Climate Cargo Cult

The discussion of Cargo Cult Science reminds me of something Dr. Dean Edell once said, about how medical research can sometimes misinform culture.  As an example, he referred to alcohol and its effects on unborn children, and how much of what we think we “know” about this results from studies never fully explained by science.

It is true, Edell said, women who drink during pregnancy tend to have greater risk for birth defects.  However, he added their may be many contributing factors, any of which might not result from moderate alcohol consumption – women who drink often smoke or choose poor diets, may be vitamin deficient, or suffer from emotional trauma or depression.  And, a person’s choice to drink often reflects behavior in other areas of life, things which could also contribute to the poor health of an unborn child (FAS not withstanding).

Information about second-hand smoke has been treated much the same way in the United States.  With help from the anti-smoking lobby, studies on the subject have been widely distorted, resulting in many misconceptions throughout the culture.

Examples like these should be cause for people to question the role science can sometimes play in their daily life, especially as it pertains to agenda.  In fact, these practices have been shown to have dangerous effects.

For instance, it is accepted in medical research that erroneous results are often provided in peer review literature; overlooking or withholding certain information, which leaves doctors disadvantaged making critical health decisions.

In some cases this is done by accident, where the science is poor or researchers jump to conclusions.  In other situations – the more cynical moments – science is skewed to achieve notoriety, maintain research grants, or increase profit margins.

Dr. Richard Feynmanhits the nail on the head

1974 Caltech ” Cargo Cult Science speech

Listening to Feynman speak, one imagines he would consider feeding code into computer models – designed to establish a “pre-assigned expectation” – just another form of “Cargo Cult Science” (like Milliken’s values for viscosity of air, bad info in = bad info out).  Or, when “peer accepted” climatologists attempt to discredit a fellow PhD for “peer dissent,” it equals nothing short of censorship.

Interesting to note here – is how a convention like TED (a forum rife with theory) makes room to argue the disastrous state of  “peer review,” as it relates to medicine, but has yet to invite or post discussions held with any leading scientist who disagrees with, and can speak objectively, and non-politically, about theories involving “anthropogenic global climate change” – such as Henrik SvensmarkRichard Lindzen, Lennart BengtssonRobert M. Carter, Ross McKitrickNir Shaviv, …… and the list goes on.

For those who don’t know already, Dr. Feynman was one of the more brilliant scholars the last century produced – a physicist, and mathematician.  As a contributor to The Manhattan project and NASA’s shuttle program, he did not live to see today’s hyperbole surrounding “anthropogenic global climate change.”  Though if he had, it would be interesting to hear what he would say.

He did leave us with much great insight about the scientific process however, and about scientists themselves.  He spoke often of the need for rigorous integrity in the sciences, teaching his students –

Mother nature is what she is, whether we understand it, approve of it, or want it. He told students to beware of experts, especially those who tout their expertise. He insisted that true scientists are always humble in the face of awesome ignorance, and that even the most knowledgeable people should bear this. He also said that every great truth is immersed in uncertainty.  

Looking at the state of science and culture today, it seems Feynman’s rigor is something  “die-hard-climate-changers” rather not notice.   As they rally for legislation which threatens the world economy; they would further disadvantage the poor, and use tactics not so dissimilar to that of BigPharm or BigTobacco – veritably converse to Feynman’s consultation; they patronize the layman, protect their income and political influence, and prefer to ostracize those results and peers which don’t suit them.

Thankfully, the public seems to be catching on. The 2009 Climategate emails suggest a serious lack of integrity exists among some of today’s most influential climatologists.  It is unknown whether global temperature fluctuations the last 100 years are a creation of man, or just mother nature changing her mind.  Carbon levels are up, but as to what effect it is having on climate, science is still unclear.

Those who insist otherwise have not been honest with the evidence –  “building runways to nowhere, and waiting for planes” – another member of the “Climate Cargo Cult.”

Continue reading

Naked Emperors

Fascinating to think how few of us test the limits of perspective.   Our lives get full, leaving little time to consider an existence absent “our paradigms.”

So we take it for granted, these things, what we “know,” and what the world would look like without them.  Day to day we ramble on – earning a living, spellbound by TV’s and smartphones, kissing our loved ones good night, and planning for tomorrow.  Too often we accept what we are told, or that there is so much we will never know.  And, sadly it seems, for many this goes by without ever really knowing “our self.”

Overwhelmed by all that we see, we overlook that which made us.

So what if we were to stop for a moment, and sense the adrenaline – peering thru eyes of the “Shahidka black widow,” or feel showers falling thru trees as we blow dart our next meal from the rain forest canopy?  How would these things inform us?

It’s so different here, standing at the check out line, safe within our nation’s walls, learned what things “this history” has taught us.  Surely it is worth that each of us should try and imagine our world having removed the familiar filters.

To regularly reexamine what it is “to know” (something), for what or for why we believe this information, and to consider one individual experience next to the other –  that somehow, this is what it means to know ourselves – to see the emperor naked in it’s truest sense – “our paradigm.”

As with anything, it is relative. What can we “know” that isn’t first rendered by our prejudices and “experience?” To inquire is simply to ask, “who am I?” And, to wonder is to question “how did all this make me? ”

Certainly, we are the product our own choices. But what can be said for sure about those matters we decide on, and from where it came? By whom and by which culture have we been taught, and in each case what did we take from the lessons?

It is therefore, much of who we are as “thinking beings” will be out of our control.  And, if we wish to “know ourselves” in spite of this, we have no choice but to ask these questions.

“Uncommon Knowledge”

Viewing our world objectively, with David Berlinski

OMG ….. Where Are You?

I’ve never enjoyed the idea of preaching to the choir.  It often seems a “boast” of one’s skill or talent.  Though if the aim is for a crowd it’s a good place to start.  I’ve also heard practice makes perfect.

So, let’s see if I get it right this time.  And, if the choir brings a crowd that would be nice too.

Of course, the central question here will get different answers depending who you ask.  Even more stark is the contrast which emerges, pitting atheists against the choir.  And, while I wouldn’t presume to tell either of them if they’re wrong, or right, my heart has always been with the choir….  yet I’m already off point, aren’t I?

Therefore, lets just say these words are not about taking “sides.”  They don’t come from “a choir,” or from any “nonbeliever.”  These words are meant to ponder, nothing more.  If they mean to do anything it’s to cause “us” to think.

So again I ask, “where is God?”

The world we live in is full of many phenomena that defy explanation or reason.  God is surely one of them.  And, your inclination toward religion will certainly persuade the view. In fact, religion is cause for much of the phenomena we see, God notwithstanding.

There is the Turin Shroud.  I for one was fascinated by this for years.  There is also the Bible Code, which inspired an entire subculture within the Jewish faith.

Other phenomena we encounter is more scientific, such as the light barrier.  Quantum entanglement, and  Schrödinger’s catcan also be placed in this category.  Still, other examples remain more science-fiction, like the “alien abduction,” or UFO.

Depending on your world view you will to relate to each of these phenomena quite differently.  But whatever your inclination it is important to remember, that to learn you must first be objective.

Take the Bible Code, for example. Those inclined to Chaos Theory might believe a copy of “This Old House” could or should yield similar results.  On the other hand, it is compelling how so many specific names and birth dates of Jewish Rabbis, born thousands of years after the Old Testament, appear within its text.

Where some focus on the tendency for numbers and systems to arise in these situations, others focus on who embedded the code and why the information is there.  In either case there could be several reasons.  It takes a fair mind to consider them all.

If one believes that results in Bible Codes are random, I would remind that numbers remain the only known “universal language,” and one we have yet to fully define.  And, if someone were to ask who (as in, God, aliens, or humans from another time or place) could have encoded the Bible, I would say it is worth defining what “who” really means.

Seems it is often easier for us to accept the idea of “aliens,” or “random chaos,” rather than God, when it comes to explaining these things.  As though this were somehow “more” plausible given the nature of our world and the universe its in.  Chaos does seem abound at times.  Certainly alien life is also plausible – as we sit surrounded – billions of star systems among us (see Drake equation for estimates).  But, if we look at the universe and ask, “just what is going on,” what do we really know?  And if we are to find out, where should we begin?

Well, if we wish to know we should begin where we would with anything else.  We should begin with an open mind.

What does it mean to be “living” in the universe?  What are the different forms life may take?  As we’ve seen the argument for life beyond our planet, or “alien” life, is hard to ignore. However, more interesting I suggest is the idea we could, at this point, define what “alien” life should mean if we encountered it.

Is it possible “alien” life is out there, sure.  Is it also possible that “alien” life may take a form we do not recognize, or could not measure, or understand – Astrobiology seems to think so.  So, is it not also possible that “alien” life may be God, or some creation force similar in perspective?

If you concede the former, then again the answer here is yes.

Now does this mean that ”little green men” created life, probably not.  While some folks claim to have seen aliens or even fall prey to their late night abductions, I can’t say that I’ve shared this experience. No, the intent here is not to suggest that aliens are God, rather it is to suggest that God is alien.

“God is alien.” 

I’m sure that sentence is strange and disturbing for many to say.  However, the concept of God is “alien;” the power God is said to have is “awesome.”  God’s power is unlike us.  By definition therefore, God and his power are “alien.”

In fact, excluding the Biblical claim for Christ’s resurrection, and the Earth itself, it seems “God” is hardly terrestrial at all.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise if we don’t readily understand “the concept.” 

Of course, if God is a mystery or something we cannot understand how will we know if he is there?  The choir will tell you the universe itself is proof.  Others say that life is the result of random evolution, and that space is just an anomaly made of dust and gas.  Still, others point to community and the church.  But again, what do we really know? 

Let’s ask some questions.

What if life on Earth was seeded and evolution a built in mechanic of the process? What if the water in a comet is in some cases laden with the amino acids and proteins necessary for life, and it was a comet which originally brought life to Earth? What if something “alien” had placed those proteins in that comet and comets are just bouncing around thru space waiting to “spread their word?”

Furthermore, what if the “house of mirrors” we call our universe (constructed of a light horizon which is literally the universe’s past), is just scenery next to Earth’s “special place?”  What if the universe we see is a ruse, bending light, forecasting times gone by, just a meaningless spectacle?

Is it possible the universe is a distraction; something which begs our questions, but where perspective never gains “the answer?”

Think about it.  The nearest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri, is over 4 light years (ly) away. That is 26,453,249,163,839 miles from Earth (or, 26 trillion, 453 billion, 249 million, 164 thousand miles).  And get this, if you jumped in your car and tried to drive to that star (at 60mph) it would take you 50,329,622 years to get there (or 50 million, 330 thousand years). In other words, when you look at that star you are seeing what occurred 4.24 years ago.

Talk about perspective.  So where’s the distraction?  

Well, if you apply this perspective to the universe as a whole you quickly see there is a problem. The problem being, we have no idea what is going on. All we know, according to the best science and theory, is what has been going on.

Its unfortunate the universal speed limit is so restricting, as special relativityinsists. Then maybe we could move about, at least see what is going on with our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri. Even so, 128,000 miles per second would be nowhere near fast enough to travel (much) beyond Proxima Centauri.  And, forget exploring the universe.  It would take over 100,000 years just to cross our own galaxy at that rate; infinite mass and the time paradox aside.

And so it seems we are stuck right here in our corner of the cosmos, on an outer arm of the Milky Way.

But then, maybe there’s nothing to see out there, except thru our telescopes.  As I said, it could just be a ruse. Maybe we should accept we will never really know what the universe means. Either that, or we must redefine our understanding of physics.  And even then, what would redefining our understanding of physics advise us?

To project such ideas (inter-dimensional travel, warping space, parallel universes, etc.) is really just to guess, even when done by today’s greatest minds.

Given the existing theories as to how or when the universe may have been created,  science is nowhere near having determined from “what.”  Certainly physicists offer some of the best ideas as to the energies and forces required herein, but were suddenly an existing theory proven most experts will admit this would only present more, far greater, questions.  In other words, none existing theories can say what lies beyond “a singularity,” or (in the case of M-theory) within what form a template “membranes” should exist – let alone how to factor “an infinity” relative to 11 dimensional space.

Thus, when we make these sorts of guesses it does seem to put us back at the doorstep of a potential “creative force,” or God.  Does it not?

Once again we must ask, “how does something come from nothing?”  The “immortal question” which has, so far, always emerged.

Still, science would like us to believe we know what is happening in the far reaches of our galaxy at this very moment.  And who can blame them?  It’s an easy trap to fall into.  But remember, none of what we see in the universe is really happening, or at least very little of it. What we see has already happened.

For instance, many probably think as they hear astronomers speak we know what is happening in Andromeda, our nearest galaxy. But how could we? Andromeda is 2.5 million ly from Earth. What does that mean in miles? Try 14,696,240,000,000,000,000,000 (or 1.46962495 x 1019).  I don’t even know how to put a number like that into words. But if I tried I’d say it means, “we have no idea what is happening in Andromeda today.” We only know what did happen, two and half million years ago.

Using the “The Origin of Species” as our reference (modern biology’s reason for man’s existence) man was likely still on all fours when the light we see from Andromeda began its journey toward Earth.  For a better idea of what this looks like click here.

Given all this, one has to wonder if the galaxies around us even still exist?  Could it be they were nothing more than a prelude to this one…. yes, no…… maybe?

Odd as it sounds, we have no way to tell.

And what about this, if as astronomy suggests our universe is 13.8 billion years old, then what is true about light beyond the timeline which gives us that measurement (as it pertains to the Observable Universe”)? In other words, we have no way of knowing what exists (in the form of measurable light) beyond a radius from our planet’s own position of 13.8 billion ly.

Again, the subtleties defy us. How can we see and measure beyond what light has had time to reach us here on Earth?  And, if we did what would it tell us?

It really is amazing …. when you think about it.  The universe is so big, and our understanding of it so small.  Do you think there might be room for “Intelligent Design” out there, somewhere …..  in all that …… vastness? 

Here it is important to remember, that relatively speaking man is a species only moments from creation. And, as such we watch television programs and read books, many of which suggest we have a “near complete” understanding of the ether and forces that surround us. We examine a fossil record “likely” recording few of Earth’s “total” inhabitants, of which maybe 5% is in good condition.  And, should believe we’ve “figured it out?” 

What about subuction?   What about the Cambrian explosion?  I submit we may know very little about life on our own planet, let alone what it means to be “living in the universe.”

Maybe the Large Hadron Collider can change that.  It has been online since October 2008, and though this science does take time there have been no substantial discoveries yet.  (Edit: A suspcious particle reaction was measured by scientists at the LHC in July 2012, early rumors suggest it could be the elusive Higgs Boson).

So my friends, fellow atheists and theists alike, while we wait on the LHC or some other discovery let’s practice humility. There is so much we do not know. 

For this reason our faith in man is a good thing.  We must believe we can find the answers.  We will endure thoughts of God and question our existence. But as we do it is important not to fall into traps that would cause us only to emphasize already held notions. For as we explore, it seems sometimes it is our faith in man which matters most, and what we find only reinforces “personal beliefs” about what the world is and what it means to be in it. 

Thankfully many are searching. 

As we do, our searches will lead us through many heavens.  There is much to behold.  We will explore numbers and quantum particles.  We will explore each other and our souls.  We explore in search of purpose.  And maybe, if the search yields nothing else, then our purpose becomes the pursuit and our “truth” realized in it’s quest.

But whatever the case, we should remain inspired and try to stay objective.  God’s signature may be out there. It could even be here within our midst.  Though wherever we find it, and whenever we find it, we might also expect that before it awaits a few words – a brief entry which gathered all those numbers we explore, and our personal beliefs – a message which points back at ourselves and told:

 .

“It is better to understand the universe within us than to understand one which is out of reach.”

.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love – Carl Sagan