Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 22:27:27 EDT

Part 3

 Everyone has such a pollyannaish view of science. It isn't so polly-pure.
 Like everything else it is a business. Why did scientists and physicists
 in particular object to the superconducting supercollider? They feared it
 would eat up research funds that would otherwise go to them. They weren't
 interested in much other than that. Truth and knowledge wasn't high on the
 objecting scientists plate--just how much of that federal tax money they
 could get.

 Of course, we maintain the fiction of the pure scientist who never alters
 what he says in light of economic reality. Yet we can read in our books
 things like this, which are about an issue in Quantum mechanics--its

> Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, Quantum Enigma, (Oxford: Oxford
> University Press, 2006), p. 139
> "Shortly after EPR, physicists, giving their attention to the Second World
> War, developed radar the proximity fuse, and the atom bomb. Then came the
> politically and socially "straight" 1950s. In physics departments a
> conforming mind-set increasingly meant that an untenured faculty member
> might endanger a career by seriously questioning the orthodox
> interpretation of quantum mechanics. Even today it's best to explore the
> meaning of quantum mechanics only while also working a "day job" on a
> mainstream physics topic.
> © source where applicable

 Anyone who has worked in science KNOWS that there are unspoken limits to
 what one can talk about. They change over time, but the old limits are
 replaced by new limits. I guess Lamarckism's prohibition is beginning to
 die. Maybe someday the unspoken prohibition on criticising GW will die was

 Addon 4 Should we allow the barking mad nutters in science? Shouldn't Peer review keep them out of publishing any of their ideas?

 I found oil when I was a YEC--my clients made lots of money. They invested $2 million
 in my prospects and it turned into about $40 million (in the 1980s my
 clients were small oil companies). I was busy questioning the very basis
 of my science--the age of the earth. I didn't use it at work, but I was
 still writing articles at that time espousing a young-earth veiw.

 Let's go further here. Should we listen to Newton?

> Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, Quantum Enigma, (Oxford: Oxford
> University Press, 2006), p. 32
> "In his later years, Sir Isaac-the first scientist ever knighted-was
> perhaps the most respected person in the Western world. Paradoxically,
> Newton was also a mystic, immersing himself in supernatural alchemy and
> the interpretation of Biblical prophecies."
> © source where applicable

 Would you say that Newton's "bosses are justified being concerned that the
 beliefs may eventually interfere with the job"?

> What about Kepler?
> Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, Quantum Enigma, (Oxford: Oxford
> University Press, 2006), p. 25
> "Kepler did great astronomy, but science did not guide his contemporary
> worldview. Initially, he considered the planets to be pushed along their
> orbits by angels, and as a sideline he drew horoscopes, in which he likely
> believed. He also had to take time from his astronomy to defend his mother
> from accusations of witchcraft."
> © source where applicable

 Finders Petrie, was the father of Egyptian archaeology. Yet he went to
 Egypt with a mind full of mush

> Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, "The Message of the Sphinx," (New York:
> Three Rivers Press, 1996), p. 110
> "William Petrie was amongst the first 'Pyramidologists' of the Victorian
> Age to give strong support to Piazzi Smyth's notion that the Great Pyramid
> might be some sort of prophetic monument to Mankind encoding a Messianic
> blueprint designed to serve as an advance-warning mechanism for the
> 'Second Coming' of Christ. 'There had been a time', wrote Professor
> Hermann Bruck and Dr. Mary Bruck in their authroitative biography of the
> Astronomer Ryal, 'when Flinders Petrie and his father had wholeheartedly
> concurred with most of Piazzi Smyth's ideas.' Indeed as these two eminent
> astronomers and authors point out, the young Flinders Petrie set out to
> Egyipt in 1880 on his famous study of the Great Pyramid precisely because
> he wanted to 'continue Piazzi Smyth's work'."
> © source where applicable

 Weird views are part of this world, including the world of science. Let's
 look at one of the major players in the development of thermodynamics
 Julius Robert Mayer. His weird ideas provided a key concept that was

> Michael Guillen, Five Equations that Changed the World, (London: Abacus,
> 1999), p.191
> "In the beginning, Mayer imagined, the universe had been brought into
> existence by a single, inexpressibly huge force, which he called the
> Ursache, German for 'the Cause.' Subsequently, the Ursache had split up
> into smaller, diverse krafte ('forces'), each of which now powered some
> particular aspect of the universe, be it electric, chemical, thermal, and
> so forth."
> "Mayer alienated theologians with his lack of reference to God and
> scientists with his reference to the supernatural-like Ursache. Not
> surprisingly, therefore, Mayer was rejected when he tried publishing the
> theory in Annalen der Physik and Chemie ('Annals of Physics and
> Chemistry'), one of Europe's most prestigious scientific journals."
> "Thereafter, even when Mayer's explanations were more conventional, his
> reputation for being and oddball prejudiced the reviews his work received
> from peers.
> © source where applicable

 No doubt. But. Mayr found something phenomenal. He was a doctor on a
 vessel that went near the equator. He noticed, when he bled his
 patients(yeah he believed in that as well), that the blood was redder when
 near the equator. (this is because the body doesn't need to combust as
 much to keep warm, meaning less oxygen is taken up by the tissues and the
 veinous blood is redder).

 Mayer announced the discovery and because he was already a known weirdo,
 no one paid any attention even though it should have been wildly accepted
 by the "caloric theory loving establishment".

 Disappointed, Mayer did another stupid thing. He incorporated this
 observation into his nutty theory. While he could get published then, today, with bizarre views like his, peer review would toss them out!
> Michael Guillen, Five Equations that Changed the World, (London: Abacus,
> 1999), p.192
> “According to Mayer, the one huge seminal force that had split up into
> many smaller and smaller forces was, to this day, still splintering. The
> sun’s force, for example, was now bifurcating into a luminous force
> (sunlight) and thermal force (solar heat), both of which were being
> transformed by plants into a chemical force (food), which itself was being
> split up in multitudinous ways by the living creatures that consumed it.
> “Some of the chemical force was being converted by the creatures’ internal
> combustion chambers into a thermal force (body heat) and some by their
> muscles into a mechanical force (body movement). Some of the chemical
> force, also, was being converted by the creatures’ voice boxes into an
> acoustic force (sounds) and by their brains into an electric force (neural
> impulses).
> “Mayer’s grand conclusion? The strengths of all the subordinate forces of
> today—luminous, thermal, chemical, and others yet unnamed—added up exactly
> to the strength of the original Ursache, from which they all had sprouted.
> In other words, though things everywhere appeared to be changing
> ceaselessly, the total amount of force in the universe was one of the
> great constants of life; it never had changed, and it never would change.
> © source where applicable

 Most in Europe rejected his ideas as ridiculous. Critics rejected his
 views because they spoke of a thermal force being converted to other
 forces (sun's energy converted to chemical energy). According to the
 consensus of the time, the caloric theory, heat could not be destroyed. It
 was indestructable and unchangable. The Nutbag Mayer was clearly out of
 his mind.

 Since most scientists hadn't read Mayer's strange ideas, when others
 started writing similar papers, it depressed him. Helmholtz wrote of a
 similar idea and it was hailed throughout Europe as a great piece of
 scholarship. Mayer was in despair.

> Michael Guillen, Five Equations that Changed the World, (London: Abacus,
> 1999), p.193-194
> “By this time, Mayer had come to the very threshold of a nervous
> breakdown, and his doctors were threatening to commit him to a mental
> hospital. Mayer’s woes increased further when he was arrested by
> insurgents during the Revolution of 1848, a violet paroxysm of German
> nationalism. He was released shortly afterward, but two years later, all
> the frustration and alienation of his tormented life finally caught up
> with him: One night, unable to sleep, the thirty-six-year-old pariah
> climbed out of bed and leapt from the window of his second-story
> apartment.
> “Much to his chagrin, however, Mayer did not succeed in killing himself;
> he was still alive, but why? While his colleagues were still trying to
> understand the source of life, now more than ever, he craved only to
> understand the meaning of life. He cursed fate for his continued
> suffering, not realizing that in this most tragic year of his discontent,
> his ideas—his life—were about to be validated by a young Prussian
> physicist who finally would get to the heart of heat.”
> © source where applicable

 Then came the turn around for Mayer--via Rudolf Clausius

> Michael Guillen, Five Equations that Changed the World, (London: Abacus,
> 1999), p. 197
> "The newly christened scientist [Clausius--grm] wanted to create a theory
> of his own, but where to begin? As a boy being taught geology, Clausius
> had learned that science and religion did not always mix well.
> Unfortunately, he opined, the cdaloric theory had now become more like a
> religion than a science, with wavering disciiples such as William Thomson
> trying hard not to lose their faith. Scientists, he insisted had to rely
> on facts, not faith."
> "He saw in Joule's exacting experiments the factual basis and in Mayer's
> offbeat speculations the philosophical basis of a whole new way of
> thinking about heat. The two simply needed to be woven together, warp and
> woof, in the loom of mathematics."
> © source where applicable

 Clausius did that. And it brought honor and fame to Mayer.

> Michael Guillen, Five Equations that Changed the World, (London: Abacus,
> 1999), p.201
> “Within a short time, therefore, Rudolf Julius Emmanuel Clausius was being
> praised all over Europe—and so were Joule and the outcast Mayer, whose
> work had inspired the young scientist. It was a turning point for all
> three, but especially for Mayer, who in the years ahead was made a member
> of the world-famous French Academy of Sciences and awarded their
> prestigious Prix Poncelet for a lifetime of outstanding achievement; by
> the time Mayer died at the age of sixty-four, he was at peace, having
> received the credit he had so desperately sought as a tormented young
> man.”
> © source where applicable

those who would ditch the nutters entirely miss new ways to see
 philosophically. Science does that at its own risk.


 I think it is time to make a comment about a subject near to my , well,
 not my heart, but another anatomical piece, where my cancer lies. One of
 the things I don't like in science is the group think that takes place in
 all areas of it. Consider the war on cancer.

> Sharon Begley, "We Fought Cancer-And Cancer Won," Newsweek, Sept 15, 2008,
> p. 58
> "Indeed, it is possible (and common) for cancer researchers to achieve
> extraordinary acclaim and success, measured by grants, awards,
> professorships and papers in leading journals, without ever helping a
> single patient gain a single extra day of life. There is no pressure
> within science to make that happen. It is no coincidence that the ratio of
> useful therapy per basic discovery is abysmal. For other diseases, about
> 20 percent of new compounds arising from basic biological discoveries are
> eventually approved as new drugs by the FDA. For cancer, only 8 percent
> are."
> © source where applicable

 This academy awards mentality wherein a group of people all get together
 and tell each other how grand and glorious their work is, is scary when it
 comes to science. Group think about what gets rewarded ends up rewarding
 the insignificant.

> Sharon Begley, "We Fought Cancer- And Cancer Won," Newsweek, Sept 15,
> 2008, p. 60
> "By the mid-1990s studies had shown similar results for colon cancer: even
> when surgeons said they'd "got it all," patients who received chemo lived
> longer and their cnacer did not ret urn for more years"
> "Yet for years, despite the clear threat posed by metastatic cells, which
> we now know are responsible for 90 percent of all cancer deaths, the war
> on cancer ignored them. Scientist continued to rely on animal models where
> metastasis didn't even occur. Throughout te 1980s and 1990s, says Visco,
> 'researchers drilled down deeper and deeper into the disease,' looking for
> ever-more-detailed molecular mechanisms behind the initiation of cancer,
> 'instead of looking up and asking really big questions, like why cancer
> metastatsizes, which might help patients sooner.'"
> © source where applicable

 Why on earth would government-funded scientists study a cancer that
 doesn't metastasize? Real, live cancers metastasize. That is what happened
 to my cancer and why it is slowly (very slowly, I hope) winning.
 Government funding honors those who study every kind of cancer save that
 which exists; just like government funding honors every kind of
 temperature measurement except those far from the urban heat island.

 I don't know if it is true but years ago, I heard that the only European
 country that had the European wolf in large numbers was the government
 that had a bureau for the eradication of the European wolf. It seems that
 bureaucrats know that if they really win the war and accomplish their
 objective, the need for their job goes away. Then they don't achieve their

 A similar scam is being run in GW. Indeed some of the world's governmental
 bureaus are enganged in a conflict of interest. They have to sell the
 climatological data while at the same time do science.

> Lenny Smith cited by Fred Pearce, “Making Room for Uncertainty,” New
> Scientist, Dec 6, 2008, p. 43
> Most of the working scientists, especially the younger ones, are worried
> about over-interpretation. In some countries, though, national research
> centres are charged with both advancing the science and selling their
> results commercially. This must be a difficult position. It is hard for a
> salesman to lead his presentation with uncertainty, even if that's what
> the science says. “
> © source where applicable

 Thus, commerciality gives us a certitude that GW is happening. People
 really should be more skeptical of what they are fed but then, most people
 don't think about things at all. One of the funniest things was when the
 Skeptical Society, run by Michael Shermer, decided to be skeptical about
 global warming, they couldn't be skeptical about it, but could only be
 skeptical about when global warming started. Thus, instead of inviting
 Lomberg, they invited William Ruddiman to speak. It seems that being
 skeptical about global warming is far to much skepticism than the SKeptics
 Society can stand. And actually trying to heal human cancer would yield
 far too little glory for the cancer researchers.

 And we all believe that scientists are in it for the truth.

 Addon 6

 Here is another example of groupthink, again from physics. The belief in
 the multiverse is quickly becoming a doctrinal requirement. Several people
 have criticised this belief for its lack of evidence. It is fun to see how
 hypocritical belief in the unseen multiverse is when compared with unseen
 angels etc.

> Michael Hanlon, "Reality Check Required," New Scientist, (Feb 9, 2008), p.
> 22
> "It is fun to know that serious scientists believe the fabulous alternate
> realities of the Philip Pullman novels could be accurate descriptions of
> reality (for in a multiverse of infinite size and scope there will,
> somewhere and somewhen, be a world where a little girl called Lyra
> befriends a talking polar bear and where people's souls take the form of
> animal familiars)."
> "Fun yes, but is it harmless?"
> "Scientists, and people like me who stick up for science, are happy to
> pour scorn on astrologers, homeopaths, UFO-nutters, crop-circlers and
> indeed the Adam-and-Eve brigade, who all happily believe in six impossible
> things before breakfast with no evidence at all. Show us the data, we say
> to these deluded souls. Where are your trials? What about Occam's razor -
> the principle that any explanation should be as simple as possible? The
> garden is surely beautiful enough, we say, without having to populate it
> with fairies."
> "The danger is that on the wilder shores of physics these standards are
> often not met either. There is as yet no observational evidence for cosmic
> strings. It's hard to test for a multiverse. In this sense, some of these
> ideas are not so far, conceptually, from UFOs and homeopathy. If we are
> prepared to dismiss ghosts, say, as ludicrous on the grounds that firstly
> we have no proper observational evidence for them and secondly that their
> existence would force us to rethink everything, doesn't the same argument
> apply to simulated universes and time machines? Are we not guilty of
> prejudice against some kinds of very unlikely ideas in favour of others?"
> "Believing in ghosts takes a different mindset to advocating parallel
> worlds or cosmic strings. But do we really believe that we are all the
> creations of a computer sitting in some higher-dimensional adolescent's
> bedroom, or that time travellers will land at the LHC? Or are we, too,
> seeing fairies at the bottom of the garden?"
> © source where applicable

 Only in group-think can one concieve of our unobservable doppelgangers out
 there having exactly the same conversation we are having while condemning
 the beliefs of those with whom we disagree as being fantasies beyond
 conception. Indeed, today it might be worse to be a, gasp, global warming
 denier, than to be a YEC.

 In what sense can we say that the existence an unobservable multiverse is
 more real than the existence of the unobservable God of the religion
 believed in by Guillermo Gonzoles?

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Received on Thu Mar 26 22:27:36 2009

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