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Quantifying Science

A funny thing happened last week. 1,360 of the world's top environmental scientists said that if mankind did not make radical changes in the way we do things, that the planet will cease to support life as we know it. Stop and really ponder that. The best scientific minds we have, got together and made a report that said unless we did something drastic, our fate was sealed-- that we and thousands of other species would die.

Facing our upcoming demise, what did the citizens of planet earth do? We yawned.

Nobody read the report and suddenly decided that it was do or die time. Nobody read the report and parked their evil SUV and started walking to work... In fact nobody read the report! (euphemistically) Faced with this set of facts, and assuming mankind does desire self-preservation, we can draw only two conclusions.

The first is that the message somehow did not get out. Newspapers from all corners of the globe reported on it and the Sec. Gen. of the United Nations played it up but the message just was not heard. Thus mankind is on a run-away train headed to oblivion and the 1,360 scientists just didn't get the warning out in time.

The second possible conclusion is that we don't believe them. The marketplace of ideas listened politely and then went on to other things. This is obviously the correct answer. Environmental scientists have been predicting gloom and doom for decades. -- During the first Gulf War, Carl Sagan got on 'Nightline' and predicted the smoke from the Kuwaiti oil fires would go into the upper atmosphere and disrupt the monsoons, causing a global catastrophe. His opponent in the Nightline debate said the smoke would get rained out in a few weeks. CNN and others ignored his critics and put Sagan all over the TV. Until 3 days later when black rain started falling in Iran putting an end to the nonsense.

The public knows better. Every week or so, some new group of scientists tells us that some new food is either good or bad for us. Butter has gone back and forth between being a heath-food and the devil incarnate so many times in my lifetime that I just lost track. Every week we get a new bit of science that contradicts the ones that went before it. So we in the public listen attentively, get out our box of salt and go on with our lives.

No branch of science is immune to this dynamic EXCEPT for the evolutionary biologist. Somehow evolutionary biologists (and their cult like followers) refuse to accept that some people don't believe them. Just look what has happened here at Wizbang for the last few days. I dared to say the words "I don't believe ya" and they attacked with both feet. The ironic thing is that I predicted it would happen before it did and I said they would be more zealous than the true religious people but they did it anyway.... All the while professing their intelligence.

New medical information is often viewed with a jaundice eye but whatever the current ideas are in the evolutionary biology world are to be taken as scripture. If those people want to be zealots, I can't stop them... But I'll continue to mock them.

[Important Note: This post was part of the Wizbang April Fools]


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Comments (37)

Great stuff, Man.... (Below threshold)
timothyb:

Great stuff, Man.

I resent that. I DID NOT ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

I resent that. I DID NOT do nothing about that report. I went out and picked up my new car. Not an SUV, but a van. Replaced the little car that just couldn't cut it anymore.

My apologies Jim ;-)... (Below threshold)
Paul:

My apologies Jim ;-)

A tiny scientific group mak... (Below threshold)
Yeti:

A tiny scientific group makes a prediction and everybody gets excited over it. Where are the studies? If any of these theories are to have any type of credibility they must be published in legitimate scientific journal, such as SCIENCE. That way it is subject to peer review by thousands of scientists.

hey, if they are right, can... (Below threshold)
Jim in Texas:

hey, if they are right, can I get a timeline when our "sell by" date will be?

If it's soon enough I might start maxing out the ol' credit cards (oops, never mind, I already have)

Hmmm.I see I picke... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

I see I picked a bad time to give up heroin. :)

You are so right about the ... (Below threshold)
george:

You are so right about the evolution crowd.

They are a perfect example of "educated idiots."

I would say there is a diff... (Below threshold)

I would say there is a difference between scientists who are making predictions about what will happen in the future (i.e., global warming) and those who are trying to explain things that have happened in the past (evolution).

The former are inherently less credible because their claims depend on data that don't exist yet.

Nah - Peter Duesberg's (hig... (Below threshold)
Ira:

Nah - Peter Duesberg's (highly qualified) opinions on AIDS were dismissed because he isn't a 'virologist'; atrophysicists reject alternate theories from people like Hannes Alfven (Nobel prize in Physics 1970 - I mentioned this somewhere else today...) bcause he isn't one of them, etc. It's rather like the Freudians insisting that only they are qualified to tell if the patient has improved. (Or the therapists who insist that fifteen years of sobriety only makes G W Bush a 'dried up drunk.')

"Environmental scientists h... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"Environmental scientists have been predicted gloom and doom for decades."

Do I have permission now to mock every "zealot" who believes in the Bible because the book of Revelations has been predicting doom and gloom for what, thousands of years? I guess we can just write off the return of Christ as a load of crap because according to the zealots, gee, the signs were all there in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and I'm still waiting.

You guys are classic. Sagan was wrong because black rain fell in Iran as if "black rain" is a good thing! See the disaster wasn't as disastrous as the scientists said it was so scientists suck.

And, of course, if the world didn't stop in its tracks to take this report seriously is has to be because no one believes in these chicken little scientists as if the so-called liberal American media really gave the report any serious, meaningful play in between breaks from wall to wall Schiavo coverage.

But wait, Fox News covered this report. Hmmm. Let;s see how accurate it its coverage was.
http://mediamatters.org/items/200504010001

Ya, ya, you'll all say Media Matters is baised and Fox is fair and balanced. You'll attack me for choosing a biased source to back my claim. I predicted it here first. I dared to say I don't believe Fox is telling the truth about this report but no doubt you'll go ahead and attack me anyway while professing your intelligence.

I guess I'd only have to ask Paul if he takes gravity as scripture or is it just another theory destined to fall apart when the liberal media stops buying into the power mad fantasies of science.

Here's a quote from the report as reported in the WaPo:
"Human actions are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted,"

Does anyone here want to seriously disagree with this statement, that human actions could never do this kind of damage? That we could never over pollute the air or water? Is this really so far-fetched a concept that it deserves nothing but scorn and mockery?

Look at it this way. If nuclear weapons are tantamount to instant suicide by gun to the head, destroying the environment is tantamount to the slow suicide of alcoholism or drug addiction. It's all self-destructive behavior. But you guys prefer to live in denial, enablers one and all.


Hmmmm."Does anyone... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

"Does anyone here want to seriously disagree with this statement, that human actions could never do this kind of damage?"

That's the nice thing about evolution and evironmentalists. We'll evolve and adapt to earth's changing circumstances. So why worry? Who what if there's going to be pollution problems, hell we'll just evolve a means to deal with it.

So all the doom and gloom nonsense is just that. Well unless evolution is a crock of s**t. Then we're really f**ked.

heh.

Paul, apology accepted. Ju... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Paul, apology accepted. Just trying to do my part, you know what I mean?

Oh, and the economy is going great guns here. My DBA group is comprised of 6 people. ALL 6 of us have now purchased a new car within the last 6 months or so. To add to that, we have 3 new laptop computers that were also purcahsed by these same individuals. (My new laptop being the "high" end of the crowd at 3.6GHZ).

sigh. I really need to pre... (Below threshold)
ed:

sigh. I really need to preview my comments.

I agree Ed. A little though... (Below threshold)
frameone:

I agree Ed. A little thought goes a long way.

Paul:Back in my mi... (Below threshold)
leelu:

Paul:

Back in my mid-20's, I declared (half-jokingly) that I would quit listening to studies when the one that said "Sex causes cancer" came out.

Sure enough, a study came out a couple of years later that essentially said "...sex causes cancer." (Higher incedence of cervical cancer in sexually active women compared to a control group of nuns, as I recall).

Background noise. It's all background noise.

Frameone, in your honor I'm... (Below threshold)

Frameone, in your honor I'm going to drive all 30 miles home in my 95 Jeep Wrangler in 3rd gear, making lots of sudden stops and starts!!

And I'm going to fire off an entire can of CFC aerosol when I get home.

I mean, we're going to die anyway, why not?

Sharp - That's the s... (Below threshold)
frameone:

Sharp -
That's the spirit. Self-destruction and self-loathing go hand-in-hand. Oh and don't forget to say hi to Jesus for me.

Actually, your words were "... (Below threshold)
andy:

Actually, your words were "I told you so," followed by a made-up definition of evolution. Followed by you getting your intellectual ass handed to you in bucket-sized gobs.

Had you simply said "I don't believe ya," I think most of us would have said "fine," categorized you among those who think the moon landing was faked on a soundstage, and gone back to reading the other two Wizbangers instead.

Maybe next time you should try that.

Andy you really are incapab... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Andy you really are incapable of rational thought huh?

when you delete any tough q... (Below threshold)

when you delete any tough questions, do you really think that means you've won the debate?

Wow. Paul you really delete... (Below threshold)
frameone:

Wow. Paul you really deleted Comissar's perfectly reasonable comment?
That's awesome.
So how 'bout it? Are you going to continue setting up your strawman version of evolution for further furious pounding by your little fists or are you going to come around and confront honest science honestly?

No--- I deleted him because... (Below threshold)
Paul:

No--- I deleted him because I have answered him in excess of 20 times but he still posts something that is wrong.

At this point he is not advancing the debate, he is whining. (as are you)

If he has something intelligent to say, I'll leave it, if not he hits the bit bucket.

"Reports of my death are gr... (Below threshold)
julie:

"Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Paul de Wizbang

What you can ramble on with... (Below threshold)
Paul:

What you can ramble on with your stupidity unchecked now.

Have fun children.

Julie did you know what Kev... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Julie did you know what Kevin was going to do? You posted at the exact same time as him.

email me

Oh frame-without-a-frame-of... (Below threshold)

Oh frame-without-a-frame-of-reference:

No, you may not mock those of us who know that Revelation is true. If you'd bother to read it--as a Christian--you'd know it isn't about "doom-and-gloom" but rather says "We win in the End!!!"

Jesus can't seem to remember you--are you the one with the big mole on your forehead? Oh, sorry, that's Aaron Neville...

RE: ed's post (April 1, 200... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: ed's post (April 1, 2005 01:32 PM)
That's the nice thing about evolution and evironmentalists. We'll evolve and adapt to earth's changing circumstances. So why worry? Who what if there's going to be pollution problems, hell we'll just evolve a means to deal with it...

We hope we'll evolve to adapt to Earth's changing circumstances. Given enough time in a slowly changing environment, our genetics and phenotypic expression will drift in the appropriate direction to enable us to cope, maybe even thrive, or not. But there's the rub... time. Change the conditions of our Big Blue Petri Dish fast enough and we may not evolve adequately. Consequence? Mass extinction. Dinosaurs should ring a bell here.

Humans are pretty wimpy critters though our minds are phenomenal. It is what makes us a successful species. However, given the evidence that we have, cockroaches and bacteria have a much better chance of outliving us. I'd rather be a bit more cautious and not expedite their return to predominance (if even that is the appropriate term).

No doubt that some studies extrapolate too much and the motivations for perpetuating hysterics have been noted previously. However, as in everything, moderation is the key to longevity. We cannot blind ourselves to observations that, while not perfect, show some errors in our ways. I prefer to respect our environment (with some admitted compromise) so that our lives can be as comfortable as possible without, for example, hoping for the immediate and improbable expression of some new membraneous growth or super-sticky cilia to cleanse our inhaled air.

Well Paul I think you've no... (Below threshold)

Well Paul I think you've not only misled again on evolution, but also the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report. The report actually has some good stuff in terms of using markets as a means of addressing some of these problems. You are in favor of markets right?

Hmmm."We hope we'l... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

"We hope we'll evolve to adapt to Earth's changing circumstances."

Luckily beavers aren't capable of genetic manipulation. On the other hand mankind is getting close to it. So when I say "evolve" I'm not really discussing evolution, except in a joking manner, but just pointing out that nothing is in stasis.

"using markets as a means of addressing some of these problems"

Is creating a system of carbon warrants really going to achieve anything? Or is it just a means of taxing developed nations in yet another manner by environmentalists? Personally I'm underwhelmed by the concept, particularly since there's little chance that either China or India would sign onto such a thing, in anything but some obligatory symbolic way.

And last, but not least, I'm vastly amused by proponents of evolution that also believe in preserving endangered species.

Julie did you know what ... (Below threshold)
julie:

Julie did you know what Kevin was going to do? You posted at the exact same time as him.
email me

I don't follow you, Paul. It was not hard to put two and two together. I think you need to keep this between you and Kevin. I would like to stay out of it, if you don't mind.

Ed:And last, bu... (Below threshold)
areaman:

Ed:

And last, but not least, I'm vastly amused by proponents of evolution that also believe in preserving endangered species.

I can see the humor in that.

But...what many people are concerned about is the loss of numerous species that eventually begins to negatively affect OUR species (H.S.S.). We are, after all, dependant on other forms of life to survive.

But then, you probably think that all food originates at the grocery store. Some people realize that fish comes from the ocean, etc, and that a polluted ocean could harm that food supply (thats just one example). You see, environmentalists often just want to preserve resources so that we humans can keep living here for a long time.

I am not a big fan of Paul'... (Below threshold)
chad:

I am not a big fan of Paul's, I found him rude and condescending, but if this isn't an April Fool's joke maybe Kevin should reconsider the ban, since:

1. It doesnt seem to be decreasing Paul's posting any and,

2. It does't seem to have decreased the amount of discussion of evolution.

:-)

Now a serious point. Maybe there is a something going on between Jay Tea and julie I don't get or maybe it is just because she is so damn abrasive, but is anyone else disturbed by her accusations that Jay Tea forced Paul out and the threat she made to have him banned also.

RE: chad's post (April 1, 2... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: chad's post (April 1, 2005 07:37 PM)
Maybe there is a something going on between Jay Tea and julie I don't get or maybe it is just because she is so damn abrasive, but is anyone else disturbed by her accusations that Jay Tea forced Paul out and the threat she made to have him banned also.

While speculation will abound should this episode prove not to be a big April Fool's joke (this oozer remains a skeptic), I found some of this curious, too. How would any outside commentor deduce anything of the sort? What clues existed to incite such perceptions? I sure didn't see any evidence to suggest such scheming. Maybe I've not been a visitor long enough.

Because I made it all up yo... (Below threshold)
julie:

Because I made it all up you two dorks!

I am not a big fan of Paul's, I found him rude and condescending, but if this isn't an April Fool's joke maybe Kevin should reconsider the ban, since

And you call me abrasive?! lol!

Posted by: Mac Lorry... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Posted by: Mac Lorry

Paul, I should know better than to hope that any discussion in a public and anonymous forum about the limits of scientific knowledge can avoid becoming boorish. Now it's said that it was all an April fools joke. Nevertheless, I'll step in and hope for a civil discourse. Then again, this thread is probably dead and no one will read my post anyway.

What is intelligence? How is it manifested by the human brain? However it's defined, it appears that complex interconnected networks of neurons are the basis for human intelligence. One technique in the search for artificial intelligence is called neural networks. These neural networks can be trained to solve problems by experiencing examples--they learn. Can such networks learn to learn? If so, wouldn't such a network have a purpose? Given enough nodes and learning activity, it seems obvious that such a network would become self-aware. After all, the human brain does.

In the quantum world a particle can be in all possible states at the same time. Researchers are busy at work trying to make quantum computers for that vary reason. Such computers could search all possible solutions to a problem almost instantaneously. Also, in the quantum world "distance" as we know it from our everyday experiences doesn't seem to exist for entangled particles. That is, if two entangled particles are separated by any amount of distance and the spin of one particle is fixed, the spin of the other particle instantaneously changes to the opposite state. Could a quantum computer use entailed particles that are widely distributed? Are there natural phenomena, such as supernovas, that can produce massive quantities of entangled particles? Is it possible that the early universe produced a huge amount of entailed particles that, by pure chance, organized into a neural network that learned to learn, grew to became self aware, then incorporated all available entangled particles into it's mind?

These are a few of the questions that scientists can't answer. Well, with the exception of Darwinists at least. Darwinists have already proven to their own satisfaction that intelligence didn't exist in the universe before life developed on Earth. At least not an intelligence that could or would influence the development of other intelligence. For the rest of us, there's still room to doubt that evolution through natural selection is the only possible explanation for life on Earth. Darwinists claim that such doubts disqualifies one from being a scientist. I suggest that only those who have such doubts can be scientists.

RE: julie's post (April 1, ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: julie's post (April 1, 2005 08:47 PM)

Hmm. I did not observe that which you say you made up. That means that your contrivance (if true) seemed "curious" (my word) or of questionable validity from the get-go. According to you, that's "dork[y]". Define dorky.

Hmmmm.1. "I can se... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

1. "I can see the humor in that."

Thanks.

2. "But...what many people are concerned about is the loss of numerous species that eventually begins to negatively affect OUR species (H.S.S.). We are, after all, dependant on other forms of life to survive."

IMHO most species offer nothing special that couldn't be done just as well as a replacement species. As an example is the American Elm tree, I believe largely wiped out.

All in all I don't completely oppose rational measure. But when environmentalists go to extreme measures to protect a tiny *frog*, that's when I think it becomes a Carnivale of the Ludicrous.

Ultimately the single most important fact isn't the impact of human development on nature. It's the breaching of environmental barriers to species migration. Take all the damage caused by mankind's industriousness and compare that to the damage caused by intentional, or accidental, importation of alien species, and I think you'll find the former a fraction of the latter.

Essentially the world of our ancestors consisted of isolated environments where all the species struggles had largely been done. Now we're in an age where not only the economy has gone global, but species struggles as well.

Trying to preserve endangered species in the face of that, is a futile gesture. But hey, good luck on that.

3. "But then, you probably think that all food originates at the grocery store."

What's extraordinarily amusing about this is that I worked on a neighborhood farm when I was kid, and spent my summers with my Aunt Betty, who also ran a farm. Then there's the 2 acre kitchen garden my dad had. I used to both love and hate that garden. Farming in New Hampshire means dealing with rocks and stones every spring. Having to filter out the rocks, by hand, always sucked.

On the other hand being able to whip up a salad right off the vine, so to speak, has no equals.

4. "Some people realize that fish comes from the ocean, etc, and that a polluted ocean could harm that food supply (thats just one example). You see, environmentalists often just want to preserve resources so that we humans can keep living here for a long time."

Sure. When the objections and goals of environmentalists are rational, then I'm all in favor of it. When they cross the line into goofydom, then I just basically ignore them.

As an example the fight to preserve wild salmon is a good one. A futile one and long lost btw, but a good fight. The fight to preserve tiny useless fish, at the cost of farmer's livelihoods, is just a waste of time and money.

I suppose ultimately it's a difference of opinions in a way. My viewpoint is that it's a waste of time to try and preserve species that are utterly incapable of survival and are useless to boot. Some people, not necessarily yourself, think that preserving all species is the determining goal.

If that means preserving the NH black fly, then it just convinces me that some people have a screw loose. :)




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