Peach Clubhouse Newsletter – 110710

Activities Upcoming at the Peach Clubhouse

Thursday July 14, 12 noon – Movie David vs. Montsanto
Tuesday July 19, 6 pm – Biography of the Dalai Lama

Insight Meditation at noon on Wednesday at the UU in College Station.
Meditation at 3 pm on Friday at the Peach Clubhouse. We will have another guided meditation on the same subject (the four greatest qualities) but a different guide, followed by discussion, to last about an hour — or more if we choose.

This week Bare Bones Biology radio program is attached, or you can get it from the blog at It’s about ignorance this time.

Progress Reports

Hydraulic fracturing presents us all with a great challenge. We’ve been told this a good, clean, USA-based source of energy; we’ve also been told we’ve got about a 25-year supply (at current use levels). We’ve seen the economic up-turn and increased number of jobs in areas where drilling is occurring. We’re also learning about what is called the “dark side of the boom” — the side effects of this drilling on health, human and animal, clean water supplies, clean air, land surfaces, property values. We hear reports of “bad neighbor” behavior by some of the drilling companies. We read that energy industry businesses and federal agencies alike have some question about the economic viability of drilling for this type of energy source.

Certainly hydraulic fracturing is making drastic changes to our land. When making drastic changes to biological systems it behooves all of us to remember and honor the precautionary principle (pdf attached). If we don’t know what the results will be, proceed with extreme caution or don’t proceed at all. Explore alternatives.

We need to ask ourselves if fracking is worth the chance of destroying water and other natural resources, health & well-being. What will we gain from going after this natural gas in the long term? It’s well-documented that the globe’s reserves of hydro-carbon-based fuels are dwindling. Why aren’t we putting equal human energy into planning for the transfer from coal, oil and gas to alternative energy sources? We are making this very profound decision now, with every well we drill.

In the Brazos Valley of Texas, a group of interested citizens have come together to prepare and disseminate information about fracking locally, in Texas, and around the country. Peach Clubhouse is an active supporter of this group and is willing to show the movie Gasland to any interested small or large groups. In the meantime a good description of fracking is available at

We now have a file at the Peach Clubhouse, w. video, about the Precautionary Policy.

Interesting Links and References

“We can’t be on the stock exchange, we are the stock exchanged.” Nikki Giovani

This is genetically modified foods week. If you want to contribute to the outline or the script of a short movie about “What are genetically modified foods?” let me know. and put something relevant in the subject line.

For food week we repeat a report by one of our most knowledgeable observers of the world food and other energy supplies

Tired of grim news? Come next week to see the biography of the Dalai Lama.
And check out this pleasant movie about Heidi Redd, a rancher in the real west

For directions go to the upper left corner on

Bare Bones Biology 063 – Power of Ignorance

There’s nothing wrong with ignorance, you know. People get all het up about that word, ignorant. Ignorance has nothing to do with how smart you are. It simply says you don’t know something. Every creature on earth is ignorant about some things, actually most things. Einstein was somewhat ignorant about ecology. Why not? He was a physicist. Physics is not ecology. Einstein spent much of his time thinking and learning about physics; and he did not run around trying to convince people that he knew about things he didn’t know about. He knew what he knew, but the thing that made him so smart is that he also knew what he didn’t know.

I was thinking about ignorance and reading a peer-reviewed research study that was done by Justin Kruger and David Dunning at Cornell University.

I’ll quote their conclusion, leaving out just a few words:

“People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities . . , in part, because people who are unskilled . . . suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. … Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.”

Well, I’m always suspicious of people who use big words when they could make better sense using ordinary words, but these people certainly understand what the words mean, and their methods and statistics, and also a long list of references, all hold up well, so I’m pretty sure their results are accurate. The bottom line is — the best way to grow your competence is to be very clear about what you know and, more importantly, what you do not know. Or as I say it, the best way to grow your personal power is to know the difference between the facts, the lies, the opinions, and self-serving poppycock. People respect knowledge more than recycled blather. Would you hire an engineer who doesn’t know the difference between a slide rule and a calculator?

So I thought it was really interesting — that same day, I received copies of an article in The Economist. The editorial and the article clearly review many of the problems that we humans face in our ecosystem today. And they use all the right catch phrases. Resilience for example:

“. . . it is possible to add to the planet’s resilience, often through simple and piecemeal actions, if they are well thought through.”

But apparently they don’t understand the relationship between resilience and the numbers of species in an ecosystem, because they also stated that half the earth’s species are going extinct. And they did not mention that we are almost entirely ignorant of the functions that most of those species perform to maintain the resilience of the ecosystem. So – given our enormous ignorance, I don’t understand how they plan to carefully think through a method of improving resilience while at the same time extincting half the earth’s species. Would you hire these people to engineer the future of the earth ecosystem that provides your air, food, water and work – literally your life?

And if we revert to commonsense, there is an idea they did not even consider. Wouldn’t it be safer, easier and less abusive to humans and the living earth ecosystem to remove the cause of all those problems? The common root cause that lies behind all these problems – and anyone can do the math — is excessive growth. But the implications of this fact are not seriously considered anywhere in the article.

Bare Bones Biology 063 – Power of Ignorance
KEOS FM, 89.1, Bryan, TX
Download audio later this week from