Tuesday, June 19, 2012



I thought I knew what “science” was about:  the crafting of hypotheses that could be tested and refined through observation via studies that were challenged and replicated by the broader community until the hypothesis is generally accepted or rejected by the broader community.
But apparently “popular science” works differently, if the July 2012 article by Tom Clynes in the periodical of that name is any guide [I will link the article when it is online].  In an article called “the Battle,” Clynes serves up an amazing skewering of skeptics that the most extreme environmental group might have blushed at publishing.  After reading this article, it seems that “popular science” consists mainly of initiating a sufficient number of ad hominem attacks against those with whom one disagrees such that one is no longer required to even answer their scientific criticisms.
The article is a sort of hall-of-fame of every ad hominem attack made on skeptics – tobacco lawyers, Holocaust Deniers, the Flat Earth Society, oil company funding, and the Koch Brothers all make an appearance.

Sounds familiar
The "science " is settled right?
No one can even question it.

This time it was not smoking, but his work on fine particulate air pollution (called PM), especially from diesel engines.  He not only published research that did not conform to the political preferences of his UCLA School of Public Health (SPH) colleagues and their political allies, but pointed out several bits of fraud being committed (by basically the same cabal) in the policy arena. 

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his PM research, though it sounds credible based on what I know of the subject, which is limited but not nothing.  I do not know whether his results might have been outliers in the current research, though obviously they are what they are.  His second-hand smoke research certainly was good work -- I can vouch for that, and for the fact that it was more similar to the bulk of the evidence than the politicized conventional wisdom is.  Enstrom is a much better scientist, and has ten times the integrity, compared to most people in public health, so I am certainly inclined to believe him about PM.

I hope Enstrom doesn't settle,it would be excellent to see this sort of stuff go before an impartial judge.
But I will say this,I know for a fact that when you deny or ask questions abut these subjects,let's just say pollution and smoking people treat you like you're crazy.
I might not be a great scientist or writer but I do know what I can read and what my life experiences are and they simply don't add up with what I'm being told.