Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Bill Nye, the Not-So-Science Guy

March 9, 2017

Maybe my title is a bit inflammatory.  While I was a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I did not have cable.  Therefore, I was unacquainted with Bill Nye, The Science Guy until I was much older.  Thankfully, I do not have an attachment to this celebrity.  Overall, I do respect what he did by making science cool for many kids, and I have heard he has a mechanical engineering degree, which is no picnic to earn.

Always an advocate of carbon controls, a video he made has become quite popular on Facebook, and it warranted a response.  His video is found here:
Billy Nye’s Call To Action

I posted a response that outlines a few problems I have with his video:

1. Science is never “settled.” If your old “fact” doesn’t stand up to new data, you might just learn something new.

2. Plus or minus 2% is misleading. If you are talking about a 2% error bar on a 0.5% detected change, yes, it might mean that the effect is not happening.

3. In terms of energy balance, yes, there is plenty of energy across the US to power everything. And if you could do 100% energy conversion, and tell Newton’s laws to take a hike, we could power the country this way. Maybe we could some day (even Newton’s laws can be tested), but not today. Then, if we did generate it, that is only part of the problem. Storage and smart transmission are bigger problems.

4. Not everyone who asks questions is a climate denier. I am not a denier, but I expect sound science, not science based on an expected outcome. I expect error propagation and instrumentation error reported, just like I would for other scientific publications. These are almost always lacking. This doesn’t make me a denier.

5. No, Bill, free market and taxes are not compatible. A free market is not controlled by which technologies are taxed and which are not.

I expect as the “March For Science” approaches, we will see more of this garbage, as most people have no idea what is science and what is not.

Thank you for reading my post.

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Censorship and the 1st Amendment

January 27, 2017

As many of you have heard, President Donald Trump wrote Executive Orders to keep the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and several other organizations from making press releases and social media posts.

Many on the left are calling this censorship and a violation of free speech.  Neither of these is true.

Basically, one part of the government has told another part of the government to shut up.  That’s it.  It is no different than what they’ve told folks with a security clearance for years.

Censorship is the act of a government forbidding its citizens from speaking freely.  Like, say, this.

It isn’t a war on science, either.  You can still get these articles from peer-reviwed sources, same as always.  The only difference is that, for the time being, people working for the federal government cannot publish press releases designed to alarm citizens in an effort to get more funding.

As a scientist/engineer, I am sick of seeing awful science published in regular media outlets.   So many of the press releases are done so poorly, they can hardly be called science.  From CNN articles about hurricanes in the Dakotas and blaming every weather disaster on climate change to exaggerated claims about new technological advances, the real science is not featured.

In the end, I really don’t care if the government can’t toot its own horn any more and exaggerate its contributions to science.  How many climate scientists believe in climate change?  How much funding would they receive if they disagreed?  How much would they receive if anthropological climate change wasn’t blamed every time the wind blew?

This isn’t to say that climate change isn’t happening or that government funded research hasn’t led to great discoveries.

I’m done ranting for the evening.  Thank you for reading my post.

Why Science is a Political Rag

June 18, 2014

The other day, I received a complimentary copy of Science, supposedly the most respected journals in the scientific community. It is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is also supposedly one of the most respected scientific communities on Earth.

Let me tell you right now, I am unimpressed.

I received the 23 May 2014 issue, and the cover image and featured article says it all, “Haves and have-nots.” In this “special issue,” other features include articles such as:

“The ancient roots of the 1%”

“Tax man’s gloomy message: the rich will get richer”

“While emerging economies boom, equality goes bust”

“Inequality in the long run”

and other such trash.

For a scientific magazine, there is not much science happening in its pages. Articles come from economics and international affairs professors, rather than scientists or engineers.

One article titled, “The Science of Inequality” features the quote “In 2011, the wrath of the 99% kindled Occupy movements around the world.” Remember the Occupy movements? They lasted like ten minutes and were never even close to the size of the Tea Party Movement. The article features a smug-looking, well-dressed, twenty-something passing a bearded (presumably homeless) man on the street.

This article, and no others in this section contain SCIENCE! For those of you who don’t understand, let’s review the scientific process:

1. Ask a question
2. Collect some background data
3. Make a hypothesis
4. Develop a test method
5. Test hypothesis
6. Analyze results
7. Communicate results

These articles do not do anything of the sort. They spout political opinions, throw in some statistics and call it science. We are expected to believe it, because the authors have PhDs, and come from ivy league schools. We are not to question their authority.

The real problem with this “special section” is their quest for “equality.” You may think that is geared towards lifting the poor, but it is really about suppressing the rich. Don’t believe me?

On page 821, they have a color-coded map of which countries are “more equal.” Iraq is more equal than the United States, as is Mali, Russia, Vietnam, India, and Pakistan. Because the goal is “equality”, as long as everyone is equally poor, it’s alright. The take away from this article is that we should be more like Mali- we can all be poor, but at least we’ll be equally poor.

“Tax man’s gloomy message: the rich will get richer” Who cares if the rich get richer? Good for them! As long as they are not directly stealing from me, why should I care? The point of this article is to attack the rich, rather than uplift the poor.

Overall, don’t read Science if you want science. If you want to read political vomit from socialists and look like a pompous ass, then you should read Science.