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Friday, 17 February 2017

"Do You Even Science?"

Before "established" sciences there were alchemists and naturalists.

Then you could not be considered serious as a researcher of any type unless you had qualifications from a university.

This entailed accepting a great deal of biased dogma from some very stuffed stiff shirts.

Because you cherished your degrees and qualifications and did not want to go against your old teachers who were part of the Establishment you continued spouting dogma -or facing their wrath and ridicule.

This I have seen in many fields.

People submit material along with proof but because it goes against dogma and the over-stuffed, stiff shirts never discovered it (because they were too comfortable in those plush armchairs) it was "wrong"/"unproven" and disputable.

When/if later proved to have been correct then "We never said it was incorrect just required more work to prove it correct" and they'll accept all the kudos for their former pupil.

A (an astronomer with years of experience): "There are very weird, inexplicable lights moving in the sky above the conference centre -quick, come and see!!"

Collective Idiots: "Calm yourself.  It'll be aircraft lights or astronomical."

Next day they will explain to the Press just how everyone is uneducated and cannot be trusted to observe accurately things flying above the conference centre they were in but never moved from to look for themselves.

A (a zoologist with years of experience including working with and studying puma in the field):
"I couldn't stop in the traffic but I saw it for 30 seconds some 3 metres away -every diagnostic feature of a puma except it was melanistic"

Selective Idiots (mainly armchair types with little field work): "No. There are no such things as black pumas.  You actually saw a black leopard in every likelihood."

A ( naturalist of 40 years): "I saw it with the naked eye out to see and then with field glasses of high power: It was larger than an Orca and had a long neck with squat head.  Perfect viewing conditions, too!"

A Selective idiot of any rank: "Distance and conditions -the eyes play tricks.  Probably a seal or several in a long line.  I was standing right next to the fellow but I wasn't going to turn to look at some optical illusion!"

This is not science.  Scientists and academics (do not get me started on them) are human.  They are not Mr Spock looking solely at evidence impartially.  They are full of their own personal beliefs and often over-inflated ego (try referring to one in a conversation as "Mr" rather than "Dr" or "Pofessor" -blood vessels almost pop out of their necks!).

Dogma has no place in science.

The more incredible a report sounds you do not say "idiots" you go and check it out and gather as much evidence as you can to say "Yay"/"Nay" or "Not proven but very interesting". Open minds is what science is about and not worrying that your university grant might be less this year if you even consider looking at something "strange".  You might be laughed at?  Get out of science because you belong on TV or radio or a public library and are not a scientist.


Who is Arthur Kornberg?  A Nobel Prize winner for one:

"You are not an academic nor do you have a university accreditation!"

I hear that a lot -from people that don't check, to boot.

I am a naturalist.  Have been since a wee lad.  I have studied and specialised in native and non native fauna in the UK, particularly felids and canids -I was a consultant to UK Police Forces regarding this from 1977-2007.  I've contributed to papers for conference and written several books, fully referenced.  I've been into astronomy since a teen not to mention weather phenomena, psychology, aeronautics blah blah blah.  I am actually more qualified than some academics I've met (who had to filch knowledge from me -uncredited).  I am nothing special.  In fact, "established science" is based almost entirely on the work of jack-of-all-interests like me, many thousands of them, over the centuries.

Universities were about education but for more than a century they have been about building reputations to get more money -you are paying huge fees for pieces of paper because of what you think that paper will mean to you or earn for you.  I once asked a very high-up university professor how he had achieved his position?  "Arse-licking. Arse-licking and never stepping out of line or rocking the boat -otherwise I'd be scraping a living teaching yobs!"

Why is it that some naturalists and even -gods help us!- newspapers and magazines of the 18th/19th centuries realised that "the sea serpent" appeared at specific times of the year and at specific locations -in other words, migratory routes- yet stuffed professors seated in plush chairs said "Poppy-cock!  Old sailors tales and stories from the ill educated!!"

Here is one thing I never understood: that old dismissal line of "tales from old sea-dogs/sailors!"  You see, if you spent 30-40+ years sailing the sea you would expect to see whales (even some of those accounts dismissed until the species was later identified), seals, sharks, octopusses, squids and so on. Spend 24 hours a day on voyages that took months or even years then you would be familiar with "the usual" and really notice the unusual.  Able seaman, captain, first officer whatever -all 'misidentifying' common animals or waves in the water.


In no occupation do you work and observe something day-in and day-out, 364 days of the year and then note something unusual, refer to it and get called "ill educated" or miss-observing.  

With natural history it is known, though.

Reports of hairy, man-like beasts in Africa? Ignorant native superstition!  Then Friedrich Robert von Beringe gets his patrol to machine-gun a group of these creatures while on routine patrol and...the gorilla is discovered!  And for his, uh, 'scientific bravery', his name gets to be attached to theirs. In fact, this new species, commonly called "eastern gorilla", was later determined to consist of two sub-species: the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) and the eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri).

And how is this celebrated today? With a very sanitized Wikipedia entry -the full story can be found in Some More Things Strange And Sinister.

A true contributor to science!

In fact, peoples as well as naturalists describing seeing animals that were unknown at the time were accused of all types of things including outright fraud when the duckbill platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinuswas presented!  There is a very long history of such things.

These days, if one of these self-important stiff shirts accuses me of silliness because I actually get off my arse and do field work and investigate the strange and unusual (that they should be doing) and "not taking science seriously" I send them the perfect meme (I am endorsing no one by-the-way):

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