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Breaking News: Mankind is dumb

I've always loved science. Partially it is because of the excellent science training I had. [that is a must read link, go read it and come back, I'll wait here... I mean it.]

That same 9th grade science teacher (you did read the link right?) used to say that the measure of a true scientist was not what they knew but how much they admitted they didn't know. That is why I take great pleasure is smacking around the global warming kooks and G O O F B A L L "evolution" zealots. (or "oozers" which is more accurate)

Now there is a certain irony in these two topics. There are a whole bunch of people who think the "ooze theory" is gospel but global warming is bunk. Then there is another group who swears global warming is true but thinks the "ooze" theory is bunk.

Me... I think they're all a bunch of idiots.

Mankind has a long and storied history of being absolutely certain that we know something only to learn we are clueless. It is the ego of man. Every generation thinks their's is the one with all the answers. As I scientist, I savor every new discovery... But the historian in me keeps me from getting too excited. The only certainty in science is that man will be humbled.

Which brings me to today's story in New Scientist... 13 things that do not make sense A list of 13 things we think we understand but our observations just don't fit our theories. It seems a few scientists are learning humility...

1 The placebo effect

DON'T try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it's not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don't know. ...


3 Ultra-energetic cosmic rays
FOR more than a decade, physicists in Japan have been seeing cosmic rays that should not exist. Cosmic rays are particles - mostly protons but sometimes heavy atomic nuclei - that travel through the universe at close to the speed of light. Some cosmic rays detected on Earth are produced in violent events such as supernovae, but we still don't know the origins of the highest-energy particles, which are the most energetic particles ever seen in nature. But that's not the real mystery. ...

Over the past decade, however, the University of Tokyo's Akeno Giant Air Shower Array - 111 particle detectors spread out over 100 square kilometres - has detected several cosmic rays above the GZK limit. In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on?

One possibility is that there is something wrong with the Akeno results. Another is that Einstein was wrong. His special theory of relativity says that space is the same in all directions, but what if particles found it easier to move in certain directions? Then the cosmic rays could retain more of their energy, allowing them to beat the GZK limit.


4 Belfast homeopathy results
MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out. [Look, a scientist -ed] ...

You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon." If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry. [yikes -ed]

This list goes on and it it worth reading the whole thing, but you get the idea. Some people think they know everything there is to know about one topic or another. The truth is we aren't 100% sure we have the basics down yet. No matter how loud my critics pound their chests and no matter how much we think we know... We don't know jack.

I saw it on slashdot a few days ago but Fla Oyster remined me of it. See Also


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» PhaWRONGula linked with Oozers? Don't Mind if I Do!

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Comments (68)

Nifty, Paul - misrepresenti... (Below threshold)
andy:

Nifty, Paul - misrepresenting the opposition again with the stupid "oozers" title? Does your intellectual honesty know no bounds? Is your moral code as vacuous as your argumentation?

Truly, you are a unique specimen. Here's hoping evolution really is true and that the next model of Paul is a step-up.

Have a great day!

Great post, and how lucky y... (Below threshold)

Great post, and how lucky you were to have had such a wise science teacher.

One of my favorite subjects is how little we know about seemingly mundane phenomena that we take for granted, or by how complex those phenomena turn out to be when subjected to scrutiny.

I've blogged about this before, concerning the Higgs Boson, the darkness of the night sky, the electrodynamics behind lightning, and the rate of rotation of the Earth.

See here: http://www.purplefury.com/archives/000055.html

and here:
http://www.purplefury.com/archives/000065.html

OH I get it Andy-- you can ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

OH I get it Andy-- you can insult me but you whine like a stuck pig if I call you you an oozer.

Here's a link for you.

The Belfast homeopathy resu... (Below threshold)
cirby:

The Belfast homeopathy results are almost certainly due to a screwup in the lab. Homeopathy has been slammed down so hard so many times it's not even a decent joke any more. Every time they try this "scientific" procedure in a lab with randomized double-blind procedures, it suddenly stops working.

I'd bet that either Dr. Ennis has a bad procedure in the loop, or a lab assistant who's bollixing the results on purpose. Note that in 2002, the BBC program Horizon ran the Ennis-style experiments live on camera, with James Randi in the room, and got negative results...

cirby don't just read my ex... (Below threshold)
Paul:

cirby don't just read my excerpt... follow the link. (I excerpted it)

No, Paul, I "whine" when so... (Below threshold)
andy:

No, Paul, I "whine" when someone makes a blatant misrepresentation. Of course, you're fond of making up definitions to suit whatever the cause du jour might be, so for me to expect otherwise would be silly I suppose.

Well I have to agree with y... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Well I have to agree with you.

When it comes to science there is still far more we don't know than we do know, some of what we don't know may bolster or fill in gaps in the things we think we know, and other things we don't know, may eventually lead to having to change our ideas of what we think we know as we learn them.

Hey, guys? Do y'all think m... (Below threshold)

Hey, guys? Do y'all think maybe we could have a nice, friendly science-related post where y'all DON'T end up acting like truculent six-year-olds? I'm looking at both Andy and Paul here.

Obviously I agree with Paul on the questions of fact, but both of y'all have a tendency to be dickheads sometimes.

Let's review Andy-- you cal... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Let's review Andy-- you called me names.

The term "oozer" is a term I coined for people who believe life started from inorganic ooze and evolved into every flavor of life we have today. It's descriptive.

In the strictest sense, "oozer" is not a pejorative. (though admittedly I use it like that)

So you think it is OK for you to call me names but then you complain when I use a descriptive term.

You need to read one more link.

But Jeffrey, he hit me firs... (Below threshold)
Paul:

But Jeffrey, he hit me first! lol

Well, "scientists" swore th... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Well, "scientists" swore that the Earth was flat and really, really got upset when it was suggested not to be. And just consider what Copernicus experienced among and about his fellows.

So, yes, Paul, I agree with your overview comments and that the oozers will never be able to perceive the mess they both create and leave lying around in their trails. Those "GOOFBALLS" are great substantiation of that.

And just consider what C... (Below threshold)
Paul:

And just consider what Copernicus experienced among and about his fellows

Not to be an jerk but did you know that Copernicus being stoned is a myth?

His (controversial) work actually came out just before his death and did not cause a stink until after he was dead. FYI

I don't know why this story... (Below threshold)
Meezer:

I don't know why this story affected me so deeply, but it did. The story of the doctor who tried to get other docs in poor wards to wash their hands between childbirths because sometihing very, very tiny was being transmitted between patients (we now call them bacteria). Women were dropping like flies but the docs wouldn't even *try* washing to see what would happen. They said he was a danger to the profession. He was shunned and disgraced.
On a lighter note, when I was a child in school, dinosaurs were stupid, cold-blooded, slow creatures that would step on offspring as often as not. Now they're fast, warm-blooded, and good parents. So, although I enjoy science and learning about it, I don't get too excited when people rant and rave about "we know for a FACT that..."
I will say, that as a fairly clumsy person who trips a lot, the gravity thing seems to work every time.

Eppur si muove, Paul. I thi... (Below threshold)

Eppur si muove, Paul. I think the analogy is to Galileo, not Copernicus.

I don't think placebos are ... (Below threshold)

I don't think placebos are all that amazing. No one (that I know of) has ever claimed that the human brain is an open book, so when it behaves oddly no one's falling out of their lecterns, either. And just because we don't know jack doesn't mean that we're not on the right track with some (ahem) things. And I can't believe I actually got linked to on Wizbang and all I got was a lousy L! (Kidding, much appreciated.)

Oh, and "Scientists" didn't claim the earth was flat, religious scholars and other quacks did. And at the time science wasn't science as we know it. The scientific process wasn't even "invented" yet. The Islamic world was just getting over the novelty of the decimal point. And for the record, Columbus knew the earth was round, he was just a lousy mathematician.

oh - she typed Copernicus a... (Below threshold)
Paul:

oh - she typed Copernicus and I took her at face value... I've always been a literalist.

Paul, my fellow gentleman, ... (Below threshold)
andy:

Paul, my fellow gentleman, in your highly amusing spelling-out of GOOFBALLS, you portray some of your fellow bloggers as followers of an apparent gospel truth that says we all popped up out of ooze from a lightning strike. As has been pointed out by your kind fellow bloggers, and more than once, this statement is not an accurate representation of evolutionary theory nor of the position of those whom you deem "goofballs." Therefore, erring on the side of safety, allow me to say that perhaps your continued insistence on the veracity of this falsehood is a continuous miskeying of words on your part, rather than incomprehensibly willful ignorance or sheer intellectual dishonesty.

Your friend in science,

Andy

P.S. Was this polite enough for everyone?

Everything is science is a ... (Below threshold)

Everything is science is a theory, just the best explaination we have for thing things we observe today.

There is NOTHING carved in stone.

For example Newtons Universal law of gravitation is a good theory. Scientists and Space engineers use it daily. But it is inadequate to account for observed phenomina in all circumstances.

Einstein modified it with his Theory of General Relativity and the observed anomalies were accounted for.

But I would not be surprised if at some time in the future both these theories will seem hopelessly naive.

Mister Andy:When y... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Mister Andy:

When you stated in your most respectful way, "As has been pointed out by your kind fellow bloggers, and more than once, this statement is not an accurate representation of evolutionary theory," I found myself confused.

Perhaps I am laboring under the misconception that it WAS an "an accurate representation of evolutionary theory."

Please, at your convenience, do take the time to disabuse me. Perhaps you could distill the essence of evolutionary theory then put in in as few words as possible so that I might be able to deliberate as to the origins of life on the planet.

Kindest Regards

Paul

Old List: Now only 12, cros... (Below threshold)
CrowScape:

Old List: Now only 12, cross number 9 off the list

http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/darkenergy_3-16-05.html

Hey- Cool link crowscape --... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Hey- Cool link crowscape -- Well until the next study contradicts this one. ;-)

"Not to be an jerk but d... (Below threshold)

"Not to be an jerk but did you know that Copernicus being stoned is a myth?"

Oh. They meant with rocks?

Kind sirs, speaking respect... (Below threshold)

Kind sirs, speaking respectfully as the first L in the afore-mentioned "Goofballs," I am sure we can all agree that no one is goofy simply because we ascribe to a particular theory stating, in part, that we all are descended from goo. Nor, sirs, are others worthy of that particular classification because they prefer to see our race as originating in a garden. We are, all of us, children of god and of nature, and are all highly deserving of the utmost deference and praise for continuing this most noble of discussions, even, dare I venture, the Flat-Earthers.

I think andy may be alludin... (Below threshold)

I think andy may be alluding to the other theory that life was seeded here by heavenly vehicles like comets. Of course, andy would have to say that. It's just the feeling I got. If true, then who's to say that comets only had one "type" of organism? Maybe there were several that evolved into different things.

What would we call these believers? Certainly not Oozers. Hmm. Lemme think.

Paul, how many books (or an... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Paul, how many books (or any other materials) have you read about evolutionary theory and the evidence for it? Note that I don't mean books or materials that say "this is what happened, take our word for it." I mean books that show you the raw data, the fossils and biochemistry and genetics, and say "this is what we know, this is how we explain it, and these are all the things we've done in order to try to prove ourselves wrong." Remember your science teacher talking about "experiments," and how if the data you get from experimenting doesn't support your idea, then your idea must be wrong? Biologists and palaeontologists have done lots of experiments in attempts to disprove evolutionary theory. Nobody's managed to do it yet.

If you're genuinely interested in understanding why evolution-supporters dislike being casually dismissed as "oozers" who "don't know jack," then I would suggest you find and read either or both of these books:

THE BEAK OF THE FINCH, by Jonathan Weiner

AT THE WATER'S EDGE, by Carl Zimmer

Perhaps then you'll understand that evolutionary theory is a lot better founded than you once thought, and shouldn't be dismissed as just another flat-earth theory advocated by a bunch of zealots who can't stand the idea that anyone disagrees with them.

speaking respectfully as... (Below threshold)
Paul:

speaking respectfully as the first L in the afore-mentioned "Goofballs," I am sure we can all agree that no one is goofy simply because we ascribe to a particular theory stating, in part, that we all are descended from goo.

Quite right sir. The said goofballedness stems not from your beliefs but from your zealous disregard of the potential that you might be mistaken, coexisting with an insistence to claim the moniker of "scientist."

Perhaps then you'll unde... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Perhaps then you'll understand that evolutionary theory is a lot better founded than you once thought, and shouldn't be dismissed as just another flat-earth theory advocated by a bunch of zealots who can't stand the idea that anyone disagrees with them.

If my point were the size of the Empire State building you would still miss it.

Sure we think we know it all today. Every generation has. You're trying to convince me that THIS time you are right.

As far as "the zealots who can't stand the idea that anyone disagrees with them" you sir have obviously not followed my trackbacks. lol

but having said that, wolfw... (Below threshold)
Paul:

but having said that, wolfwalker, I'll read them both

You have been <a href="http... (Below threshold)

You have been scanned for my blog, and also at BlogCritics.

On a crystal clear fall nig... (Below threshold)
Dennis:

On a crystal clear fall night, a few friends and I were walking from Mitchel Gardens to Flushing, two neighborhoods in Queens, NYC. I didn't ask him at the time, but I'm sure it was the field of stars before our eyes that prompted one of the guys, Billy Schnieder, to ask if I thought God exists. We were in our early teens and were most often described as punks or teenage hoods. That was an accurate description. I answered, yes there has to be God, becuase it is impossible for matter to exist.

He luaghed and said that made no sense. You know, the Cartesian cop out, we are therefore we is. I said it's not possible for even the smallest grain of sand or a speck of dust to exist. I'm not sure what the smallest particle we were aware of in the early sixties, neutrinos, quarks, photons, whatever it was, I said that it was impossible for even one of them to exist. The only thing possible is nothing.

I was as certain of that then as I am now. The problem for me was that I was describing the God of the atom. I had lost my faith in the God I believed in when I was younger. That has changed, turns out I wasn't paying attention. Anyhow it's cool impossibly existing.

You're right -- since we do... (Below threshold)
brett:

You're right -- since we don't know everything about everything, evolution must be wrong.

The word "theory" is misused here and in the other posts. In scientific terms, a theory has already been supported by evidence and peer-tested. The more speculative word you're looking for is "hypothesis". For example, evolution was a hypothesis in Darwin's day, but the voluminous research and evidence collected since then makes it a theory.

Interesting how you were go... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Interesting how you were going to get to 13 point when #2 is missing from your list. But anyway.

My view:

Global Warming has been debunked as bad science. The theory doesn't fit the facts. When they can predict the existing weather, I'll believe their bad model.

As for Evolution, well, I'm not current on it, but I think it is the best theory we have right now? When something better comes along, I'll embrace that.

Paul, now are you saying th... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Paul, now are you saying that anyone who believes that evolution and naturalistic abiogenesis are the best current explanations of the development of life on Earth is automatically a zealous goofball?
I really don't understand why you are so zealous in your own way against evolutionary theory. Is it perfect? No. Is it 100% complete (or even 75% complete?) No. Does it explain everything there is to possibly know about biology? Absolutely not. There are questions about biology that we can't even ask yet because we don't know enough to ask them.
However, the answer isn't to shrug and say "Aw, screw it. Ogg, God of Fire and Easy Women did it."
You take the existing theories and adjust them to fit new discoveries. This has been done and will continue to be done with Evolution and other theories regarding the origins and development of life.
You are correct in pointing out how unscientific some people get in just accepting things 100% at face value, however, that is still not a valid criticism of science itself. That's like saying just because some gay bashers support Bush, all Bush supporters must be gay bashers -- and Bush himself must be one, too.
Part of every school's science curriculum should be along the lines of what you learned, however, what our best guess happens to be at the moment is what should be taught. And it should be taught not as dogma but as just the best naturalistic understanding of the moment.
Dogma is for religions. (insert karma joke here)
In the meantime, I'll be looking for a good Church of Ogg to celebrate the sacramental Easy Women.

Paul, I also note with amus... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Paul, I also note with amusement that you cannot reject my thesis that the existence of Pollsters demonstrates that transitional forms between ooze and people exist. Yet another glorious day for oozerism.

Ahhhhhhhh, I LOVE articles ... (Below threshold)
Omni:

Ahhhhhhhh, I LOVE articles on what science can't explain!! I've been saying that dark energy abd dark matter are the modern equivalents of phlogiston since the first time I read about them.

Paul, now are you saying... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Paul, now are you saying that anyone who believes that evolution and naturalistic abiogenesis are the best current explanations of the development of life on Earth is automatically a zealous goofball?

Nope! (go back and read my last 5 posts, you must have gotten here late)

I really don't understand why you are so zealous in your own way against evolutionary theory. Is it perfect? No. Is it 100% complete (or even 75% complete?) No. Does it explain everything there is to possibly know about biology? Absolutely not. There are questions about biology that we can't even ask yet because we don't know enough to ask them.

You and I agree 99.99999% so far.

However, the answer isn't to shrug and say "Aw, screw it. Ogg, God of Fire and Easy Women did it."

Whew, cuz I never did that!

(I won't clip the rest of you post for space reasons, pretent it is here...)

I agree... well except the "Church of Ogg"

, I also note with amuse... (Below threshold)
Paul:

, I also note with amusement that you cannot reject my thesis that the existence of Pollsters demonstrates that transitional forms between ooze and people exist. Yet another glorious day for oozerism.

ummmm I have no clue what you are talking about but I'll reject just to be annoying. lol

Scientists have always resi... (Below threshold)

Scientists have always resisted new ideas. They seem to get a vested interest in the status quo.
I have two theories on my blog that will give nobel prizes for anyone willing to do the research. (I don't do research or anything else that remotely resembles work.) An atronomy magazine would not even look at one of them.

Science is always just a wo... (Below threshold)

Science is always just a working approximation of the real world. There's nothing inherently wrong with resisting new ideas. There really are a lot of stupid ideas and repackaging of old ideas and we can't waste everyone's time rushing around from one to another. What's important is that new ideas be proven or disproven on their merits. Otherwise you get pseudo-science and dogma like global warming/cooling nonsense.

What's important is that... (Below threshold)
Paul:

What's important is that new ideas be proven or disproven on their merits. Otherwise you get pseudo-science and dogma like global warming/cooling nonsense.

YUP!

Paul, Andy, and Eric (with ... (Below threshold)

Paul, Andy, and Eric (with minor assists from wolfwalker and ninme) --- thank you thank you thank you thank you, for one of the most amusing and edifying displays of repartee I have seen in comments --

The pollster issue was from... (Below threshold)
Eric:

The pollster issue was from your post on pollsters. I commented there.

Lastly:

Fire, good. Ogg, good. Worship Ogg.

Paul, I have a qu... (Below threshold)
Tman:

Paul,

I have a question. I am of the belief that life did start from the primordial ooze. I have seen experiments that reproduce the conditions of early life. I have seen the transitional fossils of many different species. I have observed DNA and RNA descriptions that demonstrate how certain species evolved in to their present form. I have observed the fossil layers that correspond to each individual fossil segment noting its historical change through time.

I agree with those that say that evolution is the only logical explanation for these changes, despite the fact that the mechanisms for exactly what caused each individual genetic change is a long way from being understood.

Knowing what I do, I have looked for alternative explanations for these changes besides evolution and have found none that consist of falsifiable evidence.

My question to you is: what is your explanation for these changes if your answer is not evolution?

Life didn't start from prim... (Below threshold)

Life didn't start from primordial ooze. Life is primordial ooze. What us living ooze critters call "primordial ooze" is actually pre-primordial ooze.

At least, that's my theory.

Ogg did it. Oggviously.... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Ogg did it. Oggviously.

I'm well on my way to getting my first banning, huh.

Anyways, I just wanted to point out that the title of the post is misleading: In what way is it breaking news that people are fundamentally stupid? Seems axiomatic to me.

>My question to you is: wha... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>My question to you is: what is your explanation for these changes if your answer is not evolution?

You have apparently missed the whole point of this post and all the rest combined.

(Yes, I could give you a straightforward answer. But then you will take it like candy and miss the whole point. To answer your own question, simply reread this post and the top one I linked. When you get my point your answer will be obvious. (and the exercise is to get you to get my point)

Without trying to be a wise ass (really) if you have all the knowledge and education you claim and you are qualified to judge this debate on its merits, getting my point should not be that hard. (I'm not being a wise ass, think about it)

Having said the above, if you read both posts and you still genuinely don't have your answer, just say so... Darby will be along to explain it.)

>In what way is it breaking... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>In what way is it breaking news that people are fundamentally stupid? Seems axiomatic to me.

ahem

Paul, I underst... (Below threshold)
Tman:

Paul,

I understand the point you are making.

I'm sure this sentence will make you happy- I agree that WE DO NOT KNOW FOR SURE if the conditions that created carbon based life forms occured or not. Obviously, no one was around when it happened. There is the possibility that the theory of gravity is completely off, and we need to change it. But much like evolution, we use the facts surrounding our knowledge of gravity to base decisions on our survival every day. The theories of gravity are tested in numerous ways everytime a rocket goes in to space. So far, the theories have held up.

There are those who dramatically get irritated in a "zealous" way when people summarily dismiss evolution as some sort of scientific conspiracy. The reason for this is the fact that those who dismiss evolution as some scientific conspiracy 99.9% of the time have not read or examined the truckloads of evidence that support evolution. This is being ignorant.

I like how you avoided the question though. You did the same thing to commisar, so I figured I would call you out again. What are you afraid of Paul? Why won't you give us your answer to what is essentially a simple question?

If it's not evolution, what is it?

<a href="http://www.answers... (Below threshold)
Eric:

*cough*

;)

Where's Darby? 'Cause I don't get it.

I love the way you think yo... (Below threshold)
Nerd:

I love the way you think you're smacking the "zealots" around, while, all along, you're the one getting the trouncing. Oh, boy, are you ever. Good thing you're too benighted to notice.

*plonk*... (Below threshold)

*plonk*

Jebus. You know better than... (Below threshold)

Jebus. You know better than every well-trained scientist on the planet because you had a science class in 9th grade? You've got the understanding of a 14 year old in matters scientific?

Wow.

I know who the idiot is here, that's for sure.

Well done, Paul.<b... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Well done, Paul.


Cindy

Cindy - your sarcasm is far... (Below threshold)
andy:

Cindy - your sarcasm is far too subtle. You need to work on that.

Paul - Mr. Nerd has it about right. You've had your ass kicked up and down the blogosphere (crikey, my wee little blog has seen a 60% increase in traffic just because of the idiocy you spout). But, hey, it's ok, I know you don't realize this or accept it.

Woah! It's like my very own little theory of blog evolution or something!

Reject it! Quickly!

It's been fun. You're still a scientific ignoramus, but I'm sure you're probably a nice guy in general.

That and two bucks fifty will get you a good beer at happy hour.

Cheers, pumpkin.

Paul: no, I didn't know th... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Paul: no, I didn't know that about the life of Copernicus. I've always heard contemporary sympathies from the scientific community about Copernicus and the social obstacles that existed to accepting his theory(ies).

Perhaps what's been accomplished is that the suffering associated with accepting the theory(ies) by Copernicus has been projected backward in time to include the non suffering author -- which might indicate yet another area among "science" of a form of theology about the concepts: Copernicus the non suffering in lifetime later regarded as the suffering martyr for his ideas. Seems silly now that I think about it but perhaps there's a point there to prove your other assumptions, and that is the philosophical regard by many among practitioners of science (a huge tentpole term, no less) while denigrating the scientifically unwashed as being too theologically curious.

Argh...Galileo, Copernicus.... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Argh...Galileo, Copernicus...it's not so important just what discoverer experienced social difficulties where their theory(ies) were concerned, but that their peers were so opposed to change (and to therefore accept new and alternative concepts to replace other "beliefs" about what certain definitions and terms were).

That's the point I was making earlier, not so much specifically about any one scientist, although writing under time constraints these last weeks here.

I'm now concluding that this just serves to prove even moreso just how much of what is "believed to be" "fact" by many among the sciences and then protected with intensity as "believers" in that/a body of information are later proven to be both repressing toward more accurate information (new discoveries) but that it points out just how much "science" is a belief system while so many who associate with it also denigrate those who display theological curiosity and ideas.

So, Copernicus or Galileo or whomever, it was a different sort of statement I was making, not so much about a man and his history. Or, in my case, a woman and her history.

Paul,Not only did ... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Paul,

Not only did I not miss your point, I could have made it rather better than you did, using examples that any good historian of science would know but most nonscientists don't. Your error wasn't in saying "scientists don't always know as much as they think they do." That's more true than even you realize. Your problem was in your selection of examples. Had you picked examples like the Channeled Scablands debate, you wouldn't have gotten the reaction you did. The mid-20th-century orthodoxy of dinosaurs as stupid slow swampdwelling failures, or the collapse of classical physics, or the Piltdown Man fiasco, or the furor about plate tectonics, or the squabbling over asteroid-impact craters, or orthodoxy's reaction to herbal medicines -- any of those does a more than adequate job of showing dogmatic "science" at its worst. But evolutionary theory in general -- no, that's a bad example of what you were trying to say, and you rightly got your head handed to you for using it.

I step out for a few hours ... (Below threshold)

I step out for a few hours to watch a little tee vee, and look what happens. I've missed so much.

Tman said, "I have seen experiments that reproduce the conditions of early life."

No, you haven't. You're referring to the Miller-Urey experiment in which a mixture of water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen were exposed to electrical arcing and amino acids formed.

Amino acids are relatively simple molecules, consisting of only a handful of atoms. It's not at all implausible to think that the raw materials in the presence of the right catalysis should form amino acids.

But it's a very long way from the formation of simple amino acids to the creation of even the most primitive prokaryotes. The fallacy of the Miller-Urey experiment is, "Look, we made alanine. Q.E.D." Well, the Q was not D'd at all, not by that experiment or any other since.

Besides, the Miller-Urey experiment completely ignored the oxygen problem. That is, when oxygen was introduced into the mix to form an oxygenating atmosphere rather than a reducing atmosphere, no amino acids formed. In fact, the necessary composition of liquids and gases in the Miller-Urey experiment was very finicky; a very slight change either way caused the experiment to fail. Does the mix that was successful accurately represent the composition of the earth's surface and atmosphere in primordial times? Nobody knows.

Also ignored was the polymerization problem: How can simple organic molecules like amino acids come together to form larger molecules like RNA and proteins without some source of chemical energy? Nobody knows. (Wachtershauser advanced a theory based on the oxygenation-reduction of iron sulfides, but experiments suggest that while such an environment might create complex molecules, it also appears to be seriously hostile to those molecules, destroying them almost immediately through hydrolysis.)

Long story short: Nobody has the foggiest idea how a totally inorganic environment could give rise to complex organic molecules. If we were to crack that nut, we'd still have no idea how to go from complex organic molecules to prokaryotes.

The origin of life is one of the last remaining complete mysteries that science has yet to even begin to crack.

Frankly, panspermia fits the facts better than any other hypothesis we have right now, although at best that idea just pushes the origin problem back up a level. Rather than asking why life emerged spontaneously here, we have to ask why it emerged spontaneously elsewhere. Another way of phrasing that question is to ask, "Is there any set of conditions in which cellular life can arise spontaneously out of inorganic life?" So far, the answer has remained a resounding "no."

We know that organisms evolve over time. We have observed this, and we have a good theory that explains how it happens. What we lack, though — as Paul continues to point out, and as some readers continue to misunderstand — are theories that can explain (1) the origin of life, and (2) the mechanism which led to the present diversity of life. Saying "organisms change over time" doesn't answer either of those still entirely open questions.

That part up yonder where I... (Below threshold)

That part up yonder where I said "inorganic life?" Obviously I mean "inorganic conditions." Me sleepy. Me no post when sleepy any more, not nohow.

Tman said:I lik... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Tman said:

I like how you avoided the question though. You did the same thing to commisar, so I figured I would call you out again.

WOW... Why do all you guys have so much trouble reading?

I answered him like 15 times. (Since you apparently read the thread,) you know that Darby and Michael were smart enough to figure it out to the point they mocked The Commissar multiple times for like getting the answer.

Now if you read the whole thread --and I'll excuse you if you skipped around-- I gave your answer to this question to Steve (go read it) and then later directly to The Commissar.

Then Tman just embarrassed himself by asking:

What are you afraid of Paul? Why won't you give us your answer to what is essentially a simple question?

If it's not evolution, what is it?

Afraid? Don't flatter yourself. The reason I did not answer you directly is because I tire of the intellectually lazy asking for candy when they are too lazy to actually read and think for themselves... well in fairness with you it might be an inability and not laziness. (plus answered it twice last night!)

You almost got the point when you said: "I agree that WE DO NOT KNOW FOR SURE if the conditions..."

But close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. So, since you tried twice to get the point and failed... and Darby is not around, I'll spell it out for you.

The point is about the ego of man. That generation after generation, man thinks he has all the answers when history proves him a fool. As I've said repeatedly, "We don't know Jack."

NOW- Given that I've insulted people who claim to have all the answers when in reality nobody does, what the HELL would it look like if I claimed to suddenly know????

If I say nobody knows, DUH! I clearly don't have a pet theory I think is right!!!

Now that I've explained it... How hard was that to figure out? (assuming you get it now)

There is no such thing as c... (Below threshold)

There is no such thing as certainty, in knowledge or otherwise. This does not excuse someone from having to hold opinions and having to justify them.

For most people, myself included, evolution is a clear-cut issue. It's a theory that best approximates that happens in the real world. If we ever get a better theory, it will probably extend this one, as quantum physics did to the Newtonian one.

If you want to be a fundie, fine, but don't shit on the whole of knowledge just to get your narrow, agenda-ride opinions the ounce of respect they lack.

The problem with evolution and friends is that there's little practical applications for these theories, so little chance to test them... or is there? Evolution applied to genetics has provided more results than millenia of monotheism.

Honestly, for someone who c... (Below threshold)
Orac:

Honestly, for someone who claims to "love" science, Paul sure has a strange way of showing it, particularly with respect to evolution.

Orac, so much of what gets ... (Below threshold)

Orac, so much of what gets shouted about evolution is not science. It's pseudoscience at best. That's kind of the point here.

Whew! that took some time t... (Below threshold)

Whew! that took some time to read...
Well Paul, I'm glad that you are at least not going to jump to some kerazy creationist conclusion.

you say "we don't know jack". How Cartesian.
welcome to freshman philosophy.

Have you considered that your senses may be being mislead by an evil demon? or that you may be living in the Matrix?

In a way, you're quite right: just because things have hit the ground every time they have been dropped in the entirity of recorded history doesn't mean that the next thing you drop will necessarily do the same thing. I can show you loads of precedent, a lot of good theoretical foundation for why it will probably hit the ground, but I can't deductively prove it.

So there you go, we really don't know jack.

so my question to you is this: if you don't think that evidence and seemingly logical theory are a sound foundation for accepting something as true, then why don't you go and throw yourself off a tall building? no really.

It seems absurd to me that you will not believe something like evolutionary theory that is not only beatifully logical and gloriously elegant (read 'The Blind Watchmaker' by Richard Dawkins), but also completely consistent with all of our observations (if you doubt this, I direct you to talkorigins); then why do you trust that feeling hungry means that you should eat, or that your car needs gasoline to work?

If you want to go through life not believing anything (except possibly 'cogito ergo sum'; assuming you cogit), then fine, no-one can touch you (good luck surviving though...), but if you want to accept certain propositions as true, then you've gotta figure out a way of deciding - blind faith? fine, again, I can't touch you. But if you want to decide based on reason and evidence, then evolution is the /only/ game in town.

"Orac, so much of what g... (Below threshold)
Kristjan Wager:

"Orac, so much of what gets shouted about evolution is not science. It's pseudoscience at best."

Jeff, could you by any chance back this up with proof? Or are you just making things up as we go along?

You are the dumbest fucking... (Below threshold)
TC:

You are the dumbest fucking moron I have run across on the internet in 8 years. I don't evenb think you rise to "homo sap" let along "homo sapiens."

If you had a brain, you'd be dangerous. As it is you're just a gibbering far right fool to point at and laugh at.

I don't know about lighting... (Below threshold)
Improbulus Maximus:

I don't know about lighting striking ooze and all that, though electro-chemical reactivity is easily proven and well established, but the Big Invisible Man in the Sky theory (read: myth) is a tough one to prove as well, especially considering that religion makes no sincere effort whatsoever to connect beliefs with reality.
But let's suppose for a minute the creationists are right, that there is a Greater Power that made everything, what then? Did it abandon us or does it choose to limit its control or influence over us? Or, an even more scary proposition, what if it is in control of everything? Of the three scenarios; no involvement, limited involvement, or total contol, the second and last are most disturbing, because given the evidence of the sad state of human affaits, God is a sadistic psychopath who gets off on schadenfreude. If the first is the case, then He's nothing more than a deadbeat parent, so screw Him, amen.
By the way, Paul, I dare you to reply without using juvenile insults, though given your previous posts, if you can't insult me, you'll just delete this post and ban me.

Oozer? With such obvious l... (Below threshold)
pst314:

Oozer? With such obvious lack of interest in civility, why should I stick around? Perhaps you might consider reserving the nastiness for those who actually ask for it.




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