It’s the Science, Stupid!

 

or

What you don’t know can kill you.

I’m not a doctor of medicine.  I’m not a lawyer.  I’m not an economist or a famous political analyst.  Yet, I’ve managed to stay fairly healthy for 50+ years, I’m not in jail, I’ve managed to refurbish three houses to better than code and I even can go toe to toe with pundits.  There is one thing I’d really like to work on, though.  There is one area where I want to really be an expert, with or without the paper.  This one area imposes itself upon every other aspect of my life.  And, although I know a lot, I want to know a lot more.  I want to be a scientist.

Think about it. Understanding chemical properties and reactions determines everything from how we build a house, heat it, electrify it, plumb it, and protect it, to global climate change, prescription drugs, medicines, and the food and water we eat.  It is usually on the basis of our understanding of atomic science that we formulate most of our legal statutes.  This puts a lot of power into the hands of those who understand the science.

When it comes to economics, we are not so involved with chemical reactions as we are with human reactions and market reactions.  But, in a sense, these are systems that have a certain statistical probability of functioning in a specific manor, much like chemical reactions.  So, economics can also be a scientific study, although not as certain as chemical science.

The word “science” comes from the Greek word “scio”, to know.  Therefore, “science” is the process of obtaining knowledge about everything.  Sometimes, we forget that this is an ongoing process.  Many times, scientists believe that certain things are facts, that is, we know all we need to know about them, when, in fact, they are merely theories at best or, more likely, just postulations.  This is, unfortunately, our current state of affairs.  Many scientists have become close-minded to the process.  Many challenges to the status quo are dismissed out of hand.

For instance, scientists tell us that the universe is a closed system.  As such, they tell us that it must operate according to the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that, in a closed system, there can be no energy gains.  However, no one knows for sure that the universe is a closed system.  Of course, if you believe in the Big Bang “theory”, if you accept this as “Gospel truth”, then it would have to follow that the universe is all there is.  You would then make all your other observations based on you belief in this “theory”.  But, what if the universe is not a closed system?  What if there are outside forces working on the universe?   This would change everything.  Everything that is now “accepted fact” would have to be rethought.  Much of it would have to be thrown out the window.

Closed system science is one that searches for constants which it can then stamp as “laws”.  Galileo proposed many such constants to an incredulous medieval church and met with tremendous opposition, because he flew in the face of the established laws of the day.  Eventually, though, his theories came to be the new “laws”.  This was fine, until Einstein et al came along with Relativity.  Then we understood that Galileo’s knowledge only applied in stasis, not in motion.  But Einstein still struggled with gravity and magnetism.

Quantum physics have filled a lot of holes in Einstein’s theories and have led to the unified theories under which we operate today.  However, there is a problem.  According to science, in order to be a fact, there has to be 100% of cases where the same operation reaches the same conclusion.  And you must always reach the same conclusion with the same operation.  However, there are at least five different formulas of quantum physics that can arrive at the same solution, and the same formula can have different outcomes.  It appears that the “laws” of quantum physics allow for random outcomes.

Now, I think that, 100% of the time, when two dogs mate, the result will be a dog, and for two cats, the result is a cat.  The idea of randomness is really hard on the scientific method.  You know there is a huge push on to quantify this randomness.

An interesting sidelight to this is the idea of determination.  As a concrete example, consider that, statistically, scientifically, the probability of flipping or spinning a coin and having it land with heads up is exactly 50%.  However, in several tests, people who are flipping the coin with the hope of heads landing up have about a 65% success rate.  In other words, the very fact that they wish to have heads seems to help determine the outcome well above the statistical average.  This is an example of an unknown force acting on a system.  Scientists cannot quantify or explain this, yet it exists.

In the area of chemistry, there is a lot that is thrown at us about nutrition, pharmaceuticals, environmental toxins, radiation, etc. that we are asked to accept on the word of a “scientist”.  I am not here to say that every scientist is working with alchemy.  They are not telling us that we can spin straw into gold.  But, I think it’s incumbent upon every rational person to at least try to understand the logic behind what we are told.  This is the only way to ensure that what is sold us as the truth actually is the truth.  We’ve all heard to joke about why they say doctors have a practice.  Maybe we should be sure that the experts, on whom we rely, are not just guessing.

After five months, it’s time to re-evaluate the direction of my blog.  I find that a lot of the things I would write about are covered well by others.  I find a lot of my categories to be impossibly narrow–most of things I discuss don’t fit very well in them.  So, it’s time to modify again.  And I have a new emphasis that I want to work on a lot–Chemistry.

I have been studying a lot of review texts.  What I have suddenly discovered is that chemistry is really quite easy to understand, but that, like legalese, the experts want to make it sound difficult.  there are a lot of interesting patterns that I never noticed in high school chemistry.  This is, perhaps, because an extra 35 years of life experience has taught me a lot more about the questions that Chemistry should answer.

I’m going to be trying to present snippets of chemistry in a way that helps everyone make sense of the issues.  Sort of like picture-a-day, I’d like to get a chemical-riddle-a-day, or something like that.  I’d also like to be able to post learning helps for basic chemistry.

There are young people out there who know all the lyrics, song lists, names, birthdays, you name it, of their favorite artists.  They have a huge enthusiasm for it.  They don’t yet know or care about what Chemistry can do for them.  The real world is tomorrow’s problem to them.  But, for those of us who care about the real world now, it’s time to get excited about science, and especially chemistry.  I’m going to try to make this world at little more interesting and relevant.

Yes, I like to advance the nuts and bolts of conservative thought.  But I would really like people to understand that politics is a science.  And I take my sciences very seriously.  All sciences have the same goal, knowledge of the truth.  All politicians must pass statues that have a basis in one science or another.  All physicians must try to preserve life based upon science.  All sciences start with chemical science.  Therefore, I will, too.

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