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Two Principles of Good Science


            Having finished the listing and summaries of hard and provable facts, in the prior pages, we need to shift gears, to point out a severe misalignment, between: (i) how scientists think, work, and communicate; versus, (ii) how politicians distort, manipulate, and scheme. That misalignment has helped lead us into a dark tunnel, which we can no longer get out of, while a runaway world-threatening train of disasters is coming at us, hard and fast.

            For right or wrong, better or worse,  most lawyers and politicians learn (and are taught, trained, motivated, and pushed), not to remain steadfast and faithful to some abstract concept of ‘truth’, but to use skill, cleverness, manipulation, and sometimes distortion – and sometimes, even outright dishonesty (but, the rest of the world should hope, only when truly necessary) – to create arguments and claims that will help some lawyer or politician get the result(s) he wants. We’re not claiming scientists are perfect, or saintly, in comparison, or are always and forever honest; nevertheless, scientists work in very different ways, and are held to very different standards, compared to lawyers and politicians, and those differences lead to large and important differences in how they communicate, and how to interpret what they are trying to say. 

          As two major points of difference:




            Good scientists learn that they are risking (and jeopardizing, and threatening to damage, and possibly even destroy) things they do not need to risk, if they ever, ever claim to know ‘absolute truth’ about anything scientific.

            Part of that attitude comes from their objections and resentment over how humanity has been controlled and manipulated, for so many centuries, by selfish, conniving, manipulative people who, throughout history, have claimed divine right, divine inspiration, divine power, and anything else divine, which they claimed had been given to them – directly, and personally – by and from God. Since scientists know how much those attitudes held back good science, they don’t want to be accused of doing the same things, themselves.

            There are, regrettably, a few scientists who claim things such as ‘Evolution has proved that there is no God,’ but they are in a small minority, and most are not actively practicing or performing actual science any more. Any non-scientists should recognize that those types of statements are not scientific, at all; instead, they are motivated mainly by the desire to make money, to feel important, etc. This is a complex topic, not suited for this website, but some of us hope and intend to address it directly, before long, because we've become convinced that:

          (i) the antagonism and distrust that have been stirred up  in nearly every case, by people looking to make money or gain power by exploiting those divisions and antagonism between people of science, versus people of faith, have damaged both sides, and all of modern society; and,

          (ii) one of the best ways we can increase the likelihood that humanity and civilization will be able to somehow survive the massive and horrible problems that will be created by global warming, is if we can find ways to get people of science, and people of faith, working together again, for the common good.

            Another part of the modest attitude (among good scientists) about needlessly and foolishly risky claims to ‘absolute knowledge’ comes from seeing, a number of times, how several different sets of widely-accepted “knowledge” had to be heavily rewritten and revised, in light of later discoveries. As one example, the very definition of “atom,” for roughly 2700 years, had been ‘the smallest possible component of mass’. However, major discoveries in the late 1800s and early 1900s forced scientists to realize and accept that, ‘No, that prior belief was wrong, because now we know that atoms actually are made up of even smaller components, which we now call protons, electrons, and neutrons.’

            And then, it even happened again (!!), with yet ANOTHER major re-write, and shake-up, in that very same field. Starting in the 1960’s, scientists realized that even protons, electrons, and neutrons are made up of even smaller components, generally called quarks (with additional terms such as hadrons, baryons, muons, bosons, etc.).

            BOTH of those two major transitions focused directly upon absolutely fundamental, center-of-everything questions, including, "What is matter, itself? What are WE made of? And, why were we made in THIS way?" So, both of those two "massive rewrites" played a powerful and enduring role in teaching scientists to NOT claim to know ‘absolute truth.’ No matter how much you THINK you might already know about something, more information – and revised theories – may come along that may require re-writes of claims and assertions that, in retrospect, will look like dogma, rather than truth.

            In similar ways, biology and medicine never have been, never will be, and never can be, fully quantifiable, “deterministic”, and predictable. Whenever ANY large biological population is measured for ANY variable trait, the results can be reported accurately, only as statistics and probabilities; the hard data will be arrayed across a ‘bell curve’ shape, and the question becomes, ‘Where does this individual happen to fit, on that type of statistical curve?’ Similarly, doctors simply accept and admit that they will NEVER be able to fully understand (or reliably predict) why some patients with severe and even dire conditions get better and recover, while other patients, having apparently milder conditions, succumb and die.

            A third reason why scientists are taught to NOT claim to know ‘absolute truth’ about anything scientific, comes from a mature and insightful realization that the trait (or, even just the appearance) of modesty tends to be pleasing, agreeable, and “becoming”, even if (or, especially if) it comes from some apparently super-human being, with super-human strength, and super-human knowledge and insight.

          The "super-human" phrases were chosen, for a specific reason. Since science (or at least GOOD science) has masterfully combined the efforts and accomplishments of so many good scientists, it gradually became:

            (i) super-human (i.e., it stretches vastly above and beyond the capabilities of any single human);

            (ii) super-humanly strong (i.e., strong enough to move entire mountains, lift giant rockets into space, and then figure out how to kill, with precision, microbes so small they could not even be seen until a bunch of really smart scientists invented electron microscopes); and,

            (iii) endowed with super-human knowledge, and insight.

            Regarding the not-so-modest phrase, `super-human knowledge, and insight’: science finally became what we regard as ‘science,’ only about 150 years ago. There were so many epochal advances in each and all of chemistry, physics, and biology, between about 1850 and about 1870, that that timespan can fairly be called the beginning of what we recognize, today, as ‘science’. Science then began acquiring, at HUGE velocity, so much knowledge and insight that – in only about 150 years – it has totally and utterly changed the entire world, all of humanity, and all human civilization. Radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, nuclear power, computers, cellphones, modern medicine, genetics, genetic engineering – the list is endless, and none of those things were even imagined, by anyone, in 1850. Those are compelling illustrations, evidence, and “proof” of how intelligent, insightful, and powerful science is, and of how much it has changed society, and humanity.

            So, good scientists have learned to modestly claim and assert that nothing they claim to know is “absolute truth”. If someone comes forth with a new theory or hypothesis, scientists will not try to have that person arrested, tortured, and then killed because he was spouting blasphemy which might corrupt and ruin people, if allowed to continue. Instead, any good scientist will respond by saying, “That is an unusual claim, and I will not believe it unless he can provide very good and strong evidence that he is right, and all the rest of us have been wrong. So, what is his evidence? What is he actually saying?” And, the scientific community will ask that person to show them the evidence, whatever it might be.

            But now . . . take that principle, and remove the word ‘absolute’ from the phrase, ‘absolute truth’? How much does that change the meaning of ‘truth’? ‘Truth’ is the noun, the thing, itself. Adding an adjective doesn’t really change what the thing, itself, actually is.      

            So, scientists who try to convince (and warn) politicians about global warming, do not really feel comfortable in saying what ‘science’ does and does not >> KNOW <<  to be >>  TRUE!! <<  Instead, they must begin using complex, cluttered, difficult-to-understand charts and numbers, about statistics and probabilities.

            And . . . THAT is where scheming politicians – who want power, more than anything else (including truth . . .) – find gaps, openings, opportunities, and excuses to attack and highlight any candid and honest admissions, about the limits of what good science does, and claims.

            THAT severe and even tragic misalignment – between science, versus political scheming and conniving – is where politicians find the opportunities and excuses they use, to blatantly ignore (and criticize, and attack) the warnings they get, from scientists. The tragic blind spot of too many scientists is that they will sacrifice themselves, and what they are trying to do, by continuing to do their level best to always be scrupulously and carefully honest, even when they are being cut up, and cut into pieces, by dishonest and unscrupulous knife-fighters who have knives in their hands, and malice in their hearts.




            Another severe misalignment, between how scientists communicate – versus how politicians claim, strut, posture, parade, bloviate, and argue – arises from the fact that science never claims to have “proved” anything which still lies in the future, and has not yet happened. Instead, science modestly accepts, understands, and says that any statements about the future are merely predictions (or, forecasts, extrapolations, or similar terms).

            However, that does NOT means that “predictions” are puny, uncertain, unreliable, and a poor substitute for truth and knowledge. Instead, people should recognize and respect GOOD predictions as having – and providing humans with – enough courage, foresight, motivation and energy to actually get things done. Predictions about what will happen, that day, are what enable, motivate, and drive the kinds of people who actually accomplish things, to get up, and start doing things (other than just eating, and going to the bathroom) every morning. Predictions about what will happen, in the future, are what enable companies to do business.

            To understand that point, consider the following: every type of manufacturing operation that is ever performed, by any person or company, anywhere in the world, rests entirely and totally on predictions. Plain and simple. A chemical manufacturing process rests on predictions which say, in effect, “I hereby predict – and, I have bet good money on this prediction – that if I put these chemicals, in the quantities and temperatures listed on this page, into this machine, and if I provide power to the machine, and turn it on once it has been loaded with those chemicals . . . well, I predict that this machine will convert these chemicals, into the product I want to make, and sell.”

            If some process involves mechanics rather than chemistry, the prediction will require only minor changes, without changing its nature or meaning: “I hereby predict – and, I have bet good money on this prediction – that if I put this piece of sheet metal into this machine, then this machine will shape this piece of metal into a car fender, which will then have a shape which will enable us to fit that fender onto the type of car we are making in this factory, today.”

            That is the very essence, and the key, to understanding what manufacturing actually is, and does, and accomplishes. Being able to successfully and accurately PREDICT things like that, is what enables ALL manufacturing operations. It is what enables ANY company to pay for the machines that will do the predicted operations, and to pay for the supplies and materials which must be loaded into those machines, to enable them to work. Rather than being puny, uncertain, or unreliable, predictions that are skilled, shrewd, intelligent, and insightful, are absolutely crucial, critical, essential components of any and all decisions and commitments which enable things to actually get done.

            Clearly, some types of predictions are so obvious and predictable that it can seem silly or stupid to even make them. Simple example: I hereby predict that, no matter WHAT day (or week, or month, or year) you happen to read this . . . the next morning after that, the sun will seem to rise over the eastern horizon, rather than the western horizon. Why? Because of the scientific rules of momentum, and inertia; there is NO reason to expect that the earth will suddenly stop rotating in the same direction (or speed) that it has been rotating in, for billions of years.

            Now, here is the crucial point which needs to be made, and understood, about that type of prediction: no matter how obvious, or certain, a prediction might be, it still is only a prediction, if it describes something which is expected to happen, but which has not yet happened. Science – no matter how powerful or insightful it is – simply cannot “prove” something which has not yet happened, and which cannot and will not happen until some time in the future. Even something as obvious as claiming and stating, with total certainty, that the sun will rise in the east, tomorrow, is not proof; it is only a prediction.

            As another example, I can safely and reliably predict – with absolute and total confidence – that if I lift up something heavy, and heave it upward, on any day next week, it will fall back down to earth . . . ON THE VERY SAME DAY!!

          Why, and how, can I predict something like that, with total and absolute confidence, and certaintly?

          Because that’s how gravity works, when applied to anything on or near the surface of a planet..

          But, even so – and here is the crucial point – IF I have not yet DONE it . . . then I have not yet PROVED it. I have only PREDICTED it.

          As another example – which sits directly at the heart of the global warming problem – the next page provides a scientific explanation of how and why the inside of a car will get hot, if that car is left for hours, sitting in the sun, with all the windows rolled up, on a cloudless summer afternoon. It is direct, straight-forward, fully scientific explanation. It has happened in absolutely every single case that has ever been tested, or even just observed and noticed.

          And yet, despite its absolute 100% track record of being consistent, reliable, and guaranteed-level predictable, science still cannot PROVE that if I leave a green 2019 Camaro, with a black interior, sitting in the sun, for two hours in the mid-afternoon, with all the windows rolled up, in the parking lot of a certain Marriott hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, on a hot and sunny day without a cloud in the sky, this coming August, then the same thing that has always happened, to every other car, will also happen to that one particular green Camaro, on that day, during a month that is still several months away (as this is being written, in early 2023). Why not? Because science – when done and described properly and respectfully, by a good scientist – does not, and can not, PROVE things that have not yet happened.

          That is the very nature, and essence, and even the soul, of good science, when properly done, and properly described.

          And, so, the problem becomes this: the words and the terms that science uses, to discuss and describe things that have not yet happened, can be seized upon, hijacked, and used in very different ways, by politicians who do NOT want to have to face up to troubling, difficult, frightening warnings. Republicans who do not want to have to vote for large and expensive programs to help slow down global warming, have an easy and obvious excuse, escape hatch, evasion, and ejector seat. Using the exact same words that scientists are using, Republicans act as though . . . and talk as though . . . and claim . . . and pretend . . .  that all they need to say, to justify their actions to voters (and campaign contributors; one must NEVER forget THOSE, in ANY political calculation) they regard as their ‘base’, is this:


‘The scientists have NOT even PROVED that those things are going to happen. And, since they do NOT even know

whether it's going to happen, I am NOT going to spend taxpayers' money, to stop it from happening."


          Politicians who take that cheap and easy way out are committing a gross, unconscionable, appalling, destructive, and vile offense, against sense, intelligence, and humanity. For a politician to use that cheap and easy excuse, while blatantly ignoring every reasonable and realistic warning that has been provided to them, is not leadership. Instead, it is a grotesque, despicable, damnable violation of, and assault upon, every principle, every tenet, and every obligation, of true and genuine "leadership," and "responsibility," and the premises and assumptions that any "republican" form of government depends upon, for its very existence, and for its right to continue, as a valid, reasonable, and legitimate form of government.

          Somehow or another, people who want to protect the planet need to find ways to cut through that tactic used by politicians.

          This website makes a number of suggestions, for how we might be able to deal with those political problems; but, neither we, nor anyone else, can actually create, implement, or enforce any of those suggestions, unless others also get involved, and begin working toward the same (or at least compatible) goals.

          So . . . back to science, which is one of the things we understand, and respect. The next page describes WHY and HOW cars get hot, inside, if left sitting in direct sunlight, with all the windows rolled up.

          Far too many people do not even understand THAT. So, that description is our best effort, to solve THAT problem.

          Because that exact same principle is what is actually causing global warming. That principle may determine the fate, and future, of all of humanity; so, we should at least try to understand it. And, those who do understand it, should try to explain it to those who do not (at least, not yet).

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