Archive for August, 2008

Irony

I think this is the first blog that I’ve written not about video games where I am stone cold sober. I haven’t written a post for a while and things have been building up inside me waiting for that magic moment when the alcoholic content of my blood one Friday night convinces my brain that someone somewhere might like to read something I write. But that moment cannot happen anytime soon, so best to get it out, even if I am sober.

I have been told by the doctor that I have a problem with my liver called a “Fatty Liver”. It is caused because I am too fat. It’s not serious but I do need to lose weight and when I do lose weight it will go away. It’s not a good idea to be drinking when you have this problem because your liver and alcohol don’t mix well at the best of times, unless you only drink a couple of pints, and honestly, what’s the point in that. It’s seems dumb to me to have two pints then spend £10 getting a taxi home from wherever you are drinking the 2 pints. When I lose weight and the problem goes away I will be able to drink again.

Now I have basically been on some kind of diet for 15 years and done nothing but put weight on. I’ve never managed to find the spark that could make me seriously lose that weight. Ironic then that the reason I am determined to, and will, lose stones of weight, is so that I can start drinking beer again and not lose my Friday night tox*!

Most people who know me know that I am argumentative, often playing Devil’s advocate just for the fun of it and a complete geek. I love science and technology and am totally sceptical (which my spell checker insists should have a k and not a c; damn you American programmers) about most things that aren’t scientific. The God nonsense, spooky ghosts, water running up hills, drinking pure water (sorry I mean Homeopathy) and foot rubbing to fix all your ills, nano pepto meta hamahydryde abrasion fusions that are supposed to make women (never men) look younger, Big Foot, man not landing on the moon, twin towers being demolished, alien abduction, psychic brain reading, God (did I already mention that one?) and everything else along those lines stir up emotions from fits of laughter to total astonishment that anyone would believe what they are being told.

For instance, and this is a particular favourite of mine, there is an advert on telly right now for a product that will kill 99.9% of all germs dead. It shows a lady wiping a surface with a cloth with the germs she misses highlighted in glowing green. Just one of those green dots will multiply to millions by the next morning. So use their product and you’ll be safe. Now is it only me that laughs at that logic? Am I  living in my own world of delusion? If their product only kills 99.9% of the germs then every time you use it you are going to leave .1% of germs behind, all of which will multiply to millions by the next day, when you use it again you leave .1% of them behind. There will always be a healthy supply of death dealing green glowing germs for you to injest.

I don’t believe any of that nonsense because I have my super, scientific, community to trust, well, mostly; you may have read my earlier drunken blubberings about shower heads, but you know, as far fetched as all that is, we need to give the scientists a bit of fantasy-land leeway so they can get over it and re-do the maths. They aren’t really doing any harm anyway, it’s all just theoretical possibility that may or may not still be around in a few years.

Most people don’t understand what science is, which is why many people can’t trust it so much as I do. Most people think science is where you fall asleep listening to some teacher blabbering on about light being a both a wave and a pulse and demonstrating the fact with a slinky, which is far more entertaining if you simply knock it off the table.

I’ll explain what I think science is. Science is a process. It’s a process where some whacko comes up with an idea, like, “I reckon that just after the big bang there were these funny particles hanging about and because of that everything is the way it is”. Some of the ideas that people come up with are so out of whack with common sense it’s a wonder the people who think them up don’t get laughed out of the building. I mean the person that thought it might be possible to store music on a little disc by burning tiny little holes must have been 99% sure he was going to get no-where with an idea like that. And lets not forget the good old, “I reckon we can go to the moon”.

Once we have our whacky idea, the person that dreamt it up puts down the hand-rolled “cigarette” that he or she is smoking and writes the idea down with a load of ways that the idea might be proven. Not only that, they write down the things that disprove their idea. Once it’s all written up, nice and neat, it’s sent for something called a “peer review”.

A peer review can be small or it can be large, I guess a research arm of a specific company will keep peer review to a minimum to protect the secret they are inventing. Universities and more open organisations submit their idea to a far wider audience and often to establishments that will publish the idea and the review. As more and more people review the idea, it starts to be proved more and more (or disproved more and more) until there is so much evidence in support of it it becomes a theory. In some cases some things are proved so well that they become scientific fact.  It’s important that the peer reviewers can replicate the evidence and results of the proposal independently, and that there is no better evidence disproving it.

Reviewing scientific ideas by so many people acts as a kind of barrier to individual nay-sayers messing up the programme. If most scientists agree with the evidence then the idea “makes it”, it has a scientific consensus. But it doesn’t stop there because as new evidence becomes available, maybe through technological advancements or a eureka moment from another scientist enjoying a quick “cigarette”, it can be applied to the theory and the theory can be updated, changed or even proved incorrect.

Probably the most important thing I understand about science is that science is not a method to prove an idea is correct. It is a method to prove an idea is not correct. The more you can’t prove it’s not correct, then the more correct it becomes. Now some people say you can’t use double negatives in a sentence, but I think that last one of mine is a cracker. It’s important that the genuine nay-sayers, i.e. those with actual real evidence to be considered, are not excluded from the process just because they don’t agree.

I am just a layman. I cannot be expected to read and check every single thing I hear or read. I have to trust that science is doing its bit for me, especially the bit funded by the government and therefore funded in part by me.

I read an amazing article today that most people would simply not care about. The scientists just built a 27km long “ring” filled with a big tube full of magnets. It is going to accelerate particles at near the speed-of-light, bash them into each other and they are going to have a look at what happens. Now to me that is stunning, but not the most stunning bit. The whole thing is cooled to below 2 degrees Kelvin so that the superconductors work. It will be the coldest thing in the universe. But even that isn’t the most amazing thing to me, the most amazing thing is that it will, and I’m not making this up, take 90 million measurements 600 million times per second. It took 6000 scientists to sort it out and 10 billion dollars. I assume that’s American billions, which aren’t billions at all, they are billiards, but let’s not split hairs about it.

I read about that machine in a magazine called New Scientist and that’s where all the figures are from. I should treat it with some scepticism though because it is a non-peer reviewed magazine. But hey, I trust them to be correct.

That isn’t the best article in the magazine though, the best article is that a study has shown that cows line themselves up to magnetic north and south when they stand in fields. The scientists analysed cows captured in pictures in Google Earth to do it. Amazing.

So what has any of that got to do with irony? Well not much up to now. There is one subject conspicuous by its absence from the above, Man Made Global Warming, an issue so important that I put it in capitals. I read, every single day, nonsense being drummed into my head. I see thousands of my pounds being spent on utterly stupid ideas all in the name of being green to save the planet, i.e. to reduce my carbon footprint.

Now, I am actually undecided about Man Made Global Warming. I’d go so far as to say that I do not think that man is warming the planet, and I would almost very nearly say that I do not think the planet is even warming at all, but I’d be prepared to be proved wrong very easily. Why would I say that that when the supposed scientific consensus is that it is real and I trust the scientists so much?

The reason is that there seems to be so much blatantly obvious contradictory evidence that NEVER gets explained in public in any reasonable manner. All I seem to hear and be told is what the “green” lobby say. For instance, I was sat in the doctor’s waiting for my turn when I noticed a T.V. showing the Life Channel in the waiting room. It’s set up that way by the practice. All of a sudden a sequence starts showing ice falling from glaciers,  a lone polar bear clearly trapped on a single piece of ice out in the middle of the sea, floods, landslides and then the Greenpeace logo.

How the hell did some Greenpeace politicised propaganda make it into the waiting room of a doctors surgery? It can hardly be called an objective bit of footage. It annoys me beyond belief and the scientists, the people I trust, are the people that are making it happen. I don’t want biased crap on my doctor’s T.V. I want to see the real scientific evidence about it.

I know for a fact that the information shown in that film in no way whatsoever proves anything to do with Global Warming, man made or not. Glaciers lose bits of themselves all the time, have done for millions of years. Polar Bears can swim for miles and have actually survived much more intense warming periods than now in their history. I saw a program on the telly where they followed a Polar Bear tracking a seal under the ice for 50 miles, at which point the bear pounced on it through the ice and ate it. Landslides and floods happen all the time. All these people are doing is trying to use emotion, not evidence, to convince me that they are correct. It is pure propaganda dressed up as science.

I read on the Internet, and only the Internet, about all the seemingly contradictory evidence to Man Made Global Warming. And if I’m honest the contradictory evidence makes far more sense than the consensus. So where are the scientists disproving this information for me? Nowhere that’s where. They never take the “Internet Skeptic’s” lecture which makes complete sense to me and rip it to shreds with reasoned argument. They simply dismiss him as a crackpot, but he has very very big flaws in their evidence that proves them wrong. I mean actually proves them wrong. Where are my scientists I trust so much?

The fact that they do nothing makes me question the scientific process, I am losing trust in it, at least in this one area.

The media drive me mad with their nonsense because I do what seems like a pretty simple calculation in my head that shows they are being stupid and costing us money in the process for no reason. I read an article on the BBC that started off by explaining that it takes a couple of hundred years for environmental factors to affect weather and then showed a graph showing temperature rises from the year 1800 and odd to the present day and then blamed our CO2 output for the warming. Well that doesn’t make sense because we are suffering warming now from our output 200 years ago by their own argument, and there wasn’t enough CO2 produced by man then to create warming, so how could it be caused by man if we weren’t producing enough CO2?

Make sure your tyres are at the correct pressure. Honestly how will that tiny insignificant amount of CO2 saving help the planet?

Do you know that temperatures have cooled in the last 9 years? Really, it’s true apparently. In the last 9 years global warming has not happened. Has this been plastered over all the mainstream newspapers? No, it barely gets a mention. If we are producing more CO2 than ever and the Earth cools, then it cannot possibly be CO2 causing the warming. “Ahh but”, say the green people, “you have to ignore that because of El Nina which causes a cooling”. I am a layman, what the hell am I to believe? I am fed so much conflicting and blatantly untrue information that I cannot form an opinion either way. One thing that I can categorically state is the Man Made Global Warming is absolutely NOT a fact, no matter what any green lobbyist, scientist or politician says and that the contradictory evidence seems better to me than the accepted evidence.

As far as a I am aware as well, only the northern hemisphere is getting warmer, the southern hemisphere is cooling. So much for the global part of the equation.

To drive home the conflicting argument thing; there was a programme on channel 4 called “the Great Global Warming Swindle”. In it loads of scientists showed how stupid the idea of global warming was. That is about the only programme I have seen on telly with a contradictory view and it seemed fairly convincing to me. However a few weeks ago I read that Channel 4 got their fingers wrapped because there was a load of incorrect data in it. A few Internet links later and I find a load of global warming supporters abusing critics everywhere, calling it a lie and that people are “Global Warming Deniers” as if it’s like denying the holocaust. That particular trend in science, to label people with opposite evidence as the same as mass murderers, is particularly sickening.

Cut to a few days later and I find that exactly the same thing happened to Al Gore’s film, “the Inconvenient Truth, a pro-warming film made to convince America that green is best. The producers got their fingers wrapped by American court type people for having lies in it. He got a Nobel prize for that film and it has lies in it. So the Man Made Global Warming theorists are absolutely no better than their critics at not lying to me. The only difference is that one set of lies gets a Nobel prize.

I never told you my calculation.  The USA has about 350 million people in it. India has 900 million people in it and China has 1.3 billion  (13 thousand million, American again). So totaling up from those countries we get 2.55 thousand million people all polluting, per capita, more than each one of us in Britain. In Britain there are about 63 million people. If we stopped being a country, all packed up and left Blighty for sunnier climes and made Britain so that it instantly stopped producing any CO2 we would reduce emissions by about 2.5 percent compared to what those few countries emit. I do not believe for one second that reducing by 2.5%  will do a thing for Global Warming. But bear in mind we cannot stop producing, all the money we are spending is designed to reduce our emissions by a third. So in total we will reduce CO2 by .85% or so compared to what the other countries produce. But that’s only if they pollute the same as us. They don’t,  the USA pollutes twice as much as us per capita, and I believe China is 5 times us per capita. Multiply the figures accordingly.

What is the point of spending stupid amounts of money on theories that could well be incorrect (because no scientist I know of will put together a cohesive argument proving the “sceptics” wrong) when anything we do, at all, will have absolutely no effect on reducing global warming?

So there’s the irony, the greatest scientific debate, possibly, of our age and it is that which is shaking my trust in the community that gave me computer games, tastier beer, nice safe irradiated food, B12 vitamin injections, torches that charge up just by shaking them, chocolate with pictures imprinted on it, ink that changes when an electric current is passed across it, DMI switch boxes, fire-proof curtains, shoes that let my feet breath, the discovery of Evolution, online multiplayer light sabreing, bank machines, air conditioning in my car,  the perfect Jaffa Cake and 90 million measurements 600 million times per second.

Avaguddun,

Lee

* A tox is the opposite of a de-tox.

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