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There’s this guy – let’s call him Steve. Steve is a believer, and what he believes in is Creationism. He has not arrived at this belief through any sort of evidence or proof, but rather he believes in Creationism simply because it makes sense to him. Within the boundaries of Steve’s worldview, Creationism is the only argument that is even remotely plausible. However, Steve is also an honest man. He freely admits that his belief in Creationism is his own personal belief, and that he has arrived at it without benefit of direct evidence of any sort. As a matter of fact, Steve will even admit that he believes this way because there isn’t, in fact, any direct evidence that supports Creationism. However, he will go on to point out that Creationism is a theory and – like most scientific theories – is very difficult to outright prove. So Steve (like most of us) is content to believe the way his personal logic dictates, and will accept evidence that appears to support his beliefs as proof enough (he’ll even go so far as to admit that sometimes he must avoid looking too closely at evidence that appears to contradict his beliefs).
Obviously, Steve is not the only Creationist in the world. He has many fellow believers, but the majority of them believe in a fashion dissimilar to Steve’s. Their worldview (unlike Steve’s) demands that there be proof of Creationism. Because their beliefs are subject to opposing beliefs, they must be unchallengeable. It is not enough to simply profess a belief in Creationism – belief is a fuzzy, imprecise and immeasurable thing. This will simply not do. Their beliefs must be precise, pure and unassailable. Faith is not enough – there must be proof. This is science, after all.
Unsurprisingly, these Soldiers of Truth do not take kindly to those in the opposing camp. Those who would dare to refute – or even question – the righteous veracity of Creationism are the worst sort of unfaithful, unbelieving and unconscionable fools. It is the utmost folly to question the truth behind any idea that is so clearly logical, reasonable and – above all – proven. However, while these Soldiers of Truth are righteous, they are also compassionate. Those who possess opposing points of view are not viewed as objects of rancor but rather as objects of pity. After all, it’s rather sad that they are too ignorant and unenlightened to see the truth that’s right before their noses.
Instead, their rancor is reserved for the likes of our friend Steve. You see, while Steve is, technically, one of their own, he’s not enough one of their own. It’s not enough that he believes in Creationism as sincerely as they do. Simply because Steve believes in Creationism in a fashion that differs from theirs makes him worse than the enemy. The fact that Steve believes in Creationism, but fails to believe in the same way they believe, makes him some sort of abomination. In their eyes, it’s just not possible for Steve to share their belief in Creationism because he does not share every aspect of that belief. There is only one road leading to the moral and logical high ground on which they stand, and there is simply no other route by which one can arrive there. And to pretend otherwise is the utmost conceit. “If you are not with us in every respect,” Steve is told, “Then you are not with us at all. And if you are not with us, you are against us.” So Steve often ends up being a target for his fellow Creationist’s aggression, usually because he repeatedly makes the mistake of wading into arguments on the subject.
Okay. Are we feeling properly pissed off at Creationists? Has Steve won our sympathies? Have we yet figured out that Steve’s story should be re-read, but this time replacing every instance of ‘Creationism’ with ‘evolution’? (Replacing ‘Steve’ with ‘Terry’ is optional.) Have we fastened our seat-belts and placed our trays in their upright position in preparation for today’s rant? Good.
I have just about had it with liberals. Don’t get me wrong – I am about left as they come – but I’m not talking about anything as secular as mere politics here. I’m talking about the kind of liberalism that borders on religion. The kind of left wing that believes it is, in fact, the Right Hand of God.
As you may have guessed, this post springs from a recent argument (two of them, actually). In both instances, I took the stance you can assume I took based on the story above. I do, indeed, believe in the theory of evolution. I am also aware that there is no direct evidence of evolution. You’d be amazed at the amount of liberal venom this stance attracts. Wave after wave of vitriolic attacks flew my way, despite the fact that the first statement I made was that I believe in the theory of evolution. But for most liberals (you know, the open-minded, accepting, understanding end of the spectrum) my belief sans proof is not enough. In fact, it’s blasphemy. By believing without proof, I am (to their way of thinking) invalidating their faith in the supposed ‘proof’ behind their belief in the theory. In other words, the fact that the object of our belief is exactly the same is insufficient. To these yahoos, my crime lays in that I do not share their method of belief.
For those of you keeping score at home, this is the stuff of which the Crusades and Inquisition were born.
And I am fed up with this crap. So let me set a few things straight. First off, there is no direct evidence of evolution. Let me repeat that, using overweight letters to show I really mean it: there is no direct evidence of evolution. Evolution is a theory and, in case you hadn’t noticed, the overwhelming majority of science is made up of theory. There is blessed little proof in science. Fact is also pretty scarce. And laws are just theories that enjoy widespread acceptance.
This is not to say that there is no evidence of evolution. There is plenty of it, actually. Conversely, there is a fair amount of evidence that contradicts evolution. To scientists, this is not a problem – it’s just the way of theory. But trust me, folks, there is no evidence that proves – irrefutably – that evolution occurs. If there was, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. One of the boneheads I was arguing with recently pointed to a dozen or so experiments (you know – the kind with fruit flies or earthworms or somesuch) that ‘prove’ evolution. Stands to reason – if it occurs with fruit flies and earthworms, it must occur in all species. I tried to explain that a few examples cannot prove a premise unless at least a few assumptions are made along the way. The response: “I provided concrete evidence of experiments and observations that support evolution”. Am I the only one who understands that ‘support’ and ‘prove’ are two different things? Why is it that all these pundits think that any evidence that supports their beliefs equates to proof?
I’ll tell you why. Because they turned to science looking for the same thing other people turn to religion for: certainty. Clarity. Because they are looking for the absolute in a world that can only offer relativity. Because they seek truth in a world that can only offer honesty. And for some inexplicable reason, they seem to think science can deliver this. But science is not – cannot be – this way. Science is relative, not absolute. It is honest, but not necessarily truthful. Truth and the absolute are the domain of gods, not science. This is by design. Science is the domain of humans. Therefore it will always be imperfect. If you need perfection, shrug off your liberal prejudices and go out and find a religion you can agree with. Seriously.
Due to my recent experiences with my fellow liberals (added to all the ones I’ve had throughout my life), I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to separate myself from the bulk of the ‘left wing’. I no longer feel that I can define myself in the fashion they want me to define myself, so I must respectfully decline membership in whatever it is they’re selling. Instead, I’m starting my own Left Wing (note the capitals) splinter group, A Latere Sinister.
The manifesto of A Latere Sinister will be posted at a later time. For the nonce, know that we are the reasoning branch of the left wing. We think before we speak, and we deliberate before we challenge. We are driven by our hearts first, our conscience second, and our brains third. Unlike the majority of our liberal brethren, we do not whine. We see whining as the pointless exercise it is. And while we are not a particularly militant branch, we will not hesitate to knee you in the groin if it becomes necessary. Applications are currently being accepted.
Okay – here’s the deal. I’m getting a little tired of this Pluto’s-Not-A-Planet crap. Why, I ask, would Pluto be considered to be anything other than a planet? ‘Why?’ The answer goes, ‘Because it doesn’t fit the definition of “planet”‘.
Huh? When did this happen?
2006. That was when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided (for whatever reasons) to write a new definition of ‘planet’. Their definition is as follows:
1) Have an orbit around a sun.
2) Have enough mass to assume a (mostly) round shape.
3) Have cleared the neighborhood in its orbit.
The third is the one Pluto falls short on, and for this reason they’re now referring to it as a ‘dwarf’ planet. There are some in the profession fighting this (mostly because expecting Pluto to clear out the neighborhood is unreasonable, due to the enormity of its orbit), but so far they have been unsuccessful. My take on this is that the IAU is going at this ass-backwards.
Years ago, the archaeological world had a list of criteria they used to define a ‘civilization’ (much like our planet-defining list above). If I remember correctly (and I usually do), there were 5 items on the list, the pertinent one being possession of the wheel. It was thought that a group of humans couldn’t reach the lofty heights of true civilization without first developing the wheel. Then one guy, who had spent his life studying the Inca, raised his hand and said: “But – the Inca never developed the wheel”. He was told that the Inca, having failed to measure up to the definition, couldn’t have been a ‘civilization’. “But,” he argued, “They Built Machu Picchu. They had a trade network that spanned a continent. They had suspension bridges, for Christ’s sake!”
“Hmmm,” said his colleagues, “Maybe we should re-think our definition.”
This, my friends, is how science is supposed to be done. A good scientist does not look up on a overcast day and say: “It’s not blue, therefore it cannot be the sky”.
Pluto has enough of a gravitational influence on our solar system that it’s presence was known decades before anyone actually ‘saw’ it. It has three moons (that we know of), putting it ahead of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Most importantly, in the decades during which Pluto’s existence was known but it had not yet been ‘seen’, it was known as “Planet X”. This alone gives it more celestial street cred than all the other so-called planets combined.
It’s a friggin’ planet. Just fix the definition, already.
Besides, we don’t really want to piss off the god of the underworld, do we?
While in college, I took a stats class. The guy who taught it, a good friend, had a saying that emerges from my subconscious every now and again. The saying was “Numbers will saying anything you want, if you squeeze them hard enough.” What caused the saying to pop into my head today was this video:
I received the link to this video in an Email from my wife, who had forwarded an Email from her father, who had forwarded it from a friend (the viral nature of the internet at work. Or – if you prefer – the domino theory in action). My initial response was to get a little irked when I reached the end and found out that the whole thing was, in truth, nothing more than propaganda against downloading music. My wife’s response was “Interesting info, but I wonder how they got some of the stats.”
The answer is, of course: They made them up.
I don’t have the time or the inclination to go through the video point by point, but I will draw attention to my personal favorite. It comes up around 28 seconds or so in:
The 25% of India’s population with the highest IQs…
…is GREATER than the total population of the United States.
India has more honors kids than America HAS kids.
Try again, boneheads. Statistics at their worst. “Since A is larger than B, C must be larger than D.” It’s bad enough that C and D are only remotely connected to A and B. What’s worse is that A and B are treated as though there exists some sort of meaningful relationship between them. It never occurs to these morons that while the first half of the statement may be accurate, it would be equally accurate if the smartest person in India had an IQ of 60.
In truth, all the first part of that statement is actually saying is that 25% of the population of India is larger than the total population of the united States. It does not in any way state or even imply that Indians are, as a people, smarter than Americans.
The moral here, people, is: Don’t ever – EVER – trust stats. They LIE.