Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Random Yammering

I signed on for this as the byproduct of my desire to leave a semi-anonymous comment on Ashby's blog. I thought I would use this space to throw out some questions, many of which may be rhetorical, and see what kind of response I get. My gut impression is that the response will be zero so the purpose may be somewhat masturbatory; but hell, everyone likes that. This may be dull so I will try to set up a link to Ashby's site. He has cool pictures of naked girls and animals making it hard to compete (pay close attention to the aquarium, it rules).

#1 Medicine is an art not a science. The scientific method can not be effectively applied to most situations as negative controls and other aspects of good experimental design are considered cruel with animals (which may not accurately represent human systems) and immoral in humans. Most established procedures for treatment have not been optimized and are based on trial and error or correlative studies. Nevertheless we have enormous faith in our doctors. Their training is arduous and extensive but still follows the apprenticeship model. Is our faith justified or based on our desire for their success?

A strong parallel can be drawn between medicine and environmental science. I heard the other day that it is an accepted fact that human impact is a direct cause of global warming. While this may be the case, I have yet to see a data set that establishes this correlation. Do we believe because we want to (or more importantly because those who make political and economic policy want us to)? Does it stroke the ego of our species to think that we can have a global effect. Why is it so important to claim that we are sure rather than we suspect based on circumstantial evidence? Will it be impossible to curtail pollution unless we stress the scientific connection. How can this be true when most people can't or won't take the time to read a table or graph?

Well Ive thrown that out let's see if anyone bites,


Blogger Ashby said...

Hi Ken,

Wasn't there a recent issue of Science with extensive coverage of global warming? Could you point to the flaws in the data sets they assembled?

You might also be interested in the Wikipedia entry on Global Warming:

I'd love to see some commentary on that data as well.

7:27 PM  

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