Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 22:28:51 EDT

 part 3

 Some of the reaction to doubting things about which there is a 'scientific
 consensus' reminds me of the treatment Wegener received by the consensus
 of his day.

> Russell Miller, Continents in Collision, (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books,
> 1983),p.51-52
> "Despite their general rejection of the theory of continental drift,
> scientists somehow could not quite lay it to rest. In November of 1928,
> Wegener was invited to New York to attend an international symposium
> sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He eagerly
> accepted the chance to explain his views, only to find that the few
> support raised at the meeting were quickly drowned out by a chorus of
> hostile dissenters, who criticized not only his hypothesis but his
> scientific credentials as well. One after another, delegates to the
> symposium stood up to express, with crushing sarcasm, grave doubts about
> the possibility of continental drift. Some barely troubled to justify
> their rejection of the hypothesis; others demonstrated errors of detail
> and used them to discredit the whole theory; a few seemed unable to
> restrain their anger that the idea was being seriously considered at all."
> "Professor Rollin T. Chamberlin of the University of Chicago attacked
> Wegener's geological evidence on 18 separate counts, claiming it ranged
> from unlikely to ludicrous. "Wegener's hypothesis in general,' he said,
> 'is of the footloose type, in that it takes considerable liberty with our
> globe and is less bound by restrictions or tied down by awkward , ugly
> facts than most of its rival theories."
> "A professor of paleontology at Yale University, Charles Schuchert,
> provoked much hilarity by displaying pictures of a globe on which he had
> elaborately tried, and spectacularly failed, to fit together obviously
> incongruent coastlines such as those of North and South America. He also
> pointed out that erosion would have substantially altered the shape of the
> coastlines over long periods of time, yet Wegener was suggesting, by
> matching Africa and South America, that the fracture line had retained its
> shape for 120 million years. "Is there a geologist anywhere," asked
> Schuchert, "who will subscribe to this startling assumption?"
> "Professor Bailey Willis of Stanford University picked up on the same
> theme, charging that Wegener's supposed fit of the continental coastlines
> was illusory. If continents were drifting through a layer of the earth's
> crust, said Willis, the stresses of the movement would utterly destroy the
> original configurations; the apparent fit of Africa and South America
> could therefore be nothing more than coincidence. William Bowie of the
> United States Coast and Geodetic Survey used the nagging question of the
> driving force as the basis for his attack. If the continents were being
> propelled toward the Equator by some mysterious force, as Wegener had
> suggested, then how, Bowie asked, could four of the seven continents
> remain concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, three of those on one side
> of the earth? Of a total of 14 speakers, hardly anyone had a favorable
> word for the idea of continental drift. One scientist who wrote about the
> symposium may unintentionally have accounted for much of the animosity
> when he complained, "If we are to believe Wegener's hypothesis, we must
> forget everything which has been learned in the last 70 years and start
> all over again."
> "Wegener himself spoke only briefly and said little in his own defense.
> Perhaps he had heard too many attacks to know where to start defending
> himself; perhaps he was so serenely convinced of the validity of his
> hypothesis that he saw nothing to be gained by arguing about details.
> Whatever the reason, he listened intently but silently throughout the
> symposium, smoking his pipe, to all appearances unmoved by the barrage of
> criticism.
> "On his return to Germany he went right ahead with a fourth and final
> edition of The Origin of Continents and Oceans, although this time he
> acknowledged the difficulties of trying to answer his critics.
> © source where applicable

 We should all be careful about how dogmatic we get about science. and as a
 member of the AAPG, we should be ashamed of the way Wegener was treated.

 Addon 8

 Here is another example of Wegener's treatment at the hands of scientific

> Russell Miller, Continents in Collision, (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books,
> 1983),p.49-50
> "Members of England's Royal Geographical Society took the subject of
> continental drift under consideration at a January 1923 meeting in London.
> While they generally agreed that the theory offered convenient
> explanations of much that was still puzzling about the earth, they
> completely rejected it. One geologist pointed out that the
> contracting-earth theory was so universally accepted that no one who
> "valued his reputation for scientific sanity" would dare advocate an
> extraordinary theory like continental drift. Another described Wegener's
> views as "vulnerable in almost every statement."
> "A geologist named Philip Lake delivered the most blistering attack, not
> only on the theory as such, but on its author. "Wegener is not seeking the
> truth," said Lake, "he is advocating a cause and is blind to every fact
> and argument that tells against it." He accused the German scientist of
> stretching, contorting and twisting the continents in a misbegotten effort
> to fit them together. "It is easy to fit the pieces of a puzzle together
> if you distort their shapes," Lake sneered, "but when you have done so
> your success is no proof that you have placed them in their original
> positions. It is not even proof that the pieces belong to the same puzzle,
> or that all the pieces are present." An even swifter and more summary
> indictment awaited Wegener in America, where the president of the
> prestigious American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia pronounced the
> idea of continental drift to be "utter, damned, rot!"
> © source where applicable

 Consensus in science is not much better than consensus in politics. Those
 who are not in the fold are mercilessly pursued and all attempts are made
 to shut the questioners up.

 Addon 9

 Last night over in the Global warming thread I posted an abstract to an
 article criticizing its sociological aspects. I found a jewel of a
 statement in it concerning the use of science as an authoritative, source
 of information.

> Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?
> Richard S. Lindzen
> Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate
> Massachusetts Institute of Technology
> November 29, 2008
> As science undertook more ambitious problems, and the cost and scale of
> operations increased, the need for funds undoubtedly shifted emphasis to
> practical relevance though numerous examples from the past assured a
> strong base level of confidence in the utility of science. Moreover, the
> many success stories established ‘science’ as a source of authority and
> integrity. Thus, almost all modern movements claimed scientific
> foundations for their aims. Early on, this fostered a profound misuse of
> science, since science is primarily a successful mode of inquiry rather
> than a source of authority.
> © source where applicable

 When science acts as if it is a special source of authority, it begins to
 behave as a religion. When the AGW guys claim that there is a consensus,
 they are wrong, and behaving like the pope.

 edited to add

> Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?
> Richard S. Lindzen
> Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate
> Massachusetts Institute of Technology
> November 29, 2008 p.3
> Science since the sixties has been characterized by the large programs
> that this generosity encourages. Moreover, the fact that fear provides
> little incentive for scientists to do anything more than perpetuate
> problems, significantly reduces the dependence of the scientific
> enterprise on unique skills and talents. The combination of increased
> scale and diminished emphasis on unique talent is, from a certain point of
> view, a devastating combination which greatly increases the potential for
> the political direction of science, and the creation of dependent
> constituencies. With these new constituencies, such obvious controls as
> peer review and detailed accountability, begin to fail and even serve to
> perpetuate the defects of the system. Miller (2007) specifically addresses
> how the system especially favors dogmatism and conformity.

 Addon 10

 My statement kind of stands. Apparently no one who holds an ID position
 before the tenure decision is made gets tenure. Something is always found
 to be wrong with the candidate. And everyone in the group-think tribe
 believes the approved story.

[GRM--for the ASA version of this document: I had been discussing Guerllmo Gonzales, the ID astronomer who didn't get tenure. As it became known that he beleived ID, his ability to get grants declined, I believe because of religious discrimination. Then that failure to get grants was evidence that he was not a good scientist! That is my opinion, but I can't prove it]

 I am going to give another example of group think. I am going to do it
 from an economic perspective. Today, the market tanked. It dropped 200
 points as Timothy Geitner was speaking about the bail out plan. I would
 say that 95% of the news stories both on the internet, in print and on the
 air said that the market tanked because Geitner's plan lacked specifics,
 or details . Does anyone in the news media actually think for themselves?

 Who was it that decided that all the reporters would go out and say the
 very same thing--the market tanked because Geitner didn't provide details.
 That is the group-think answer. Every reporter talks to other reporters
 and the same story comes out of everyone's mouth.

 Doesn't anyone think that maybe it was because the investors were hoping
 for a removal of the mark-to-market rule, which rumor last Thursday caused
 a 5% rise in stock price up until today when we gave it all back? Geitner
 didn't mention mark-to-market.

 Could it be that by saying that he was adding 800 billion to a lending
 program, investors might have decided that things are far far worse than
 they had thought, and thus, wanted out before it got that bad?

 No, no reporters thought that, or thought about the fact that with every
 bailout so far, the market rises on hopes that the congress will pass a
 cure-all bill that everyone will adore like the girls like Prince
 Charming. But then, like the girl who saw Prince Charming at the bar last
 night, once the bill is passed, the girl wakes up with a heck of a
 hangover, a sense of guilt (what the heck have we done?) and a deep desire
 to sell every share of stock because of what we did.
 With Tarp 1 the market rose up until the bill passed congress, then it

 No, of course, not, it couldn't be any of these other reasons. Groupthink
 among reporters all tell us that it is because Geitner didn't provide

 Another heavy investor and I joke every day about the reason the reporters
 give for why the market moves. The market is up because economic worries
 ease. The next day, the market is down because of economic worries
 returning. Then the cycle repeats. Reporters talk to reporters to get
 their news, and all the unwashed beleive that group-think pronoucncement.

 Group think is everywhere. It invades academia who won't let anyone in if
 they don't think like they do, but then they think they are the only
 independent thinkers on earth--like several christian denominations who
 think they are the only ones going to heaven, and those Methodists will
 burn forever. Academics throw dissenters to the dogs.

 But then, as a young man, I loved reading Ayn Rand. Her reputation for
 killing the wounded is well known.

> Brian Doherty, "Rand and the Right," Wall Street Journal, Oct 13-14, 2007,
> p. A11
> "Rand and a fair number of her closest followers were notorious for
> casting into outer darkness anyone who might agree with everything she
> advocated, but not for their reasons, properly deduced from the facts of
> reality."
> © source where applicable

 One climatological group think may, thankfully, be dying. But while it was
 alive, no one dare doubt that chlorofluorocarbons caused the ozone hole.
 If you were a skeptic, you might be cast into the outer darkness as well.

> Quirin Schiermeier, "Chemists Poke Holes in Ozone Theory," Nature,
> 449(2007):383
> "So Markus Rex, an atmosphere scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute of
> Polar and Marine Research in Potdam, Germany, did a double-take when he
> saw new data for the break-down rate of crucial molecule, dichlorine
> peroxide (Cl2O2). The rate of photolysis (light-activated splitting) of
> this molecule reported by chemists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
> Pasadenea, California, was extremely low in the wavelengths available in
> the stratosphere-almost an order of magnitude lower
> than the currently accepted rate."
> "'This must have far-reaching consequences;' Rex says. 'If the
> measurements are correct we can basically no longer say we understand how
> ozone holes come into being:' What effect the results have on projections
> of the speed or extent of ozone depletion remains unclear.'"
> "The rapid photolysis of Cl2O2 is a key reaction in the chemical model of
> ozone destruction developed 20 years ago (see graphic). If the rate is
> substantially lower than previously thought, then it would not be possible
> to create enough aggressive chlorine radicals to explain the observed
> ozone losses at high latitudes, says Rex. The extent of the discrepancy
> became apparent only when he incorporated the new photolysis rate into a
> chemical model of ozone depletion. The result was a shock: at least 60% of
> ozone destruction at the poles seems to be due to an unknown mechanism,
> Rex told a meeting of stratosphere researchers in Bremen, Germany, last
> week."
> "Other groups have yet to confirm the new photolysis rate, but the
> conundrum is already causing much debate and uncertainty in the ozone
> research community. "Our understanding of chloride chemistry has really
> been blown apart;' says John Crowley, an ozone researcher at the Max
> Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany."
> "'Until recently everything looked like it fitted nicely;' agrees Neil
> Harris, an atmosphere scientist who heads the European Ozone Research
> Coordinating Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK. "Now suddenly it's
> like a plank has been pulled out of a bridge:'"
> "The measurements at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were overseen by
> Stanley Sander, a chemist who chairs a NASA panel for data evaluation.
> Every couple of years, the panel recommends chemical kinetics and
> photochemical data for use in atmosphere studies. Until the revised
> photolysis rate has been evaluated, which won't be before the end of next
> year, "modellers must make up their minds about what to do;'"
> © source where applicable

 Back when deodorant spray was the enemy, no one would express the
 slightest indication that they might possibly be wrong. All was
 certitude--as it is today with an inability to hire ID proponets, YECs,
 and global warming doubters.

 And of course, there is the mathematical anaysis of human behavior which
 shows how Morton's Demon works.

> Michael Brooks, "Why We Sometimes To Go To Extremes," New Scientist, ,
> Nov. 24, 2007, p. 14
> "IN CERTAIN societies, people's views naturally migrate over time towards
> extreme ends of a political spectrum, where they will become entrenched.
> This, at least, is what a mathematical analysis of human behaviour by
> Andre Martins of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil has shown."
> "Martins's computer model is designed to simulate the way opinions can
> spread through a society. It is based on a mathematical model of the way
> atoms align their magnetic fields. The underlying idea is that
> individuals' opinions can be influenced by the views of their neighbours,
> just as the orientation of an atom's magnetic field tends to line up with
> that of its neighbours."
> "While such an approach undoubtedly simplifies human behaviour, it has
> already shown some success by predicting people's voting patterns in the
> build-up to an election. In that study, people's views were modelled as
> two simple states of mind. Now Martins has extended this to allow each
> human 'agent' to hold a range of opinions cross a defined spectrum."
> © source where applicable

 And of course, the more egotistical of us, especially among the
 intelligentsia, think they are immune to such plebian forces because they
 think they think for themselves and that others don't influence them.
 Nothing could be further from the truth. if there is so much independent thought among the intelligentsia in academia, why are they almost all of the same political party? Clearly they are sheeple.

 addon 11
 I saw today in the Wallstreet that there are other reasons that the market
 didn't like the stimulus other than what the group-thinking reporters

> Andy Kessler, Why Markets Dissed the Geithner Plan," WSJ Feb 11, 2009, p.
> a17
> Second, Mr. Geithner wants to use up to $1 trillion to back new car loans,
> home loans and student loans. That's noble, but incredibly market
> distorting. Who gets these loans? Will banks be forced to loan to those
> with bad credit? Who sets loan rates? Doesn't this just set up another
> credit squeeze when government guarantees are lifted?
> © source where applicable

 Another reason is that the Japanese did what Geithner wants to do and it
 didn't work.

 Reporters are such sheeple and unthinking group-thinkers.

 Addon 12

 Very closely. Tony and I were partners--I did the geophysics and he did
 the geology. We came up with some pretty good prospects together.

 As I have repeatedly said, I tried really hard to keep one of them from
 being laid off, but failed. He was a fantastic scientist and didn't use
 YEC at work. He did feel that he was required to beleive it because of his
 interpretation of theology.

 My friend, didn't insist on denying data. He saw the same data I saw and
 merely would say, "There has to be an explanation we haven't thought of."
 It is hard to splatter blood on the wall with someone like that.

 And I would say Frank, that I have not met a single YEC in the oil
 industry who had a different attitude. The same data that drove me out of
 YEC drives them to not deny what their eyes see.

 What sets me off is when people simply deny data, which is what this
 thread is all about--consensus leads one to deny data. YECs have their
 consensus, AGW folk have their consensus etc.

 I just ran into another biased and data-denying set of statements on a
 scientific issue that is interesting. The Science News I got today has an
 article on the missing bats of Carlsbad Cavern. In 1937 V. C. Allison
 estimated that there were 8.7 million bats that lived in Carlsbad. Later
 estimates were much much lower and rarely topped 1 million.

> Susan Milius, "8 million 'lost' bats maybe weren't," Science News, Feb 14,
> 2009, p. 12
> Consequently, some conservationists have raised alarms about Carlsbad's
> bats.
> © source where applicable

 So far so good. Several articles appeared in the journals explaining what
 happened to the bats

> D. R. Clark Jr., DDT and the Decline of Free-Tailed Bats ( Tadarida
> brasiliensis ) at Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico," Environmental
> Contamination Toxology, Volume 40, Number 4 / April, 2001
> "DDT is believed to have caused the population of Brazilian free-tailed
> bats (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana) at Carlsbad Cavern to decline
> severely after 1936. Nevertheless, previous data supporting this
> hypothesis are limited to a single study from 1974, which indicated that
> 20% of young free-tails from the cavern may have died of DDE poisoning
> during their first southward migration. In this study I compared
> organochlorine residues among samples of free-tails collected in Carlsbad
> Cavern in 1930, 1956, 1965, 1973, and 1988. Samples of skin cut from dry
> museum specimens were chemically analyzed, except for the 1973 data, which
> were derived from analyses of whole bats minus gastrointestinal tracts.
> Accumulated residue levels of DDT compounds in bats from 1965 and 1956
> exceeded those in 1973 bats by ≈ 4.8 times and ≈ 2.7 times, respectively.
> This suggests that lethal effects of DDT compounds were substantially
> greater in the 1950s and 1960s than in the 1970s. Residues in 1988 bats
> resembled those for 1973 bats. It is concluded that DDT played a major
> role in this severe population decline. These results can be applied by
> management personnel in evaluating the present and future status of this
> population regarding persisting organochlorine insecticides as well as
> other agricultural chemicals now in use. The case of the Carlsbad colony
> is discussed relative to the general issue of other bat population
> declines.
> © source where applicable

 But then, recent research shows this:

> Susan Milius, "8 million 'lost' bats maybe weren't," Science News, Feb 14,
> 2009, p. 12
> "To count bats, Thomas Kunz of Boston University and colleagues set up
> thermal imaging cameras at the cavern in 2005. Margrit Betke, also of B.
> U., developed algorithms for analysing the recordings.
> "In a series of counts in 2005, numbers varied froma low of not quite
> 70,000 to a peak about 10 times higher weeks later. Even at the peak,
> counts came up some 8 million bats short of the old estimate. The Boston
> team's modeling found that at most 50,000 bats could exit a choke point in
> the cavern per minute, limiting the number of bats in 1937 to 1 million.
> Carlsbad Caverns National Park has discounted Allison's numbers as
> excessive, says park biologist Renee West.
> "'That doesn't mean these bats aren't declining,' says researcher Nickolay
> Hristov, now at Brown University. "The declines just haven't been as
> bad.'"
> © source where applicable

 I just love that last sentence. We wouldn't want facts to get in the way
 of grant money to study the decline of the bat population. The whole game
 is a scam, a sham and this is what one gets when the zeitgeist of today is
 that humans are killing the planet, therefore it must be beleived that
 humans killed the bats (which never existed). Clark gets professional
 kudoes for writing that DDT killed them. Obviously he lacked proof.

 Older articles on the 'fact' that ddt killed the bats can be found in "Bat
 mortality: pesticide poisoning and migratory stress" KN Geluso, JS
 Altenbach, DE Wilson - Science, 1976

 A google scholar search shows how many articles mention the decline of the
 Carlsbad bat population from 8 million to 1 million. A whole academic
 industry was devoted to the decline of the bat--all of it utter nonsense.

 Hristov, doesn't want to see his livelihood threatened, so he continues to
 beleive that the bat population is declining. It simply has to be
 declining--after all, humans are killing the planet..


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Received on Thu Mar 26 22:29:06 2009

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