As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...
- Name: Alistair Livingston
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Snake Charmer - Rousseau
Inspiration for this blog comes from this text
I am confused. Why am I confused? I am confused by conflicting versions of reality. In particular I am confused by trying to cross-reference the versions of reality described/ proposed by scientists and the versions of reality described/ proposed by philosophers. Lurking in the background is even more confusion since my ideas about reality have been influenced by a fair bit of counter-cultural strangeness -'Do not adjust your mind, the fault is with reality'.
So where/what is the problem? Is there a problem? Realistically, very few people waste much time worrying about reality. It is just what is, something to be lived within rather than questioned. Wander around wondering about reality is a distraction leading to falling off a cliff or being run over by a truck. On the other hand, if some of our ancestors hadn't done some wondering we would never have learnt how to make sharp tools out of flint, extracted metal from rocks or invented computers. Human beings are animals that play with given or physical reality. Playing around with physical reality had an evolutionary impact on our success as a species, creating a feedback loop which encouraged further play leading to further success.
This is where one of the problems kicks in. While we are part of physical reality, our ability to play with reality created knowledge of physical reality. But is this knowledge also part of physical reality? Or is it something different, is it a model of (an abstraction from) physical reality rather than physical reality itself? The tricky part of the problem is that the human brains which have the knowledge in them are themselves part of physical reality and at the atomic/ sub-atomic level cannot be distinguished from any other part of physical reality. At the molecular/ biological level we have the same problem – there is no break in the evolutionary continuum sufficient to distinguish us from any other life form.
What I find interesting is that a few years ago now I decided to be as rational as possible and avoid any lines of thought which could be classified as 'magico-religious' or 'mystical'. Yet when I follow through scientific or philosophical lines of thought (somewhat imperfectly when the language used gets very technical) – it is as if there is a curvature in rational reality. The rational lines of enquiry do not stay parallel, but big to meet at a 'magickal' point just beyond the horizon of reason. To give an example, 20 years ago I wrote a speculative article for Chaos International magazine - 'Culture as Heat'. One of the strands I fed into the article was on a link between information theory/ cybernetics and Claude Levi Strauss' theory of structural anthropology, which is based on sets of binary oppositions -nature: culture,, kinship:marriage, raw: cooked and which Strauss argued lay behind the complex mythologies of pre-modern cultures. Catching up with contemporary information theory, I found an argument that 'information' is the basic stuff of reality and the possibility that we really could be living in a Matrix style simulation of reality...
… so that the 'Rationality Debate' which perplexed social anthropologists in the 1970s (partly sparked by Strauss' work) could not be easily resolved by privileging the solidity of scientific descriptions of reality over the fluidity of mythological narrations of reality. Following the philosophers, I found some of them wrestling with the possibility that there is no rational, conscious self. The problem here comes from the intersection between computer science and neurology which circle around attempts to develop artificial intelligence. The difficulty of creating artificial intelligence stimulated (fact check!) research into how human brains process and organise information which led to the hypothesis that there is no 'central self', no actual 'I' existing like an intelligent homunculus inside our heads. Rather, the sense of self is an 'afterthought' which provides coherence for the pre-conscious actions of a whole range of autonomous sub-self systems. [The image which springs to mind is of the vehicles in the Captain Scarlet tv series which are steered by backward facing drivers looking at a video image of the road ahead.]
One of the philosophical conundrums which arises when the relationship between information and knowledge is explored kicks in when the distant past and far future are discussed. For information to become knowledge it has to be processed. So far, that is in the absence of artificial intelligence, the necessary processing only occurs in living systems, in biological life forms (assuming the absence of artificial life). Even the simplest forms of life process information and convert it into knowledge of the environment, which then influences the life forms' behaviour. Through evolutionary selection, the ability to process information into knowledge has increased, with the human brain as one outcome of this evolutionary strand.
Within very recent time (compared to the time human like creatures have been around on the planet), we have found how to store the information we have processed into knowledge via writing and subsequent developments. But is what we store knowledge or information? There is an argument that what is stored in a book, for example, is information not knowledge. The stored information only becomes knowledge when the book is read and is 'brought back to life', when it becomes part of a living system again. If this is so, then knowledge only ever exists in the present – as the moving/ standing wave of brain activity which is processing information into knowledge NOW... and as the moment of knowledge passes on to the next piece of information, what was knowledge becomes memory, once more becomes stored information.
Of course information stored within the brain is more easily and rapidly accessible than information stored in books or other forms of external memory, so such information can be accessed rapidly enough to create a sense of duration – similar to the way the rapid succession of still photographs can create a sense of movement on a cinema screen. Thus, I suspect, the sense of a duration of knowledge helps create the sense of consciousness, of the self existing through time.
But if knowledge is a biological process, did knowledge exist before there was life? The implication is that it did not. What existed before life began was information. Indeed, it may not even be possible to talk of 'existence' before life began, since there was nothing to create the knowledge of 'existence'. To pursue this speculation further, although the information that the universe is huge and ancient is contained within itself, our knowledge of this huge and ancient universe has only existed for a very short time. Could this mean that scientific knowledge is a new form of knowledge?
If we follow the biological/ evolutionary model, with life as an information- to -knowledge processing system, then human knowledge will be human centred. But scientific knowledge is not human centred. Even though scientific knowledge still only exists within the brain activity of human beings, it describes a universe which -in theory- would exist even if there were no human beings or even any life forms at all. Could science then be the universe's knowledge of itself? Are human beings/ life forms an unnecessary hypothesis in the process of information becoming knowledge?
Probably not – but it is pretty much an impossible question for us to answer, since we would have to imagine our own non-existence And if we did not exist, the problem posed would not exist. An alternative way of looking at the paradox would be that -logically- the information that is the universe contains the potential for life forms to emerge. If it did not, life would not exist and neither would we. Life is therefore part of the information which is the universe. If we accept that life processes information into knowledge, then that potential is also therefore part of the potential contained within the information which is the universe. Once life has begun processing information into knowledge the ultimate potential of scientific knowledge exists. This has begun to be achieved and is a seemingly open ended process, progressively converting more and more of the information which is the universe into knowledge of the universe.
If, as suggested above, the conversion of information into knowledge gives rise to the sensation/ experience of 'consciousness', when our brains are generating 'scientific' knowledge, then the 'consciousness' generated is universal rather than personal.
From the perspective of human centred knowledge, such knowledge is abstract and not immediately valuable. In some cases, scientific knowledge can be dangerous when translated into human knowledge and absorbed into human societies – for example via the construction of heat-engines (which has led to global climate change). Ironically, knowledge of the universe may be short lived, if it has the effect of de-stabilising the human societies within which it has emerged. Although scientific knowledge is rational, present day human societies are irrational. They could collapse and the recently acquired scientific knowledge of the universe could be lost – although the information would remain.
To backtrack for a moment – are human societies irrational? What does that mean? From my present perspective (which may change), it just means that the particular society of which I am a member is failing to respond to the challenge of climate change. The underlying assumption being that a rational society would have recognised and responded to this threat and begun adapting to a low/ no growth, minimal carbon use future. The perspective is ecological and involves the rational acceptance that there cannot be infinite expansion within a finite environment. A difficulty with this perspective is that it appears to run counter to the evidence of recent human history. This evidence points to the liberation which occurred with the Enlightenment, when human Culture was freed by Reason from the bondage of irrational superstition which had tied us (via religion) to a mystical Nature. Through the application of reason, we were able to overcome ignorance and so cure diseases, banish famines and raise millions out of poverty. Thus any attempt to limit or restrict the progress of civilisation through economic growth can be seen as a to regression to barbarism and savagery and 'ecology' as a form of nature mysticism rather than science.
This position, which unites both supporters of capitalism and many Marxists, is a philosophical position which is embedded in the notion that knowledge is a purely human construct. But if all forms of life are engaged in the processing of information into knowledge, then an ecological perspective is also a rational perspective. The ecological environments, the many landscapes of this planet are the cumulative product of such knowledge. They have been shaped and transformed by that knowledge which leaves a landscape of information in its collective wake. The image which spring s to mind is of a coral reef. The living coral is the knowledge, the accumulated reef the information. This information - knowledge - information cycle may also connect with George Dyson's notion of 'evolutionary intelligence' where the cycle increases the quality of the information embodied in landscapes/ environments. If these are dynamic systems, increasing in complexity through time, the knowledge embedded/embodied in them approaches a form of intelligence.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Information is Physical: Actualise the Imagination!
In 1867, James Clerk Maxwell devised a thought-experiment which seemed to reverse the arrow of time aka the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He hypothesised a minute entity which could separate high energy from low energy molecules of air.
.. if we conceive of a being whose faculties are so sharpened that he can follow every molecule in its course, such a being, whose attributes are as essentially finite as our own, would be able to do what is impossible to us. For we have seen that molecules in a vessel full of air at uniform temperature are moving with velocities by no means uniform, though the mean velocity of any great number of them, arbitrarily selected, is almost exactly uniform. Now let us suppose that such a vessel is divided into two portions, A and B, by a division in which there is a small hole, and that a being, who can see the individual molecules, opens and closes this hole, so as to allow only the swifter molecules to pass from A to B, and only the slower molecules to pass from B to A. He will thus, without expenditure of work, raise the temperature of B and lower that of A, in contradiction to the second law of thermodynamics...
The resolution to Maxwell's paradox necessary to conserve the Second Law of Thermodynamics requires that information is physical. Without an infinite memory, the Maxwell entity must from time to time erase the information on the respective velocities of the molecules it has acquired. But the erasure of the information has a physical 'cost' since erasing information is a thermodynamically irreversible process that increases the entropy of a system. Thus the labour of Maxwell's entity is a Sisyphean task. Having rolled its boulder to the top of the thermodynamic hill, the entity must watch it roll back down again.
However, this resolution of Maxwell's paradox leads to the recognition that information can be converted into energy. See http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v6/n12/full/nphys1821.html and and 'suggests a new fundamental principle of an ‘information-to-heat engine’ that converts information into energy by feedback control.'
If... ; then... :
To continue a previous line of thought... if Vlatko Vedral's Decoding Reality is cut-up [Burroughs/Gysin] with/against Thomas Metzinger's The Ego-Tunnel then : there is an external reality which can be deconstructed back to the emergence of 'information' out of 'no information' which allows the universe of energy/matter //space/time to be re-constructed 'causeless click' by 'causeless click' -where each 'click' is an observation of a random quantum level event. Although each event in itself is random/ causeless/ timeless, once observed it becomes fixed in time/ history/ space and the accumulated evidence of the events provides the substantial/ physical knowledge from which a scientific description of reality can be rationally constructed. Vedral uses the analogy of a sculptor – each observation is a cut made in a shapeless block of stone. The accumulation of observations reveals 'reality' – as observed. But without the act of observation there is no 'reality' – only the emptiness of the uncarved block.
Turn to Metzinger and the emptiness returns. Here there is no 'observer', no fixed self,. Here there is only the seething turmoil of neural activity within the brain in which the world is a lucid, waking dream. Here there is no direct encounter with reality, rather there is a hyper-real representation of reality within which a representation of the body moves and functions. This representation within a representation is the 'self'. But if this is so, then where and what is Vedral's ' scientist as observer'? Does an ultimately non-existent self- observe an ultimately non-existent universe? Within themselves, each model is coherent and logically constructed – so they are rational models- but when brought together they seem to negate each other. Vedral's model requires an observer of reality to make it physical/ actual. Metzinger's model requires a physical reality (neural activity in a brain as the product of biological evolution) to actualise the imagined observer/ self.
This rather crude simplification of two complex theories, both of which are based on substantial science, is a temporary position. A better, more informed, understanding is likely to overturn it. For the present, however, it is sufficient to encourage further engagement and exploration of Georg Hegel's Science of Logic. It is possible that Hegel's presuppositionless approach to 'pure being' may be helpful. To this end, I am reading Stephen Houlgate's The Opening of Hegel's Logic. If the approach via Hegel is fruitful, then a way back into the world as social (cultural, political, economic) reality exists via Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Karl Marx's Critique of Hegel's Doctrine of the State and A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right.
Time's winged chariot hurries near
Against this lengthy process is the sense of an approaching crisis, driven by the Second Law of Thermodynamics- if information is physical. If information is physical, then the intensification of the accumulation of knowledge over the past 250 +/- years is also an accumulation of entropy as the inverse of knowledge where knowledge is the compression through reason of observations (scientific knowledge). Rational human culture / rational human individuals are in this analogy Maxwell entities/ intelligences. In physical reality they/we have exploited the low entropy energy of fossil fuels to construct a social reality which has become sufficiently rational/ knowledgeable that it can reflect upon itself and discover its own absence... just as the entropy returns via carbon dioxide as heat disrupting the global climate triggering a cascade of disruptive 'events' which eventually consume the global economy and its ability to construct knowledge. The sheer volume of information generated by droughts, floods, famines, freezes, hurricanes and diseases will overload the rationalising mechanisms of the market and the price of the future will approach infinity.
But not yet. It hasn't happened yet. If it had these words would be neither written nor read. There is time still to reflect. To reflect on the seeming contradiction between the 'we' of one branch of science and the 'brain activity' of a different branch. Is there a contradiction, a paradox? Does the 'we' of the physicists conflict with the 'ego-tunnel' of the neuroscientists? If I say 'I don't know', what is it that does not know? Is it 'indeterminate immediacy' – which is Hegel's 'pure being'?
Put another way, is science human knowledge? Or is it universal knowledge? From the 'ego-tunnel' perspective it is impossible to be aware of the brain activity which creates the representation of reality, nor is it possible to be aware of the process of brain activity which creates the representation of the self which exists within the representation of reality. Yet through science 'we' are able to become aware of the 'ego-tunnel', to become aware of the limits and constraints of human knowledge., of the human condition. As such then, scientific knowledge is not 'human knowledge' – it is universal knowledge. It is knowledge which would exist even if humans did not exist. It is knowledge which an intelligent alien species or an advanced artificial intelligence could acquire. However if the universe did not exist, then neither would scientific knowledge. Such knowledge could therefore be described as the universe's knowledge or awareness of its own existence.
Or rather, since awareness of existence is only the beginning of knowledge, scientific knowledge requires that the universe becomes rationally aware of its own existence. But without observations there can be no scientific knowledge, so the universe has to contain the ability to observe itself. Has to contain the potential for observation to exist. Has to contain the potential for human-like entities to exist. To rationally , rather than magically , emerge into existence out of the potentialities of the universe and create scientific knowledge.
The tension is that such knowledge is historically very recent and not necessary for human survival. A collapse of the current society could see the loss of scientific knowledge and a return to magico-religious superstition. A universe would still exist, but it would be that of the ego-tunnel, not that of science.
Does it matter? Perhaps it is just too much of a challenge, too radical a re-structuring of what it means to be human for us to culturally evolve from ego-tunnel awareness to universal awareness via scientific rationality. It is a survival issue, but one affecting consciousness rather than biological survival. A 'we', a human species would still (probably) exist but with diminished rational self-awareness.
Is a catastrophic future inevitable? That is a tricky one for me since I had absorbed so many catastrophic scenarios in the early seventies (from science fiction and mainstream plus counterculture media hype) that I was surprised it had not all collapsed by 1980... which was the date predicted in the School Kids edition of OZ - 'Rehearsing the Apocalyspe'. Now its -here we go again... On reflection what still annoys me is that failure of what I thought was a sensible railway project. The idea (late-eighties to 2003) was to build a new freight railway, one with the capacity to put lorries on trains. It was designed to run from Liverpool/ Manchester/ Sheffield to London and on to the Channel tunnel. With a bit of prodding from myself and others, an extension to Scotland using the Settle and Carlisle and Carlisle- Dumfries-Kilmarnock-Glasgow routes was added later.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Railway_(United_Kingdom) – but even their web page seems to have gone now. A shift from road back to rail would have allowed a transition to a more sustainable economic system. But it didn't happen. Although it was a private company, it needed state support to be actualised. The 1997 Labour government produced a glossy plan for sustainable / integrated transport but it was just for show. The new Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions shrugged and the idea died – and with it a possible future.
Was it a rational idea? The physics says yes. Moving freight by rail is more energy (frictionally) efficient than moving freight by road. But so long as energy costs are low, economic rationality can discount physics. Since the same period was one when time rather than energy costs where what counted as economic (capitalist) rationality, the 'flexibility' of road freight prevailed. The focus on time is tied into the immediacy of capital circulation. For capital there is no future, only an endless now, 'the frozen moment of bourgeois triumphalism' as the Situationists described it. A now which is sliced up into micro-seconds of profit/loss, deal or no deal. In this hyperreality, there is no space for history, no time for thought and reflection. But can there be rationality without reflection? Can there be rationality without the mutual extension of space into time and time into space?
Rationality cannot exist under such conditions. Rationality is also the real, the actual. What is not rational is not real. Therefore the endless now of capital is not real. It has been maintained by low entropy energy. The low entropy energy has been used to freeze time, to create the information which generates micro-second by micro-second a representation of reality as a commodity (or spectacle). But as the sources of low entropy energy are consumed, so the moment of frozen time must pass over into history. As history becomes real again, so does the future – and so does the potential for rationality.
As yet this potential can only be imagined. To become rational we must actualise the imagination. We must re-member and re-call the past as our history in the present if there is to be a future.
Kennedy & MCConnel cotton spinning mill, Manchester
I was idly searching on 'Marxism Peak Oil' and found an article about it from which I have cut'n'pasted a section below. One problem I have is with 'feudalism'from a historical perspective.
In the Scottish Enlightenment 'feudalism'was connected to the 'heritable jurisdictions' which were banned after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745/6 - to stop Jacobite chiefs raising 'feudal hosts' to fight for the Stuarts. Getting rid of this reminder of Scotland's barbarous past was then seen as a stage in the progress of humanity from savagery to civilisation -influencing Adam Smith. [From memory.]... and then on via the French Revolution to Marx.
But...in Galloway 'feudalism' ended with the Douglas Lordship of Galloway in 1455. The Scottish Crown then took control of the Douglas lands but gradually sold them off to create / add to the hundreds of owner-occupier farmers who became keen Protestants via the Scottish Reformation and led resistance to the Stuarts through the 17th century. John Kennedy (1769-1855) became a major Manchester cotton spinning mill owner. His family had been owner-occupiers of Knocknalling farm since at least 1540, so by the time John Kennedy became a capitalist manufacturer, his family had been part of a market orientated (agricultural) economic system for 250 years.
As a younger son, John Kennedy was not going to inherit the farm, so, following a well-established local pattern, he was apprenticed to a trade. In his case it was as a carpenter and machine maker in north-west England. Thanks to the Scottish Reformation, Kennedy was well-educated and thanks to the absence of feudalism in Galloway, he was familiar with a market economy. He was not a peasant and was not driven off the land by enclosure/ primitive accumulation. He did become a founder member of Manchester's industrial capitalist class and helped secure its success through involvement in the Liverpool Manchester Railway.
To summarise - industrial capitalism began in Manchester in the late 18th century but it did not emerge directly out of 'feudalism' - feudalism in England and (parts of) Scotland had ended long before. So the collapse of capitalism may not lead to 'neo-feudalism' - it may rather revert us back to the Age of Reason, to the Age of Enlightenment which preceded the age of industrial capitalism.
Now read on...
Marx was wrong about how capitalism, strictly defined, was going to purge all rents and feudal vestiges. Here Marx shared in a misconception endemic to classical economists. What really happens at every point is that true competitive practices are used to vanquish residual feudalism, but then the “competitor”, the moment he becomes strong enough, switches from capitalist mode to oligopoly racketeer mode. He switches from innovation, efficiency-seeking, and customer service to lobbying, cons, bribery, extortion, and every kind of anti-competitive action. He becomes a rent seeker. He reinstates a new feudalism. And so the last 40 years have seen the great switch from the capitalist stage of economic history to the refeudalizing stage. (Of course, the entire capitalist stage was riddled with feudal remnants and neo-feudal restorations. Imperialism, globalization, and financialization have been the main stages for this. And of course natural resources have always been treated as a slave plantation, and never with the slightest semblance of rational planning.)
Marx and the rest of classical economics failed to see or didn’t emphasize this. On the other hand, neoclassicism has been dedicated to the Big Lie that this neo-feudal project, and the law of rent-seeking I just described, don’t exist. Chicago economics simply claims as religious dogma that this is “capitalism”, this is the ”free market”. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is the core slogan of this Big Lie. The real purport of it is, “It may look to you like the finance sector and other corporate oligopolies are pure parasites who produce nothing and only destroy. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch! So if these actors exist, they have to be important producers, even if you’re having trouble seeing what they produce. If they weren’t producing, they couldn’t exist. Ipso facto.”
So there’s one way in which the Marxian prognostication of the unified proletariat facing the monopoly capitalist has failed to materialize. We face instead monopoly neo-feudalism, so anyone who still wants to use Marxism has to recompute.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Just found Samuel Cooper's blog. He is researching the British legacy of the Situationist International since 1967...
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Monday, January 03, 2011
I have just been reading through the edited highlights of Vague on Tom's newish website Vaguerants and - what an awesome body of work Tom has produced over the years. From discovering punk at tech college in Salisbury in 1976 and Vague number 1 through to Vague 64 'Anarchy in the UK 1910/11' what a long strange trip it has been. Whoosing through Tom's work, the earlier editions are now part of history and then the later work becomes history.
Reading Tom's take on the Londonisation of the Notting Hill area you really feel the aliveness of the past, there is a vibrancy and immediacy which other 'local' histories never have. Most of the later Vagues are available from Housmans, so don't just take my word for it - read'em yourself.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Image of an anti-matter dark star.
Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?
I am not a big fan of the Grateful Dead, but I do love their song Dark Star.
I thought of it when thinking of a link to go with the Ego Tunnel book (see below). I am know wondering how the 'internally generated' reality as explored by Thomas Metzinger connects with the quantum information theory of reality as explored by Vlatko Vedral in his book - Decoding Reality.
What Metzinger says is that the reality we experience is a simulation or representation created by brain activity - which at the same time creates the 'virtual self' which experiences the simulation/ representation as 'real'. The simulation/ representation of reality is connected to real reality. If it was not, our ancestors would not have survived and we would be extinct.
But then Vlatko Vedral comes along and argues that real reality is based on information - that matter/ energy arise from information and that information can emerge out of nothing/ no information.
So what you get is a double dissolution of reality - from inside and outside. And now I am slowly reading The Opening of Hegel's Logic which may or may not be helpful.By helpful, I mean that Hegel may have anticipated both Vedral and Metzinger (or rather the science/ philosophy they represent) - and did so before the reality changing impact of industrial capitalism.
As I have tried to express in 'Evoking Maxwell's demon' (see previous posts)we now know that industrial capitalism did not just create the social reality we imagine ourselves as inhabiting, it also changed physical reality - leading to global climate change. Cross-connecting, the result is a multiple crisis.
There is the economic crisis (the debt/banking/finance crisis), the ecological/ climate change crisis, the psychic crisis of the self as a myth and a 'cosmic' crisis where the universe becomes a stream of quantum information... but are the crises related? If so, how?
Well, without low entropy energy from coal and oil, the industrial revolution could not have happened and industrial capitalism could not have developed. So there would have been no global warming. At the same time, industrial capitalism and the industrial revolution stimulated the development of science, technology and knowledge. Without those developments, neither Metzinger nor Vedral's theories/ speculations would have the support of experimental evidence. Furthermore, to the extent that their work is part of science it has a greater weight than it would otherwise.
Yet, as both admit, the implications of their work challenges our understandings of ourselves and our world - calls into question our conceptions of 'reality'. In contrast to their edge-of-science work, the science of climate change is mainstream and can be traced back to the early industrial era emergence of thermodynamics, chemistry and physics. Yet the implications of climate change are vigorously denied by a vocal minority since any attempt to mitigate climate change would have direct economic implications. The no-growth economy implied would spell the end for industrial capitalism. The end of a powerful version of reality.
If Metizinger or Vedral's science ever challenged the economic basis of taken-for-granted reality no doubt they would face similar attempts at denial. Ultimately such denial is the denial of scientific rationality -and the reality it describes. But if 'reality' is in some way a construct, a representation or virtual simulation of the universe, maybe the deniers have a point? In the context of climate change, no they don't. They have no coherent alternative hypothesis for the rise in global temperature. Their alternatives are not rational.
What is really real is rational. What is really rational is real. A Hegel misquotation which allows me to suggest that perhaps science has advanced knowledge to the point where our rationality is creative rather than reflective. That our descriptions of the world have become so fine grained that reason has passed through the 'ego tunnel' into the world as it is - changing it so much that it is feeding back into our virtual model of reality... creating the multiple crisis we are now beginning to experience.
Just read this - it is excellent, a must read book.