Alex Epstein Gives U.S. Senate a Humanist Perspective on Fossil Fuels and Climate

In addition to reading and sharing Alex Epstein’s vital article “How Republicans Can Make Energy a Winning Issue in 2016,” which I wrote about here, be sure to tune in tomorrow morning, Wednesday, April 13, at 9:30 AM, and listen to him testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. [See update below.]

The legislative hearing is on “Examining the Role of Environmental Policies on Access to Energy and Economic Opportunity.” And the stated purpose of the session is “to examine the impact the president’s climate policies are having on economic opportunity, national security, and related issues.”

Epstein will, as he puts it, “give the Senate a humanist perspective on fossil fuels and climate.” Don’t miss this. Tune in here.

UPDATE (April 14, 2016): Here’s a clip of Alex Epstein’s complete testimony and Q&A at the Senate EPWC:

And here’s a clip of Epstein’s pricelessly ironic exchange with Sen. Barbara Boxer, in which she ridicules him for being a philosopher rather than a scientist and thus as disqualified to speak on matters of science—and then proceeds to uphold Pope Francis and Rev. Nelson (a Presbyterian minister) as authorities on climate change:


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8 Responses to Alex Epstein Gives U.S. Senate a Humanist Perspective on Fossil Fuels and Climate

    mkkevitt April 13, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    Sen. Boxer doesn’t like to be told how to think clearly or to be told about science by a philosopher.

    Philosophy is just a more general or basic form of conceptual knowledge. But it’s just conceptual knowledge, just like science, technology or backyard gardening. All human knowledge comes under the heading of thought. Philosophy doesn’t DIRECTLY explain climate & climate change, its effect on people or what, if anything, we should do about it. But philosophical knowledge guides all the other thinking on all of this.

    Sen. Boxer thinks she has the right philosophy already. She doesn’t, and whether she likes it or not, she needs to be told, and shown that, by a philosopher such as Alex Epstein. Mike Kevitt

      John Shepard April 13, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

      “To accept any idea on faith converts it into a not-to-be-questioned (mystical) dogma which cannot be modified, extended, or discarded as a result of further knowledge. It is the mental equivalent of a straitjacket.

      “In particular, the acceptance of an explanatory concept on faith causes disastrous epistemological consequences because it inverts the very purpose of an explanation. The epistemological role of an explanation is to account for some aspect of reality which we do not understand on the basis of concepts which have already been validated. An explanation based upon arbitrary assertions represents an attempt to account for some aspect of reality by using concepts which have not been validated. A rational scientist relies on man’s knowledge: He accounts for the unexplained in terms of the known. The mystical scientist relies on man’s ignorance: He tries to account for the unexplained in terms of the unknown. To attempt to “explain” a phenomenon by means of the unknown severs epistemology from reality: The thinking process is not anchored in fact.

      “Only when a hypothesis is based on fact can it be checked for error: The scientist can discover that he is led to factual contradiction, that additional knowledge is needed, and that his thinking process must be checked. When a hypothesis is not based on fact, the scientist has no means of discovering that an explanation is erroneous: Its validity cannot be discovered by him until a full explanation is discovered by someone else. Until that time, the scientist who operates on faith has no motivation or methodology to check his thinking process. He already has his explanation.

      “The acceptance of an idea on faith inverts the epistemological process in one other way. Instead of forming concepts which correspond to reality, those who accept an idea on faith must now make reality correspond to their not-to-be-questioned dogma. Since reality will not, in fact, accommodate itself to a man’s beliefs, such a man distorts his view of existence so that it appears to correspond to the idea which he holds on faith.

      “In sum, the acceptance of any idea on faith leads to restriction, stagnation, paralysis, and distortion of the thinking process.”

      — Robert Efron, M.D., “Biology Without Consciousness – And Its Consequences,” The Objectivist, February 1968

    Steve Weiss April 13, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    So, the Senate Committee which Epstein appeared before will only listen to witnesses who are scientists concerning energy issues, as if only scientists can analyze information and come to rational conclusions. Economists, historians, and philosophers who frame the debate are to be ignored, and only those scientists who agree with the government’s position on “global warming” caused by industry are to be taken seriously? The not so subtle shift from AGW as the issue to “climate change” has morphed the issue and moved the goal posts like a well financed ad campaign or moral crusade to “save the planet.” Anyone who dissents from the party line is to be purged, denounced and excommunicated from the “debate” which has already decided in advance. Aside from science issues, which have not been “settled” even among scientists, the quashing of discussion in the name of political correctness is a clear and present danger on issues outside the purview of energy policy.

      John Shepard April 13, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

      “No, Senator, I’m not a scientist. Are you?”

    Gayle Parker April 14, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    From ‘Philosophy Who Needs It’ by Ayn Rand…
    “Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretizing this view is given to him by esthetics.”

    mtnrunner2 April 19, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

    I am so psyched that Alex Epstein was able to speak before the Senate. And so dismayed that Boxer thinks philosophy is useless. No wonder our country is going down the drain.

    Bigpoppaz April 21, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Unfortunately, Senator Boxer is my Senator and has clearly been so for FAR too long. As a Conservative, I have little voice in California as the Dems run everything (indeed, they are running everything right into the ground…). In the past few years FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA we have been losing more people than gaining. Businesses are failing at a higher rate than new ones are being created. Large Corps, who have put up with the blatherings of CA politics (and rules and regulations and taxes) for years because the climate, the environment, the entertainment, the labor pool, etc are so fantastic here…even they are giving up. Intel was considering building a Fab here several years back, because they were born here and wish to support CA, but instead took it elsewhere. Many Corp have moved their headquarters to other states and even countries because the business climate here has become so sour. But, people like Boxer, Pelosi, Gov Brown, etc – NONE of these fools care!. Just listen to the unbelievable condescension that Boxer throws at Epstein. She doesn’t want to hear any opinion not in line with her own. She is supposed to “listen to the people” but her ears are trained only on the special interest groups that have made her rich. So, if Dems are to be consistent, why should we listen to this woman who is clearly part of the 1%? She is a political hack and is the perfect example of why Senatorial terms should be limited to 2. Her behavior toward Epstein was shameful, disgusting, Un-Senatorial and she owes him an apology. Thrilled to hear that this is her last term. She was in the house for 10 years, then Senator for (this will be about 24 years. There are plenty of other CA citizens more than qualified, perhaps even with some fresh ideas. Why anyone is allowed to hover as a representative for 34 years is beyond me. You can see by here nose-in-the-air attitude that it’s been far too long…

    David McGruer April 23, 2016 at 3:42 am #

    Alex talked about the incredible benefit to billions of past, present and future human lives that fossil fuels represent and how their use has made the environment incredibly safer for human life. He spoke of how philosophy, the science that studies the nature of reality and how we use reason to know what is true, lead us to what is a correct morality for man and the proper form of organizing society.

    Senator Boxer then proceeds to abandon reality, reason and morality and endorse mystical, faith-based ideas of political power. When a leading politician from the original country founded on enlightenment principles of reason, purpose and self-esteem can be so blind to these same principles, it demonstrates just how far and fast a society can turn away from an age of reason.

    If civilization is to be saved from self-destruction, it is from politicians like Boxer and the ideas she represents that it must be turned away from.

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