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The collapse of western science

October 29, 2011

[14th J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense, my weekly oratorial exposition on Broad View, KBZZ 1270 AM Reno.  Click on the microphone to listen.]

What happened to science? There was a time when scientists were just about the most respected people in America. Men in white lab coats showed up in movies to serve one purpose: whatever they declared, you knew it was the truth. You knew it was the truth because scientists dealt strictly in facts, and proof – that was the definition of science.

Now you can’t trust a scientist to tell you what time it is. If I really needed to know the time, I’d walk past the scientist and ask a lawyer, that’s how bad it is.

The scientific method and Christianity are the twin pillars of western civilization, make no mistake about it, and they’re both under attack. Oftentimes by the same people.

To demonstrate how bad it is, I’m holding the latest issue of Discover Magazine in my hands. (I would have brought a Scientific American magazine, but that magazine has become so political I refuse to buy one.)

If you start reading the November issue of Discover, one of the first things you’ll come across, after the ads end and the magazine actually starts, is a column on page 14 titled “Saints & Sinners” that mentions the damning fact that retracted studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals skyrocketed from 22 in 2001 to 339 in 2010, and 25% of last year’s retractions were because of outright fraud. So it’s not just me – scientists are getting caught red-handed publishing nonsense at unprecedented rates, and a lot of it is being done on purpose.

One the very next page, page 15, there’s an article titled “The Bug With Built-in Sidekicks” which talks about the mealybug. The mealybug apparently lives with a small bacteria inside its cells, and the bacteria itself has an even smaller microbe living inside of it. This is a real-world version of the Russian nesting doll. Turns out none of these three life forms can live without the other two. That’s very interesting, right? But after describing the situation, the so-called scientist who studies mealybugs said, “It’s really amazing, and frankly I have no idea how the whole thing works.” Then he mentioned that he has no idea how the situation could have evolved, either, but finishes the article by saying, “It’s a fascinating quirk of evolution.”

You see what I mean? Here’s a guy who admits he doesn’t know how these three critters work, or how they could have evolved, but then states unequivocally that they did evolve! That’s not science – it’s some kind of twisted version of religious faith, and the whole field of biology is full of otherwise learned people making the same kind of blind-faith judgment calls in favor of Darwinism. Regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, their methodology is not scientific, and that’s dangerous for the future of science.

On page 24 of the magazine there is a fascinating article about Edwards Air Force Base, where so much of our nation’s aircraft experimentation has been done. The author took a tour of the base and wrote about it. You would think there would be little opportunity in an article about an Air Force base to piss me off, but then the author mentioned that he saw an F-22 Raptor, the far-and-away best tactical fighter on the planet, which our current president decided to stop making. We have less than 20 of them in our arsenal, and our pilots are therefore dependent upon F-16s designed in the 1960s. So I felt my blood pressure start to rise, but continued to read. That’s when I learned that our government has modified some of the few F-22s we have to run on biofuel made from mustard plants.

Are you kidding me? Is there really a scientist somewhere who thinks it will matter to the world’s climate whether or not an F-22 protecting the world’s freedom and liberty can fly on mustard? If so, somebody find that guy and take away his white coat. He’s an idiot.

Four pages later Discover takes on the issue of male sperm. Turns out that worldwide, sperm is deteriorating, partly because of modern lack of exercise, but also because infertile men keep visiting fertility doctors who harvest whatever sperm the men have and artificially impregnate their wives, which of course passes on whatever genetic proclivity toward bad sperm the men had in the first place. Duh. Did we really need scientific research to tell us this? Didn’t Mendel figure this stuff out 150 years ago working with peas?

An article about arson starts on page 36. It turns out that arson inspectors have been using faulty science for decades to accuse and convict thousands of people across the United States, a good example of the decline of scientifc discipline. It reminds me of the thousands of men who are sitting in prison because of testimony pretending to match the metal of bullets to specific manufacturing runs, which was eventually found to be fraudulent science perpetrated by the FBI science lab. Not mistaken science, but fraudulent science by FBI scientists with no integrity.

After that, Discover Magazine has a long article about America’s energy that oh so predictably suggests making oil out of algae and takes the politically correct but scientifically bogus position that electric cars are more energy efficient than gasoline cars, which an average high school science student could disprove in about ten minutes... that is, if the student wasn’t being educated by a Prius-driving teacher who believes in the same politically-correct nonsense as the Discover editorial staff.

Yeah, it’s not just the current crop of scientists who are messed up – we’re raising flotillas of new ones, too. Science classes in high schools and colleges are more like political indoctrination classes. Darwinism has been proved, Global Warming is the consensus, secondhand smoke kills people, windmills are great, yada yada yada.

If we don’t step up to the plate and take science back from the leftwing activists who are using it to promote political agendas, we’re going to see the whole edifice of western civilization slowly collapse.

That’s just common sense.


"Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed." – Thomas Henry Huxley

"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." – Mark Twain


From Reno, Nevada, USA       


Followup:

October 31, 2011

One day after this Broad View radio editorial about science, the UK Daily Mail ran an article which details yet another attempt by the Global Warming crowd to fudge facts and blur the truth so as to limit individual freedoms in the name of carbon control.

The article addresses the BEST study, which was directed by Richard Muller, a physicist at Berkeley. Apparently, Muller's fellow author of the BEST study, Professor Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was outraged and flabbergasted by the claims Mr. Muller has been making in the popular press that BEST proves once and for all that Global Warming skeptics are wrong. According to her, the study does no such thing, and Curry's permission was neither sought nor received for the publication of such claims.

If that's not awkward enough, last week statistician Doug Keenan provided detailed analysis of the faulty statistics behind the BEST study, and asked if maybe Muller was trying to politically influence the upcoming IPCC meeting in Durban, South Africa. Could there be a better example of leftwing politics polluting science than a Berkeley scientist lying about Global Warming to influence a United Nations meeting?
November 4, 2011 - Ironic: in a column supposedly warning us about the dangers of losing our science and religion, he bashes evolution, which has been continuously supported by evidence for over 100 years. And why is evolution under attack? Because of religious dogmatism. The author should purchase a mirror, and ponder the nature of his evolved human nature, and having done so, to repent. Jesus was for truth, not nonsense. The Bible is misunderstood by religious zealots, and science is misunderstood by the same people. That is the real danger. - T.J., Pennsylvania
J.P. replies: I don't consider myself a religious zealot but thank you for the compliment. Evolution is not a true scientific theory because the way it is promulgated means it cannot be disproved – whatever fossil or lifeform they discover, the theory is modified to fit the facts. Plus, perhaps because of the way the "theory" is constantly modified to conform with new information, it is not useful for making predictions. So that is two of the necessary prerequisites for a valid scientific theory, both of them missing in action. I think what we have with Evolution is dogmatic orthodoxy employed as an underlying assumption, rather than a testable scientific theory.

October 31, 2011 - Nice essay. Much of what you complain about it not science, per se, but things cross-dressed as science ("a dog and pony show engineered by the ignorant for the benefit of the addled"). Remember that Eisenhower also warned us about the academic-government complex in the same speech that gave us the military-industrial complex. Fun fact of the day - the claim that fingerprints are unique to an individual has never been scientifically validated and, as a matter of logic, can not be. - Mysterian, New York
J.P. replies: I thought I was the only person alive who had doubts about fingerprints.



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