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The Fallacy of “Settled Science.”

24 May

May 24, 2018

Please forgive this digression. There has been a lot of talk in the news about various topics, and the terms “scientific consensus,” “scientists agree,” and most egregiously, “settled science” have been bandied about as if they mean something.

Do not take this as my opinion on any topic. Do not read into this and think you know my opinion on global warming or genetically modified food or any topic you think I may or may not be referring to. I am not referring to any of them.

I am sick of the phrases “scientists agree” and “scientific consensus.” Those are nonsense. Science is not decided by committee.  

Scientists once agreed the sun revolved around the Earth.
Scientific consensus said that there were canals on Mars.
Scientists agreed that it was impossible to travel faster than light.
Scientific consensus said that there was nothing smaller than an atom.

Science grows and evolves as our knowledge grows and new discoveries are made. That’s why a new ligament in the human body was recently discovered. (1) That’s why the discovery of an Earth-like planet could lead to finding extraterrestrial life. (2) That’s why not all extinct species may remain extinct. (3)

Scientific agreement and consensus are not necessarily facts. They are theories and ideas and like any other theories or ideas can be disproven by later experimentation and observation.

“Settled science” is the most unscientific phrase of all. It closes the mind. It ends inquiry. It denies exploration. It is the exact opposite of what science is about. Science is NEVER settled.

 

(1) http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/11/06/your-knee-bones-connected-to-your-what-scientists-discover-new-body-part/

(2) https://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star

(3) http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/could-we-see-return-ancient-extinct-species-001400

 

One last point. If you believe in the Flat Earth Theory, don’t think this helps your cause. There’s science and then there’s bad science. The Flat Earth Theory is based on poor observation, disregard of contradictory facts, and blind adherence to dogma.

 

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A Tale of My Father: The (Almost) Burning Man

26 Mar

March 26, 2018

My father was a man who had quite a lot of stories, and I can vouch that they were true. Stuck in a rioting hoard of women on Black Friday, calling Macy’s to complain about their Santa at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or refusing to take off in a small plane from the shortest runway of an airport high on cliff, he had some interesting things to talk about. 

This one is short, and though it happened long before I was born, it could have had a dramatic impact on my life.

When he was younger, my Dad-to-be and some of his friends took a road trip. The details of when and where aren’t important and I’ve long forgotten them if I even ever knew them. I want to say they were teenagers but knowing Dad and some of his friends, they were probably in their twenties but acting like teenagers. 

So they were driving and it was getting late and they stopped for gas. One guy got out and was pumping while Dad and the others took the opportunity to stretch their legs. Well, they guy pumping the gas thought it would be a hysterically funny joke to turn the nozzle on Dad and soak him with gasoline. And another friend thought it would be even more hysterically funny to chase Dad around the car with a lit cigarette lighter. 

You can see where this is going.

Almost, almost!

Natural selection nearly took a hard left turn that night but either Dad was a faster runner back then, or his cries of “what the FUCK are you doing?” got through this friend’s thick skull and Dad escaped immolation and lived to laugh about it later.

It’s a wonder I’m here to write about this.

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