16 February 2023 - 1:37 am
This article contains some philosophical and psychological observations, and some history, in an attempt to figure out what “science” really is, what role it plays and how reliable it is. It is by no means the final word on the matter, just an effort to open a dialogue on matters that are usually considered “the final word”, at least until they’re not.
On the 20th April 2021 the Lancet published an article titled “COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness—the elephant (not) in the room”. The Lancet describes itself as “an independent, international weekly general medical journal founded in 1823” and is regularly referenced in the media as an authoritative source for science and medical information.
The mainstream media’s enthusiasm for quoting the Lancet will of course be limited to articles and studies that follow the prescribed narrative. We shall return to the content of the cited Lancet article later, but for now what should be understood is that “Following the Science” is an often parroted line from those that would prefer you switched off your brain and obeyed State Approved Experts unquestioningly.
Whatever the topic, specifically involving anything that falls within the realm of what we understand to be the field of science, you’ll find decrees emanating from what we’re told is The Science. The phrase “The Science” is now a mantra, something invoked like a sacred utterance as it has been granted special powers. Interestingly Wikipedia states the word “mantra” has no generally accepted definition. But mantras are used and have been for millennia in various ways, summed up by the Cambridge Dictionary’s two different definitions. The first refers to Hinduism and Buddhism: a word or sound that is believed to have a special spiritual power. The second definition is more general: a word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particularly strong belief.
We hear “The Science” referred to in a mixture of both of those definitions. When we hear Politicians exhort their respective citizens to “Trust The Science”, or to “Listen to The Science” or that they are and we should “Follow The Science” they are using the word “science” like the first definition of “mantra” i.e. as if it is believed the word/phrase has a “special spiritual power”. It is also used at the same time as the second definition describes as “often repeated” and that it “expresses a particularly strong belief”. This goes for all the variations on the theme, like “experts say”, “scientists warn” and so on.
It is used so often that you’d be hard-pressed to find a mainstream media article or a political message that doesn’t contain these invocations these days. We have even heard people describe themselves in such a way that doubting them personally is to doubt “Science” itself.
“If you are trying to get at me as a public health official and a scientist, you’re really attacking not only Dr. Anthony Fauci, you are attacking science.”
Clearly Dr. Anthony Fauci has a rather over-inflated opinion of himself, verging on setting himself up as science itself, and how he is beyond question as a result. But really, one wouldn’t expect anything less from a psychopathic pharmaceutical mafia kingpin.
But just how reliable is “science”? This all depends on whether we’re referring to the scientific method, or quasi-religious dogma as decreed by the aforementioned State Approved Experts, hereinafter referred to as Science™. Let’s set aside the latter momentarily as clearly that isn’t science at all, despite the claims. The scientific method on the other hand can be very useful. It looks like this…
I am by no means making the claim that everything can be explained by using the scientific method, as there are significant limitations as to what can be observed and tested, and more importantly, limitations of the people doing the testing and observing. Understanding this, the fallibility of science including the “scientific method”, is vital to prevent the main outcome vociferous acolytes of Science™ have created, which is an unquestionable belief system analogous to religious dogma that Science™ is allegedly there to prevent.
Most non-arrogant humans, and those who are not baptised members of the Church of Science™, are content with admitting there are unknowns, or at the very least current understanding of any presented findings based on observations are held to be an evidence-supported theory, if not “proven”, based on current limitations. There are well identified and explained reasons for such limitations, some of which we identified in the article “More Fearmongering From The Cult Of AI“.
This is not to say we exist in a nebulous floating soup of indeterminism and there are no objectively true things. More often than not we understand things, processes, cause and effect and so on without delving into the quantum world where it just so happens Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle describes an obvious limit to which one can be accurate about certain things at that level, or as Wikipedia explains:
The uncertainty principle implies that it is in general not possible to predict the value of a quantity with arbitrary certainty, even if all initial conditions are specified.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle
We understand that getting hit by a moving bus will likely cause harm, without needing to completely understand the detailed mathematics and physics behind mass, velocity and so on. We don’t need to enquire too deeply about Erwin Schrödinger’s ability to take care of his cat to know certain things, but at the same time a healthy curiosity about our world, environment and how to make things better (obviously a somewhat subjective point I know) is generally a positive trait humans have applied successfully (on and off) for millennia.
Providing people are sticking to the above described process (the scientific method), sharing and allowing potential verification by others, acknowledging the limitations and acting in good faith it is possible to make excellent progress in discovering new things. This is all a continuous process, refining theories and attempting to remove biases introduced by humans, often unintentionally. This has in times gone by worked very well for humanity in general.
Regrettably we have ended up in a kind of Möbius strip where Science™ of the Current Day declares itself correct because they are doing Science™. In fact all of the things we’re regularly told Science™ has saved humanity from, human stupidity and confirmation bias to name but two, are now objectively the two main pillars that Science™ is founded upon.
Science™ is not Lysenkosim, except when it is, or not
Science™ has paradoxically set itself up in opposition to Lysenkosim, which is often used to refer to two different things. “They” have had to formulate two meanings as a coping mechanism that will become apparent.
One is, according to dictionary.com:
a genetic doctrine formulated by Lysenko and asserting that acquired characteristics are inheritable.https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lysenkoism
The other is described by Wikipedia as what “the term has come to be identified as”:
…any deliberate distortion of scientific facts or theories for purposes that are deemed politically, religiously or socially desirable.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism
As you can read from that Wiki article, there is a long story around the origins of Lysenkoism (either definition), and much of it uncannily mirrors what we see now in Science™. In brief, a Soviet scientist named Trofim Denisovich Lysenko came up with his own ideas around agriculture, botany and biology that, once he became the director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR’s Academy of Sciences, were forced on millions as unquestionable State Science.
Anyone disagreeing with Lysenko’s theories, including other scientists, were sacked, imprisoned and some even executed. The fact that they were correct and Lysenko was not, and that there was no evidence to support Lysenko’s claims mattered not to the Soviet regime. His “law of the life species” it is stated, demonstrated a profound ignorance of elementary principles of genetics and plant physiology, but was forced on farmers that led to famines that killed not just millions of Soviets, but as Mao Zedong of China also adopted Lysenko’s nonsense, that resulted in the Great Chinese Famine in which tens of millions more people died.
Lysenko got the backing of Stalin and the full weight of the Soviet machine on account of how his fraudulent ideas managed to encourage farmers to return to work their lands which was politically useful to the ruling class of the day. The collapse of crop yields after the forced collectivisation of individual land-holdings and the extermination of many farmers, a direct consequence of years of Communist State intervention and violence was a problem, one that Lysenko promised to resolve with his ideas on seed planting amongst others.
In essence, there was a huge national problem (unsurprisingly created by the State) and Lysenko with the backing of the State had a promised fix. It was going to save everyone, if only they would obey, stop listening to the wrong scientists and Trust the Science. Only it didn’t just not work as promised… it made things much, much worse, something that has a familiar ring.
Western scientists at the time poured scorn onto Lysenko and his pseudo-scientific ideas and his atrocious direction of State force towards any critics. But in the USSR he received honours and awards, and for many years held a monopoly on various scientific fields.
Eventually after around four decades of ideological and political defence of Lysenko and zero-tolerance of any criticisms, in 1962 a case was brought against him by prominent Soviet physicists and by 1965 Lysenko was removed from his post.
After that a more formal look at the so-called “science” of Lysenko revealed much of it to be the complete anti-science garbage it was said to have been for decades, and he became something of an embarrassment to the Government, shuffling off to live out his days in Moscow.
What is less obvious and certainly less often referred to is that some of Lysenko’s ideas are accepted by Science™. His idea of acquired characteristics being inheritable referred to by the dictionary.com definition for example. Ask any mainstream Science™ contributor or devotee if they agree with Darwin’s theory of evolution and they will invariably answer yes. Foundational to the theory of evolution is Darwin’s book “On The Origins of Species By Means of Natural Selection” first published in 1861. In chapter 5 “Laws of Variation” Darwin states the following…
From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them ; and that such modifications are inherited.PDF page 138 – http://darwin-online.org.uk/converted/pdf/1861_OriginNY_F382.pdf
Quick aside, Darwin’s book “On The Origins of Species By Means of Natural Selection” has a second title, which is “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life” which has more than a hint of eugenics to it. No surprise when you know who Darwin was related to and inspired by. We looked at this in an article about John Maynard Keynes.
For the record I am by no means making a case for Darwinian Evolution as a whole, but this presents Science™ with something of a dilemma, as it has appointed itself the embodiment of anti-Lysenkosim. But if there’s one thing we can credit Science™ with, it’s finding creative ways to square circles, embrace contradictions and ignore evidence that is inconvenient. In this particular case it boils down to the general claim that Lysenko was correct about acquired characteristics being inheritable, but wrong because he wasn’t doing Science™.
In other words, he was right but wrong because he got the right answer the wrong way, according to them. A modern, bang up-to-date example of this absurd argument has recently been demonstrated by several notable public figures like Sam Harris and Scott Adams. While Harris is making the “right for the wrong reasons” argument, Adams has gone for the slightly different “right but they were just lucky guesses”, which is similar but there is a distinction.
Listening to Harris talk about how we were lucky and also unlucky that COVID wasn’t worse, seeming slightly disappointed that it wasn’t killing children because that would have prevented people from being allowed to be sceptical about the “vaccines” is certainly something to behold…
The desperation in the what ifs, “what if” it killed kids, AND “what if” the vaccines actually worked? Then we wouldn’t have to put up with these vaccine sceptics talking about the dangers. That’s literally Sam Harris’ argument here. He’s not taking apart the arguments of those sceptics. He’s not rationally, logically and empirically evidencing why they were wrong, because he can’t. Sam Harris and his Mr. Rational façade attempts to convince his disciples with his frantically hypothesising the complete opposite of reality in an attempt to emotionally drive a non-argument against something he simply cannot refute in any way.
Yet he uses that completely fictional scenario as a vehicle to smear his opponents who were demonstrably correct as “unwell and unbalanced, professionally and mentally”. Harris declares it was “rational” to think the vaccines blocked transmission at the start. But it wasn’t, it was just blind trust in something. If a Priest had said some holy water would protect you from the COVIDS, Harris would have been all over it with his professional-grade atheism and rationalism, because Harris doesn’t believe in a magic man in the sky, oh no. Sam’s god is the State and by extension the technocratic arms of Pharma and Tech, and he evangelises, for them. It is just embarrassing that someone like Harris who’s online persona is based on his alleged logic and rationalism could even sit there and make a speech like that in all seriousness, but we are living in very strange times.
So while Sam Harris claims it was rational to be wrong, and just wishes things were completely different to reality so he wouldn’t have to have these discussions, Scott Adams has we have already identified, has gone for a slightly different tactic. He is turning being wrong into performance art. Adams does a regular podcast thing where he covers all kinds of topics, and he spends a lot of time on Twitter. He considers himself something of an expert in psychology, and skilled in the art of persuasion. He is now also relying heavily on sarcasm, strawman arguments and ad hominem attacks, while his current pinned tweet is this…
Here is a section of a recent podcast where he (according to him) “eats crow”…
It’s quite long as Adams’ presentation style is the polar opposite of someone like Ben “what?! they lied to us?!” Shapiro, and has a very deliberate, ponderously considered delivery so while Shapiro could have probably delivered the same dialogue in less than 5 minutes, Adams draws this “eating crow” out to almost half an hour. If you can sit through it, have fun ticking off his “cognitive dissonance” list one by one as he manages almost all of them during the performance. Impressive.
As Adams deliberates over how Science™ mysteriously managed to arrive at the wrong answer, and the lucky guessers got it right but wrongly, he explains to the audience that [box 1] “personal research and assessment” which he asserts is just “confirmation bias”, and [box 2] “Government, Pharma and News” are the reasons science was invented, so you don’t need box 1 or box 2. This is basically Adams’ extremely verbose version of the “Trust the Science” mantra.
He makes the point that both Isaac Newton and Carl Sagan would disagree with the idea of doing personal research and not just accepting the output of Science™, because “that’s taking the entire benefit of science and discarding it like it didn’t count”, and should be trusted without the need for personal research. Just remember that he said that about Carl Sagan, it will become relevant later in this article.
Seeing as Adams is smarter than us all, he didn’t fall for box 1 or 2, and instead listened to his penis, but that turns out to also be an error and for that he is humbly apologising. Obviously ridiculous, but his real error that he (maybe?) doesn’t know he’s making, is not understanding that box 1 (confirmation bias) and box 2 (Government, Pharma and News) are part of the holy construct he believes is “science”, and this is not new.
Adams assures his audience that he’s not being arrogant, with his passive-aggressive sarcasm and an “impression” of what he would be like IF he was arrogant. Of course he wasn’t arrogant, which is why he’d never Tweet anything like this…
Arrogance aside, Adams might believe that Science™ is a pure, unspoiled ziggurat of infallible knowledge generation, but he somehow forgets that people who get paid money and have allegiances and biases are involved in every aspect of that construct. The obsession with “consensus” should be a clue for people as allegedly smart as the likes of Harris and Adams, but it appears not.
The irony is that Science™ which claims to reject the obvious fraud and tyranny that was rife in the early 20th century Soviet Union is exactly the same, and despite creating two definitions of Lysenkoism that it apparently claims to be in opposition to, has spectacularly failed to not be both, and people like Scott Adams cannot see that because they have also spectacularly failed to even understand what science is.
So what science can we trust? There is a short answer, but let’s explore a bit. What about scientific papers, published by journals that employ the peer-review process and allege to evidence their findings with results of experiments (AKA the scientific method) and citations? We can look at a few things that will demonstrate that just because…
a) A paper is peer reviewed
b) It is published in a “well respected” journal or outlet
c) It appears to contain corroborating citations to back up statements
d) It appears to contain “evidence” including imagery, graphs, statistics and the like
…that still doesn’t mean it should be accepted without question.
There is no suggestion that we should be abandoning real science and the pursuit of knowledge and return to the Dark Ages. That is the go to defence of charlatans who simply don’t want their pseudo-scientific proclamations questioned and potentially disproven. So how can we tell the difference, especially if these things end up on premier scientific journal sites and have all the apparent hallmarks of real science? It is not always easy but there are some tricks that are used that once you understand them, they lose their power to baffle and convince.
Let’s take citations. In a research or scientific paper you’ll usually see a statement made that is foundational in some way to the findings of the study, and a small number next to it that refers to a citation. The citation should be something that evidences and/or supports the statement. This is useful as it saves a paper on a particular topic needing to prove and/or explain every single thing. We all understand this, I am only writing it out for completeness to make the following point…
Not all citations are necessarily reliable evidence/support of the statement referencing the citation. Gasp! Surely that can’t be!? Let’s go on a journey…
A long long long time ago, in a galaxy not very far away at all actually…
A paper was published on the PubMed website in February 2020 titled “Outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, China: The mystery and the miracle”. Your guess is as good as mine as to why the phrase “The mystery and the miracle” was used in a supposedly scientific paper but we could probably hazard a guess. That aside, this paper contains 10 references. The very first one comes after this sentence:
At a national press conference held today, Dr Jianguo Xu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who led a scientific team announced that a new‐type coronavirus, tentatively named by World Health Organization as the 2019‐new coronavirus (2019‐nCoV), had caused this outbreak.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7166628/
The reference is listed as:
1. XINHUANET News Report. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-01/09/c_138690570.htm. Accessed February 6, 2020.
As stated, this is a news report. It does indeed mention Dr Xu, and his assertion relating to this “new coronavirus” that was “was isolated from one patient’s samples, according to Xu”. This is rather lacking in the science and evidence department though. It certainly does not evidence the statement made in the PubMed paper that “the 2019‐new coronavirus (2019‐nCoV), had caused this outbreak”. There is also, unsurprisingly absolutely zero links or citations in the news article.
Perhaps I am being overly picky, maybe I’m just not fully understanding the Science™, so please feel free to contact me and explain where I am going wrong, but so far the references are not really doing the job. One could technically argue that the statement IS literally backed up by the reference in that it literally repeats it, but nothing of substance is. I could equally cite some random from anywhere in the world, and link to an article claiming to also cite the same person, but that does not prove any of the following…
- The person is real
- The person said what it is claimed they have said
- The things said by this person are true
I’m not suggesting this Dr Xu is not a real person, but exactly how would we know from the citation? How do we know anything in that news article is true? We don’t, and so citing this as some kind of authoritative primary source in a scientific paper, especially after such a bold claim of causality, is not really adequate. Not at least in the world of actual science. It is obviously fine in the modern neo-religious State Science™ world, where statements that we are just expected to believe with no evidence should be accepted without question. Call me finicky if you like, but for me it’s not good enough.
Bear in mind this news article was published on the 9th January 2020. We can see that citations alone don’t necessarily prove anything, as it really does depend on what is being cited and it is important to check.
How about “peer-review”? One of the questions often asked of published findings is “has it been peer-reviewed?” as if that is somehow a determining factor in whether the information published is accurate. A simple way to know if peer-review does indeed provide an indicator of a paper’s accuracy is to see if there are any peer-reviewed papers that disagree. If there are any published, peer-reviewed papers out there that do disagree, that obviously demonstrates that peer-review cannot be a stamp of accuracy as two things that disagree cannot both be right. Of course it turns out that there are numerous instances of this.
An article published on Springer in July 2020 titled “Disagreement in science: introduction to the special issue” makes some interesting observations on the matter of so-called “experts” in a field disagreeing. It is a very lengthy, largely philosophical attempt to take various positions and definitions of terms like “science denialism”, “realism”, “perspectivism” and so on that have been posited over the years, and distil it all down to a kind of meta-position we could objectively take, given all the various -isms involved.
Unsurprisingly it turns out that there isn’t one, and these are all, as the article puts it…
questions for further research that are raised by the papers collected in this volume. There will doubtless be significant disagreement about how these types of questions should themselves be answered—but that, as we are now acute aware, is par for the course.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-020-02767-0
In the notes it even mentions a specific example, something considered highly “scientific”, real big-brain high IQ stuff, that being quantum mechanics. In this field there are at least two competing theories, both of which have their respected panels of “experts” armed with their research and evidence that they are correct, but they disagree with each other.
Imagine that. Declaring something to have been scientifically proven as fact, beyond question and therefore unchallengeable isn’t actually as easy as it might appear. That’s not to say that nothing is foundational and we live our lives entirely on the shifting sands of undefined nebula, but it seems like wearing a white lab coat and declaring something as indisputable fact does not mean it should be accepted as such.
As it happens a very famous scientist and author by the name of Carl Sagan warned in an interview in 1996 about the dangers of unquestioningly accepting things presented as science. Here’s a clip…
Sagan makes the case here about understanding human fallibility, but he doesn’t just mean being incorrect about something. Depending on which dictionary you look at, the word “fallibility” does mean the liability to be inaccurate or false, but it also means the liability to deceive or be deceived. His point about not exercising our scepticism or having the chance to challenge or “interrogate those who tell us something is true” meaning “we’re up for grabs” was something to be guarded against. Not just with pieces of paper in legislature or constitutions. It needs to be actively exercised by the public because not being able “to be sceptical of those in authority” allows charlatans, political and religious groups and so on to just take over.
What we are witnessing now is one of the very things people like Carl Sagan, one of the public faces of Official Science™ warned us of, and ostensibly set out to deal with, which is 21st Century Lysenkoism.
Let’s just briefly circle back to Scott “not arrogant” Adams for a moment where he declared that Carl Sagan would not like the idea of people doing their own research. It sure didn’t sound like Sagan thought the public asking questions of “those who tell us something is true” was a bad idea. It didn’t sound like Sagan thought we should unquestioningly accept the output of Science™, or that personal research was discarding the “entire benefit of science”. Perhaps the master persuader is trying to persuade himself as much as his audience.
This is the perfect example of not just taking what someone, whoever it is, at face value. Scott Adams, either through ignorance or just hoping that no-one would check, made statement along the lines of “Carl Sagan agrees with me, you should too”, and it turns out it was entirely false. But if you didn’t know that, or never checked, you might think that the public face of 80s and 90s mainstream science in the USA did agree with Adams and that might influence your stance on it, which is the point of such appeals.
What about science in the Media?
We have just lived through three years of scientific dictatorship, and while the truth is getting out, it doesn’t look like it will be ending any time soon. Obviously this didn’t just start from nowhere in early 2020, the foundations and preparation for a global information lockdown have been under construction for many years. We’ve looked previously at how the Gates Foundation, just as one example, has weaponised philanthropy to buy influence across much of the mainstream media.
Occasionally you might see an article that appears to buck the narrative, such as this recent article published on the 28th January 2023 on the Daily Mail website (archive) titled “Army spied on lockdown critics: Sceptics, including our own Peter Hitchens, long suspected they were under surveillance. Now we’ve obtained official records that prove they were right all along”.
We’ve mentioned the UK MoD’s 77th brigade before, and despite it being openly admitted and even bragged about by Government types that they had turned their attention to UK citizens and deployed their “non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of adversaries” AKA surveillance and censorship, more often than not in times gone by it was all dismissed as… you guessed it… Conspiracy Theory.
As so often is the case, what gets called Conspiracy Theory is simply early access news.
While these kinds of articles make their way out occasionally, the likes of the BBC are generally soulless stenographers for whoever funds them, that being the Government and globalist organisations with well established agendas that are not even attempting to hide their intentions any more, such is their arrogance.
The BBC seems incapable of being honest about anything, even the basic science we teach our children. Just by way of example, on the 13th of May 2022 the BBC published an article titled “Moon soil used to grow plants for first time in breakthrough test” where, completely devoid of any links to sources, a professor at the University of Florida involved in growing cress in what is alleged to be “moon soil” is quoted as saying…
“I can’t tell you how astonished we were”
Mmmhmm. In 2013 on the GrowVeg website an article was published titled “How to Grow Cress for Grown-Ups”. On this website they explain…
The easiest way to grow cress quickly is to find a shallow tray (a plastic food container from the grocery store serves well) and line it with paper tissues, cotton wool or kitchen towel. Wet the paper or wool well (though don’t have it swimming in water), sprinkle seeds over the surface and cover the tray with cling film. A container that’s around an inch or two deep is perfect, as this allows space for growth before the seedlings hit their heads on their “glass ceiling”.https://www.growveg.com/guides/how-to-grow-cress-for-grownups/
The BBC claim to be impartial, and to always report on everything in a balanced and fair way. Here they report this NASA claim about a breakthrough in growing cress in “moon dust”, citing NASA chief Bill Nelson as saying:
“This fundamental plant growth research is also a key example of how Nasa is working to unlock agricultural innovations that could help us understand how plants might overcome stressful conditions in food-scarce areas here on Earth.”
…when the reality is you can grow cress on almost anything including tissue paper. That “moon dust” could just have well been emptied out of a NASA janitor’s dustpan and cress would sprout in it.
The point here is that the media report whatever the Establishment wants them to report. They will question the things they are told to question, act sceptically about the things they’re told to act sceptical about, and publish without question, or sources, anything they are told to report on, even something as ludicrous as a University professor discovering the miracle of cress, something most children have come across by the age of 10.
In short, where the media and science collide, there is almost always good reason to ask questions, especially as they rarely provide any evidence to back up the claims being made.
Are there any other ways the Scientific Establishment tricks it’s followers into believing things where evidence is scarce, or worse, entirely absent? Sure there is, the magic of statistics and numbers.
Our survey said…
There are a number of mechanisms available that have been deployed with great success in scientific publishing to create the illusion of proof.
The “World Editors Forum” published an article titled “Statistical P-hacking explained” which explains that p-hacking “is a misuse of data analysis to find patterns in data that can be presented as statistically significant when in fact there is no real underlying effect”.
You can read it in the article, but briefly I will explain here how it works. A p-value is an indicator of probability that something happened by random chance, and a p-value of 0.001 for example is the probability a result occurring randomly 1 in 1,000 times.
As most findings these days are presented as probabilities (another problem) the issue of statistical significance is all the more, er, significant. The article gives an example of how one can torture a dataset to engineer an apparent link when one does not exist…
…suppose you wanted to establish a link between chocolate and baldness. You could then get a group of 10,000 men (a pretty big sample size by all accounts) to report on their consumption of M&Ms, Twix and Mars Bars over a period of time. In addition, you record the rate of going bald in the group over time.https://scienceinthenewsroom.org/resources/statistical-p-hacking-explained/
Once you have your chocolate and baldness data, you run tests on everything you can think of. Do men who eat only M&Ms go bald younger? Do young men who eat both Mars and M&Ms but not Twix go bald on top more often than the front? Do older unmarried men who don’t exercise and eat none have a lower incidence of baldness?
Run enough of these tests and you are eventually bound to get a result that is ‘statistically significant’.
As the article also says, p-hacking “is particularly insidious because it can be so hard to detect”, and even more so when the public just accepts State and mainstream media assertions based on such corrupt practices. The article mentions looking at who carries out and funds the research, as financial interests are a good reason for extra scrutiny. Sometimes though, people simply do not disclose their financial ties as we saw with the UK Government SAGE group.
Other times the financial ties are less direct, as an interested party, the Gates Foundation for example, sometimes funds entire departments rather than specific studies, although they do that too. Funding a department means there is still leverage there, but it might not get noted on papers authored by people in that department because, just like shell companies are used to obfuscate money trails in business, laundering money through top-level academia and department-level grants obscures the influence it has on the output of scientists. That influence is nonetheless there as those scientists know in the back of their mind they must not rock boats or their pet projects won’t get funded.
There are all kinds of reasons why scientists can be incentivised to be dishonest, they are people after all, as susceptible to corruption, bribery and bias as everyone else. For some it may come as a shock that the white lab coats do not bestow a shield of incorruptibility, and they don’t work like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. But, we are, for this article, examining the methods by which this duplicity is executed, rather than the reasons why, and p-hacking is one method out of many.
This brings us to John P. A. Ioannidis’ essay, published on the PubMed Central website in 2005 titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” (PDF). John Ioannidis was one of the few legitimate scientists speaking up very early on about the madness of the interventions Governments were enforcing over the COVID-19 scam and is one of the most highly cited science authors in the world.
The main takeaway point from this essay is…
“It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false.”
That is quite the statement, but it turns out to be true, and Ioannidis provides the mathematics and methods by which to demonstrate it to be true. All of this hinges on the way science is now presented, as probabilities with confidence intervals masquerading as proofs. As Ioannidis explains…
The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/pdf/pmed.0020124.pdf
Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.
Almost two decades ago this was identified and proven to be a major problem within science. This essay has never been refuted, debunked or its findings overturned. Almost two decades later, the problem identified is as big a problem as one could possibly imagine, seeing as we’re now living in a scientific dictatorship where questioning the output of Science™ can get you deplatformed, defunded, fired and if the technocrats have their way, imprisoned.
Abandoning the last vestiges of actual science
The very last thing these dictators and would-be rulers of everything want, is the public figuring this all out. The veil is extremely thin, and day by day it is unravelling. To counter this we’ve seen some pretty desperate attempts to convince us that the original foundations of science, the scientific method and empiricism can be dispensed with. No better example of this is an article published on the “Scientific American” website in September 2020, an opinion piece titled “The Idea That a Scientific Theory Can Be ‘Falsified’ Is a Myth – It’s time we abandoned the notion”.
It is easy to get drawn into philosophical arguments such as Rationalism vs. Empiricism (see here for an example of how troublesome this can be), as waters get muddied with disagreements over terminology more than anything else. We’re going to try and avoid that pitfall for this particular article and consider that for something to be empirical, conclusions must be empirically based on the evidence of the senses, or in other words, as Wikipedia describes…
…empiricism is an epistemological theory that holds that knowledge or justification comes only or primarily from sensory experience.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism
This is a reasonable view and understanding of what is meant when one uses the term “empirical”, that we should be able to physically demonstrate something to be true, verified by our senses. We can also reasonably include as proof something that we might not be able to see with our eyes alone for example, but with equipment such as microscopes, understanding how they work and any subsequent limitations they may have, we can observe with our senses and reproduce for verification.
Falsification or falsifiability is a deductive way of evaluating scientific theories and hypotheses, introduced by Karl Popper back in the 1930s. The idea contrasts the concept of verifiability, and its importance is demonstrated with a simple example where a claim is made that all swans are white. To verify that claim one would need to check every single swan which is obviously not possible. Falsifiability only needs to find a single instance (although more may exist) such as a single black swan to logically falsify the claim and in the scientific method diagram shown earlier this would be the testing part, where the test failed by demonstrating the theory is false, at which point you go back and come up with a new theory.
As obvious as that sounds, people spent many years of their lives arguing the toss over this kind of thing and still do, but as we can see the idea is very useful, perfectly logical and reasonable. The stunningly self-evident fact that the existence of a single non-white swan disproves the claim that all swans are white, bordering on a tautology, is however an inconvenience when you apply that principle in a “scientific” world where “consensus” rules and “proofs” now come in the form of percentages of probability.
The reason for that is obvious, in that if your “proof” is an estimate, based on a sample, backed by various types of averaging (e.g. mean, median, mode) plus distribution curves, confidence intervals (CI) and so on, where it is entirely possible that non-white swans exist within your data but are relegated to the status of a data artefact or appear in the 1% you are not bothered with as you have a 99% CI so you state your findings that all swans are white anyway.
This is not to say that in some cases statistically derived inferences about huge groups based on samples are useful, but they have their obvious limitations and certainly should not be considered unquestionable proof in all circumstances.
It is possible to delve deeply into the back-and-forth arguments across hundreds of years over all the respective -isms, and as entertaining as that can be it can end up somewhat counter-productive. Unfortunately the idea that it is all useless and we can dispense with all of it, philosophy and the idea of falsification, is also counter-productive but after decades of it being a useful part of scientific endeavour, someone decided in 2020 we should abandon it.
The claim is we should just use “whatever works”, and by “whatever works” the author cites a couple of Big Names, but presumably means the same as he did in 2005 in one of his blog posts which is that “it is not being proven true that gives scientific theories their credibility, but the fact that they seem to work well, are reliable, and can be used to make predictions”.
There are several obvious problems with a statement like that. Firstly, credibility should be largely meaningless in raw, data-driven, evidence-based science as it can be engineered, abused and actually has nothing specifically to do with anything being accurate. Secondly whether something “works well” can be taken in isolation, i.e. certain pesticides appear to work well if all you are measuring that against is the effectiveness to kill pests. If you factor in other things, such as the effect they have on the crops, the soil, other wildlife, the environment and human health, you might consider them to be working less well.
The irony here is that one of the reasons proponents of abandoning falsification give is the Duhem–Quine thesis, which posits that it is impossible to experimentally test a scientific hypothesis in isolation, because an empirical test of the hypothesis requires one or more background assumptions, and therefore unambiguous scientific falsifications are impossible, which is essentially the argument the author of the 2020 “Scientific American” article is making.
Yes you did read that right. The same person claiming that credibility based on things seeming to work well, a largely subjective and context/scale-sensitive way of quantifying things, is more important than whether it has been proven true, also claims you cannot test anything in isolation as everything depends on something else, and we may need to rely on “assumptions” about them.
This should serve to illustrate the value of empiricism, and falsifiability while also acknowledging their limitations. Unsurprisingly upon further reading of that “Scientific American” article the motivations of this appeal become clearer…
So, when anti-vaxxers or anti-evolutionists or climate change deniers point to this or that result to argue that they have falsified the scientific consensus, they are making a meaningless statement. What they need to do is produce a preponderance of evidence in support of their case, and they have not done so.https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-idea-that-a-scientific-theory-can-be-falsified-is-a-myth/
You can tell here just who the targets of the author’s ire are. As it happens, he is completely wrong. His appeal to the “scientific consensus” tells you most of what you need to know. He appears to think science is a popularity contest. To call the falsification of a theory “a meaningless statement” is just absurd, in the same way as calling the existence of a black swan meaningless in the debate as to whether all swans are white would be absurd.
The demand for a “preponderance of evidence” is hypocritical and ridiculous at best, as the burden of proof is always on those making the claims, and to use his examples, it is on those claiming vaccines are safe and effective, those claiming evolution is fact and those claiming “climate change” is caused by carbon emissions hence the need to reduce them, they are making the outlandish, unproven claims and demands based on them. Anyone remotely sceptical of those claims doesn’t have to prove anything.
If I made the claim that wearing yellow socks protected you from injury when jumping out of a flying airplane, the burden of proof is on me to substantiate that claim with evidence. No-one else is obliged to prove me wrong. And if I somehow managed to find a few people who’d worn yellow socks out of the thousands that also used parachutes, my so-called proof is just statistical nonsense, and still no-one else is obliged to prove me wrong, not even since 2020.
Circling back to the Lancet article mentioned right at the start, it highlights the issues relating to the claims of efficacy based on Relative Risk Reduction (RRR) instead of Absolute Risk Reduction (ARR) which we have looked at previously and pointing out that the trials were never even intended to prove a reduction in hospitalisation, severe disease, or death, or prevention of infection and transmission, something that we all know was claimed by politicians and media sockpuppets and what the entire demand for mandating them and having “vaccine passes” was predicated on.
Yes, that’s a peer-reviewed, published in the Lancet paper pointing these things out back in April 2021. Did you hear about that in the media? Have you seen it headlining the BBC or watched news anchors and their colleagues hyperventilate about it? No of course you haven’t, because even though it ticks all the usual boxes to be considered “science”, it’s not arriving at the required answer and so it may as well not exist as far as Science™ and its disciples are concerned.
So after all that, what can we take away from this? Maybe these things at least…
- There is a distinct difference between mainstream “science” and the scientific method.
- All these things have limitations because of the inherent biases and corruptibility of humans.
- There is a distinct difference between something proven empirically, and something “proven” with statistics.
- Much of what we are presented with what is called “science” is simply the confirmation of biases, the outcome of corruption, or both.
- Without the ability to question what we are told is true, regardless of credentials, expert status or anything else, we are “up for grabs”, and this has never been more profoundly obvious than now.
The moral of the story? Always, always ask questions and never feel obliged or pressured to just accept anything without question. Oh and if it looks like a religion, swims like a religion and quacks like a religion, it’s probably a religion, even if it calls itself “science”.