One of the Stupider Science Statements Made in a While, in a "Super" Book, No Less

Here is the statement, and it comes from the new "book," "Superfreakonomics":

A lot of the things that people say would be good things probably aren’t,” Myrhvold says. As an example he points to solar power. “The problem with solar cells is that they’re black, because they are designed to absorb light from the sun. But only about 12% gets turned into electricity, and the rest is reradiated as heat — which contributed to global warming.
This is wild. This person, former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myrhvold, as told by ClimateProgress.org (a somewhat hysterical, mildly partisan, but extremely well researched site) was called as "smart as" anybody else out there, by Bill Gates. Apparently not, when it comes to matters of energy.

This line of reasoning by Myrhvold, who clearly has no clue about the subject matter, is similar to the one that confuses calories with kilocalories (a thousand calories); reads about how it takes a few calories to heat up ice cubes consumed in a drink, and suggests that one can therefore drink ice cold bud lite all day long and not put on a single calorie. (Nice idea, but you can't.)

If you want to see why Myrhvold's statement is ridiculous, click here.

We'll just share one reason, in case it was not obvious. (Don't feel bad if it was not. One of the smartest guys ever -- according to Bill Gates -- missed it, and an idiotic book that will soon be a best seller actually quotes it as logical.)

What was the absorbtivity or emissivity of the material that the panel covered up? If you look on Google images, you’ll see that PV panels [[which are often blue, not black] are often — if not usually — put on roofs or over ground that is quite dark, often black. In a large fraction of cases, the panels contribute less heat reradiation than what they are covering would.
The original book Freakonomics was creative, but in some ways, inane. Most people missed why. It compares intangibles with tangibles, and presumes that because we have to make choices with respect to intangibles with tangible items, that these valuations are equatable. (That is the short version of why it is based on a dumb concept, anyway). This column also shows why Superfreakonomics is, more obviously, a dumb book.

It will sell though. The worst --but most convincing -- crap usually sells the best. That's the way it tends to work.