Leo Zagami reckons that this nasty little girl is demonically possessed.
At first I instantly dismissed the suggestion, because I don’t believe in the likes of devils and spirits and ghosts.
But then I thought that actually he was quite right: she really is possessed. But she’s not possessed by a devil, but by an idea. She’s possessed by the idea of Anthropogenic Global Warming. There seem to be a lot of people possessed by this idea.
People can very easily become possessed by ideas. It happens all the time. They’re not able to stand back and say; “Here’s an interesting idea. Might it be right? Might it be wrong?”
Ideas are like movies. When you entertain an idea, it’s like watching a movie. Pretty soon you’re drawn into the movie, and you inhabit the reality of the movie. And next thing you’re in Rick’s Bar in Casablanca. You almost feel like you could order a drink at the bar.
It’s the same with ideas. People have ideas, and next thing the ideas possess them, and they become possessed. A powerful idea can change the personal reality of the people they possess. And more or less every -ism is a powerful idea of some sort. Socialism. Communism. Fascism. Nazism. And these ideas possess millions of people for years – often entire lifetimes -, and often make them do terrible things. Isn’t it a form of demonic possession if it makes people do terrible things?
The idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is a simple and powerful idea, and it possesses almost everybody. It’s regarded by most people as a reality, as a fact of life. And it’s being used now to expel smokers from society, exclude smokers from public life, defame them and insult them. And that’s a terrible thing to do to millions of people. The antismoking mindset is another example of demonic possession. The antismokers are in the grip of an idea, and they inhabit an imaginary world.
These days I build heat flow simulation models of the Earth. But it’s an imaginary Earth. It’s a spherical Earth 6371 km in diameter, and it has a temperature of 7000º C at its centre, and about 18º C at its surface. The temperature at the surface of the Earth is being measured by millions of thermometers all day every day, but nobody has stuck a thermometer in the centre of the Earth. Nobody’s actually measured it. So the 7000º C figure is a theoretical construct of some sort. The deepest we’ve ever delved into the Earth, and actually measured temperature, is about 15 km. We’ve barely scratched the surface. We know next to nothing about the interior of the Earth.
Images of the interior of the Earth, like the one at right, doesn’t depict a reality: it depicts the current idea that earth scientists have of what’s happening inside the Earth. The map on the surface of the Earth is also our best idea of what it’s like. Five hundred years ago, a similar map wouldn’t have included the Americas.
The same is true of the interior of the atom. The image at left is one of electrons orbiting around a core of neutrons and protons. But these neutrons and protons and electrons are imaginary constructs. And so are atoms and molecules. These things are simply the best ideas we’ve got at the moment about how stuff works. And atomic scientists are forever dreaming up imaginary new particles. We’ve only had atomic models like this for the past 100 years.
The Solar System (my model at right) in which the Earth orbits is also another imaginary construct. It’s our best idea of what’s going on around us. And it’s a model that’s only 500 years old.
The computer simulation models used by climate scientists are also imaginary constructs. They’re just ideas. And they’re actually very new ideas. People have only been building computer simulation models for the past 40 years or so, because that’s how long we’ve had computers. And everything that goes on inside computers is imaginary, and they are used to construct imaginary new worlds: that’s what simulation models are.
More or less everything we think of as real is actually imaginary, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the Conservative Party. These are all simply useful theoretical constructs.
The trouble starts when we become possessed by these constructs, and forget that they’re all imaginary. It’s like watching Casablanca and completely forgetting that you’re watching Humphrey Bogart playing the fictional Rick Blaine, and instead thinking that it’s actually happening here right now.
And that’s the problem with poor little Greta Thunberg. She thinks that the imaginary world conjured up by climate scientists is the real world, when actually it isn’t. She really needs to be made to step back out of the movie she’s watching, and remember that she’s actually just sitting in a cinema with a few hundred other people watching a movie, and it’s only a movie.
We take ideas too seriously. We should remember that they’re just ideas, and treat them playfully. They should never be used as excuses for hurting anybody.