Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Science and Other Lies

Before we dive into my blog, I wanted to give some back story.  As many of you know that I am a part-time historian, and from reading my blog you also understand history is not an “exact science”. Many historical facts and figures we believe are true, come down to us from the history being remembered or written by people who have an agenda.  There is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, but I am sure there are other variations, which go back further, “History is written by the victors.”
There are conflicting accounts of historical facts, and we must always look at both sides of history.  In my novel "Legend of the Mystic Knights" I tried to describe living history as accurate as I could. Some information such as how the process to make Damascus Steel, a metal prized for its strength and durability, is now lost forever, all that is left is a “guess” by historians. I want you to remember this in the next couple blogs and apply it here too, because “exact science” is also not an “exact science”.

I also must note, I believe truly in most science. I believe in evolution and climate change, so the next series of blogs are not about climate denial, etc. I wil,l however, touch upon this topic later.

When I was younger, we believed in the information which was provided to us. People like Walter Cronkite were always on top of the list for most trusted Americans. We believed that news which was given to us was real, and that the people who presented it to us tried to be fair and impartial. Gradually, things changed, and news and also science became politicized and commercialized.

In terms of news, we all know how politicized that has become. Stores are sometimes even fabricated, for a political end. We all understand that this is done one both ends of the political spectrum, but Rupurt Murdock of Fox News has perfected it.

We could possibly accept the fact of information can be manipulated by the owners of news outlets, but what about science.

We believe that science is an analytical study which is conducted without any other influences upon it. Science to us was something like math, 1 plus 1 will always equals 2. This concept of science is totally wrong, and science is influenced by many outside forces, social, political and economic.

When I was a teenager, I was fascinated by legends of the Abominable Snowman, and other cryptic creatures. So it was this interest in the early 1970’s that I watched a show dedicated to the Loch Ness Monster. This program was advertised to show a photograph of the monster. Furthermore, this was not a cable network, where programs like “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” is shown on the “THE LEARNING CHANNEL” (all I ever learned watching that show once, was some people should be allowed to have kids), this was a time when there were only 3 major networks.

It was August 1972 and there was an expedition led by Robert Rines, of the ACADEMY OF APPLIED SCIENCE, a Massachusetts and New Hampshire based organization dedicated to stimulating the interest of high school students in science, technology, and inventions. He had claimed to have taken some very unique photos from under the water at the bottom of the lake. These photos revealed a fin or flipper of a creature swimming by the camera.

As Paul Harvey used to say; “Now the Rest of the Story.” The pictures appeared to be faked. Not only did the Academy of Applied science produce these fake pictures (if you see the originals they appear to be rocks), they were enhanced by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. These enhancements were more adjusted by the Academy of Applied Science team to look even more like a flipper (today we would call that process photo shopped).

The example above is not a grainy photograph put out by some hunter in the middle of the woods. It was a program broadcasted by a television network and advertised that a scientific group had conducted the search for the Loch Ness Monster.

The Academy of Applied Science is an organization founded by Robert Rhines, a graduate of M.I.T. and Georgetown University, who put his reputation on finding evidence of the Loch Ness monster. This group spent a substantial amount of money, and in the end of the expedition, they had little to show for it. They had to come up with something to give credence for the money they spent, so they enhanced a photo of a group of rocks to look like a flipper.

I know the story of an expedition to seek out the Loch Ness Monster, is hardly science, but consider the fate of the PLANET Pluto. This is a topic I will deal in depth in my next blog, but here are some facts you should consider. A group of the International Astronomical Union in 2006, which consisted of ONLY 424 handpicked astronomers (less than 5% of the world’s 10,000 astronomers), voted to demote Pluto to a non-planet status. So basically, more people’s opinions are considered relevant each week on “American Idol”, then deciding the destiny of an entire planet.

So basically, a hand full of astronomers, chosen for their opinion on the topic, decided for everyone one on earth if Pluto was a planet or not. This was not done by the discovery of new information; they did this by changing the definition of a planet, which then excluded Pluto. The outcry of this was widespread, and has led to considering voting again to include Pluto as a planet; this vote may come as early as this year.

My point being is that this is a matter of opinion, not fact. When opinions become science, then science is no valid as a discipline of knowledge. We must look at where and why the science originated, before we considering it is science at all.

We will continue this discussion next week; including a tale of horror about the Chicken Heart that ate New York City (I am actually serious about that).


  1. A professional wrestler and business analyst '- such different professions yet it works for you!

    I do not believe in evolution. There are some things that scientists cannot explain - their knowledge only goes so far.

  2. You raise some good points that 'facts' are most certainly to be questioned, and not the rock solid things, as in science that we thought they were. I've been surprised myself how much science is more of an art that I once thought, especially in the field of medicine.

  3. This is a topic near and dear to my heart for many reasons. I often wonder just how much George Orwell would be rolling over in his grave if he could see what has become of the news in the 21st century. Considering how so many people now get their news via their Facebook feed coupled with the tendency to only "like" pages that reinforce pre-existing beliefs, it's a hard call to say if a thing can really be known at all.

  4. This touched a nerve for me. I find myself constantly annoyed with science that is subject to opinion, news that contains only a fraction of the truth ( the side the individual wants us to believe) and Honey Boo Boo being on The Learning Chanel. Every single thing is politicized by a population who claims to be apolitical. It's enough to make you dizzy! And angry:)

  5. So very true. People believe what is closest to what they already believe, and will spin the "truth" until it concurs with their own. The internet doesn't help! That's why there are so many conflicting studies about what's healthy and what's not. People really want to believe that ie chocolate and red wine are good for their heart, and they'll leave no stone unturned to prove it. Who knows, any more?!!

  6. I love the title of this post - Science and Other Lies. Like Jacquie, this hit a nerve for me. Science is subject to opinion and "facts" can be spun a couple of ways. The section about the news stories is a particularly sore subject with me. So often the news is filtered, twisted, and not accurate. I also connected with the bit about history. In my past couple of winters in Arizona, I've visited ruins and museums that focus on the ancient Hohokam people. The historians have created a "picture" of how theses people lived based on what they've excavated from ruins, but they could be so wrong in so many of their "guesses".

  7. We have gotten so used to being asked to vote on things - Who's best on Dancing With the Stars, Do you think blah, blah, blah about the latest trending news on talking heads shows, etc. I fear that people have come to take for granted that voting on scientific subjects determines "real" science.

  8. History is a good example of how stories tend to perpetuate themselves. One person researches an historical event and then becomes a primary source for others, so the story is told over and over (think of a high school history textbook) unless or until some new additional research challenges the interpretation. Interesting post William.

  9. Really fascinating William and extremely relevant to the work I do with personal growth. I used to rely a LOT on research and scientific studies but then a funny thing happened along the way. The more I read the more I realized how much the 'experts' disagreed with each other. Last year there was a fascinating paper published on this topic that basically confirmed many studies are published to 'look' official but are in fact base mostly on opinions, consensus being that if it hasn't been published in a scientific journal chances are it's more opinion that fact. I have no doubt your point about funding is relevant here as well. Look forward to continuing the discussion.

  10. I would argue that seeking out the Loch Ness Monster could be considered a legitimate zoological study, why not? However, I wouldn't want my taxes to pay for such a study and the researchers should have been honest about their findings.

  11. The biased news is something that drives me crazy and we won't go there - I get enough of that every night from my husband. What I found extremely interesting was your information about Pluto - I had not heard that it had been demoted. Scientific studies are interesting but in most (all?) cases, scientists have an agenda, often fueled by nothing more than money - whoever is funding the study.

  12. You know the phrase "it's really more of an art than a science"? Well, sounds like science itself is more of an art than a science. Interesting post and I love all the comments above.

  13. It's funny you mentioned the abominable snowman as I recently had a house guest who was fascinated by Bigfoot and the "scientific" shows surrounding the subject. We watched 60 minutes of broken branches being analyzed. There was no science there at all and it was on the Discovery Channel. I guess they did discover broken branches but they were not the first :)

  14. My husband was born in August of 1972 so this totally explains why he is obsessed with the Loch Ness Monster. Haha!

    That is crazy though. I think we do need to remember to take everything with a grain of salt, especially when viewing something on a television screen.