The Course of Our Lives May Be Determined by the First Derivative of a Function

It seems to me that one of the keys to the puzzle of why people don't understand peak oil and other sustainability issues is innumeracy and a lack of understanding spatial functions.

A few folks have mentioned this before around here, EP, SB, myself, and a few others. (And, being on the front lines of higher ed, I am sorry to say that there isn't much we can do to get people to think about things like this, because very few people want to take a stats class or a methods class.)

So, what prompted this post? Well, I found a lecture (linked over at FTD last week but housed at by Dr. Albert Bartlett (link is to an .mov file, large file warning) last week with the tagline: "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function (as related to peak oil and sustainability)." Dr. Bartlett professes physics at the University of Colorado.

Now, I happen to know and use calculus and differential equations pretty frequently, so this stuff is already in my head. But, because I use it so much, for some reason, I forget some days that most folks do not have exposure to these ideas or the ability to use them in their daily lives.

Sure, we've talked about versions of this around here by saying "we aren't actually running out of oil and that we're at half of supply" and talking about "percentage rates of depletion." However, the problem is that people, journalists, even some experts do not know what the functions behind these ideas mean, or more importantly their implications for the future. However, getting 100*ln 2(~=70, btw)/rate per annum=doubling time in years through your head ain't that it? It is if you're a math/spatial-phobe!

So, if you have an hour, I would suggest that everyone in the world watch this lecture by Dr. Bartlett. Please. You may need to watch it twice or three times or even more to explain it to others or to be able to use these new tools for your toolbox.

One of the main points of Dr. Bartlett's lecture is that "we cannot let other people do our thinking for us." So, so true. But to do that, you have to have the toolbox to actually think for yourself!

Which reminds me, there's another book that I suggest for my students: Joel Best's Damned Lies and Statistics. It's a wonderful primer on how experts, politicians, and the press screw statistics up on a daily basis. This is another important book I would suggest that everyone reads to pick up the daily fallacies that try to enter our cerebra.

I swear, every single person on this earth should have to take a research methods course (understanding measurement, science, modeling, etc., etc.) and a calculus or statistics (understanding what to do with those measurements) course, damn it.
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Clearly, innumeracy is a major part of the problem--you'll get no argument from me on that point. But I still contend that the major issue with getting people to understand the seriousness of our situation has to do with their perception that there really is plenty of oil.

I'm NOT talking about the old saw about how we've used "only" half the oil so "we're OK" for a long time. Given how few people know we've used up about half the recoverable oil, I don't think that particular misperception is an issue.

I'm talking about our past experience with oil shocks. In the lives of most adults, there have been one or both of the recent oil shocks, and in both cases oil prices "came back down to normal" after a short period. The fact that the underlying causes for those events and our current situation are completely different doesn't matter, because people are convinced that it isn't serious, based on first-hand empirical evidence. In effect, they're acting like someone who has frequent migraine headaches and dismisses yet another one as nothing serious when this time it's a brain tumor.

There's also the nearly universal belief that powerful entities--the oil companies and OPEC, mostly--are manipulating the markets, and eventually even Bush and his oil friends will get around to doing something about it.

Finally, we have the widespread belief that all the PO stuff is yet another conspiracy theory that will fizzle, like Y2K (and please, no one lecture me about the difference; I could write a book on it). In their minds, this is yet more proof that there's nothing to worry about.

So, not only do we have the barrier of ignorance (geology, statistics, etc.) to overcome, but we have the far more difficult task of unteaching what people think they know.

The most important observation I've yet seen about human nature came from Will Rodgers, who said (quoting from memory), "It's not the thing we don't know that get us into trouble, it's the things we know that ain't so."

Explaining peak oil is a problem. Rather than try to teach sheeple exponential functions and derivatives, I would like to have some (dare I say it?) talking points and sound bites. The peak oil theory is great, but I think for most people it is one level of abstraction too far removed. Why does that matter? As an American, I see a growing attention/logic deficit among (some?) people.

The peak oil issue needs to be framed in a way to make people start to listen and even start to think. Besides rising prices at the pump (and in my area, heating oil costs) what can we point out to pique (no pun intended) the interests of your average Joe or Jane Sixpack? I usually don't even mention Peak Oil. I try to keep it simple: (1) We're using more than we are finding, and (2) We don't have to run out to run into problems.


Grinzo -

Nicely spoken.

The reasons you outlined above are what make me fear that the shocks and their consequences will be very significant. There are a couple of generations of Americans right now who feel left behind and alienated enough as it is. They feel cheated of their heritage and very put-upon by government when they finally understand some of the current big-picture issues.

What will they do when things begin to groan and crumble?

Every day that goes by with people ignoring or belitling this issue makes things more potentially catastrophic...

Bartlett is absolutely right about exponential growth and not letting others think for us. I disagree, however, that everyone needs to have facility with calculus, DE, and research methods. As a former high school teacher and college professor of physics, I know that that's never going to happen.

It's certainly possible for people without that kind of math background to understand this issue though. In my classes, quite a few students struggled because of a lack of math skills. But if they were really interested in learning, they could still pass the class (at least at the intro level) and know some physics when they left. I emphasized the concepts first and foremost, even in the advanced courses. That way, the weaker students left with some knowledge of the principles, and the stronger students knew more than the math.

The same applies here. Everyone can understand the idea of having enough or not having enough. I get their thoughts out of the ground, and the amount of oil that it holds, and focus them on the more immediate question, "Do we have enough oil today? this year? this decade?" Then I can talk about rates, reserves, and depletion without their eyes glazing over.


If you ever get a chance to hear Al's talk go do it. He has really honed it down over the years with some really great examples. It isn't that everyone needs to understand calculus. But they need to understand that the idea of 4% or 5% growth forever leads to logical inconsistencies, has consequences that are seldom if ever thought through.

I have an unusual perspective. I like letting other people do my thinking for me!

I can't be an expert on everything. Like most of us, I have enough trouble keeping my personal life on track. Imagine: I'm supposed to become an expert on international politics? on economics? on geology? I'd have to know all these areas to figure out what is going on in the oil markets. Yet people spend whole lifetimes on tiny parts of each of these topics. How can I expect to gain the degree of expertise necessary to know what is right and wrong in such complex fields? The experts themselves disagree! Does it really make sense that with a few hours' study I can penetrate through the fog of complexity and figure out who is right and who is wrong? Fat chance!

The great thing is, I don't have to become an expert, because there exist institutions in our society which are designed to get at the truth. One is science, and one is the market. These institutions reward truth and accuracy. In science, the guy who makes correct predictions and comes up with widely used theories is successful and admired. In the market, the guy who anticipates future events most accurately makes money and stays in, while the guys who are wrong get wiped out and leave. Both institutions thus have strong built-in incentives towards truth.

This means that I don't have to do my own thinking about complex topics that require great expertise. I can look at the scientific consensus, and I can look at market prices. All these people work their butts off to try to reach the truth, and I don't have to do a thing! I can free-ride on their hard-fought efforts and get a much better picture of the true situation than I could ever hope to by study and effort on my own.

I know it sounds crazy, everything in our culture has taught us differently, but thinking for yourself is vastly overrated. Most of us have no hope of coming up with the right answer on any complicated topic. It's a waste of time to spend effort and study to learn about the issues (unless we enjoy doing so for its own sake, of course). It won't materially increase our chances of being right. We do much better by looking at the consensus on the issues in those institutions which reward correctness, as I described above.

Any time someone tells you to "think for yourself" in the context of a complex issue, beware. I have found that they almost always mean, look at these one-sided sources of information I am presenting, so that you will come to agree with me. It's a tricky attempt to manipulate you by appealing to your pride (so that you can think you are smarter than everyone else) and stinging you with guilt (because you probably won't really spend much time on it and you'll feel bad about it, so you'll assume the guy was right).

Of course, if you enjoy educating yourself for your own sake, that's fine. Take pleasure in it, and you can impress your friends. Everyone likes a know-it-all. Don't they?


Great point, but you still have to think enough to decide that science and the market will be your guiding lights. And within those two, you still have to have a base of knowledge to avoid being led astray by something that appears scientific and isn't, or something that is scientific but lacks enough data for to be verified, or misleading market signals.

So, yeah, you don't have to be an expert in everything. No one can. But you still have to think.


Interesting point from Halfin.
From the post: I have to say this talk of sheeple and making people take calculus is quite illuminating. Unless I am mistaken, almost everyone displays herd-like qualities in their mindset therefore the difference between people here at the oil drum and elsewhere is one of degree. Again unless I am mistaken, this blog was started only in March so what were PG and HO doing before that? Jay Hanson (of whom I am no fan) started his website in the 90s and Colin Campbell was alerting a committee in the House of Commons about this issue in 97. I read a George Monbiot article in 2003 which got me going and I am part of the Depletion Scotland group that held the Peak Oil UK conference in late April this year. Do I get a medal for this? Do I disrespect those who have been let down by public education and the mass media propagandists?
You are doing yourself no favours by adopting this arrogant kind of jargon and you should be reminded that hubris is a greek word that doesn't respect international boundaries. If the wisest man in Athens could remain humble, I don't see why the latecomers at the oil drum can't manage it.

The intent of this post is good by the delivery is quite annoying. I've got double bachelors in math and physics, double master in EE and applied physics, have worked on tensor field problems (in seismology) as well as a variety of other problems domains. So I know a thing or two about math, applied math, and its many applications in real world problems. And my father is a machinist with no formal education. Yet we both understand peak oil. I have more math than probably most on the board. He less.

I find the tenor of the post condescending. I think my father would as well.

I guess what I'm saying: I initially found some of the posts on this board of interest. But the quality is starting to become pretty suspect.

A fair criticism, but taken a bit too far, Philip...I was lamenting more the state of quantitative/spatial thinking in higher education with the "sheeple" comment, actually. However, the way I wrote it...well, it was unclear, so I deserve that comment.

It should be noted that I often make this same argument to colleagues (that everyone should take a stats/methods course), so perhaps I was also being a little flip as well. Calculus and research methodology helps all folks become better critical thinkers, that's my main point.

Perhaps I am asking too much, but that's always been my job as a professor. :)

all right, all right...I edited out the sheeple reference, and now it says "people." That's about the only thing I see that was at all condescending in the post, and as I said above, the lament was for the state of higher ed and the state of critical thinking in the US/everywhere, not the lack of people agreeing with me or peak oil attitudes in general.

TRE: there's no offense intended. It's just that having these sorts of tools and ideas puts one in a better situation to understand most problems, not just peak oil! Your dad is one hell of a critical thinker already, but he's two or three standard deviations above the mean for those without a methods education...

I think its easier to define

The average IQ is just to darn low

And they hate hearing bad news about them selves altho others its ok.

The next 10 years its going to be real interesting this problem would have been easier to fix in the 70's

Allison said: As a former high school teacher and college professor of physics, I know that that's never going to happen...

I know. That's WHAT I am lamenting in this post. But, it's even worse when you can't even get undergraduates to even try to understand what a percentage is! (how do explain a rate of decline to someone without that?)

Even explaining the notion of supply and demand to anyone requires some understanding of spatial relationships. Without that basic understanding, how can anyone get "peak oil?"

That's all I am saying folks. You may already understand these notions implicitly without having had some sort of methods/stats/calc training...and good for you...but you are most definitely the exception and not the rule, at least in my experience in higher ed.

Maybe I'm wrong, and if what I am saying is elitist, then that's elitist. But that's the world I look at in the classroom, and it's not so pretty.

OK, it's story time boys and girls. Here is a snippet from the Friday's Wenatchee World (Central Washington State). You need to actually subscribe to the newspaper to read the whole thing.

"WENATCHEE -- Dave Trotter topped off his pickup's gas tank at the 76 Easy Auto Wash on Easy Street Saturday before heading home to Puyallup from a weeklong Boy Scout outing in Eastern Washington.

The pickup towed a trailer carrying five canoes and lots of camping gear.

At $2.79 per gallon for premium, the digits on the pump quickly flew past $15, and not even six gallons had flowed into his tank.

"How come we're not buying it straight from Iraq?" Trotter said, when asked what he thinks of prices -- which hit a record high in the state Friday."

Yosemite Sam:

My wife tried to discuss the idea of having a harder time getting oil in the future with a neighbor. Her main point was simply, there can never be cheap gas, because there is not enough supply to meet drowth in demand.

The neighbor's reply, "Why don;t we just get more from Iraq?"

Seems folks have internalized the real reason for the wars there (plural intended) and many are just fine with that.

Lou Grinzo,

I believe a more approximately correct quote from good ole Will is, "The trouble with Congress isn't so much what they don't know, it's what they know that ain't so." I'm pretty sure he'd say that about our "Crawford Caligula" as well. With all due respect for whoever coined that most appropriate moniker.


Let's think of another metaphor. You are a member of a large herd of buffalo roaming the central plains in the not too distant past (say about 200 years ago). You have learned to be a very savvy member of this social group and to trust the collective sense of the heard's leader-experts implicitly. They seem to be keenly aware of threats from predators like wolves or prairie fires and what not and have saved your butt inumerable times. Because you have learned to trust them so well, you have done very well in life. Let's just say you are fat and happy.

One day, a warning signal races through the group. Individual animals begin to stir. You notice that your leader-experts are beginning to signal the need for the herd to run. You, always the trusting team player, begin to move with the group. Suddenly the entire group is at full gallup, and even if you wanted to stop, you couldn't because of the weight of all your friends running behind you. Not to worry, you say, trust the leader-experts and the collective efficacy of the group (they've been right in the past after all). Then just ahead you begin to hear braying (or whatever surprise noises buffalo make) -- a cry of alarm from the front of the group. You sense that you should stop, but the panicked animals behind you push you forward. Just as you feel yourself flying off the cliff you catch a glimpse of a man-thing, hidden in clever costume, off to the side with spear in hand.

He is thinking how you will make a fine meal for his social group, and your hide will keep them warm during the long winter. He is pleased that his group tactic worked. The buffalo had no idea how easily they were manipulated by the hunting strategy they used that day.

Too bad your great faith in the expertise of your leaders and collective efficacy of the self-interested members of the buffalo herd never allowed you to learn more about those man-things on your own. They turned out to be quite effective and fooling the entire herd into running off that cliff. Had you only been able to recognize their scent, maybe think critically about the decisions of the leader-experts and the collective movement of the group. Certainly some buffalo did (you know them, they are the one's on the margins of the heard that you never liked that much. They were wont to second guess everything and want to find things out on their own. They didn't do very well in getting a nice piece of grass for grazing, or with getting it on with the higher-status cows. But, they survived the crisis that day just fine).

The worst thing is to convince yourself you are "better" than "Joe-henpecked-sixbeers". I try to look in the mirror and repeat everyday, "I am Joe, I am Joe" It's kind of true. I drive a gas guzzler. I need a car to go to work. I'm up to my eyeballs in ... debt, family, etc. etc. I came from the same place Joe came from and I'm ultimately going to end up in the same place. So I am Joe (with degrees piled high and deep or not)

The more I learn about Peak Oil, the more I realize I hardly know anything. I keep reading and learning anyway. ... You never know when a tid bit of info may come in useful.

The last thing I rely on are those talking Max Headrooms that bob up and down on the Boob tube (--except CSPAN book review of course). They are all pompous air heads with hidden agendas.

The saddest thing of all is that you can no longer trust MSM on what is new and important in this world. They are all in the infotainment game. Adam Smith has won. Everyone is in it for number one & the doe re me. There are no "news professionals" any more. They are all bought-and-paid-for traitors. Sigh.

... :-(

(we posted at same time)
Let me add one more thing
What if ... what if... some at the back end of "our" herd of 6 billion critters are thinking to themselves, "You know, it wouldn't be bad if the front end of the herd went over the ledge ... more left for me that way ..."

I can see that I've done a disservice to this little bit of knowledge by posting it with my own biases attached about higher ed, etc. .

I was merely trying to tell people why this Bartlett piece is so important as related to my experiences...and that the people who read this blog are either a) people who would benefit from this perspective, or b) people who already have this knowledge. That's all.

To me it's better to teach people how to fish instead of giving them the fish. Trite, but true.

I hope you will all still give the Bartlett piece a look-see for your own edification.

Tedman: Right on. I was amazed to read this. But then why should I be surprised.

PG: I watched and loved it. Thanks for the post. And regarding "sheeple", I prefer "lemmings."

But, Yosemite Sam, lemmings don't really do what you may be thinking they do (jump off a cliff behind the lemming in front of them). Or were you thinking something else?

That's a great lecture by Bartlett, PG. I was laughing out loud.

I think J's guest post is apropos here. It has just now occurred to me that maybe people on this site have not understood what is meant when someone refers to a depletion rate of 5% or 8% or whatever for an oil well, field or country. If this is all simple for the math wizards out there, skip it or read it and tell me what mistakes I might have made.

Now, in the case of depletion, the function being described is not an increasing exponential growth function but rather a decreasing exponential function. See example 2 here. Such a function can be described as follows:

An exponential function f(x) = a to the (exponent) x, with so-called base a.
Let depletion(x) = a decreasing exponential function with base a in the range 0 < a < 1

Now what J basically was talking about was the value of the base a for depletion(x). Suppose a field is producing 1 million barrels/year and depleting at 7%/year. So, a = 0.07 and the exercise for the reader is this: what is that field producing in 10 years if that depletion rate holds steady year to year?

But in fact J was describing a far more serious situation. What he was saying was that using EOR methods like water or CO2 injection is increasing the depletion rates -- so if the depletion base rate was a = 0.07 the first year just after the peak field production (now we're on the downward slope), depletion rate might be 0.10 the next year and so on up and up for the base depletion rate = a. There would be a separate function to describe the increase in the base but this function would depend on the specific geology of the field, previous extraction rates and techniques, etc. In fact, this is no longer, strictly speaking, an exponential function. There's another name for such a function but I don't know what it is. (A little help here?)

Now, even worse, the production from the field never actually gets to zero on the x-axis (the horizontal asymptote) because before that happens, the EOR costs of extraction exceed the amount of oil produced and production therefore stops since it is no longer economical to pump the oil out of the ground. Just imagine a function which slopes up to a peak and then drops at an ever decreasing precipitous rate of decline on the down side. As J points out, you can not even invoke "stripper production" at the end point. You know longer have a useable field. It is tapped out, done, gone, outtahere. You get the idea.

"polynomial" is what you're looking for there, which is quite different from constant growth/decline...but only because of the order and coefficients of the x variables, which are actually also constant, but tougher to define/discover.

ah, I wish I had just pointed people to this piece...instead of giving my higher ed commentary.

it's an amazing lecture from a man with a shitload of brain power about something that matters.

Hey prof goose: I was in a bad mood. Sorry. I understand your post was tongue in cheek.

I watched the Bartlett video a few months ago. It's a great presentation. I've passed on to friends. One woman commented that she watched it, thought for sure in starting that it would be totally boring, then found herself entertained and informed upon watching it.

How to understand the exponential in terms of what the Hubbert Curve says:

The exponential works for so many phenomena because it has the lowest information content, the mean equals the standard deviation. You don't have to justify as many assumptions because it ends up as a single parameter fit.

PG -- yes, a polynomial function.

... but only because of the order and coefficients of the x variables, which are actually also constant, but tougher to define/discover.

ah, I wish I had just pointed people to this piece...instead of giving my higher ed commentary.

Did I screw up? Why do you wish you'd just pointed people to Bartlett's talk? Please explain.

no, no...(I assume that's you Dave?). You didn't screw up at all. I was talking about the conversation up above (using the term "sheeple" etc.). No, no you were DEAD on as to why this is important stuff...

Lost my posting info again (sigh)....

WHT: I am glad us reminded me of that work you did...that's good stuff.

Thanks goose. We have to keep things as simple as we can. I occasionally wander over to the curve fitting corner and roll my eyes at the extent to which the modellers will invoke layer upon layer of fitting parameters. This just to convince someone of when peak will hit. Unfortunately, their foes (LynchCo) invariably turn around and shove their assumptions right back in their face, thus perpetuating the current dillemna of a lack of a common understanding.

PG - don't worry about the "Sheeple" remark. That's just frustration. Its not helpful and you retracted it. I've certainly made some remarks on this weblog that I regret.

To Philip Martin:

You [we at TOD] are doing yourself no favours by adopting this arrogant kind of jargon and you should be reminded that hubris is a greek word that doesn't respect international boundaries. If the wisest man in Athens could remain humble, I don't see why the latecomers at the oil drum can't manage it.

Having had a liberal education (The University of Chicago, the great books, etc.) and as a member of the peak oil community here at TOD, I for one don't need to be reminded of the word "hubris" and Socrates with regard to spreading the word about peak oil.

Furthermore, the issue at TOD is not about some kind of "overweening pride" on the part of PG or anyone else posting here. We "latecomers" are doing the best we can do to explain complex issues and make more people aware of the peak oil problem, a problem that apparently the overwhelming majority of people in the "civilized" nations will not acknowledge. Humility on our part has nothing to do with it -- these "civilized" people either get it now or they and the rest of the world are fucked. What kind of rhetoric we use is indeed an issue but the problem is very deep-seated and concerns human nature, culture and psychology. Maybe if we tone it down and put it "reasonably" in some kind of restrained British kind of way, people here in the US will get it. Yeah, sure, right. These dumbed-down American idiots watch movies like "The Dukes of Hazzard". They are not reading Plato or Aristotle. No wonder we get frustrated.

In such a context, as sins go, ridiculing people on occasion who are sleepwalking toward disaster is pretty minor.

So, you can get off your own high horse now.

Ah, exponential dependencies are for wimps. Real geeks have their sights set on the factorial issues of this world... :-) have totally missed my point. But I see you are a little bit needled and for what reason I wonder? I guess irony doesn't translate well in print. Anyway, what is the point of getting frustrated? Do you want people who talk about energy crises to talk and act like wide-eyed crazies? Why do you people want to criticize those who have been let down by public education and corporate media? If the people in positions of authority/responsibility can't/won't get the message, why don't you find some fitting piece of jargon to criticze them i.e. those who ought to know better?
As for me being on a high horse...that is crap and you should know better. I come to this blog a lot because I know very little about the oil industry and I don't have the time to research it. If your liberal education means you can't understand what I've written then you should try and get a refund. see how easy it is to be unnecessarily dismissive! I'm feeling bad I wrote the above. Apologies to all. I won't be posting here again.


The double-donut twist in your head is much simpler:

When decline starts, we are at maximum oil production.

So look at it the other way around (start twisting that donut ;-)

When oil is available in the largest quantities in the history of mankind, the troubles begin.

or, for the lay man,

P.O. hits when you least expect it.

(Since half of you is maths anyway: By definition, axiom, not by deduction)

I think the relationship between experts and laity is being a bit simplified here.

Yes, I agree that in America right now culture seems to be dominated by the anti-intellectual strain of our culture, and that eagerness to ignore expert opinion is getting us into many messes. On the other hand, experts are prey to their own kind of myopia that is a product of their specialization (as seen in the culture clashes between geologists and economists). As the issues become more complex, you need not only specialists, but also communicators (people who know enough about the expertise to translate the insights of the experts into terms that non-experts can understand) and "big picture" people, who are good at taking the varied opinions of experts and assembling a larger understanding of the issue out of it.

None of what I'm writing means that I think people don't need to understand some of these basic math functions, or at least how they might apply to issues in their lives. But, to take Halfin's case, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to get up to speed on everything. What we need are compelling yet simplified models that help people who don't have the time or inclination to research understand the issue--and models that can compete with the "feel good" denial mechanisms that are already in place.

As a teaching strategy (since what I've outlined is a teaching problem, a function of my own specialist myopia), it would be good to have a few situations that could expose the insufficiency of popular explanations. We who are reading this blog understand why this price rise is different from 1973 and 1981, but how do we teach that to someone in the time it takes to have a conversation while pumping gas?

I teach English, with a peak oil research component.

I am not good at math, but I am hyper-aware of that and try to compensate for my ignorance by reading books like "Innumeracy" by john Allen Paulos.

I take my students BY THE F-ING EAR and make them watch the Bartlett video. I could kiss that guy on the mouth!


If you teach English, then you probably don't concentrate on science (yes I'm making an ass-u-mption here)

And you probably teach your students about poetry
And you probably teach your students about "alliteration"

Y'all had alliterative allegories (sp?) yanked at ya:
Remember these golden oldies (2004 US election):

Flip Flop
Love Life
Compassionate Conservative
yadah yadah

Remember, Remember ?

Unfortunately there is a "science" behind this English-teacher monopolized technology.

All these allitterative mumblings constitute "brain candy"
People love candy
They swallow it without question
When they swallow, the Mixed Messages come
as a package deal with the simple simon sound rhymin
sweet stuff

The Mixed Messages penerate into the deeper cores of the mind like a Trojan horse once they slip past the guard's gate at the outer cerebral cortex shell.

Many out there "who love their freedoms" and trust in what the experts say and are "terrrified by the terrrrorrrr ists" do not understand how the game is played --how they are being played.

This is why we ALL must learn things outside our circle of expertise. It is a dangerous world out there and you need to know when and how you are being played.

At the same time, "those who want to bend our brains" do not have monoply control over the technology. We in the Peak Freak Oil Ring can turn the tables on "them" just as Cindy at Crawford is nippin' the pup in his own compassionate conservatory.

Take the red pill and wake up.
At the same time, yes, be vigilent that you are not falling prey to cult mentality. Keep questioning. Keep reading outside the circle. allow others to voice dissident opinions. This is how we avoid becoming a pack of lemmings running mindlessly for the ledge.

.... :-)

One more thing .. sorry for monopolizing here

I thank the Professor so much for re-posting that link to Bartlett's lecture in the main post here

The importance of the lecture is that it teaches you at the "gut level", not the cerebral level what 10% growth per year means. It means a doubling of demand in just 7 years !!!!

By the way, I beg to differ on the scope of problem.

If AT LEAST the politicians weren't innumerate it would be sufficient.

Not that I wouldn't want us all to understand, at least, derivatives like most understand multiplication, but it is a lot to ask.

I believe reorganizing the schools would help, but I don't have a school I can re-organize to show you.

One of the wrong wrong headed things ya' all were taught in school is that there is only one correct way to solve a math problem

To find the doubling time by simple math

start with 100
add 10%

now you are 110 and that was round number 1 (end of year 1)

now keep going for year two --use a calculater



just keep going ... you'll get there ... and you will see AND FEEL for yourself that it is true !!!

... :-)

mikeB: Wow, I'm an English teacher who is preparing to change the topic of my first-year research seminar to oil this spring, inspired by my reading on the topic here and elsewhere. Glad to (virtually) meet you. I think that understanding these topics is part of what a liberal education is supposed to be about.

Lem: that "brain candy" is called rhetoric, and it is an ancient art that can be used for good and for ill, but can't really be escaped. Yes, the people who preach conventional pleasantries and prejudices have a kind of "home field" advantage, but those very same tools are what we can use to try to convince others to see the world through this framework. When more people are convinced, then you will see this issue achieve more of a political and economic reality.

Just trying to do my part.

Willpax --thank you pal !!!
That's what I've been preaching (alone) at this drum site for months.
You just tapped out a harmonizing beat on your drum.
With the sound of two drums, maybe "they" will listen more closely.

But no, you are wrong about the mere "ancient art."
The technology for manipulating minds has not stood still.
Over the years it has become dangerously more and more sophisticated.

That stuff going on "over there" at the Cindy in Crawford camp is an example. Whether by accident or by planning, the President's psych ops men are getting as good as they are used to handing out. I'm lovin it, --and I predicted it would happen at my site BEFORE it blew up. It was as obvious as the Terri She-my-Doe incident. This stuff goes on all the time. It is the ocean the lemmings swim in which is why they cannot see it or hear it. Listen. Listen to the drum beat of "sound" logic. Become aware. Become aware of not only PO but of how the herd is manipulated.

Willpax --as for English reading list: "Fight Club" definitely. Essay question: What is the significance of the first two rules of Fight Club? Maybe some of your students will wake up and take the red pill --it's a start.

I also think The Island (recent movie but cheesy dialog) has some value in terms of teaching mind control and finding the bug (ha ha) in the system and starting to question the order of things.

Then of course, there is The Matrix and the meaning of Mr. (Adam?) Smith. A lot on your student's plate all at once.

One HUGE pet peeve though --I wish English teachers would learn *and teach* the "science" of good writing -none of that scrivning is the microscope into the author's spiritual being bull sh*t. --thanks

I have a DVD somewhere of when Dr. Bartlett gave this lecture at my school. Great info.

I still think a huge problem, outside of exponential growth, is the simple fact that people can't grasp how large a million is, and how much different that is than a billion.

Philip Martin -- " I'm feeling bad I wrote the above. Apologies to all. I won't be posting here again"

I hope you are reading. Looking at the post I was responding to, perhaps your tone and intentions did not coincide as you might have wished. If I was a little bit too rough, I apologize.

Please do post here again.

Philip Martin wrote | 08.11.05 - 4:32 pm | :

Do I disrespect those who have been let down by public education and the mass media propagandists?
You are doing yourself no favours by adopting this arrogant kind of jargon and you should be reminded that hubris is a greek word that doesn't respect international boundaries. If the wisest man in Athens could remain humble, I don't see why the latecomers at the oil drum can't manage it.

Philip you are so right.
Thinking of oneself as "better" than others (with arrogant pride, hubris) is one of the ways we all deny.
Everyday, I get in front of the mirror and repeat: "I am Joe-henpecked-with6beers, I am Joe ..." and I guess tonight ... I get the rollout couch ;-)

have a good weekend

stepback: [I]One HUGE pet peeve though --I wish English teachers would learn *and teach* the "science" of good writing -none of that scrivning is the microscope into the author's spiritual being bull sh*t. --[/I]

Not to take the conversation too far afield from the subject of this site, but there are ways that "spiritual being" analysis has everything to do with the art of persuasive communication.

As to advances in communication: don't confuse advances in technology with advances in principles. Those ancient dead guys were a lot smarter than you might suppose.

I like Fight Club, but also realize that teaching is a delicate balance between where I want to take the students and where they start out and are willing to go. I'm not one of those teachers who thinks prosyletizing has a place in the classroom.


And the alive guys who "stood on the shoulders of [those dead] giants" (---to quote Sir Isaac Newton,) saw much further.

I'm not talking about advances in "communications". I'm talking about advances in brain washing and mental manipulation. (Although, of course, there have been advances in "communication technologies" also. The dead poets did not have Power Point. The dead poets knew nothing about neuro chemistry.)

If you believe in "free will" you delude yourself. We have much less free will than we convince ourselves we do. From the moment each of us is born, we are being loaded up with 'programmed content' over which we have no choice; like what language we are going to first speak, what deity we are going to first worship and what cultural values we are going to accept as being the unquestionable laws of nature. By the time we each mature into our own, personal "age of reason," we have virtually no ability to reason things out on our own. We have been programmed and we continue to be programmed.

No, I'm not telling you to wear aluminum foil around your head. I'm telling you to be aware of when you are being spoon fed with brain candy. Alliteration is just one kind. "Love Life", "Compassionate Conservative", "Flip Flopping", are any bells ringing yet?

It is well known (by those in the business) that cults use real sugar to affect the brain chemistry of new indoctrinates as they load them up with mind twisting messages. When messages are being delivered via the TV to the masses, you can't use real sugar. So you use virtual sugar. Brain candy. Become aware. Be Brilliant. Be Extra-ordinary. (BTW, just kidding with those last Sirens of Sound --put wax in your ears to protect yourself :-) )

about the Sirens: