Oh Noes! Seawater to Volcanoes! and…

…newpaper reporters who can’t divide or have any sense of proportion: While also factoring in temperatures and pressures down below, the researchers concluded that 3 billion teragrams — or a billion kilograms — are being pulled down every million years. Lemme see here: 3 billion (3×109) kilograms every million (106) years, works out to an astounding 3 thousand (3×103) kilograms per year.  Why, why, why, that’s enough water to fill up my swimming pool almost TWO times.  Every year.  PANIC! CRISIS! RUN AWAY! Tip from Sarah Hoyt at the Instapundit, who does make even the most boring stuff sound interesting. Continue reading Oh Noes! Seawater to Volcanoes! and…

Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

The ability of statistics to accurately represent the world is declining. In its wake, a new age of big data controlled by private companies is taking over – and putting democracy in peril. begins William Davies tale of woe in the Guardian.  Unfortunately, he confuses credible statistics with modern state-istics*; and seems impervious to the idea that Joe Sixpack has wised up to the fact that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” and that most of these are peddled by the Leviathan State and its corporate cronies.  Usually to Joe’s detriment. Statistics in industry and scientific research is doing … Continue reading Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

Rating a Published Clinical Trial…

…can be done in 10 minutes or less, using the Jadad score.  There’s a full explanation in the original paper,  but suffice it to say, it’s pretty easy to identify sketchy studies using this method.  Aaron Carroll, writing in the New York Times, shows how this affects the credibility of nutrition research.  For those who want to try this at home, here’s the scorecard from the paper: Was the study described as randomized? (YES/NO) Was the study described as double blind? (YES/NO) Was there a description of withdrawals and dropouts? (YES/NO) Give 1 point for each YES, and 0 points … Continue reading Rating a Published Clinical Trial…

Man Invents Fire, Women and Minorities Hardest Hit

No, really. I suppose men standing around the barbecue burning meat and drinking beer is just another ritual of the Patriarchy. Mark Twain was hip to this sort of thinking over a century ago: In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was … Continue reading Man Invents Fire, Women and Minorities Hardest Hit

Blinded Me with “Science”

Writing in The New Atlantis, Daniel Sarewitz says “Science, pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble.”  The public has swallowed the myth of scientism and Vannevar Bush’s self-serving rationalization for federally-funded Big Science: Scientific progress on a broad front results from the free play of free intellects, working on subjects of their own choice, in the manner dictated by their curiosity for exploration of the unknown. Sarewitz quotes Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, who puts it like this: The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply … Continue reading Blinded Me with “Science”

You say “potato,” I say “po-tah-to”

Looks like potatoes are back on the OK to Eat This list, and the usual thumbsuckers are outraged. Nutritionist Marion Nestle and other progressive reformers called foul, denouncing the change. “Really?” Nestle scoffed. “I have a hard time believing that WIC recipients are suffering from lack of potatoes in their diets.” Several watchdog groups and the national WIC advocacy group opposed the change, too. “It’s disappointing that politics has trumped science,” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told reporters. It seems that much of what our betters the Feds have been … Continue reading You say “potato,” I say “po-tah-to”

Blinded Me with “Science”

David Warren, like me, is tired of being beaten about the head and shoulders with observational studies masquerading as “settled science.” According to the latest research, he writes facetiously, coffee may be good for your heart….Actual science would show the mechanism by which a specific constituent in coffee, such as caffeine, operates within the human metabolism to produce specific reactions in a long, very specific chain, leading to a specific result. … The rest is, to be perfectly colloquial, bullshit, How many times must we tell the hoi polloi, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION? Tip from American Digest. Continue reading Blinded Me with “Science”

A Critique of Scientism

Biologist Austin Hughes hits the nail on the head when the writes of The Folly of Scientism in the New Atlantic. Central to scientism is the grabbing of nearly the entire territory of what were once considered questions that properly belong to philosophy. Scientism takes science to be not only better than philosophy at answering such questions, but the only means of answering them. For most of those who dabble in scientism, this shift is unacknowledged, and may not even be recognized. But for others, it is explicit. Don’t believe scientific academics practice scientism?  Want to make some heads explode? … Continue reading A Critique of Scientism

The Folly of Scientism

What he said.   Read the whole thing, I especially enjoyed the discussion of evolutionary biology.  Personally, I think the field is pure bunk.  My favorite question for eBiologists is “What were the evolutionary pressures that modified dogs so that they all enjoy riding in cars with their heads out the window?  Does it go back to Dino riding around with Fred Flintstone?” Tip from William M. Briggs, Statistician to the Stars. Continue reading The Folly of Scientism