In Two Days…

Heading off to Middle Son’s wedding back east, for a week. If so inclined, please say a prayer for him and his lovely bride. Time is tight. In addition to packing, I have to write up finals for the two history classes I’m teaching, to be delivered two days after we get back; also read and grade a bunch of essays and tests to return to the students. So, pardon my lack of interactions, lot of interesting comments I’ve not responded to. Just too busy.

We will be taking 83 year old grandma with us, because of course we are. Since she is barely mobile with a walker, makes everything way, way slower and more complicated. Packing becomes more complex. I feel old.

Gone are the days when I’d fly out for a week with one carry-on and a laptop. Much more fun to travel with the family, but way more involved. Twice as many people is way more than twice as involved. There’s a mathematical name for that thing…

So thanks for reading and for the comments. Might be next week before I get to them.

Logic

Our ordinary beliefs are adopted without any methodical examination. But it is the aim, and it is characteristic, of a rational mind to distinguish degrees of certainty, and to hold each judgment with the degree of confidence that it deserves, considering the evidence for and against it. It takes a long time, and much self-discipline, to make some progress toward rationality; for there are many causes of belief that are not good grounds for it—have no value as evidence. Evidence consists of (1) observation; (2) reasoning checked by observation and by logical principles; (3) memory—often inaccurate; (4) testimony—often untrustworthy, but indispensable, since all we learn from books or from other men is taken on testimony; (5) the agreement of all our results. On the other hand, belief is caused by many influences that are not evidence at all: such are (1) desire, which makes us believe in whatever serves our purpose; fear and suspicion, which (paradoxically) make us believe in whatever seems dangerous; (2) habit, which resists whatever disturbs our prejudices; (3) vanity, which delights to think oneself always right and consistent and disowns fallibility; (4) imitativeness, suggestibility, fashion, which carry us along with the crowd. All these, and nobler things, such as love and fidelity, fix our attention upon whatever seems to support our prejudices, and prevent our attending to any facts or arguments that threaten to overthrow them.

Carveth Read, Logic.

Evidence and the Right Questions

When we last left off, we were discussing claims and evidence. Now let’s talk about the quality of claims, evidence, and the relationship of claims and evidence. This it probably Part 1 – topic spiral potential: high.

To cut to the chase: a reasonable, useful claim is specific, expressed in unambiguous terms, and subject to logical and real-world contradiction.

Thus, reasonable, useful evidence addresses specific claims, according to the rules of logic.

This all may seem pedantic nonsense. If so, you will find real science is all about pedantic nonsense. Ask a scientist a simple question: what is the boiling point of water? and, if he is answering as a scientist, you will get:

  • discussions about what a state change is, energy thresholds, margins of error, and limits of observation;
  • A laundry list of conditions that affect the observed boiling point of water: air pressure, purity of the water;
  • THEN he might say: 100C, GIVEN all the definitions, conditions, and caveats listed above.

The boiling point of water is about as simple a scientific question as one can ask. See Millikan’s classic oil drop experiment (my favorite, and the fanciest experiment I’ve every personally done) for something a little more complicated. To calculate the charge of an electron, Millikan and Fletcher had to define, develop and measure a whole bunch of things, e.g., the size and mass of aerosol oil droplets and the viscosity of air (which changes with temperature and pressure). They needed to design and build a device that 1) created tiny oil droplets; 2) generated electrons in such a way that some of them would stick to those oil droplets; 3) provided a consistent, measurable way to observe the oil droplets thus created; 4) had a magnetic field of known strength that they could turn on and off at will. THEN you spend hundreds of hours (in addition to the hundreds you spent coming up with the experimental concepts and building and perfecting the device) risking blindness to gather thousands of observations.

Millikan did all that, and a ton of math, then got to say that the charge of the electron is 1.5924(17)×10−19 C (1) and collect his Nobel Prize.

In the real world, few people understand the question: what is the charge of an electron? let alone feel any need to know the answer.

A scientific claim is a claim that answers a scientific question. (I’m a regular Obvious Oscar today!) If the question itself does not go through the refining and defining required to hammer it into scientific shape, cleaning up as much as possible all ambiguities and and establishing the limits and conditions, then the pseudo-scientific claim that science has answered such a question is, and must be, wrong.

The above is a round-about way of addressing the nature of science as discussed here for a decade or more. Science, as John C. Wright points out often, is the study of the metrical properties of physical objects. If the question does not concern the measurement of the properties of something you can see, hold in your hand, smell, taste, hear – then it’s not a scientific question. Note: this does not mean your question is unimportant or wrong, merely that you’re not going to be able to use science to answer it. Most of life’s really important questions – should I ask her to marry me? what is the right thing to do? how should I spend my life? and so on – are not science questions. We have to come up with other ways to answer them.

It should be clear at this point that scientific evidence must be weighed by how well, if at all, it addresses a well formed scientific question. Badly formed or categorically wrong questions cannot, as in, CANNOT be answered scientifically. Science will not tell me if I should ask this particular woman to marry me; science has nothing to say about the proper course of action for any human decisions. Getting an ought from an is is difficult, if, indeed, the impossible can be called difficult. (That’s an Aristotle joke, there.)

Thus, people are making a categorical error when they claim to be ‘following the science’ when the do or promote actions. There’s always more to the question. Ex: if someone is injected with these chemicals, they will die. Therefore, IF we don’t want a particular someone to die, we should not inject them with these chemicals. So, do we want them to die? Are they an innocent child, or a serial killer of innocent children on death row? Could have different answers. IF the person OUGHT to die is not a question science can answer.

To be convincing or even relevant scientifically, evidence requires a good, clean scientific question to be run up against. Take an example I’ve used before: I saw a report once that a certain migratory butterfly population had decreased 87.3% (say. Numbers are for illustration only.) The obvious scientific question this ‘evidence’ would be addressing is: are there fewer butterflies of this particular type in a specified time period as opposed to another specified time period? Simply putting the question in that format should suggest the conditions and definitions needed in order to evaluate evidence, if any:

  1. How is the counting of butterflies being done?
  2. Where?
  3. When?
  4. How is the accuracy of the counting assured? (This means, in Feynman’s classic formulation, that the makers of the claim/presenters of the evidence are required by the honesty implicit in the pursuit of science to list any possible ways they can think of that their conclusions, methods, or data could be wrong.)

In turn, these questions intended to clear up and make scientific the more general question do, themselves, raise questions. And here’s the point of this exercise: if the study or report authors or claimants cannot show that they have done the thought-smithing needed to define and clarify the question they claim to be addressing, then, put bluntly, it’s not science. In the above example, at least, the ‘researchers’ would need to assure us that:

  1. Where they are looking for the butterflies is where the butterflies are – namely, that they didn’t simply take another route, or take the usual route at a different time. In other words, that their count is in fact a count that includes all the relevant butterflies.
  2. How they counted those thousands of butterflies is at all accurate.

And so on.

In the real world, the speciousness of almost all claims made in the name of Science! are not even this subtle. But I think it important to get a grip on what scientific claims, questions and evidence ought to look like.

  1. Of course, he was ‘wrong‘:

In a commencement address given at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1974 (and reprinted in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! in 1985 as well as in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out in 1999), physicist Richard Feynman noted:

We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It’s a little bit off because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It’s interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of an electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bit bigger than Millikan’s, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.
Why didn’t they discover the new number was higher right away? It’s a thing that scientists are ashamed of—this history—because it’s apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan’s, they thought something must be wrong—and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number close to Millikan’s value they didn’t look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that …

Fun (by which we mean ‘terror’) With History

People who don’t read Scripture are missing out on a lot of good stuff, from a merely historical/political perspective. Want to know just how vile and violent people can be? It’s all there in 1 and 2 Kings and Chronicles. Consider this little bit from 2 Kings 10. Jehu was a military commander in Israel who managed to kill both Jehoram, the king of Israel and the son of Ahab and Jezebel, and Ahaziah, the king of Judah, whose mother was Jehoram’s sister Athaliah. Both of the slain kings were of the house of Ahab more or less directly, a son and grandson.

Back in Samaria, where Jehoram had reigned, there were living 70 sons of the house of Ahab. Those sons had legitimate claims on the throne and were therefore a threat to Jehu. Thus:

Now there were in Samaria seventy sons of the house of Ahab. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria: to the officials of Jezreel, to the elders and to the guardians of Ahab’s children. He said, 2 “You have your master’s sons with you and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city and weapons. Now as soon as this letter reaches you, 3 choose the best and most worthy of your master’s sons and set him on his father’s throne. Then fight for your master’s house.”

4 But they were terrified and said, “If two kings could not resist him, how can we?”

5 So the palace administrator, the city governor, the elders and the guardians sent this message to Jehu: “We are your servants and we will do anything you say. We will not appoint anyone as king; you do whatever you think best.”

6 Then Jehu wrote them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side and will obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me in Jezreel by this time tomorrow.”

Now the royal princes, seventy of them, were with the leading men of the city, who were rearing them. 7 When the letter arrived, these men took the princes and slaughtered all seventy of them. They put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel. 8 When the messenger arrived, he told Jehu, “They have brought the heads of the princes.”

Then Jehu ordered, “Put them in two piles at the entrance of the city gate until morning.”

9 The next morning Jehu went out. He stood before all the people and said, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who killed all these? 10 Know, then, that not a word the Lord has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail. The Lord has done what he announced through his servant Elijah.” 11 So Jehu killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving him no survivor.

2 Kings 10: 1-11

See the little trick there? Scholars say the double meaning in English is also present in Hebrew: the ‘heads’ of the sons could be the men in charge of their upbringing; the leaders who received the letters interpreted Jehu’s demand more literally. The ambiguity allowed him to disavow having ordered the murders of all these sons, many of whom would have to have been children, ‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’ style.

But, of course, that’s what he really meant. He didn’t need a conversation with the men raising those kids – he needed those boys dead. He then follows up by having all those men killed – the sons would have been being raised by ‘all his (Ahab’s) chief men, his close friends and his priests.’ New king with shaky claims to the throne? Everybody associated with the previous regime gets to die.

And it hardly stops there: Athaliah, mother of the late king Ahaziah, Ahab’s daughter and Jehu’s sister, now finds herself in an awkward position in Judah: she’s the Queen Mother of a dead king; everyone of her house in Samaria has been murdered; Jehu would likely want her dead as well. If one of her grandsons – the logical heirs – were to ascend to the throne of Judah, they might kill her off as a gesture of good-will toward Jehu, who has an army. Worse, her own family in Judah has some claim to the throne of Israel, being descendants of the legitimate king Ahab. Jehu might attack Judah and kill them all off just to keep things tidy.

So, you’re the mom or grandmother of a bunch of children, whose very existence puts you in a precarious life or death situation. What do you do?

Kill them all, of course:

11 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.

2 Kings 11:1

But she missed some:

But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

2 Kings 11:2-3
“Joash is rescued by his aunt Jehosheba”, print by Harmen Jansz Muller, c. 1565–69; the pair are visible at far left – By Rijksmuseum – http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.156988, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84868815

Joash was an infant when his aunt Jehosheba hid him away. Jehosheba happened to be the wife of the priest Jehoiada, which made hiding Joash in the temple more convenient, I suppose.

Of course, after hiding him for six years, the priests along with the temple guard present him as king – and Athaliah gets dragged from the temple and executed. Thus, the Lord’s vengeance (conveniently aligned here with Machiavellian political expediency) is brought to completion: the house of Ahab is destroyed (with the exception, one supposes, of Jehosheba). Also, the line of David, present in Joash through his father, survives.

There’s a lot more political murder and mayhem in Israel and Judah during the time of the two kingdoms – 1 and 2 Kings and Chronicles are full of intrigue and assassinations. When history is conceived of as the deeds of great men, it is mostly a lot of political murder and mayhem, everywhere from China to Aztec Mexico, and everywhen from as long as records exist.

We are not like this, no sir! We’re moderns. Ever since the French Revolution, we have improved from murdering all real and potential rivals and putting conquered cities under the ban to rounding up and executing millions of our fellow citizens or starving them to death. Jehu and Athaliah are total pikers, squeamish little girls, compared to Stalin and Mao. Hell, the H-Man himself is not really in the running for G.O.A.T in the ‘murdering you own citizens/subjects’ H.O.F.

The point, if any: don’t ever underestimate the level of violence and horror power-hungry people will be willing to commit, if that’s what it takes to hold onto power. Don’t project your own hesitancy or quaint morality onto the kind of ambitious men who rise to power.

The minor tragedy here: Athaliah is a pretty name! Yet, where outside a Melville novel would anyone dare name somebody that?

An Old Post on Clarissa’s Blog: on Leaving the USSR

Way, way back in 2012, Clarissa, an academic who immigrated from the Ukraine, answered the question: since the USSR was so evil, why didn’t people leave? Seems appropriate, topical, even, somehow. Here is her answer:

The question doesn’t sound in the least stupid to me. The Soviet reality is so different from anything people have experienced or can imagine in other countries that it is, indeed, very difficult to comprehend it.

Leaving the USSR was next to impossible. People who applied for visas (mostly the Jews who had relatives outside of the country) were persecuted, sometimes imprisoned, and sometimes placed in psychiatric wards. The idea behind this was that anybody who wanted to leave the Soviet paradise had to, of necessity, be insane. Such people would be put on massive amounts of powerful psychotropic drugs with the goal of “curing” them of their desire to emigrate.

The only people who could leave the country for a short visit overseas were the ones who were considered “reliable” by the regime. You had to be an artist going on a tour or a very famous scientist traveling to a conference with a group of other Soviet people, many of whom were KGB informants and were following your every move. Of course, if you were a Jew, you wouldn’t be able to travel at all because Jews were considered unreliable by default.

All of this vigilance didn’t always work and some of the artists or scientists did end up asking for refuge in the countries they visited. This meant that they would never see their families again and could not even hope to get in touch with their relatives back in the USSR. People were never allowed to travel with their families, and who could face losing everybody you know and love for good? Single people were not allowed to travel precisely for this reason. If you wanted to work as a diplomat, for example, you had to get married because only then could the government keep your wife and children as hostages whenever it liked to do so.

In Captain Capitalism’s reality, people can just get on a plane and fly to Finland. This is a great, beautiful reality, and I really love it that there are people in the world who think in these terms. A Soviet person, however, could not have imagined such a possibility. Even traveling by train from one city to another in the USSR was very problematic. You needed to be prepared to show paperwork explaining why you needed to travel just to buy a ticket. Getting on a train or a plane to travel within the country was extraordinarily difficult. And when I imagine a poor Soviet citizen approaching the ticket counter at a Soviet airport and asking for a ticket to Finland (Bulgaria, Poland, etc.), I feel bad for that hypothetical Soviet traveler already. This person would have ended up at the police station and then the psychiatric hospital within minutes.

Gosh, folks, you couldn’t even make a phone call to another country. Talking to a foreign tourist in the street would put you in jail. We were completely isolated from the world because the Soviet government knew that the only way to keep people from running away in droves was to lock them down.

It’s true that Siberia is vast and sparsely populated. Obviously, nobody could guard the entire expanse of the border perfectly. However, you have to possess very special training to survive the climatic conditions. Besides, you need to know where exactly to go to have a chance to cross the border. Remember that one thing that you could never ever hope to purchase in the USSR was a map. Of anything. All maps were top secret. Also, a person who tried fleeing the country in that way – even if s/he were successful – was destroying the lives of every family member for generations to come as a result of the flight. How many people can face something like this?

I hate the Soviet Union.

The several hundred comment at the end are also enlightening.

We’re preparing for a trip to attend our son’s wedding, and therefore need to constantly check the ever-changing and utterly arbitrary travel restrictions the airlines and the states have imposed; we are hoping the whole vaccine passport idea dies the quick death it deserves. Our son is – finally! – getting to go on a week-long Boy Scout camping trip – and the insane, ever-changing restrictions and requirements are infuriating. If you dare to resist the siren call inject children with experimental vaccines against a disease that doesn’t affect them, then you will be required to submit recent clean COVID test results on inconveniently short notice prior to travel. Teenage boys healthy enough to attempt a week-long wilderness hike are literally at more risk of getting eaten by a bear than dying of COVID; my son quipped that masks reduce their peripheral vision, thus putting them at increased risk of injury out in the wild.

Yet, here we are. We don’t want to flee, but must be kept terrified and obedient to arbitrary rules so that we don’t gather and talk to each other, thus spreading ‘disinformation’ about what Our Own Lying Eyes see with dazzling clarity.

Your Own Lying Eyes

So, having correctly identified the COVID overreaction as fraud in March, 2020, I have not only not submitted to lockup, nor worn a mask except when needed to gain entrance to stores where I need to shop or to keep Karen from shutting down our church, nor observed the ‘social distancing’ rules, I and mine have actively sought out occasions to fraternize with people who similarly refuse to be cowed. Tends to only be a few times a month where we’ve hung out like normal people with normal people, but we’re trying.

So, I’ve noticed a couple things. Of course – duh – the people in these groups of normal people acting normally are not dying any faster or more dramatically than anyone else. If the propaganda were true, there would have to be a bunch of deaths in at least one of these groups, where many dozens of people over 60 gather regularly (I’m being vague here, for obvious reasons). I mean, we’re talking 80 year olds here, fraternizing with the other reactionaries of all ages, including smiles, hand shakes and – oh the humanity! – hugs. Over and over, week after week.

And none of them have died, and I’m pretty sure I’d have heard about it if someone had. Nobody’s been hospitalized. To all appearances, the elderly in this group are if anything more healthy than is typical of people their age.

Yet this is not evidence anyone on the terrified bunny side of the issue would admit. As unlikely as they are to acknowledge the cherry picking being done in the name of horrifying the rabbits, they are that likely to insist that this example is cherry picking on the ‘ain’t no plague’ side, that, if anything, it’s the fault of people acting normal that ‘we’ haven’t ‘defeated’ the virus yet. People refusing to be cowed into following totalitarian fantasy instructions unsupported by logic or evidence are somehow asymptomatically transferring the disease to others who then dutifully and in perfect accord with the panic die in droves, off-camera. Since we’re absolutely, dogmatically certain people are dying, and it’s clear the people immediately in front of us aren’t (at least, aren’t any more than any other year), then there must be people we never see dying someplace we haven’t been – nursing homes, for example, which were never overrun with visitors even pre-COVID, and are completely devoid of visitors now.

COVID deaths are also miraculously immune to that eternal bane of logic and science: confirmation bias. Even to suggest that confirmation bias needs to be guarded against gets one labeled a ‘denier’. The rules for filling out death certificates, which DO NOT mandate a positive test result for a COVID diagnosis, but rather encourage a COVID diagnosis if any two of the classic symptoms were present in the deceased, suggest, to put it mildly, a strong risk of confirmation bias. Since those symptoms include fever, aches, and breathing trouble, anyone who dies while showing evidence of a cold, a flu, an allergy attack, or a bout of asthma is almost guaranteed to get classified as a COVID death. It is otherwise impossible to rationally explain how, according to WHO data, no one anywhere in the world has died of the flu since March, 2020. (I heard a poor simple soul suggest that maybe the masks, lockups, and social distancing worked against the flu, even if they didn’t against the ‘Rona. In other words, this innocent was willing to accept that masks, distancing, and lockups worked against one virus but not against another that is exactly the same size and uses exactly the same transmission vectors. I didn’t even try to straighten him out.)

I know one man who had a younger, allegedly otherwise healthy relative die of COVID – 10,000 miles away. Not somebody he knew well, not somebody he’s seen in years, but somebody who was a real person to him – of course, I’m sympathetic, and said a prayer for the repose of her soul and comfort for her family. But, again – 10,000 miles away, on the ragged edges of Western medicine and of systematic reporting of numbers of any kind. Maybe this poor woman is the one in 100,000 or more healthy younger person who the Kung Flu kills. More likely, its a case of evil telephone – people are looking for COVID deaths, and so, by the time the story has been relayed a couple times, they will find them.

But that’s it, as far as my personal experience goes. A few friends and acquaintances have caught and recovered from it, with no more trouble than a typical flu. Does no one remember from the distant past of lo two years ago, when, every year without fail, we or somebody we knew caught the flu and just had a hard time shaking it? We’d get sick, feel kind of better, try to return to normal, then get hammered again? And how it would be a month or two before we finally felt 100%? Or even the common cold that took 2 weeks to shake and left us weak? No? Some other planet, then? But none of the people I know, even a few ‘high risk’ types in their 70s and 80s, has had any more than a ‘bad flu’ experience with COVID. Most shook it off faster than a typical flu – 3 days, maybe, with one ‘I’m not feeling right’ day followed by an ‘I’m pretty sick’ day followed by ‘feeling better but weak’ day. Of course, if you were already dying of something else, like the majority of nursing home patients, even this might kill you – because, if you are in a nursing home, SOMETHING IS GOING TO KILL YOU sooner rather than later.

No one I know has died of this disease; the deaths I’ve heard of from friends have all been elderly and sickly – and there’s only 3 total of those. To say an elderly, sickly person died of anything specific apart from being elderly and sickly is perverse. People get old and die – if we’re lucky, we each will get old and die. But in the current environment, it is tacitly assumed every old person would otherwise be immortal if the plague didn’t get them. I, like every sane person ever, assumes a sickly old person is going to die sooner rather than later, baring a miracle. Nursing homes are full of such people.

But back to evidence near versus evidence far. I’ve heard COVID is raging now in India. Looked it up – nope. But that won’t stop the headline writers and politicians from telling us it is. Very handy to have the latest deadly outbreak on the other side of the planet, from a nation to whom any standards of methodical reporting of anything are a bit of a British novelty, and certainly subject to more ingrained local practices. If that’s not clear: numbers coming out of India are suspect, to say the least; but what numbers have come up suggest the current ‘raging’ outbreak is still vastly smaller on a per-capita basis than any of the panic leaders in Europe. And make no allowances for confirmation bias.

So: There are those who have hardly stepped outside since March 2020. All they have, with slight apologies to Don Henley, is the word of

  • the bubble-headed bleach blond who comes on at 5.
  • Tell you all about the COVID with a gleam in her eye.
  • It’s interesting when people die – give us Dirty Fauci

Those who, like the hypochondriac who forgets not to use the arm that he says is crippled, go out often but imagine they are locking down, the lack of dead bodies on the street will go unnoticed.

Who are you going to believe, the ‘experts’ or your own lying eyes?

Pre-‘Rona. And one of the greatest guitar solos ever recorded, to boot!

Non-Scientists with Science Degrees mad at Scientists with no Science Degrees

A writer is someone who writes, right? A piano player is someone who plays the piano, a painter someone who paints. And so on. So, a scientist is someone who, well, sciences. More precisely, a scientist is someone who tries to understand the material world by applying (roughly) a Baconian approach: all theories are generated by rigorous logic with constant and inescapable reference to observations made in the real world; all theories are tested against objective reality and rejected if they fail to conform; where appropriate, structured experiments are used to tease out needed observations; no effort is spared to escape confirmation bias. Something like that.

Science used to be a little like Christianity, in the sense that ‘by their fruits you shall know them’ – Ben Franklin and Michael Faraday, to take two well-know examples, were great scientists because of their fruitful application of scientific principles. That neither had any formal training, let alone formal certification, in science was and is irrelevant.

Of course, if you want to be a nuclear physicist or a genetic engineer or any number of other highly technical fields, you will almost certainly need to get into a university program, at least to get any access to the equipment used. It’s not so much the formal education, even less the formal certification, that matters – it’s the access to the experts and the tools they use. An Einstein or a Feynman or any true creative expert are self-taught by all accounts – BUT also had extensive opportunities to rub elbows with other geniuses, with whom they could talk and to whom they could show their work. Insofar as formal education provides for these things, it is not at all to be denigrated. I am here only urging one not to mistake the container for the contents.

In the above senses, I am a very slight (and truly humble, even if it may not come off that way) scientist. I confine myself almost exclusively to checking whether the basic rules of science and logic have been followed, most specifically the rules against overstating what the evidence will support and ignoring confirmation bias. Whatever slight technical skills I have are confined to model building and data analysis.

So, it turns out, I am the enemy. Because I don’t reflexively submit to the teachings of the formally certified ‘scientists’, I’m promoting “unorthodox science online.” Here’s a link to William Brigg’s write up on an MIT study by *certified* ‘science’ critters attesting to the badthink of us troublemakers. Also, reader Billy Jack sent me this study last week, when it first came out.

The horror that somebody *not certified by the Academy* would independently apply the rules of science and thus dispute the *consensus* of said Academy is something up with which these folks will not put!

The truly chilling part: that this ‘study’ has not been roundly condemned and laughed off the stage by the real scientists at MIT – which, at least historically, has been home to plenty of them. But, follow the money – where does MIT’s funding come from?

Lysenkoism: not just a bad idea, it’s the LAW.