. I’ve experienced multi-day outages from thunderstorms,  blizzards, and ice storms in the midwest and hurricanes in the southeast. Most Americans probably recall similar outages. That’s what happens when you string wires and transformers all over the place then pray nothing knocks them down or stresses them out.

The increasing sprawl and automation of grids, initially touted as a feature, turned out to be a bug. In 2003, a software failure in Ohio turned what should have been a local blackout into a two-day  outage in two Canadian provinces and eight US  states, shutting down more than 100 power plants and leaving 55 million without electricity. Lately the fear (thus far apparently unrealized) is that grids are vulnerable to hackers of both state and freelance varieties.

“The grid” needs to go. We’ve got the means to replace it. If politicians and bureaucrats just got out of the way, the market would do the rest. Instead, they’ll probably drag it out for decades, at a cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.

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Instead of Explaining Greta Thunberg, Debate Her Claims

What is Greta Thunberg’s superpower?

She obviously has one, if not more. Your average sixteen-year-old doesn’t start successful global activist movements,  address UN Climate Action Summits, and have those addresses go viral as death metal videos.

Critics slam Thunberg as everything from “mentally ill” (a claim which got one Fox News guest blacklisted),  to naive pawn in a well-funded propaganda operation, to just plain annoying teenager.

I think those critics miss the point. If they disagree on the facts, they should dispute those facts rather than focus on Thunberg at all. But since the focus IS on her, let’s take a closer look.

Thunberg herself describes her autism-related diagnoses as among the aforementioned superpowers. “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism,” she said in a TEDx Talk. “That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”

Thunberg as pawn isn’t as dismissive as it sounds, but it doesn’t ring very true either. Yes, she and her efforts enjoy support from well-funded organizations and individuals, but there’s no reason to believe they randomly plucked her from the global mass of teenagers and set her in motion.  She attracted their notice by taking action. They didn’t make a winner, they saw a winner and decided to bet big on that winner.

As for her age, that’s a double-edged sword. Her supporters can position her as wise beyond her years, her opponents as too young to yet possess wisdom at all.

Personally, I think Thunberg’s superpower is that she’s a great actor.

No, that’s not intended as an insult. And no, I’m not just pulling the idea out of thin air.

She comes from a theatrical family. Her mother’s an opera singer. Her father’s an actor. Her grandfather’s an actor and director. She’s spent her entire life surrounded by the idea of performance as primary.

Formally trained or not, naturally gifted or not, she’s clearly mastered the art of holding an audience’s attention while she tells us what she thinks we need to hear.

So: IS what she’s telling us what we need to hear? Does she have her facts straight? Is her understanding of the science accurate? Are the models she trusts for climate predictions sound?

With or without Greta Thunberg, those are the questions we need answers to.

Someone hand the lady her Oscar and let’s get back to work.

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The Not-So-Just World Hypothesis

I’ve long been skeptical of what psychologists call the Just World Hypothesis.  A standard statement:

[T]he just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to—or expect consequences as the result of—a universal force that restores moral balance. This belief generally implies the existence of cosmic justice, destiny, divine providence, desert, stability, and/or order, and is often associated with a variety of fundamental fallacies, especially in regards to rationalizing people’s suffering on the grounds that they “deserve” it.

One of the main forms of (alleged) evidence in favor of the Just World Hypothesis is that people derogate and blame the victims of crimes.  But I’ve simply never noticed this in real life.  All I’ve seen, rather, is that people claim that other people derogate and blame the victims of crimes.

To explore these doubts, I ran three Twitter polls.  Yes, I know this is far from decisive evidence.  But I still trust it more than many of the studies that got the Just World Hypothesis off the ground.

I started with two paired survey questions:

Responses match my expectations.  Virtually no one thinks that crime victims are “highly” or even “somewhat” blameworthy.  Almost everyone thinks that crime perpetrators are “highly” or at least “somewhat” culpable.

My last survey zoomed out to the Big Question:

Well look at that!  Disbelievers in the Just World Hypothesis outnumber believers by over 2:1.  Only 3% of respondents think the world is “Very just.”

Are my respondents atypical?  Indubitably.  Nevertheless, I have much more confidence that my results will replicate on a national representative sample than the published academic work on this topic.  If anyone wants to try, feel free to use my questions!

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Why Do Good People Do Evil Things?

I understand why some people habitually do evil things. They are self-centered and entitled and don’t care who they hurt while getting what they want. It’s not hard to see.

The same sort of thing goes for good people doing good things. They want to be a positive part of society; want to help people.

I can also understand why people who easily choose to do evil things sometimes do good things– it’s to their benefit. No one could survive long only doing evil things all the time.

But why do otherwise good people commit evil? How can they rationalize what they are doing?

For good people to do evil things, it takes religion.” ~ Physicist Steven Weinberg.

No religion is more convenient for this purpose, or illustrates this fact better, than Statism.

It’s what causes good people to become cops and then start to commit evil acts as part of the “job”. It’s what causes good people to get a “job” with the IRS and start stealing property and ruining lives. It takes a belief that committing evil acts is OK under the circumstances, and is approved by the “higher power” flowing from the courthouse, city hall, the capital, or the bureaucracy. Or that this approval makes the act which would be evil otherwise not evil.

Statism is the most popular religion in the world. It usually comes before any other religion the believer may have. When combined with other religions it can become even worse– just look at the Muslim world, the old “Moral Majority”, or “Focus on the Family” if you have any doubt about this danger.

Don’t trust any belief which causes you to rationalize violating others “for their own good” or for society or for “the common good”. Do the right thing, even if you feel you could win approval and rewards by doing the wrong thing.

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Scott Adams is Still Wrong on Guns

The vilest anti-liberty bigots are those who pretend to be pro-liberty while misrepresenting liberty (or not even understanding what the word means). Anti-gun bigots who claim to be “pro-gun” are probably the worst subset of anti-liberty bigot.

Scott Adams is a case in point. He’s been advocating anti-gun “laws” a lot recently, seasoning his remarks with the phrase “I’m pro-gun“. It shows how deep his misunderstanding of the topic goes that he believes he’s making sense.

The following is a point-by-point analysis of a recent podcast where he was pretending to be pro-gun while promoting anti-gun bigotry and government-supremacy. He’s always blocking people for saying “You’re wrong” without providing reasons. Since he likes reasons so much, here are a bunch of them.

“The government should make the decisions about gun policy… The government and the people should decide what our gun laws are.”

Nope. That option has been taken off the table by the Second Amendment. And “our” gun laws? I’ve decided what mine are. No one else has any say. Collectivism is ugly.

“But we get to change the Constitution, too.”

Not without abolishing the United States of America. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were a package deal which created the feral, ummm, federal government, and without which it has no existence. Change one word of the Bill of Rights (which, being amendments, over-ride the body of the Constitution where applicable) and the deal is off. I’m actually OK with that. Are you?

“I did not say ‘take away your guns’.”

Only because you can’t be that honest. You’ve parroted the dishonest claim of almost every anti-gun bigot, that “no one is talking about taking away guns“. Maybe you aren’t proposing door-to-door gun confiscations, but if you believe government has the power to ignore the natural human right to own and to carry weapons, and the Second Amendment’s prohibition on “laws” concerning guns, then you’re advocating allowing “laws” to be written which could (and have) result in actual law enforcers taking away people’s guns, and murdering them if they resist.

“I’m very pro-gun (…) but…”

That’s what they all say. And maybe you believe it. But without a clear understanding of the issue you say things that make you look foolish and dishonest. That “but” leaves you a lot of wiggle room but completely invalidates your first statement there.

“If the citizens of the United States, collectively, with their government, decided to make some gun laws, that I personally, Scott, do not think are the greatest, I’d still be inclined to go along with it, because the system produced that output. And I would trust the system.”

As long as a system isn’t harming people I’ll trust it. Provisionally. But as soon as it starts violating people, I’m out. The slave trade was a system. No one should have trusted it because it violated natural human rights. “Gun control” is a system which violates people’s rights. In fact, government is a rights-violating system. None for me, thanks. I prefer my own system which protects everyone’s equal and identical rights.

“Some of you are saying ‘My Constitution gives me my Second Amendment rights, and the NRA is helping me defend them.’”

Anyone who believes their rights come from the Constitution/Second Amendment or any document is uninformed. The Bill of Rights was written to place natural human rights– including the right to own and to carry weapons– off-limits to government meddling. Even the NRA seems weak on their understanding of this point. That’s why real gun rights (human rights) advocates call the NRA “surrender monkeys”.

As I recently posted elsewhere in response to a similar claim: You seem to have been misinformed about what the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does. It doesn’t give anyone the right to own and to carry weapons; it makes it a crime for government to interfere in this natural human right in the slightest way. “Gun control” is a SERIOUS crime.

The right existed before the Constitution was written— before the first government was a twinkle in the eye of a lazy thief, even— and it will still exist unchanged long after the last government is forgotten in the mists of Deep Time. No law or constitution can alter that right in the smallest degree.

“You love the Constitution. So do I.”

I don’t. And neither do you. If you did you would try to understand its purpose better; particularly the Bill of Rights– which is what you’re discussing here. The ONLY thing the Bill of Rights was written to do was to limit what government could “legally” do. If you miss that point your claim to love the Constitution is patently ridiculous. It’s like if I said I love dogs, but then talk about how beautiful and soft their feathers are.

“Do you know what else is in the Constitution? Well there’s something about a representative government and presidents and Congress and all that.”

Yep. And that makes placing natural human rights out of their reach that much more important. Because you never know what those people might decide to do. Or what the majority of v*ters might decide to do. Placing natural human rights outside the business of government is necessary if you’re going to allow government to exist.

“It gives the control of our decision making to our elected representatives.”

Not all of it. Some things were wisely taken off the table (by the Bill of Rights) before the game began. Including guns.

(About the NRA) “If it crosses that line into taking the job that the Constitution gives to the government…”

Again, the government can’t have the “job” to make up “laws” about guns. That is one of the things government is specifically and explicitly not permitted to do.

“The first thing I would note is that it’s already infringed.”

Agreed. That means all those various infringements are illegitimate and need to go away. It doesn’t justify more infringements. You couldn’t have justified expanding the slave trade with the observation that there was already a slave trade. The slave trade needed to be abolished. Gun “laws” need to be abolished… or ignored into irrelevance.

“Can you own a tank; a flamethrower?”

Ignorance? Yes, you can.

About “Second Amendment rights” [sic]: “98% of it’s gone and you didn’t even notice.”

Rights can’t “go away”. That the government– or other bad guys– violate rights doesn’t make them go away. It just violates them. Understand the difference.

And, I notice the violations. So do other people. Just because you don’t notice doesn’t mean others are that complacent and ignorant.

“Do you think that the Second Amendment, when it says ‘arms’, was just trying to limit it to muskets? I mean, that’s all they could imagine at the time…”

No. The Second Amendment was saying “You shall not pass!” with regard to making up “laws” to violate the natural human right to own and to carry weapons.

And they could “imagine” more than muskets because more than muskets already existed. Some of the authors of the Constitution were inventors. Does Scott really believe they couldn’t have imagined anything other than what already existed at the time? Of course, they could. That’s what inventors do. They knew how guns had evolved from massive unwieldy things requiring more than one person to set up and use to tools easily owned, carried, and accurately fired by one average individual. They were perfectly aware of how gun development could progress from its current state– they were already witnessing it.

And it doesn’t matter. They placed guns on a high shelf, out of reach of government “laws”.

“I see all the gun rights people bristling, but so far I haven’t said anything you disagree with.”

Seriously? See all the above if you actually believe you haven’t said anything an informed gun rights person would disagree with so far.

And, I didn’t bristle. I took it upon myself to educate and correct.

“… the key parts are ‘militia’ and ‘necessary to the security of a free state’… “

The militia is EVERYONE capable of using a weapon in defense– this was made clear by those who wrote and supported the Second Amendment. Using their weapons against whoever needed to be defended against. You display gross historical ignorance here.

Then you go off on a screed about “giving you the right to own guns...”, missing the purpose and intent of the Bill of Rights yet again. Government-supremacists seem to love this train of thought, which I derailed above.

Now, I happen to understand what a “state” is, so I also understand “free state” is internally contradictory. I’ll forgive you for your ignorance on this one.

“… a created right; a manufactured right…”

You can’t create or manufacture rights. Every human who has ever existed has/had equal and identical rights. Rights don’t come from governments. Governments can either respect rights or violate them. Those are the only two options. That governments– states– always choose to violate rights to some degree says nothing about the nature of rights and everything you need to know about the nature of government.

“Even the experts disagree about what the Constitution said or meant or how it should be interpreted.”

Only willfully. If you go back and read the related writings and discussions between those who were writing it, there is no confusion. “Smart people” often find ways to avoid understanding things which would invalidate what they want. That’s the most common thing in the world. It doesn’t give weight to your anti-gun position.

“My take is the government can do whatever it wants, with guns, as long as it makes sense. As long as the people are with it.”

It probably can. But it would be wrong and the US government would be immediately illegitimized by passing even one gun “law”. Oops. I guess that bridge has already been crossed and burned. But, again, this is the unethical government-supremacist position.

And “makes sense” to who? Everything makes sense to someone. Theft makes sense to people who want to justify stealing. Rape makes sense to rapists. Serial murderers always believe their acts somehow make sense. Violating your rights can’t make sense to me. No matter my feelings, or my wishes. If I feel your rights “need” to be violated on my behalf, then I need to man up and defend myself– by exercising my rights– from you. Begging government to do that on my behalf is a loser move.

“If 99% of the people said ‘Hey, government, take our guns away’…”

So, mob rule, then. The belief that rights hinge on the opinions of the majority. The wishes of all the people but one can’t excuse violating the rights of the one. Not if you call that violation “slavery” or if you call it “gun control”. If someone doesn’t want a gun in their house there is nothing to prevent them from getting rid of it. I’m completely in favor of allowing them to do so. If, however, they don’t want guns in their own home this gives them no right to force everyone else to get rid of their own guns, or else. Not by “law” or anything else.

This is the same loserthink behind rich people who say “Raise my taxes– I don’t mind. I want to support government more.” If they want to give the government more of their money, they can. No new “law” is necessary. Just do it. To wait until a “law” is imposed forcing others to do the same is evil.

“…a vague statement in the Constitution hundreds of years ago…”

It’s only vague if you try really hard to not understand it. “Shall not be infringed” can’t be more clear.

“We can do what we want as long as there’s a system we all respect.”

Too bad for you, then. Or, do you not really mean “all”, but just all government-supremacists and anti-liberty bigots? Because, as I’ve already pointed out, I don’t respect systems which violate natural human rights.

“…’it’s in the Constitution!’ True, but does it matter?”

Only if you want to keep your government. If not, that’s OK with me. I don’t need your government and don’t feel like supporting it. I can’t afford it and don’t want or need it. So I’m not going to argue with you on that one. That’s just a case of you arguing against yourself.

“To all of you who thought you were disagreeing with me, and were wrong, I say: your opinion I care about… If you disagree with me on guns, I care about your opinion. I might disagree, but I want to hear it… You and I are on the same page.”

OK. I’ll send this blog post to you, then. I hope other people also forward it to you (@ScottAdamsSays) any time you talk about guns.

But, no, we are not on the same page. Not even close.

I’ll close with one final admission on your part:

“I know one topic I don’t understand: any topic on gun control”

Yeah, that much is painfully obvious.

So, no Scott, I’m not interested in any system which makes it easier to violate the natural human rights of my fellow humans (or myself) and therefore makes it more likely those rights violations will occur. Just not interested at all. When you’re right, you’re right. But when you’re wrong, you’re probably advocating government-supremacy.

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Anti-Gun Laws Always Wrong Path

In the wake of the recent mass shootings and the hype surrounding them, people are asking “why?”

Simpletons parrot the popular answer: “guns.”

Sensible people know there’s no single reason.

Thankfully, mass shootings are rare. The way they are publicized makes them seem common, and copycat crimes often follow on the heels of well-publicized shootings. If it were up to me, the shooter’s face would never be shown and his name would be replaced by the words “some loser.”

Mass shootings — almost without exception — happen in places where guns are prohibited. This makes sense. People who plan to shoot random people don’t want their intended victims to shoot back.

A “gun-free zone” — be it a mall or other business, a school or other government facility, or an outdoor event — gives them exactly what they want.

Some people blame poor “mental health care,” suggesting it’s government’s responsibility to run a giant socialist program for identifying mentally unstable people and rounding them up or forcibly medicating them.

I don’t trust people who believe governing others is OK to make reasonable assessments of other people’s mental health.

The “worthlessness” these shooters express in the months and years leading up to their evil deeds must play a part. If you don’t have any meaning in your life it is easier to decide nothing has meaning so you might as well act on your hopelessness, nihilism, and anger.

These guys need meaningful relationships. They need meaningful work. Both are getting harder to find for the average person. This isn’t something government can fix, but perhaps society will find solutions.

I suspect the lack of an attainable frontier may contribute to the problem, and believe if one doesn’t open up soon, things will get worse.

I would be tempted to blame violent video games, except the evidence seems clear that this isn’t the case. If you desensitize people to committing violent acts it seems they’d be more accepting of aggression in real life. Yet the data points to the opposite effect. The violent games apparently serve as a sort of pressure release.

The same goes for violent movies.

I didn’t want to believe it, but I must accept the evidence unless more evidence comes to light. I can’t help but wonder why accepting evidence is such a difficult thing for humans to do.

The evidence is clear: there are many causes, but making things worse — with additional anti-gun laws — is always the wrong path.

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