Five Questions

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You can’t talk about everything with everyone. That’s just not how people are.

Charlie Martin notes that there are five signs to look for to know if you can or can’t talk with someone about climate change.

Example:

5. Are they willing to question the “accepted” values for actual warming?

The apparent mismatch between the modeled values and the measured values for temperature lead to the next question. The number of interest is the global average surface temperature, or GAST. One argument that comes up sometimes is that this is not even a meaningful number, but that’s wrong and kind of silly. The Earth has a surface, every point on it has a temperature, and the average of that temperature can be computed. Of course, we don’t have thermometers on every point on the Earth’s surface and we aren’t recording the temperature for every thermometer we do have. But that just turns GAST from a measurable value into a statistical quantity, with an error interval.

The whole thing is worth a read.

And it occurs to me – we need a similar scale to judge whether it’s worth trying – or possible – to discuss guns.

It’s a concise but useful list:

Do perpetrators ever find their way into the story? If they describe “gun crime” without ever putting someone at the trigger? If they realize that a gun without an evil person to use it is an inert object, while an evil person without a gun is an evil person who’ll switch to fertilizer, trucks,knives, gasoline or planes, you might actually have a shot at a conversation.

Do they realize what has actually happened with crime rates? If they still think that crime rates are rising, you’ll be in for a tough slog.

Will they examine their own chanting points? When you point out the fact that Universal Background Checks can not, logically, affect crime in any way?

Do they use the phrase “Right to be Safe?”: If they believe there’s any such thing, there’s going to be a failure to communicate.

Do they know the difference between security and security theater? If they natter on about magazine sizes, without mentioning gang violence,

If you can get 2-3 of those to break right, you might have a shot.

You might also have a miracle on your hands.


You’re saying that a woman who said bankers should be beheaded, who did an “ironic” version of the National Anthem that would have been tossed out of a karaoke bar, who claimed (apparently falsely) to be an incest survivor, who posed as Adolph Hitler in a Jewish satire magazine, who tweeted out George Zimmerman’s parent’s address and phone number (and called Zimmerman a “vigilante”), said something stupid and outrageous?

I need to be writing this down.