Friday, December 27, 2013

Waste products of copper mining, your drinking water, and skepticism‎

In 2011, the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine in Utah produced approximately 237,000 tons of its primary product -- copper (about $1.5 billion), along with 379,000 troy ounces of gold (about $455 million), 3.2 million troy ounces of silver (about $64 million), about 30 million pounds of molybdenum (about $300 million), and about 1 million tons of sulfuric acid (about $89 million), a by-product of the smelting process.

The tin-foil hat crowd alleges that fluorides used to fluoridate water supplies are a waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry and aluminum manufacturing industries. There is a bit of truth in that claim. Fluorides used to fluoridate water supplies are indeed a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry, as are many other products in use today. The aluminum industry is a consumer of fluoride, not a producer. The fluoride from the phosphate fertilizer industry is a naturally occurring constituent of the phosphate rock and is recovered during the production of the phosphate fertilizer -- just as gold and silver are byproducts of the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine. But, using the logic of the anti-fluoride crowd, Bingham's gold and silver is waste and has no value.

Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of trace amounts of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay. Although almost all major health and dental organizations support water fluoridation, or have found no association with adverse effects, efforts to introduce water fluoridation meet considerable opposition whenever it is proposed. Opponents have drawn on misinformation, ignorance, and distrust of experts and unease about medicine and science. Conspiracy theories involving fluoridation are common.

The point is that people with a loose grasp of facts and an utter absence of reasoning can get a story started which falls onto welcoming ears of other people with little ability and/or willingness to evaluate information or to confirm it. Give such people access to a medium such as the Internet, and falsehoods quickly become accepted as if it were science.

Even more troubling is the influence of educated people who should know better. But, they see money and fame in peddling pseudoscience to the uneducated and uneducable. These learned men and women morph into entertainers who, for personal gain, can exploit the mindless minds of their audiences to sell airtime ads and books. Such is the native soil of TV shows (Dr. Oz) and books (Dr. Oz) that pander to anyone lacking a critical mind.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. -- 2 Timothy 4:3-4
I have long contended that a well-educated person has two key but seemingly contradictory characteristics:
• A mind open to new information and
• Skepticism of new information.

In other words, I like to think that I have an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.

The Internet has a virtually unlimited wealth of information, much of it true, some of it well-intentioned errors, and far too much outright malicious lies. Some of the true stuff is actually worth reading!

Anyone can get worthless credentials such as a PhD from a California diploma mill, make up an impressive name such as "International Research Institute Pushing Scams-of-the-Day", put up a website with "research", and even organize as a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization to bilk the foolish out of their wished-for lottery winnings.

The result is an endless list of misinformation, scams, and hoaxes that the gullible among us fall for including:
• Global warming, global cooling, climate change, or whatever they're calling it today
• Taxpayer subsidies for things that nobody would buy in a free market such as electric and hybrid cars, solar/wind power, and mass transit
• Weight-loss and other health/nutrition fads
• Magical benefits of Coconut oil
• Hazards of Canola oil
• Discrimination against your neighbor's religious or political beliefs
911 conspiracies and World Trace Center collapse
FEMA camps
• The alleged hazards of GMO (genetically modified organisms) food
Crop circles, UFOs, and alien visits
Astrology, psychics, etc.
Perpetual motion machines
Conspiracies to suppress technologies
New World Order
Vaccines and autism
MSG (monosodium glutamate) triggering migraine headaches and other health problems
Sugar and hyperactivity in children
HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) used as a weather-controlling device that can trigger catastrophic events or to send mind-controlling radio waves to humans

Bottom line: Just because the information you find is what your "itching ears" want to hear, the source has an impressive name or title, and the voices in your head say it's true doesn't mean it's worth a bucket of warm spit. There is already enough evil in the world that we don't need to make up evils to worry about.
As long as man's beliefs, or any part of them, are based on error, he is not completely free, for the chains of error bind his mind. — Bruce R. McConkie
You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. — Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. — Thomas Jefferson
Tell a lie loud enough and long enough and the people will believe it. — Adolf Hitler
Either you oppose a lie, or you become a liar. — Franklin Sanders
A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth. — Tom Gresham
Have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

Now, how do I get some of those waste products from the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine? I think I could get by on that kind of income.

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