Sunday, January 02, 2011

With some science on the side

Happy New Year everyone!

Here's three notable science stories from recent days which I hope will work together to make a cool point or two.

Is this evidence that we can see the future? -

Experiments with 1,000 volunteer students determined that people can recall words they've been shown in a list of words 53.1% of the time when they will be asked to type the same words in the future. That is to say they are asked to type randomly selected words from the original list they were shown only after they have already demonstrated recall of some of the words from the original list. One might expect a 50/50 result based on pure randomness. The 53.1% rate is interpreted as significant proof of pre-cognition, or seeing the future in some way imperceptible way.

Question: Would a rate of 50% (or 46.9% for that matter) have been interpreted as significant proof that people do not naturally have pre-cognition?

Why the human body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. -

Turns out our body temperature is "perfectly balanced." If it were lower we'd get fungal infections, if it were higher we'd have to constantly eat to maintain the energy requirements.

Question 1: Have we been designed with the perfect temperature or did we only happen to survive because we evolved to have this body temperature?

Question 2: If we evolved to have this temperature, then how? Did we, or rather our ancestor just get it right the first time? See if the temperature wasn't perfectly balanced then the organism COULD NOT have survived. This is sort of like irreducible complexity in that you can't gradually come to the correct temperature. It's right or you're dead.

Why published research findings are often false. -

Uh oh.  The New Yorker is reporting that many well-established, multiply confirmed findings are looking increasingly uncertain. Why is this happening? Apparently John Loannidis (author of Why Most Published Research Findings Are False) says that it is because of "significance chasing" or finding ways to interpret data so that it passes the test of statistical significance. That is the 95% boundary proposed by Ronald Fisher.  "The scientists are so eager to pass this magical test that they start playing around with the numbers trying to find anything that seems worthy." 

Question: Why do we, the very assembly of the Firstborn, allow the unmitigated and implicit trust of scientists to propagate through our society as though it were helpful in any way? The very Scientific Method is based on mistrust of findings! See the graphic above. I wholeheartedly believe in the use of the Scientific Method - I do not believe this even allows for the creation of a new High Priesthood of Scientists.

Happy New Year! How's your Worldview doing?


Kevl said...

I really like this comment at /. under the Why Published Research Findings Are Often False.

The article says "this phenomenon doesn't yet have an official name," [yet] but it actually does. It's called "lying".

LOL I like it when someone tells it like it is.


Jan said...

... if it were higher we'd have to constantly eat to maintain the energy requirements.

And this would be bad because...???????

(Just kidding. :))