Dec 092014

The interweb is a trashy place and a great resource.

"Cat trap 2014"

“Cat trap 2014”

One image of a shape made on the floor with masking tape and a cat sitting in it with the words, “CAT TRAP” under it and I was left believing that my cats would do the same.

One day, looking for a way to appear clever to my kids, I decided to see if this really worked.

It didn’t.

Am I to conclude that trapping cats in this way is impossible–that cat-trapping is a hoax?

Maybe I should write a letter to a newspaper about how there is a conspiracy to dupe cat-owners into needlessly taping shapes on their floors.

That kind of thing has been happening in the local Maple Ridge weekly newspapers letters section lately. Someone will write a letter quoting the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Bank or Canada’s (now de-funded) National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy or some other credible organization (as I did in my post called Scarcity) and then someone else will offer a counter-point backed up by their Uncle Larry who says winters are getting colder, not warmer, on his farm or some research done by someone with a Master’s degree in biology or other unrelated field.

Missed me!

Missed me!

Now, before I decide whether I should take action on cat traps, I should really wait until a whole bunch of feline behavioural scientists publish a whole bunch of research confirming that cat traps are a real thing. 2000 would be a good number–2000 specialists and 2000 peered reviewed studies. Then I will have to examine why it didn’t work on my cats.

As for climate change, about 2000 climate scientists from all over the world signed off on the IPCC’s latest report and many more thousands of studies, of which 97% agree with each other, say that climate change is a real thing, we’re causing it, and we’d better change what we’re doing.

Nobody is saying that Uncle Larry is lying about how it has been colder the last two winters on his farm, but that cannot be used to prove that the average temperature on the planet is not rising.

The research people quote is more insidious. A few things could be at play and it is usually easy to figure out which. Here are three possibilities.

1. A biologist has done some research and someone has twisted the result, either intentionally or not, to mean something it does not mean. In this case, other scientific opinions from credible sources that you find on the interwebs will probably clear things up.

2. A scientist is being paid to do research intended to lead to a particular result which is favourable to the organization paying for the research. Often these “studies” are financed simply to cast doubt and confusion in order to delay public consensus. Again, google it.

3. The scientist is a wing-nut who really believes something like the climate on earth is controlled by Saturn and Jupiter’s gravitational pull. These people are great for carbon-emitting industries who don’t even have to pay anybody for their propoganda. Answer: google.

It’s frustrating because most people don’t have time to check facts and I get a sinking feeling that reading drivel repeatedly causes smart people to be influenced by stupid ideas.

Until such time as free-roaming cats become as serious an issue as climate change, I will be content relying on my own experience with a few ideas from the interwebs to try out with the kids.

With climate change, however, I am very careful who I listen to. There are mountains of credible science out there. We even know what we must do. Now we must quit listening to relatives, crackpots and snake-oil salesmen and get down to work.

We don't necessarily need new technology if we stick with what works. Boxes work.

We don’t necessarily need new technology if we stick with what works. Boxes work.

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