No one will be more surprised than I am that I haven't posted anything since Thursday night. I think that, excepting a few periods of travel, it's the longest I've gone without posting since I started this blog. Not that I think there are hordes of readers waiting with bated breath for me to return, just that I feel like I'm supposed to return!
Aside from some family matters that I don't think are proper to discuss, at least for now, the time since my last post was largely spent working on the new shop. We had blinds to mount on three windows and the double doors. We had to wait for the construction guys to finish working inside, caulking and painting, and then I went to hang blinds. I don't know about you folks, but hanging blinds never goes as smoothly and effortlessly as it should. We bought blinds online specifying the kind that mount outside the window box, since I knew the walls had a 1x4 running a few inches on both sides across the top and bottom so there would be wood to screw the mounts into. Due to unexpected nails, no two blinds have the same placement and spacing of the mounts! Each set of blinds ended up being mounted a few times.
But the worst were these
. We have hurricane rated doors, with windows made of impact glass that survives the 2x4 shot at 150 mph (also effective against smash and grab), but they didn't have blinds inside for privacy. The blinds are made by the company that makes the doors, so they should be the easy choice, right? Ha ha! Despite the video that makes installation appear to be a 30 second job
(I swear it was all CGI), this was the worst job we had to do. The two blinds took about six hours to mount and wrecked me, both physically, aggravating the mostly-healed tendinitis I got last Saturday, and causing me no end of frustration.
The construction is down to just a couple of finish jobs and may be done this week. I'm mostly moved into the space, but need to spend some time building some shelves. My working vacation for the last two weeks is ending today, so moving the reloading stuff will have to wait until next weekend when I can spend a little more time getting the area laid out.
Possibly the longest thing I've written in the last few days was a comment over at Bayou Renaissance Man, to a piece on How to Quack-Proof Yourself
. The topic of junk science is something I've written many pieces
on and care deeply about. This particular alleyway in the topic is very important, and the linked author, Dr. Amy Tuteur
, approaches the argument with authority. She gets a lot of it right, IMO of course, but drifts too far down the "physicians are scientists and we know what's good for you" road for my comfort. In a year that we've been told the advice on consumption of saturated fat in the diet is meaningless
(pay portal - more readable summary here
) when it comes to preventing heart disease, and that there really is nothing mysteriously good for you about red wine (resveratrol
), her comments on a few of these topics don't sit well with me. Let's face it, the official pronouncements on what we should eat change regularly.
Here's the part that tweaked me. Quoting the source:
A pervasive theme in quackery is the notion of the brilliant heretic.
Believers argue that science is transformed by brilliant heretics whose
fabulous theories are initially rejected, but ultimately accepted as
the new orthodoxy. The conceit rests on the notion that revolutionary
scientific ideas are dreamed up by mavericks, but nothing could be
further from the truth. Revolutionary scientific ideas are not dreamed
up; they are the inevitable result of massive data collection.
Like plate tectonics?
Like the big bang theory vs. the steady state models? Both of these well-established scientific theories were brought up by "brilliant heretics" and didn't get accepted despite the "massive data collection" she talks about. Back in 2011, Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize
for a topic he was drummed out of his research group over, quasi crystals. Yet another brilliant heretic who was ignored and punished widely despite his "massive data collection". She's going
against perhaps the most quoted book in science, Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Kuhn observes that science is relatively static; new ideas are accepted in infrequent
revolutions when old ways of envisioning and approaching problems fall
to new ones. This happens largely because the old scientists who hold
those views die off.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, she makes the mistake of saying since science is
self-correcting and is right in the long run, it's always right. In
general, science is always wrong; if it was always right, it wouldn't need to be self-correcting. Something would be proven, then put on
the shelf while new things were conquered. If this is true at all, it's
only true in math. Science is correct only in a few, simple areas that are well known and that no longer need research.
In reality you get things like the recent paper
where a well-funded lab tried to replicate published, peer-reviewed cancer research and
found only about a quarter of 67 papers could be verified. My 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
Which reminds me that one of the most downloaded academic papers in history is John Ioannidis' Why Most Published Research is Wrong
. Gary Taubes
one of my favorite science writers, and a guy who has won many awards
at it, says, "And here’s the challenge to both the scientist working in
the field and the lay observer following along: how do we tell the
difference between the one in a million times, say, that an outsider
comes along and gets it right, and the other 999,999 quack-driven
attempts? The numbers alone tell us that the best idea is always to bet
against the outsider, that we’re always best served by ignoring him or
her and getting back to science as usual (what Kuhn called “normal
science”). The odds are enormously in our favor if we do so. But, still,
when a paradigm is shifted, it’s going to be an outsider who does
And that's the rub. If a self-proclaimed brilliant heretic, or someone proclaimed as such by other people says they have proof their advancement in science or medicine chances are they're not right. But keep your ears open for lots of heretics saying the same thing. The data that dietary saturated fat has essentially nothing to do with heart disease has been talked about regularly by many, many researchers for as long as the lowfat mantra was being preached, but there's a long time lag between the point where lots of heretics start saying something and the time the older researchers die off.
(I wanted a picture of an old scientist, and Bing gave me actor Christopher Lloyd as Doc from "Back to the Future". Somehow, that works for me.)