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Hubbert's Hacks: The Peak and Decline of the "Doomer"

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The BBC has a wonderful video, "How Science Changed Our World," in which Professor Robert Winston reviews his "top ten scientific breakthroughs of the past 50 years." What's remarkable is how often the Professor admits that he never anticipated, and even outright downplayed the significance of, these developments as they occurred.


About MRI scans, Winston says, "And I didn't have the sense to realize that this was going to be quite revolutionary in its time." On the Internet: "I thought, 'This will never take off.'" On his own area of expertise, in vitro fertilization: "And although I was involved in this research, I have to confess that at the time I didn't appreciate its significance."

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Professor Winston is no intellectual slouch. His admission of his shortcomings in anticipating the future should be a lesson in humility to us all.


Would that the peak oil hacks had such humility.

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It had been an eventful week for me. I published an OpEdNews article called "The End of the End: How the Peak Oil Movement Failed," in which I explained how I have come to alter my view of peak oil, from doomer to agnostic, and how I believe the public relations campaign has been an utter disaster. I satirized some of the most prominent "voices" in the movement, citing their involvements in such questionable activities as astrology, climate change denial, and 9-11 conspiracy mongering. I expected it to end there.


But the piece was picked up by The Oil Drum, a peak oil website rife with everyone from legitimate scientists to human billboards of doom, and the comments section became a lively and educational place for me for about a week, especially as the announcement of possibly yet another new record high in oil production had just been posted. At first, I was just pleased that my article was being discussed; most of the comments acknowledged that I at least had a point; but eventually I got to witness firsthand the ingrained dogmatism of "Teh Doom." It's a view I have entertained for some time.

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It's time to let go of it.


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Mike Bendzela lives in Maine where he teaches and is partner in a small Community Supported Agriculture farm.
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