Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Lies by Science

Last week, I began a discussion with the demoting of Pluto as a planet. I must warn you, that like voting on demoting Pluto, this post has many personal opinions and judgments by me. What I say next is going to make a lot of people angry because I will be attacking a popular celebrity (notice that I did not use the word scientist) but it needs to be said.

Neil de Grasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, was at the center of this controversy. The Hayden Planetarium started showing models of the solar system without Pluto. Their explanations which were later used to demote the planetary status of the planet. Soon, this Pluto demotion theory caught on, and as you know, from my last blog, it was demoted from its planetary status.

Now let us go to the source, Neil de Grasse Tyson who began this de-planeting of Pluto. After all the back lash from Pluto no longer being a planet he said in a recent interview that “didn’t mean to get Pluto demoted as a planet, he just wanted people to think about the solar system differently.”

I would have respected him more if he said he hated Pluto, and did not want it as a planet, then this explanation he now gives. Consider his explanation; he was presenting information at the time, which was false, because he wanted people to think about the solar system differently. Where were his facts, or science in his decision to present bad information to the public? This one example demonstrates that you cannot trust the information given to you by a scientist.

So why did he do it? The answer is his position as the director of the Hayden Planetarium. As director, he is not only an astronomer, he also overseas exhibitions, educational programs, and Finances, Fundraising, and Marketing.

His removal of Pluto from the solar system was not to educate, or propose a new theory; he did it to promote the planetarium, to cause controversy to get more people coming to the planetarium. And as for Neil de Grasse Tyson himself, it worked out pretty well for him. He became the host of several TV shows; PBS “Nova”, and “Cosmos”, and has written numerous books. By demoting Pluto, he has risen himself to the most recognizable astronomer in the world.


I want to tell you about the true story of the Chicken Heart that Ate New York. If you were a fan of Bill Cosby, when it was OK to be a fan of his, you remember him telling the story of a chicken heart that was created by scientists and escaped and ate New York City; it was not that far from the truth.

Although, Cosby based his story on an old radio show, it first had been based on reality.

Alexis Carrel, a world-renowned scientist, took cells from a chicken heart embryo and gave it nutrients to survive. It had been assumed before this, that cell regeneration was limited, that each cell could only regenerate so many times before dying. The cells that Carrel had experimented on did not do this; they lived and continued regenerating numerous times. Finally, he let the chicken heart cells die, because calculations indicated if it continued to grow it would become larger than the earth, and then the universe.

The full meaning of his experiments was that cells are immortal outside the body. His findings were considered the basis for all cell regeneration science from 1920’s onward.

In the 1960’s, Leonard Hayflick tried to replicate the experiment conducted by Carrel. He discovered that cells cannot be maintained and regenerated unlimited times, and that Carel’s findings were completely wrong.

For 40 years, the science of cell regeneration was stymied because of a report by Carel because no one tried to replicate his experiment. Those that did try it and failed did not report their findings because they believed they caused the error. Carrel’s results were considered accurate and became scientific dogma that no one, until Hayflick, challenged them. How far would the science of cell regeneration be if this erroneous information had not been considered doctrine for so long?

Next time we continue our trip into Scientific Lies.

I do want to mention that this weekend, May 16th, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame  Induction Ceremony. This is a big weekend for the hall of fame, and if you are in the Amsterdam, NY area, I hope you can attend.


  1. Wow! This is almost scary! I was always taught to trust but verify! How horrifying that true science was derailed and delayed due to nobody verifying the results of the chicken heart experiment!

  2. Well I am far more informed of the science world since reading this. Quite frightening that scientists will withhold or give misleading information.

  3. What is the full history though of Pluto potentially not being a planet? It seems that was in the news a few years ago, but I admit to not following the details closely at the time. Pluto has always had a tentative spot as a planet, though it's interesting to see how a top scientist used that to promote the planetarium by stirring up a bit of controversy.

  4. The problem is that we take it as gospel when a well-known authority makes a statement. It must be true, right? But as you point out, people like to stir up controversy to get themselves in the news. It worked for Tyson.

  5. William, When it comes to scientific accuracy, it quite often is the same as for anything else - follow the dollar. We so often hear of studies that show that, for instance - coffee is bad for you, coffee won't hurt you, coffee is good for the heart - it all boils down to who is funding the study. Mr. Tyson and Mr. Carel are good examles - certainly set them apart and probably earned them a lot of money. Again, a very interesting post with information I didn't know.

  6. It's interesting that even scientists, who are known for wanting proof, are willing to take another scientist's word for something. Makes me wonder where we can go to find scientific truth anymore...

  7. So the demotion of Pluto from its planetary status is all about greed and ambition? Surely his explanation of why, some jibberish about thinking differently of the solar system, reeks of meaninglessness.

  8. A lesser-known but more-dramatic case of 'bad science' was that of Trofim Lysenko, who did a number on Soviet science during the Stalin era (some Americans might think that was a good thing, but I don't):


  9. I have to say when I first came to your blog and saw the image, I was not sure what to expect. Can anything really be proven. The more noise you make it must be true. NOT

  10. Human beings can be so disappointing! I hate to think that people who have attained respect as scientists would actually use their platform to achieve fame or fortune without caring if they are being deceptive.

  11. It's crazy how much people will do for personal fame and success.

  12. Well, I never heard that chicken heart story, but that is fascinating. And that would change things if there really was a way to make a chicken heart live forever. That does suck that people manipulate science for personal gain. Having said that, in a world where reality tv stars are some of our biggest celebrities, it certainly isn't surprising. People will do anything for their 15 minutes of fame.