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Scott Pruitt at the EPA


imatfaal
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"Human activity is going to change the composition of the atmosphere to the point that it is going to cause a global temperature rise."

 

"No it won't."

 

 

"Human activity has caused a a change to the atmosphere that is going to cause a global temperature rise."

 

"No it won't."

 

 

"Human activity has caused a change in the atmosphere that has caused a global temperature rise."

 

"Ok, maybe temperatures are up but it's not because of anything we did."

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"Human activity is going to change the composition of the atmosphere to the point that it is going to cause a global temperature rise."

 

"No it won't."

 

 

"Human activity has caused a a change to the atmosphere that is going to cause a global temperature rise."

 

"No it won't."

 

 

"Human activity has caused a change in the atmosphere that has caused a global temperature rise."

 

 

 

 

"Ok, maybe temperatures are up but it's not because of anything we did."

"Human activity has caused a change in the atmosphere that has caused a global temperature rise and here is the irrefutable evidence"

 

 

"Even it this were the case, it's too late to do anything about it now."

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Well, they purged quite a bit of info in that regard already. People working at or with the EPA are massively concerned, as they have been crippled somewhat already in terms of biomonitoring and similar research they used to be able to fund. Now there are proposals to cut the budget down by over 25%.

 

Global warming is probably one of the most pressing, but far from the sole concern.

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I'm torn. I can't decide whether conservatives just don't want to lose profit by changing behavior, or if this is some kind of pundit-fueled irrational hatred (like the Clinton email server thing), or if some 1% group actually wants there to be some catastrophes they're poised to profit from somehow. Conservative fear seems prioritized for the short term. Better to fear losing profit this year on a "hoax" than to fear losing everything when your environment turns sour.

 

Or is this more collateral damage from the party that claims to represent workers by destroying their healthcare, represent the religious by using them to defund programs for the poor, and represent small government fanatics by sticking their nose into who we sleep with and what we do with our bodies? It's hard to tell if this is just monumental levels of stupidity or a coordinated lockdown of basic freedoms. Much of what the WH is doing seems like it's softening us up for a Russian invasion. Remove sanctions against them, divert funding from the TSA and Coast Guard to the Idiot Wall, defund FEMA, it all looks a lot like unbarring the gates from the inside, doesn't it?

 

But the EPA, this is just paying back donations from polluters. I understand many corporations are sending notes to the WH about regs that cost them profits.

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I'm torn. I can't decide whether conservatives just don't want to lose profit by changing behavior, or if this is some kind of pundit-fueled irrational hatred (like the Clinton email server thing), or if some 1% group actually wants there to be some catastrophes they're poised to profit from somehow. Conservative fear seems prioritized for the short term. Better to fear losing profit this year on a "hoax" than to fear losing everything when your environment turns sour.

 

Or is this more collateral damage from the party that claims to represent workers by destroying their healthcare, represent the religious by using them to defund programs for the poor, and represent small government fanatics by sticking their nose into who we sleep with and what we do with our bodies? It's hard to tell if this is just monumental levels of stupidity or a coordinated lockdown of basic freedoms. Much of what the WH is doing seems like it's softening us up for a Russian invasion. Remove sanctions against them, divert funding from the TSA and Coast Guard to the Idiot Wall, defund FEMA, it all looks a lot like unbarring the gates from the inside, doesn't it?

 

But the EPA, this is just paying back donations from polluters. I understand many corporations are sending notes to the WH about regs that cost them profits.

It's a mixed bag. For some people, necessary reforms would impact their bottom line or threaten their jobs. These people either choose to ignore it or outright refuse to believe it because the personal consequences of it being true would be devastating.

 

For others, it's a political issue about government regulation of industry. They either don't care that it is happening or think it is overblown in an attempt to expand the role of government in regulating business.

 

For a portion it is because they either subscribe to conspiracy theories as a way or life and this slots nicely into that, or else they don't believe it because they have been told that it is a lie by people they trust and/or who they agree with.

 

And finally, some see denying it as a means of self-promotion by improving their stature among all of the above people.

 

 

And there are feedback loops that apply within and between all of these groups that reinforce those beliefs.

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It must look so insane outside the US. Do other countries have agencies that either do their jobs or not based on which party is in power? It's unconscionable to me to have an agency that's supposed to protect the environment that can slack off just because the polluters are in charge.

 

How can anyone think that works in real life? Just because the new CEO is focusing on shoring up the brand, does that mean the Director of Operations gets to stop doing half his job? Didn't any conservatives learn the lessons of FEMA, and the differences between the ways we handled Katrina and Sandy?

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The EPA (proposed by Nixon no less) has become a symbol of governmental overreach. So there is a mix of conservative ideology, a bit ignorance and/or detachment from the impact of environmental issues, which is further supported and fostered by special interest groups. I doubt that there is anyone being able to see a benefit from changes (as their assessment is complex and to some degree unpredictable).

 

Edit: Crossposted.

 

But something similar was also in Canada. Under the Harper government environmental research was limited in many areas, so it is certainly not unique to USA. In Germany one could argue an opposite position, in which there is a strong population (but not science-based) consensus that nuclear energy and GMOs are bad ans should thereby be limited or phased off. It is not quite the same, but certain parties have formed around that concept. The notion basically became so popular that the conservative parties started to adopt that stance, too.

 

 

I think one important aspect is that form many people, and certainly politicians, environmental effects are not something that they experience on a daily basis. Health effects are creeping and typically only identified in retrospective population studies. Thus it appears as some form of abstract external force.

 

Consequently, discussions surrounding this issue sounds (and, to be honest, often is) like an ideological proposal rather than something physical. Ironically, part of the issue is because we often do not know how certain things are linked to adverse health effects. And this lack of knowledge is then used to prevent funding in fundamental research to figure that one out.

 

Ultimately, one issue is that the environmental issues are so complex that one cannot understand it in any depth without seriously investing time in learning about it. Hence, the discussion is dominated by opinion, which is more easily manipulated by interest groups than facts and hard research.

Edited by CharonY
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Given Trump's rhetoric it isn't a surprise that climate science deniers are being appointed to run the departments doing climate change relevant work. I'm Australian and we currently have a conservative government that applies a gloss of acceptance of climate science over a firm commitment to oppose and obstruct policies that limit the use of fossil fuels or facilitate an enduring transition to low emissions - a kind of entrenched dishonesty that is deeply disturbing. It sounds like the UK and Canada also have strong climate obstructionist political parties - a problem within, mostly, English speaking nations it seems, perhaps due to the reach of partisan English language news services?

 

The obstructionist agenda is (my opinion) not a consequence of the alleged poor quality of climate science - that claim looks manufactured to order as justification and excuse for those in positions of trust and responsibility to willfully fail in that trust and continue actions that are irresponsible. It's about climate responsibility avoidance in order to avoid the costs that responsibility potentially burdens them with - and the principle theme of this campaigning is of economic alarmist fear. It's a potent and immediate fear that flows through from captains of commerce across to their political advocates - Presidents and Prime Ministers, politicians and appointees. It flows down to their employees who - with encouragement - will put work and economic security ("for their families", to give it extra potency) ahead of "external" and "disputed" long term concerns. And this fear feeds through to those further down, in the gutters of ethics free public opinion shaping for hire - advertising, paid opinionators, PR, and tankthink. Slick FUD provides justifications that assuage any sense of shame for an unwillingness to make even small sacrifices for the sake of long term climate stability - encouraging the "proper" response of outrage (principally amongst people who, by any historical standards live lives of extravagant indulgence and wasteful excess) that they should have to pay anything for something that would appear to benefit someone else.

 

If the diving costs of renewables can persist perhaps the "free" market will favour low emissions enough to keep this transition going ahead in the presence of hostile politics and outlast it. The most optimistic thought I've had is that low cost renewables - even if currently limited to intermittently low cost - can entice the greater part of the commercially self interested company owners and execs to break ranks within the collective advocacy of major business associations and commerce "friendly" conservative and mainstream politics. These look to me to be increasingly playing that game of applying a "yes we have to do something in principle" gloss over continuing opposition and obstruction of all effective policy options in practice. I suspect a large part of that "in principle" rhetoric is aimed at limiting the influence of "warmist traitors" in their own ranks from effectively ending the obstruction - but I am (don't know why) - a bit cynical.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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No, what Canada had was a Prime Minister who was his own worst enemy.

He was a bit of a control freak and had no personality. As a result he was despised by the media and they cut him no slack.

 

Our current Prime Minister is young, photogenic, has nice hair, and takes 'selfies' with the populace every chance he gets. In short, he's a media darling. So they cut him all the slack he needs even though, contrary to what he promised during the election, he's adopted all of S Harpers' environmental policies and reduction targets.

 

The Liberal government previous to S Harper, also did absolutely nothing about climate change over 11 yrs, despite signing us up at Kyoto.

Not to mention P Martin, the Finance Minister under J Chretien, and owner of the Liberian registered Canada Steamship Lines ( to avoid Canadian taxes ), who made the biggest cuts to Health care ( 50% down to 16% federal transfer to Ontario ), yet M Harris, Conservative Ontario Premier at the time, is still vilified for it to this day.

 

That being said, this is in no way a defense of people appointed by D Trump's White House.

Edited by MigL
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Our current Prime Minister is young, photogenic, has nice hair, and takes 'selfies' with the populace every chance he gets. In short, he's a media darling. So they cut him all the slack he needs even though, contrary to what he promised during the election, he's adopted all of S Harpers' environmental policies and reduction targets.

 

 

Actually among scientists (that is, non-students) Trudeau is perceived with skepticism as it has become apparent that he is not rolling back limitations on science nor the focus on only applied research. But you may be right that that is not quite that apparent in the media as he plays that angle far better than Harper.

Edited by CharonY
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Our current Prime Minister is young, photogenic, has nice hair, and takes 'selfies' with the populace every chance he gets. In short, he's a media darling. So they cut him all the slack he needs even though, contrary to what he promised during the election, he's adopted all of S Harpers' environmental policies and reduction targets.

 

I'm not sure how one's hair or the number of selfies taken has anything to do with climate change other than frame the narrative into something it's not.

 

Harper was a climate denier. He snubbed scientists and burned the DFO libraries without digitization of more than 85%, including the works of some of my professors who never once mentioned the word climate in their studies.

 

Trudeau upholds Canada's participation in the Paris accord. Harper did not.

 

Trudeau imposed a tanker ban on the north coast. Harper wanted to navigate tankers through that waterway to Kitimat, in both directions. Heavy oil west, toxic dilution chemicals east.

 

Harper was pro-Northern Gateway and was chastised by the court for not consulting with communities affected. Trudeau ended the project.

 

No sir, Harper and Trudeau are not anything alike. Trudeau has compromised by providing permits to Kinder Morgan for the twinning of their pipeline. While that may have some critics aghast, he actually found common ground by allowing some of both issues to prevail. That's not something Harper ever did.

 

Now, if you want to discuss the issues of moving diluted bitumen to China through the Port of Vancouver as something Trudeau having in common with Harper then perhaps we'll agree it's hypocritical on a specific issue... tar sand. Nasty stuff.

 

Do you think for one second Harper would change the MoE to Environment and Climate Change?

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Well, that is true, too. At least Trudeau acknowledges global warming and seems to be interested in enacting policies to counter it (including measures such as cap and trace). Canada has a bit of a problem that much of its economy relies on the exploitation of natural resources which, obviously, has environmental issues and is not very sustainable (not to mention volatile). Trudeau has given signals that he is going to be more moderate than Harper, but in many areas have been slow to reverse. It is possible that one should not put blame too fast on him, as change may take time and priorities may be elsewhere (and not in research funding). Under Harper governmental scientists were not allowed to speak to the press regarding their research but pretty much up to end of last year this order either seemed not to be reversed or at least there was no official memo regarding this coming out (I have not talked to any researchers personally since then, but I read in the news that they have since then changed course). Likewise, there are significant cuts in personnel for Environment Canada and not too long ago the head of the Statistics office resigned citing loss of independence.

 

At minimum we do not see a complete reversal in the limitations of science, despite the much better optics of the government itself.

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Canada has a bit of a problem that much of its economy relies on the exploitation of natural resources which, obviously, has environmental issues and is not very sustainable (not to mention volatile).

 

No argument there. Trudeau is committed to petroleum reduction although selling tar sand to China seems like an questionable approach to the issue. We'll see how that adds up next election. I'm 50/50 on the issue at present, but that's a far cry better than Harper, who was a 100% asshole-in-the-tank for his cronies, despite the rest of us.

 

There's three sides to every story. Right, wrong and reality. In reality, as hewers of wood and drawers of water we all share in problem. The right wing denies a problem because they're motivated to pollute with immunity. Carte blanche. Reckless abandon. Leaving communities holding the bag. Indifferent voters have short memories, but those who've been poisoned out of their homes have elephantine recollection. I seriously doubt America will prosper with new Love Canals springing up in the absence of EPA regulations. American steel leaks as much as any other when it comes to pipelines, maybe worse if Trump continues his propensity to stiff or low ball contractors.

 

The right wing also draws upon a fallacy that anyone who opposes fossil fuel development is a hypocrite for driving a car or using plastic. Nobody suggested using petroleum must end, insomuch as being reduced where practical. All we need to do is look at a vast array of automobiles, locomotives and aircraft to know that fuel efficiency is a high priority among industry and residents.

 

No matter what Trump says or does, climate change is an issue and it always will be. A vast swath of Americans don't buy into Trump's nonsense and are subjected to deal with it daily, but the rest of the world has no obligation to accept any of it. In fact, he's making his own blithering easier to dismiss as time goes by. Like Trump's idiotic wall policy, burning more coal is not a magic bullet to fix anything other than scaring up votes. The good citizens of Flint will not feel better about there water situation if the rest of the country ends up equally or more polluted either.

 

I made a personal choice years ago to reduce my carbon footprint. Those who do not have no reason to deride those who do, for any reason.

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The leader of the German populist-right movement (currently 8-11% of the polls) said something similar and she is a freaking chemist (PhD and all). When I saw interview with her I screamed at the screen until I got hoarse. One could qualify that she is probably more of a biochemist, but strangely, it did not make me feel any better.

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The leader of the German populist-right movement (currently 8-11% of the polls) said something similar and she is a freaking chemist (PhD and all). When I saw interview with her I screamed at the screen until I got hoarse. One could qualify that she is probably more of a biochemist, but strangely, it did not make me feel any better.

 

As long as you don't think this person has disturbing issues as a scientist (like I do with Ben Carson), is there any explanation other than corruption? Isn't this a sign that somebody is getting something for their on-the-record anti-consilience statements?

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It is difficult to ascertain specific motives, but if I had to guess it is part of "if I believe it hard enough it is the truth." Her party has a lot of contradictory stances, all fueled by the overarching desire for the good old days (which, in Germany is even more problematic than in the US). Such as claiming that women should return to their traditional roles (but having a woman as head of the party).

Some analyst think that it is part of a playbook that has been used in the US and can be traced back to the campaigns such as those conducted by Phillip Morris and other companies. Essentially, it is the technique by adding doubt to scientific consensus so that other science findings, especially those with less evidence can be used or abused to gain political and ideological credit. But doing it for a sufficiently long time, not only the targets, but also the perpetrators seem to believe in the doubt itself. And make no mistake, no one is safe from ignorance-fueled delusions. After all, as individuals we can only know so much. At one level or another one has to trust people more knowledgeable than oneself. The issue here (and that is why these tactics are so successful) is that without competence in an area it is hard to judge someone else's competence.

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It is difficult to ascertain specific motives, but if I had to guess it is part of "if I believe it hard enough it is the truth." Her party has a lot of contradictory stances, all fueled by the overarching desire for the good old days (which, in Germany is even more problematic than in the US). Such as claiming that women should return to their traditional roles (but having a woman as head of the party).

Some analyst think that it is part of a playbook that has been used in the US and can be traced back to the campaigns such as those conducted by Phillip Morris and other companies. Essentially, it is the technique by adding doubt to scientific consensus so that other science findings, especially those with less evidence can be used or abused to gain political and ideological credit. But doing it for a sufficiently long time, not only the targets, but also the perpetrators seem to believe in the doubt itself. And make no mistake, no one is safe from ignorance-fueled delusions. After all, as individuals we can only know so much. At one level or another one has to trust people more knowledgeable than oneself. The issue here (and that is why these tactics are so successful) is that without competence in an area it is hard to judge someone else's competence.

Nearly every single person who smokes knows doing so is bad for there health. Just as nearly every single person who who eats fast food daily knows they have a terrible diet. I don't thinkthere is truly a large chunnk of society that doesn't understand global warming. There is simply a large chunk which doesn't care. They don't like being told they are wrong and aren't interested in changing so they troll science with nonsense arguments. Denial is their way of prolonging debate. They just want to keep smoking regardless.

 

It is a loophole. Honest polite people stop to consider the thoughts of others. Dishonest rude people take advantage by stacking onthought after thought. There is not a way to win an argument of opinion with a stubburn liar.

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Nearly every single person who smokes knows doing so is bad for there health.

 

Now they do, because that certainty has permeated society on all levels. However, looking back a few decades, a massive campaign managed to suppress the science showing that smoking is harmful (even based on their own research; see Elisa K. Tong, Stanton A. Glantz Circulation. 2007;116:1845-1854 for a special report on second hand smoke, for example). And the industry managed to maintain that illusion for quite some time.

 

 

I don't thinkthere is truly a large chunnk of society that doesn't understand global warming.

 

I do believe that a huge chunk of society does not really understand the science behind global warming and it boils down to whether they trust those that explain it to them. I know for sure that it applies to me, too. Sure I can read and follow the original articles to some degree, but since I have no expertise in climate research I would not be able to properly critique it. And at that point I may follow the research but I do not truly understand it. And it would be arrogant of me to presume such.

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I do believe that a huge chunk of society does not really understand the science behind global warming and it boils down to whether they trust those that explain it to them. I know for sure that it applies to me, too. Sure I can read and follow the original articles to some degree, but since I have no expertise in climate research I would not be able to properly critique it. And at that point I may follow the research but I do not truly understand it. And it would be arrogant of me to presume such.

I disagree. The overwhelming majority of this country live in metro areas and can see the dark tinge in the sky with their own eyes. The people who don't live in a metro areas have most certian;y visited one and seen the brown skys. One doesn't need and advanced STEM degree to understand pumping waste into our atmosphere changes our atmosphere. More over in our society we commonly take an experts word for it. Most people have little idea how a combustion engine works yet accept recommendations from mechanics. When making decisions about everything from cell phones to toothpaste people look online at ratings and accept them mostly at face value. Oh but then, when it comes to global warming, suddenly people claim they can't believe it until they review and debate every study. Suddenly the words of experts isn't enough. Suddenly the a$$hole with a 2yrs degree in criminal justice needs to debate teams of enviromental biologists regarding every doubt or else they can't accept it. It is just a ruse.

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You are arguing as if climate effects are self-explaining. However, you mentioned pumping pollutants as drivers of climate. However, without further research how would you know a) how much of any given compound is required to significantly alter climate b) what the actual effects of given pollutant (if any) it has on climate patterns. For example, components in the air (i.e. sky being brown): what do you think it is and if there is a lot of it, what effect should it have e.g. on temperature..?

It is no coincidence that among experts it took a while to identify CO2 using various approaches and intuition is usually not really useful. Regarding experts: that is pretty much what I said, there have been concerted efforts to discredit science and to erode trust in experts.

This is done by a mix of sowing disinformation, doubt and propping up experts that they can pay off.

 

I am pretty sure that if there is sufficing impetus to create controversies regarding tooth paste, you will see factions forming there, too. And with cell phones, we see that already with regard to brand loyalty and people accusing websites of being shills if they evaluate a certain brand better or worse than the other.

Edited by CharonY
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You are arguing as if climate effects are self-explaining. However, you mentioned pumping pollutants as drivers of climate. However, without further research how would you know a) how much of any given compound is required to significantly alter climate b) what the actual effects of given pollutant (if any) it has on climate patterns. For example, components in the air (i.e. sky being brown): what do you think it is and if there is a lot of it, what effect should it have e.g. on temperature..?

It is no coincidence that among experts it took a while to identify CO2 using various approaches and intuition is usually not really useful. Regarding experts: that is pretty much what I said, there have been concerted efforts to discredit science and to erode trust in experts.

This is done by a mix of sowing disinformation, doubt and propping up experts that they can pay off.

 

I am pretty sure that if there is sufficing impetus to create controversies regarding tooth paste, you will see factions forming there, too. And with cell phones, we see that already with regard to brand loyalty and people accusing websites of being shills if they evaluate a certain brand better or worse than the other.

The answers to every relevant question you asked are known. Detailed explanations can be found in eath science's climate science on this forum. I used the dumbed down example of tinge color skies intentionally to illustrate how dumbed down the issue can be.

 

What is your point about how long it took to identify CO2? It took humans a long time to eventwritten language but that is obviously irrelevant here despite the fact we are using written language to have this discussion. There is a nearly endless amount of peer reveiwed research out there you can study if you truly have questions. There are even people like Bill Nye that make videos explaining the basics at a grade school level. If you actually want the answers you can easily obtain them. Everyone in the U.S., in the western world, can. People who insist they don't know what to make of climate change are either filibustering or have mental condidtion which prevents them from learning. Personnally I think the overwhelming majority are just filibustering.

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My point is that things that you point out to be obvious can have contra-intruitive answers. For example during the 70s a lot of research had to be done to figure out whether pollution may cause warming or cooling. The tinge, you mentioned, for example is usually caused by particulates which are generally associated with cooling (with some exceptions). Thus if you state something like "just look at the sky" you can get contradicting answers (or in this case illustrating probably the opposite of what you intended, which is a risk of dumbing down info).

 

In other words, it took a lot of data and research things out and at some level you have to trust the scientists that a) the data they have is measure accurately and b) that the resulting conclusions are valid. I am pretty sure that neither you or me could have come to the conclusion without people explaining where the links are and why the assumption of CO2 as the main driver is valid.

 

If you think that it is trivially obvious, I am almost certain (unless you are very familiar with the subject, which I don't know) that you are making simplifications on the matter so that it just appears obvious to you. Unless, of course your point is that climate research is actually a trivial subject and that conclusion are obvious even to laypersons. In that case it would mean that a lot of scientists were wasting their time pointing out the obvious. This goes back to the other argument that people not familiar with a subject may overestimate their familiarity with a subject.

 

Things that are even slightly complicated, such as health or climate effects are can not be understood intuitively and require significant amount of education. Lacking that investment, it is easy to sow doubt. How many peer reviewed publications does the average person read? And how much do they understand? I know I am at a loss for a number of the more technical papers, and I do not consider myself to be particularly stupid. I see a distinct difference between feeling you understand something (e.g. if Bill Nye explains it in a simplified way) to truly understanding (where you can actually make meaningful predictions or extrapolations. I can get a student to memorize and repeat things for an exam within hours. But getting them to understand what i means takes years.

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