Thursday, March 12, 2009

the exact opposite of science

In my continuing quest to make everyone think like I do, here are some links that say very closely why I, for instance, think that the idea the whatever measured warming the Earth has displayed is caused by humans is the exact opposite of science.

These aren't short readings, but you've got time, right?

Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science Robert L. Park, Ph.D

Seeing The Unseen Pt1 Pt2


Working in a factory in the 90's, I had a lot of time on my head (my hands were occupied with the job, after all) and it was divided between fascinating conversations with my co-workers, cd's and radio through headphones so as not to disturb each other. That was a good idea, as many of the guys musical tastes ran more heavy+metal than mine, although I did come to be able to recognize many Metallica songs for future Name That Tune use.

During baseball season, the Reds got some of my time, but it was then that I discovered Talk Radio. A big deal, really, as I was a dedicated music listener. The first show to get my attention was Dr. Dean Edell and he appealed to my sense of science, facts, and truth. He re-installed that mode of thinking that the scientific method teaches and changed the way I processed a lot of information.
Next was Rush Limbaugh. I had made cracks to my sister about her devotion to his ideas, like many that never actually listened to his show. It took a while, as he says, to get what he does on his show, but I got it. I say to myself that Bill Clinton made me realize I wasn't a Democrat, and Rush made me realize I was conservative.

With time on my brain to think and talk, I realized that the decisions we all make, daily, in total, are more wise than the folks we elect, no matter how good or evil the elected may be. The "marketplace" decides what is best for literally millions of reasons, not 100 Senators or how ever many Representatives, (okay, it's 435) or Governors, etc. Is it perfect? Nope. The betamax was better, but the reasons it failed aren't as simple as this discussion has time for, so let's leave that alone. Now, all of the discussions weren't so productive: one co-worker held the idea that homosexuality was natural, absolutely natural, but that didn't make it acceptable. It's a mental disorder, he said, like, say, kleptomania, which is a natural disorder, and therefore, like kleptomania, not okay. Hmm.

I digress. It is clear to me that we aren't all aware of Occam's razor (often stated "Of two equivalent theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simplest one is to be preferred"), or the realities of the scientific method, or the toxicology theorem that "the dose makes the poison" and that we are susceptible to misinformation. The colon cleanse complaint from my previous post is based on my developed bull-shit detector. Another story, if you will allow me: I worked with a very smart woman who was concerned with artificial sweeteners, and after some talk had brought in an article about how bad they are. I dutifully read the article and took notes in the margins, which led me to give this smart woman, older and more experienced than I, a lesson in rhetoric. The article was a classic persuasive ad, eventually leading the reader to the one artificial sweetener that is safe, stevia, which you could buy from the author's company. Now, you are saying to yourself, "well, duh," but she fell for it until I pointed out the stragtegies she fell victim to in her desire for a safe sweetener that wasn't sugar (which, by the way, is safer in your coffee anyway, if you only use a little, right? Just like butter is safer than margarine as it turns out).

Healthy skepticism, or a learned b-s detector says, "can I trust this information?" loudly. I saw a t-shirt in Disney's Animal Kingdom that showed a cartoon Earth with the caption "Hotter than I Should Be." My response was "how do you know?" Who knows the "right" temperature for the planet, much less how to measure it? Was the temerature "right" in the 1840's? 1920's 1974? 247 B.C.? This same thought process says, "why does my colon need cleansing? I've never heard a doctor say this," and realizes that if I'm being sold something, I better beware. If it's true for cars, appliances, groceries and pharmaceuticals, isn't it moreso for Omnibus Spending Bills and carbon credits (the modern version of selling indugences)?

I live that we are free in this country to be idiots, or not be idiots, but I hope most of us realize that not is a better stance.

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