Those in Power use Climate ‘Science’ to Expand their Power and Accumulate Wealth

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 29th, 2014

Week in Review

We are continually told that there is a consensus among climate ‘scientists’ that global warming is real.  And that man is causing it.  It’s settled science they say.  But have you ever wondered how real scientists do things?  The kind that don’t take a vote on whether something is settled science?  Here is a look into the world of theoretical physicists.  A group of people that theorize about things far bigger than mere climate (see Physicists say Big Bang theory revelation may be premature by Liat Clark posted 3/25/2014 on Wired).

Three theoretical physicists have penned a paper suggesting last week’s announcement that cosmic ripples from the Big Bang have been identified may have been premature.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announcement rocked the scientific community with the revelation the South Pole BICEP2 telescope had captured twisted patterns in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) left behind after the Big Bang. The Smithsonian team believes these are a glimpse of the gravitational waves that were generated by cosmic inflation — an epic distortion of space-time just after the Big Bang when the universe expanded in a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

James Dent of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University and Harsh Mathur of the Case Western Reserve University have argued on the open access platform that the claim of definitive proof should not be made until all other possibilities have been ruled out.

Even after a paper has been published claiming definitive proof the subject is still open for debate.  Now that’s science.  And note that part about ruling out ALL OTHER possibilities.  You never hear that kind of language from the climate ‘scientists’.  Have they done that in their research?  Or did they only look at selective data to prove what they want to prove?  Did they rule out sunspot activity and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation?  A warming of the oceans that shifts the jet stream?  Or did they ignore this because it contradicts what they want the data to show?  There is a correlation between the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and recent warming periods.  Which would be one other possibility they need to rule out.  But can’t.  So they simply ignore it.  Proving that ‘climate science’ is more politics than science.  A tool for big-government leftists around the world to do what they’ve always wanted to do.  To use the power of government to create a ruling class.  Of a small group of people that has power over the masses.  And who live quite comfortably while telling us what we must go without.

It’s nothing new.  Since the dawn of time there have been those who seek power.  To create a small ruling elite that lives better than everyone else.  Much better.  As every dictator in history has shown.  North Korea still suffers from famine.  But the ruling powers (currently Kim Jong-un) ate so well that they suffered from a little obesity.  Kim Jong-un lives a privileged life.  He has the best of everything while his people still go hungry.  If that country were free, however, Kim Jong-un would live a less extravagant life.  Perhaps even doing manual labor.  For his only skill was having the right last name to become dictator.

This is why people want power.  For even in the poorest countries those at the top live like kings.  And those on the left, rabid anti-capitalists that they are, have no skill other than political skills.  They want to live like kings.  But they don’t want to work hard to earn it.  So they use politics.  Expand the size of government.  To create as many high-paying posts that do nothing worthwhile as possible.  So there is a place for these people.  Where they can live better than everyone else without having earned it.  This is why they want to nationalize health care.  For that can create many levels of high-paying bureaucratic positions.  And if they can get the economy of every country to bow down to their climate panels they can live better than kings.  They can live as emperors.  Over a vast empire they control.  Living in the lap of luxury.  Accumulating great wealth.  And drunk on the power they can wield.  Where they can get back at anyone that was ever better than them if they don’t bow down and kiss their fanny.


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Repealing Obamacare has a larger Scientific Consensus than Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 1st, 2014

Week in Review

If you’re a fan of alpine skiing you probably were disappointed with the Sochi games.  Because it was too warm.  In fact, they were the warmest Winter Games ever (see It’s Official: Sochi Was the Warmest Winter Olympics Ever by Eric Holthaus posted 2/24/2014 on Slate).

In what was painfully obvious to each and every viewer, the just-completed celebration of snow sports in the southern Russia resort city of Sochi was the warmest Winter Olympics ever.

The Olympics were plagued by spring-like weather: Skiers landed in puddles at the bottom of their runs, snow was trucked in from more northern mountains, and tourists were caught sunbathing between events.

A comprehensive analysis by American meteorologist Matt Lanza, updated on Monday, showed Sochi was head-and-shoulders the warmest Winter Olympics since at least 1950, as far back as reliable weather records go.

Now, to be fair, Sochi had a head start. It has the warmest average climate of any winter Olympics venue in history. But it was even warmer than normal this month in southern Russia: The highest temperature recorded during the games was a whopping 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Six days were in the 60s.

Of course there are those that are saying this is further proof that the planet is warming.  Because of manmade carbon emissions.  And they have the data to prove it.  Because they have ‘reliable’ weather records going all the way back to 1950.  Some 64 years ago.  That is, they have reliable data covering 0.0000013% of the climate history of the planet.  So there you have it.  The science of manmade global warming is settled.  At least they say there is a scientific consensus.

It’s a pity we can’t use such ‘scientific’ sampling like that to determine whether or not to repeal Obamacare.  Because if we did all we would have to do is find 2 people out of one million who say it should be repealed.  For 2 out of one million is 0.000002%.  Which is greater than 0.0000013%.  And the odds of finding 2 people out of one million that would want to repeal Obamacare are pretty good.  Just as good as the odds of finding a favorable weather pattern in 64 years out of a total of 5 billion years of weather to settle the science of global warming.  But the left would never repeal Obamacare if only 0.000002% of the people wanting it repealed.  For they’re refusing to repeal it now even though a recent New York Times/CBS News poll shows 42% of those asked want a full repeal of Obamacare.

For the left 0.0000013% settles science when it comes to their junk science.  But 42% is only a statistical anomaly when it goes against their political agenda.  Showing how ridiculous both global warming and Obamacare are.  And how arrogant and deceitful they are when it comes to their political agenda.


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The Earth has been Warmer and Cooler before Man created his First Carbon Emission

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 9th, 2014

Week in Review

The left likes to attack religion.  Pointing out how those in power created all religions.  To control the people.  And to increase their power.  They note that these religions are not based in scientific fact.  But on faith.  And silly superstitions.  Not intelligent thought.  Which is why the left attacks religion.  To free people from these silly superstitions.  So they can control the people with their own silly superstitions and faith (see I Spent 28 Hours on a Bus. I Loved It. by Eric Holthaus posted 2/4/2014 on Slate).

For the first time, 195 nations backed a consensus statement saying that humanity is “extremely likely” (greater than 95 percent confidence) to be the dominant cause. That’s about the same confidence doctors have that smoking causes cancer…

That means we have no choice but to change our collective path right now.

There is no such thing as consensus in science.  We don’t take votes in science.  We use the scientific method.  And here’s how Merriam-Webster defines the scientific method:

principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses

Do you see anything about taking votes and forming a consensus?  No.  Because it’s not science when you take votes and form a consensus.  When empirical data and experimentation uphold a hypothesis what does that mean?  It means we haven’t disproved that hypothesis yet.  It doesn’t mean that hypothesis is a scientific fact.  It just means someone hasn’t come around to disprove it yet.

We don’t know what killed off the dinosaurs yet.  We have many hypotheses.  A massive meteorite hit the earth.  A period of volatile volcanic activity.  Continental drift cooled the planet.  Dinosaur flatulence warmed the planet.  Aliens killed them.  Or took them away.  There are many theories.  But no one knows for sure what happened.  And scientists haven’t taken a vote to settle the matter once and for all.  They are still working to figure that out.  Because that’s the scientific method.  Whereas the theory of global warming (let’s call it what it was before their warming predictions were proven wrong and they opted to use climate change) is the only ‘science’ the left wants us to accept as settled science.  Without any further inquiry.  And they even belittle anyone who believes in the scientific method as climate change deniers.  Because we don’t pray at the altar of global warming.  Turning our world over to those who want to regulate every aspect of our lives.

Climate was around a lot longer than dinosaurs.  Yet while we can only make educated hypotheses on what happened to the dinosaurs we can supposedly understand fully something that predates the dinosaurs.  Which is preposterous to say the least.  In the Seventies they were warning us about global cooling.  Then in the Nineties they were warning us about global warming.  Without ever saying that they were wrong when they said the planet was cooling.  Or why we should believe them now when they were wrong before.  And not just a little wrong.  They were the most wrong possible.  Changing from one extreme (cooling) to the other extreme (warming).

Climate doesn’t only predate the dinosaurs.  It also predates man.  And there was a lot of climate activity going on long before man created his first carbon emission.  Once upon a time there were no polar icecaps.  Then at another time glaciers reached down from the polar regions to near the equator.  These extremes happened long before the internal combustion engine.  Or the coal-fired power plant.  In fact, these things happened when there were no manmade carbon emissions.  So what caused these climate extremes that were much more extreme than the climate of today?  Whatever it was we do know one thing.  Man did not cause them.  Just as he is not causing global warming today.  For it may come a shock to liberals but man is not bigger than climate.  Climate is bigger than man.  And it can bring on another ice age and kill us in droves.

If you live in a northern clime look out your window at that snow and ice covering the ground.  Now ask yourself this.  How much food do you think our farmers could grow if their fields were covered with snow and ice all year round?  Or if the temperatures never rose enough to warm the wet soil enough to allow seeds to germinate?  None. That’s how much.  We can irrigate land during a summer drought.  But there will be nothing we can do to warm and dry the soil enough to grow food.  Which means the climate doomsayers were right in the Seventies.  Global cooling is the greater threat.  Not warming.  And anyone worried about manmade global warming should ask the climate ‘scientists’ to explain how the polar icecaps could melt, glaciers could extend down from the polar regions to the equator and then recede back to the polar regions without any manmade global warming around to cause this climate change.  And if they can explain how with a straight face than perhaps we should listen to them.  But not until then.


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Unlike Global Warming the Science of Evolution has Evolved

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 26th, 2014

Week in Review

Devout global warming alarmists say the science is done.  There is a scientific consensus.  Manmade global warming is real.  Case closed.  And if you deny that global warming exists you are going against settled science.  There is only one problem with this.  There is no such thing as consensus in science.  And science is never settled (see 7,000-Year-Old Human Bones Suggest New Date for Light-Skin Gene by Tia Ghose posted 1/26/2014 on Yahoo! News).

An ancient European hunter-gatherer man had dark skin and blue eyes, a new genetic analysis has revealed.

The analysis of the man, who lived in modern-day Spain only about 7,000 years ago, shows light-skin genes in Europeans evolved much more recently than previously thought.

The findings, which were detailed today (Jan. 26) in the journal Nature, also hint that light skin evolved not to adjust to the lower-light conditions in Europe compared with Africa, but instead to the new diet that emerged after the agricultural revolution, said study co-author Carles Lalueza-Fox, a paleogenomics researcher at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain…

The finding implies that for most of their evolutionary history, Europeans were not what many people today would call ‘Caucasian’, said Guido Barbujani, president of the Associazione Genetica Italiana in Ferrara, Italy, who was not involved in the study.

Instead, “what seems likely, then, is that the dietary changes accompanying the so-called Neolithic revolution, or the transition from food collection to food production, might have caused, or contributed to cause, this change,” Barbujani said.

In the food-production theory, the cereal-rich diet of Neolithic farmers lacked vitamin D, so Europeans rapidly lost their dark-skin pigmentation only once they switched to agriculture, because it was only at that point that they had to synthesize vitamin D from the sun more readily.

This is science.  We had one theory.  And replaced it with another.  As we may do again.  Because science is never settled.  And there is no such thing as consensus.  Which is why global warming is not science.  It’s politics.  Because politicians say there is a consensus.  And that it’s settled.  But in science we don’t take a vote.  We hold one theory true.  And spend our time trying to prove that theory is wrong.  And when a theory withstands all of these efforts to disprove it that theory is a pretty strong theory.  But it doesn’t mean we stop trying to find a better one.  As proven here.


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And the Votes are in—The Consensus is that Global Warming is Real despite the Lack of Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 28th, 2013

Week in Review

Climate scientists have voted.  And the ‘yeas’ outnumbered the ‘nays’.  So there is catastrophic global warming coming our way (see Climate Change: Now It’s Over To Politicians by Thomas Moore posted 9/27/2013 on Sky News).

Nearly 900 scientists helped to write the one million words in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

And 110 governments went through it line by line.

All the more remarkable that the panel has reached a consensus. That makes it hard to ignore.

One million words?  Who’s going to read this?  Who will be able to understand it?  Other than the climate scientists that wrote it?  Who no doubt wrote so the layperson can’t understand it.  So they can laugh with all-knowing condescension and say, “This is too complex for you to understand.  It is so complex that only smart people like us climate scientists can understand it.  Don’t embarrass yourself by trying to.  Just accept what we say on faith.  Like in a religion.”

Consensus?  There is no consensus in science.  There is no voting in science.  And nothing is ever settled.  One scientific theory holds until a better one comes along to challenge it.  And disproves the old theory.  With empirical evidence.  Or proving it in a laboratory.  Can you imagine if the pharmaceutical companies voted to come to a consensus on what new drugs were safe for people to take?  No.  That would never happen.  For there is no consensus in the pharmaceutical industry.  Because there is no consensus in science.

Sceptics argue that global surface temperatures haven’t risen since 1998 and that the scientific models are wrong.

But the scientists say this is only a temporary pause. Ocean currents have absorbed some of the extra heat, but at some point they will reverse.

If their scientific models can actually predict climate why didn’t they predict that the ocean currents would absorb global warming?  Why didn’t they predict this pause?  Before this pause they were warning us about the exact same things they’re warning us about now.  So were their models wrong back then?  Or were the climate scientists hiding this cooling from us?  If so, why?  Why would they lie about global warming?

There’s no doubt that investment in green energy means higher fuel prices. But delaying action on carbon emissions will only mean greater cost later: flood barriers to hold back the rivers and sea, more expensive insurance and higher food bills.

And there’s your answer.  Who are the climate alarmists?  Republicans?  Conservatives?  No.  They’re liberals.  They’re the ones who have forced all of these environmental regulations on us.  Making our lives more costly.  As they expanded the size of government to regulate our businesses.  And us.  While throwing loan guarantees and grants to their friends and campaign donors in the liberal, green energy industry.  For climate science is not science.  It’s politics.


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Scientists even Consider Albert Einstein may have been wrong yet Global Warming is a Scientific Fact

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Was the man who gave us ‘energy equals mass times the speed of light squared’ (E=MC2) wrong?  Albert Einstein?  Well, we’re not sure.  But the point is just that.  Even his genius is still being questioned and subjected to rigorous scientific experimentation.  Because that’s what science is.  And what science does (see Was Einstein wrong – or was the cable loose? by Bob Evans in Geneva and Kate Kelland in London posted 2/22/2012 on Reuters).

The world of science was upended last year when an experiment appeared to show one of Einstein’s fundamental theories was wrong – but now the lab behind it says the result could have been caused by a loose cable.

Physicists at the CERN laboratory near Geneva appeared to contradict Albert Einstein last year when they reported that sub-atomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractions of a second faster than light…

Gillies confirmed that a flaw in the GPS system was now suspected as a possible cause for the surprising reading. Further testing was needed before any definite conclusions could be reached, he added.

The faster-than-light finding was recorded when 15,000 neutrino beams were pumped over three years from CERN to an underground Italian laboratory at Gran Sasso near Rome.

The speed of light is approximately 671 miles per hour.  So that’s some exacting science that may have detected something traveling fractions of a second faster than 671 miles per hour.  Even a cop couldn’t measure that ‘excessive’ speed with a radar gun.  To determine whether this excessive speed was a mistake due to a loose cable could take another 3 years of testing.  Just to make sure.  That’s one thing about particle physics.  Being ‘close enough’ or having a ‘consensus’ just doesn’t cut it.  Even when it comes to Albert Einstein.

You know where else ‘close enough’ and ‘consensus’ doesn’t cut it?  In all science except the ‘science’ of global warming.  The only ‘science’ where consensus can make something a scientific fact.


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Global Warming is Conjecture, Consensus and Anything but Science

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 20th, 2011

Week in Review

What’s that sneaking up behind you?  Could it be global warming?  Probably not.  But a whole lot of scientists with a vested interest are saying it is (see Weather disasters to increase report warns, climate change signal slow to emerge for some extremes by Jason Samenow posted 11/18/2011 on The Washington Post).

A report from 220 of the world’s leading climate scientists cautions climate change may bring “unprecendented extreme weather and climate events” in the coming decades.

The report by the United Nations Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change makes clear that warm weather extremes and heavy precipitation events have increased, most likely as a result of manmade climate change. And it projects with a high degree of confidence increasing hot weather and heavy downpours in the future…

But the “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX) is somewhat guarded about the links between manmade climate change and hurricanes, floods, droughts and weather disaster losses. And some of its findings are more conservative and characterized by greater uncertainty than the major volume released by the IPCC in 2007, known as the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

What other science reports their findings using words like ‘may’ and ‘likely’ and a ‘high degree of confidence’?  I’ll tell you what kind.  Bad science.  Good science knows that if you raise the temperature of water to 212 degrees Fahrenheit at standard atmospheric pressure it will boil into a gas.  And there’s no ‘may’, ‘likely’ or a ‘high degree of confidence’ necessary in the report documenting this.

Science is not consensus.  That said, there isn’t even a consensus in the scientific community studying climate.  One says it’s definitely man-made global warming.  While another is saying there may not even be a link between man and rising temperatures.

The equivocal nature of some of the report’s scientific findings demonstrates the difficulty in drawing conclusions from a patchwork network of weather observations. It also illustrates the challenges in identifying a human fingerprint in data that is inherently noisy due to the highly variable nature of climate and weather, not to mention the challenges in modeling its future behavior.

The report is clear that when it assigns “low confidence” in observed changes, it doesn’t mean the extreme hasn’t changed or won’t change in the future. It simply conveys lack of data and/or knowledge. For some extremes, it seems to be the case that more we learn, the more we recognize we don’t know.

Climate is complex.  It’s far more complex than predicting tomorrow’s weather.  And we all know how often the weather people get tomorrow’s weather wrong.  And if it’s the case that as we learn more the more we recognize we don’t know, then it’s a safe bet that the global warming alarmists are wrong.  They were, after all, wrong about the coming ice age back in the Seventies.

Perhaps it’s time we ask them how do they know what they’re telling us.  I think you’ll be surprised by what you hear.  For it’s all a lot of guess work with some elaborate man-made computer models.  Not hard science spent in a laboratory.  Or study of empirical data going back a few ice ages or so.  It’s just conjecture.  And consensus. Which is anything but science.


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Moderate (mŏd’ər-ĭt), n., One who holds or champions moderate views or opinions, especially in politics or religion.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 3rd, 2011

Politics 101

Moderates just want to Get Along with Everyone and Believe in Consensus and Bipartisanship

Moderates are people who like to pick and choose.  A little from this philosophy.  And a little from that philosophy.  For example, a moderate Catholic may approve of abortion.  Because they disagree with the extreme view of no abortions in Catholicism.  Of course, there is no such thing as being a little bit Catholic.  Just like you can’t be a little bit pregnant.

A moderate, then, has no philosophical basis.  And doesn’t have a definite opinion.  They don’t know what they want.  But they know what they don’t want.  Extreme opinions.  Even just your run of the mill opinions.  To them everything is just an opinion.  And no opinion is right.  Or wrong.  It’s just an opinion.  And they don’t like to face the extreme unpleasantness that is life.  They’d rather avoid addressing problems that can make life unpleasant.  So they procrastinate.  And are great procrastinators.  Their motto is this.  Why solve today what we can solve tomorrow?  And then they hope that tomorrow never comes.

Moderates just want to get along with everyone.  They believe in consensus.  Reaching across the aisle.  Bipartisanship.  For they believe that there is a middle ground in every issue.  And they desperately seek the middle ground to avoid confrontation.  Which means that you can lie to them.  If you tell them what they want to hear.  And they will believe you.  Because they want to believe you.  Especially if you’re telling them what they want to hear.

Adolf Hitler lied Charismatically to Win Votes and Seize Power

Moderates are good people.  Who can be led astray.  Such as in Nazi Germany.  The vast majority of Germans were not Nazis.  If they were they wouldn’t have needed such an oppressive police state.  And there would have been no Gestapo.  But there was a police state.  And a Gestapo.

Most Germans just wanted to work.  And support their families.  Which was hard to do coming out of World War I, the Great Depression and hyperinflation.  Caused by Keynesian policies.  That is, printing money.  To pay their war reparations per a rather harsh Versailles Treaty.

Adolf Hitler knew how to sweet talk the masses.  Tell them what they wanted to hear.  And he did.  He was charismatic.  A populist.  Could give a great speech.  And he lied through his teeth.  The people heard what they wanted to hear.  And they voted for him.  That’s right.  Hitler didn’t seize power in a military coup.  He seized power by winning votes.  And passing populist laws.  After he had failed to seize power in a military coup.

Moderates may not Know what they Want but they Sure Know what they Don’t Want, such as National Health Care

In the U.S. the moderates typically determine elections.  Because about 40% of the people are limited-government conservatives.  About 20% are big-government liberals.  And the rest are moderates.  And they tend to vote Democrat.  Because the Democrats say the things they want to hear.  Consensus.  Bipartisan.  Working together to solve the people’s problems.

Some big-government liberals run as conservatives during elections.  And they lie so well that often a large percentage of these moderates vote Democrat.  Because, for some reason, they want to vote conservative.  But only if the conservative is a Democrat.

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned as moderates.  In fact, some even compared Barack Obama to the great Ronald Reagan.  A conservative Republican.  And it worked.  Clinton and Obama won their elections.  By lying.  They campaigned as limited-government moderates.  But they governed as big-government liberals.  They swung so far to the left that they both lost their mid-term elections.  Clinton lost the midterms for trying to pass Hillarycare.  And Obama loss the midterms for passing Obamacare.

The moderates may not know what they want.  But they know what they don’t want.  And they sure don’t want national health care.

The Consequence of having no Philosophical Basis is that Decisions are based on Populist Views and Feelings

Moderates don’t like extreme opinions.  Like the government can’t spend money it doesn’t have.  So Democrats campaign saying they will get the rich to pay their fair share.  Which sounds good.  Because moderates aren’t rich.  They’re hardworking middle class people.  So moderates vote Democrat because it seems like the nice thing to do.  The fair thing to do.  So the government continues to spend money it doesn’t have.  Knowing that they can continue in their irresponsible ways as long as they can get moderates to believe their lies.

This is the consequence of having no philosophical basis.  Decisions are based on populist views.  And feelings.  Which a cunning big-government liberal politician can always exploit.  And they have to if they ever hope to win an election.  For they aren’t going to convert the 40% of the people who are limited-government conservatives.  Because limited-government conservatives actually believe in something.  And tend to be impervious to their lies.


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LESSONS LEARNED #70: ” There is no such thing as ‘consensus’ in science.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 16th, 2011

State of the Art Medicine – Balancing the Four Humors

Early science was sometimes by consensus.  Arrived at by some guesses that were almost educated.  Early medical science, for example.  The human body was and is a complex thing.  Most of our knowledge was based on the excretions we observed coming from the body.  Someone with a cold had a runny nose.  Someone with a fever sweated.  Someone with an upset tummy vomited.  And, of course, there’s poop and pee.  If you didn’t excrete enough of either there’s probably something wrong with you.  Even today we look at our poop and pee.  For things like blood.  Or other abnormal secretions.  Because that can be a problem.  So the human body is a plethora of excretions.  Or fluids.  Each telling a story.

Early medicine broke these fluids down into 4 basic fluids.  The four humors.  Black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.  A healthy body had the four humors in balance.  A sick body had an imbalance.  Too little of one.  Or too much of another.  So early medicine looked at putting the four humors back into balance.  Either through putting humors into the body.  As in herbs or food.  Or taking humors out of the body.  As in bloodletting or inducing vomiting.  Or applying a poultice.  Out with the bad.  In with the good.

This was state of the art medicine at its time.  They even used it on George Washington in 1799.  The most important man in America.  He was making his rounds on horseback, inspecting his plantation one day in the rain and snow.  Got a bit of a sore throat.  Came in that evening for dinner.  Didn’t change out of his wet clothes so as not to inconvenience his guests.  The next day his throat was worse.  And he had a fever.  He also had trouble swallowing.  Today we’d see our doctor and ask for some antibiotics.  Before antibiotics, though, you tried to balance the four humors.  So they bled Washington.  State of the art medicine back then.  Washington died 6 days later.  Having never recovered from his sore throat.  Despite using what was then the consensus for the finest medical care.  Bleeding.

The Fight against both Smallpox and the Medical Consensus

Interestingly, George Washington was a healthy man.  He lived longer than most Washington men.  Even survived a run in with Smallpox in his youth.  Which makes his death from something starting out as a sore throat sadder still.  Because Smallpox was a killer.  People feared it like the plague.  In time, though, people found a way to make themselves immune to the disease.  By infecting themselves with a little of it.

England learned of this procedure from the Turks.  Lady Mary Wortley Montagu brought the practice (variolation) back from Turkey.  The king volunteered subjects for experimentation in England.  Which proved to be a success.  Even though there was a risk of death (about 1 in 1,000).  And during the procedure people were highly contagious.  Still, it was a whole lot better than dying from the pox.  So the Royal physician inoculated the Royal family.  And the practice slowly spread.  African slaves were doing it, too, and brought the practice to the New World and taught the procedure to the Reverend Cotton MatherEdward Jenner conducted further experiments.  Found a safer way to inoculate using cowpox.  Without the higher death rate.  Or with people being highly contagious during the process.  And the Smallpox vaccination was born.

But the acceptance of inoculation wasn’t easy.  The accepted medical practice did not include such a radical procedure.  Those in medicine belittled the procedure and anyone practicing it.  The medical consensus was that these were just some misguided people playing God who were going to turn people into cows after injecting them with cowpox.  But fear of dying can change minds.  Especially when there is a Smallpox epidemic in your country.  Which there was during the American Revolutionary War.  More soldiers died from Smallpox than were killed in battle.  A lot more.  More than half of the army.  Soldiers inoculated themselves using the puss from the pustules on infected soldiers.  John Adams’ wife, Abigail, inoculated her own children.  The inoculations saved the army.  And many of the cities.  And it was the successful fight against Smallpox that allowed the fight for independence to proceed.  Thanks to those who went against the consensus.

Contagions, not Bad Air, make you Sick

Part of the reason the disease was so contagious was because of poor sanitary conditions.  Soldiers cramped together in barracks.  Or in hospitals.  Crowded cities.  A lot of sick people in contact with a lot of healthy people got a lot of healthy people sick.  Some understood this and tried to stay away from sick people.  But they didn’t really understand germs.  They tried to stay away from sick people so they wouldn’t catch what they had.  By breathing the same air.  Not necessarily the breath they were exhaling.  But the air they were breathing in that made them sick in the first place.

A common medical opinion was that ‘bad’ air caused illness.  Thomas Jefferson believed this.  That’s why he hated leaving Monticello during the summer.  When the tidewater air was ‘bad’.  The coastal towns.  Where the government met.  He hated going to New York, Philadelphia and Washington.  Because they all had ‘bad’ air during the summer.  And that ‘bad’ air could give you malaria.  Of course, it wasn’t the air.  It was the mosquitoes who liked the marshy tidewater areas.  And understanding this was the first step in (almost) eradicating malaria.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t believe in ‘bad’ air.  Well, not the kind other people worried about.  He didn’t believe cold air gave anyone a cold.  Or the flu.  No one knew anything about germs or viruses yet, but he had an open mind.  And constantly questioned things.  He was, after all, America’s greatest scientist.  Why did he not get sick when traveling in the coldest of winters?  Yet he could catch cold in a warm and comfortable room when someone with a cold was in that same room?  The answer was obvious.  Bad air.  Created by the sick person exhaling their sickness into a room with no fresh air.  Whereby he had no choice but to breathe in this same air.  A contagion spread the sickness.  Not cold air.  Sure of this he would forever sleep with the window open.  Even during winter.  Even when sharing a bed with a sick John Adams during a diplomatic mission to discuss possible terms with the British on Staten Island to stop the rebellion.   There was no room at the inn.  So they had to share.  And they discussed Franklin’s theory.  Adams had a cold and wanted to close the window.  Franklin didn’t want to catch Adams’s cold and insisted on leaving the window open.  Adams returned to bed while listening to Franklin opine.  And fell asleep.  With the window open.  He was no sicker in the morning.  And Franklin did not catch his cold.

Before Modern Science there was Consensus and Bad Medicine

Poor sanitary conditions and a lack of understanding of germs killed a lot of people.  During the American Civil War, doctors would go from patient to patient without washing their hands.  After an amputation, they just wiped their saw on their apron before moving on to the next patient.  These were approved medical procedures.  The consensus was that it wasn’t necessary to wash your hands.  Or your saw.  And the result was an epidemic of gangrene.  And high mortality rates in Civil War hospitals.  Louis Pasteur‘s work on the germ theory of disease began to change things.  And Joseph Lister introduced the modern sterile and antiseptic operating room.

We were making progress.  Modern medicine was coming into being.  But we were still doing a lot of questionable things.  Even though it was accepted by the medical community.  Sometimes we just didn’t know any better.  Like giving people heavy doses of toxic mercury.  Then there were things where we should have known better.  Like sticking an ice pick through someone’s eye socket into the brain to sever the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex during the popular lobotomy craze of the early 20th century.  We don’t do these once accepted medical practices anymore. 

Before modern science and modern surgical tools and equipment there was little more than consensus in medicine.  No one knew anything.  So they started by guessing.  And if a guess won a popular vote, it became an accepted medical procedure.  For it was the consensus of the medical community.  Which until real science came along was the best they could do.  Thankfully, today, we have real science.  We no longer have to guess.  Or win popularity contests.  Which has greatly reduced the amount of bad medicine in our lives.  Thanks to those lone voices in the crowd.  The few who dared to go against the consensus.


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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #70: ” There is no such thing as ‘consensus’ in science.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 14th, 2011

Science is not an Exact Science

Science is not an exact science.  It’s a process.  It starts with observation.  You see something.  Hear something.  Feel something.  And it makes you curious.  So you start asking questions.  Why did that happen?  How did that happen?  And will it happen again?  So you start a longer process of observation.  You record data from these observations.  Called empirical data.  And you start seeing patterns in the data.  You start to see order.  Some cause and effect.  You note that whenever ‘A’ happens, you observe ‘B’.  And when ‘C’ happens, you observe ‘D’.  You start to experiment.  You make ‘A’ happen.  And, sure enough, you get ‘B’.  And when you make ‘C’ happen, you get ‘D’.

You can now reliably predict what will happen.  You form a hypothesis.  You break down what you saw through empirical observation and your experimentation into a mathematical formula.  And you discover something.  The formula you put together holds true under a wide set of conditions.  You now see that a lot of things can be accurately predicted by your formula.  Which leads you to a theory.  You do more experimentation.  And more empirical observation.  You’re on to something.  And it’s pretty big.  You test your hypothesis over and over again.  And you always get the same results.  You’ve discovered something.  If your observations and experimentation are correct.  If you haven’t made any false assumptions.  Or conducted your experiments in an uncontrolled environment.  You don’t think you have.  You’re pretty confident you did everything to the highest of scientific standards.  So you publish your results.  And have your peers review your work.

Your peers are very interested.  Some have been working on similar experiments.  They want to compare your work to theirs.  Interest spreads in the scientific community.  And they put your work to the test.  Through more experimentation and empirical observation.  They will push your research to the limits to see if it always holds true.  If it breaks down under certain conditions.  Or if they can find a critical flaw in your logic and/or experimentation that undoes all of your work.  After the peer review, if no one disproves your conclusions, your theory will hold in the scientific community.  Until disproven later.  Because science is not an exact science.  Things can change.

The Scientific Inquiry Never Ends

The scientific process never ends.  Because science isn’t exact.  But it’s often close enough to be useful.  Some theories have problems.  They don’t always hold true.  Then on further research these theories may be refined to fix some of the problems they had.  For example, we once thought the orbits of the planets were circular.  The theory was pretty accurate under empirical observation.  But there were problems.  The planets didn’t always travel in circles.  Then Johannes Kepler came along.  He theorized that the planets moved in elliptical orbits, not circular orbits.  Subsequent empirical observations showed that the planets indeed traveled in ellipses around the sun.  But there were still some observations that Kepler’s Laws didn’t explain.  Isaac Newton then improved on Kepler’s Laws by introducing the force of gravity into his equations.

Each step in the development of these theories improved on the past theory.  This is the scientific process.  The scientific inquiry never ends.  We continually test theories via experimentation and empirical observation.  We never accept past theories as scientific fact.  Every part of science is open to inquiry.  And we often have to revise long held theories based on new discoveries. 

Some of our old theories did quite a lot for us.  They took us to the moon and back.  Gave us jumbo jets.  And smart phones.  Incredible advances in technology.  Yet, we’re revising the science that gave us these things.  Because the scientific process never stands still.  No matter how right or how sure we think we are.  The work of Newton and Einstein was pretty good.  But some think we can improve on them.  Using Quantum field theory.  And String theory.  Which may be able to explain how everything works by looking at subatomic particles.   It could change everything.  But planes will still fly.  And smart phones will still work.  They may just do these things better.

Science by Consensus is not Science

One thing science isn’t is a democracy.  There is no voting.  No consensus.  Some early scientists were attacked when they challenged accepted beliefs.  By their fellow scientists.  And even the church.  It was these lone scientists against the world.  Like Galileo.  Who agreed with Copernicus that the earth revolved around the sun.  Not that the sun revolved around the earth.  Got Galileo in a lot of trouble with the church.  And spent the rest of his life under house arrest for trying to advance this view.  Because it wasn’t the accepted consensus of the time.  The church would later vindicate Galileo.  But it goes to show you that science isn’t a democracy.  Majority opinion doesn’t validate scientific beliefs.  And that a consensus in science is more politics than science.

Science by consensus is not science.  And it can be a very dangerous thing.  It was the accepted consensus that blacks were inferior to whites.  Which justified whites owning blacks as slaves.  It was the scientific consensus in Nazi Germany that the Germans were the master race.  That the Jews were an inferior race.  Subhuman.  And should be exterminated.  A lot of people bought into this ‘science’.  Happy to go along with the scientific consensus.  And it got a lot of people to do some pretty awful things.

Science by consensus is nothing more than mob rule.  It’s a tool to organize the masses.  To use for political gain.  Or for social or financial gain.  Because people will do things more readily if they believe there is a valid reason.  You just have to give them something to believe in.  And there are few things better than junk science.  Like the Alar scare (listed as a carcinogen after mega doses in test animals caused cancer).  Or the Saccharin scare (listed as a carcinogen after mega doses in test animals caused cancer).  And then there’s DDT.  Which almost eradicated malaria from the world.  Few things killed mosquitoes better.  But we also used it as a pesticide in agriculture in much higher doses.  Which apparently made egg shells thin, threatening species of birds.  And ‘possibly’ caused cancer in humans.  So we don’t use this wonder chemical anymore.  And malaria is alive, well and spreading today.  Because of the consensus that it was harmful to the environment.  And to people.  And millions of people die of malaria because of this consensus.

Good Science is built on Experimentation and Observation 

Some people accept some theories as fact.  Like the theory of evolution.  But it’s still called a theory.  Because it’s impossible to submit it to scientific inquiry.  The theory states that life evolved over hundreds of millions of years.  Even billions.  Fossil evidence can provide some information about the past.  But there is no way to test under laboratory conditions a process that occurred over such a vast time period.  So it remains a theory.

Global warming is another theory.  It, too, is impossible to submit to scientific inquiry.  Events happen over too great a time period.  And there are far too many variables involved.  It is difficult to accurately predict tomorrow’s weather let alone the next 10 years of climate.  And even if they have some empirical data that says the earth is warming the data is itself questionable.  Because the same data once predicted the earth was cooling.  And for all the doom and gloom of life-ending climatic changes, the earth went through far greater changes before man ever discovered coal.  The earth has cooled and warmed numerous times.  Great glacial ice sheets advanced and receded over land that became our great cities.   And here we are today.  Still here.

And it’s these big theories that we should be most careful with.  Because good science is built on experimentation and observation.  And if you can’t do either it’s just not science.  It’s only consensus.  Which makes it political.  And though politics can be fascinating, they have no place in science.


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