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I know I shouldn't use the conspiracy theory fallacy when talking about the pseudoscience-pushing science deniers, who are the bread and butter of topics for skeptics. But, when I keep observing the same ridiculous and insanely illogical arguments used in the same manner by all of the deniers, I begin to wonder if they don't get together annually at the International Society of Pseudoscience meeting, usually held in Sedona, Arizona, ground zero of woo. They obviously share their stories, because we hear the same regurgitated stories in different contexts.

The antivaccinationists, creationists, anthropogenic global warming deniers, and whomever else pretends to use science to actually deny science frequently focus on a trope that "science makes mistakes." And then they produce a list of historical events that "prove" that science is wrong. Of course, this indicates more of a misunderstanding of what is science and the history of science than it is a condemnation of science. But your typical science denier is probably not going to let facts get in the way of maintaining faith in their beliefs. So let's deconstruct and discredit these "science makes mistakes" tropes.

By the way, in my story, I admit that "science makes mistakes," so read on.

What is science?

This is where the science deniers get it all wrong. They think that science is a mysterious group-think of a bunch of ivory-tower bound academics who propose an idea and then "prove" it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Science is actually a logical method to answer questions about the natural universe. It is a way to describe and to understand everything around us, whether our own health or the stars that shine in the night sky.

Science is a process that attempts to remove bias and provide an answer to the question that can stand up to criticism. It is not magical, but it is hard. Even though the vaccine deniers have proclaimed that "vaccines cause autism", it is not scientific. That hypothesis needs to be tested in unbiased studies, and the results must be available to public review, and, if necessary, critique. And it takes money, time, hard work, and lots of intellectual prowess to design and analyze the results. And lots of people have actually tested the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism, and they have refuted the hypothesis, clearly showing that vaccines do not cause autism.

But more than that, science rarely uses the term “proven”, because the scientific method is not a system to make a definitive answer on any question–scientists always leave open the possibility of an alternative hypothesis that can be tested. If the alternate hypothesis can be supported through experimentation, then it can replace the original one. Yes, science does find errors, all the time. In fact, one of the goals of the scientific process is precisely what defines scientific skepticism, a term frequently co-opted by science deniers, which is a process of evaluating a claim based on the quality and quantity of evidence supporting that claim. A real scientist (or scientific skeptic) is looking for errors, because it is a part of the process.

There are some parts of science that are as close to factual as you can get. The scientific theory of evolution is a fact. The mountains of evidence that support evolution by natural selection and genetic drift are unassailable. That being said, there is a tiny chance (and by tiny, I mean microscopic) that science got it all wrong. There is a Nobel Prize waiting for someone who can provide an alternative explanation for the common descent of all species over time from the moment the first cell arose in the primordial soup 3.5 billion years ago. But to earn that Nobel Prize, you can't just say that the theory is wrong, you must show it using the scientific method. And trust me, more real scientists look at the mechanisms for evolution (since evolution is a fact, they're not denying evolution) for new ideas, since it can provide those scientists with fame and fortune.

Because science is not based on dogma or faith, it is self-challenging and self-critical, uncovering errors is part of the process that makes good science. And science is unbiased. The proper method of science is not to invent a conclusion, then find evidence that supports it. It actually works by gathering all of the evidence, deciding which is high quality and which is junk, then determining where that evidence leads. If I were a paleontologist, and I found a fossilized cell phone in Precambrian rock (about 500 million years old), I'd be wondering about a lot of things. But it wouldn't eliminate evolution as a fact, I might hypothesize that someone had figured out time travel (which is a problem for physicists, let them deal with it).

So, let's review. Science isn't a mysterious groups of wizards. Science isn't definitive, though in a lot of areas of knowledge, it is about 99.999999999999% definitive (which does not round down to 0%). Science is not dogmatic. Science does not accept false dichotomies, that it's either black or white. And as opposed to science deniers, who think that they have the one truth, real science makes mistakes and uncovers it rather rapidly.

What's this scientific method that you keep going on about?

The scientific method is an unbiased systematic approach to answer questions about the natural world, including medicine. It has several basic steps:

  1. Define the question–this could be anything from “does this compound have an effect on this disease?” or “how does this disease progress?”
  2. Observations–this is the subjective part of science. Do we observe trends or anomalies? Does a physician notice that every patient from a town or neighborhood exhibit the same disease? A lot of science arises from observations of the natural world, and yes, some of those observations can be anecdotes or personal observations. For example, one of the most famous stories in the early history of medicine is when Edward Jenner observed that milkmaids rarely were infected by smallpox because they were exposed to cowpox, a less virulent disease. Even though anecdotes can be a part of the scientific method, they are not data, and they are rarely used to develop an answer to a question, especially in medicine.
  3. Hypothesis–using the observations, create a hypothesis that can be tested. In Jenner’s case, he hypothesized that those exposed to cowpox would eventually be immune to smallpox.
  4. Experiment–simply, the scientist then tests the hypothesis with experiments and collects the data. The experiments are not designed to solely validate the hypothesis but may also attempt to refute it. In real science, attempting to nullify one’s own hypothesis is an honorable pursuit. Furthermore, the experiments are designed to remove as many biases as possible. For example, the randomized controlled study is considered the gold standard of medical study, because it removes almost all bias from both the subject of the study (the patient) and the physician. (See Note 1 below.)
  5. Analyze–examining the results carefully, usually using acceptable statistical methods.
  6. Interpret–sometimes the data leads to a revision of the hypothesis, which means the scientist has to return to steps 3-6. Or it confirms or supports the hypothesis, which means the researcher can move to Step 7.
  7. Publish–in today’s scientific community, scientific data and analysis is subject to the scrutiny of other scientists before it can be published, a process called “peer-review.” This is a critical step that ensures that the results can stand up to criticism of others.
  8. Retesting–Many times the research is repeated by others, or the hypothesis may be slightly revised with additional data. Science is not static, it constantly revises theories as more data is gathered. For this reason alone, science is not an absolute, it is constantly seeking new data.

Science is an evidence-based systematic analysis without inherent opinion or emotion. In other words, it is a method to cut through opinions and anecdotal observations, so that one can have some reasonable expectation that a medicine or device will work as planned, or if a theory can be predictive.

And as we said, even though the system works very well, mistakes happen.

Piltdown Man proves that scientists commit fraud!

Wow, someone is still using that old story to "prove" that science makes mistakes. Let's set aside the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence supporting evolution has not been shown to be fraudulent, the creationists use it as their evidence that all evolution is a lie.

Except for one small thing. The story isn't quite what the evolution deniers claim it is. For those of you who don't know, Piltdown Man was a hoax perpetrated by an English amateur archeologist, who had combined a modern human skull with a jaw of an orangutan. It was announced in 1912, and was used as "proof" (there's that nonscientific word) that man descended from apes. Right from the beginning, a lot of experts (by that, I mean professional scientists who studied archeology and human evolution) disputed everything about the so-called fossil, but back then, we didn't have the scientific techniques, like radiocarbon dating, that might have quickly debunked the hoax. By 1954, using mostly modern scientific techniques, it was shown to be a deception. In other words, a non-scientist perpetrated a scam. And real science uncovered it. Moreover, if someone tried a hoax like that today, it would last all of 10 seconds.

Now, if Piltdown Man was the only piece of evidence of human evolution, the creationists would have a point. Except, it isn't. The amount of evidence for many of the steps of human evolution since the split from other great apes around 7 million years ago is enormously broad and definitive. There are literally thousands of books that accurately describe human evolution. Here's my personal favorite: Human Origins: What Bones and Genomes Tell Us about Ourselves.

Unless you believe that one hoax is indicative of a culture of fraud and deceit in evolutionary biology, which is probably a belief of all evolution deniers, then this story is what it is–an isolated attempt for fame and fortune that was shot down rather quickly (with intervening wars, economic depressions, and the lack of technology) by real science.

Yes but scientists thought that smoking was healthy!

Here's another one of those tropes used by the antivaccination crowd mostly. They use it to discredit "science," attempting to imply that if these so-called scientists thought that tobacco was healthy, then how can we trust them to say the same thing about vaccines. Or GMO's. Or cancer treatments. Or climate change. Apparently, this myth is shared at the aforementioned meeting of pseudoscience meeting among all of the participants.

But really, did any real scientist claim that smoking was healthy? Smoking tobacco was prevalent through the native American tribes well before the advent of modern science. There was no Native American CDC, FDA or Board of Physicians to approve the use of tobacco as "safe and effective." In fact, those Native Americans and Europeans who picked up the habit believed in all kinds of nonsense about tobacco, including that it cured cancer. This wasn't "science" pushing these beliefs, but it was the traditions of the world at the time that put inordinate faith in various herbs and how they could cure various maladies. In fact, thinking smoking or tobacco was healthy was advertised by the woo-pushers of the time (who are barely different than the woo-pushers of the modern world). See Note 2 below.

By the late 1800's, when real evidence-based medicine was in its infancy, many British journals were publishing articles warning about some of the negative health effects of smoking. An article in The Lancet in 1913 warns "that tobacco smoking can give rise to constitutional effects which diminish the resisting power of the body to disease" (see citation below since this 1913 article lacks an inline citation).

By the 1930's,real science observed the increase in lung cancer from smoking. The Nazis banned cigarette smoking in the 1930's because of the known health effects (and that will be the last time I will mention Nazis in any positive sense in anything I ever write again). In 1950, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article by Martin Levin that linked smoking and lung cancer. By the mid-1950's, numerous epidemiological studies showed a profound increase in lung cancer risk for smokers. The Royal College of Physicians (UK) warned against smoking in 1962. The Surgeon General of the USA warned against smoking in 1964. The CDC has warned against smoking for over 50 years.

Yes, tobacco advertisers used to make ads that showed doctors smoking, or worse, endorsing cigarettes. But that wasn't the "science" of the time. Big Tobacco (a truly evil lot of characters) said just about anything to get people to smoke, whether it was showing doctors smoking or that smoking made you sexy. But they weren't using peer-reviewed science, these ads were worse than anecdotes, because they were outright lies and mischaracterizations. Science had already concluded that cigarettes were unhealthy a half century before those ads.

Once real epidemiological studies were published in peer-reviewed journals, the attitude about smoking changed almost immediately in the medical and general scientific community. And that's how real science works–it self-corrects.

So if you think that "scientists pushed tobacco," nothing could be further from the truth, unless you want to accept the advertising from Big Tobacco as some sort of truth. And it was real science that found the link (when modern epidemiology really developed as a discipline), and it was real science that became the basis of the worldwide effort against smoking.

As a suggestion to the science deniers–quit using this trope. It shows how ignorant you are of history, the scientific method, and reality.

Ok, how about DDT?!?!

What about DDT? For a little background, DDT is a powerful insecticide, invented by Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods." OK, I'm going to concede that a real scientist invented DDT.

But, there is much more to the story. The chemical was used extensively during World War II by the Allies, in both the Pacific and Europe, to control the insect vectors of typhus, dengue fever and malaria, nearly eliminating the disease in Europe. DDT was spectacularly successful in eradicating these diseases in Australia, the South Pacific, South America and other areas of the world after WWII. At the time, the goal of defeating those diseases far exceeded any risk known at that time.

However, if you think those mythical science wizards were standing in their Dark Tower waving their wands of power suppressing all other knowledge of DDT, you would be wrong. Early data about the harmful effects of DDT was known by scientists (I guess not the ones standing in the tower), and by 1950, the US Department of Agriculture, which had jurisdiction over insecticide use at the time, were beginning to establish regulations to limit DDT's use. By the early 1960's, upon publication of Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, which described some scientific, but mostly anecdotal evidence that DDT had harmful and long-lasting effects on the environment, the tide turned against DDT and it was mostly banned or strictly controlled by the late 1960's.

Today, DDT is still used because it is still an effective means of controlling certain insect vectors, especially in areas where governments cannot afford more expensive insecticides or the latest medical treatments, especially for malaria. It is through the scientific method that real scientists determined the potential environmental dangers of DDT, but also on how to use it safely where alternatives are costly.

No matter what we think of DDT now, it was responsible for saving millions of lives. Science isn't black and white, it's politicians and pseudoscience believers who think that science is some yes/no answer to a question. In a balanced and nuanced discussion about DDT, there are two sides of the story: one side is saving lives, and on the other, an environmental disaster. But science has discovered new technologies mosquito control, like the innovative Frankensquito, where we might get both environmental safety and protecting humans. But more than that, real science is looking for a better solution, whether it's safer insecticides or vaccines to protect individuals against malaria and dengue fever.

It's kind of ironic that cancer therapies, which often are declared successful if they increase lifespan by a few months even when they can be toxic with some awful side-effects. It's a simple cost-benefit calculation for cancer sufferers, in that they get maybe 6 months of life and hope, even if the quality of life is affected by the medication. Although some may argue any damage to the environment is unacceptable, is there not a similar cost-benefit calculation to save lives from malaria, dengue fever or other insect vector diseases?

So, sure, science gave us DDT, but it saved millions of lives, before science itself discovered that it's dangerous. Scientific knowledge changes as it accumulates evidence, and that's a good thing.

But scientists said thalidomide was safe!

Well, they never did, but this is prime example of the poisoning of the well fallacy, which abounds throughout the antivaccination cults. There are numerous tired, hackneyed myths about the drug thalidomide, which, in the 1950's was marketed by a German pharmaceutical company for the treatment of morning sickness in pregnant women (as one of its many indications). At that time, medications were not as strictly controlled as they are today for use during pregnancy, and thalidomide was given out rather freely to pregnant women to some parts of the world. Unfortunately, nearly 10,000 children (half of them born in the former Federal Republic of Germany, also known as West Germany, but none in East Germany, because the communists did not approve it for use) were born with birth defects as a direct result of using the medication.

Here's an important point. Despite significant pressure from politicians and Big Pharma, the FDA, specifically the Director of the FDA at the time, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, blocked approval of thalidomide in the USA, because it did not have the testing that proved it was not dangerous to the fetus. So you can invent whatever myth you want, but science had issues with thalidomide, and Dr. Kelsey was smart enough and strong enough to make sure that Americans didn't get the drug. Because many other countries follow the lead of the US FDA on drug regulations, many other countries blocked its importation.

Even though Dr. Kelsey knew that there wasn't any evidence that the drug was safe for pregnancy, it caused a sea change in both the independence of the FDA from congressional interference, but also in the amount, complexity and quality of research that must be done before a drug can be approved by the FDA. But Dr. Kelsey is one of the heroes of modern medicine for standing up for better drug testing. And saving a lot of American babies from birth defects.

But let's fast forward to today. Thalidomide is not some drug that's laying on the waste heap of failed drugs. It is part of the standard treatment for leprosy, a horrible disease in many parts of the world. Because of our understanding of how thalidomide did harm the developing fetus, scientists began to examine its power in treating other diseases. For example, thalidomide is part of the chemotherapy regimen that is used to treat multiple myeloma, a type of cancer of plasma. Modern treatments, which include thalidomide, has increased survivability from 3-4 years by almost double to 5-7 years or more. So if you're going to invent a vacuous strawman argument, trying to poison the well about pharmaceutical companies and the FDA, well, using thalidomide as your well-poisoner is not going to fly in an intelligent conversation.

Then science isn't perfect!!!

Science is not perfect, and no scientist would make that claim. People think that "science" is a magical word with some magical properties, but it is, at its basic level, a logical method to find evidence to answer a question. But until such time science is performed by unfeeling robots, it is a human activity, wracked with errors of human intellect, bias, and random mistakes. As science accumulates evidence over time, the theories and principles established by the evidence become closer and closer to a scientific fact.

Science has always been open to criticism and analysis, in fact, part of developing those theories and principles is provide evidence in the most transparent manner possible, and then stand in front of your peers for hostile and critical questions. No real scientist could get away with a claim that "smoking is healthy" today, because there would be a hundred scientists jumping on it, and showing the contrary evidence. We have high quality open source journals that publish information quickly (still heavily peer-reviewed), so that claims that don't make scientific sense get smashed out of existence quickly. As opposed the misinformation pushed by pseudoscientists, scientific evidence is based on the quality and quantity of evidence. That's why we know that evolution is a fact, anthropogenic global warming is a fact, HIV causes AIDS is a fact, and vaccines being safe and effect are a fact.

The four examples used here, Piltdown man, thalidomide, smoking and DDT, are really ancient news, given how fast science moves today.

Sometimes, when we invent criticisms of science, we forget about all the great successes of science, which vastly outweigh the mistakes. For example, vaccines have nearly eliminated most infectious diseases (sorry vaccine deniers, but you just have no scientific standing to say anything else; even evolution deniers accept vaccines). We have computers and phones that allow you to read my article 5 seconds after I publish it. We've explored Mars and landed on the moon. We understand the beginnings of the universe. I'm incapable of reading maps, but thanks to GPS systems I never get lost, thank you science. I can't even list the billions of things that make your life better, just because of science.

So cherry picking a few errors of science (if I were an anti-science person, I would have focused on some real winners, like canals on Mars, or using an ultra-high speed drill to open calcified atherosclerotic lesions) just to confirm your cognitive biases about science. It does not provide support for your pseudoscience belief. It just makes you look foolish. Moreover, for every "mistake" you can find about science, I can easily show you that it was real science that uncovered that mistake.

Emily Willingham, in an article in Forbes, wrote the following about science:

That said, other ways of viewing of our world clearly carry greater weight for people than science or evidence does. If evidence and data were the only factors in human decision-making, the epic debates humans engage in about whether vaccines eradicated smallpox or whether global climate change is real wouldn’t exist. Even though science is the ultimate lens for truly understanding what underlies our entire existence, we obviously use other, frequently more myopic lenses available to us.

And that leads me to the faults of science. Humans do science, and because we bring our own personalized lenses and biases to whatever we do, science will involve error. But the wonderful thing about science is that it’s a self-correcting process that over time, disciplines itself. How did we discover the real effects of tobacco or DDT that ultimately were revealed? Science made those revelations, and science provided the data everyone needed to know the truth.

Only in an imaginary world would anyone think that science is perfect. But in this real world, science makes our lives better in innumerable ways. My life has been devoted to science, and I have made more mistakes doing it than you can ever believe, but in the end, what I have done in the pursuit of scientific knowledge has helped my fellow man in direct, quantifiable ways. I think that's what science does best, it helps mankind, both directly and indirectly. And finding a few errors along the way? That's just part of the process. And all of you should be thankful that the process self corrects, or you wouldn't have that computer that allows you to read my words. Or detect cancer. Or guide a spacecraft 100 million km (give or take a couple of km) from the Earth to Mars.

TL;DR version

  • Science is a logical, rational process to discover evidence to support our understanding of the natural universe.
  • Science is harshly self critical and is self correcting over time
  • Science isn't perfect
  • Science didn't support DDT, smoking, thalidomide, and the Piltdown man. In fact, real science uncovered the evidence that involve those myths.

Note 1: Antivaccine lunatics often demand unscientific studies as "proof" that vaccines are safe or effective. They want one group that doesn't receive a vaccination vs. a group that does get it. The problem is that the vaccine deniers will always want their kids in the unvaccinated group. And there goes the randomization, and in comes bias. They don't understand this problem.

Note 2: This kind of puts a bit of perspective on "traditional herbal remedies" because much of the evidence for their usefulness is based on oral tradition which is a recounting of anecdotes rather than clinical trials.

Key citations:

Originally posted to SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 01:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech, Science Matters, PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (157+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mem from somerville, Emerson, profewalt, Prinny Squad, d3clark, alx9090, riverlover, GDbot, IndieGuy, koosah, Louisiana 1976, ImpactAv, laughingRabbit, houyhnhnm, Nulwee, charlatan, Chaddiwicker, ban nock, on the cusp, mungley, NE2, pixxer, karmsy, FG, serendipityisabitch, Catte Nappe, vgranucci, dewtx, G2geek, Cassandra Waites, richardvjohnson, Wreck Smurfy, Miggles, Mike Kahlow, owlbear1, kkbDIA, nickrud, furi kuri, PeterHug, Happy Days, Paul Ferguson, Timbuk3, bnasley, hnichols, EricS, Hammerhand, LynChi, Crazy Moderate, ChemBob, tegrat, psnyder, bastrop, SixSixSix, kerflooey, MadMs, puckmtl, Aunt Pat, T100R, Fonsia, GreenPA, eeff, Bule Betawi, Mathazar, Ginny in CO, Josiah Bartlett, CA ridebalanced, susans, Paul Rogers, Arabiflora, high5, KBS666, gbgasser, OHdog, fatbeagle, mujr, msdobie, radarlady, Ashaman, FindingMyVoice, Temmoku, kfunk937, mikidee, gsenski, copymark, avsp, banjolele, Lenny Flank, kharma, MKinTN, kenwards, anodnhajo, xaxnar, DWG, GwenM, MJ via Chicago, zaynabou, Sun Tzu, wasatch, whl, wader, cardinal, Crashing Vor, implicate order, Liberal Thinking, Tim DeLaney, ER Doc, jhop7, Oh Mary Oh, GreyHawk, TFinSF, Andrew F Cockburn, dmhlt 66, citizen dan, smokeymonkey, rb608, Brian A, Steven D, tj iowa, StrayCat, RiveroftheWest, zerelda, jfromga, most peculiar mama, Shotput8, CitizenJoe, cryonaut, marathon, Deep Texan, mookins, LeftOfYou, middleagedhousewife, Plox, Raynfala, The Pseudorandom Cat, JayC, pvasileff, mzkryz, blackjackal, just another vet, Nowhere Man, agentCDE, ask, grover, Bring the Lions, JosephK74, hubcap, kalmoth, BYw, jgumby, mflorian, Jollie Ollie Orange, Tinfoil Hat, ialonelady, Brown Thrasher, RSGmusic, Stwriley, Simplify

    Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

    by SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 01:46:11 PM PDT

  •  Thalidomide actually was safe (7+ / 0-)

    the devastating side effects were due to a contaminating enantiomer.  

    So you can't really blame science (in yet another way than you mention in your diary) for all the horrific birth defects, it was essentially a quality control problem in manufacturing.

    IIRC, many if not all US automobile companies have similar problems . . .  even today to some extent.

  •  most skeptics are concerned with study bias (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, Nulwee, dicentra, maregug, 6412093, cordgrass

    PRESENT Shock When everything happens NOW

    by Portia Elm on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:04:53 PM PDT

    •  Seems that many self-selected skeptics, (14+ / 0-)

      though, shout that any research they dislike is paid off.  While totally ignoring claims from quacks with websites selling detox potions.

      One should also be very wary of anecdotes. I think you want to raise your skepticism there a bit more.

      What will happen the next time the mob comes?--Neil deGrasse Tyson

      by mem from somerville on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:16:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sure (17+ / 0-)

      But if you read what I wrote, science doesn't come to a consensus until it's been repeated frequently, and bias begins to be eliminated.

      Are you saying that ALL the research behind vaccines, evolution, global warming, HIV/AIDS, etc. is based on bias? I think that's cynical and pseudoscientific itself.

      Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

      by SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:34:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the problem is media reporting: (13+ / 0-)

        The disease:

        1)  The oft-circulated meme that science = conclusive answers with high certainty, arrived at very quickly.  Conflation of science with technology.

        2)  Then the reporting of Finding A.

        3)  Then the reporting of Finding B, which appears to contradict Finding A.

        4)  Then the oft-circulated meme that "science keeps waffling back and forth between A and B."

        5)  Result:  Audience comes to the conclusion that science doesn't know what it's doing.  "In another week, there'll be another report to contradict that one."

        The cure (or perhaps the vaccine?):

        1)  New meme:  Science works by iteration and progressive refinement toward convergent answers.  Progress can be slow and occasionally spans multiple generations of working scientists.

        2)  When Finding A is reported, reinforce (1):  This is preliminary, it will need to be replicated before it is accepted.

        3)  When Finding B is reported: This finding is part of the process of replication, refinement, and occasional refutation.  

        4)  If Finding B contradicts Finding A, that's not unusual, it often takes time to get convergent results.  Be patient, progress is occasionally slow.  Sometimes we also also have to refine our conceptual and physical tools of measurement.

        5)  Intended result:  Audience concludes that progress is being made and eventually there will be a convergent outcome.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 03:10:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem: this doesn't lend itself to (8+ / 0-)

          soundbites.

          Especially when trying to separate science from technology, and more especially when technology companies push the "science" meme to distract from questions about the technology. Big oil has been a leader in this type of conflation, and they've created a dazzling muddle in the process.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 04:36:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  neither did torture, and if the Bushies... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, Fiona West

            ... managed to turn that into a sound bite, we can do likewise with enough bits & pieces of basic scientific method, to counteract the problem-memes.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:02:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Nor to click bait headlines n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, G2geek

            La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues, et de voler du pain.

            by dconrad on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:06:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Next on CNN! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, G2geek

            (Flashy graphics, booming announcer voice:)

            New studies from Harvard Med School prove flu vaccine is still safe and effective! Dr. Sanjay will convene a panel to discuss the implications for you and your family!
            Yeah, I see your point.

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:37:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  none the less, it could be done. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch

              And not much differently to what you've described as a satire.

              Every year at the beginning of flu season, news items about the dangers of flu and why people should get their shots.

              "This year's flu is a bad one, but you can beat it with a shot!  Dr. Sanjay talks to three experts about the implications for you and your family!"

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:29:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry technology is born from science. (0+ / 0-)

            IT is funny most experiments yield unexpected results.
            Then the results are retested and become useful products.

            Almost everything made from nature does have a purpose and if used correct has some harm and good. Medicines are like this. They can be very deadly but in the correct dosage cures what is wrong. Lithium Salts are very good for bi polar issues but if used in to high a dose can kill you.
            One of Its lasting effects are the blockage of the kidneys over time.

            Since the article is on DDT. It does solve some problems and yes saved lives by supported food growth.
            The problem is that it will take almost forever to decay.
            It does effect birds to the point the egg shells weaken and many die from breakage to early. There are other problems for other animals and the list is long.

            The main reason DDT last forever it is an eight point closed ring. Meaning it is almost impervious to break down.

            Nature and evolution is God and can be proved everyday. you are standing in it all the time.

            Although their may be many gods in this life recorded by the human race. All other then nature where created/ written down by man with all its bias.

            If God created everything as a model the universe would not be expanding. Man would not grow taller.
            Why would there be anything to harm you on this earth if created.  

            A synthesizer can create any instrument made and others that have not be created yet.

            by RSGmusic on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 04:52:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Media loves to report "A" (as in one) new study (5+ / 0-)

          has found.

          Not to report the inconvenient truth that, if a significant amount of good science is being done, you will have a significant number of results that can't be replicated and are just plain wrong.

          If scientists were always right, there'd be no need to experiment.  That's just the way it works.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:51:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  though, reporting on studies that... (0+ / 0-)

            ... can't be replicated or are just plain wrong, can feed the meme that "we're wasting money on science."  

            That particular topic has to be dealt with carefully.  The way to handle it is with the meme that it takes lots of research to finally pay off, but when it does, the benefits are enormous.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:32:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Very good framing. (5+ / 0-)

          Science is a process.  That's the first "sound bite" that needs to be repeated a zillion times.

          On any particular issue:  "progress is being made and eventually there will be a convergent outcome."  People have to learn to trust the process, even if they can't rely with certainty on the current state of any particular debate.

          The hard part, of course, is that we often need to make policy choices before science in it's slow deliberative process reaches anything like a consensus.

          And there's often some group with a vested interest and a lot of money pushing one side or the other of that policy choice.

          Still, there would be a lot of gain in simply imbedding a deep assumption in the public mind that science is a PROCESS, not just a collection of facts; and that contentions disagreements will gradually resolve through that reliable scientific process.

          --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

          by Fiona West on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:45:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Paul Rogers, G2geek

            "contentious disagreements," of course.

            --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

            by Fiona West on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:47:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I do not always agree that there is a need (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            to go where "Science is pushing us, also.  Just because some geek has a neaty keen idea they want to explore does not mean I think it is going in a safe direction.

            PRESENT Shock When everything happens NOW

            by Portia Elm on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:29:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  sadly, science doesn't care what you think (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              T100R

              Science is not a democracy, and we don't get to vote on it.

              Sorry about that.  If it makes you feel any better, science doesn't care what I think either. (shrug)

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:45:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  here it's important to differentiate between... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Paul Rogers

              ... what science discovers about the nature of things, and what we choose to do with those discoveries.

              At the simplest level, you can use water to drink and to grow crops, or you can use it to drown people.  At the other end of the scale, Einstein's relativity gave us the knowledge of nuclear fusion, that can be used to build H-bombs or to build fusion reactors for clean energy.  Knowledge of chemistry and biology can make medicines and also make poisons.  

              Science can't make our value judgements for us, because nature itself can't make our value judgements for us.  Water has no say about whether you use it to drink or to drown someone.

              But what does happen, is that new knowledge and its effects force us to evolve as a global culture.  The existence of H-bombs forced the world to learn how to use diplomacy to solve problems between major powers.  The climate crisis will force the nations of the world to cooperate in ways we haven't begun to anticipate.  This process is never easy, but our entire existence as a species, is a history of cultures evolving to deal with the implications of new knowledge.  

              On the other hand, the factor of "some geek has a neaty keen idea" has become a major problem in the internet era, because the internet itself is a "force multiplier."  For example nobody elected Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) or Sergey & Larry (Google) as Big Brother, yet the three of them have personally and unilaterally managed to erode our entire concept of privacy and create the "watch what you say" society, and they did it with "candy."  Fortunately we have the capacity to push back, and people are doing so.  Perhaps in the long run that's another evolutionary pressure: the culture responding to predators in its midst.

              What's needed is a more scientifically and technologically literate society.  Anti-vaccine CT among the general public, and climate denialism among elected officials, are both direct dangers to innocent people, and both demonstrate the effects of scientific and technological illiteracy as well as the effects of different types of corrupting influences.  A scientifically and technologically literate public would not tolerate either of those, and as a result, we would not be suffering from measles & whooping cough outbreaks and from climate impacts.   As well, a scientifically & technologically literate culture would not tolerate having its core values eroded by a handful of people who are out to make a fortune by doing so.

              In the end, there is no substitute for people being literate, being clear about their values, and making deliberate conscious choices.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 04:52:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  i.e., the same conspiracy theory that the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jqb, Miggles, T100R, kfunk937

      global warming deniers use to justify their anti-science.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:06:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most "skeptics" are ideologues, not skeptics. nt (6+ / 0-)
      •  there's a historic power struggle.... (2+ / 0-)

        .... between science and organized religion that has played itself out across a wide field.

        Originally it was the Church persecuting Bruno, Galileo, and others.  In this context, Descartes developed the philosophical dualism between "nature" and "spirit," where science was only concerned with "nature," and conceded the entire realm of "the spirit" to the Church.  This situation produced an unsteady peace that enabled science to make progress on a number of fronts with little trouble thereafter from the Church.  All of this was going on in the 1500s - 1600s.

        Two centuries later, Darwin broke the unsteady peace.  Organized religion considered the theory of evolution to be a direct attack on some of its core beliefs.  While it couldn't persecute Darwin directly, various denominations were able to get favorable treatments such as laws forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools (see also the Scopes trial).

        Today the situation has become further polarized, with further ramifications on both sides.  

        For example who would have thought that climate change and free will are parts of science/religion debates?

        And yet they are:

        Right-wing fundamentalists assert that God gave Man ("men") "dominion" over nature, and that (depending on which school of fundamentalism) either a) God will not allow the climate to change in response to human activity, or b) the Rapture is coming, where believers are taken up to Heaven, so it's OK for us to trash the Earth because we won't need it much longer.

        On the other hand, progressive religious, including progressive fundamentalists (they do exist), believe that humans are obligated to "respect and take care of God's creation," so they stand with all progressives in supporting policies to deal with climate change.  The religious term for this is "stewardship."

        One of the key precepts of the Abrahamic religions is that humans are morally responsible for their choices and actions.  This necessarily presupposes the existence of free will.  

        And on the other hand, there are atheists (Harris) who argue that free will is an illusion and is scientifically impossible due to the principle of causality.

        And on the third hand, there are other atheists (Dennet) who argue that free will is compatible with what science knows about the human brain, and there are scientists (Penrose and Hameroff) whose theories and research address factors that may demonstrate a neurophysiological basis for free will.  

        Very often, these things come down to the far outer ramifications of belief or disbelief in deities or other "animistic" principles that infer the existence of agency in nature or in the underlying causes of the existence of nature, or in states of existence that are outside of nature.

        These issues become highly contentious, and give rise to ideological hardening on both sides of the fence.   Thus you get ideologized skepticism, and ideologized faith, and various other positions that are equally ideologized.  

        Realistically this stuff is going to continue to play out over the course of the foreseeable future of human societies.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:42:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the most interesting initial question about (6+ / 0-)

    validation of a product for sale in my mind is "Who funded the study?"

    PRESENT Shock When everything happens NOW

    by Portia Elm on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:08:14 PM PDT

    •  Research bias can be actively managed (7+ / 0-)

      ...by non-scientists by the decisions allocating funds to study.  Some questions are more "interesting" than others to the folks making the money decisions.

      50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

      by TarheelDem on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:14:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's adding intentional bias (17+ / 0-)

      Do you have evidence that study funding matters? Are you assuming that EVERY scientist is willing to surrender their ethics for a few dollars?

      YOU might think that's a valid assumption. I don't. What you are suggesting is a perfect example of confirmation bias, and wouldn't make you a very good skeptic or scientist.

      Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

      by SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:36:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Straw man. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        6412093

        There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

        by Joieau on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:42:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Most scientists are not willing (10+ / 0-)

        but if your job depends on it, then it's a different story.

        There's a reason universities have a tenure system.

        “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

        by FishOutofWater on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:19:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Too many folks, (4+ / 0-)

        Skeptical, remember the scientist C. C. Little and his minions, who ginned up "cigarettes don't cause cancer or anyway the connection needs more research" for decades on end, fueled by tobacco money.

        I for one do not believe that most scientists are willing to surrender their ethics for a "few" (or lots) of dollars.

        My position depends on whether you consider pollution control engineers as scientists, however.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:35:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  alas, his was the most spectacularly unsuccessful (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kfunk937, dinotrac, Caittus, ER Doc, T100R, 6412093

          conspiracy in history. Despite all his time and effort and money, everyone knew, as far back as the 50's, that smoking causes cancer, and today not only does every human on the planet know this, but every package of cigarettes carries a mandated warning label, and cigarette companies themselves are forced to pay for public-service TV and radio ads TELLING everyone that smoking causes cancer. Cigarettes are illegal to sell to minors, illegal to advertise, illegal to smoke in most public places, and it's just a matter of time before they become illegal period.

          I've never understood why people cite the tobacco companies as a case of a successful corporate conspiracy---it has to be the most colossal failure of any corporate campaign in all of human history.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:35:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They bought (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jrooth, 6412093, nicteis, Nowhere Man

            a lot of time though, and time is money. The fossil fuel companies are following the same blueprint by funding climate change denial.

            "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

            by happy camper on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:03:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I really hope the fossil fuel companies are as (4+ / 0-)

              "successful" as the tobacco companies were. I can't wait for the day when EVERYONE knows humans cause global warming, the oil companies have to put ads on TV TELLING US that, and oil become illegal to use in most places.

              (snicker)

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:07:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  ps-it has been oil industry campaign contributions (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              T100R, 6412093, kfunk937, G2geek

              and lobbying that have killed action on global warming, not their silly non-science. The fake "science" just gives the ideological government-haters another excuse to hate what they already ideologically want to hate (just like the fake anti-GMO "science" just gives the ideological corporation-haters another excuse to hate what they already ideologically want to hate). It's a matter of politics, not of science.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:10:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'll disagree, Lenny (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek

                to the extent that the tobacco and oil industry "science" have given their political supporters additional cover to delay legislation for decades.

                Only the most brazen politicians aren't reluctant to support, for instance, the oil companies, without at least the veneer of science that the oil companies are providing.

                “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

                by 6412093 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:33:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  alas, we do disagree :) (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  T100R, Paul Rogers, G2geek

                  I don't think the fake oil industry "science" has really had much of a role to play in the climate-change delay. I think that delay comes mostly because America as a society is fat and lazy and indolent, and we realize at some level that realistic action about climate change means we'd have to change our fat and lazy and indolent lifestyles, and we'd rather die than do that.

                  :(

                  After all, other countries have oil-supported media stories too, and they're not delaying as much as we are.

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:25:14 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  You're trivializing the power of slanted "science" (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tardis10, happy camper, G2geek

                in providing cover for the energy corporations' political interests, providing cover for the politicians who receive their massive contributions and serve their interests, and profoundly weakening the ability of honest scientists and political leaders to educate the public on the most crucial issues of our generation.

                THe energy corporations have delayed our social and political response to global warming drastically; they've held us almost paralyzed since the 70's.  In those decades irreversible damage has been done.

                The very best that we could now possibly achieve in limiting ocean rise, temperature rise, methane escape,  level of species extinctions, and so on -- the best we can hope for now is much worse than the best we could have hoped for if we had started having an honest public discussion in the 70's.

                I don't know if anything could have been different.  I don't know if there are more effective ways that the scientific community could expose and isolate pseudoscience with so much money (read "power") behind it.  But it's a hugely important question.

                The influence of anti-vaxxers, despite the deaths they bear responsibility for, and the influence of anti-evolutionists, a bunch of pitiful deadenders, are both minor compared to the influence of powerful, incredibly wealthy corporate interests who are willing to continue damaging our biosphere in order to maintain their wealth and power.

                THis must be an issue that the scientific community is struggling with, but I don't seem to hear echoes of that conversation.

                --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

                by Fiona West on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:21:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I just don't see it (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  T100R, Paul Rogers

                  I think simple American laziness and unwillingness to alter their lifestyles is a far greater cause for our society's inaction on global warming.

                  We can't even get Americans to fucking RECYCLE, for crissakes.

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:48:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ahh but we can. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    serendipityisabitch

                    The way many cities have gotten people to recycle, is to charge the increased cost of landfill disposal to the ratepayers.  If you don't recycle, you need a larger refuse bin, which comes with a higher price tag.  

                    In some parts of Europe, ratepayers are charged for non-recycled refuse by weight, through simple technology involving bar-codes on bins, and scanners & weighing devices on the mechanical arms that empty the bins into the trucks.  Those technologies will find their way to the US in time.

                    Moral crusades and various forms of prohibitionism are notoriously ineffective ways to implement policy.  Browbeating people for being fat & lazy is hardly as effective as just "internalizing the externalities" by making them pay for their impacts.  A carbon tax that is based on the known empirical costs of CO2 pollution and climate impacts, will do more to shift public behaviors, than all the moral campaigns in history.

                    In the same way, outlawing cigarettes or banning smoking is a guaranteed fail, as with alcohol and marijuana prohibition.  Instead, charge the empirical costs of tobacco-related health care to the unit weight price of tobacco products, and that will reduce smoking to a minimum without generating another huge organized crime pandemic.   See also the decline in teenage marijuana use in Colorado following legalization.  

                    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                    by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:54:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm (6+ / 0-)
        Are you assuming that EVERY scientist is willing to surrender their ethics for a few dollars?

        YOU might think that's a valid assumption. I don't.

        Any person with experience should know that people are fallible, and many are influenced by profit and greed.

        So, who has the burden of proof that there are valid reasons for suspicion of compromised ethics or at least some affect on motives, even if subconscious, when money or social advancement is involved?

        If one just looks at history, one would have to be blind to not see the influence of financial gain in just about every area of human endeavor, including religion, politics, even in basic human relations and causes of divorce...

        So, is your assertion that scientists are the only subset of society that has some sort of immunity to greed the rest don't have? That they are like the certified mentats from Frank Herbert's novels? Guaranteed to serve selflessly? Some sort of idealized, near perfect beings that are beyond suspicion until proven otherwise? Heh. Prove the thesis.

        No, there is a reason researchers should disclose affiliations and funding.

         

        "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

        by ZhenRen on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 10:13:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no, the assertion is that the checks & balances... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Paul Rogers, mikidee, T100R

          ...that are inherent in the process of scientific methods, will tend to work against research that is flawed by bias and financial interests.

          One of the key elements of scientific method is falsification.  You start with a hypothesis, something you think is true about a particular aspect of nature.  You try to "falsify" or disprove it by testing every other possible relationship between the relevant variables.  If nothing else produces a significant result, but your hypothesis does, you can publish that it has been supported by data.

          But then the second part of falsification goes to work: other scientists will attempt to falsify your hypothesis on their own, and anyone who succeeds at that will get serious acclaim from their peers.  In other words, others in your field win by poking holes in your hypothesis.

          Honest scientists publish when the succeed in falsifying their starting hypotheses.  But if someone is biased and tries to salvage a hypothesis that is clearly flawed, someone else will spot it and tear it to shreds.  

          No vested interest has the resources to control what goes on in every college and university in America much less the world, much less control what their own competitors in the market do.  Thus we see the situation with climate change, where Big Carbon has a few captive scientists, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who are part of the consensus about climate.  And the reason that Big Carbon has dominated the political debate is not because it has a few captive scientists: what it has, is a substantial quantity of toadies in (you guessed it!) Congress.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:44:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  exactly. it is literally impossible to hide any (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            T100R, ebohlman

            scientific findings. And that is why there is NO example in all of history of any scientific finding that has ever been successfully hid by anyone, even by such enormously powerful institutions as Big Tobacco or the Catholic Church. It simply cannot be done.

            All of the corporate conspiracy theories are just ideological fantasy.

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:09:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, and going back to Big Tobacco (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mikidee

              what they did was not to buy the scientific consensus (they couldn't, any more than Big Oil has been able to buy the scientific consensus on global warming) but to exploit the fact that the standards of evidence used in law are different from those used in science.

              Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

              by ebohlman on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 11:33:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  It's truly pathetic that at least 10 (6+ / 0-)

        people appear to have mistaken your poorly constructed straw man for an argument with merit.

        Are you assuming that EVERY scientist is willing to surrender their ethics for a few dollars?
        It isn't at all necessary that ever scientist be corruptible in order to recognize that it matters who funds research.  

        The person to whom you are "responding" (I use quotes here because it appears you just starting playing a pre-recorded tape when a button was pushed) never made anything resembling this claim.

        There is absolutely no doubt that many scientists have been willing to falsify results or carefully craft methodology to get exactly the results their backers wanted.

        The UN should give Iraq a restraining order against the US.

        by JesseCW on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 11:14:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Context (6+ / 0-)

        I agree that one should not assume that a research study is biased based on funding sources, but I would also say that, when thinking about science in a broad way, it's perfectly legitimate to also examine factors like funding, institutional structures, etc. Because, as you point out, science is a social activity and hence takes place in a social context. That's a useful thing for understanding research agendas, the particular questions being addressed, etc.

        Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

        by Linnaeus on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:45:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  LOL, it's endemic to some scientific fields (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        Any time there is big money to be made, science will get distorted.  Science itself has proven that in many cases.  I can repost all my links about pharmaceutical research in the U.S. if you like.  But really the drop mike is ADHD drugs prescribed for toddlers.

        Or look at the soft science of economics.  That's the most egregious example--evidence-based economics has completely discredited the claims of trickle-down economists, but yet is it still considered valid.

    •  alas, the global warming deniers make exactly that (12+ / 0-)

      same argument.

      Alas, any time you hear someone declare that scientific data and studies should be rejected solely because of where they came from, you are listening to ideology and evangelism, not science.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:08:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not exactly. (6+ / 0-)

        It's a valid question if A. there's a demonstrable profit motive and B. there's a specific history of falsification by involved actors.

        I.e. if there's a study that says oil drilling XYZ is safe, but it turns out to be funded by BP, that's a reasonable basis for asking for further confirmation and study; BP has a known profit motive and a proven history of falsification.

        When deniers' present this "argument", they A. never have any demonstration of a possible profit motive (climate scientists get paid to do their research regardless of what their studies show) and B never show any proof of prior falsification.

        Another very important point (and deniers fail on this too) is that, even if these conditions are met, it only validates questioning. It doesn't by itself invalidate existing studies.

        •  Let's be honest here... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          6412093, T100R, dinotrac, TheOrchid

          if the corporate-funded study ends up giving you the results that confirm your bias, you're probably going to be fine with it.  That wouldn't make you a good skeptic.

          •  That's not a rebuttal. Of course if the Tobacco (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kfunk937

            Growers Association funds a study that agrees with 1,000 independent studies and which shows a clear link between smoking and lung cancer, most people are going to be fine with it.

            If the Tobacco Growers Association funds a study that disagrees with 1,000 independent studies and which claims no such link exists, sane people will point out the conflict of interest.

            That doesn't somehow means they're "not good skeptics".

            The UN should give Iraq a restraining order against the US.

            by JesseCW on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 11:17:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If there are 1000 independent studies... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kfunk937

              then the corporate study is irrelevant, regardless of its conclusion.  The problem is that many of these "skeptics" allege a scientific conspiracy whenever the 1000 independent studies don't confirm their bias.

            •  alas, the skeptics lose on this too (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Caittus, T100R, kfunk937

              The proportion of scientific papers which claim "GMOs are harmful" or "vaccines cause autism" or "evolution doesn't happen" or "Bigfoot exists" or "ESP exists" are about the same percentage of all scientific papers as are those which claim "global warming isn't happening".

              When you have 1000 scientific papers saying you are wrong and only 1 saying you are right, then "those thousand people are paid to oppose me !!!" is just a bullshit excuse (just like it is for the global warming deniers).

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:39:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Don't know about 1,000 studies, but science (0+ / 0-)

                can be wrong for a long time.

                It has a very strong tendency to correct itself.

                And -- science is incredibly tolerant of alternative voice so long as the alternative voices do their homework.

                Even evolution, a well-established fact, is open to alternative theories.  There are credible scientists, for example, who don't believe that natural selection is the dominant force in evolution, who believe that mutations (ie, random, unguided by a rule such as natural selection) are dominant.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:37:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You don't understand evolution. (0+ / 0-)
                  There are credible scientists, for example, who don't believe that natural selection is the dominant force in evolution, who believe that mutations (ie, random, unguided by a rule such as natural selection) are dominant.
                  Everyone who studies evolution understands that mutations are acted upon by various evolutionary forces, selection, drift, etc.

                  ....no longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38 [160276]

                  by TFinSF on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:54:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand evolution very well, thank you. (0+ / 0-)

                    Do you keep up with the science or merely think you do?

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:56:30 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This quote shows that you haven't (0+ / 0-)

                      even a high school level understanding of the concept, for the reasons I stated:

                      There are credible scientists, for example, who don't believe that natural selection is the dominant force in evolution, who believe that mutations (ie, random, unguided by a rule such as natural selection) are dominant.

                      ....no longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38 [160276]

                      by TFinSF on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:00:15 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  That doesn't sound right (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kfunk937, dinotrac

                  I think natural selection operates in all cases.  There's just different ways the criteria for survivability might change.  A mutation might (rarely) improve survivability significantly enough that the carriers of the mutation become dominant via natural selection.  You can also have an external event (climate change for example) that changes the criteria for survivability in a way that makes a previously neutral (or even slightly undesirable) trait an advantage - in which case carriers of that trait become dominant via natural selection.

                  •  To say that natural selection operates is not the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kfunk937

                    same as to say it is the dominant force.

                    It also doesn't say that those who believe otherwise are right, just that they exist.

                    That's the nice thing about science -- scientists don't have to parrot each other.  Hell, science couldn't work if they did.  Scientists do, however, have to back up what they say.

                    As to the dominance of natural selection, I'm not remotely qualified to know the answer, but relegating natural selection to a secondary role does solve a lot of problems.  For one thing, it completely disembowels the primary argument of intelligent design types -- irreducible complexity.  They rely on a very crabbed definition of evolution that all but requires non-beneficial mutations to disappear.  That makes it hard for traits to develop that require an accumulation of mutations over time, each of which may confer no advantage.

                    I do believe that natural selection is likely to dominate (but, again,  I have no credentials at all) in times of scarcity and stress.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:50:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

                      I think that's a weird position.  What actually determines the winners and losers of the genetic lottery?  Competition (aka natural selection).  There can be extreme cases where a massive die-off reduces competition for a short period of time (a part of punctuated equilibrium evolution), but ultimately individuals in a population are in competition at all times to survive, breed, and so pass on their traits and the results are still determined by competition.

                      You'll need to point to specific arguments in peer reviewed journals to get me more information on the "natural selection isn't dominant" before I can accept your assertion.

                •  This: (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TFinSF, dinotrac, JosephK74
                  There are credible scientists, for example, who don't believe that natural selection is the dominant force in evolution, who believe that mutations (ie, random, unguided by a rule such as natural selection) are dominant.
                  makes absolutely no sense. Who are these credible scientists you are referring to?
                  •  I provided a link to one up above. (0+ / 0-)

                    If you wanted to get more "out there" than that, you could include the late Lynn Margulis.  Smart lady, but took a major swing and miss on AIDS.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:43:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What am I missing? (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      TFinSF, kfunk937, JosephK74

                      From your link:

                      Nei has long maintained the view that the driving force of evolution is mutation including any types of DNA changes (nucleotide changes, chromosomal changes, and genome duplication) and natural selection is merely a force eliminating less fit genotypes (theory of mutation-driven evolution).
                      How is this different than normal evolution? If you don't have mutations, no evolution. If you don't have natural selection, no evolution.

                      How can you say one is more or less dominant than the other? They both are necessary.

                      •  It is normal evolution, and, if you think (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        kfunk937

                        carefully about it, you absolutely can have evolution without natural selection.

                        Nei does not say that natural selection doesn't exist or that it is not an important factor, he merely relegates it to a secondary effect.

                        Think of it this way:

                        Natural selection can't happen without mutation because there would be nothing to select.

                        Evolution absolutely can happen without natural selection because mutations will happen regardless.  Sufficiently harmful mutations will prevent survival, and that is a form of natural selection, but...

                        if resources are not scarce and the population is not under stress, mutations can be agnostic. Evolution can take place without being beneficial so long as it isn't sufficiently harmful to eliminate reproduction.

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:06:56 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  If there is no selection (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          dinotrac, JosephK74

                          the random mutations won't accumulate in successive generations to drive any significant evolution. You'll just have a small genetic fluctuation around a static species.

                          •  What would make them go away? (0+ / 0-)

                            All they need is reproduction. They don't need selection.  Selection culls the changes, and selection tends to prefer the better-adapted, but it's not required for evolution.

                            I can see your point in one sense: population pressure more or less demands evolution and natural selection will come into very obvious play.  

                            In the absence of population pressure, evolution can still happen, but it won't be focused and it might not be obvious.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:49:44 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Normal sexual reproduction. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            dinotrac

                            Animals aren't cloned, they reproduce with partners that don't have those specific mutations.

                            It's hard to even envision what it would look like since selection is so ingrained into the evolutionary process.

                          •  It's the exact same situation in the case of (0+ / 0-)

                            natural selection.

                            When a mutation first occurs, there is nobody else to mate with who has that mutation.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:02:37 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Mutations don't get erased immediately. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            dinotrac

                            There is a percentage chance that they stick around for any offspring, and offspring of that offspring, and so on. However, if there is no selection to preferentially favor that mutation, then it is just randomly competing against a much larger set of uniform genes and will eventually lose just from a probability standpoint.

                            Of course, the smaller the population, the better chance that a particular mutation can 'win the lottery', even if it decreases reproductive success, thus the thresholds for genetic sustainability for populations.

                          •  Well, almost. (0+ / 0-)

                            If a mutation is neither favored nor disfavored, it has a much to survive as any other mutation.  In the absence of something to push it out, it could disappear, but it could also continue. The common situation of stress -- scarcity of resources, predation, etc, etc -- creates a force to push out traits that hinder survival.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:48:54 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Maybe this is a good summary of your point: (0+ / 0-)

                            http://www.nature.com/...

                            though I don't think this is an 'out there' idea on the fringes of evolutionary science.

                          •  Nice write-up. Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ozy

                            As a layman, I always enjoy something that is written so that an intelligent non-scientist can read it and understand (even if it requires a bit of effort) it without being dumbed down to the level of Gilligan's Island.

                            Nothing against Gilligan's Island, mind you. I'd just hate to get my continuing science education from the Skipper.
                            Or even Mary Ann.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:06:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Doh! Reproduction (0+ / 0-)

                            is the central means by which natural selection takes place.  Mutatations occur that do or do not increase likelihood of reproducing.  Those that afford greater likelihood of reproduction get selected for through the organism living long enough to reproduce (because it has better armor, better camoflage, better speed, etc, allowing it a greater chance of making copies of itself).  It appears you lack an understanding of evolution.

                          •  You need to read more carefully. (0+ / 0-)

                            Mutations need not help or hinder reproduction.

                            This has actually been a really nice thread with some good conversation and some interesting links.
                            Check them out.
                            You might like them.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:40:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A mutation that does (0+ / 0-)

                            not help or hinder evolution is one that plays no role in evolution.

                          •  You really, really do need to read more carefully. (0+ / 0-)

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:31:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Perhaps, and you need to (0+ / 0-)

                            make more accurate claims.  There are variants of evolutionary theory that challenge the dominance of natural selection-- in particular, developmental systems theory, evo-devo theories, and epigenetic theories --but what you're suggesting is not among them.  You've misread the article you link to.

                          •  Genetic drift would dominate. e.g. Hawaii (0+ / 0-)

                            Random drift is not static.

                            “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

                            by FishOutofWater on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:15:58 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Are you claiming Hawaii (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            dinotrac

                            doesn't have any natural selective forces?

                          •  I would expect drift to dominate, but remember -- (0+ / 0-)

                            random does not mean smooth and even except over large numbers.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:14:13 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  yeah verily. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  T100R, Paul Rogers, dinotrac

                  And yes, the creationists do make much hay out of normal scientific disagreements, such as the debate over the predominance of "selection" vs "drift". There is of course an enormous difference between science debating HOW evolution happens, and science debating WHETHER evolution happens--a difference which the creationists do their dishonest best to blur.

                  :)

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:27:36 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Where is the research funding to show... (0+ / 0-)

                ...that GMOs are unsafe?  I'd estimate it's around $0 per year.  I certain questions are not funded, certain questions don't gest asked and answered.  That's a form of research bias that you -- and the diarist -- don't address.

                "Democrat" is a noun. "Democratic" is an adjective. "Republican" is an idiot. Illigitimi non carborundum. Regardless of Party. The license plate I want? OMG GOP WTF

                by TheOrchid on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:38:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  too funny (0+ / 0-)

                  Ask Seralini how he paid for his study . . .

                  It is always amusing to hear the crackpots weeping and whining one second about how the Big Global Conspiracy(tm)(c) stops them from doing any scientific studies boo hoo hoo, and then in the very next second, without missing a beat, wave their arms to tell you all about all those scientific studies they have which shows science to be wrong.

                  BOTH of those things cannot be true at the same time. One of them MUST, by definition, be bullshit.

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:30:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ridiculous response. (0+ / 0-)

                    One (flawed) study that was self-funded, and you're saying research directed to determining whether GMOs are safe or not is adequately funded?  That contention, iteslf, is "too funny".

                    And if you thought I was blaming some "Big Global Conspiracy" (to use your term), you need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills.

                    "Democrat" is a noun. "Democratic" is an adjective. "Republican" is an idiot. Illigitimi non carborundum. Regardless of Party. The license plate I want? OMG GOP WTF

                    by TheOrchid on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:05:20 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  boohoohoohoo (0+ / 0-)

                      What the heck is it you want to be tested anyway. All of the GMO genes have been around for up to 500 million years, where they have done nothing to anything. Indeed, all of them have been eaten by over 350 million Americans for 20-odd years now, with no observed public health or environmental effect. That is over six billion person-years of testing. How many more do you think are necessary?

                      In the end, reality always wins.

                      by Lenny Flank on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:43:54 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  oddly enough, the only people in these fights (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Caittus, T100R

          who have been proven to have falsified their science for ideological reasons have been the skeptics--the only papers to have been withdrawn because they were fraudulent and dishonest were Wakefield and Seralini.

          Ironic, ain't it.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:26:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What? (0+ / 0-)

            So lead in gasoline and paint is just fine?

            Tobacco is healthy?

            DDT is safe?

            C'mon.  What you just posted is demonstrably untrue.

            •  um, you do understand that it was SCIENCE (5+ / 0-)

              that corrected all those things.  The crackpots were just standing on the sidelines, doing nothing.

              By the way, those mistakes were not "mistakes" by the evidence available at the time.  The evidence came later. Evidence is what changes science.  Oddly, evidence is precisely what the crackpots never offer--which is why they never change science.

              If GMOs or vaccines are banned for safety reasons, for instance, it will be because real scientists find repeatable and verifiable evidence that GMOs or vaccines are unsafe (just as they found verifiable and repeatable evidence in every case you listed)--not because a bunch of ideologues are yelling "we hate Monsanto/Pfizer! and you are part of the paid Monsanto/Pfizer conspiracy!!!" at them. Those people are just crackpots, and will be rightly ignored by science.

              So quit your whining and just show us your evidence. (shrug)

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:00:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  a question for you . . . . (0+ / 0-)

          George Bush and Dick Cheney are demonstrated liars, repeatedly and over the longterm.

          And they have abundant and overwhelming reason to lie about virtually everything.

          Given that, here's my question:

          Does that mean the 9-11 Truther conspiracy theory that Cheney and Dubya planned the WTC attack, should be taken seriously?  Is it a valid hypothesis?

          Why or why not?

          Be careful how you answer that question . . . . . . . . . . . . .

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:37:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It does get real fuzzy on the other side. (0+ / 0-)

          Things like peer-review and wanting tenure, etc.

          Doesn't do much to explain all of those greybeards doing research -- scientists already well-established with tenure in hand.

          Then you fall back to research grants.

          The thing that people forget is this:

          You can get a lot of "me go alongs", but it only takes a few to rock the boat.  If the science is there, scientists will find it. Unfortunately for us, the scientists have been looking for decades and what they've found just plain sucks.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:33:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Remembering that folks around here will (0+ / 0-)

        reject studies solely because they come from scientists funded by oil companies.

        Arguably, that's just a prudent response to the signal to noise ratio, but it is an appropriate response to your completely true statement.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:30:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and they are just as wrong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JosephK74

          Oil-sponsored "science" papers are rejected by science because their science is shit and their conclusions are fantasies, not because the oil industry paid for them.

          And that is why Wakefield and Seralini had their "science" rejected too. It was shit science, and it didn't matter a tumor-susceptible rat's ass who paid for it or which "side" they were on.

          THAT is the difference between science and ideology.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:35:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, that ad hominem is the hallmark of faux (6+ / 0-)

      "skeptics". More important than who funded "the" study is the fact -- when it is a fact -- that there was only one study; that's not good science.

    •  what to do about that: (4+ / 0-)

      For a given study with given funding: check to see if its results are consistent with other studies that have other funding sources.

      If most research in an area is roughly convergent, but one study sticks out as coming to a substantially different conclusion, then see if the funding source might be a potential source of bias.  But also look for other studies that came to similar conclusions and did not have the same funding source.

      Another thing to check for is the "decline effect."  Early research shows a strong effect, subsequent research shows a weaker effect.  This is known across a wide spectrum of subject matter, including a few that are hot buttons such as Pharma.  If you see something that looks like "X drug has no significant benefits treating Y condition," it may not be evidence that Pharma was tweaking the early research on that drug to get optimistic results, it may only be a decline effect acting on the later research.

       BTW, at this point in time, there are known mechanisms for certain categories of decreased effect size over time, but other kinds remain puzzling as hell.  

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 03:18:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The other thing to check (0+ / 0-)

        is whether the study in question was conducted under "Good Laboratory Practice" regulations.  These criteria are internationally recognized and fairly rigorous.

        I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused. - Elvis Costello

        by gnbhull on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:22:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Jules Verne says... (20+ / 0-)
    "Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth."

    A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

    by quarkstomper on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:14:07 PM PDT

  •  If anti-vaxers were living in Liberia, and there (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SkepticalRaptor, bastrop, T100R, kfunk937

    was an effective anti-Ebola vaccine, would they get it for themselves and their kids?  

    A word to the wise is sufficient. Republicans need at least a paragraph.

    by d3clark on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:30:09 PM PDT

    •  Good question (5+ / 0-)

      Here's another one. The BCG vaccine, which is used to prevent tuberculosis, is like a miracle drug. It is used in several types of cancers, ulcers, and other chronic diseases.

      But, there is really good early evidence, that the BCG vaccine can reverse Type 1 Diabetes (if detected and used early). Will an anti-vaxxer treat their children with BCG vaccine to cure diabetes or cancer?

      I bet they would.

      Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

      by SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:38:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd like to think that they would. But I have my (0+ / 0-)

        doubts.  Remember, BCG is attenuated M. bovis.  If they're worried about thimerosal as a toxin, or aluminum as harmful, they'd go absolutely batsh*t about live TB organisms being deliberately injected.  

        A word to the wise is sufficient. Republicans need at least a paragraph.

        by d3clark on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:18:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. Their objection is to the many vaccines (0+ / 0-)

      given babies all at once, I think. They think its too many at once or something, but this situation would be different, for most, sadly I assume there would be some holdouts for purity people.

      NOT one of them, just summarizing their arguement

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:45:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, their argument changes with the wind (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        T100R, merrywidow

        First it was "vaccines cause autism!!!" That was shown to be bullshit. So they switched to "mercury in vaccines will kill everyone!!" That was shown to be bullshit too. Now it's "too many vaccines at once is bad for you!!!" That is also bullshit. So I expect their argument will change again.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:32:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have a diary drafted at this moment (10+ / 0-)

    on this very topic.

    However my slant is, given these past scientific mistakes, please allow skeptics a little understanding if they don't immediately agree with the current scientific and medical concensus.

    My examples:

    DES, DES (diethylstilbestrol) was the first synthetic estrogen to be created. Doctors extensively prescribed DES to pregnant women. DES has been linked to cancer in women and a variety of ailments in the daughters of women who took DES while pregnant. The FDA left it on the market for decades.
    http://www.desaction.org/...

    The Dalkon Shield IUDs, which was implicated in thousands of internal injuries and even deaths among its women users.

    https://nwhn.org/...

    Phisohex Soap: Originally sold over the counter as a soap, it contains highly toxic hexochlorophene, a chlorinated hydrocarbon.  Its manufacturing process also produced minute contamination with dioxin, one of the deadly chemicals on earth. Now it requires a prescription.

    http://webpages.charter.net/...

    Paxil.  The once-wildly-popular anti-depressant came under fire for a wide variety of serious side-effects, including suicidal tendencies and highly uncomfortable physical and mental effects.  The drug maker has paid billions in court settlements.

    http://www.rxlist.com/...
     

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 02:36:46 PM PDT

    •  Skepticism shouldn't have bias (14+ / 0-)

      Wherever it arises.

      It should be about the evidence, both quality and quantity.

      Not to debunk each of your comments, but let's look at DES. Everyone overlooks benefits and overvalues risks. When it was approved, the benefits appeared to be high compared to risks. It takes time to determine if a drug causes one type of cancer, because it may take 1000 cases to show causality. If we ONLY accept the cautionary principle, and must prove that something is completely safe under any imaginable circumstance, we will never benefit from these medications.

      And once the evidence, real published evidence, not anecdotal bullshit, was averrable, the FDA withdrew indications. The fact it stayed on the market was because it was useful in treating advanced prostate and breast cancers. Thalidomide is an incredible drug now, nearly conquering multiple myelomas (a vicious cancer).

      You are simply cherrypicking the bad pieces and ignoring the vast number of successful medications and devices. This is what the anti-science types do all the time, so it's hard to take what you say with anything more than a laughable grain of salt.

      Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

      by SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:48:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While in general I have no problem with your (10+ / 0-)

        arguments, and consider this a fairly solid diary, I think you are pushing it a bit.

        To say that skepticism shouldn't have bias is to say that human beings shouldn't be, well, human. Bias shows up in all areas, including science.

        Yes, science is good at correcting itself, once the area that needs correction is acknowledged. Which areas are chosen for study and research depends to a large extent not only on who is willing to fund any given piece of research, but also on the bias of the individual scientists who pick and choose the areas in which they concentrate their work. And sometimes they depend on medical or technical feedback that suggests that a given hypothesis may have unexpected results or side effects. In many cases, that feedback initially depends on a high level of what is essentially anecdotal data.

        It is not a put-down of science or scientists to say that the number of topics available for study, versus the number of scientists available to do that study, is disproportionately weighted against science being able to cover all the bases.

        mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

        by serendipityisabitch on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:14:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When it comes to using humans and the environment (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, Fiona West

          as a lab, there must be a bias in favor of caution. In the actual lab, that doesn't work, but with technological application, in the context of human health, and environmental protection, a bias has to be in place, because our world is not the laboratory of technocrats.

          Pure science must not have a bias, but it must have ethics. If ethics is just a bias to you, that's all I need to know about you.

          "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

          by ZhenRen on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 09:49:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure you understand ethics. (6+ / 0-)

            I have had people here at dkos tell me that we'd be better off if people still died of polio and other vaccine-treatable diseases, and that the Haber Process, which is credited with feeding a third of the world's population is, on balance a bad thing.  I don't consider those positions ethical because they are driven by a fear of unknown consequences of the science.

          •  do you think the "harmful effects" of cellphones (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            T100R, Ozy, 6412093, kfunk937, Paul Rogers

            should have been studied for decades before that technology was released to use humans and the environment as a lab?

            How about "flouride in the water"?

            "Vaccines"?

            "Wifi signals"?

            Every one of those has its share of crackpots who claim they have dangerous human and/or environmental effects that are killing us all oh noez!!!!! And you (and other proponents of the "precautionary principle" oddly do not advocate decades-long testing of all of these "just to be safe" (or any of the dozens of others I could also list).

            How exactly do you decide which technology the "precautionary principle" should apply to and which it should not----other than your ideological objections to some technology and not to others?

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:44:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have no problem with (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cordgrass

              vaccines or fluoride in the water, or cell phones or wifi signals.

              Electrical power lines have been "cleared," also.  I prefer to have those buried, for other reasons.

              I hope scientists keep experimenting for adverse consequences from these and other agents now and then.

              I am glad they kept testing for unintended consequences from DES, a cancer causing agent, and finally took it out of the food chain after forty years of feeding it to cattle that were destined for human consumption.

              Part of the current fallout against rBST (growth hormone) in milk, is probably from people who remember how long DES was given to cattle.

              Are folks justified in balking at rBST?  I don't know.

              “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

              by 6412093 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:57:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  And with your attidude (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cordgrass

              Your kids, if you have any, and their kids, are facing an uncertain world of climate change.

              We have all of you incautious technocrats to thank for what is coming. I won't comment on hundreds of different applications, like cell phones, or wifi signals, but frankly, I think humans do need to sit back, do some thinking about what we're blindly doing, and come up with a new ethic for the 21st century. We need people who are geared to non-linear, non-reductionist systems thinking, environmentalism and ecologists, to help create this new ethic. The affects of capitalism, as well, need to be reviewed, including the concept of laissez faire, and its affects on attitudes relating to science, of rushing new products (applications of technology) to the market without thought of larger contexts and consequences. We need a new discipline of study, one which can better predict outcomes, long term. The marriage of authoritarianism and science, in forcing products of science on people without labeling,  is also a concern, since there are large ethical issues that need to be discussed, and all humans have a stake, not just technologists who have an interest in technology.

              Forget cell-phones, there are larger issues. Because of the presence of people like you, with your reductionist mindset, I think we're probably headed for extinction. Gee, thanks.

              "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

              by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:57:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Target climate change only, then. (0+ / 0-)

                You are aware that the more issues you try to take on at once, the less time you have to focus on other issues, right?

                The wingnuttery is an unhelpful distraction from reality.  That's the point.

                •  More reductionism (0+ / 0-)

                  I think its a neurological handicap.

                  "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

                  by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:32:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Politics is reductionist. (0+ / 0-)

                    Like it or not, a movement that consistently screams for only one thing is more likely to actually get that thing.

                    Two or three is less likely, but still possible.

                    Demanding a complete restructuring of how our whole society operates?  Laughable.

                    If you really believe that we're facing a possible extinction in the future, focus on the thing that you think is the root cause and address it.

                    •  Only partially true (0+ / 0-)

                      We haven't been succeeding with that approach.

                      We need to do both.

                      "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

                      by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:49:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  One of those is not like the other. (0+ / 0-)

              Wifi signal crackpots just claim mild discomfort happens because of it.  Not death.  At least, I've never heard them claim it kills.

              Not that it makes their delusion any better.

        •  Oh, apologies... (3+ / 0-)

          Thought I was replying to the parent of your comment.

          "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

          by ZhenRen on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 09:58:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is part of why science comprehension matters. (4+ / 0-)

          So the general public won't insist scientists waste their time studying nonsense.

          Or, even worse, so an unscrupulous class of opportunistic scum doesn't validate people's desires with fake science, and we lose track of what real science is.

          I don't want there to ever be another dark age.

          •  Um. In general, I'm in agreement with your posts. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Paul Rogers, kfunk937

            However, in reply to the caveat I stated, this sounds as though you believe that scientists are prescient - that is, that they will always choose to study the "correct" areas and not miss those which may, over time, become problems for society.

            Much as I hate to sound as though I'm defending the fringe, that is not a realistic base from which to argue. If one were having a contest for the most used human word/phrase, I suspect it would be "Oops..." - scientists not excluded.

            mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

            by serendipityisabitch on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:28:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think that's defending the fringe. (4+ / 0-)

              Yes, that does happen.  Everyone has blind areas.  My own tends to be if I hear people spouting nonsense, I tend to think their claims are false.  I think it's because I generally think they're using the best argument that could be made for their position.  For the record, that seems to be almost always false.

              But people who promote nonsense always want scientists to spend more time looking at their favorite brand of nonsense.  Vaccination safety simply needs more study, for one example.  The key is, no amount of study is enough.

              James Randi made a youtube video where he described a (I think) physics professor at a university who spent something like 20 years (or more, maybe?  It was a long time) trying to study paranormal/psychic phenomenon.

              When James Randi asked him why he was still doing research on the paranormal, even after having spent so long without ever finding any evidence whatsoever, the physics professor replied with something like this.

              "Because I think there might be something to it.  And if I don't try looking, I won't find it."

              The point is, that professor thought there was something to the idea.  He knew there was no evidence.  He (apparently) didn't try to claim his suspicion was scientific.  He just thought there might be a kernel of something to find somewhere in the idea.

              That is the reason tenure exists.  It's also the perfect, scientific approach to talk about any subject that doesn't have scientific backing.  By all means, look for the evidence.  But be careful about how you think about it.  You'll be subject to a lot of scrutiny, even if you don't exercise much of it yourself.

              Non-scientists just demand scientists validate their own beliefs by insisting that it's a part of science too.  This often looks completely different than the sort of approach scientists take when they look at non-scientific ideas.  You usually end up with tortured logic and bad methodologies which exist solely to reach the desired conclusion.  (Creation-scientists are excellent examples of that)

              That is the sort of thing that I was referring to.  And I generally consider scientists are better able to make the distinction between those two things than the general public.  But anyone (who practices critical thinking) can learn to make those kinds of distinctions.

              That should be the point of general science education.

              •  a good example (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Caittus, T100R, kfunk937, Paul Rogers

                In a recent diary on GMOs, I pointed out to someone who was advocating "more research" that GMO foods have been in the US for 20 years, where they are eaten by 300 million people, every day, with no observed public-health effects. This, I noted, constituted 6 BILLION PERSON-YEARS, and asked him (1) how many MORE person-years he thought necessary and (2) what additional study he would propose to giver 6 BILLION PERSON-YEARS of information. His reply was a vague "longer in comparison to evolutionary time". And when I asked for a ballpark figure for how much longer--did he want 50 more years of research? A hundred more? A thousand? A million? He didn't answer.

                Of course, what he REALLY wants is for GMO to be banned for ideological reasons, period. He doesn't want "more research" at all--it's just a bullshit excuse, and NO amount of research will EVER be enough for him.

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:50:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I am very glad science is self-correcting (5+ / 0-)

        and I am grateful every day for the countless medications and devices that improve our lives.

        I just wish science had self-corrected DES a little quicker than the 18 years between the first study about it being ineffective, and its eventual withdrawal for use by pregnant women, according to the CDC.

        I don't know why you brought up Thalidomide in your response to my comment.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:48:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How to win friends and influence people (12+ / 0-)
        You are simply cherrypicking the bad pieces and ignoring the vast number of successful medications and devices. This is what the anti-science types do all the time, so it's hard to take what you say with anything more than a laughable grain of salt.
        ps

        Big pharma does not publish negative results. The list of problem drugs that have made lawyers rich is very long.

        Of course, we all need pharmaceuticals sometime, but let's not forget the profit motive which is at least occasionally inconsistent with good science.

        “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

        by FishOutofWater on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:01:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you ... (5+ / 0-)

        but I think it's important to recognize the scientific community has been increasingly under corporate control. This includes educational institutions.

        This has deleterious effects on the scientific community:
        - "publish or perish" has become more fevered than ever
        - intentionally misleading papers are becoming more common

        I'm not aware of any studies on numbers of recalls over the past decades, but it would not surprise me at all to see a sharp increase starting in the 80s.

      •  Iatrogenosis... is not some rare thing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, cordgrass

        It's the third leading cause of death, according to some sources:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        Incidence and importance

        Iatrogenesis is a major phenomenon, and a severe risk to patients. In a study carried out in 1981 more than one-third of illnesses of patients in a university hospital were iatrogenic, nearly one in ten was considered major, and, in 2% of the patients, the iatrogenic disorder ended in death. Complications were most strongly associated with exposure to drugs and medications.[21] In another study, the main factors leading to problems were inadequate patient evaluation, lack of monitoring and follow-up, and failure to perform necessary tests.[citation needed]

        In the United States, figures suggest estimated deaths per year of: [2][22] [23][24]

            12,000 due to unnecessary surgery
            7,000 due to medication errors in hospitals
            20,000 due to other errors in hospitals
            80,000 due to nosocomial infections in hospitals
            106,000 due to non-error, negative effects of drugs

        Based on these figures, iatrogenesis may cause 225,000 deaths per year in the United States (excluding recognizable error). An earlier Institute of Medicine report estimated 230,000 to 284,000 iatrogenic deaths annually.[2]

        The large gap separating these estimates from annual deaths from cerebrovascular disease suggests that iatrogenic illness constitutes the third-leading cause of death in the United States; after heart disease and cancer.[2]

        Journal of the American Medical Association
        The health care system also may contribute to poor health through its adverse effects. For example, US estimates8-10 of the combined effect of errors and adverse effects that occur because of iatrogenic dam- age not associated with recognizable error include: • 12000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery • 7000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals • 20000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals
        Author Affiliation: Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hop- kins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md. Corresponding Author and Reprints: Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 624 N Broadway, Room 452, Baltimore, MD 21205-1996 (e-mail: bstarfie@jhsph.edu).
        ©2000 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. (Reprinted) JAMA, July 26, 2000—Vol 284, No. 4 483
         at Johns Hopkins University on September 2, 2010 www.jama.comDownloaded from
        • 80000 deaths/year from nosocomial infections in hospitals • 106000 deaths/year from nonerror, adverse effects of medications These total to 225000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes.Threecaveatsshouldbenoted.First,mostofthedata are derived from studies in hospitalized patients. Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not include ad- verse effects that are associated with disability or discom- fort.Third,theestimatesofdeathduetoerrorarelowerthan those in the IOM report.1 If the higher estimates are used, thedeathsduetoiatrogeniccauseswouldrangefrom230000 to284000.Inanycase,225000deathsperyearconstitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States, after deaths from heart disease and cancer. Even if these figures areoverestimated,thereisawidemarginbetweenthesenum- bers of deaths and the next leading cause of death (cere- brovascular disease).

        "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

        by ZhenRen on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 10:32:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  A consensus of doctors is not a scientific (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, T100R, FindingMyVoice, Caittus

      consensus.

    •  I'd recommend not publishing... (8+ / 0-)

      at least until you read the links in your citations.  Regarding the Dalkon Shield,

      At the time of the Dalkon Shield, IUDs specifically, and medical devices in general, were very loosely regulated. In fact, the Dalkon Shield was heavily marketed despite its manufacturers’ awareness that it caused serious health problems, including infections, infertility, injuries, and death.
      So the Dalkon Shield was not a failure of science, but of product regulation and the free market.
      •  medical devices & drugs =/ science (9+ / 0-)

        but the application of the scientific method by corporations may be biased by the profit motive.

        “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

        by FishOutofWater on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:04:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hi billybush (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cordgrass, RiveroftheWest

        You and other commenters may feel I am tarring with a too-wide brush.

        I consider medical device and drug manufacturers, doctors, and their regulatory agencies, including but not limited to the FDA, all to be part of the scientific community.  Do you think that assumption is out of line?

        While most of us sincerely hope that medical product regulations will continue to be strengthened, and no more Dalkon Shield-like products will hit the market, President Rand Paul may have a different approach.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:08:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. (5+ / 0-)

          Regulatory agencies are a function of politics, not science.  Dietary supplements, for example, are not regulated as drugs by the FDA due in large part to a massive propaganda campaign by the supplements industry.  This campaign had nothing to do with the science of supplements, but instead stoked fear and outrage among the public and greased a few palms in Washington.

    •  I have no gripe with skepticism per se (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, T100R, gsenski, Caittus, kfunk937

      But science operates on data and evidence, which is the one thing that "skeptics" all too often consistently refuse to offer under any circumstances. What they really want is for science to take their word for it. And that is something science does not do.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:43:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  re: the Hexachlorophene in Phisohex soap (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, Susan from 29, JesseCW, jrooth

    I can remember when Ipana toothpaste ads touted they contained the chemical, with the ditty "It's got hexa, hexa, hexachlorophene".

    •  Also GeorgeBurns, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, FishOutofWater

      Dial Soap had hexachlorophene in it until the 1970s, when it was removed because of reports of neurological damage in infants.

      “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

      by 6412093 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:20:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And your point is what? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        6412093, jqb, kfunk937

        There used to be cocaine in Coca Cola. We removed it.

        Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

        by SkepticalRaptor on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:40:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it was a mistake to put toxic materials (8+ / 0-)

          in non-prescription products for decades.

          Given these types of historic errors, folks are entitled to be hesitant about newly introduced medicines and products.

          I can understand why people would seek more and more information to deal with their doubts, and may choose not to patronize those new products and medicines, while their doubts remain.

          “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

          by 6412093 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:03:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  just as an aside . . . (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            T100R, kfunk937, Paul Rogers
            I can understand why people would seek more and more information to deal with their doubts
            The problem arises, alas, when those people get their "more information" from actors, former Playboy models, lawyers, and conspiracy crapsites on the Internet.

            "More information" doesn't help, when the "information" itself is bullshit.

            :)

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:41:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  :) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW

          “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:06:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wow - what an excellent diary! nt (5+ / 0-)
  •  interesting. when i talk to people who (9+ / 0-)

    are not ideologues---i.e. people who aren't on this site or others like it left and right (and this includes actual scientists), they think both left and right are equal opportunity lunatics when it comes to quite a few scientific concepts.

    since 2009 I've increasingly agreed.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

    by terrypinder on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:37:17 PM PDT

  •  Argh! You committ the fallacy you decry (4+ / 0-)

    You speak of what "science" does.

    You speak of "science" as being of the "real" and the "false" variety.

    Both of these are at odds with your attempt to define science as a practice. If science is simply the use of the scientific method, whether that method is directed at metaphysics or meat, then science does not "do." Further, science is not real or false. Science is only well done, consistent, and logical or not. "Science" cannot have a conclusion or a thought or a motivation if it is merely a habit of enquiry.

    In 1700, "natural philosophy" began to split away from philosophy, and these days we distinguish the purely empirical subjects from all others as being more yielding to scientific method, but "science" (the use of the experimental model to formulate theories that are tested) is unconcerned with subject matter. It's science if the subject is the mind (psychology) or society or ideas or natural bodies.

    "for all the murders, rapes, and thefts,/ Committed in the horrid lust of war,/ He that unjustly caus'd it first proceed,/ Shall find it in his grave and in his seed." -- Webster, "The White Devil," IV i 8-12.

    by The Geogre on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:02:18 PM PDT

  •  Nice diary. (5+ / 0-)

    One way to look at it is that when you take science classes in school you are doing science.
    There's nothing different about the scientific method in real life than what they teach you in school. As a matter of fact, all they really want you to learn in school is the scientific method.

    One editorial note:

    That's just part of the process. And all of you should be thankful that the process self corrects, or you wouldn't have that computer that allows you to read my words.
    You might want to consider changing the "you" to "we" in this sentence.

    "And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over." - John Masefield

    by mungley on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:03:59 PM PDT

    •  Ideally (5+ / 0-)
      One way to look at it is that when you take science classes in school you are doing science.
      That is what the genuine reformers have tried to bring about.  A lot of the time it doesn't go much beyond a very simple set-up with only one trial and asking students to identify variables.

      Science education still has a long way to go to produce a scientifically literate population and the school deform movement is not helping.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:32:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  somehow the anti-science crackpots never seem to (11+ / 0-)

    mention the fact that it was science itself which uncovered, reported, and corrected all those mistakes.  Science is,,after all, a self-correcting system.

    The crackpots, meanwhile, did not uncover, report, or correct ANYTHING. They were too busy writing silly anti-science ideological tracts.

    And still are.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:06:08 PM PDT

    •  More likely is that the people (7+ / 0-)

      you're calling anti-science aren't anti-science, and thus they recognize that it is better, larger, longer studies that overturns the results of the bad research. Which proves there is bad research. Which suggests those who point this out aren't anti-science, but anti-bad science, and for caution in promoting products which affect health, the environment, and human quality of life.

      In other words, you've made up a strawman.

      "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

      by ZhenRen on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 09:42:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Crackpots use crackpot arguments. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caittus

        They're not too difficult to spot if you know how to see them.

      •  people who think science is a corporate conspiracy (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caittus, T100R, kfunk937, charlatan

        and who reject the scientific consensus on any issue for ideological reasons are, by definition, anti-science.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:24:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice black and white world (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cordgrass

          you've got going there. Nice, simple, no complexity, no nuance, just thinking in crystal clear absolutes, no questioning, no doubts, no systems thinking, no interest in exploring confluence of co-factors, just the easy worldview of a hopeless reductionist.

          Is anyone here calling all science a corporate conspiracy? If anyone were to see the world of corporate science with the same absolutism that is your bent, that would be anti-science. And is anyone here clearly rejecting consensus (where there is real consensus)? Some science is corporate and badly done, and we know there are instances when science produces flawed results, which, despite "consensus" turns out to be dangerous, and flawed, which you inadvertently admitted. Some is excellent and worthy.

          And applications of technology is more complex than a lab, and involves ethics, which you've indicated you think are worthy of nothing but ridicule. While scientists may be wonderful technicians, that doesn't turn them into geniuses of ethics as well, nor does it make them responsible to the environment. Thus, in issues of environmental ethics, I don't give them any special credence as ethical savants.

          No, I think you represent a certain mind set, one of absolutism, reductionism, linear thinking. You aren't science manifest, as you arrogantly seem to presume, but a stodgy guy who is intolerant, who demands obedience and conformity, and who conflates "science" of the lab with the applications of science in the human world, which require public oversight, and ethical review.

          "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

          by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:43:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  science IS authoritarian (0+ / 0-)

            Things that are wrong, are wrong. Period.

            Sorry if you don't like that.

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:51:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We've been throufgh this before (0+ / 0-)

              Science isn't sentient. It isn't a conscious being. Only conscious, sentient animals can be authoritarian. And the last time this came up, it sailed miles over your head.

              Facts can have the authority of facts, but it is humans who become authoritarian, forcing their assertions, right or wrong, on others.

              Science itself cannot act.

              "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

              by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 03:11:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  As a system of rules... (0+ / 0-)

                It's authoritarian in some regards.  Democratic in others.

                The rules of proper science are such, that theories aren't settled by direct popular opinion.  If it were, evolution would be false and an afterlife of some kind would be scientific.

                Some people's opinions are just invalid and flatly ignored.  Some people's opinions are incomprehensible.  Science marches on, regardless of such thoughts.  Sometimes with a very small fraction of people making contributions to the field.

                First, to play the game of science, you have to assert the principles by which science operates.  That's something you can't avoid.  That step is authoritarian.  There's no way around it.  It's how the anti-science people try to attack science.  By rejecting the rules of the game and replacing them with their own authoritarian garbage.

                After that initial step, science is entirely democratic.  Unlike its philosophical competitors.

                •  We obviously have different opinions on (0+ / 0-)

                  the definition of "authoritarian". Science is not sentient. Study the philosophy of epistemology. What is knowledge?

                  But when it comes to application of science as technology, which impacts people and their environment, one still must submit to democracy. You can't simply use the authority of the state (which is ultimately backed by violence) to force products on people and expect that to be accepted as justifiable act of authority.

                  Applied technology is rife with complexity vis-a-vis ethics and public policy. It transcends the training of technocrats, and gets into a wide number of specialties, and rights, not the least of which is public right to determine the course of their own existence.

                  No one, no body of specialists, no study, no product, is infallible, especially when it comes to impact on a culture. People have a right to determine how their culture is shaped. Science might be sound enough, but still defy cultural choices, and this gets into philosophy, ethics, social structures,  how a society envisions its path to the future.

                  Some one who ignores all that I've said, and feels a gaggle of biotechnologists should have authority and privilege to bypass this process and impose this through force of the state is frankly a person who threatens the very concept of human rights.

                  "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

                  by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 03:46:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Culture is what you say and do. (0+ / 0-)

                    We live in a free society.  That means a person isn't allowed to do something when the behavior impacts other people in a negative way.

                    Some of those things are obvious.  Murder and slavery, for example.  So we have laws against them nobody disputes.

                    Some things are not obvious.  Like welfare and minimum wages.  We have laws to establish those because they allow a great deal of freedom for many while infringing minimally upon a few.  Not everyone agrees the tradeoff is justified (but most deniers claim there's no benefit).

                    If you don't like what someone else is doing with their freedom and can't demonstrate that it's harming you, that means tough shit.  You ain't getting special treatment over someone else.

                    Have all the culture you want.  Talk to people that only agree with you.  Tell everyone else they're wrong.  Write poems about your position.  Art.  Stories.  Whatever.

                    But don't force your views on someone else with laws and call it freedom.

      •  Indeed. He puts me in that category (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen

        and I am a scientist.  Flank's reward for calling out bad science is to tar the person with the "crackpot" brush.

        •  alas, being a scientist is no insulation against (0+ / 0-)

          being a crackpot. Dr Buouw has a PhD in Astrophysics, and he thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth. Dr Mackal had a PhD in biology and he thought dinosaurs were still livng in Africa (and in Loch Ness). Dr Mack had a PhD and taught at Harvard, and he thought space aliens were kidnapping people from their bed.

          And yes, anyone who thinks science is a conspiracy that is out to get them, or who rejects the scientific consensus on ANY issue for ideological reasons, is a crackpot. I don't care if they are a scientist or not.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:56:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have never said that "science is a conspiracy (0+ / 0-)

            that is out to get me", I have merely said that it is unduly influenced by financial pressure, similar to the way the banking industry bent its own rules when the lure of subprime profits came along.  When billions of dollars are involved, there is no need for the Illuminati.

            As for scientific consensus, I thought the whole point of this diary was to show how it changes with new research.  Everything I have said here at dKos about science I have supported with peer-reviewed articles, even what I said about the corruption endemic in American pharmaceutical research.

        •  The real crackpot (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cordgrass

          in these discussions is become painfully evident.

          "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

          by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 03:53:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One example of science correcting mistakes (11+ / 0-)

    is that that original "vaccines cause autism" paper was found to be fraudulent and was withdrawn by the journal.

    One thing you didn't mention in those randomized controlled studies under "4. Experiment" is the concept of the double-blind study. For those unfamiliar: this is especially important if any of the steps in data acquisition or analysis depends on judgement, rather than cold data. Judgement: The patient has improved. Hard data: The fatality rate dropped from 43% to 22%. In a double blind, no one involved knows what the results are "supposed to" be (i.e. who is "supposed to" be diagnosed as autistic, which is to say, those who got the competitor's vaccine). The patients don't know whether they've gotten a treatment or a placebo, the evaluators don't know if the patient has gotten the treatment or a placebo. Only after the evaluations are completed do the evaluations get linked to which treatment each individual had.

    One of the hardest, and also the most enjoyable and intriguing, parts of scientific research for me is designing a good set of controls. Science is really a lot of fun :)

  •  "The scientific theory of evolution is a fact. " (9+ / 0-)

    No, that's a confusion. Evolution is a fact, or rather a set of facts ... an observed phenomenon. The theory of evolution is, like all scientific theories, an explanatory framework that gives us the how and why of those observations, and what other observations or sorts of observations we can expect. See

    https://www.google.com/...

    •  Scientific Realism (3+ / 0-)

      I agree.

      The theories, really a loose family of theories, that cover evolutionary phenomena range from empirical theories to works in metaphysics and epistemology, e.g., teleological functionalism.

      A scientific realist, such as Richard Boyd, would say that we should treat these theories as "approximately true" as evinced by the degree of convergence and explanatory success.  As befits the idea of approximation, the extent to which the tenets of these theories count as fact is a matter of degree.

  •  This is how science works. Remember the study (6+ / 0-)

    that showed the existence of "gluten sensitivity?" Well, further study, by the same researchers, now shows no evidence of any sensitivity. Researchers Who Provided Key Evidence For Gluten Sensitivity Have Thoroughly Shown That It Doesn't Exist

    Science is the tool we use to test theories. The one thing it isn't, is unchanging.

    •  well obviously . . . . . (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29, 6412093, T100R, gsenski

      . . .they were paid off by Big Wheat and are now a part of the Corporate Conspiracy (tm)(c).

      (snicker)

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:47:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's impossible to show "it doesn't exist" (8+ / 0-)

      in almost all cases excepting mathematical cases where x=0. Even the vacuum of space has freaking virtual particles that blink in and out of existence.

      The researchers showed that they had a null finding = Not statistically significant.

      “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:26:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, misleading headline. But the article was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        written for the general public.

        And perhaps the lack of specificity in journalism about science is part of the problem.

      •  Bigfoot Is Eating Pizza In A Paramus NJ Motel 6 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dconrad, kfunk937

        ....or maybe not.

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 10:48:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  a good thing to remember, next time some (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kfunk937

        anti-science crank yells at you, regarding their favorite crackpottery (whether it's flying saucers or Bigfoot or harm from GMOs or autism from vaccines) "oh yeah, well prove to me it's NOT really there!!!"

        They are just playing word games.

        I can't prove beyond a doubt that there is NOT a fleet of invisible spaceships from the planet Zackdorn in orbit around the Earth right now. Neither can you or anyone else. That doesn't mean they are there.

        This is where Sir Billy Ockham has his thing to say. And THAT is what really separates the cranks from science.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:28:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  but now every tom dick and harry has gluten (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, T100R, Lenny Flank, kfunk937

      problems. Gluten sensitivity might well be impossible but thinking one is certainly is.

      “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

      by ban nock on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:56:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we had a good example of this phenomenon here on (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caittus, T100R, kfunk937, emelyn

        DKos, when one of our well-known members (this isn't a call-out so I won't mention names) posted a big long heartrending account of how eating GMO apples was causing them all sorts of stomach troubles and how painful and debilitating it all was.

        There's just one itty bitty problem---there are no GMO apples. They haven't been released yet.

        Nevertheless, this person was so convinced it was the GMO apples making them sick that it took several attempts to even convince them that GMO apples actually do not exist.

        And in every GMO or "alternative medicine" diary here, it's a guarantee that we'll see a parade of others posting their big long sad (self-diagnosed) stories about how "gluten is doing this to me" or "vaccines are doing that to me" or "GMOs made me sick".

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:46:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well there's a case where a labelling law (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Paul Rogers, RiveroftheWest

          would have helped, I guess.  ;-)

          "With all this manure around, there has to be a pony somewhere!" - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

          by jrooth on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:42:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  too late to rec your comment (0+ / 0-)

          “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

          by ban nock on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:27:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Essentially every anti-vaccine discussion (0+ / 0-)

          here or elsewhere features a mother whose pediatrician never presented her with the Federally-required Vaccine Information Statement when here kids were vaccinated. That is, if we're to believe her.

          A group of "electrosensitives" famously began experiencing symptoms from the electromagnetic radiation emitted by a newly-constructed cell tower. And this was weeks before the transmitters were installed!

          Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

          by ebohlman on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:00:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not so fast... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, freesia, cordgrass

      http://www.realclearscience.com/...

      Biesiekierski recognizes that gluten may very well be the stomach irritant we've been looking for. "There is definitely something going on," she told RCS, "but true NCGS may only affect a very small number of people and may affect more extraintestinal symptoms than first thought. This will only be confirmed with an understanding of its mechanism."

      Currently, Biesiekierski is focused on maintaining an open mind and refining her experimental methods to determine whether or not non-celiac gluten sensitivity truly exists.

      "We need to make sure that this research is as well controlled as possible and is reproducible," Biesiekierski told RCS, subsequently adding the quintessential adage of proper science.

      "Much, much more research is needed."

      "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

      by ZhenRen on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 09:34:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A proposed effect with no known cause? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kfunk937

        "Consider this: no underlying cause for gluten intolerance has yet been discovered. Moreover, there are a host of triggers for gastrointestinal distress, many of which were not controlled for in previous studies. Generally, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is assumed to be the culprit when celiac disease is ruled out. But that is a "trap," Biesiekierski says, one which could potentially lead to confirmation bias, thus blinding researchers, doctors, and patients to other possibilities."

        I'll maintain disbelief for now.  I'd suggest you do as well.  You'll be less stressed out that way.

        •  Your comment doesn't reply to anything (0+ / 0-)

          and makes no sense.  Read the discussion from the words of the author of the study.... see the link I provided.

          The point is this isn't black and white, but I realize people who, neurologically, are prone to linear thinking, and reductionism, have a persistent blind side.

          Well, you can't all be Einstein, thinking outside of the box.

          "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

          by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:07:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's Ockham's Razor. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lenny Flank, Caittus, T100R, kfunk937, emelyn

            A simple principle, really.

            Right now, the reasonable conclusion based on what you posted is that gluten intolerance doesn't exist.

            In the future that may change, but right now it seems to be on really shaky ground.

            Plus, you know, responding to a negative study with "Much much more research needs to be done on this topic." sets off all sorts of bullshit detector warning sirens.

            Glad to see that quoted scientist is still more or less talking like a scientist should, though.  That's a sign in her favor.

            •  Billy Ockham is a great way to quickly separate (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Caittus, kfunk937, T100R, Paul Rogers

              the science from the crackpots. In science, if there is no evidence indicating something, then there is no reason to assume that something is there. Billy Ockham. But every crackpot wants instead for science to prove it's NOT there. Various versions of "just because we can't detect it doesn't mean it's not there!!" Well ya know what--it sure as fuck doesn't mean it IS there.  (shrug)

              The crackpots could of course just show us their evidence and data that whatever they want to exist----harm from GMOs, autism from vaccines, Bigfoot, Atlantis, whatever--actually is there. But that is the one thing they NEVER do, ever, at all--simply show us the data. Instead, they demand we take their word for it and offer all sorts of excuses why they either can't or won't just give us their damn evidence--and then yell that it's a conspiracy against them when nobody takes their word for it.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:52:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I commented down thread (0+ / 0-)

              "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

              by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:30:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I always find it funny how the anti-science (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gsenski, Caittus, T100R, Paul Rogers

            ideologues always invoke Einstein or Copernicus or Galileo when they try to play the martyr card.

            The sad reality of course is that the crackpots are just crackpots.  (shrug)

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:55:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That argument gets you 10 points (Einstein) or (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Paul Rogers

              40 points (Galileo) on John Baez's Crackpot Index

            •  The illogic is fascinating (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Fiona West

              First a researcher says a study that asserts there is such a thing as gluten sensitivity is declared invalid by her own further research, and people here seem to applaud the science and laud the scientist. Then when the author of the study explains that this issue isn't quite settled in her mind, that there are some loose ends to clean up she is ridiculed, and I am ridiculed for bringing her comments into the discussion.

              Which indicates some of you are here to not defend science per se, but attack anyone who isn't in lockstep with your every utterance on any issue. Oh, how scientific.

              Heh... this is truly fascinating at this juncture.

              "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

              by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:29:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I can't speak for others; I wasn't ridiculing her. (0+ / 0-)

                She was still acting like a scientist, and she did science-thingy number one.  Tried to replicate her own conclusions.  She's still acting like a scientist, as far as I could tell from her quotes.  I said as much.

                Plus it's interesting she notes there's no known mechanism to cause her proposal.  If psychic activity was known to exist, it would have no known cause either.  It's not proof it can't be discovered, but it's sure as hell a good reason to doubt a claim of it.

                You, on the other hand...

                •  Go read her entire study (0+ / 0-)

                  and the discussion. She identifies another substance which might be the real culprit. In other words, this isn't the black and white, absolutist world which you reductionists try to paint it.

                  "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

                  by ZhenRen on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 03:07:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  First a big thank you to the folks at rescue (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ImpactAv, 6412093, T100R, kfunk937

    Without them I'd of missed this and it was a fun read on a Sunday afternoon, more fun than the chores.

    Often I find people with scientific backgrounds disagreeing. I've also noticed that two scientists on different sides of an issue that are both researching an issue mostly agree on common sets of "facts", meaning they disagree on policy or how to interpret data but they usually agree on the data. The way they speak also contains hints as to how sure they are about a thing, everywhere from that .00001% uncertainty to 50/50 but using adjectives.

    It seems like the researchers who get funded are careful not to inject ideology into a discussion, even when you know they feel very strongly one way or another.

    What I don't understand is why those scientists who often are funded, and I know they feel very strongly about a subject that is after all their life's work, yet they seldom slip over onto the dark side, the hyperbole, the stretching of truth. Others, educated in the sciences, often with masters or phds, do make that leap.

    My other comment is that science might be self correcting but here in the US memes are very hard to overcome. Look at global warming, deniers have had a pretty good run of it. We've delayed taking a lot of steps that should have been taken years ago, huge portions of the population thing global warming is a liberal hippie myth. I'd say deniers won that one, won in that they delayed the inevitable for quite a while. When our media sinks it's teeth into something it's science be damned.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:56:59 PM PDT

  •  Science seeks truth; deniers seek to hide it. (5+ / 0-)

    So it has always been. When beliefs clash with the truth, as can be established through science, things get ugly. There should be no beating around the bush: those who attack and denigrate science do so out of fear for their beliefs, or to lie or obfuscate for personal, political, or financial gain. They are motivated either through ignorance or a desire for personal gain, and hostile to the ideas, facts, and persons who would stand in their way.

    Regrettably, in this country, deniers and their falsehoods are given equal footing with scientists by the pundits, politicians, and media, all of which stand to benefit from this propagation of, and embrace, of ignorance.

    There was a time when this country was committed to advancement and leadership in science. Our communication across these tubes is but one example of such. No more. All evidence points to us devolving to a point where legitimacy is bestowed on those who deny science, reinvent history, and hide their true motives. Without this changing our future is much less bright than it once was.

    •  Not quite so (3+ / 0-)

      The people concerned with "truth" are philosophers. What science seeks is useful approximations -- models that are congruent with some aspects of observable phenomena, to the extent that the models can be used to predict the outcomes of observations that haven't been made yet, at least with some significant degree of confidence.

      Newton's theory of gravitation was never "the truth", despite being congruent with every observation made until the point it was conceived, with "perfect" accuracy even (i.e., within the measurement limits of available instruments).

      Later, Einstein demonstrated that Newton's theory was an approximation of the General Theory of Relativity at the limit of non-relativistic velocities. GTR was congruent with all the previous observations, and suggested some observations where Newton's theory and GTR would make different predictions. Observations were made and the outcomes agreed with GTR. In a strict sense, Newton's theory was falsified.

      GTR is not "the truth", either. It cannot be quantized, and thus it is in irredeemable conflict with quantum physics. Thus, we know that GTR is just a macro-scale approximation of the quantum theory of gravity, but we don't still quite know what that QTG looks like. And even when we finally figure it out, it won't be "the truth", either.

      And still, Newton's theory of gravity is a perfectly good theory for the overwhelming majority of problems where gravity must be considered. It's not about being "true" or "false", but about expediency -- whether the inherent confidence limits of the theory allow one to make predictions that are good enough for the intended purpose. Thus, scientist are very much concerned not just about the results themselves but about their confidence limits as well, in a way that might appear rather pedantic to someone who isn't a scientist.

      •  The only real, knowable truths are tautologies. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sarsaparilla

        Mathematics wins!

      •  The Standard Model is also "wrong" (3+ / 0-)

        It is one of the best tested theories ever and also cannot be complete and is therefore wrong in some way.  It does not include gravity and we don't know what Dark Matter and Dark Energy actually are.

        In the run up to the Higgs Boson discovery there was a lot of commentary about what if it was not found.  Nothing would have been really bad because it would have caused major problems.  But, it is nearly as bad that the Higgs that was found seems to be a Standard Model Higgs, so far.  This is nearly as bad as nothing because we know there is something wrong with the Standard Model, yet it keeps being verified by the best experiments we can devise.  Physicists are hoping that when the LHC starts up again that it will find something unexpected because right now we are just not getting any clues about how to upgrade the Standard Model.

  •  Acerbic. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, merrywidow, cordgrass, tardis10

    Another "Everyone who disagrees with me is fucking stupid" article.  

    Loved it.

    May you always find water and shade.

    by Whimsical Rapscallion on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:47:29 PM PDT

    •  well, yes, people who disagree with a round earth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R, emelyn

      are fucking stupid.

      (shrug)

      But now I am curious----do you think people who disagree with evolution are fucking stupid? How about people who disagree with global warming? Or is it just that people who disagree with the things you like are stupid, and people who agree with the things you like are heroes?

      That idea is called "emotional tribalism".  Anti-science crackpottery is full of emotional tribalism.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:00:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Double down. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cordgrass

        One can make scientific arguments without being a total fucking dick about it.

        The diarist has chosen a different path.

        When science becomes dogma, it's not science anymore.  it's religion.

        The tone of these arguments actually colosely resemble those of the flat earth status quo against the first few folks to start saying it was round.

        Knowledge dies under those conditions, so if the diarist really wants to promote logic and reason, the diary is counterproductive.

        May you always find water and shade.

        by Whimsical Rapscallion on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:49:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  alas, science is not a democracy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          T100R, emelyn

          We don't get to vote on reality.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:36:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You should look into quantum physics. (0+ / 0-)

            Gets a little weird, and it really pisses off the die hard newtonians.

            May you always find water and shade.

            by Whimsical Rapscallion on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:34:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  (sigh) (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              emelyn

              Wrong is still wrong. QM makes it no less wrong.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:50:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Double slit experiment (0+ / 0-)

                Clearly shows that the observer has an effect.

                Therefore, shit is subjective, at least on a subatomic level.

                it could also be argued that shit is subjective on a macro level because we all see existence from a different point of consciousness, suggesting objectivity is simply widespread agreement and certainty is simply incredibly high probability.

                But you probably think that was done by crackpots so nevermind.

                May you always find water and shade.

                by Whimsical Rapscallion on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:27:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  or it shows that there is more than one universe (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  T100R

                  It also shows that you don't understand quantum mechanics (you don't even understand that "quantum mechanics" and "quantum physics" are the same thing).

                  it could also be argued that shit is subjective on a macro level because we all see existence from a different point of consciousness, suggesting objectivity is simply widespread agreement and certainty is simply incredibly high probability.
                  And yet the speed of light and the density of lead are the same for everyone.

                  (shrug)

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:49:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  *facepalm* (0+ / 0-)

                  No, it shows nothing of the sort.

                  Please do not corrupt QM with your pseudo-science mumbo jumbo.

            •  ps--are there points on the Crackpot Scale for (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              emelyn

              dragging QM into everything under the sun? There should be.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:50:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well (0+ / 0-)

                there is

                9. 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence)
                but I'm not sure that's applicable because I don't know what point the commenter was trying to make.

                It appears to me that he is trying to argue that the fact that certain aspects of QM are non-deterministic somehow invalidates your point about science not being a democracy. Or maybe he is arguing that QM is somehow controverial among scientists, which of course it hasn't been for seven decades or so.

                The comment about "die hard newtonians" is a little odd, since the only die-hard Newtonians I'm aware of are all crackpots, and they spend most of their energy railing against Relativity, not QM.

                •  ah, that's a bit different (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Paul Rogers

                  Usually the crackpots who drag in QM are trying to make some bullshit claim about "quantum mechanics proves nothing is objectively true" or some such tommyrot.

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:14:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Quantum Physics, Actually. (0+ / 0-)

                    And it means the observer matters.

                    And I wish assholes would stop calling me a crackpot for being open to new ideas.

                    same thing happened to Galileo though.  

                    May you always find water and shade.

                    by Whimsical Rapscallion on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:23:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  .............................................. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Paul Rogers

                      Head in Hands

                      In the end, reality always wins.

                      by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:36:18 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  ps-- (0+ / 0-)
                      assholes
                      Here's the part where we get to see all those fainting-heart pearl-clutchers who absolutely cannot abide the lack of decorum in their opponents who "insult" them (and who happily puppy-pile the HRs on to anyone who does so at the slightest excuse), ALSO demonstrate the non-partisan-ness of their devotion to politeness and civil discourse by just as vigorously piling on the HRs for anyone on their side who makes an insult against anyone who isn't on their side.

                      Not.

                      The crackpots are all followers of Reagan's Eleventh Commandment, and their outrage is just as partisan and tribal  as their science is.

                      In the end, reality always wins.

                      by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:41:18 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Lenny Flank

                      The observer plays a role in certain "interpretations" of QM, specifically the "Copenhagen Interpretation".  And even then the role of the observer is overstated by people who don't really understand what their talking about. In that interpretation, the wave-function correpsonding to a particle doesn't "collapse" until the particle is observered, but even then the number of states it can collapse to is highly constrained, which does not lead to the conclusion total subjectivity that you seem to be arguing.

                      And even if I were to cede you your point, I still don't see how that is coherent response to Lenny's comment.

                      same thing happened to Galileo though.  
                      Ahh. The Galileo Gambit. An old favorite. You only get the full forty points though if you invoke the Inquisition at the same time.
                      •  whenever some crackpot tries to argue that (0+ / 0-)

                        "there is no objective truth" or "we determine our own reality" or some other such idiocy, I like to offer to drive them to the nearest bridge so they can stand in front of the whole world, preferably on live TV, declare that the scientific laws of gravity are not objectively true and only depend on our viewpoint, then step off to prove it.

                        Oddly, no one seems eager to take up my offer . . . .

                        And I'd be willing to bet my next year's pay that said person will promptly fall at 32.2 feet per second per second, whatever his or her "viewpoint" might be.

                        (sigh)

                        In the end, reality always wins.

                        by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:13:07 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Galileo gambit is a strawman in this case. (0+ / 0-)

                        I'm not saying I must necessarily be right because the status quo disagrees, as your link describes.

                        I'm saying the converse of that statement (I must necessarily be wrong because the status quo disagrees) is also false.

                        My main point, of course, is that closing off conversation by calling people stupid isn't very conducive to good science.  Not very nice either.

                        May you always find water and shade.

                        by Whimsical Rapscallion on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:15:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  The 'observer' (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        T100R, Paul Rogers

                        is often interpreted to be some conscious interaction by a human agent, when in reality an observation is a measurement, by an instrument. No consciousness or subjective 'interpretation' needed.

                    •  The observer is an abstract concept in QM. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ozy

                      You do know that when physicists speak about an observer in QM, they're not speaking about a strictly conscious being, right?

                      It doesn't matter who (or what) does the observation, either.  Only how.

                •  ps--I've run into many creationists over the years (0+ / 0-)

                  who try to claim QM is wrong, usually as a way to prove Einstein and relativity are wrong--which they think proves the earth is only 6000 years old.

                  I've also run into lots of creationists who are "cryptozoology" fans, because they think proving the existence of Bigfoot or Nessie or Mokele Mbembe somehow means evolution is thereby proven wrong.

                  Oddly, one place I never see much overlap is between creationists and flying saucer fans. Indeed, a number of prominent creationists have declared (and one of them even testified in court) that flying saucers are illusions that are sent by the Devil to make people believe in the occult and give up God.  (sigh)  

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:18:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I dragged it into one thing (0+ / 0-)

                You're pretty fallacious to be such a logic lover

                May you always find water and shade.

                by Whimsical Rapscallion on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:28:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I have had to deal with antivaxxers now (6+ / 0-)

    for some time working in public school and I have to tell you it's quite frustrating and ironic to see mom come in and sanitize her hands and her kids upon leaving the school but argue that vaccines are their choice and they should be able to enroll in school without getting a waiver from the state.

    The irony of the hand sanitizer is apparently lost upon them.

  •  The diarist seems to be soft-petalling the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, JesseCW, k9disc, TheOrchid, DWG

    ecological risks of DDT, which are substantial.

    The diarist did not point out that DDT and its metabolites are considered as carcinogens:

    The EPA has assigned DDT, DDE, and DDD to Group B2, probable human carcinogens. The
    International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that DDT, DDE, and DDD are
    possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
    has determined that DDT, DDE, and DDD may reasonably be anticipated to be human carcinogens.
  •  Good diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    T100R, serendipityisabitch, kfunk937

    Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
    -Neils Bohr

    "There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare." ~ Sun Tsu

    by coyote66 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:58:59 PM PDT

  •  Read the latest real science studies (5+ / 0-)

    I just thought I would share a resource.  If you want to read the very latest scientific papers directly, bookmark ArXiv.org a service of the Cornell University Library.  Warning:  These are the real papers submitted by real scientists without popular interpretation.  Break out your math skills.  

    Great diary.  In popular usage the word theory is confused with the hypothesis which is almost never used.  And most seem to never have ever heard of let alone understand the concept of falsifiability which is an extremely high standard of proof to meet.  

    Falsifiability or refutability of a statement, hypothesis, or theory is an inherent possibility to prove it to be false. A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an observation or an argument which proves the statement in question to be false. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning not "to commit fraud" but "show to be false". Some philosophers argue that science must be falsifiable.   Wikipedia
    and
    ...the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.  Wikipedia

    This one seems custom made for Creationism which ironically is always presented as scientific proof but can easily be shown to be false.  

    A thousand positive proofs can be completely overturned by one negative proof which is why calling theories "laws" is no longer favored.  Both Relativity and Evolution have withstood hundreds of proofs but are still considered theories because there is always some probability that a negative proof could someday surface.  

     

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 10:17:57 PM PDT

  •  Woo = "Displaced Aggression" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caittus

    Displaced aggression is aggression that is directed away from the object of anger, because the object  is too  threatening or the angry person in unconscious of the roots of their anger.

    Most often this takes the form of scapegoating, and it can be seen in racism and other kinds of prejudice.  

    On the right, notice that people that are into woo about the UN and chemtrails and such are also having violent fantasies about going out in a hail of bullets.

    Displacement is a Freudean ego defense mechanism.  as such, it has the possible to be feel positive (egosyntonic) or negative (egodystonic).  If someone can find a group who shares the same delusional belief, it can be a egosyntonic and make them feel good about themselves and provide a sort of  substitute family. This can be "the madness of crowds" and mass hysteria.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    What's missing is "reality checking." This is a crucial function of the healthy ego, which is supposed to keep asking "Does this make any sense?"  Activists should also be asking "Is this anything that resembles a plan?  Is we headed in the direction of our supposed goals?"

    Getting someone to play the role of the scolding persecutory parent is "projective identification," which is another primitive ego defense.  Other people are coerced into the role of  being mean, which gives the "victim" a target for their displaced aggression.

    Finally, there is also the role of the chronic underperformer, who just won't do their homework so they can pass 7th grade.  The willful ignorance of woo is a defiant statement of independence, but it is also deliberately self destructive.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 10:24:26 PM PDT

    •  Meh. "Woo" is a pejorative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, RiveroftheWest

      in and of itself, far too often used as an ego defense in exactly the same manner you describe here in psychological terms. Psychology itself being one of those 'soft' sciences, often having more than a smidgen of 'woo' mixed in.

      In this kind of society (presuming our society is anything close to the way it is portrayed to the public, rather than being mostly a propagandist construct), individual members of the public are free to believe-in woo if they choose to believe in woo. The maddening part for people who seek something closer to observable reality is that woo sometimes has far too many political backers in the public sphere(s).

      For instance, the Teabagger legislature in my state recently made it illegal for the ocean's water level to rise. Or, more precisely, made it illegal for any municipality or county to act directly on the scientific projections of water level rise as the world's ice melts. I doubt a single one of those certifiable idiots actually believes nature and reality care one whit about their dumb laws, the water will rise if the water rises. Period, full stop. Coastal dwellers in my state, however, will not be able to take steps to mitigate the consequences.

      It would be nice if woo were disallowed as a basis of public policy and laws. But that is not what is real in the home of the cowardly sheep (as opposed to Home of the Brave). Doesn't matter. What will be will be, and when the water rises the people who live in low-lying areas will move inland and/or uphill.

      There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

      by Joieau on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:01:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also Rage, Thought Disorders, Delusions, Bullying (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kfunk937, Joieau
        in and of itself, far too often used as an ego defense in exactly the same manner you describe here in psychological terms. Psychology itself being one of those 'soft' sciences, often having more than a smidgen of 'woo' mixed in.
        Well those he said/she said situations are always tricky, but it comes down to which person's father used to put cigarettes out on them or did either parent drink or abandon them?  And that's not limited to woo, that's also a lot of middle managers.

        Thought disorders show up in Palinesque word salad, the inability to stay on topic (red herrings), and the constant use of logical fallacies to "prove" their point.

        Persecutory fantasies and delusional beliefs about "bad" people get turned around to become bullying and on-line stalking.  Usually there is a lot of accusations based on "mind reading."

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:36:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The best idea humans ever came up with. Science! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lenny Flank, T100R, kfunk937

    It's good to see this explanation here, but I suspect the ones who need to understand this most will be the least likely to actually read it and comprehend it.

    Nevertheless, good work.

    •  well, trying to convince the crackpots is always a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R, kfunk937, Paul Rogers

      fool's errand.  They all have soundproof heads. Besides we're all just a conspiracy that's out to get them. (shrug)

      Our target are those who don't know anything about the topic and just want to check it out, and who haven't dived into the deep end of the ideology pool yet.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:55:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ps--the climate scientists all made a mistake in (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, ER Doc, T100R, dconrad, kfunk937

    their predictions about the effects of global warming----->the actual effects have been far more rapid and far more significant than they predicted.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:29:18 AM PDT

  •  Marshall and Warren are the better story, (7+ / 0-)

    and their quest to prove to medical science that bacteria, not stress, caused ulcers.

    The establishment pooh-poohed their theory and was wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Except that -- a funny thing happened, a freakin' science thing:

    They were right and they were scientists.
    That meant piling up evidence.
    Enough that other scientists had to say "We were wrong, you were right. Fine. Take this Nobel Prize."

    The established orthodoxy fights new ideas hard -- because they should. The established orthodoxy got that way because a lot of hard work research was one.  Tycho Brahe loved the elegance of Copernicus's work, but had good reason to reject it based on the knowledge of the day.

    But -- funny thing. Scientists attack problems and surrender their biases in the face of proof.

    It's a good thing.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 06:48:06 AM PDT

  •  If you DID find a fossilized celphone... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    T100R, serendipityisabitch, kfunk937

    that would be so freaking awesome. Complicated, from a theorist's point of view, but so freaking awesome.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:11:34 AM PDT

  •  Thank you. Logged in to rec and comment. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lenny Flank, T100R, kfunk937

    More like this please.  One of the key take-away's I use is to reemphasize that science is a self-correcting process.  It does usually make the deniers stop and think at least for a moment.  I try to never miss an opportunity to correct some part of a science denier's claims.  I'm not usually knowledgeable enough to go head-to-head, but I do what I can.  Thanks for additional info.  Different approaches resonate at different times.

    •  I must confess that on the one hand I am happy to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R, kfunk937

      see diaries like this at DKos which point out that science is not a conspiracy, science works, and it is the ONLY reliable way we have of learning about the world around us--and that people who reject science are, simply, crackpots.

      On the other hand, I am enormously sad that such diaries are even necessary, especially here (and especially when we have so many people here attacking it because they DO think science is a conspiracy).

      Sadly, the left is no less immune to anti-science crackpottery than the right is.

      DKos may be "reality-based", but far too many Kossacks, alas, are not. It's sad to see.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:35:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The first anti-tobacco activist was King James I. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    See this wikipedia article. He pointed out it was harmful to the lungs.

    This was in 1604. It was never a secret that smoking was bad for you.

  •  Scientific method in molecular biology (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kfunk937, Paul Rogers, RiveroftheWest

    Love your posts, SkepticalRaptor.

    I want to point out that the scientific method in molecular biology can be a teensy bit different.  When we're trying to study a specific phenomenon, there might be so many possibilities that it is not economical to pursue each one on an individual-hypothesis basis.

    So often what we'll do, I suppose during the observation stage, is to conduct an "unbiased" data-gathering experiment, such as an RNA-seq (ie, looking at all the genetic activity in the cells at one time).  We then use bio-informatic methods to tease out mathematically promising directions, and use these to form hypotheses and move forward.

    Fortunately, with the ascent of companies like Illumina, this is getting easier and easier to do all the time.  And as an added bonus, whenever you publish RNA-seq data, you are required to upload the entire dataset, so the collective knowledge available grows.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:06:23 AM PDT

  •  science doesn't make mistakes (0+ / 0-)

    people do.   If it works for guns, why not science.

    Mostly people draw conclusions on incomplete, but generally the best, knowledge available.   We learn more and the body of knowledge is updated to reflect what we have learned.

    Science is unlike religion that is based on what someone believed, and then we make excuses say it is allegory, analogy, metaphor, to escape the beliefs of the past that are just plain wrong.  Religion isn't self correcting.   We abandon whole religions that prove unworkable because they are eventually overwhelmed by facts.

    •  Religions evolve. (0+ / 0-)

      And some religions, like Catholocism, Scientology, etc..  Can change fairly quickly because of a central authority that can remove inconsistencies or revise things that would otherwise get their followers to reject them.

      Like the common cold, religion is probably here to stay.

      •  you mean the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        6412093

        new consrvative bible is evolution?   They won't thank you for that.

        I don't agree that religions evolve based on new facts.  They may have a cycle of birth and maturity and collapse, but to say that they self correct into continually more accurate and informed versions of the religion at birth is a bridge too far.   As for Catholocism evolving is that why priests are still sworn to celibacy, all women are second class citizens and they have not yet dealt forthrightly with a burgeoning human population threatening existence on this planet?  That evolution over the last 1600 past years?

        •  Evolution is about survivability. Not 'better'. (0+ / 0-)

          When I was speaking about religion evolving, I didn't mean towards anything like accurate or correct.  I simply meant more survivable in the mind of a general believer.

          Actually, the fact that religions change over time is damaging to their claims.  Their eternal truths aren't supposed to be mutable.  Yet they consistently get demonstrated as mutable and are subject to quite a bit of interpretive drift over the generations.  That's why there's a million different species of christianity (for one example), all competing with each other.

          The Catholic church eventually figured out geocentrism wasn't going to work anymore.  I'm confident they'll eventually figure out the cause of the pedophile priest issue, and their stance on birth control making all sorts of problems for poorer countries.  It will require they get their current viewpoint ground down into the dust, though.  It will require the obvious issues being flung in their face over and over for probably more than a century until it becomes a point of ridicule.

          They wait as long as possible to make changes like that.  But that's a feature of the religious approach to knowledge, not a flaw.  It's part of why many outspoken atheists do what they do.

          Most forms of modern christianity evolved to avoid talking about the bible at all.  The book of supposed divine knowledge and blessed instruction condones rape, sexism, torture, genocide, slavery, etc...

          It's uncomfortable to a modern audience for a supposed divine being to get those issues wrong, so the solution is to ignore those bits.  Or insist there's proper context that makes those actions okay.  Or insist it was merely a product of their time and not the instruction of a divine being.  But that other passage right next to it IS the word of a divine being.

          The people who really aren't bothered by those passages are pretty vile.

          The people who choose to ignore those bits for one reason or another are probably (in most respects) nice people.

          I tend to encounter the latter approach more often.  I think that's good evidence there's a natural inclination to be nice.

          And as we discover more knowledge, about how all those ancient ideas have little merit, are flat out wrong, or make no sense, the believer will eventually have to make a choice between being nice and being a vile monster.

          I'm sure even Scientology (if it survives long enough) will eventually accept things like psychiatry.  But like heliocentrism's acceptance, that stuff takes time.  When Scientology does it, they'll probably get a breakaway offshoot faction of hardcore believers that still holds the old position.

          It baffles me that religion exists in any form at all.  The fact that it's still around today indicates to me that it will probably continue to infect minds for a long time to come.

          •  well good (0+ / 0-)

            not more accurate and correct, and yet that was the very distinction I made.   Science gets more correct, religion decays in its dogma.

            As long as most input from the brain is first analyzed in the lizard brain,  people will have emotional reactions that overwhelm rational thought.  Religion feeds on that fact about the brain.  It also does its best to stop humans from ever using the parts of the brain that can move beyond the initial fear.  

  •  Paleontology (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093
    Except for one small thing. The story isn't quite what the evolution deniers claim it is. For those of you who don't know, Piltdown Man was a hoax perpetrated by an English amateur archeologist, who had combined a modern human skull with a jaw of an orangutan.
    The preceding paragraph is mostly correct, however, what you're talking about is paleontology, not archeology.

    Archeology is the study of modern human activity through material culture and environment. In other words, potsherds and stone foundations. Paleontology is fossils and bones of human predecessors.

    I hope you'll forgive me for extreme pedantism. What you were saying was substantially correct.

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:43:14 AM PDT

  •  about vaccinations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093


    Since you give a loud shout-out to the 'anti-science' claims of vaccinations possibly causing birth defects, any vaccine given to a pregnant mother which is made from live virus has a chance of causing harm to the fetus.  For example the MMR vaccine.

    The MMR is a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. If a woman gets one of these viruses while pregnant, it may cause her to have a miscarriage or to have a baby with birth defects. The MMR, like some other vaccines, is made with viruses that are alive but very weak. Because these viruses are alive, there is a very slight chance that they may cause harm to the baby. For this reason, a woman who may be pregnant should not get an MMR or other vaccine unless she is at high risk of getting a serious illness without it.

    http://pediatrics.about.com/...

    So you may wish to temper your wrath about vaccines being harmless.  Vaccines when made from live virus MAY cause harm to a fetus in a pregnant mother.  And that is science too.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:55:14 AM PDT

  •  T&Rd. But you may want to correct an error-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kfunk937, 6412093

    multiple myeloma is not "a type of cancer of plasma."  It is a malignancy of B cells (=B lymphocytes) (usually located in bone marrow, but distributed widely in lymph nodes, gut, and in many, many locations)) that make immunoglobulins, part of the plasma. B-cells are called plasma cells, but plasma is the acellular liquid in which blood cells are suspended.
     "a type of cancer of plasma cells" would be accurate.

    "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

    by CitizenJoe on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:21:25 AM PDT

  •  DDT? Silent Spring? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    But Rachel Carson is worse than Hitler!  That book killed millions!  We need to douse the world in DDT and to hell with the little birdies!

    (Yes, there are actually wingnuts pushing this line of bull.  Look up "Africa Fighting Malaria".  Or that liar for hire Steven Milloy.)

    Bello ne credite, Americani; quidquid id est, timeo Republicanos et securitatem ferentes.

    by Sura 109 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:38:47 AM PDT

    •  Such people are advocating for widespread (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sura 109

      use of DDT as an agricultural pesticide. Not only would that have serious adverse environmental effects, it would also very quickly result in such widespread resistance that DDT would not only become useless for that purpose, but also useless for malaria prevention (which involves far more limited and controlled application).

      Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

      by ebohlman on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:42:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is such a thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch
    So cherry picking a few errors of science (if I were an anti-science person, I would have focused on some real winners, like canals on Mars, or using an ultra-high speed drill to open calcified atherosclerotic lesions) just to confirm your cognitive biases about science.
    There is such a drill to open arteries. It is not a drill like a Black & Decker but it does exist.  It is called Silverhawk.

    I know, I have had this procedure done.  It works.  If any of you were (un)lucky enough to meet me at Netroots Nation '08 then you would remember that I could barely get around the Austin Convention Center (Disclaimer:  Austin is my current hometown) due to peripheral arterial disease (often an accompaniment to atherosclerosis and heart disease, which I clearly have).  But now, 4 years after Silverhawk I can walk up to a mile without strain (the heart disease kicks in then, but improving).

    Although it more resembles an arterial "roto-rooter" than a drill even some of my doctors referred to the device used as the "drill".  This could have easily morphed into an urban-legend style myth about having an arterial drill of some kind.

    The procedure is not simple nor easy to explain and when things are endowed with heavy science or technology people find "nicknames" for things -- one common one is that your microwave oven "nukes" the food, when actually there is nothing nuclear about a microwave oven (they work by high-frequency radio waves not nuclear radiation).  But the scientific explanation of how this device works is too complicated for most average folks so "nuke" works.  Poorly, but good enough to become part of our lexicon.

    O-ne-i-nis-to - Oh-no-mis-ta [Lakota]

    Wolfman

    Howlin' at the World from the Left Side of the Planet

    by WolfmanSpike on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 04:15:04 PM PDT

  •  Great article and NOW NATURE (0+ / 0-)

    The article has a great frame work Skeptical framework
    IT is funny most experiments yield unexpected results.
    Then the results are retested and become useful products.

    Almost everything made from nature does have a purpose and if used correct has some harm and good. Medicines are like this. They can be very deadly but in the correct dosage cures or prolongs life. Lithium Salts are very good for bi polar issues but if used in to high a dose can kill you.
    One of Its lasting effects are the blockage of the kidneys over time. There are others

    Since the article is on DDT. It does solve some problems and yes saved lives by supported food growth.
    The problem is that it will take almost forever to decay.
    It does effect birds to the point the egg shells weaken and many die from breakage to early. There are other problems for other animals and the list is long.

    The main reason DDT last forever it is an eight point closed ring. Meaning it is almost impervious to break down.

    Nature and evolution is God and can be proved everyday. you are standing in it all the time.

    Although their may be many gods in this life recorded by the human race. All, other then nature where created/ written down by man with all its bias.

    If God created everything as a model the universe would not be expanding. Man would not grow taller.
    Why would there be anything to harm you on this earth if created.

    Even cigarettes have medical purposes but the dosage is to high and cancer is the results first. See mental health issues on mood enhancers.  

    The trick to long life is to stay out of natures way when it throws at you hurricanes , floods, Tornadoes, fires and earthquakes.

    Nature does cradle all life but it is cruel, neutral and helpful all at the same time.

     

    A synthesizer can create any instrument made and others that have not be created yet.

    by RSGmusic on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 05:04:29 AM PDT

  •  once again I thank SR for this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ebohlman

    I take hope from the fact that (1) the number of our resident anti-science crackpots who have been posting in the science diaries seems to be going down, and (2) the number of people replying to the anti-science crackpots seems to be going up.

    That means the crackpots are realizing they have no support, and are shutting their mouths. That is a good thing.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:12:51 AM PDT

  •  My take as a scientist. (0+ / 0-)

    I am a scientist and it never ceases to amaze me at the abysmal lack of scientific and mathematical fluency in America. This IS the root of the problem of many of our national failings.

    Science does NOT make mistakes: people do. Anyone can claim to "DO" science but unless the scientific method is followed this is just a false claim. The reason peer-review is so critical to good science is because these methods must be demonstrated to hold up to repeated experimentation and review. Many things are claimed in the name of science by charlatans, profiteers, anti-science activists, and of course to support the agenda of many rich corporations and industries. However, that is not science...

    Science is specifically designed so that mistakes cannot survive the test of time, this is by design. The scientific method cannot make mistakes but humans misapplying the scientific method does create mistakes.

    It is estimated (admittedly this is difficult to measure depending on the criteria) that less than 5% of Americans are scientifically literate and nearly 70% of Americans are scientifically ignorant or consciously anti-science. What America needs is an emergency national program to teach our citizens the very basics of science and math so they can begin to grasp the complex issues of modern society.

    The next time you hear some virulently ignorant person say something stupid like "I don't believe in evolution" you should challenge them! For example, say to them "oh, so you don't believe in poodles?" They will of course look at you funny and acknowledge there are poodles. Ask them, "then where did they come from, did they spontaneously appear from god's will????" What about dairy cows? What about cats, goats, pigs, chickens, sweet corn, wheat and everything else that we can manifestly observe as they evolve? If people understood that evolution does not simply apply to the evolution of species but also that it is an underlying principle of the universe (yes the entire universe evolves) people just might be in a position to think for themselves in an educated way. If you deny the very basic principle of the universe how can you really understand anything at all?

    It takes a lot of effort through self-delusion to deny facts and I think we need to stop accepting ignorant opinions and beliefs. I can respect your RIGHT to your opinion but I certainly SHOULD NOT give them respect if they are wrong. If you don't believe in gravity should I respect that opinion without scientific proof? NO. I think it's time we stop pretending like all opinions and beliefs are equal because science has proven repeatedly over many centuries that is NOT the case. It is time we call-out bullshit for what it is...

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