Some more on the Blackbutt solar system

Forum: LXer Meta ForumTotal Replies: 45
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Ridcully

Mar 05, 2017
3:32 AM EST
Just for information, for those who are also into solar power, on last Friday, we had an upgrade of our system. Two solar panels (which I think were over 20 years old) were replaced. Those panels were 12volt types; "Rolls Royce" quality in their day, but seriously dated in terms of today's equipment. Also, they had deteriorated. The deterioration was internal and showed as brown patches on one or more of the cells. Once this happens, the panel is useless; it will show correct output voltage, but will be unable to deliver any load current. Those old panels were removed, sent to recycling, and two new 24volt panels went into their place, together with some new basic roof mounting.

The near miss lightning strike last year also seems to have damaged the original system regulator. This was caused by the panels acting as an "aerial for the massive induction input" from the lightning. The professional installers who did the replacement told me that they noted that the reverse protection diodes in the panels showed signs of massive overheating so there is no doubt in my mind (and in theirs) that some damage was done to the regulator. In any event, we had it replaced with a much newer and efficient model that is now manufactured in Holland. (Those who are interested will find it here:

https://www.victronenergy.com/

I stress this is not under any circumstances to be considered a product endorsement.....simply what has now been put into our system. The regulator upgrade was pretty much necessary because much higher charging currents could be expected.)

The difference in behaviour is dramatic. On most days, even with some cloud, the system is being driven into "float" where the battery bank is fully charged and gassing with a minimal current that keeps the system fully charged. The regulator instantly slips back into full mode if we draw heavy currents......Previously, we were lucky to get 18-19 amps; now, about 27-28 amps is standard.

May I say we are delighted with the response of the upgrade.
alc

Mar 05, 2017
5:07 AM EST
Have you ever broken down monthly cost from the time you installed the original system until now. And how does that compare to someone who is hooked up to the grid?
Ridcully

Mar 05, 2017
8:50 AM EST
For "alc".........I couldn't, not over the entire time.......It's been there for over 30 years and changed, altered, etc. etc.

However, I can give you some ideas on the matter. Right now, quarterly power bills in Australia are hitting between 500 and 1000 dollars (Aust.), so a grid consumer is paying between two and four thousand dollars a year for power supplies by the grid network. Given that this entire panel upgrade was just under $2000 in cost, that's one year of normal grid power supplies at the very least. The new batteries ($1700) that went in last year in February are good for at least another 7 years and there is no reason for anything else to be touched. That means that I will not be paying out somewhere between $14,000 and $28,000 (in today's terms) for grid power supplies over the next 7 years.

The panel upgrade has also given us so much additional power for both storage and daily use that our reliance on a petrol generator as a backup system is going to be markedly reduced to the point where it will be rarely required. I am monitoring the power output carefully at the moment and even in partially cloudy weather, the system is still pushing into float mode. I confidently estimate that our petrol bill for power generation will probably drop to around $3 or less per month which is negligible. The only other power drain cost is gas for the fridge and that is presently $130 per two months......or say one quarter's costs per annum. So, each year I am saving roughly three of the four quarters of grid costs and that's a very large annual amount, especially when taken over the highly probable 8 years of battery life which can extend to as much as 12 years if you look after them carefully.

Short of catastrophic failure of the system, there's very little that can go wrong. Even if the inverter was to fail, it's replacement would only be about $3000 and therefore I am still well in front. So, to go to your original question, if we assume that I am paying only one quarter of the annual powerbill for a grid home, then I am saving roughly 10,500 to 21,000 dollars over the 7 years......Let's do an approximation and call it a saving of at least $2000 a year.....I'll let you do the division by 12 for the monthly saving.......but as I said above, I very seriously believe I am well in front.

Power bills in Australia are now so high that almost anyone who wants to save money is getting solar panels installed on the roof and using the type of inverter that sends surplus generated power back into the grid during the day. As you drive around Queensland, it's at the tipping point where almost every second house has a solar array. Factories are installing enormous panel arrays and new business premises and schools are all doing the same. I know for a fact that the recent heat waves that hit Queensland (together with the need for massive amounts of airconditioning), would have produced grid load shedding and blackouts if it was not for the fact that so much solar power was also coming back into the grid from installations on homes and businesses that the entire grid simply shrugged off the additional load.
mbaehrlxer

Mar 05, 2017
11:39 AM EST
Quoting:the recent heat waves that hit Queensland (together with the need for massive amounts of airconditioning), would have produced grid load shedding and blackouts if it was not for the fact that so much solar power was also coming back into the grid from installations on homes and businesses that the entire grid simply shrugged off the additional load.


that makes my day. it's not just about saving money for those that use alternative power, but here also those that are still on the regular grid benefit. better conditions all around.

btw: how much do you get (if anything) for feeding power into the grid?

greetings, eMBee.
alc

Mar 05, 2017
12:43 PM EST
Thanks for the info Ridcully. I wasn't aware that cost of power in Australia was so high. It seems that you're not only doing good for the environment, but saving a sizable amount of money as well.
Ridcully

Mar 05, 2017
4:02 PM EST
For mbaehrixer: I can't answer that question because I simply don't know. Some time back, you were actually paid the grid cost equivalent (or more) per kilowatt hour generated by the solar array and people were making good profit on putting solar arrays on home roofs. That has been largely stopped and the present systems simply deduct what you generate from the power you have used.....Even so, the costs of grid power are so large that there is a very large industry in putting solar panels onto home roofs and home owners are still quite confident that they are the winners in the long run.

And it does get more interesting still. While the panel fitting team were here on Friday, we gave them morning tea (which is something you "just do" as a courtesy in the countryside) and that allowed conversation while they weren't actually installing the new equipment. They confirmed to me that a "new industry" has started with retrofitting of lithium storage packages to previously installed roof arrays. Home owners are waking up to the fact that during the day they produce far more power than their home needs and so they are storing it for use at night and further reducing their need for grid supplies. They added that these new lithium battery packs were cheaper than the lead acid ones I am using, had a longer life span and were far more flexible in charge levels. Something to explore in another 10 years or so if I am still around.

For alc: the cost of power is now reaching the stage where industry is beginning to shut down as it is no longer economical to continue. In the past week, part of the Gladstone aluminium smelter has or will be shut down and jobs will be lost, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I don't want to bring in politics but it becomes almost unavoidable when you look at the whole picture.......We have something called a Renewable Energy Target which is supposed to be what our grid systems will be on in the near and distant future with respect to the percentage of grid power generated by both wind and solar generation. The RET (anywhere from 20-50%) can be different at both State and Federal levels and our state of South Australia is now in a pretty parlous situation as they had set theirs at about 50% if I have my facts correct. The lower costs of alternative/renewable energy due partially to government subsidies have meant that coal fired power stations cannot compete and the last base-load coal burning power station in South Australia has shut down - no longer economical. So, if the wind don't blow and the sun don't shine, South Australia is in a mess and has to rely on backup systems where it uses a gas turbine power station or imports power via long land lines from either Victoria or New South Wales. Last year a huge storm destroyed those lines (poor maintenance of very old structures ? I don't know), the wind farms were placed in an impossible situation due to their software setups and they "crashed off" and South Australia suffered prolonged blackouts...You cannot just "turn on" even a gas turbine power station - there's a four hour lag...Industries shut down and some of them permanently, while yet others are migrating to other states. Coca-Cola-Amatil has just closed its SA factory and migrated to Queensland.

Personally, I think that the whole thing has been mismanaged by the present state government which has put renewable energy policy above practicality and the need to provide a secure base-line supply to both domestic and business consumers. It's a mess. I'm very "pro" alternative energy systems, but one has to be sensible about their application, and one has to ensure that base line power system is able to take up the slack immediately. South Australia no longer has that security.

Finally, the thing that irritates me enormously is that Australia has 30% of the world's uranium and apparently even more thorium. We export yellow cake to India and elsewhere........why in heaven's name are we not using that power source in the base-line power stations ? And the answer I get all the time is "irrational and encouraged ignorant fear of nuclear power" placed in the general community by the Green groups.......I'll leave it there.
dotmatrix

Mar 05, 2017
4:31 PM EST
ridcully wrote:And the answer I get all the time is "irrational and encouraged ignorant fear of...


This is the problem with many things, not just energy supply. There's the "irrational and encouraged ignorant fear of:"
  • Desktop FOSS
  • Nuclear Power
  • Responsible Firearm use and ownership
  • Reasonable Taxation
  • Reasonable and Responsible Logging Industry
  • ... fill in something that is apparently polarizing...
Ridcully

Mar 05, 2017
4:57 PM EST
I've been told by my friend here in SE Qld that my broad comments on "returns to the householder" for power generated are not strictly accurate.. This is the case......BUT........each Australian state is different in how it deals with home solar power generation and it gets worse in that it can also depend on the power company that is delivering power to your home and finally, it can also depend on whether or not you installed the solar cells prior to 2012 (in Queensland) and got the very large subsidy in a contract......it's very, very, very messy.

I think the overall point is that home users are definitely aware that use of solar power does markedly reduce their power needs from the expensive grid system and are moving towards it very quickly. This is people power over-ruling political power. As an example, my friend gave me three different examples he is aware of in his local "area". He is on a pre-2012 subsidy and earns about $200 a quarter for the power he generates; in the case of two other people, one pays nothing per quarter, the other $60.
mbaehrlxer

Mar 05, 2017
6:46 PM EST
(edit: to help readers navigate this thread, i am noting the topic change here)

topic changes to: nuclear power


given the experience and problems we have with nuclear power in europe (and most recently japan), and not just with exploding reactors but also with degrading storage for the nuclear waste. i would not call that fear irrational. it's less irrational than the fear of genetically modified food for sure. and also, your story seems to show that alternative energy is clearly up to the task, if it is managed properly.

in my view human error is the largest risk-factor. as it happens with automation in the industry, energy production should optimize for that.

greetings, eMBee.
Ridcully

Mar 05, 2017
11:06 PM EST
Hi mbaehrixer.....my understanding of the recent nuclear accidents is this.......The Japanese one was entirely their own stupid fault. You do NOT build any major power installation of any type right on the sea line in an earthquake prone country. It wouldn't have mattered whether it was coal or nuclear, the tsunami would have destroyed the installation. I understand Chernobyl was purely a matter of very poor maintenance. I don't know about the rest of Europe.

From what I can see, the safest nuclear fission type of reactor is one that uses thorium and there is plenty of information about them on the web. Fusion of course, is the "holy grail" and perhaps it will happen.

However, you may be interested to learn that a company has been set up in South Australia with enormous plans to develop a silicon energy storage system:

http://www.theleadsouthaustralia.com.au/industries/mining-re...

Quote: The patents for the process were bought from the CSIRO by a group of SA investors and they have spent about $3 million building a pilot plant at Tonsley Park, in the old Mitsubishi factory. The company is preparing to do an IPO to raise another $10m this year to build a commercial plant, but it says the viability of the process has been proved. End quote.

Plentiful and cheap mass storage is one way to give alternative energy at base-power levels to an entire community.
mbaehrlxer

Mar 06, 2017
12:11 AM EST
Quoting:The Japanese one was entirely their own stupid fault. You do NOT build any major power installation of any type right on the sea line in an earthquake prone country. It wouldn't have mattered whether it was coal or nuclear, the tsunami would have destroyed the installation
but that's the point. a destroyed coal installation would not have led to the kind of disaster that destroying a nuclear installation did.

greetings, eMBee.
Ridcully

Mar 06, 2017
2:10 AM EST
Sorry mbaehrixer, but you are missing my point so let me state it again: You do NOT build any major power installation of any, (emphasise "ANY") type right on the sea line in an earthquake prone country.

Candidly, and in my humble opinion, the Japanese got precisely what they had "engineered" for: a disaster; and a disaster multiplied several times higher because of the nature of a nuclear power station. It should never, never, NEVER have been built in that location and one can only wonder why they did it. There must be much more stable areas in that country, despite being on the Pacific "rim of fire".

Oh.......and thankyou for the debate......I'm thoroughly enjoying it. :-)
mbaehrlxer

Mar 06, 2017
5:48 AM EST
Quoting:You do NOT build any major power installation of ANY type right on the sea line in an earthquake prone country.
yet it happened.

humans do make mistakes. you can not predict everything. greed, political pressure, etc, only make mistakes even more likely.

it is impossible to guarantee that no mistakes are made.

therefore, i (and so do a number of governments who decided against nuclear power) prefer to opt on the side of caution.

when working with fire, prepare to get burned.

when building a nuclear power plant, prepare that it explodes.

don't claim that you can prevent an explosion, but prove to me that the explosion, when it happens, will not spread dangerous radiation across half the planet.

cars are deliberately crashed to test the effects on its inhabitants. in the same way, nuclear plants should be tested by deliberately blowing them up to prove that doing so poses no widespread danger.

until we have the ability to securely contain an explosion AND to eliminate (not just store) nuclear waste, i don't see nuclear power as an option.

greetings, eMBee.
Ridcully

Mar 06, 2017
6:29 AM EST
I hear you, and that is why I, and many others, are saying as loudly as possible: move to the alternative for nuclear fission power: the thorium reactor.......Because of the way thorium produces its nuclear fission, it cannot ever, ever go into meltdown. If you don't quite believe me, go and look up how a thorium reactor is triggered and what happens if the constantly present trigger is removed. Better yet, a thorium reactor can take the wastes of a uranium reactor and "burn them" to produce much less dangerous products. It is a sad fact that thorium was ignored in the search for nuclear energy during the early days circa WWII........and the reason ? A thorium reactor is very, very difficult to use if you want to make bomb material - it simply doesn't normally do it.

As regards "testing to explosions", I think that would be foolish in the extreme. No government on earth would agree to such a proposal. We already have ample evidence of what actual nuclear explosions can do and I don't think anyone would want to contaminate large areas with such practices. To my knowledge, no nuclear power plant has ever exploded in the "bomb sense". There certainly have been explosions of boilers or reaction chambers, but that is entirely different and you might just as well say that there have been explosions at coal fired power stations (and there certainly have been)........where you are working with classic fire and must prepare to be burned. Certainly, an explosion of a normal type at a nuclear reactor is dangerous in the contamination sense however have you seen the latest info on the Chernobyl accident ? The wildlife is returning and the area is virtually a unique nature reserve.

http://www.livescience.com/52458-wildlife-populations-cherno...

Nuclear reactor technology has advanced enormously and is incredibly safe in my opinion. To back up that statement, one has simply to recognise that nuclear reactors are used in so many warships of the various Navies around the world that, statistically speaking, if these power "devices" were that unstable and dangerous, we'd be getting reports of ships blowing up their reactors at least once or twice a year........but we don't. Men work in close proximity with the reactors quite safely, and nuclear powered submarines in particular are the classic example.

As regards waste storage, I think you overestimate the problem very, very greatly. The wastes from a nuclear reactor are tiny in comparison to those from a coal fired power station. I don't know of course, but my guess is that after a 10 year production cycle, the wastes from a nuclear power plant might be lucky to fill one room in a normal home. Uranium is incredibly heavy and dense and so a large mass takes up a very small space. Have you ever seen the wastes from a coal fired power station ? I do on a daily basis......Fly-ash is used in cement production and huge semitrailers trundle through our small country town each day carrying fly-ash down to Brisbane from a coal fired powerstation about 20km from our home......the huge amounts are in what I would call "house full" quantities on a half-daily basis and they are only transporting a fraction of the waste that is produced by that power station.
dotmatrix

Mar 06, 2017
9:01 AM EST
E = m*c^2

will win over

E = h*f

every time.
alc

Mar 06, 2017
12:48 PM EST
I couldn't help looking for how much waste comes from coal. Very interesting.

A coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-...
dotmatrix

Mar 06, 2017
1:48 PM EST
Be careful of radiation....

However, here are some real numbers on fly-ash radiation... instead of "10 times what is normally found in..."

https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs163-97/FS-163-97.html

Quoting: concentrations of uranium fall in the range from slightly below 1 to 4 parts per million (ppm).


...

The Scientific American article you posted is typical of what is wrong with modern 'science' posted in various public locations... For example, what does this mean:

Scientific American wrote:At one extreme, the scientists estimated fly ash radiation in individuals' bones at around 18 millirems (thousandths of a rem, a unit for measuring doses of ionizing radiation) a year.


Well... let's say you fly in airplane from NY to LA... what is your radiation exposure - or you break a bone and get an X-Ray at the hospital?

http://www.livescience.com/10266-radiation-exposure-cross-co...

Actual Measured Data wrote: the typical New York City-to-Los Angeles trip in a commercial airplane exposes a person to about 2 to 5 millirem (mrem) — less than half the dose received from a chest X-ray (10 mrem), according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Rems are a measurement of the biological effect from exposure to radiation.


So... The Scientific American article is actually saying that on the extreme end, a given individual was found to have the radiation level of 50% than someone who had taken a round trip cross CONUS flight.

One can argue that fly-ash is radioactive, but so is digesting that steak you ate for lunch:

http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/cells/celldigestion/celldigestion.html

Free Radicals Released from Digestion wrote:The mitochondria are critical in the production of energy (via adenosine triphosphase; ATP) and lipid biosynthesis, whereas peroxisomes play a role in lipid metabolism and help reduce the intracellular concentration of free radicals.


Free Radicals are the things that are responsible for your skin continuing to redden after coming inside after being out in the sun for a while... It's how fire works:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_radicals

Digestion is chemical burning of fuel... and releases free radicals which cause cancer over a long time.

So... pick your poison. Everyone dies.
alc

Mar 06, 2017
2:32 PM EST
"So... pick your poison. Everyone dies."

I'll take the steak :-)
dotmatrix

Mar 06, 2017
4:02 PM EST
>I'll take the steak :-)

You know, I know this steak doesn't exist.
Ridcully

Mar 06, 2017
4:12 PM EST
You could be right dotmatrix.......There's some quantum theory/cosmology stuff floating around in some articles that suggest our entire universe is actually only a hologram of "summat else".....so we are probably living in a dream. And I'm dreaming I am writing this reply.......And this way madness lies. (Exits left quietly gibbering.)
dotmatrix

Mar 06, 2017
5:38 PM EST

Existence of God Discussion Follows: No need to read further for Solar or Nuclear Energy discussion



>entire universe is actually only a hologram of "summat else".

The problem with this particular theory is that the laws of physics really do apply everywhere. It would be a strange dream indeed if such mathematically provable rules existed in it.

I'm just finishing up, for the second reading in about 5 years, The Amber Spyglass (American title) of "His Dark Materials" series... The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass.

The series is quite good, IMO. In it, the reader is immersed in one of the particular multiverse theories... as well as pseudo-natural explanations for things some people believe to exist.

In any case, I'll stick to my understanding that there is no supernatural and nothing beyond death. However, multiverses may exist... maybe even likely exist... but the Goldilocks theory suggests that there is one only universe in which us humans could exist -- and the proof for that is that we do exist... We were made from the laws of physics, and not the other way around -- so to speak.

Don't forget:

The reference frame is important.
NoDough

Mar 07, 2017
2:16 PM EST
dotmatrix wrote:You know, I know this steak doesn't exist.


A quote from Dot The Matrix.

dotmatrix wrote:I'll stick to my understanding that there is no supernatural and nothing beyond death.


And if you are wrong, will it be a happy surprise, or something else?
dotmatrix

Mar 07, 2017
2:23 PM EST
>And if you are wrong,

Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.
jdixon

Mar 07, 2017
5:23 PM EST
> And if you are wrong, will it be a happy surprise, or something else?

Has anyone ever given a good refutation to Pascal's wager? I'm not aware of one.

> Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.

That sounds like someone who isn't married. :)
dotmatrix

Mar 07, 2017
5:39 PM EST
**********

*Religion Warning* ... but I don't mind if you all don't...

*********

>Has anyone ever given a good refutation to Pascal's wager? I'm not aware of one.

Evolution makes Pascal's wager irrelevant. Darwinian Evolution shows that god need not exist for life to exist. Since god is unnecessary, and is a much more complex being than life as we know it... god's existence, as a personal deity who is interested in humans violates Occam's Razor. The non-existence of an all powerful deity is not possible to prove, but it is possible to show the non-necessity of such creator. And Darwinian Evolution shows exactly that. In the shadow of Evolution's reality, the likelihood of an all powerful god shrinks to an infinitesimal value.

>That sounds like someone who isn't married. :)

I'm married... two kids... bad back, slightly over weight, but tall for my height.
mbaehrlxer

Mar 07, 2017
7:26 PM EST
how does that make pascal's wager irrelevant?

if the existence of a supernatural being were obvious, then the wager would not be made. it's exactly because it is not obvious that the wager can be made. all your perceived non-necessity does is to make the existence of such a being even less obvious.

i disagree on the non-necessity of a creator. sure, for evolution, it may not be needed, but for society it is.

in order to overcome our current worlds problems (pollution, poverty, global warming, war, etc) we need to put aside our differences and selfishness that leads to them. i believe that this can not be achieved without some kind of unifying outside force.

a neutral party, so to speak.

so i think that, if god would not exist, we would have to invent one.

in looking at systems of society in existence, i have not yet found one that i could trust to be capable of solving todays problems without the help of god. granted, even many of those systems that do depend on god are not capable of solving todays problems but they did solve the problems of the time when they were created. so they are not wrong, just outdated.

what is needed is a system that is capable of addressing todays problems. a system that does not conflict with science, that is acceptable to all societies worldwide and does not lead to conflict among any of them. a system that is capable to unite all of humanity.

Quoting:If religion becomes the source of antagonism and strife, the absence of religion is to be preferred


greetings, eMBee. (edit: typo/grammar)
dotmatrix

Mar 07, 2017
7:34 PM EST
>so i think that, if god would not exist, we would have to invent one.

This is otherwise known as:

Belief in belief.

It does not support an argument of the existence of an all powerful human-centric supernatural being.

>in order to overcome our current worlds problems (pollution, poverty, global warming, war, etc) we need to put aside our differences and selfishness that leads to them. i believe that this can not be achieved without some kind of unifying outside force.

I agree with some of the items you listed, but not all. And my reason tells me that there would exist no such unifying outside force. No such 'outsider' has managed to unify all humans since the dawn of consciousness. What makes you believe an 'outsider' is necessary or would even work as unifying force, since none have?

****

Please stop me if necessary.... I like these types of discussions, but if it's not appropriate or seems too offense - close me down.

EDIT:

Of course, there's always the RMS Grav-Mass page... so, this is not entirely FOSS-less:

https://stallman.org/grav-mass.html
jdixon

Mar 07, 2017
9:20 PM EST
> Darwinian Evolution shows that god need not exist for life to exist.

Darwinain Evolution shows nothing of the kind. It does not even presume to speak to the origins of life.

> And Darwinian Evolution shows exactly that. In the shadow of Evolution's reality, the likelihood of an all powerful god shrinks to an infinitesimal value.

See above. The are lots of other arguments to be made on the subject, but this isn't the place for them. But a basic flaw about the nature of the theory of evolution renders the entire chain of logic invalid.

> I'm married....

How can you not believe in god if you''re married to a saint? She has to be if she never points out the times you've been wrong to you. :)
mbaehrlxer

Mar 07, 2017
10:14 PM EST
Quoting:Belief in belief


that sounds about right

Quoting:It does not support an argument of the existence of an all powerful human-centric supernatural being


it wasn't meant to. it is meant to support an argument for the relevance of pascal's wager.

if i believe that a belief in god is necessary, then it makes sense to support such a belief, whether god exists or not. now, if i were certain that god did not exist, then supporting such a belief would be lying. but i am not certain. and hence i apply pascal's wager to support my own belief.

greetings, eMBee. (btw: further above i inserted a headline to note the change of topic, to help anyone to know when to stop reading if they are not interested in that topic. perhaps you want to do the same at the point where we stop talking about nuclear power)
Ridcully

Mar 08, 2017
4:47 AM EST
Cor blimey.......I've never seen a thread explore so many areas.......and all I did was talk about a solar system upgrade......Oh well, serendipity rules, OK ?
dotmatrix

Mar 08, 2017
7:38 AM EST
eMBee wrote:i inserted a headline to note the change of topic... perhaps you want to do the same at the point


No Problem. I apologize for the turn...

jdixon wrote:you''re married to a saint? She has to be if she never points out the times you've been wrong to you. :)


I'm wrong everyday of my life... about almost everything. I have a dry sense of humor which sometimes goes unnoticed in my writing.

Ridcully wrote:I've never seen a thread explore so many areas


I'm sorry for hijacking the thread. It wasn't intentional, just in the mood.
jdixon

Mar 08, 2017
10:23 AM EST
> I'm wrong everyday of my life... about almost everything.

Welcome to the club. :) I figured your comment was in jest, but the reply was to good to pass up, playing off the usual tropes as it does.

And I also apologize for the derailing, though my question about Pascal's Wager was legitimate. I never have heard a good refutation of it, and I figured if anyone knew of one, it would probably be the LXer folks.

It's probably best to let the rest of the discussion die on the vine though.

skelband

Mar 09, 2017
6:29 PM EST
Pascal's Wager doesn't really say anything about the existence of a deity or otherwise. It talks about taking each-way bets on his existence.

Pascal effectively says that you should believe in God because the cost of doing so if one doesn't exist is small, but the cost of not doing so if one exists is great (eternal fire/damnation, pick your poison).

One of the most important flaws is that belief is not something that you choose. You either believe or you don't and if you realise that the evidence is not compelling, you can't will it into reasonableness.

You could go through motions: go to church/mosque, pray, sing hymns and the like, but an omnipotent being would be able to see right through that falsity. Pascal also believed that if you did it enough times, you would come to believe it through repetition. That's straight out of 1984 in my view. :S

skelband

Mar 09, 2017
7:52 PM EST
Here is some more information that I managed to find that expands on the refutations somewhat:

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Pascal %27s_Wager
jdixon

Mar 09, 2017
8:39 PM EST
> Pascal also believed that if you did it enough times, you would come to believe it through repetition. That's straight out of 1984 in my view. :S

The applied field of that concept is called propaganda. I would be willing to listen to arguments that it doesn't work, but all indications I've seen are that it does.
skelband

Mar 10, 2017
12:22 PM EST
Oh, I'm sure that it does work, which is what 1984 was referring to as "double-think". It is not true rational belief, more like brainwashing or the suspension of reason to support an unreasonable belief. We all do it to a certain extent because we are not entirely rational.

I just don't think it a great recommendation of religion. :D
TxtEdMacs

Mar 10, 2017
12:28 PM EST
>> Pascal also believed that if you did it enough times, you would come to believe it through repetition. That's straight out of 1984 in my view. :S

> The applied field of that concept is called propaganda. I would be willing to listen to arguments that it doesn't work, but all indications I've seen are that it does.

But JD, wouldn't that be a pretty weak (while supposedly omnipotent) minded deity that fell for propaganda over real belief along with the simple minded humans?
jdixon

Mar 10, 2017
5:19 PM EST
> It is not true rational belief

The last sentence of 1984 argues that it is. I (fortunately) have no idea.

> I just don't think it a great recommendation of religion

I didn't say it was.

> But JD, wouldn't that be a pretty weak (while supposedly omnipotent) minded deity that fell for propaganda over real belief along with the simple minded humans?

What does that have to do with the validity of the argument? That fact that something probably won't work is no reason not to try it when there's no penalty if it doesn't and a high payoff if it does.

If you could get free tickets for a $500M lottery, wouldn't you take them?
skelband

Mar 10, 2017
5:53 PM EST
OK, well we come to a couple of the other arguments.

Firstly, false belief does not come without significant cost as attested to by the various members of ISIS, many of whom believe strongly that their faith obligates them to commit murder and perform atrocities against other people and property. As with all such things, there are shades of grey. Others with a milder religious bent may squander money and resources in the pursuance of their belief. I guess it's their money to do with as they wish and that's true. But the argument that there is little cost to false belief is patently untrue. A monk who wastes their life in the worship of a deity that doesn't exist may have led a more fruitful life otherwise and that is a crying shame if the reality is that you only get one shot at existence and you blew it.

Secondly, the killer in my view, is that the question itself is a false dichotomy. What if you can convince yourself that worshipping the christian god is worthwhile, merely to find that the Allah is the one true god and he's pretty miffed that you passed him over for that false god Yahweh? How about the Spaghetti Monster (all hail his noodliness)? He's made up you say? Well I'm sure that probably earns you a slap around the head with a giant cannelloni for all eternity if you're wrong?

The thing is, Pascal's Wager is pretty compelling at a superficial level, but it falls apart when you probe it more deeply.
jdixon

Mar 10, 2017
8:42 PM EST
> But the argument that there is little cost to false belief is patently untrue. A monk who wastes their life in the worship of a deity that doesn't exist may have led a more fruitful life otherwise and that is a crying shame if the reality is that you only get one shot at existence and you blew it.

"May have". And may not. It's merely one more data point in the wager.

Ah well, I'll drop the matter. There's no point in risking ruffling feathers without learning something new.
mbaehrlxer

Mar 10, 2017
11:51 PM EST
a better comparison i thought would be volunteering for a cause where you are not sure if it's successful or not. say, cleaning up the neighborhood. you try to do something good, but next week there is trash all over the place again.

you'd wager: is it worth it to do all that work if it's going to go bad again next week? well, it can't hurt to try.

@skelband: you raise a lot of good points. pascal's wager really falls apart when you include the risk that you might believe in the wrong thing.

but believing in a supernatural being is one thing. figuring out what that being wants from us is quite another.

pascal's wager does not free you from finding that out. it does not give you a free pass to just pick whoever comes along and claims to have gods message and then blindly follow them. so you'll need to investigate all religions and decide for yourself which one is the best fit.

you may of course find that none of what you have seen so far is a good fit. if you give up at that point, pascal's wager becomes meaningless. if you still want to consider the possibility that a supernatural being exists, then you need to keep searching.

and even if you think you have found the best one, you still have to keep your eyes open and investigate anything else that comes along. search for the truth is a lifelong process.

greetings, eMBee.
skelband

Mar 13, 2017
11:34 AM EST
> There's no point in risking ruffling feathers without learning something new.

No ruffled feathers here. I find this kind of thing fascinating. :D
BernardSwiss

Mar 13, 2017
11:50 AM EST
Ars Technica: Elon Musk on batteries for Australia: “Installed in 100 days or it is free”

https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/03/elon-musk-on-batter...
jdixon

Mar 13, 2017
2:53 PM EST
> No ruffled feathers here. I find this kind of thing fascinating. :D

As do I, but not everyone does.
Ridcully

Mar 14, 2017
6:33 AM EST
Hi Bernard Swiss.....I'll take it a bit further for you. The SA govt has embarked on a totally novel approach to grid power generation in Australia - it's a combination of power sources and storage that Australia has never tried.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-14/sa-power-energy-minist...

As I remarked to a friend of mine today, SA is a "rust bucket" state but this approach is a "game changer". In my humble opinion, the thing that would really turn SA back into a prosperous state would be for SA to invite Elon Musk to set up a battery production plant in SA......It would provide jobs and also provide the technology that I think the other states are almost certainly going to have to move towards eventually.......Watch this space.
alc

Mar 14, 2017
9:54 AM EST
".Watch this space."

I certainly will, with much interest.

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