Saturday, April 22, 2017

Confidential to the Scientists Marching for Earth Day 2017

On your Earth Day March, here's a little confidential tip from someone just on the outside of your circle: if you want to be respected more, try doing more respectable science.  From last August.
The science world has been buffeted for nearly a decade by growing revelations that major bodies of scientific knowledge, published in peer-reviewed papers, may simply be wrong. Among recent instances: a cancer cell line used as the basis for over a thousand published breast cancer research studies was revealed to be actually a skin cancer cell line; a biotechnology company was able to replicate only six out of fifty-three “landmark” published studies it sought to validate; a test of more than one hundred potential drugs for treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in mice was unable to reproduce any of the positive findings that had been reported from previous studies; a compilation of nearly one hundred fifty clinical trials for therapies to block human inflammatory response showed that even though the therapies had supposedly been validated using mouse model experiments, every one of the trials failed in humans; a statistical assessment of the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map human brain function indicated that up to 70 percent of the positive findings reported in approximately 40,000 published fMRI studies could be false; and an article assessing the overall quality of basic and preclinical biomedical research estimated that between 75 and 90 percent of all studies are not reproducible.
And my personal favorite quote:
"I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they'd done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It's very disillusioning." 
Best story?  Best freaking story!!!??????!!!!  Arrrrggggghhhhhhhh  Science isn't supposed to be stories!!!  One out of six?  Doesn't that mean you screwed up that one time but that's the one you published?!? 


While I go find a blood pressure pill and a soothing cup of tea, it is, after all, Earth Day, that pagan religious holiday of mainstream America.  Time for my favorite Earth Day story.

Earth Day, as most of you know, is a holiday made up in the late 1960s at the start of the national environmental movement.  Ira Einhorn is one of the main founders of Earth Day, if not the guy who started it.  Ira practiced what he preached: he murdered his girlfriend (less stress on the planet) and composted her body in his closet.  (Hey - reduce, re-use, recycle!)
You won't find Ira Einhorn's name listed in any of the Earth Day promotional literature, as the organizers have taken great pains to distance themselves from this man, at least since he became better known for composting his girlfriend in a trunk in his closet for a couple of years in the late 1970s.
I was a science geek in high school in 1970, the first Earth Day, and indoctrinated into the liberal crap of the day.  Who can forget the commercial with the crying Indian ("Iron Eyes Cody", who - BTW - was Italian, not Native American) looking at the spoiled earth.  Caught up in the spirit of the day, we went looking for pollution, and tested a local canal for coliform bacteria.  

The movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the High Priests of Junk Science, probably the single best example of an agency that has outlived its usefulness.

Well, over the years, I've wasted far too many bits on Earth Day.  Enjoy yourselves.  Remember, if you're doing it right, your lights should be visible from Proxima Centauri.
Oh, and remember that nature wants to kill you.


  1. As to Iron Eyes Cody, since all races are situational and subjective in the new progressive view (as are genders) Italian is the new Native American.

    There aren't many people who are in favor of pollution and trash. However the EPA took what was a good idea and went insane on it, tossing the science book out the we have seen with the entire progressive movement. There is a derangement that precedes every single thing that they do, and that is celebrated on Earth Day.

    1. Likewise, I don't think there are many people who were around during the 60s who don't think we're much cleaner and better off than we were then. I'm sure you're familiar with the idea of Parretto optimization: 20% of the causes create 80% of the results, so you focus on the 20%. When they're fixed, find the next worst 20%. Lather, rinse, repeat. When the EPA started worrying about lawnmowers and trimmers that get used once a week for half the year, I think they were running out of things to worry about. When they started trying to regulate mud puddles and calling plow furrows "mini mountain ranges" they've officially gone too far.

  2. We must be of an age: I too was a high-school type at the first Earth Day. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".

    Having the credentials and experience to be inside the circle (in earth sciences to boot - with a couple of EE degrees tossed in), it greatly disappoints me to see what "peer-reviewed" articles have become. I don't bother publishing anymore; it's all politics, "who-you-know", and the "correct" results rather than experimental science. See how far you can get with a paper disputing aspects of AGW ...

    I think we've passed the useful iteration of 20/80 long ago. I have a recent EPA-approved gas "can". It's such a pain to work the cap, I simply remove it and use a funnel. I end up spilling more gas than I ever did with a jerry can. Next time I'm in Canada, I'll buy a real gas can.


  3. Take the lowly modern diesel pick up... You'll get 16-21 mpg hwy from the factory, but it won't offer to puff even the tiniest bit of black flatulence with its urea charged exhaust filters (which arguably probably add $4-5000 to the price of the new vehicle). Throw a controller in the cab and you'll see a 5% increase in fuel economy. Tear off the dpf and egr buffoonery and now we're looking at 10-15% less fuel usage, and unless you're a highschool kid with the "smoke function" turned on, still very little visible exhaust. I thought we wanted mileage to increase fleetwide? EPA CAFE... making engines less efficient and less reliable since 1975.

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