Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who saw this one coming?

At last there has been a scientific study of premonition that was so well set up that not even the sceptics can tear it down.

There was no fault in the methodology, although nobody predicted anything really worth knowing - just which words would be chosen and where a randomly-placed picture would be. An attempt to replicate it over the internet failed, but the effect might be distance-limited so replication should really follow the format of the original experiment, with subjects in the lab. All the same, the principle is there with results well above the possibility of chance.

The scoffers are out in force as usual - but these are scoffers, not sceptics. Being sceptical is part of science. Simply sticking your fingers in your ears and saying 'I don't believe it' is not science. Sceptics check things, scoffers simply deny them.

There is a flipside to this of course, and it's the anti-sceptic statement 'the science is settled'. Real science is never settled. Science that is afraid of sceptical inquiry is science with something to hide. Like Climatology, and much of current obesity, alcohol and smoking research. So much as question it and they'll scream 'Heretic!'. The science is settled, you see, and dissent must be punished. Not answered. Punished.

What's the connection? Those who simply make pronouncements rather than bothering with all that 'reproducibility' and 'transparency' stuff are the same ones who scoff at any form of paranormal research. Yet paranormal researchers' methods have to be open and clear because there is no chance of anyone listening if the full data is not available.

Climatology refuses to release data and details of methods. Ask why, and ask why it's actually getting noticeably colder every year and you won't get a reasoned response. You'll be called a heretic.

Smoking research has long since descended into the utterly bizarre, with infections now blamed on little tobacco goblins and trace amounts of tobacco causing nonsmokers to drop dead on contact. Question it, and you'll be told the 'science' is settled and you're a heretic.

That five-a-day vegetable thing, and the alcohol units per week per adult... do you know where they came from? Have you seen the research that produced those figures? No. You haven't. There isn't any. Those figures were simply plucked out of the air and they are now Government policy. They are based on nothing at all. Reproducibility of methods and falsifiability of theory cannot be tested where none even exist. In these cases, 'science' skipped all the theory, experimentation and analysis and went straight to the conclusions. Try questioning it and see what you get.

And yet these same people will scoff at paranormal research. They accuse us of 'making it up'!

These days, paranormal research might be the only branch of science still applying proper techniques. That's something I certainly never expected to see.


Regina Richards said...

Five veggies a day is just a big fib? Yay!!!!!!

Romulus Crowe said...

Most of those health scares are based on made-up numbers. Five-a-day, units of alcohol per week, second hand smoke (number of genuine, proven cases of illness or death - zero), it's all just scaremongering.

Salt is now bad for you, as are all forms of fat. If you cut out all salt from your diet you'll be dead in a week. If you eat a bit too much, your kidneys get rid of it. Sure, you can kill yourself with a lot too much but people have done that with water. Too much of anything is bad.

If you're gaining weight, eat less. That's all there is to it. How it can cost more to lose weight is something I'll never understand.

Cutting out specific things does not work. Besides, your nerves are insulated with myelin which is made of fat and every cell in your body has a membrane made of... fat. Cut out all fat from your diet and you die.

Ignore the health advice. Most of it is extremely bad advice. There is useful and important advice but separating it from the mass of nonsense takes forever.

As long as you feel okay, you probably are.

All those health nuts do is convince you you're not. Ignore them.

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