The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

"There Are Some Things We Don't Wanna Know! Important Things!"

Today I went with my friend Melissa to see An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's global warming movie. I enjoy seeing films with her because she's smart, funny, and knows about the world around her - she really brings out the best in me.

The movie itself is at once scary, funny, enlightening, and entertaining. It's one of those movies like Spellbound or March of the Penguins where you wonder how the hell they're going to make that interesting, but they do.

Gore is an engaging speaker, completely at ease with his subject matter. He is also a great teacher who goes to great lengths to explain the topic to lay persons (likely because he was a lay person as well and had to get scientists to explain it to him after he got interested more than thirty years ago). The science behind the passion is, to be blunt, irrefutable. The amount of data presented in this film is huge; years and years of climate charts and graphs, CO2 emission and retention stats, pictures of the same area from 50 years ago and now, all pointing to (as the title states) an inconvenient truth that we must deal with. If we choose not to, we or our children (not grandchildren) will certainly reap what we sow.

I have to sadly report that the United States will not listen, in my opinion. This is why I think so: I was driving home after the movie today and I saw a sticker on a truck that was the number 03 with wings and halo over it. The NASCAR number of Dale Earnhardt. The sticker said, "God needed a driver". It seems innocent enough, but it is anything but.

Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash while he was racing. He had what was called a "one o'clock hit" on the wall, which means that he was driving along and he turned right towards the wall, impacting on the passenger side front corner. What happens during a crash of this nature is that the driver's head comes forward and, due to the angle, does not hit the steering wheel which would normally stop the forward movement of the head. Instead, the driver's head goes farther than it naturally can and due to the forces involved causes what is known as a basilar skull fracture (a fracture of one of the skull bones at the base near where the spine attaches).

A safety device was designed and implemented into some racing cars, called the HANS device, that clipped the driver's helmets to the seat where the headrest would be in a normal car. This prevented the forward acceleration that would lead to this sort of death, but Earnhardt, ironically, was adamently opposed to what he called, "the noose". He believed this development would hang him, making it unnecessary to save him from a deadly skull fracture. Scientists had tested it, developed the system with engineers, and presented it plus the data to NASCAR, but Earnhardt would have none of it. He knew racing and that was that.

It is this attitude that pervades our collective society now. Expertise is worthless and "common sense" will win out. People love nothing better than seeing the little guy take on the goliath and win against all odds, the good 'ol boy who bucks all the "evidence" and puts the poindexters in their place. We see this all the time from the tone-deaf semi-retarded chimp on American Idol telling the judges that they can sing, dammit, to Bill O'Reilly lecturing Gen. Wesley Clark twice about the "massacre at Malmedy", only to deny making a mistake and having his network, FOX, change the official show transcript to have him say, "Normandy".

Dale Earnhardt's accidental death was completely preventable had he only defered his decision to people who knew about physics, deceleration injuries, anatomy, and medicine instead of insisting that because of his brilliance in NASCAR racing, he was qualified to over-rule all these experts and play russian roulette every roll around the track.

It is this thinking that infects not just Americans, but all North Americans and I'm sure some others. We have to trust experts once they prove themselves, and the global warming group have done as well a job at that as anyone I've seen. Go see this movie and tell all your friends to come along.

3 Barbaric Yawps:

At 4/6/06 4:13 am, Anonymous modusoperandi said...

...speaking of was common for drivers to ignore good advice for safety. Lots of them ran seats that were little more than tin booster seats. I guess they figured that since the cars were so incredibly overbuilt that they didn't need good seats (nascar is probably the only series where the race cars actually weigh more than the street cars that they vaguely resemble).

Of course, safe or no, going round and round for hours makes it boring. It's potentially interesting if you're there in person because you can see the whole track but on TV it's the equivalent of baseball.

On the plus side turning left all the time makes most of them shitty road-course drivers, which makes the first turn on the first lap of any of the road-races kind of cool. It probably doesn't help that the cars handle like shit...

Now on topic...threat of environmental change or no, it's hard for people to change. Radical change will probably only come after radical environmental change...which will probably be too late. Just look at the resistance to Kyoto. Too many people have it too good now for them to willingly embrace the changes necessary for us to survive.

It doesn't help that the best the government can come up with to rally us to the cause is crap like the "One Tonne Challenge". Rick Mercer is no Lester Pearson. Heck, he's not even Borden.

It also doesn't help that there's a group of people who think that JC will come and save them...and that he'll only come when the shit really, really hits the fan. Luckily those people don't control the three branches of government of the most powerful country in the world...

Do you remember the positive vibe that was flowing after the wall came down? I miss that feeling.


At 10/6/06 12:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. So people don't believe the experts... Kind of like the doctor who treated Dale Earnhardt's injuries, Dr. Steve Bohannon? Here's what he said when asked whether the HANS device would have saved his life: “I really don’t know if that would have or not. That would be pure speculation at this point, not knowing the exact cause of death. I know a full-face helmet would not have made any difference whatsoever. He had no evidence of facial injuries. I don’t know if the HANS device would have helped or not. I suspect not.”

The doctor himself suspected it wouldn't have saved his life. But you don't believe him, because Earnhardt didn't trust the experts, and people who don't trust the experts are obviously so anti-scientific they'll get their comeuppance. This is so true that you don't even need to trust the experts about it! Q.E.D.

At 12/6/06 5:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Steve Bohannon admitted in court that he was not an expert on the cause of death of Mr. Earnhardt when he withdrew his speculations about the seatbelt being faulty. Dr. Myers is the expert. And he found that the cause of death was due to insufficient head restraint.


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