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.