It’s happened yet again! Not for the first time, I find my contributions to an online discussion about wind energy mysteriously removed from public view, for some reason “flagged as spam” despite being totally on-topic and not trying to sell anything.
A cursory glance at Extinction Rebellion’s Facebook page reveals that they too take great pride in deleting what they consider “hateful” comments. As such, what’s left is the polar opposite to the threads in my local Leeds Facebook group, following the XR protests in our city. Anyone researching both groups would struggle to reconcile the difference between Extinction Rebellion’s opinion of themselves and the hostile reaction towards them expressed by many local residents.
I’m minded of the difference between how Scientologists see themselves and how the residents of Clearwater, Florida view them.
I’ve written blog entry and blog entry about the necessity for free and open discourse, and the importance of giving special priority to those with a different point of view. And I’ve absolutely practised what I preached!
It comes easily to me because I have a genuine passion for dialectic. I do it with myself, and I recommend you try the same. Think of a statement that you consider to be true (your thesis), then deliberately try and think of the opposite to that statement (your antithesis).
Here’s a thesis: “Wind turbines are bad for the environment.”
The obvious antithesis is: “No, wind turbines are good for the environment.”
Believe me, I consider this antithesis with every word I write.
In science, we talk about a hypothesis, which is basically a more specific, disprovable thesis, eg “wind turbines have a dangerous impact on bee populations”. We then test the hypothesis to see if it can be disproven, eg in this case monitoring bee populations in regions with several wind turbines and noting whether bee populations in any of those areas are actually growing.
The vital third stage is synthesis, and this requires the kind of joined up thinking that can really only come from two-way dialectic. If you’re really deft intellectually, you can play your own Devil’s Advocate, but the easiest way is to get one of your friends to try and pick holes in your argument. If you can come up with an answer that explains both the thesis and the antithesis, even if it veers more heavily towards one than the other, then that’s your synthesis, the true Voice of Nature.
In the case of bees, it could be argued that although there is clear evidence that the populations are in decline everywhere we’ve tested, it might not be the wind turbines to blame, it might be pesticides or air pollution of some sort. This is our synthesis: “Yes, there is indeed a problem with bee populations. We can’t assume wind turbines are the cause, BUT THEY MIGHT BE… or at least contributing in some way. Further testing is required.”
As such, syntheses don’t generally lead to pithy soundbites, they just lead to further theses and antitheses. Eventually, however, assuming you’ve been assiduously honest all along and covered all bases, censoring NOTHING, your syntheses will ultimately lead you to an axiom of inarguable truth. These axioms are intellectual gold, because nothing can disprove them.
The difference between a thesis and an axiom is the working you’ve put in along the way. A thesis is just a “what if?” You could come up with a million in a morning, just for fun! Theses are random statements that might or might not be true, mere starting points for further investigation and research; whereas an axiom comes after you’ve batted the original thesis and its antithesis back and forth until such time as there is literally nothing more that can be said.
People get the two confused, so we have a lot of unproven theses passing themselves off as axioms (“settled science”). Indeed, this might be the defining characteristic of our polarised political discourse these days: what for some people are self-evident axioms, beyond the need for any further discussion, are for others merely unproven theses, very much fair game for debate and dialectic.
I played with this a few entries ago, provocatively listing a series of my own axioms about wind energy, many of which no doubt people would dispute, and of course I always relish the challenge. The point is, however, my axioms derived from pages and pages of research and discourse; they are my conclusions rather than my starting points. This is exactly why I’ve shown my workings along the way, and invited you all to join in the research, adding your own tuppence ha’penny!
Climate change, like many political causes, is seen by many as axiomatic rather than still an unproven thesis – ie we’ve already done all the testing and debating, and it’s futile to keep on arguing with what should be universally agreed upon by now. Now, although there are plenty of people, such as Piers Corbyn, who do indeed reject the axiom that we are screwing up the climate with our CO2 emissions, that’s not my role.
My own axioms about wind power are perfectly compatible with the axiom that we are facing a “climate emergency”. They are also compatible with the axiom that we aren’t.
So how can we tell the difference between a thesis and an axiom?
Well, the simplest way is to understand that every belief you hold should have passed through the thesis-antithesis-synthesis stage multiple times, before arriving at its final destination as an axiom of inarguable truth. If it hasn’t, send it back. Think of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, or even just a civil court case. Both sides must be weighed up before making a final judgement.
I would posit that this is because we live in a dualistic universe, and what defines physical reality is that it operates between opposing poles, ie everything we experience is consciously perceived within the context of opposites – from North to South, from East to West, from left to right, from top to bottom, from front to back, from hot to cold, from wet to dry, from black to white, from good to bad, from Brexit to Remain, from Trump to AOC, from “she loves me” to “she loves me not”.
To be or not to be? That is indeed the question…
Nature is therefore an almost infinite number of polar opposites, of theses and antitheses that together form a myriad of syntheses. Censoring any one of these theses or antitheses will impact upon your connection with Nature. Covering up any awkward antithesis to your original thesis only stunts your perception of Nature, creating what I term as an “artificial bubble of non-reality”.
In truth, we all need a degree of non-reality to survive, so I’m not saying we should all live in the forests, unplugged from the grid, sleeping under the stars. But we should see our electronic 21st century lifestyle for what it is: NON-REALITY!
Most of my comments in forums have simply been about reconnecting people to that Voice of Nature, the voice of dialectic reminding people of the dualistic reality of the physical universe. When these comments get deleted for whatever reason, all it says is that the forum is more interested in maintaining the bubble in which its members reside rather than exposing them to the elements! And that’s fine, nine times out of ten, for most social media based on shared interests or mutual support.
It’s not fine, however, when said forums are allegedly run by Nature lovers, or those claiming to be saving the Earth.
These people are setting themselves up as “important” in some way, not necessarily egotistically but certainly positionally, as I have discussed before. Extinction Rebellion are all about this: their high self-regard runs through their noticeably one-sided communications.
I guess as a blogger I too consider myself somewhat “important”, in that I have a perspective to share that I think is germane to the wider environmental movement. This is why I consider it my moral duty to provide unlimited freedom of speech for everyone reading. Join in! Challenge me, debate me, call me names if it makes you feel good. Nothing will be censored, because however I make you feel is the true Voice of Nature in relation to my writings. This is what dialectic is all about, after all.
Be very sceptical of those who say they are on the side of Nature, when they censor people’s natural reactions to what they say and do.
I hope that what all the above proves is: when it comes to the search for truth, there is absolutely NOTHING to be achieved by censoring or covering up any “awkward” antitheses to your original thesis, because it is precisely these contradictions and paradoxes that help you get closer to the true Voice of Nature. The original debate that inspired this thread is a good example of an artificial bubble of non-reality.
It is demonstrably true that I am not trying to sell anything or make money from my contributions to online debates. It is also demonstrably true that wind turbines trigger amygdala reactions in me and I love to talk and write about this phenomenon, for free, gratis, on the house, no payment needed. And it is demonstrably true that each of you reading has 100% ability to add your own comments to mine, in order that the conversation as a whole is open and amenable to peer-review, clarification and, if need be, factual corrections. To claim my comments about wind turbines, on a public forum dedicated to the topic, are spam… well, it’s clearly untrue, and I can’t even go on there to let the readers know! Therefore the veracity of the whole forum is compromised; if they can’t get a simple thing like my true motivation right, then what else have they got wrong?!
Arbitarily “detected as spam” and deleted from public view, here then is my comment, which follows my previous comment that had also been “detected as spam”. I’ll let you be the judge!
I’ve just found that this comment has been supposedly “detected as spam”. Now why would you do that? I’m not selling anything, I’m 100% on topic? I’ve joined the debate to have my say, to get involved in the conversation and discuss wind turbines with you all. Feel free to disagree and logic-chop, sure, that’s what dialectic is all about. But to censor perfectly reasonable comments is not on, it’s suspicious, it’s artificial and not in keeping with the true voice of Nature, which would be to move the dialogue forward. If you really are tree huggers you will allow the true voice of Nature to express itself. Calling me a Russian or a Fossil Fuel backer is bonkers and deluded! I’m a “mountain hugger”! You could call me a pagan, I guess, in that I commune with the Pennines and run my ideas past the peaks directly before coming back to the city to engage with people intellectually. Censoring me means censoring someone with genuine passion, love and commitment to the environment. Why would you do that??? Here’s the comment. Please explain why this is “Spam”?
The offending comment…
Hi, thanks for engaging. Let’s try and work through the points together and see where we agree and where we still need to do more work to cover all bases. I disagree that wind turbines are significantly less damaging to nature than oil/gas/coal power plants. Well, I’ve yet to see the evidence, put it that way. The important point is that we ensure we are comparing like for like – megawatt per megawatt. So it’s not a case of comparing one wind turbine with a coal-fired power station, it’s a case of comparing approximately 2,000 wind turbines with one coal-fired power station (stats based on comparing Scout Moor Wind Farm’s capacity factor vs Ratcliffe coal power station).
2,000 wind turbines vs 1 coal-fired power station? That’s the true comparison. I simply do not accept that the environmental impact of 2,000 wind turbines is better for the planet than 1 coal-fired power station. Not that I’m a fan of coal btw, I’m just demonstrating how low-performance our wind turbines really are, and just how many of them would be needed.
Where on earth would we put 2,000 wind turbines – complete with concrete foundations, access tracks, and links to the National Grid, without impacting severely on the environment for dozens of miles around?
“A person’s opinion that they don’t like the way they look has nothing to do with the effects on nature/the environment.” –
I fundamentally disagree with this statement, indeed I think this is flawed thinking in that you are detaching human emotional resonance from your view of the planet, which is just not reality. The environment is the interaction between the physical universe and the species that reside on it. Removing humans from the equation might well save the earth, as a lifeless, sterile sphere, but the environment right here, right now, is a symbiotic relationship between us and the Earth. I don’t want to live on a planet which makes life hell on earth for humans and animals. It goes against nature itself. It means humans are supposed to reject our senses and live in a state of negativity, simply because the “experts” tell us it’s “good for the planet”.
If something is genuinely good for the planet we will intuit it on a deep level. Wind turbines do the reverse to me – on a very deep, primal level, they worry and concern me, they feel wrong and toxic, they take our fragile upland ecosystems and make them inhospitable and alienating. The main issue is that these spaces that were hitherto sacrosanct from inappropriate development for hundreds of years – AONBs, SSSIs. even the peripheries of our National Parks – yet they have been thrown under the bus in the name of renewables. Electricity trumps nature, it would seem.
NO! Green means GREEN – chlorophyll. Not hideous, inappropriate white paint!
If giant metal towers need painting to stop them corroding, at least make it subtle, dark green paint that is more in keeping with the rural environment.
CRITICAL THINKING #101: HOW TO SPOT AN UNPROVEN THESIS FROM AN INARGUABLE AXIOM
Study the following examples of axioms and how they differ from theses. NB sometimes an axiom will turn out to be almost the same as the original thesis, but going through the dialectic process will make it a more rounded, well-defined, finely-balanced and factual statement. Conversely, sometimes an axiom might end up having more in common with the antithesis rather than the original thesis, if it’s false in any way. The dialectic method helps you work out fact from fiction.
All in all, an axiom is what you end up with when you’ve balanced a thesis with its antithesis to come up with a synthesised statement of undeniable fact: the Voice of Nature.
Thesis: The sun will rise tomorrow.
Antithesis: The sun won’t rise tomorrow.
Synthesis: Every day, since records began, the sun has risen. There has not been a single day so far in which the sun didn’t rise, somewhere on earth. That’s not to say maybe tomorrow isn’t the exception; a giant meteor could hit the earth tonight and that’s it, game over. Come back tomorrow lunchtime and let me know what happened!
Axiom: Well here I am, the following day. And I can indeed confirm: the sun rose this morning.
Thesis: 1 + 1 = 2
Antithesis: No, you’ve actually given me 0.6 + 0.8 = 1.4. Rounding these to the nearest integer, 1 + 1 in fact = 1
Synthesis: Any value between 0.75 and 1.25 added to any other value between 0.75 and 1.25 will equal between 1.5 and 2.5.
Axiom: Alright then, here you are: 1.0 + 1.0 = between 1.9 and 2.1. Happy now?
Thesis: The world is round.
Antithesis: No, everyone knows the world is flat, dummy!
Synthesis: Leave your house and keep travelling in a straight line till either (a) you arrive back where you first started; or (b) you fall off the edge of the earth. If you don’t have time, study every map you can lay your hands on and come up with just one that shows where the edge of the world’s flat surface lies. Photographic or video evidence would also be handy. Until then, there is plenty of proof the world is round, and no credible proof that the world is flat. But I’ll keep an open mind!
Axiom: 99.99% of the evidence that has ever been made available to us indicates that the world is round.
Thesis: MindWind is fake news, and the f***ing lunatic who writes it (either a Russian bot or a fossil fuel company CEO) is dangerously ill-informed.
Antithesis: Actually, that MindWind blog, though a bit wordy, does come up with some genuine and under-reported facts about the wind industry, every now and then.
Synthesis: With any blog or publication of so many millions of words, some sections are bound to be more on the case than others. The best the author can do to ensure veracity is to allow anyone who spots an error to correct it. Wherever falsehoods are noticed, readers are actively encouraged to set the author straight.
Axiom: Any “fake news” or “lunacy” found in this blog can be corrected by anyone and everyone. No censorship needed when you’re telling the truth!
Now see if you can create some axioms of your own. My hope is that by showing you HOW to think about wind energy, rather than telling you WHAT to think, you’ll naturally discover that my axioms are indeed indisputable. Test your initial theses; explore their antitheses; do your research and show your working!
Let me know what you come up with…