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1.3: Back to the definitions- which one? 2a or 2b?

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    As follows from the preceding subsection, in the present book, the “things” the Merriam-Webster definitions are talking about are the “Traditional” and “Renewable” energy sources.

    Suppose that the Author of this text prefers the definition 2b: “Something which can be chosen instead”. What would that mean? Clearly, considering today’s “state of mind” of public opinion, the thing “to be chosen instead” certainly would be the Renewable sources instead of the Traditional ones. In other words, the book would be mostly about the “Renewables”, and, naturally, about their advantages. And since “they are the ones to be chosen”, whenever the “Traditional” are mentioned, a negative, or – at least – an unflattering comment should be added.

    Such an approach is definitely not the Author’s intention. On the contrary, he is trying to avoid “hidden messages” – namely, that “the Renewables are ‘the good guys’, and the ‘bad guys’ are the Traditional Methods.” If the text contained such hidden messages, it would instruct you what you are supposed to think! And this would be nothing else than propaganda (after Wikipedia: Propaganda is a form of communication to distribute information. ... The information is designed to make people feel a certain way or to believe a certain thing ). Or, one can say that propaganda is “uploading ideas, opinions and ready answers to people’s minds.” An extreme version of propaganda is known as “brainwashing”.

    A method that had much in common with today’s propaganda tools was scholasticism, a system that dominated Western European learning, teaching and philosophical disputes in Medieval Ages. The foundation of the knowledge passed to students were “dogmas” which had to be accepted without discussion. For example, one such famous (or, rather “infamous”) dogma stated that Earth is the center of Universe. A custodian of the “official dogmas” was the Church, an extremely powerful institution. Openly doubting dogmas was not only discouraged – it could be dangerous: The Church created a special “police” known as the Holy Inquisition, whose task was to pursue philosophers and scientist expressing opinions contradicting the official dogma set. Few philosophers undertook such a risk, as some of them faced dire consequences – the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive on stake, and Galileo Galilei was given “an offer he could not refuse:” Revoke your theories, or... .

    The dictatorship of scholasticism was overthrown only in the XVIIIth Century, when the Era of Enlightenment began, preceded by a scientific revolution. Rigid dogmas were rejected, critical thinking was encouraged. The ideas of the Enlightenment Era have evolved into today’s modern scientific thinking: there are no “taboos,” no sacrosanct views. There are no dogmas. No theory should be thought of as “the only right one.” According to today’s standards, nothing is fixed. In any area of science, “the state of understanding things” is described by scientific laws and scientific theories (in greater detail, the meaning of the words “law” and “theory”, and, additionally, of the word “hypothesis”, is given in Subsection XXX). In contrast to dogmas, the laws and theories of contemporary science should not be thought of as fixed. They describe our current understanding – but if new facts emerge, we may be forced to change or to reformulate them.

    So, in the spirit of contemporary science – no dogmas, no dogma-like conclusions in this book! No opinion imposing on the reader! The author is trying to do his best to be completely honest, and to present the material in an unbiased way enabling you to reach your own conclusions. People may have different opinions about the same things. For instance, former Vice-President Al Gore is a strong proponent of Renewable Energies – while President Trump, as we all know, is definitely not in favor of them.

    Then, returning to the question: 2a or 2b? In view of the arguments outlined above, we clearly should chose the 2a definition. We want to present the Traditional Energies and the Renewable Energies as two options – and leave to the Reader the freedom to decide which one of the two she/he will support.

    There is still one question remaining. Suppose that this book manages to convince you that Renewable Energies are “the way to go”. Is there much sense for you to learn about all those classical technologies? Or, vice versa: you may conclude that harnessing the Traditional Resources is a wellestablished method, there exists a reliable industry that satisfies all consumer’s needs – changing it at a major scale by unproven technologies of questionable reliability would lead to chaos, jobs would be lost, and so. For those who prefer such thinking, does it make much sense to spend much time to learn about the whole menagerie of methods of harnessing Renewable Resources?

    The answer is yes!, in either case. Once you have reached your opinion, you would certainly like to be able to defend it in discussions with those who favor the other option. Or not only defend, but even to win in such discussions. And what gives one good chances for winning?

    Consider military victories. In one of the most famous battles in the history of warfare, at Cannae at 216 B.C., Hannibal’s routed the attacking Roman army, outnumbering his forces by nearly 2:1. How was that possible? One of the decisive factors was the superior Hannibal’s intelligence: Before the clash, he had managed to gather much information about the number of enemy troops and of their favorite tactics. It allowed him to prepare a brilliant battle plan. And at Gettysburg in 1863, General Robert Lee’s forces suffered a major defeat, after they launched the doomed “Picket Charge” on Union positions. Lee, whose knowledge about the enemy was based on information from a few low-quality sources, badly underestimated the number of opposing troops – while, in contrast, the Union intelligence officers had managed to compile a highly accurate picture of Confederate forces – so that General George G. Meade, the US Commander, knowing of the large numerical superiority, could defend his positions with full confidence.

    Verbal disputes are not the same as warfare – but similar rules apply. Think of the following situation: you are a “green” person, and at some social gathering you engage in a discussion with several other people who, as it turns out, all support the views of President Trump on renewable energies. Your goal is to convince them that renewable energies are better than those obtained from burning fossil fuels – and to accomplish that, you need not only to know the advantages of renewable energies, but – which is even more important – to know the disadvantages of the fossil fuel technologies. You should be able to speak at a tone that is not only persuasive, but which also makes it clear that you have an authentic knowledge of what you are talking about. And the same is true the other way: if you are a supporter of President Trump’s energy policy, and you are confronted with several “green activists” – if you don’t want to be overwhelmed with their arguments, you should demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of the “Renewable Energies” topic – preferably, even better than that of your opponents – and your choice of the alternative option is a conscious, well thought-out decision, and not a result of “brain washing.”

    So, in summary – our intention is that this course teaches you about all methods of harnessing power, these based on the traditional resources, as well as these utilizing the renewable resources. And the decision of whether you prefer to support the former vs. the latter, should be yours. We don’t want to impose the decision on you – we only want to help you to reach your own.

    One more thing to end with. A bit earlier it was said that all modern natural sciences reject dogmas. However, you should be warned that dogmas started “returning with vengeance,” n a great measure aided by the Internet. The “new dogmas” are not based on the results of authentic and honest scientific research – although people disseminating them do their best to create an impression that they are highly competent “experts in the field”. Some examples of such pseudo-scientific dogmas are: vaccination of children leads to autism; GMOs cause cancer; cancer can be cured by high doses of vitamin D17; anthropogenic global warming is a myth created by a conspiracy of corrupted scientists – and so on. But we are not telling you: “Reject such revelations right away!” – dogmas should not be counter-attacked by “counter-dogmas”. Rather, try to perform some research of your own on the subject. The Internet is not only a means of spreading pseudo-scientific sensations – the very same Internet also offers vast opportunities of reaching sources that can be used for checking the trustworthiness of any information.

    1.3: Back to the definitions- which one? 2a or 2b? is shared under a CC BY 1.3 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Tom Giebultowicz.

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