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« Parallel universe | Main | America's past time »

May 11, 2010


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I can almost see the appeal of dictatorship given the mind-boggling ignorance across the political spectrum.

That said, the right does seem to be climbing into new territory on the bizarro-meter these days. But that's to be expected from a nation that happily embraces the old virgin-birth story. "I didn't have sex with that guy. I swear. It was a ghost."

Sort of like this quote from the story you linked to:

"I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a white ghost in my closet," he said. "I discovered I'd put a hole in my brand new white shirt. My mother and father were not amused."


"21% of voters said the spill made them more likely to support offshore drilling."

How does this make any sense? I can see people saying the spill had no effect on their opinion, or that it didn't make them less likely to support offshore drilling. But being *more likely* to support drilling *because of* the spill? Do they want more oil in the ocean, or what?


There are people out there who deliberately pack in a double cheeseburger and fries every day after the doctor tells them they're diabetic with a lot of sludge in their arteries, just so they can thumb their nose at the world and pretend they have control. Dunno if they add up to 21 percent, but I would not be surprised.

On offshore drilling: What's wrong with legislating that off-shore wells must have failsafe and foolproof shutoff mechanisms to staunch the flow of oil into the sea as soon as it is detected? After all, innumerable precedences mandate safety requirements in all kinds of structures. It would be good if the government actually regulated and verified such a requirement, rather than participate in another industrial self-regulation con job.


So 31% believe it is at least plausible that environmentalists caused the spill (i.e. 9% who believe that to be true, plus 22% who are "unsure")? It's a pity they didn't ask whether UFOs or ghosts were responsible. Personally, I think it was environmentalist communist socialist liberal Islamofascist Nigerian zombie ninjas.

Roger Greene

I still don't understand why the government won't admit the North Koreans torpedoed it using a base in Cuba.

Andrew Brod

Anthony, I can think of two possible explanations. First, if one believes strongly enough that offshore drilling is a good thing, then the spill threatens that belief and makes it all the more important for drilling supporters to rally around their cause.

Second, I recently read about a study of how liberals and conservatives respond to new information (sorry, but I can't find a link). The distinctive result was that when subjects were exposed to information contradicting their a priori views, conservatives were significantly more likely than liberals to end up espousing their original views even more strongly. If this result is valid, then it's consistent with the result that the oil spill makes 28% of GOP voters more likely to support driling, as compared to only 16% of Democratic voters.

Of course the second explanation doesn't explain the 16%, which is itself hard to understand.

Fred Gregory

I wouldn't put anything past the

Watch the one minute video from a ” 60 Minites ” broadcast which is contained in the link below . This animal rights activist says it accepatable to assassinate limitless humans who are doing research ( “torture ” ) using animals , in order to save millions lower form of life creatures.

Burn Baby Burn

"When they first emerged in the mid-1990s, the environmental extremists calling themselves the “Earth Liberation Front” announced they were “the burning rage of a dying planet.”

Ever since, the ELF, along with its sister group, the Animal Liberation Front, has been burning everything from SUV dealerships to research labs to housing developments.

In the last decade, these so-called "eco-terrorists" have been responsible for more than $100 million in damages. And their tactics are beginning to escalate.

Some splinter groups have set off homemade bombs and threatened to kill people. As correspondent Ed Bradley first reported last November, things have gotten so bad, the FBI now considers them the country's biggest domestic terrorist threat.

The biggest act of eco-terrorism in U.S. history was a fire, deliberately set on the night of August 1, 2003, that destroyed a nearly-completed $23 million apartment complex just outside San Diego. The fire was set to protest urban sprawl."

If it's ok to assassinate for the greater good then what's the problem with, using their moral compaass, to blow an oil drilling rig. ? ... to halt future drilling and despoliment of the carribou breeeding grounds ?

Fred Gregory

Roger.. if that did indeed happen then Obama will. no doubt, apolozize for our oil rig being in the path of th NK's torpedo.

piedmont heights

yo fred, how many people have been killed by your 'eco-terrorists?'

Jim Caserta

AB, I've seen the study you mention, but wouldn't be able to find it. It is one strike against debating with a slice of the population.

I, being from FL, had been warming to the idea of expanded offshore drilling, but would have had the caveat of increasing safety standards. It seems like, as corbs says, that an extra failsafe valve that other countries mandate, would have made a huge difference. Why don't we have the strictest standards? Doesn't seem like it'll matter. This will push back any expansion, irrespective of standards, decades.

Drilling is inherently dangerous - watch, "there will be blood". From what I've read, the science behind the explosion is fairly straightforward - gases under pressure, get released, expand, explode. Pushing the cause to where you want it shows a disdain for understanding things and the science behind them.

You might have been able to get a FL senator or Gov to support this pre-spill, but FL will be a no-go for drilling. Tourism & their beaches are too important to their already fragile economy. Tourism is $57B to FL's economy per year. That's 1.5 Million barrels per day equivalent, and tourism is a lot more labor intensive, which appeals better to voters.


The whole sorry mess is more reason than ever to oppose buiding more nuclear power plants ,too. I have far more faith that cable providers will take care of Zombie satellites like Galaxy 15.



Your use of the term "lower life forms" is instructive. If human beings somehow qualify as "higher life forms," it's safe to say our world is truly fucked.


Whether you believe in creation or evolution, human beings are pretty much defined as higher life forms, or so I thought.

Andrew Brod

CP, James' comment is called a joke.

Andrew Brod

Jim C, I'm totally with you. For years I've said that the benefits from increased drilling are small, but because the oil industry has pounded home how safe drilling is, I would have guessed before April 20 that the cost/benefit needle was pointing toward "benefit." Now I think it's the opposite.

Of course a single spill doesn't change the underlying probabilities. An oil spill at some other site is no more likely now than before April 20 (ignoring changes in technique and technology that result from this spill). But we don't know the underlying probabilities and can never know them. All we can do is form estimates of those probabilities, and this spill certainly changes those estimates.

What would be interesting is if surveys asked people if the Gulf disaster made oil spills seem more likely than they'd previously believed. As hard as it is to understand the result that some people are more likely to support drilling now, it'd be even harder to understand a result showing that some people think that oil are less likely now.

But hey, maybe that's a third potential explanation for Anthony. If someone believed (contrary to what we know about probability theory) that we've been "endowed" with a fixed number of big oil spills, then the Gulf disaster would be one more out of the way. That'd imply one less oil spill in the future and more reason to support drilling now.


I hope so AB. But with all the race- and gender-related guilt in certain quarters around here I wouldn't be too surprised if it grew into a species thing yet.

Ed Cone

A fixed hierarchy of life forms, aka The Great Chain of Being, is an ancient concept that can be debated and disputed both in its particulars and on its philosophical and theological foundations.

But I think most of us would value a human life over that of a frog, and that of a frog over a geranium, and at the same time we value the natural world and its creatures, and want a healthy environment for practical reasons and perhaps for articulated or inchoate spiritual ones as well.

Also, the simple science of gas bubbles and explosions will never convince people who want to believe otherwise.


That was almost Beelzebubbian.

Jim Caserta

AB - I think we are getting a better estimate of spill probabilities, not overestimating because of recent events. It's like hurricanes. After a period of no 'canes, people dramatically underestimate probabilities and don't prepare adequately. Spills aren't a great analogy because you'll get people saying that we're spending too much to prepare for spills because we haven't had spills because we've spent a lot on preventing spills (circle closes).

If there was any evidence towards intentional destruction, why wouldn't BP/Transocean/Halliburton be screaming it? If the answer were that simple, the people who make careers doing it would fall on that.

The science of oil wells is interesting. If we focused on that maybe some smart kid decides to go into mechanical or chemical engineering instead of finance. So in 2020, instead of shitty financial products we get better wells. I can see the counter argument - if the kid produces shitty financial products, why wouldn't he produce shitty wells? Complexity towards finance tend to increase opacity risk, but starting with a given real engineering problem, complexity is how a lot of problems get solved.

Roger Greene

I'm going with the same logic I use about air travel disasters. It's much safer in theory to fly immediately after an aircraft crash. Thus, the best time to drill is now.

Jim Caserta

However, I'd wait until they installed that piece of safety equipment that is required by other countries. Human choices do factor into the probabilities.

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