Questioning the Sanity of Big Science and Big Media
Scientists arrogate to themselves the authority to diagnose insanity, but they and their friends in the mainstream media believe some pretty nutty things.
Observers of Big Science (the institutions and journals) and Big Media (their lapdog publicists) learn two things real fast: (1) They hate Donald Trump, who is real, and (2) They love space aliens, who are not. Go figure.
In Thursday’s presidential press conference (Feb 16), Trump told reporters that he knew they were going to twist everything he said. Sure enough, they did. From his point of view, it’s not surprising he went from calling CNN “fake news” to “very fake news.” From the reporters’ point of view, Trump is an enemy to be destroyed. Guess whose side Big Science is on? Some headlines today leave no doubt.
Big Science: Trump, the Evil Wacko
Ensuring scientific integrity in the Age of Trump (Science Magazine). If you expect this post by seven members of the “Union of Concerned Scientists” will be fair and balanced, you don’t know Big Science. “Early indications that the Administration plans to distort or disregard science and evidence, coupled with the chaos and confusion occurring within federal agencies, now imperil the effectiveness of our government.” That’s just the second sentence. It goes downhill from there. Now guess who the good leader is, in their opinion. “Both the John McCain and Obama campaigns in 2008 committed in writing to restore scientific integrity to federal policy-making.” (Note to readers: McCain lost, Trump won, but McCain has been a constant critic of Trump. Another note: “scientific integrity” is Big Science code for giving Big Science everything it wants, paid for by taxpayers. Anything else is called “anti-science.”)
The America I believe in (Hilal A. Lashuel in Science Magazine). This is a crybaby piece by a Yemenese-born Swiss Muslim, who is also a US citizen. He was inconvenienced by Trump’s temporary hold on immigrant travel to the United States from seven terror-prone countries, including Yemen. Actually, Lashuel made the decision not to try to travel to a conference, but he plays up the “ban” word for best effect to make Trump look anti-Muslim. Like most leftists, he fails to mention that the majority of Muslim nations were unaffected, and that the seven countries restricted by Trump’s executive order had previously been fingered by the Obama administration as failed states supporting terrorism, whose citizens should be restricted from immigrating to the US. But that point wouldn’t fit the leftist/globalist/open-borders narrative now, would it? Readers will look in vain for any scientist glad that Trump was taking action to protect US citizens.
European science bodies ‘concerned’ about Trump (Phys.org). Why are 46 European science societies concerned about Trump? They think his views are not based on scientific facts. “The authors cited the new US president’s attempts to ban travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and threats to stop government scientists from talking to the press or publishing findings without permission.” Actually, those claims were answered by Trump’s team: it wasn’t a ‘ban’ on Muslim countries (most Muslim countries were still allowed), but only on seven failed states that could not guarantee their people were not involved in terrorism. That’s a position both Obama and Clinton stated previously. Secondly, there was no order “to stop government scientists from talking to the press or publishing findings without permission.” That is certifiable fake news. The temporary order only applied to the EPA (which works for the President) after a sub-agency “retweeted a pair of posts to its 315,000 followers that seemed to be a swipe at Trump on his initial day in office” (Breitbart News). And it was temporary: “We’re just trying to get a handle on everything and make sure what goes out reflects the priorities of the new administration.” One would think scientists would know how to evaluate evidence before jumping to conclusions. This article provided no balance or fact-checking.
Should Psychiatrists’ Weigh in on Trump’s Mental Health? (Catherine Caruso at Live Science). So deep runs the hatred of Trump among scientific institutions, they are not beyond calling him crazy. Despite the American Psychiatric Association’s “self-imposed ethics rule forbidding psychiatrists from offering professional opinions about public figures they have not personally evaluated,” Caruso writes, a group of 35 New York psychiatrists and social workers “believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.” So by their own guidelines, they admit they have no evidence. Fortunately, Caruso mentions some others who don’t agree with this tactic. But is this response better? “Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy.” Attack on democracy? [See ‘Begging the Question’ in the Baloney Detector.]
Update 2/19/17: Dr. Allen Frances comes to Trump’s aid in New Scientist, saying that trying to impeach the president on medical grounds is a “terrible idea.” He strongly opposes the 24,000 psych’s who have signed a letter calling him mentally ill and unfit for office, because “armchair diagnosis cheapens its currency.” Already, “psychiatric diagnosis is already done far too casually and inaccurately in medical and mental health practice,” he says, so opponents need to use political tools, “not misapplied psychological ones.” It’s not clear if Trump, his cabinet or his supporters will fully appreciate his defense, though. Dr. Frances calls Trump “flawed” and a “world class narcissist” who represents a “present threat to peace, the global climate, rational thought and science” – and not just Trump. “Those next in line,” referring to Mike Pence, “support the same dangerous, science-denying irrationality.” One wonders who is living in the glass house here.
Big Science: Space Aliens, Our Invisible Friends
An old preacher, to illustrate the point that the problem might be one’s own fault, told a funny story about a practical joker who smeared Limburger cheese in the beard of a sleeping bum. When the bum got up and started walking around, he saw a pretty lady and said to himself, “She smells bad.” He sniffed a rose and thought it smelled terrible. After a few minutes, he exclaimed, “What’s going on? The whole world smells awful!” We have just seen institutional scientists calling Donald Trump crazy. Let’s consider the sanity of the accusers, who seem to have an insatiable fascination with invisible beings for which there is absolutely no evidence at all.
For starters, we consider a report by planetary scientists who reported finding a smattering of organic compounds on the dwarf planet Ceres. What does it mean? The authors on Science Magazine say, “The combined presence on Ceres of ammonia-bearing hydrated minerals, water ice, carbonates, salts, and organic material indicates a very complex chemical environment, suggesting favorable environments to prebiotic chemistry.” No life was found, in other words; just some unidentified carbon compounds like methane, ethylene, epsom salt and other poisons – not particularly surprising, since these are often found in meteorites, too. Here’s how the suggestion of “prebiotic” chemistry echoed in Big Science Media:
Life’s Building Blocks Found on Dwarf Planet Ceres (Mike Wall on Space.com). “The dwarf planet Ceres keeps looking better and better as a possible home for alien life.”
Dawn spacecraft data suggest organic materials are native to the dwarf planet (Southwest Research Institute). “This discovery of a locally high concentration of organics is intriguing, with broad implications for the astrobiology community,” says one SwRI researcher. “….With this new finding Dawn has shown that Ceres contains key ingredients for life.”
Dwarf planet Ceres hosts home-grown organic material (Chelsea Whyte on New Scientist). Whyte is mildly cautious, but ends with this quote by a hopeful astrobiologist from the European Space Agency: “A couple of decades ago, when talking about life in the solar system, we were focused on Mars. And now, we are more and more looking at other locations, like Saturn’s moon Titan and the subsurfaces of places like [Jupiter’s moon] Europa,” Küppers says. “And now also Ceres in the asteroid belt.” Note: over the decades, there has been no evidence of life on Mars, Titan, or Europa.
Dwarf planet Ceres and the ingredients of life (Michael Küppers in Science Magazine). That same ESA astrobiologist was given an open mike in America’s leading science journal to state that salt, carbon and ammonia on this little world “opens the possibility that primitive life could have developed on Ceres itself.”
Organic molecules found on giant asteroid Ceres – why that’s a such a huge deal (Monica Grady at The Conversation). Are you getting the picture that Big Science and Big Media have a nutty fascination with alien life? Grady, a professor of planetary sciences at The Open University, is no exception. With such a paucity of evidence— nowhere near the requirements for life (e.g., outside the Habitable Zone, no liquid water, insufficient heat, no genetic information, etc.)—she speculates recklessly like the other reporters above. But then, she goes beyond the others into spiritual revelry. Overcome with euphoria, she enters a trance with an extinct goddess:
The combination of hot water and organic material is extremely exciting. Once you have an environment conducive to the production of organic materials – especially one that also contains the nitrogen-bearing clay minerals which are known to catalyse other reactions – it may not be a step too far to posit that Ceres had (and maybe still has) all the ingredients essential for formation of the chemicals that, on Earth, eventually led to the origin of life.
Ernutet is the Egyptian goddess of fertility or nourishment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if finding organic molecules in a crater named after her was the first indication of a non-terrestrial cradle of life?
This is certifiably unscientific, if not downright insane. There is no evidence for any life beyond Earth, after searching for over half a century. But even if no life is ever found on Ceres, that wouldn’t stop Big Science’s obsessive-compulsive, manic-depressive, paranoid delusion that life must be everywhere. In their dreams, our invisible friends beckon us to join them in a galactic utopia.
Prebiotic evolution: Hairpins help each other out (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich). “Life is thought to have emerged from a process of chemical evolution in which nucleic acid sequences could be selectively replicated.” Is thought? By whom? Dear reader, did you think that? Are these scientists suffering from psychological projection, attributing their own psychosis onto ordinary people? We know better. We watched Illustra’s film Origin.
This Is Why Sending Messages to Aliens Might Be a Good Idea (Nancy Atkinson at Space.com). Nancy gives SETI advocate a soapbox for his idea of METI – messaging extra-terrestrial intelligence. Vakoch figures that since the space aliens already know we’re here from our inadvertent TV and radio leakage, we might as well try to be friendly. Maybe our invisible friends will be nice to us. This isn’t crazy; it’s scientific, he reasons, because we can sanctify the decision to communicate through that tried-and-true process, peer review (see 2/13/17).
Does Dark Matter Harbor Life? (Nautilus). As an illustration of the extremes to which true believers in space aliens will go, look at Lisa Randall arguing that “dark life could in principle be present—even right under our noses.” Note to readers: dark matter has never been detected (e.g., Nature), and no astronomer even knows what it is.
Universes that spawn ‘cosmic brains’ should go on the scrapheap (Anil Ananthaswamy at New Scientist). A logical outcome of multiverse theory (increasingly popular among secular cosmologists as a way out of the fine-tuning in our universe that suggests intelligent design) is that we are not people at all. We are actually naked brains floating in space. That’s because it’s easier for chance to spawn brains complete with false perceptions and memories (called Boltzmann brains) than real people that have to arrive through a long process of evolution. If that sounds nutty, it is – so nutty, in fact, that secular cosmologists who are aware of the problem, like Sean Carroll of Caltech, are trying to squirm out of it with highly speculative concepts like ‘cognitive instability.’ His critics think that such fancy notions are unnecessary.
While tossing out unnecessary things, let’s put these on the list: dark matter, multiverses, space aliens and media bias.
Does anyone think these guys are not totally wacko? What is mental illness if not being out of touch with reality? These echo-chamber troglodytes really need to get out more. Maybe take up coal mining in West Virginia, or work as a cowboy on a ranch, like Teddy Roosevelt did to clear his head after a series of personal crises. Watching people with this level of credulity call conservatives mentally ill or evil should encourage those of us with our common sense intact. The credibility of an accusation is not higher than its source. If people this nutty label you ‘anti-science,’ you have nothing to fear.
Recommended resource: Spike Psarris’s 3rd DVD on “What You Are Not Being Told About Astronomy: Our Created Universe” has a clear explanation and cogent refutation of multiverse theory and Boltzmann brains.