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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Bad science on any side
airbrushed, thoughtful
kistaro
Something that annoys me is bad science. Okay, perhaps "annoy" is not strong enough of a word. "Is prone to sending me into a blind rage" might be closer, if slightly overstated.

I'm not actually gunning at the new Dover, Pennsylvania law requiring that creationism be taught and evolution be noted as a theory and not a fact, although it certainly angers me; it's just been flogged to death my enough other bloggers that I'm not going to waste the keystrokes on it while I wait for the lines at the lunch areas on this campus to decrease. No, what I'm going to be pissed off about is the immediate discrediting of any statement made by a company in favor of its product.

This was spawned by a news story of one group observing an inrease in esophogeal cancer apparently correlating with an increase in soft drink consumption. Soft drink companies replied that the study is full of shit and no causation can be drawn- the numbers come from a fivefold increase in cancer and a fourfold increase in soft drink consumption over the last thirty years, not any actual experimentation.

And this criticism is entirely correct. The "study" is utterly meaningless for exactly that reason. CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION, DAMMIT. The soft drink manufacturers observed that there are a hell of a lot of things that changed an equal amount in thirty years, not just beverage consumption, so why aren't any of them getting the accusation?

A fair question indeed. Perhaps it's artificial sweeteners in general? New varieties of industrial aerosol toxins hanging in the air? Computer mind-control rays? Who knows? I can tell you that the scientists who held this study and then published their results that they should have KNOWN were full of shit most certainly don't know.

I guess what pisses me off the most is that these scientists are, in the discussion area associated with the news story, being hailed as geniuses thwarted by the soft drink companies, who are obviously just lying through their teeth to protect their business. No, it's real, honest, sincere bad science that they've spotted, and they're more than right to object- and they're getting drilled into the ground for it. After all, apparently a company attempting to defend its product can never be right.

Bad science can be on any side of any line- sometimes it's the corporation that's right. I wish more people would start thinking more about the claim than the source of the claim for a change.

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*skims article*

*does a double-take, and reads more closely*

It's always nice when you find out that the county that you grew up in has considered eliminating evolution-biased textbooks, wants to censor books and allow the bible to be distributed. Looks like I'm going to have to buy a lot of copies of Principia Discordia.

I don't have trouble with the Bible being distributed, I have a problem with it being distributed in schools. I don't even have trouble with teachers reminding people that evolution hasn't been "proven", even though it can be logically and mathematically shown that the proof that genetics do exist necessarily implies evolution. What angers me is the presentation of "Intelligent Design Theory" as some sort of legitimate alternative- which it most certainly is not.

It's even mostly a misnomer. It is not intelligent and it is not a theory. At least the acronym is only ten off. Y'know, ten off- take the acronym and insert a ten into it. Y'know, IDT + 10 = ID10T.

The downfall of science disturbs me. I was horrified to discover that my cousin Tyler had never had a science class until third grade. (And his absolutely worthless mother was objecting, asking why he had to learn that because he never did before.) People are simply not being taught science, and it's getting lower and lower priority in schools- after all, the No Child Left Behind act only provides for English and Math, not science, so of course it gets sidelined. All to the better of the Bush administration, which has repeatedly forced scientific institutions and scientific portions of its own government to change their information to flat-out lies to support the Bush agenda. "Abstinence is the only contraception" is what makes me the angriest.

I'm up to three protests that I want to do now. The first is signboards decorated with condoms, bearing the text "WHAT ABOUT THESE?" with other boards reading "HAVE FUN" and "ABSTINENCE IS PERFECT, BUT OTHER THINGS REALLY HELP", protesting outside some sex-ed center, preferably a Faith-Based Initiative or something else that chose to lie instead of lose fundie funding.

Second one, in protest of recent media moguls pushing a retarded copyright law towards congress that would make fast-forwarding through recorded advertisements (y'know, if you record a TV show to watch later) illegal. Yes, illegal. It's okay to fast-forward through the show, but you must watch the ads. Protest would be a non-mobile one, which I could do outside of City Hall on the sidewalk given a permit: a television, a VCR, a cassette tape contianing only commercials, the fast forward button, and a sign with the text "THIS COULD BE BREAKING THE LAW: YOUR FAST-FORWARD BUTTON MAY BE ILLEGAL WITH NEW LEGISLATION" or preferably something more concise, while handing out pamphlets with propaganda against this proposed legislation.

Third one, in protest of the textbook stickers saying that evolution is only a theory, not a fact: large signs saying that gravity is only a theory and not a fact, the Bible is only an excessively old book written by far too many people and certainly not a fact, that relativity is a theory and not a fact, etc...

There's a lot of correlation -> causation 'science' in popular newspapers and such... 'People who don't wash their ears are more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver!'

Teaching 'creation science' really is terrible though. Some children are going to be taken in by that.

My 8th-grade biology textbook had an experiment where mixing a few chemicals resulted in the creation of cell-like forms. Not actual life, but really damn close.

I wonder if that got removed, too.

For the Sake of Argument...

If we can create a procedure through which to produce new life, isn't that life created by intelligent design?

Re: For the Sake of Argument...

Aye, but the experiment shows that the creation of cell-like forms is not particularly exotic- it becomes concievable that the creation of a slightly more complex cell-like form capable of replicating itself could easily come about by random chance.

Re: For the Sake of Argument...

I'd say, then, that we're stuck. We can't really prove which one of those happened... or it could be both.

(Deleted comment)
You might be surprised to know, then, that it actually isn't. Of course, gravity, relativity, particle physics, the entire field of electromagnetism, all physics we know, all "laws" that science has determined, et al. are all, technically speaking, "merely" theories.

"Fact" is a word reserved only for things that can be unquestionably factually observed and explained. Scientifically speaking, "my computer mouse exists" is a fact, although Descartes might question it. Scientifically speaking, "I am a dragon" has completely indetermined truth value, and presently indeterminable truth value. Scientifically speaking, "mass attracts mass" (the law of gravity) has undetermined truth value, because it is a generalization from local observations, and no such generalization can ever be taken as inherently factual and accurate...

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