Science Too Mighty For Its Own Good?

The science section of the NYT has its cover article lauding a full professor at Harvard for spending her time demonstrating that the fossil fuel industry has influenced prestigious scientists who have “become merchants of doubt”. In other words, paid liars.

That the fossil fuel industry tells Americans how to think is an obvious, and therefore uninteresting, fact. The USA is completely in the grip of plutocracy, which spent handsomely to influence minds (although even Exxon admits human guilt on climate change). Saint Bill Gates can invest in the dirtiest things, including $1.4 billion in fossil fuels, and it does not make a dent in the reverence Bill gates’ gets. Worrying about Gates of hell does not put bacon on the table, indeed.

Shale Fracking Revolution: Sky The Limit, Watch Those Poles Melt

Shale Fracking Revolution: Sky The Limit, Watch Those Poles Melt

[This graph is pretty, but a bit old: 2006. If anything, thanks to the USA’s Shale Revolution, the production of fossil fuels has augmented, although the USA is now lowering its CO2, thanks to… CH4… from fracking. The graph above ought to be interpreted RELATIVELY: the true CO2 emissions according to Wikipedia are four times greater (34 Gt), and according to me, even the CO2 EQUIVALENT TOTAL is six times greater, up to 50 Gigatons per year.]

However the fossil fuel industry in Europe has admitted that fossil fuels are slowly cooking the biosphere. Some of these European companies which admits human guilt about fossil fuel are major investors in carbon free energy generation. France is scrambling to finish by September the world’s largest Solar PhotoVoltaic plant. Machines install 7,000 panels, each day. In the end the plant will have one million panels, on 250 hectares, and produce 300 Megawatts (a third of a big nuclear reactor). The real cost is as cheap as the (subsidized) fossil fuel industry.

On the way to a nuclear future, Solar PhotoVoltaic happened…Polls show 69% of Americans are worried about climate change, a rise. Maybe people are more anxious doing away with the threat of climate change, now that a clean, cheap solution is at hand. Thus they allow themselves to get more worried about it.

The same Science section has an article on scientific fraud: it’s on the rise. Or, at least observation of it as on the rise. Science, Now Under Scrutiny Itself:

“The crimes and misdemeanors of science used to be handled mostly in-house, with a private word at the faculty club, barbed questions at a conference, maybe a quiet dismissal. On the rare occasion when a journal publicly retracted a study, it typically did so in a cryptic footnote. Few were the wiser; many retracted studies have been cited as legitimate evidence by others years after the fact…”

So scientific fraud, as I have long said, is a problem with science itself. That Copernic, rather than Buridan, is attributed the heliocentric revolution, is a problem with how we think that the mind works. Buridan’s main insight, impetus, was attributed to Newton, thus messing up what is the proper epistemology.

“…an increase in retractions that has alarmed many journal editors and authors. Scientists in fields as diverse as neurobiology, anesthesia and economics are debating how to reduce misconduct, without creating a police-state mentality that undermines creativity and collaboration.

“It’s an extraordinary time,” said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and a founder of the Center for Open Science, which provides a free service through which labs can share data and protocols. “We are now seeing a number of efforts to push for data repositories to facilitate direct replications of findings.”

But that push is not universally welcomed. Some senior scientists have argued that replication often wastes resources. “Isn’t reproducibility the bedrock of science? Yes, up to a point,” the cancer biologist Mina Bissell wrote in a widely circulated blog post. “But it is sometimes much easier not to replicate than to replicate studies,” especially when the group trying to replicate does not have the specialized knowledge or skill to do so.”

Indeed. It’s the difference between correcting an already written text, and starting from scratch.

What we believe to be really true, and demonstrably so, is science. However that’s now very important, so important that it gets polluted by politics, big time. And it did not start yesterday. As the “New Horizon” probe is approaching Pluto, it does this thank to… Plutonium, naturally enough. However, space exploration is stalling in part because such Plutonium generators are not made anymore (the last one was used by the Franco-American Curiosity rover). Just because of Plutonium-phobia (not to be confused by highly desirable plutophobia).

Meanwhile, probably what is the USA’s most prominent characteristic that made it the world’s richest nation is again revealed: the USA is (again!) the world’s greatest oil producer, surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia. The graph is striking: the old oil production peaked at 9.1 million barrels a day, and now it has barreled through the old record, to average 11 million barrels a day in 2015. Is Pluto generous with its servants?

Patrice Ayme’


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One Response to “Science Too Mighty For Its Own Good?”

  1. gmax Says:

    Science, like much of society, is struck by a decay of morals.

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