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April 15, 2010

Avoiding the Arrogance of Excellence is the Beginning of Wisdom

...and other Zen lessons from our intellectual and spiritual betters:

The Obama administration’s top science and technology official, who has argued for the economic de-development of America, warned science students last Friday that the United States cannot expect to be “number one” forever.

“We can’t expect to be number one in everything indefinitely,” Dr. John P. Holdren said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Certainly, being number one is not a status any nation is entitled to.

But I can't help wondering how one achieves excellence without first daring to believe one can achieve it? As the little green guy once said,

Luke: I don't... I don't believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.

Or more pithily:

Try not.
Do, or do not:
There is no "try".

Somehow I find it hard to believe that the world would be a better place if only America were more modest in her aspirations. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Posted by Cassandra at April 15, 2010 08:36 AM

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Comments

The little green guy had to jump around to match Duuko's light saber range.

Eventually, even the greatest will fall to a simple thing, a reality limit.

Now, of course, if Yoda had been fighting with force powers alone, from long range, instead of trying to match the tricks of evil, he'd have been better off. But the Left always claims that one can only defeat evil by matching it. Obviously, to do otherwise retains one's original purity, but at the same time results in defeat.

The United States, if it is to defeat others, must use its strengths and divert its weaknesses. The left argues, on the other hand, that the US should tailor our policies to match the weaknesses of others, while allowing their strengths to overshadow our current limitations. This is the pure, the high horse, the dogmatic position. There is no other correct route, as foretold by the O-Messiah.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 15, 2010 09:58 AM

You cannot be number one if you believe too much number two.

Posted by: Aunt Ralph at April 15, 2010 10:03 AM

When maturity was reached, he [Superman] discovered that he could easily: Leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a twenty-story building...raise tremendous weights... run faster than an express train... and that nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin!
Action Comics No. 1, June 1938

Posted by: Drive-by Jerry Siegel at April 15, 2010 10:43 AM

Holdren is a political hack. He praised Obama's 2009 suggestions for addressing the technological challenges of --

Finding the complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer.

Cancer isn't an organism -- it's the uncontrollable growth of one's own cells.

A universal vaccine for influenza that will protect against all future strains.

Good luck with that, since neither avian nor porcine viruses have anything in common -- other than being viruses.

Solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume.

That's beyond sci-fi and deep into the realm of fantasy.

A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet.

Comic book stuff -- first, they need to repeal all the laws of physics.

Biological systems that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel.

Ummmm -- never heard of *trees*, Obie?

Quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals.

That's feasible, once they develop a portable molecular disintegrator that's powered by nuclear waste.

The New Experts Lab specializes in what's laughingly called "post-normal science" -- meaning there are no absolutes, and only the community will decide whether a scientific finding is correct. In other words, if enough people believe the world is flat, the New Experts Lab will announce that, contrary to previous belief, the world actually *is* flat.

Posted by: BillT at April 15, 2010 11:30 AM

Worse than that, Bill, they believe that the world will *become* flat by dint of them having said so! It's the ultimate command economy: the elites pronounce, and reality adjusts itself to fit their demands. This is how their mental processes work. It's the ultimate in narcissism.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at April 15, 2010 11:36 AM

Well, men often abhor a vacuum, anyway, as we've recently discovered. Men, and power, then.

The US is less than first in many things. Take sashimi - never had better than in Japan, and I've heard Korean and Chinese chefs can slice it up pretty well, so we'll have to settle for 4th, at best. There are many similar ways the US is less than #1.

Call me Snuffleupagus, but I'll take that trade-off - 4th in sashimi and etc. for 1st in science. I'd even be willing to sacrifice Holdren's job, along with a significant portion of the federal government, to maintain our top positions in science and defense. And teacher's unions, university education programs, William Ayers ...

Cuz I'm a bad American, of course.

Posted by: tom at April 15, 2010 11:43 AM

From the article:

"one student asked Holdren how the United States could move forward now that it is no longer “the big shiny beacon” where all scientists travel to do their research.

Holdren called it a mixed picture, and said it was not purely bad for the United States that other countries were making gains instead of us.

“That is, there are many benefits to the increasing capabilities of science and technology in other countries around the world,” he said. “It’s not an unmixed or dead loss that other countries are getting better in science and technology.”

“Other countries getting better increases their capabilities to improve the standard of living of their countries, to improve their economies and, as a result, ultimately to make the world a better and safer place.”

So he's not saying we shouldn't try to be the best the best we can be. He's saying as other countries improve, it is unrealistic to think that we will always be #1 in everything.

Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 11:44 AM

What he's saying is that we should just sit back and watch, rather than taking the scientific lead again.

Which goes along perfectly with Teh Won's plan to reduce the threat of nuclear war -- let other countries develop them while we dispose of ours. According to LibThought, if all the countries of the world have nukes *except* the US, they won't be afraid of us and they'll magically ask us to go shopping for furniture with them on rainbow unicorn ponies.

Posted by: BillT at April 15, 2010 11:55 AM

BillT,

Having enough nukes to destroy the globe 7-10 times over doesn't translate into us not having any nukes.

Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 12:28 PM

Yes it does if you blow everything up.

See? I can be a annihilist too!

Besides, we are entitled to be #1! We earned it!
Oh, oops, my bad. Now we have to let a third world country have a turn. So, both the US and Russia disarm and let Iran have a crack at it!

It is all about taking turns and EO.

Posted by: Cricket at April 15, 2010 12:32 PM

Having enough nukes to destroy the globe 7-10 times over doesn't translate into us not having any nukes.

The fissile material in our warheads is refined to the point that it must be replaced after about a fifteen years, or we can't be sure it will function. The Russians know that just as well as we do, and the warheads we paid them to dismantle were all well past the point of normal replacement *if* they could have afforded to replace them -- and they're *keeping* the newer ones they've made.

We haven't replaced the fissile material in most of our arsenal since the Reagan years, and Obama's latest pronouncement has been interpreted as a moratorium on any replacement. So, despite the talking points about destroying the world, we don't *have* that capability and, in a few more years, we won't have a reasonable certainty that the newest ones will work at all.

You probably see that as a good thing. Unfortunately, I live in the real world -- you know, the one in which Syria just gave Hezbollah a bunch of nice, shiny Scud-Ds, giving them the range and wallop to hit anywhere in Israel?

Posted by: BillT at April 15, 2010 01:55 PM

Cricket -
You know how in a fireworks show, sometimes there is that huge rocket the sends streams of sparks out like a huge jesters hat, with a cacophony of explosions. And then,... after it goes dark... except for the lingering complementary colors of the afterimage.... there is one last, loudest and earth-vibrating Boom.

I want the US to be able to make that boom.

Posted by: tomg51 at April 15, 2010 02:01 PM

Did the President got a combination code to the old USSR locker where we stashed away all the old-fashioned socialists idealogues back in the late 80s?? Every single member of his team is the bloody socialist idealogue!

Posted by: olga at April 15, 2010 02:23 PM

Oh good helk. I forgot to say 'an'. How very tacky of me. Grammar matters.

I too, want to go out with a boom.

Today is a day rife with symbolism; as the Tea Party Protesters converge, I got my third-to-last Accounting Tome. This book contains the Wisdomm of the Ages and Solomon. It is entitled "Fundamentals of Taxation." Not only that, pages are not numbered. Only the tax forms.
I can tell you it is smaller than the IRS code.

I leave you to ponder that mystery and oxymoron.

Posted by: Cricket at April 15, 2010 03:10 PM

'Wisdomm?' I really need a new keyboard or new fingers.

Posted by: It's me again. at April 15, 2010 03:12 PM

"Wisdomm" is the stentorian pronunciation suitable for appending to "the Ages and Solomon."

Although you really should use "Solomononon" to enhance the effect...

Posted by: BillT at April 15, 2010 03:24 PM

There is a difference between delusions of grandeur and aspiring to do better. The wackos who dismiss evolutionary theory because they cannot see it (or because it does not adhere jot and tittle to the poetry of some dusty book written in ages past by the literate but superstitious) are doing their best to drag the USA back into the dark past, science-wise, and lock her up there. If pride comes before the fall, as counsels another tidbit from that dusty tome, there has to be some room for humility. Are you part of the solution to America's greatness or a foot-draggin' romantic, longing for simple, but erroneous solutions to the mysteries of life?

Posted by: I Call BS at April 15, 2010 03:38 PM

The wackos who dismiss evolutionary theory because they cannot see it (or because it does not adhere jot and tittle to the poetry of some dusty book written in ages past by the literate but superstitious) are doing their best to drag the USA back into the dark past, science-wise, and lock her up there.

Nup. It's the *progressives* who have dumbed down our educational system to the point where people actually believe carbon dioxide is a toxic pollutant.

Posted by: BillT at April 15, 2010 03:55 PM

are doing their best to drag the USA back into the dark past, science-wise, and lock her up there.

Are you talking about Obama and Global Warming?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 15, 2010 04:45 PM

You probably see that as a good thing. Unfortunately, I live in the real world -- you know, the one in which Syria just gave Hezbollah a bunch of nice, shiny Scud-Ds, giving them the range and wallop to hit anywhere in Israel?

That's not the real world.


That's a porn video for Leftists to jack off to.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 15, 2010 04:50 PM

"The wackos who dismiss evolutionary theory because they cannot see it (or because it does not adhere jot and tittle to the poetry of some dusty book written in ages past by the literate but superstitious) are doing their best to drag the USA back into the dark past, science-wise, and lock her up there.

Yeah, kill and/or be killed is sooo progressive and enlyghtened.

I will take my chances with Aristotlean search for the Ultimate Good as a Christian before I would succumb to the mindless lure of my alleged
animal ancestry.

Posted by: Cricket at April 15, 2010 04:53 PM

Who said anything about global warming or carbon dioxide or killing anybody? Methinks that some of us are tilting at windmills when we should be chillaxin' and havin' a beer er sumpin'.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 15, 2010 05:51 PM

Things we would not have without the application of principles of evolutionary theory to science:

- tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA)
- Humulin
- identification of type II restriction enzymes
- gene splicing
- vaccines
- caterpillar-resistant tomato plants
- recombinant DNA technology
- home pregnancy tests
- drugs and vaccines which have the ability to treat cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and arthritis
- lab-produced rennin (alternative to natural rennin harvested from dead calves)
- genetic testing
- Herceptin (a rudimentary pharmacogenomics breast cancer drug WHICH treats only breast cancer patients with a specific genetic characteristic)
- crops less vulnerable to herbicides
- crops less vulnerable to insects (Bacillus thuringiensis)
- Human Genome Project

Posted by: I Call BS at April 15, 2010 06:19 PM

Who said anything about global warming or carbon dioxide

Essentially you did when you brought up "drag[ing] the USA back into the dark past, science-wise" and blaming that on "The wackos who dismiss evolutionary theory because...".

That happens from both sides of the aisle. Not just one.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 15, 2010 06:49 PM

Who said anything about global warming or carbon dioxide

Essentially you did when you brought up "drag[ing] the USA back into the dark past, science-wise" and blaming that on "The wackos who dismiss evolutionary theory because...".

That happens from both sides of the aisle. Not just one.

my bad - i didn't know the secret code

Posted by: I Call BS at April 15, 2010 06:52 PM

Science tends to be the ultimate appeal to authority.

If only "science" were always right and unchanging.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 15, 2010 06:57 PM

Science tends to be the ultimate appeal to authority.

Not IMHO - it is the ultimate appeal to REALITY.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 15, 2010 07:07 PM

my bad - i didn't know the secret code

Just sayin'. If you are going to cast blame on the other side, you had either be blameless yourself or be willing to accept your side's too.

And given the long list of things you claim we've accomplished in the field, it certainly seems like "those wackos" haven't been very successful.

Really bad statistics, however...


Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 15, 2010 07:12 PM

Not IMHO - it is the ultimate appeal to REALITY.

Given the vast number of incorrect models science has given us over the years (everything from gravitation to atomic structure) I'd say that's a bit of a stretch.

When done correctly it is not an appeal to anything, much less reality. It is nothing more than our best explaination of it.

When done badly, it gives us epicycles.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 15, 2010 07:17 PM

Exactly.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 15, 2010 07:17 PM

...t is the ultimate appeal to REALITY.

Yes, if and only if:

1) The scientific method, especially including the requirement of falsifiability, is honestly followed,

2) The question is one within the range of science.

Climate science as it has been practiced at the highest levels seems to meet (2) but not (1).

However, in cases that meet both tests, I agree that science is of tremendous importance. Its claims ought to enjoy real authority, simply because we can replicate the results ourselves if we are in doubt.

Posted by: Grim at April 15, 2010 07:19 PM

Science is merely the discovery of the laws of the universe. The immutable and unchangeable laws.

However, when it comes to order and evolution, evolution is not orderly. It is like taking a deck of cards, tossing it in the air, and having it come down, in the proper suits and in order.

Posted by: Cricket at April 15, 2010 08:10 PM

Science is merely the discovery of the laws of the universe. The immutable and unchangeable laws.

Sounds about right.

However, when it comes to order and evolution, evolution is not orderly. It is like taking a deck of cards, tossing it in the air, and having it come down, in the proper suits and in order.

Gaia is a gamblin' womyn.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 15, 2010 10:04 PM

Our Lady of Fate, we adore ye.

Posted by: Grim at April 15, 2010 10:17 PM

Nope. I don't believe in Gaia. I do believe that there is order in nature.

One of the most fascinating things I ever read in the NT was the earthquakes after Christ was crucifed. Why would the earth mourn unless it mourned the Creator? (Matthew 27)

Also, in the Genesis account (after we read that man was created in the image of God), we read that all things in the earth existed in heaven.
So, presupposes that there was order in the beginning and no crawling out of ooze.

Just a thought...

Posted by: Cricket at April 15, 2010 10:26 PM

Genesis is a remarkable work, and nowhere more than in its opening lines.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

He divided the light from the darkness. Not a range between them, as we might reasonably think given that we experience various light levels: a division.

And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Posted by: Grim at April 16, 2010 12:14 AM

Genesis is like ultimate knowledge of the formation of the universe from the Big Bang was attempted to be downloaded into ancient human mind scapes. Didn't come out right.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 16, 2010 12:41 AM

Who says? Those first few paragraphs -- before Adam and Eve -- are some of the finest things ever written. Even if you dispense with the rest of the Old Testament, that is poetry with a purpose.

Posted by: Grim at April 16, 2010 12:43 AM

Because I can't imagine that humans without the benefit of generations upon generations of human research and knowledge, could accurately describe even a scintilla of the truth, assuming they were given a divinely inspired truth.

They would inevitably put it into poetry, because it would require the use of their imaginations. But that is an imagination that is lacking in concrete form because they don't have specific triggers to give it shape. At best, they can say what they saw. The light and the dark. Even if anything else about it was explained to them, in terms of direct mental communication, what they got was a poetic image instead.

The Bible is full of historical events that happened. But without direct or even indirect knowledge of the players and the context, we can only trust the authors. That only replicates what the authors wrote down. I'm more interested in finding the truth behind their perceptions.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 16, 2010 01:00 AM

This has practical utility because getting 99% of the truth may be good enough or it can be a carefully constructed propaganda operation designed to move people away from the truth.

There are instances where getting most of the truth, Isaac Newton, can be very beneficial to humanity. There are instances were faith in a supreme entity can transform the insecure human mind into something better able to fit into the social continuum. But along with those instances, you have the other side of the coin.

The Koran is much easier to dissect, since Mohammed's personal life and his military conquests were much more open to primary sources. Instead of one author writing down what he perceived, being the gatekeeper of information like the MSM, we can have multiple perspectives of Mohammed's conquests and laws.

Because historical events correlate to the Bible, one cannot simply brush it off as the writings of madmen. On the other hand, it's hard to piece together stories about a slave clan escaping Egypt with God striking down the first born with a plague. Coincidence? Manufactured crisis? A miracle? Or something else entirely. We cannot ask the questions because those that could have asked the questions, are dead.

They should have asked the questions while they were alive and could directly observe events and people. Then we could use their insights. But, I guess a lot of things were going on then. The New Testament looks to have a lot more diverse views backing it up than the Old Testament, but it is the Old Testament that is of greater import concerning the origins of faith and worship.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 16, 2010 01:06 AM

Not IMHO - it is the ultimate appeal to REALITY.

And there are things in reality that science cannot explain, and a *scientist* will be the first one to say that. There are too many statisticians and economists running around claiming to be "climate scientists" or "ecological scientists" who have no idea how physical laws operate and who appear to believe that history began the day they were born. True scientists don't create complex computer models to explain a phenomenon and then when it can't replicate the phenomenon, re-write the observed data in order to create an end result which *does* match the observed phenomenon.

*Neither* of the current theories of relativity can explain why Doppler time dilation affects the light from normal stars but does *not* affect light from quasars.

Positing the existence of Dark Matter or Superstrings to explain things about the universe which we don't understand is fine -- but those models depend on positing invented values for unknown variables which are *assumed* to pre-exist.

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 05:00 AM

They would inevitably put it into poetry, because it would require the use of their imaginations. But that is an imagination that is lacking in concrete form because they don't have specific triggers to give it shape. At best, they can say what they saw.

And they can only phrase what they saw into language that fits with their experience. Someone with no experience of seeing the static discharge from a blacked-out helicopter hovering at night would say that he saw lightning fly from a hole in the air.

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 05:13 AM

To tell me that they could only put it into poetry isn't to undermine it, to my way of thinking. Poetry captures much that isn't said; or to put it in the terms of the book, the voids are as important as the form. They carry meaning without needing words, and are therefore not subject to the logical limits of language.

Posted by: Grim at April 16, 2010 07:46 AM

Ymar, truth is knowledge of things past, present and future. The way I was taught about the OT prophets (I love Isaiah. The first time I heard 'Messiah' as a small child, I finally understood what he meant. Some scripture was meant to be sung. 'Elijah' and 'Esther' are other oratorios that are amazing...but I digress) and the NT apostles/prophets was that they did indeed have visions.

But how do you describe modern technology when your ship of the desert is four-legged and spits?
Or the devastations of the plagues and diseases that will cover the earth? Famine? What about 'earthquakes in diverse places?' I think that one is in Revelations, about the opening of the sixth seal...

Putting visions into poetry only underscores the sacred nature of the Divine. Putting that poetry to music refines us and helps us partake of the gift.

I loved the battles of the OT. One of my favorites is Moses' arms being held up and the lengthening of the day...slowing the earth down in its orbit, perhaps?

Or the plagues of Egypt. Years and years ago, my father turned me on to Immanuel Velikovsky. He actually sought out first hand sources for the plagues of Egypt...noted that all cultures had a story of the Great Flood...and so on.

Even Norse and Greek mythology have a council of the Gods (Elohim in the Hebrew), and women to whom they are married (if taking their vows rather lightly), and evil, as well as Heaven (the Aesir and Asgaard, Zeus and the Olympians) and Hell (Hel to the Norse and Hades in Greek). There is a Final Day of Reckoning, etc.

Sorry. Didn't mean to wax geeky.

BillT, I love reading what you write. You have caused me to go digging around and expanding my knowledge...

Finally: "Positing the existence of Dark Matter or Superstrings to explain things about the universe which we don't understand is fine -- but those models depend on positing invented values for unknown variables which are *assumed* to pre-exist."--BillT

Sound like a modern day mythology to me. Gaia. Science explains the existence of myths.

There was an apostasy; the myths and legends seem to start right around the fall of the tower of Babel.

Posted by: Cricket at April 16, 2010 08:25 AM

Evolution is the result of offerings from God.

Posted by: tomg51 at April 16, 2010 08:27 AM

...the fall of the tower of Babel.

Heh. You misspelled "fail"...

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 08:57 AM

pfft. :p

@ tomq51: Genesis 2, verses four and five: These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

And every plant of the field before in was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, there was not a man to till the ground."

In chapter 1, we read about God creating (although I would say 'organizing' would be better, since matter has always existed) whales, but then, skipping down to verse 24 of chapter 1, we read, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beas of the earth after his kind, and it was so."

Dinosaurs...critters of Beowulf legend...who knows?

I use the KJV. I also posit the theory that even though the KJV builds on Tyndale's work of translation, that some has been lost...for whatever reason. But I like the vernacular of the KJV.

It made reading Shakespeare so much easier.

heh.

Posted by: Cricket at April 16, 2010 10:02 AM

Grim: Its claims ought to enjoy real authority, simply because we can replicate the results ourselves if we are in doubt.

Not really. There's no way most of us could afford the equipment to replicate the experiments scientific 'truth' relies on, even if we had the expertise and time. Also, scientists now are often so specialized that even were the equipment, time, and Ph.D.s available, no one but the original team would have the expertise to properly conduct the experiment or interpret the results.

Not even all kinds of scientists rely on replicability. Take a particle collider. A physicist gets one shot at an experiment and whatever the result is, that's it. There's not time or money to even try it again, much less for another scientist to come along to try to replicate it. In purely observational (or descriptive) sciences, some things only happen once. The astronomer (geologist, evolutionary biologist, climatologist, etc.) can describe an event, but can never replicate it.

Posted by: tom at April 16, 2010 10:15 AM

And there are things in reality that science cannot explain, and a *scientist* will be the first one to say that.

Agreed, totally.

There are too many statisticians and economists running around claiming to be "climate scientists" or "ecological scientists" who have no idea how physical laws operate and who appear to believe that history began the day they were born.

I suspect that there are "statisticians and economists" doing this. I also expect the "real" scientists to blow the fakes out of the water. "Real" scientists "true to the calling", i.e., the "scientific method", don't follow political agendas, however, and demagoge politicians who do don't impress me when they pile on to rally the ignorascenti into bleatings about "Algore" and "global warming" and the like.

True scientists don't create complex computer models to explain a phenomenon and then when it can't replicate the phenomenon, re-write the observed data in order to create an end result which *does* match the observed phenomenon.

Agreed.

*Neither* of the current theories of relativity can explain why Doppler time dilation affects the light from normal stars but does *not* affect light from quasars. Positing the existence of Dark Matter or Superstrings to explain things about the universe which we don't understand is fine -- but those models depend on positing invented values for unknown variables which are *assumed* to pre-exist.

I don't claim to be able personally to understand or explain this stuff. But intuitive guessing followed by testing is responsible for lots of scientific discoveries. The inability TODAY to explain things does not mean, IMHO, that we may not be able to explain them tomorrow, or next year, or next decade.

And there it is.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 11:25 AM

Full disclosure: I'm one of those that thinks Genesis is true, but not literal. As Bill alludes, how exactly would you plan to describe the Big Bang, the age and expansion of the universe, time dilation, etc to a people whose math skills were likely only sufficient to counting their sheep? That it comports as closely as it does is a testament to it's authenticity not a refutation of it.

Evolution absolutely is ordered. There were not tiny packs of Bichon Frises roaming the countryside 3,000 years ago. They are the direct result of external pressures on the animal. What evolution does *not* do is explain how we go from "not life" to "life". Life must exist first, before natural selection can be applied to it.

The interesting thing to me is I have little doubt that one day we will eventually discover how to go from "not life" to "life". And that shortly after that we will be designing life. If we were to, say, design life that could live on Mars and it eventually evolved into intelligent life, would it be allowed to seek out it's origin as "Intelligently Designed" or would that be dismissed as un-scientific BS (even though it would, in fact, be true)?

I have a real problem with the "science" of dark matter. What we have is that our observed data don't match the predictions our current theories produce. And then, instead of changing our theories to match the data, we change our data to match our theories. Isn't that a little backwards?

The problem with climate science isn't the science, per se. It's the statistics. And statistics is only partly science, the other part is art. There are a ton of ways to screw it up and a lot of them don't have any hard and fast rules about it. A couple of posts back someone made a comment about a poll with a sample size of about 360 not being large enough. But that's not necessarily the case. A sample of 360 people really will give you a 5% margin of error with 95% confidence on a Yes/No question. This is easy enough to verify empirically in Excel. But it depends on your sample truly being representative of your population. Simple random sampling, however, may not generate this result. If your population really is 50/50 male versus female a SRS could give you a 45/55 split and now your estimate is biased. You could either fix this by getting a larger sample where it's unlikely to be off by that much, or you can purposefully sample 180 men and 180 women (called Stratified RS).

But then what about age? Rural, urban, suburban splits? Political Affiliation? Income? Race? And thousands of other demographics. Which ones do you include or exclude? Well, you want the ones that are important. But then how do you decide which ones are important? You probably won't have any data about that until *after* the poll.

And don't even get me started on observer bias.

When we start actually reliably hitting the climate models forecasts is when I'll start giving them credence, but so far, that hasn't happened yet. What we get is a forecast, we dont' hit it and the explaination is "Yes, but we know so much more now than we did then. This time you can trust us". Of course, when that forecast doesn't come true either we get the exact same excuse "But we know more now, *This time* you can trust us".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 16, 2010 11:32 AM

"There were not tiny packs of Bichon Frises roaming the countryside 3,000 years ago."

If only this were true - ferocious Bichon Frises roaming over the countryside, viciously tearing little packages of doggy treats limb from limb. Ha ha ha!

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 12:02 PM

"Science tends to be the ultimate appeal to authority."

That's an interesting observation, considering that one of the very purposes of science is to *not* do that. No scientific theory should be considered as valid if its predictions cannot be replicated by other people, performing independent experiments. I could, if I had the resources, launch a clock in a satellite, and observe that at orbital velocity, the clock slows down. I don't have to appeal to Einstein; I can see it for myself.

Given that organized science has experienced a couple of major fails recently, it's unfortunate but understandable that a lot of people are seeing it the way that Cass states. I will point out, however, that these fails all occurred when the scientists involve deviated from the scientific method. They weren't failures of science itself; they were failures of people who pretended to be doing science but really weren't. Governments in the U.S. and Europe today are pretty transparently manipulating the grant process to favor research and researchers who support politically correct conclusions. It's a huge bite-of-the-apple problem for a lot of scientists: say what the government wants you to say in exchange for easy money, or stick to your scientific guns and go beat the bushes for alternate funding? When they do the former, we know what happens next. Phil Jones and his bunch at Anglia started out doing climate research. They came up with a theory that (perhaps unexpectedly) made them popular with political people in Europe. They gained power and fame and grants and become science rock stars.

And at some point, the way that they thought about what they were doing shifted in their own brains. They decided that they had received a revealed Truth. They stopped looking at their data for enlightenment, and instead started looking at it for ammunition. At that point, *they were no longer doing science.* I'm not sure what I would call it, but it wasn't science.

BS has a good point about something: don't make the mistake of thinking that the information that we have today is all of the information that we will ever have. The most casual look through history easily disproves that. Theories are developed based the information that is available at the time. Newer information often shows that previous theories were incomplete or not quite right, but it's actually rather rare for an well-developed important theory to be totally blown away by newer information. Epicycles were not unreasonable at the time the idea was developed, before calculus and the telescope were invented. It got right the concept of a round Earth and orbits. Later information came along and put the Sun in the right place, and then Newton developed calculus and actually described for the first time the math of the planetary orbits. But those were just refinements of the original concept. We know now that Newtonian mechanics is not "correct" in that it does not take relativity and quantum mechanics into account. But for everyday problems, it still works just fine. If you are building a house and you are cutting 2x4s for rafters, you don't have to worry much about the house ever moving fast enough to make your rafters shrink.

Science, when it's done properly, usually works. When it doesn't work, that's usually because it wasn't done properly.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at April 16, 2010 12:12 PM

BS has a good point about something: don't make the mistake of thinking that the information that we have today is all of the information that we will ever have.

Exactly. And my point about that was a genuine *scientist* will freely admit he doesn't know something -- he'll probably have his favorite theory about it, but he won't pass that off as the *explanation* of it. The standard answer is, "We don't know for sure, but we're working on it. How are you fixed for grant money?"

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 12:23 PM

I could, if I had the resources, launch a clock in a satellite, and observe that at orbital velocity, the clock slows down. I don't have to appeal to Einstein; I can see it for myself.

You *could*, if you had the resources. Which most of us don't, and so we can't. We must accept it on "Authority".

I will point out, however, that these [recent] fails all occurred when the scientists involve deviated from the scientific method.

There have been many fails that all occurred while the scientific method was being adhered to. As noted: Epicycles. It took observed data, formulated a hypothesis, made predictions about the locations of planets, tested it and those predictions turned out to be correct. Voila! Scientific Method lead to a incorrect result: a failure! All because we didn't bother examining our underlying assumptions.

So just because the scientific method is adhered to does not mean that it cannot result in failure. Only that they are useful for a given purpose. The Bohr (planetary) model of the atom is absolutely incorrect, but is very useful for understanding chemical bonds (especially at the high school level).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 16, 2010 12:52 PM

BS has a good point about something: don't make the mistake of thinking that the information that we have today is all of the information that we will ever have.

Um ... I usually prefer not to be known as "BS", though I know some here tend to think of me that way. I can take it, though, so don't any of you worry about it.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 12:57 PM

There have been many fails that all occurred while the scientific method was being adhered to. As noted: Epicycles. It took observed data, formulated a hypothesis, made predictions about the locations of planets, tested it and those predictions turned out to be correct. Voila! Scientific Method lead to a incorrect result: a failure! All because we didn't bother examining our underlying assumptions.

This all SEEMED right-on at the time, but looking back on it all, we know NOW that the so-called scientific minds "of the day" were dealing with incomplete information - granted, it was the best available at the time, but we know so much more now about light waves and wobbles (e.g. the discovery of Pluto), and the "colors" of celestial bodies, etc., that this this "epicycle" business (which I had to read up on yesterday, as I hadn't heard the term before) is a perfect example of how we can never be certain that what seems correct at any given point in the space-time contimuum will still be correct at a later coordinate in the s-t-c. Hence the appropriateness of humility (and avoidance of the "arrogance of excellentness" which Mama Cass mentions above) at all times.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 01:03 PM

Bichon Frises do roam the country side. They yap.
Constantly.

About science: Some things we can replicate such as growing conditions, recipes, etc.

But even a test tube can carry a baby only so far.
Even a heart, as simple as it is, can't be replicated. Breast milk.

An event such as what happens in outer space...
you would have to have the exact conditions.
Not what you think is there, but what actually is there.

Posted by: Cricket at April 16, 2010 01:06 PM

Science has become a religion, with its own High Priests to dictate what "reality" is and to condemn non-believers as heretics. "Flat earth" references come from a time when mankind accepted theories without proof. The same is true for "Global Warming" and "Darwinist". The origin of life can only be guessed as scientists have been unable to reproduce the event. Global warming is worse as the theory is pushed in the face of conflicting data. The geek engineer that rattles between my ears decided that global warming is important, important enough that I started recording temperature readings from the National Weather Service website for three large cities near my home. Since 2005 the average temperature has dropped 1.41 degrees F (0.783 degrees C) while carbon emissions have continued to rise. I can't explain why, won't even try, it is data that contradicts what is being sold to me.

Posted by: crazy mike at April 16, 2010 01:11 PM

And yet, glaciers are melting and some scientific people seem to be concerned about it. Sure, I get that life goes on within us and without us, and that in 100 years at least most of us reading this here today will be pushing up daisies, and that today's concerns will be looooooooooong forgotten. At the same time, my understanding, superficial as it is, is that glaciers are pretty danged old and it sure seems to be cause ofr concern when I hear that they are melting and that the sea level will rise (and dogs and cats will soon be living together - as they do at my house). It just seems to me to be short-sighted (even though, as J.M. Keynes said, "we're all dead in the long run", I do think there is merit in thinking long-range about the future of the earth and its inhabitants - since some of those inhabitants will be carrying on MY super-special and awesome genetic material) to have the attitude that none of this scientific mumbo-jumbo is worth a tinker's damn and that it is therefore OK for us to go stomping all over creation with our big 'ol carbon feet. I remember when the idea behind "conservation" of nature and all that was not too far off from the idea of "conservatism" and all that. Nowadays, "conservatives" seem enthusiastic about, if not exactly hell-bent on, drilling here and there and mining here and there and logging here and there, and letting the various "endangered species chips" and "ozone-layer chips" and "water-table chips" fall where they may, and THAT seems to me to be not very "conservative" in terms of "conserving" resources, and proceeding "cautiously" and stuff like that. What sayeth you so-called conservatives?

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 01:34 PM

The problem is that yes, glaciers are melting. But they have melted before. And then grown again, and melted again, and grown again. Over and over and over. So the question is why is it that glacier melting *now* is undisputably humanities' fault?

Global climate has never been static. Current theories are that the Earth has been much warmer (even than current Global Warming forecasts) and much colder (to the point of the earth turning into a giant snowball).

And when the scientific people to whose authority you are appealing (and some scientific people seem to be concerned about it) hide data, delete original data, and won't tell you how they transformed said data and basically doing everything they can to obsure and not be transparent about their work despite that true science is supposed to do just that, you'll have to forgive us for not accepting their credibility as much as you do especially when their prediction continually turn out to be wrong. It wasn't long ago that "climate scientists" were warning us about the coming ice age.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 16, 2010 02:04 PM

And then when the politicos take those forecasts and propose rather RADICAL economic changes, yeah, we want to proceed rather cautiously.

Adding oil wells to ANWAR, especially by comparison, is a rather *incremental* change.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 16, 2010 02:08 PM

Dave:

My point was precisely that, though. "Science" is a snapshot of a voyage to find the truth. Because scientists are human, they do go searching for results that confirm what they think going in. We are not completely objective.

So one cannot quote science at a given point in time as "proof". It is evidence that may be contradicted by other evidence (often coming from.... you guessed it ... other scientists).

It's not an argument ender or a final authority, and to treat it as though it were is a mistake.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 02:25 PM

The problem is that yes, glaciers are melting. But they have melted before. And then grown again, and melted again, and grown again. Over and over and over. So the question is why is it that glacier melting *now* is undisputably humanities' fault?

Didn't this all happen gazillions of years ago?

And, BTW, still I don't understand the apparent lack of concern about whether humanity does cause any environmental harm [drill, baby, drill]. One (this one, anyway) is inclined to think that caution is in order, when we are talking about this little blue ball of oxygen floating in deep, dark, cold, inhospitable space.

And when the scientific people to whose authority you are appealing (and some scientific people seem to be concerned about it) hide data, delete original data, and won't tell you how they transformed said data and basically doing everything they can to obsure and not be transparent about their work despite that true science is supposed to do just that, you'll have to forgive us for not accepting their credibility as much as you do especially when their prediction continually turn out to be wrong.

You talk as though it is universally accepted that all these "scientific people" cautionning "us" abuot climate change "hide data, delete original data, and won't tell you how they transformed said data and basically doing everything they can to obsure and not be transparent about their work despite that true science is supposed to do just that".

Sure there have been glaciers melting and re-freezing before, gazillions of years ago. But that was BEFORE every family on earth [in the "western world", anyway] had 3 freaking internal combustion engines belching carbon monoxide in the driveway of the 3-car garage. We can see electric lights from outer space, and plumes of smoke caused by terorist attacks on oil wells in Kuwait, fer crissakes. The world is DIFFERENT now than it was when packs of wild Bichon Frise monsters roamed the plains looking for innocent packages of doggy treats to tear asunder. The "skepticism" of the so-called conservatives regarding global climate change and other issues is just astounding to some of us and is curiously consistent with the impression some of the so-called conservatives give of being willing and anxious to plunder every corner of creation for the short-term comforts we receive from petroleum and its many by-products.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 02:50 PM

I could, if I had the resources, launch a clock in a satellite, and observe that at orbital velocity, the clock slows down. I don't have to appeal to Einstein; I can see it for myself.

Would it have occurred to you to conduct that experiment if not for Einstein?

Current theories are that the Earth has been much warmer (even than current Global Warming forecasts)

That's not theory -- we can read the geological record. It's "set in stone" -- so to speak. Core samples from the bottoms of lakes tell stories, too -- pollen from the trees surrounding them sinks to the bottom and gets buried, and if there were once date palms growing where now there's aspen and birch, the area was once *much* warmer. Closer to our own time, we have commercial records -- English merchants once exported wine from grapes grown near Hadrian's wall, and grapes can't survive the winter temperatures there today.

...and much colder (to the point of the earth turning into a giant snowball).

Which may have to remain a theory -- but it's a theory that explains why we have oceans and an atmosphere several billion years after the event.

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 02:56 PM

But even a test tube can carry a baby only so far.

Rest assured, madam, that I am doing everything I personally can to make sure that insemination occurs ONLY as Gawd intended and not otherwise!

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 02:58 PM

Cass, I think the problem is the definition of the word "proof". According to quantum mechanics, there is a non-zero chance of damn near anything happening. But a number can be really really really really small and still be not zero. In theory, all of your underwear could disappear into a wormhole and reappear five feet to your left, but it's so unlikely that when you get dressed in the morning, you can discount the possibility (darn).

So true, science cannot predict with absolute certainty what will and will not happen. But it can draw practical bounds around what is *likely* to happen, and so it can guide us as to what we should watch out for, and what we can take advantage of that we didn't realize was possible. So while science isn't an authority per se, at some point it becomes silly (or dangerous) to try to defy it.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at April 16, 2010 03:00 PM

Sure there have been glaciers melting and re-freezing before, gazillions of years ago. But that was BEFORE every family on earth [in the "western world", anyway] had 3 freaking internal combustion engines belching carbon monoxide in the driveway of the 3-car garage.

Don't read much, do you?

The last glaciation began 100,000 years ago and ended only 10,000 years ago -- but the cycle of ice age / interglacial / ice age / interglacial has been repeating for about the last three million years. It's *cyclical*. It's happened before, and it will happen again, and it's been happening since before there *were* people on Earth.

What caused the glaciers to retreat then -- mastodon farts?

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 03:03 PM

Dave:

Who said anyone wanted to "defy" science? There is an enormous difference between defying a thing and taking it with a grain of salt.

When my boys were small, mothers were bombarded with "science" telling us that whole milk was the worst possible thing we could give our children. We were ONLY to give them skim milk, and if we didn't do this we were harming our kids.

I thought this was stupid and contrary to common sense then and I ignored it. I didn't let my kids drink an entire gallon of whole milk at a sitting. I let them drink the same amounts I drank as a child.

Sure enough, in a few years "science" came down from on high and decreed that whole milk is actually *better* for kids than skim. Duh.

So... which "science" was I to believe? It's not all as exact as you're making out. There are great debates within the scientific community. So no, I refuse to treat "science" as the be-all and end-all of any debate. I will listen, and evaluate, and keep in mind that "science" is constantly evolving. It's a trip, and no we're not there yet.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 03:09 PM

ICBS (trying to figure out how to abbreviate your screen name), the world has been different, lots different, many many times before, and not that far away. The last Ice Age was not "gazillions of years ago"; it ended about 50,000 years ago, not far from the time that homo sapiens first appeared on the scene. The Medieval Warm Period, when Greenland's glaciers completely melted (and did so without flooding Europe) was about 700 years ago, well within recorded history. The Little Ice Age was in the 18th century; it coincided with the rise of industrialization in Europe (at a time when they may have been emitting even more CO2 then Europe does now, due to the horrible inefficiencies of the early steam engines).

I've looked for myself at some of the Anglia data and the computer code used to deal with it. And I can tell you this: that data has been manipulated six ways from Sunday, to the point where it probably bears no relationship whatsoever to the original raw data. Unfortunately, that raw data is no longer available because Anglia "lost" it. We're just supposed to trust them and their mangled data. Yeah, right. There are outright cheats in some of that computer code, such as a "correction" factor that imposes a universal and exponential upward trend on the data. They made the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age -- both of which the existence is well accepted and documented -- completely disappear, for Chrissakes. Their data showed no variation whatsoever in surface temperatures until 1900. C'mon. And the infamous "hockey stick" was produced by dropping all but the highest-trending data sets for years after 1960 -- something which the IPCC now says was not disclosed to them. And Jones himself admitted in his famous email that they engaged in outright data rigging to hide the fact that *there have been no increases in global temperatures since 1998.* None, nada, zero, zip. In fact, there's been a cooling trend the last 12 years.

If the global-warming alarmists get their way, central government figures, especially in Europe, will gain control over the lives of other people to an extent unprecedented in human history. We already know what happens when enormous power is concentrated in the hands of one or a few people. The results of the kind of government the alarmists advocate could make Stalin look like a kid running around with a pop gun. I think that merits a bit of caution; in fact, I think that destruction of humanity and of the planet is far more likely under than scenario than it is under a (very unlikely) runaway-AGW scenario.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at April 16, 2010 03:15 PM

...internal combustion engines belching carbon monoxide in the driveway...

Sheesh, read the memos. It's carbon *di*oxide you're supposed to be screaming about.

BTW, do you know what the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is versus what it was during the height of the last ice age?

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 03:18 PM

Cass, I wasn't aiming that comment at you personally. I was thinking more of, for example, certain bureaucrats at the NTHSA who demand that automakers build a vehicle such that a 90-MPH head-on crash be survivable by an *unbelted* occupant. For some reason, being in government sometimes leads people to think that they can re-write the laws of nature just by decreeing it. That sort of thing.

And as for the whole-milk thing, I'll let you in on a little secret: There is almost no science taking place today in the field of nutrition. Practically every bit of "research" is being cranked out by touts and hacks with axes to grind. Nutrition today is a pseudo-science, right up there with tea leaf reading. It's unfortunate because there is a lot of good work remaining to be done in the field, but it is so heavily politicized that no one can get grants to do anything where the outcome isn't pre-determined. To find the actual state of the art in nutrition, you need to go back to stuff that was written about 1950 -- pretty much everything done since then has been garbage.

I think what we're really arguing here is over which definition of the word "science" we're talking about. I define science as a method, a way of finding out how the world works and how to adapt it to our purposes. You see science as a societal institution, with everything that that implies. In the context of the way you see it, your criticisms are largely valid.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at April 16, 2010 03:25 PM

I define science as a method, a way of finding out how the world works and how to adapt it to our purposes. You see science as a societal institution, with everything that that implies.

OK, I accept that. And it helps me understand why you are saying what you are saying :)

I just happen (and I have scientists in my family - my Granddad was a research chemist and my sister in law does work with plant DNA/genetics) to think there's an awful lot of what I'd call "hack" science out there, and most ordinary folks have neither the time or ability to independently replicate every study that comes out.

But if you're defining "science" as the method rather than the latest crop of studies (which may or may not have employed the method correctly), I agree with you.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 03:38 PM

For some reason, being in government sometimes leads people to think that they can re-write the laws of nature just by decreeing it.


Yeah. Economics, too :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 03:38 PM

Didn't this all happen gazillions of years ago?

What? You think that process somehow stopped a gazillion years ago and became static up until now? It happened a gazillion years ago, and a bazillion years ago, and a billion years ago, and a million years ago and a 100 thousand years ago, and a thousand years ago and a hundred years ago and ten years ago and is still going on today.

You talk as though it is universally accepted that all these "scientific people" cautionning "us" abuot climate change...

The problem is that pretty much all of the research has been dependent on the datasets produced at East Anglia who have done exactly those things. They have deleted data, they did intentionally subvert FOI requests and have not provided their algorythms for creating the transformed data they did keep. The response was not that they didn't do that, but that we should just trust them that the data is valid. Sorry, but if I did that in my job (yes, statistical model management *is* my job), the .gov would close our doors.

And when the entire body of work (whose model management processes aren't much better) is dependent on a single dataset (whether if by direct use of the dataset or that samples are choosen because they comport to that dataset and that those that do not are dismissed as bad proxies) and that data is compromised it's a simple case of garbage in, garbage out.

But that was BEFORE every family on earth [in the "western world", anyway] had 3 freaking internal combustion engines belching carbon monoxide in the driveway of the 3-car garage. We can see electric lights from outer space, and plumes of smoke caused by terorist attacks on oil wells in Kuwait, fer crissakes.

And we've had volcanic eruptions that make all of that combined look like a campfire.

That's not theory -- we can read the geological record. It's "set in stone" -- so to speak.

The problem is that the geological record is not terribly precise. We don't have records, we have proxies. And proxies are based on assumptions (models). Let's say that we have correlations for plankton size and algea concentrations to temparature. Of course, there is an error variance around that. From that we can dig up "core samples" and measure plankton size and algea concentrations. The temparature calculated from these two proxies are 2 degrees C different. Add on top of that that we had models (again with an error variance of it's own) for the correlation of depth to time. And so we have compounded our errors. And so our discrepancy might be (might not be) even larger than 2 degrees. We have a lot more than 2 proxies and while they generally move together in broad terms (that is they all fall during ice ages) they don't always move in the same direction at the same time (that is one may fall continuously while another does a two step forwards one step back progression). So we're building models off of models off of models.

To say that any of this is cut-and-dried, set-in-stone, settled-science. Well, statisticians just don't talk that way.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 16, 2010 03:57 PM

Don't read much, do you?

Not about THIS crap, no.

100,000 years ago … 10,000 years ago … the last three million years … about 50,000 years ago … about 700 years ago …

All that might as well be gazillions of years ago as far as I’m concerned


BTW, do you know what the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is versus what it was during the height of the last ice age?

I haven’t the foggiest idea. I hire scientists to worry about that stuff.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 04:13 PM

The problem is that the geological record is not terribly precise. We don't have records, we have proxies. And proxies are based on assumptions (models). Let's say that we have correlations for plankton size and algea concentrations to temparature. Of course, there is an error variance around that. From that we can dig up "core samples" and measure plankton size and algea concentrations. The temparature calculated from these two proxies are 2 degrees C different. Add on top of that that we had models (again with an error variance of it's own) for the correlation of depth to time. And so we have compounded our errors. And so our discrepancy might be (might not be) even larger than 2 degrees. We have a lot more than 2 proxies and while they generally move together in broad terms (that is they all fall during ice ages) they don't always move in the same direction at the same time (that is one may fall continuously while another does a two step forwards one step back progression). So we're building models off of models off of models.

I guess since all this is so imprecise, we might as well just drill every last damned pristine spot in the world because nobody can prove anything and it's all just voodoo anyway, and besides, I and mine are going to be pushing up daisies long before humanity is going to have to pay the environmental bill for all this anyway ... Screw it all! I'm just gonna be selfish and figure as long as I get my dividends the devil can take the rest of humanity.

[waking up from a reverie of life on the back of an elephant]

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 04:18 PM

Plausible deniability shall be the death of us all ... eventually, unless we die first.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 04:19 PM

I guess since all this is so imprecise, we might as well just drill every last damned pristine spot in the world because nobody can prove anything and it's all just voodoo anyway, and besides, I and mine are going to be pushing up daisies long before humanity is going to have to pay the environmental bill for all this anyway ... Screw it all! I'm just gonna be selfish and figure as long as I get my dividends the devil can take the rest of humanity.

You know ICBS, somehow I suspect there is some rational middle ground between "BOOYA!!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO RAPE MOTHER EARTH BECAUSE I'M SUCH A SELFISH ASSHOLE" AND

ZOMG!!!! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!"

If only we knew where that was.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 04:26 PM

Screw it all! I'm just gonna be selfish and figure as long as I get my dividends the devil can take the rest of humanity.

Yep, because we all know that "We don't know" really means "We know it's not". /sarc

*facepalm*


All that [700 years ago]might as well be gazillions of years ago as far as I’m concerned

Thus proving Bill's observation: who appear to believe that history began the day they were born.

These are the people who look at a sine wave and pronounce that because it went up from 0 to 1 between 0 and 90 degrees that it will continue to increase to 2 at 180 degrees because all that other stuff just doesn't matter. Text book truncation based extrapolation error.

And *we're* the anti-science types. *sigh*

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 16, 2010 04:49 PM

ICBS' Hobby: Extrapolating.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 16, 2010 05:02 PM

You know ICBS, somehow I suspect there is some rational middle ground between "BOOYA!!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO RAPE MOTHER EARTH BECAUSE I'M SUCH A SELFISH ASSHOLE" AND ZOMG!!!! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!"

I think the middle ground is probably found at the bottom of a bottle of booze.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 05:11 PM

I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse"
Sing it to me now...

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 05:19 PM

I haven’t the foggiest idea.

That's why your arguments are -- foggy.

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 05:20 PM

Please, guys.

I'm about an inch and a half from completely blowing my fuse. I love you all - yes, even Ymar :p Especially Ymar.

But I can't deal with this right now. I just can't.

We discuss a lot of things we feel passionately about, but the thing is, the people we are talking to feel the same way about their positions. And they have a perfect right to.

It's Friday and I've spent the last hour and a half in tears. I'm going to go take a bath and hope that whatever is making everyone so touchy will go away.

Please, stop. If this place means anything at all to you.

Posted by: The Kumbaya Lady at April 16, 2010 05:25 PM

One (this one, anyway) is inclined to think that caution is in order, when we are talking about this little blue ball of oxygen floating in deep, dark, cold, inhospitable space.

This "little blue ball" has survived impacts with objects the size of Mars, continents breaking apart, volcanic eruptions blowing hundreds of cubic *miles* of rock and dirt into the air, lava flows covering a thousand square miles with basalt 2,000 feet thick, ice caps covering half the northern hemisphere, and 1,200 active volcanoes spewing gases and crapola into the air (and oceans -- most of our active volcanoes are under a mile of sea water).

It'll survive *us* quite nicely.

BTW, most of our atmosphere is *nitrogen* -- if it were oxygen, it would have vanished in a fireball the first time a volcano burped or a meteor hit the atmosphere.

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 05:36 PM

Please, stop.

Ooops. That popped after my last post.

Consider it unsaid.

Posted by: BillT at April 16, 2010 05:38 PM

Sorry ... did I miss something? I haven't been paying attention ... I've been too busy extrapolating ... uh I mean ... extirpating, uh I mean working. We're just having fun here and nobody's PO'd with anybody (at least I'm not). I apologize if anything I've done, in thought, word or deed, or failed to do, has caused you distress, gentle hostess.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 05:50 PM

I'm sorry, ICBS. Bad day.

Please just ignore me.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 05:54 PM

Please just ignore me.

I NEVER ignore you (when I think you are tolerating me)! Ha ha ha! Put on some happy music ("Kind of Blue" or "Giant Steps") and shoot a squirrel and you'll feel better.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 16, 2010 06:09 PM

Or photoshop a prehistoric pack of wild Bichons savagely persuing their prey of Beggin Strips™.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano, Liar, Damn Liar, Statistician at April 16, 2010 06:15 PM

:)

Posted by: Cassandra at April 16, 2010 06:34 PM

It' BACON!!!!

*wags tail frantically*

Posted by: Bitchin Freeze at April 16, 2010 07:54 PM

"It' BACON!!!!"

Yanno? I'm thinkin' that if a dog could really talk, he probably say, "Don't cut my balls off!"

Buuuttt, tha's jus' me......ymmv

Posted by: Snarkammando at April 16, 2010 10:54 PM

The fossil evidence suggests that the Pliocene Bichon grew to an enormous size in comparison with its modern descendants, standing almost twenty-four inches high at the shoulder and according to one estimate, weighing almost thirty pounds.

Neanderthal man hunted them for their wooly coats and rhinestone collars.

With flyswatters.

Posted by: BillT at April 17, 2010 02:56 AM

Did someone say bacon? I'd love some. Thanks!


And a Blue Hawaiian as well, please.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at April 17, 2010 04:50 AM

The Second World War cannot be re-created in a laboratory. Because of this, we are to assume that it never happened?

There are TWO methods by which a thing may be 'known', only one of them is the "Scientific Method". Science cannot re-create the Universe. It may attempt to explain one aspect or another of it, but the Universe (as a whole) can not be explained scientifically.

The other way to 'know' something is the legal/historical method. This has its drawbacks, to be sure. But it is the only way to establish most of the 'facts' that make us as a human race who and what we are.

The Legal/Historical method depends on two things: testimony and evidence. For example: we cannot re-create the Raid on Pearl Harbor in a laboratory jar, but we can examine the testimony of the people who were there, and examine that the physical evidence of the Raid. Upon hearing such overwhelming testimony and examining the evidence, we conclude that there was, in FACT, a Raid. The exact details are always subject to revision as new evidence, testimony and analysis occurs. But anyone who dismisses the raw FACT about the EXISTENCE of the Raid can himself be safely dismissed as an idiot.

The Bible is NOT a book of science. But where it does mention science, it is an accurate mention. The Bible is several things, and among these it is a book of History--presenting testimony backed by evidence. It is a political document also--a kind of early Constitution for an agrarian people living in the only place in the world where 3 continents join. It is a book of poetry (some of the most amazing and moving poetry ever written). It is a book of Remembrance....a tribute to the men and women, both good and bad, who created Civilization as we know it. And it contains the Teachings, of and about a First Century Rabbi who remains the Focus of History itself. History records One, and ONLY ONE MAN for whom it is alleged that He defeated DEATH.

If, in fact, this man defeated death, then the whole of science itself is 'chump change' by comparison (for scientists, along with the rest of us, will die). All of history, all of human existence, and reality as we know it is NOTHING compared to this one Man and what He did.

The Creation of the physical Universe...the galaxies, the Stars, the infinitude of physical existence was the First Singularity--a matter of history, not of science. This term means that it cannot be duplicated or exactly explained. Man's mind tries to grasp it, but it somehow always larger than man.

But if this First Century Rabbi defeated Death as it is alleged, this is the Second Singularity. If so, this is not a question...not of physics...but of history. At issue then is not the physics of the Resurrection, but the historicity of it.

So trying to "prove" the Bible with science is like trying to put socks on a rooster.....you can do it, but why would you try?

Instead we can examine the Testimony and Evidence about this Second Singularity. The only physical evidence we have is an empty tomb, which isn't much evidence. But we can examine the testimony of those who witnessed the Second Singularity, and we can examine effect of that SS on the lives of those who have gone before us, and who, today, are impacted by it.

And all of this is not a sound bite, and it goes far beyond a posting on Cassandra's blog. But I thank her for having the discussion, and encourage others of any persuasion to examine the Testimony of those who were there and also of those whose lives are affected by it to this day. I'm one of these.

Posted by: Geekasaurus at April 17, 2010 05:29 AM

Neanderthal man hunted them for their woolly coats and rhinestone collars.

With flyswatters.

No fair. I wasn't even awake yet...

Posted by: Cassandra at April 17, 2010 07:17 AM

There are TWO methods by which a thing may be 'known', only one of them is the "Scientific Method". ... The other way to 'know' something is the legal/historical method.

What about knowing something1 in the "Biblical" sense? It is OBVIOUS that you are anti-religious pagans who worship science as if it were religion!

------------------------

1 "Historically" (sorry; the adverb is unavoidable), the standard object of Biblical "knowing" is a "someONE". This is the 21st Century, however, and the "powers that be" correctly predicted that the previously exclusively heterosexual members of the population would be unable to resist the temptation to couple with inanimate objects such as cantaloupes and automobiles once the homos were permitted by Massachusetts to marry.

Posted by: I Call BS at April 17, 2010 11:59 AM

However, the Pliocene Bichon intermarried with Miniature Mastodon Airedale. Changing climes forced a migration to the South of France, where the Cave Artists at Lechieux domesticated the breed, thus giving the world the first French Poodles.

Posted by: Bitchin Freeze at April 17, 2010 12:58 PM

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