William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Stream: December 12, 2015: The Day Science Died. #COP21

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Today’s post is at The Stream: “December 12, 2015: The Day Science Died. #COP21“.

President Hollande of France slid to the microphone, and, with great Gallic aplomb, announced December 12th, 2015 will be a day that lives in “infamy.” Or maybe it was “history.” It’s hard to tell since that gentleman was rather excited when he spoke, seeing that the world had just entered into a momentous agreement to spend as much as your money as humanely possible to prevent the unpreventable.

So take your pick: infamy or history. Either way, this fateful date will be remembered as the Day Science Died.

Did you ever know her? Science used to work hand in hand with Government, discovering new things, telling us how stuff worked and easing our lives, saying what was true about the world and what was false. She was uncompromising and did not suffer fools. But now she’s gone.

Close watchers of that once robust being had seen it coming for years. Oh, sure, Science maintained a brave public face, making appearances here and there in an effort to reassure us that things were not as bad as feared. It turned up at odd venues chatting amiably about the mating habit of Mongolian muskrats and of how the leafs of a rare Peruvian plant might be made into a terrific balm. But it was clear to those who knew her best that the disease had made its way to the bone, that it was only a matter of time.

The end wasn’t pretty, either. Instead of letting her pass away quietly in private, Science was wheeled into COP21’s hall and was humiliated and made to suffer to the last. Scores of our planet’s leaders gathered round her and chanted “We can stop climate change!”, “We must hold the earth’s temperature to a 2 degree increase!”, “The globe is warming out of control!”, “People are being inconvenienced by climate change!”

On and on it went, with each nonsensical pseudo-scientific taunt piercing the flesh of Science. The wounds were mortal, but still she struggled for life, that last spark of Truth giving what strength it could. It was a pitiful thing to see! In the end she had shrunk to a fraction of her former size, her breath all but extinguished; when at last, during a lull, a lone delegate made his way to Science’s broken body and said, “Have no fear! I have here an enormous grant to study the effects of devastating climate change. Take it, and you will live.”

And so, in that quiet moment, when she had one last chance at dignity, Science hesitated for a moment, but then reached out her feeble hand toward the very drug that caused her sickness and was to be her demise…

Go there to read the rest, if you dare.

And now let’s have, if possible and if circumstances allow it, a moratorium on this dismal topic. I hope it lasts at least a day.

17 Comments

  1. Sorry, Briggs, science died long ago. My first tombstone for science: https://watchingthewatchersofdeniers.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/rip-science.
    The second was a bit later: https://watchingthewatchersofdeniers.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/more-rip-for-science.

    I must admit, “she croaked” is an interesting way to put the death of science!

    Not to rain on your death-of-science parade and COP21, but so far as I can tell, COP21 says nothing about anything except “We are brilliant politicians who just spent billions of your money partying in Paris”. Sure, the news media says it’s “groundbreaking”, but so is every single thing Obama does, including his morning trip to the bathroom (where he may or may not flush), so that is not really an indicator. There are NO set limits, no plans and anyone can opt out at any time in the next four years. It is not legally binding. It’s certainly not a treaty and could never pass Congress. And Congress has the money. I also read that the COP21 people are appealing to “the rich” to kick in since they know the governments are not going to. In less than 2 weeks, no one will ever remember there was a conference, except the guys still cleaning the streets and motels of Paris of all the mess that was made.

  2. Science has not died. She is in the process of metamorphosis. She has gone underground to gestate in the unnoticed crevices and caverns outside the ossifying political structure. She will live on wherever men and women desire to understand rather than dictate. She will persist in anonymity until all the silly know-nothings and venal money-grubbers have have been swept away by the consequences of their own foolishness. Science will arise again. Somewhere. Sometime. But alas, not soon…

  3. This new agreement will be as successful as the Kyoto agreement.

  4. The silly thing called ThaSciyense should never have been born.

  5. Science will be resurrected when ideas, not accelerators or explorations of the human and non-human genome, will be that most valued; when wealthy individuals and those supported by patrons, rather than the government do science; and when science is taught to students as the history of science, rather than exercises in stochiometry or trajectories.

  6. IMO, Science died with the birth of “Big Science.” Its first baby step was the Hale Reflector although without big government money. It really grew in WWII and reached maturity with the Sputnik panic. It managed to choke off real science when Ruckelshaus overrode his Science Advisory Panel and banned DDT.

  7. No worries. You shall see Science in heaven.

  8. Briggs

    December 14, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    JH,

    Only if it asked for forgiveness.

  9. My Dear Mr. Briggs, no worries. Pope Francis gave his blessings to Science. A free pass to heaven.

  10. It’s worse than we thought:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/sea-level-earth-rotation-1.3361446

    Global warming is now making the planet rotate slower. We are DOOMED!

  11. Bob,

    I took a history of science class and absolutely loved it. It filled in so many of the gaps about “why” this or that process is used. It showed how advances built on one another (with many dead ends)

    The problem is most students today are more interested in “the answer” that they put down on the test. I see this in kids entering my business too – they have no interest in solving problems and thinking things through, they just want to be handed a step by step guide to do task X, just like in the lab at school.

  12. Sheri – fun fact – the earth appears to be slowing down it’s rotation already! Best guess seems to be that the day was 22 hours long back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

  13. Science died at COP21? I don’t think she even put in an appearance.

    This global warming thing has me puzzled – why have the libs chosen this particular hill to plant their flag on? Where’s the path to plausible deniability for the future? Atmospheric CO2 levels will continue to rise unabated (as a fundamental tenet of human nature), so they won’t be able to take any sort of credit when their dire predictions fail to appear.

    Or am I completely missing the point? Perhaps the whole things is designed to fail, like ObamaCare, to force some hidden agenda? But what agenda? Economic self-destruction of the most politically correct countries? I just don’t get it.

    Re the rotation of the earth. Energy can be extracted from the tides. Where does this energy come from? Well, to extract energy from tidal flows, one must impede these flows, which causes the rotation of the earth to slow (increased drag).

    Being an engineer, I of course wondered how much energy could be harnessed by slowing down the earth’s rotation. Assuming that enough tidal generators are built to completely satisfy the total energy needs of all humans on the planet, how many years could these tidal generators be operated until a day got 1% longer? The answer might surprise you.

  14. Milton: My best guess at what the agenda is is to completely collapse capitalism, replacing it with communism and socialism. By the time people actually realize what lie this was, communism and socialism will be firmly entrenched. Why do this? Because Leaders are never caught in the downturn—Obama, Merkel, and all other leaders will not be touched by this, nor will the uber rich congress that stood by and did nothing, or actively helped the process. There are enough places at the “big people’s table” no leader gets tossed to the “kids table”.
    Do you have an answer to the question you posed on harnessing the energy of the earth’s rotation?

    Nate: Thanks. I was not aware of that interesting fun fact. It does remind me that there are so many factors in what happens on earth—the moon, placement of the continents, gravity. It’s always changing.

  15. If the earth is slowing down should I grab hold of something and hang on tight until it stops?

  16. Sheri – it’s been years, so I’ll have to refresh my memory. But it appears that Wikipedia has simplified the calculation by directly providing partial answers.

    According to Wikipedia, the rotational kinetic energy of the earth is 2.138e29 Joules. Again per Wikipedia, the world’s energy consumption (2012) is 5.6e20 Joules/year. Rotational kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the angular velocity, so a 1% increase in the length of a day would be a 2% drop in rotational energy, or 4.276e27 Joules, or about 7.6 million years at 2012 energy consumption levels.

    Wikipedia says that tidal action naturally dissipates 3.7e12 Joules/second, or 1.17e20 Joules/year, or about one-fifth of the world’s energy consumption in 2012.

    If you believe Wikipedia.

    http://xkcd.com/214/

  17. Milton: Thank you for the answer. I would not have figured that one out. As for Wikipedia, I usually double or triple check before using the figures as anything other than a quick example. Of course, I do that for most sources! Again, thanks.

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