Bare Bones Biology 210 – Garbage In, Rule 3

You know the old saying about computers: “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is also true of our human brains unless we think carefully about what we choose to believe — and compare our world view with reality. Reality, as Michael Dowd says in the video below (link), is what “doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it.” Death, for example, is a reality.

This is another reason why it is so important to learn how to effectively discuss the important realities in our communal lives. Death is only one of these important realities. How can we make sensible decisions about any reality if we refuse to see it? If we cling to the fantasy that the glass is always half full, when the reality is – it’s also half empty? If we don’t believe in the reality that all problems and their solutions have both the yin and the yang – both good and bad — we cannot do a good job of discussing and solving problems. We are likely to end up like Beatrice in Dick Francis’ novel Bolt, whose pleasures were: “a way of passing time that had no other purpose: a vista of smothering pointlessness, infinitely depressing.”
What is the purpose of your life? Mine is to help grow a reasonably comfortable, sustainable, human community within a healthy Biosystem on this earth. For the grandchildren. It’s good to know what your purpose is, because if you don’t know what you are trying to do, then you can’t really enjoy doing it. Discussion rule three is to ask the right questions, and you can’t ask the right questions if you don’t know what you are trying to do.

For example, I was asked to participate in a discussion related to a post on FaceBook, that claims we could get a lot of energy from wasted space by using the paved surfaces in the country; roads, parking lots and the like. Apparently there is a way to remove all the old pavement and replace it with a new material that can collect solar energy from sunlight and change it into electrical energy that would be sufficient to fulfill all the energy needs of our country. I was asked if this is feasible?”

The question left me tongue-tied because I do not see how that question relates to our common purpose, which is to help grow a reasonably comfortable, sustainable, human community within a healthy Biosystem. Furthermore, the question implies that we have a right to do anything we want to do so long as it is feasible, and I certainly cannot except that assumption.

What is the right question? The first question I would want discussed is: “Will that technology help us accomplish our goal?” And then, will it accomplish the goal more effectively than some other technology that is already well developed? Do we already have solar energy resources that are sufficient to fulfill the energy needs of our country if only we would use them? Is there time? In making this solar asphalt, how much petrochemicals are needed? Is this just another scam to sell more OIL rather than to solve energy problems? What are the energy problems of humans on earth today?

This requires some deeper inquiry. I suggest Lester Brown’s web site and books, and in the meantime, I can very confidently tell you that our biggest energy problem is not about electricity or even petrochemicals. Our biggest problem for a humane life on earth is a shortage of food for humans and other species on earth. That leads us to inquire about why we humans cannot exist without the healthy Biosystem, and that answer is easy — because only a healthy biosystem can make our air, water, soil and climate. (download free Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook) linked under “Chapters” on the home page of this blog,

And finally we get to the real question– if we pave over all the earth in order to make electrical energy – how can we possibly promote a healthy biosystem to make our air, water, soil and climate – and food? If we want to survive, we must stop interfering with this process.

Rule number three – if you want the right answers, discuss the right questions; that is, questions that are relevant to your overall long term purpose. If you don’t have a purpose, discuss that.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas.

A copy of this program can be downloaded at:
Michael Dowd –
Dick Francis, 1986, BOLT