Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 22:31:11 EDT

 part 4
 This morning on my 4 mile walk, I was reading a book I picked up in
 Ushuaia, Argentina on the Tierra del Fuegan indians. The author was
 discussing some of the biases that westerners had when they first met the

> Arnoldo Canclini, The Fuegan Indians, (Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken,
> 2007), p. 22
> "There is one last point to clear up in this regard. Many early authors
> proclaim them cannibals, which is entirely inaccurate. Both Darwin and
> FitzRoy, for example have said this, quoting a Yahgan source. Perhaps one
> of th Yaghan, trying to show off, or perhaps merely trying to echo what
> was being asked, neither confirmed nor denied it, and the prejudiced
> listener chose to register the 'answer' that best fit his own ideas."
> © source where applicable

 This is not one of Darwin's better moments in science. This is what he
 wrote in the Beagle book

 " The different tribes when at
 war are cannibals. From the concurrent, but quite independent
 evidence of the boy taken by Mr. Low, and of
 Jemmy Button, it is certainly true, that when pressed in
 winter by hunger, they kill and devour their old women
 before they kill their dogs: the boy, being asked by Mr.
 Low why they did this, answered, "Doggies catch otters,
 old women no." This boy described the manner in which
 they are killed by being held over smoke and thus choked;
 he imitated their screams as a joke, and described the parts
 of their bodies which are considered best to eat. Horrid
 as such a death by the hands of their friends and relatives
 must be, the fears of the old women, when hunger begins
 to press, are more painful to think of; we are told that they
 then often run away into the mountains, but that they are
 pursued by the men and brought back to the slaughter-house
 at their own firesides!" Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter
 X "Tierra del Fuego,"

 This is remarkably similar to the fooling of Margaret Mead, who believed
 the tales of Samoan teenagers concerning their sexual mores. Consensus
 science is a wonderful thing that keeps people from actually having to
 think. One finds truth by challenging everything, not by accepting what
 everyone thinks.

 When believing what 'everyone knows' for a while everyone knew that Samoa
 was a libertine island (for sailors always told of how sexually free such
 islands were.) Mead beleived what everyone know and then did her

> CWNY, "Cambria Will not Yield," Dec 30, 2007
> Sunday, December 30, 2007
> The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead
> A Book Review of The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead by Derek Freeman,
> Westview Press, 1999
> Freeman’s exposure of the false assumptions and faulty “research” behind
> Margaret Mead’s book, Coming of Age in Samoa, is certainly significant in
> view of the sainted status that liberaldom has conferred upon Mead.
> The book’s weakness is that it is written in the dull academic style of an
> anthropologist, which is, of course, what the author is. And indeed,
> Freeman admits, he himself was a Mead enthusiast when he began his
> follow-up research, until he discovered that Mead’s research was flawed
> and inaccurate. He even includes, in the book, a letter from Mead to
> himself in which she concedes that her research was inaccurate.
> What Freeman unearths is that Samoa was not the uninhibited sexual
> paradise that Mead described in her book. Mead spent most of her time
> “researching” the Samoan culture in a Navy hotel and never really lived
> with the Samoans. She got her information about the sexual practices of
> young Samoan girls from two girls, who, Freeman reveals, were just
> indulging in the Samoan custom of telling tall tales. They never dreamed
> that Mead would take them seriously.
> http://cambriawillnotyield.blogspot....aret-mead.html
> © source where applicable

 One must always question research even of those who are famous because if
 they did anthro research like Mead did --from a hotel-- then that research
 isn't worth much.

 the thing I am really trying to get across in this thread is that
 scientists, like everyone else, including me, are sheeple people, who must
 struggle hard to avoid making mistakes like those above. For people to
 claim that this or that area is 'settled science' is to do what they say
 that YECism does--inhibit research.

 Edited to add; I can't remember if I have talked about this on this thread
 or not, but my China assignment required that I challenge the consensus
 science over there.

 Before I went to China, Kerr-McGee had not had a single successful
 exploratory well in 5 years, as measured by a drill stem test. They were
 drilling upthrown fault blocks and were failing over and over again to
 find oil. KMG must have spent a hundred million or more on dry holes (the
 wells were cheaper over there). When I was sent there, I was told to find
 out what was left. I knew that we were probably going to try to get rid of
 the Bohai and I knew we had a short time to find oil. A well was drilling
 when I got there. It was a dry hole. My boss, the country manager sent me
 back to the states to get the VP to sign an afe for the next upthrown
 fault block prospect. The VP went ballistic. I was new to China and didn't
 know the history very well. He pulled out a map and started pointing to
 wells. "That concept didn't work here. It didn't work here. It didn't work
 here, here, here, here here and here. Now. Tell me why it is going to work
 where you want to drill now! "

 Needless to say, I didn't have a grand answer to that question. With my
 tail between my legs, I few back to Beijing without a signature on the
 afe. Our program was dead. No money, no program, no need for people, and
 my stay in China would be very short--measured in weeks.

 I sat down with my team in Beijing and told them the ugly truth. We were
 not going to be able to drill another upthrown fault block. If we didn't
 find something new, the game was over.

 Everyone knew that stratigraphic traps didn't work in the Bohai. We
 decided to try a couple of strat trap ideas. We did basin modeling on them
 and were told that there was no way oil could be generated in the shallow
 basin where our idea resided. We were told it was too cold, too shallow,
 the source rocks would be immature. The problem was that there was a field
 just south of our prospect that had 50 million barrels. When I would
 mention that, they would say, 'It must be open to a deeper basin to the
 south". We didn't have data down there so I couldn't argue with them. I
 finally got data that showed that their basin was as small as ours, and
 that the source rock was better and more capable of generating oil in a
 shallow basin. I had data from the Chinese showing all that.

 The reaction was,, "Everyone knows that you can't trust the Chinese data".
 Consensus. Our experts said it wouldn't work. The VP said that he wouldn't
 fund the new idea. He was through with China. I had only one choice--go to
 the market place and sell the deal. I did. I got another company to pay
 for the wells.

 We drilled the well and drilled an average of 2 meters per hour through
 the rocks above the trap. Then when we went into the trap we found great
 oil shows and drilled at 70 m per hour--a sign of lots of pore volume and
 producible rock. Afterwards we did a pressure test. It said that the rocks
 were to impermeable and lacked porosity. Consensus said that oil wouldn't
 flow from those rocks. I was devastated, but the data was inconsistent.
 There is no way we should have gotten those pressure tests if we drilled
 at 70 m per hour. So I begged the engineer to take a sample of oil. She
 said that Schlumberger said with the values we had from the pressure tool,
 nothing would flow. I begged. Just try it. She did. In 20 minutes we had a
 sample of oil. I called the VP.

 He said he wanted someone to open the cannisters and actually see the oil
 before he would allow us to do a drillstem test. The oil was there. We ran
 the Drill stem test. The result was that we got a Drillstem test of 1100
 barrels per day out of the well we drilled. It was the first successful
 well in 5 years.

 Don't believe what everyone knows. Beleive the data. That is all that
 matters. Consensus is often wrong, even if it is the consensus of experts.
 I have made lots of money for my clients and employers over the year by
 doing exactly what I did in the Bohai.

 AGW is a game of believing what others beleive, not belieiving the data.

 addon 14

 Today, in between getting my tax records ready for the accountants,
 writing a few posts, and reading a few physics papers, I was led to recall
 an issue relevant to the consciousness thread, concerning backward
 causation. I had read about it in New Scientist a few months back and had
 wanted to read the paper, which I am doing now (not as I write, I am not
 that talented to write and read at the same time, save reading what I

 The paper discussed in New Scientist would have some serious implications
 to the non-physical argument I made in the OP in the consciousness thread,
 if a paper is true. That led me to look up the article, and when I saw
 again the name, I recalled it from a book I had read about 15 years ago.
 The author is Mitchell J. Feigenbaum. I will talk about on his latest
 bombshell in the consciousness thread, but his past bombshell is a grand
 illustration of who 'what-everyone-knows' gets in the way of finding the

 Feigenbaum graduated in 1964 and got a Ph. D from MIT in particle physics
 in 1970. Then he did nothing at VPI and Cornell (Gleick, Chaos, p. 159).
 Those years were

> James Gleick, Chaos, (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), p. 159-160
> "...fruitless, that is, in terms of the steady publication of work on
> manageable problems that is essential for a young university scientist.
> Postdocs were supposed to produce papers. Occasionally an advisor would
> ask Feigenbaum what had happened to some problem, and he would say, 'Oh, I
> understood it."
> © source where applicable

 No tenure for this guy!

 Feigenbaum moved to Los Alamos, where he didn't produce anything either,
 but became a great consultant for everyone else. By this time he had
 exactly one paper with his name on it--pretty rotten for a 29 year old
 postdoc. Yet somehow the guy was hired in 1973 to be the head of the
 Theoretical Division at Los Alamos, where his first act was to fire the
 department and hire new people. Then progress seemed to stop.

> James Gleick, Chaos, (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), p. 2
> "Even Feigenbaum's friends were wondering whether he was ever going to
> produce any work of his own. As willing as he was to do impromptu magic
> with their questions, he did not seem interested in devoting his own
> research to any problem that might pay off. he thought about turbulence in
> liquids and gases. He thought about time--did it glide smoothly forward or
> hop discretely like a sequence of cosmic motion-picture frames? The
> thought about the eye's ability to see consistent colors and forms in a
> universe that physicists knew to be a shifting quantum kaleidoscope. He
> thought about clouds, watching them from airplane windows (until in 1975,
> his scientific travel privileges were officially suspended on grounds of
> overuse) or from the hiking trails above the laboratory."
> © source where applicable

 Even the bosses were getting worried.

 But Feigenbaum started studying nonlinear equations. He focused on the
 period doubling of oscillations in the equation. He would calculate the
 point in the parameter space where the period doubled. and then calculate
 the next one. Because he didn't have good computers he had to write down
 the output of the computations by hand, think about them and wait for the
 next number. He started a game of guessing what would be the next number
 out of the computer. Then he realized that the periods were doubling at a
 constant rate. He came up with a number 4.669.

 Then he worked on another nonlinear equation. He found that this second
 equation engaged in the period doubling with the same rate--4.669! That
 number worked for lots of nonlinear equations. He then asked a guy to
 teach him Fortran and came up with the constant 4.66920 by the end of the
 day. The next day he had calculated the rate as 4.6692016090. Every system
 was governed by this number. Stream turbulence, electrical oscillation,
 pendulums etc. He had found something incredible in nonlinear equations.
 The constant was universal.
> James Gleick, Chaos, (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), p. 180
> But what made universality useful also made it hard for physicists to
> believe. Universality meant that different systems would behave
> identically. Of course, Feigenbaum was only studying simple numerical
> functions. But he believed that his theory expressed a natural law about
> systems at the point of transition between orderly and turbulent. Everyone
> knew that turbulence meant a continuous spectrum of different frequencies,
> and everyone had wondered where the different frequencies came from.
> "Suddenly you could see the frequencies coming in sequentially. The
> physical implications was that real-world systems would behave in the
> same, recognizable way, and that furthermore it would be measurably the
> same. Feigenbaum's universality was not just qualitative, it was
> quantitative; not just structural, but metrical. It extended not just to
> patterns, but to precise numbers. [b ] To a physicist that strained
> credibility.[/b]
> "Years later Feigenbaum still kept in a desk drawer, where he could get at
> them quickly, his rejection letters. By then he had all the recognition he
> needed. His Los Alamos work had won him prizes and awards that brought
> prestige and money. But it still rankled that editors of the top academic
> journals had deemed his work unfit for publication for two years after he
> began submitting it. The notion of a scientific breakthrough so original
> and unexpected that it cannot be published seems a slightly tarnished
> myth. Modern science, with its vast flow of information and its impartial
> system of peer review is not supposed to be a matter of taste. One editor
> who sent back a Feigenbaum manuscript recognized years later that he had
> rejected a paper that was a turning point for the field; yet he still
> argued that the paper had been unsuited to his journal's audience of
> applied mathematicians"
> © source where applicable

 But importance doesn't matter, when the consensus credibility is strained,
 you get no publications through the process.

 Now, the next account of this includes some other people who faced these
 consensus problems. But it is from a source that some here will think in
 appropriate, as if everything from this guy has to be wrong--it is the
 bias of those who don't pay attention to facts but pay attention to who.

> Frank Tipler, "Refereed Journals," in William Dembski editor, Uncommon
> Dissent, (Wilmington Delaware: ISI Books, 2004), p. 118-120
> "In an article for Twentieth-Century Physics, a book commissioned by the
> American Physical Society (the professional organization for U.S.
> physicists) to describe the great achievements of twentieth-century
> physics, the inventor of chaos theory, Mitchell J. Feigenbaum, described
> the reception that his revolutionary papers on chaos theory received:
> 'Both papers were rejected, the first after a half-year delay. But then,
> in 1977, over a thousand copies of the first preprint had been shipped.
> This has been my full experience. Papers on established subjects are
> immediately accepted. Every novel paper of mine, without exception, has
> been rejected by the refereeing process. The reader can easily gather that
> I regard this entire process as a false guardian and wastefully
> dishonest.'
> "Earlier in the same volume, in a history on the development of optical
> physics, the invention of the laser by Theodore Maiman was described. The
> result was so important that it was announced in the New York Times on
> July 7, 1960. But the leading American physics journal, Physical Review
> Letters rejected Maiman's paper on how to make a laser.
> "Scientific eminence is no protection from a peer review system gone wild.
> John Bardeen, the only man to every have won two Nobel Prizes in physics,
> had difficulty publishing a theory in low-temperature solid state
> physics(the area of one of his Prizes) that went against the established
> view. But rank hath its privileges. Bardeen appealed to his friend David
> Lazarus, who was editor in chief for the American Physical Society.
> Lazarus investigated and found that the referee was totally out of line, I
> couldn't believe it. John really did have a hard time with [his] last few
> papers and it was not his fault at all. They were important papers, they
> did get published, but they gave him a harder time than he should have
> had."
> "Stephen W. Hawking is the world's most famous physicist. According to his
> first wife Jane, when Hawking submitted to Nature was is generally
> regarded as his most important paper, the paper on black hole evaporation,
> the paper was initially rejected. I have heard from colleagues who must
> remain nameless that when Hawking submitted to Physical Review what I
> personally regard as his most important paper, his paper showing that a
> most fundamental law of physics called 'unitarity' would be violated in
> black hole evaporation, it, too, was initially rejected. (The word on the
> street is that the initial referee was the Institute for Advanced Study
> physicist Freeman Dyson.)"
> "Today it is known that the Hawaiian Islands were formed sequentially as
> the Pacific plate moved over a hot spot deep inside the Earth. The theory
> was first developed in the paper by an eminent Princeton geophysicist,
> Tuzo Wilson:
> 'I...sent [my paper] to the Journal of Geophysical Research, They turned
> it down...They said my paper had no mathematics in it, no new data, and
> that it didn't agree with the current views. Therefore, it must be no
> good. Apparently, whether one gets turned down or not depends largely on
> the reviewer. The editors, too, if they don't see it your way, or if they
> think it's something unusual, may turn it down. Well this annoyed me, and
> instead of keeping the rejection letter, I threw it into the wastepaper
> basket. I sent the manuscript to the newly founded Canadian Journal of
> Physics. That was not a very obvious place to send it, but I was a
> Canadian physicist. I thought they would publish almost anything I wrote
> so I sent it there and they published it!"
> "The most important development in cloning after the original breakthrough
> of Dolly the Sheep was the cloning of mice. The result was once again
> described on the front page of the New York Times, where it was also
> mentioned that the paper was rejected for publication by the leading
> American science journal, Science."
> © source where applicable

 The lessen boys and girls, don't be too original. You must beleive the
 consensus view or they will get you.

 The current Feigenbaum bombshell, which of course will be subject to huge
 discussion is that he claims to have derived special relativity from
 Gallilean postulates in a way that the speed of light is not a speed limit
 for signals.

> Mitchell J. Feigenbaum "The Theory Of Relativity - Galileo’s Child", p. 2
> "In this paper, not only do I show that the constant speed of light is
> unnecessary for the construction of the theories of relativity, but
> overwhelmingly more, there is no room for it in the theory."
> © source where applicable

 But of course, the consensus is that that can't possibly be true!

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Received on Thu Mar 26 22:31:07 2009

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