free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 231. PEOPLE ARE STUPID

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


It's funny. On the surface, peak oil seems to be all about hard physical facts, graphs and numbers. You know, sciency stuff like this:

That's the image the peak oilers try to cultivate. We're the guys in white lab coats, with calculators. But in arguing with peak oil doomers, I've increasingly come to the conclusion that, at bottom, their argument is simply: people are stupid. Which is not really scientific at all. It's not about the rational reasons why peak oil will be a disaster; it's about the irrational reasons why peak oil will be a disaster.

I wish they would be more upfront about it. Savinar should skip all the false pandering to science, and just lead in with:

"Screw all the stupid data. People are inherently, pathetically stupid. That's the main reason why peak oil is going to be a disaster."

Maybe he could emphasize the basic argument better with some images like these:

-- by JD


At Tuesday, February 7, 2006 at 11:12:00 PM PST, Blogger Chris Vernon said...

So what do you think? Are scientific facts and relationships or are peoples beliefs and behaviours the biggest problem we face? You seem to think that technology can overcome the problem of peak oil - I agree. But only if we actually deploy the technology in a timely and sufficient manner. It’s peoples beliefs and behaviours that could prevent that necessary deployment and create a problem.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 2:54:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Lol! That made me laugh. :-)

The funny thing is, many doomers are stupid too. Remember the "Dick Cheney Peak Oilers" post?

Look at this guy. He's looking forward to the end of the world so much he wrote a story about how nice it will be.

Remember that article by William Stanton in ASPO?

Seriously, you really worry about the state of these people's heads!

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 10:28:00 AM PST, Blogger al fin said...

Prices supply a lot of information regarding supply and demand, as well as providing incentive to people to adjust their behaviour. Smart people go to where the money is.

Where is the money now? The money now is increasingly in energy alternatives, and the smart people are starting to go there. A lot of people may wish that had happened 30 years ago. You can look back to every past decade and identify where the smart people (and smart investors) were flocking at that time. (semiconductors, ICs, microcomputer architectures, software design, robotics, telecommunications, biotech, nanotech, and now energy alternatives)

You do not need the smart people for mature technologies. You need them for the revolutionary technologies that will take over for a pre-existing technology.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 10:48:00 AM PST, Blogger dub_scratch said...

Yea, I think there is allot of business potential that can happen as the crisis takes hold. Many current business models will get decimated while others that take advantage of energy efficiency will come to the fore. Telecomm ridesharing firms will be born in the time of energy scaristy and will replace the auto industry as the 21st century transportation business model.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 11:07:00 AM PST, Blogger Freak said...

I am curious as to why, and how you make such specific prophecies.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 11:18:00 AM PST, Blogger dub_scratch said...

Freak, these are predictions, not prophecies.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 2:12:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I think telecommuting, then virtual reality, will be where it's at. The social effects of fully immersive virtual reality could be really huge: think of the property market being turned on it's head, and problems with VR addiction, but with huge benefits for business, education and long-distance collaboration. You could live in the Himalayas and work in New York. Peak Oil's gonna make this come sooner rather than later.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 2:29:00 PM PST, Blogger Freak said...

ok, how do you make such predictions?

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 2:41:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Well, I figure that full-immersion VR is going to become popular sooner or later, and expensive oil is likely to make it more popular. And then you just have to connect the dots to see what sort of effects it could have.

Of course, for business purposes you probably just need vision, sound and tactile sensation on your hands. Even with just email and a phone, I imagine a lot more people would be interested in telecommuting if it cost $20 to drive to work.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 4:47:00 PM PST, Blogger nukeengineer said...

The credibility of this blog just went from "suck" to "shit."


At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 6:12:00 PM PST, Blogger dc said...

F*ck that noise, nukeengineer. The last series of posts on here was more substantitve than anything you'll find on these days (9/11 conspiracies, fiat money conspiracies, nuke/biofuel misinformation, dooomer fetishizing and of course, the We Heart Mike Ruppert Fan Club contributions). JohnD has earned the right to poke fun from time to time. Hell, I think he's been too soft on the doomer sewing circle. For example, I was floored to read Campbell all but admit that he didn't understand the (very simple) probabilistic analysis of the USGS. Anyone with half a semester's worth of introductory probabilty theory could grasp the USGS analysis. Why then should be surprised as Mr. I'm-Beffudled-By-A-Conditional-CDF Campbell continues to whiff on his forecasts?

On the other hand, Al Fin hit a home run with his contribution. The price signals have already started filtering through the markets and stakeholders. For example, HSBC has started pricing in sustainability premiums on their big business loans. If you can't streamline your processes and cut down on waste, then you're going to have to pay them the risk of future energy costs eating into your margins. The argument that nothing is happening or that oil scarcity will catch us completely by surprise is one of the biggest strawmen.

Ah yes, but what about the Hirsch report? While I disagree with some of the analysis, I do agree with the report's central conclusion: Peak Oil is a daunting risk management problem. We have to balance the risk of the necessary lead time for the succesful implementation of mitigation measures versus the risk of acting too soon and misallocating the resources we have left. Again, just the very publication of the Hirsh report proves that the wheels are turning; that information about the scarcity of oil is starting to filter through. A smart person will continually ask if it's happening fast enough and will appreciate the risk of acting too early. A stupid person will discount this latter risk and always complain that it's happening too slowly and take comfort in every conceivable contrivance proving that they're right

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 6:23:00 PM PST, Blogger Big Bud Man said...

In reading the fine folks at PO occasionally, I have come to realize much of what they discuss most of the time really boils down to their personal perspective: are they optimists or pessimists?

Clearly, most are pessimists and cannot fathom a world will certainly be different and who knows, maybe even better....

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 9:22:00 PM PST, Blogger nukeengineer said...

Roland wrote:

"Well, I figure that full-immersion VR is going to become popular sooner or later, and expensive oil is likely to make it more popular."

Yeah, cause the average person is really going to be able to afford this when gas is $7/gallon and heating bills exceed mortgage paymenmts.

Get real kid.


At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 9:47:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Hey DC and Big Bud Man, way to go!

I reckon JD's really onto something here, i.e. the tone of a great many doomers is one of sneering contempt for ordinary people which is really very annoying.

It's not about scientific analysis, it's about feeling they are better than everyone else, and the idea that everyone else is a fat pickup-driving, hamburger-scoffing, reality-tv-addicted pig with no redeeming qualities and an inability to cope with reality is a key premise of their hypothesis.

"Just wait till the permanent energy crisis hits and all those suckers learn the true meaning of suffering. Hehehe."

DC's right, the wheels are turning, and the doomers refuse to see it. Actually that's wrong - they often do see the wheels turning, and they take it as vindication. They see someone talking about Peak Oil on breakfast TV - vindicated! They see sales of large cars going down - vindicated! They see the surging popularity of the organic food - vindicated! They laugh at dumb society's pathetic attempts to save itself, while missing the transformation going on in front of their eyes.

Nukengineer, if you think this site is such rubbish, why do you keep hanging around here?

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 9:58:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Yeah, cause the average person is really going to be able to afford this when gas is $7/gallon and heating bills exceed mortgage paymenmts. Get real kid.

Nukengineer, you reckon people will still bother driving when gas is $7 a gallon?

We are talking about more than 20 years in the future here, when VR would cost less than a PC. I'm not suggesting anyone use today's equipment, it's too expensive.

In the shorter term, however, I'm sure telecommuting will become quite popular. The employer often provides the equipment anyway.

This is a great example of weird doomer logic. "You think people will really be able to afford to telecommute when they can't afford to drive a car?"

Will people be able to afford not to telecommute, is the question you should be asking.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 10:05:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

As Al Fin said, smart people go where the money is.

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 10:59:00 PM PST, Blogger Freak said...


I suggest you take your self-important ego, and go berate people elsewhere.

doomers, all they want to do is stick their fingers in their ears and hum everytime something innovative is even question is, Whay do they think nothing can ever be any different?

At Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 11:51:00 PM PST, Blogger nukeengineer said...


Get me some stats on what percentage of the US workforce is able to telecommute enough to reduce their fuel use by 25 percent or more, 50 percent or more, etc.

The fact is, most people can't! It's what I call the "telecommute myth."


At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 12:05:00 AM PST, Blogger LogicPanda said...

NukeEngineer... you sir, are a piece of work.
The credibility of this blog just went from "suck" to "shit."
of course! With your excellent argumentative skills and stunning displays of maturity, thou art the king of credibility! Oh how could I have been so blind? Thank you, NE, for showing me light.
By the way.. as for heating one's self.. there's a simple solution to that. Burn some wood! Good God! A fire is not that hard to start, and mankind has been doing it thousands of years before we ever knew about oil.
But no.. you're right. You're always right sir. But, as you seem to believe, we're all doomed... so it doesn't matter. Congratulations.

At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 12:50:00 AM PST, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Hey NukeEngineer,
Maybe the following study (14 years old!) can answer your question regarding the impact of telecommuting.

"Morning peak trips reduced by 74% and afternoon peak trips by 53%
Telecommuting does not lead to an increase in non work related trips
There did calculate the average #of miles saved per telecommuter per day, so you may plugin this number into the average fleet fuel economy to get an estimate of the fuel savings possible under different scenarios of TC penetration.

A meta-analysis of the field was performed in 2004 and may be accessed at:

Or if you are too bored or too Canadian to read US studies you may try:

At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 1:31:00 AM PST, Blogger nukeengineer said...

Those studies still don't answer the question: what % of the workforce can actually telecommute?

I was at the Post Office today, then Safeway, then a Whole Foods, picked up some stuff from the hardware store and finally had a meeting with my kid's teacher. All of this was done on public transit Nobody who works for any of those places can telecommute. Not the folks at the PO, not Safeway, not the hardware store, not teachers, and not the folks who operate the subway.



At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 1:32:00 AM PST, Blogger nukeengineer said...

People who telecommute do cut back on their fuel use. But what % of the US workforce can actually telecommute.

That's the question you need to answer Roland.


At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 1:33:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

It's what I call the "telecommute myth."

Just like the "carpooling myth", the "public transport myth" and the "hybrid myth"!

(Thanks Energyspin for the great links)

At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 4:00:00 AM PST, Blogger Freak said...

maybe I have been mistaken but I thought the general theme of this board was creative and pratical solutions to a problem we have, now maybe some suggestions are far fetched, while many times historically the dreamer who proposed some really wild ideas ended up changing the world. I don't think you are doing anyone any good by attacking somebody for thinking. the human mind is our greatest resource and when you criticise someone else for using theirs you do us all a grave disservice.

At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 6:19:00 AM PST, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Hi NE ..
I suggest you use google to answer your question. You keep asking questions that may be answered by searching the web or asking a few questions to the DOT.
If you are geniously curious about the question (and not just another troll), use the information at
as a starting point. You may have to look into official employment statistics to estimate the number you keep asking us for, but ... no pain no gain.

At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 11:40:00 PM PST, Blogger Freak said...

If a $7 gallon of gas took me 150 miles that would be fine.

Frankily, I don't see why it can't.

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 6:07:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Hey, remember Dukat who used to continually reiterate his point that 90% of people in the world are incredibly stupid and that they would have to die so only the smart ones are left? People like that need to get some therapy.

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 7:03:00 AM PDT, Blogger Trefyane said...

Nuke Engineer wrote at 1:31 AM, that he "was at the Post Office today, then Safeway, then a Whole Foods, picked up some stuff from the hardware store and finally had a meeting with my kid's teacher. All of this was done on public transit Nobody who works for any of those places can telecommute."

To answer your question, no. Some of them can't. But those who can't can get to work with the subway in your city.

Those who live in places taht don't have public transit will have to bring those spread-out services closer together. Maybe that's your point.

This challenge will not be met only with technical solutions. It also requires thinking ahead to, for example, change where we build things.

At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 11:50:00 AM PDT, Blogger Martin said...

Hi Guys,
You are talking a lot about telecommuting, virtual reality approach and similar solutions to overcome possible energy crisis.

I would like to note, that this will result in virtual products consumed by virtual customers living in virtual homes and working in virtual companies.
They will be also a lot of people phoning each other (telecommuting) and (hopefully) ordering insurance policies from virtual insurance companies and tranferring money to virtual banks.
Virtual phone networks would be serviced over the phone as well.

I would rather think about building REAL nuclear power plants (and many of them) to provide steady and predictable energy flow, which could drive REAL economy.

Othervise you may well fall victim of famous Heisenberg principle, which essentially allow weierd things to happen provided that they dont last long.
The more fantastic the event, the shorter its lifetime.

At Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 2:38:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As gas prices go higher, paper pushers will go digital and work from home. People will bank from home on their computers. They will concentrate their errands for physical goods to little tight bunches.

At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 4:03:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yeah, cause the average person is really going to be able to afford this when gas is $7/gallon and heating bills exceed mortgage paymenmts." - NukeEngineer

$7/gallon is a reality here in Europe. And it has been for a long time; It's no big deal.

Heating bills? Cities can easily use waste heat and CHP for district heating. Appartment flats are well insulated with only one or two cold walls, they aren't expensive to heat. Suburban houses can switch over to ground source heat pumps fairly cheaply; electricity is not sourced from oil. Wearing a sweater instead of keeping the whole house toasty warm; heating only parts of the house that are occupied and using better insulation in buildings can easily squeeze out another factor 2 or more in efficiency. Heating is a miniscule problem in the context of peak oil.

At Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 9:09:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You've hit the nail on the head buddy.
Far as I can see it's EXACTLY because people are stupid (read our leaders as well as the hummer driving morons) that this thing could be harder than it needs to be.

The net is FULL of thought out solutions that all nations could implement to make the decline less painful to the point of appearing like a recession followed by a recovery BUT we have a political problem which is that some people would rather see the world go belly up so they can profit from it rather than save all our asses together.

The part that makes me laugh is the dumbasses who are profiting short term who think they will be able to get by if things get really bad. The irony is that the leaders are the first to be lynched in any kind of mass suffering that takes place.

There have been many, many revolutions in history and most of them have been blamed on some rich dude or king or prince or whatever. If our leaders don't do something sensible then it will be off with their heads.

Personally I hope it's off with wall street's heads. That would be sweet.

At Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 12:38:00 PM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

This is the silliest blog I have ever viewed. The participants lead their arguments with name calling and berating, then attempt to try and prove their OPINIONS with disjointed reasoning.
Most of what I read in the Peak Oil world is not doomsdayer mentality. After looking at the what they perceive to be the facts of supply and demand, a great deal of discussion moves towards investigation of the many possible alternative energy sources.
I have found that the Peak Oil crowd (most of it) deals on a more rational basis than most of the folks that hang out here. There does not seem to be as much of emotional investment in making sure you believe their point of view.
Have fun ripping me up!

At Friday, April 17, 2009 at 8:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

doomers, all they want to do is stick their fingers in their ears and hum everytime something innovative is even question is, Whay do they think nothing can ever be any different?
I have to agree, there is real poverty of imagination on both sides of the PO spectrum (The Business As Usual Polyannas and the Doomers). So much oil consumption is waste. We will be no poorer without cheap fuel, cheap meat, cheap stuff from halfway around the world, houses at tropical temperatures or discretionary air travel. We certainly won't collectively say "screw this, life isn't worth living now that gas is expensive" and revert ourselves to the stone age in the Ragnarok-scale doomer fantasy that is sure to follow the end of cheap air travel.

There are challenges to be met, but I do not think they will be a bad thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home