A Science Experiment Released on the Environment Has Issues

It turns out scientists aren’t as smart as they think they are. Mosquito Experiment Has a Surprise Outcome.

Things in the real-world are more complicated than the scientists dreamed. And bothering about “what all could go wrong” isn’t necessary, when you are convinced that you know everything about a situation. This is how you get the zombie apocalypse.

14. “Mad Science” means never stopping to ask “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

That’s is from The 70 Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries. I think it applies.

Instead of wiping [the mosquitoes] out, genetic engineering may have made them more ‘robust’

OK, can we put a moratorium on experiments that have a real potential to make everyone’s life worse?

The idea made sense on paper: Introduce male mosquitoes genetically engineered to be sterile into the bug population and watch the insect numbers drop. As New Atlas reports, that’s generally what happened in a Brazil experiment—but only for about 18 months. At that point, the numbers rebounded, say Yale researchers in a new study at Scientific Reports. But perhaps more troubling is this: Scientists say the modified genes are now showing up in the mosquito population, which was not supposed to happen. This is “very likely resulting in a more robust population than the pre-release population due to hybrid vigor.”

Super-mosquitoes. Great.

And when scientists tell you that they know exactly how things are going to work out in the real world, based only on their computations on paper, bring up the subject of Castle Bravo.

The explosive power of the Castle Bravo shot was 250 percent ABOVE expectations. In other words, instead of the 6 megaton explosion they expected, they got 15 megatons. The base – built to conduct nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands – was destroyed. The shot crew were trapped in their bunker by high radiation. Several islands – where no one was even supposed to know what was going on – had to be evacuated.

People died, and people got sick due to Castle Bravo. Because the world was not as neat and orderly as the mathematics implied it would be. Still up in the air as to what the long-term affects of the super-mosquitoes will be.

Original report from Yale on the mosquito disaster is at this link. Hat tip to Small Dead Animals.

Science Is Supposed to Have Predictive Value

You are either able to predict the outcome of experiments or the behavior of nature. So what is it if there is no predictive value? Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions.

Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true.

A nice collection of images from newspapers about Global Cooling and then Global Warming, and whatever we have today. (Hat tip to 90 Miles From Tyranny.)

What Anti-vaxxers Have Achieved

Pretty much what would be expected. Measles cases skyrocket.

At least 1,241 people — many of them school-aged children — contracted the viral infection across 31 states so far this year, according to the latest count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which called it the highest number of reported cases in nearly a generation.

The rise comes amid increased demand for vaccine exemptions as parents, some dubious of government control or worried about the now-debunked link between immunization and autism, seek to opt their children out of the mandatory shot schedule.

And it isn’t just that “if I vaccinate my kids, I’m OK” because for 3% of the population, the measles vaccine fails. In general, that number is small enough that they would be protected by a more completely vaccinated population.

Affects of measles can include permanent hearing loss, permanent brain-damage and death.

Climate Science – Lite on the Science

SiGraybeard has the rundown on an interesting article. The Climate Change Hoax is Worse Than You Thought.

The article is supported by a fairly large PDF, so although I will look at it eventually, that won’t happen for a while. But there seem to be some problems.

In my prior experience, climate modelers:

  • did not know to distinguish between accuracy and precision.
  • did not understand that … a ±15 C temperature uncertainty is not a physical temperature.
  • confronted standard error propagation as a foreign concept.
  • did not understand the significance or impact of a calibration experiment.
  • did not understand the concept of instrumental or model resolution or that it has empirical limits
  • did not understand physical error analysis at all.

    I’ve said before that they didn’t seem to understand gauge reliability or repeatability and if you think you have a problem you can’t just “edit the data after the fact” to best support the conclusion you want to reach. You do in fact have to toss out the suspect data, and fix the gauge.

    Anyway, it will be some time before I get to the source material…

    A Solar Road. What Could Go Wrong?

    Color me shocked. France’s Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure. The term “abject failure” came up.

    Do people with these dreams of solar everything have any idea how much stress is imposed by vehicles? I’m guessing, “No.”

    The solar roadway is constructed from panels with a special silicon resin acting as the driving surface, and while its designer, a company called Colas, claimed it would stand up to a semi-truck, tractors seem to have been enough to cause the silicon layer to flake and crack, damaging the delicate solar panels underneath.

    The Wattway is also loud. So loud, in fact, that the local government has been forced to limit traffic to just 70 kilometers per hour (around 43 miles per hour) to cut down on the sound. So, it seems like the Wattway is a failure at being a road, but how is it at generating solar energy?

    Miserable.

    The “shade” from cars driving on the road. Where it was placed, wasn’t a great solar location, and the flat nature of roads added up to less than expected performance.

    The best quote is really from the Popular Mechanics article on the Wattway.

    “If they really want this to work, they should first stop cars driving on it,” Marc Jedliczka, vice president of the Network for Energetic Transition (CLER), which promotes renewable energy

    Stop driving on your solar “road.” That’s probably a Progressive dream. Or something.

    What Makes It Likely You Will Live Past 100?

    In a word, fraud. That is, lying about your age. Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans. (That’s a preview version, not peer-reviewed.)

    The introduction of state-wide birth certification coincides with a sharp reduction in the number of supercentenarians. In total, 82% of supercentenarian records from the USA (N=536) predate state-wide birth certification. Forty-two states achieved complete birth certificate coverage during the survey period. When these states transition to state-wide birth registration, the number of supercentenarians falls by 80% per year (Fig 1a), or approximately 69% per capita (Fig 1b).

    The sound of settled science.

    If no birth certificate was issued when you were born, then minus a notation in the family bible (or whatever) you are as old as you say you are. And there’s less status to being 91 than to being 101. And that doesn’t even count things like pension fraud. Is it better to be 62, or 68 if being 68 (on paper anyway) means you can collect your pension this year instead of in 3 years?

    Hat tip to SiGraybeard with. The Secret of the People Living Past 100, who notes…

    Sorry, but this literally made me laugh out loud. They’re not measuring longevity, they’re measuring fraud. This is the quality of science we get out the medical junk science world. This is what diet advice is being based on.

    People study these populations and make pronouncements about diet and culture. The Mediterranean diet was popularized because apparently of a bunch of long-life effects. But they didn’t control for this birth-record situation. The Japanese diet was likewise praised based on the longevity of people in Okinawa. Same deal. And these diets were pushed, books were written. People were lectured about their bad eating habits because they didn’t follow this advice.

    You might also be interested in The King of Junk Food Science is Out, also from SiGraybeard. (That’s food-science that is junk, not the science of Junk-food.) Things like the Mediterranean Diet were foisted on the public by bad statistical studies. Because it is easier to do bad statistics than be diligent, and in a world where you need to publish stuff you can. As long as you aren’t worried about things like the validity of your conclusions, or the repeatability of your findings. You just need to overlook things like systematic fraud that has creeped into your underlying data.

    The Energy Density of Various Things

    This post is mostly for reference, as the subject of “what can we do with lithium-ion batteries?” is a question on everyone’s mind.

    The article is from 2015, but the associated graph is interesting. New lithium-air battery could drive huge performance gains.

    Click the image for a larger view. Lithium-ion batteries are in the lower left-hand corner. Near zero, on each axis. Hydrogen is way off on the lower right, which is why I think using solar power to create hydrogen from water might be our best long-term solution. Gasoline, diesel and kerosene are sort of in the middle of the graph.

    The graph shows the relative energy density in Megajoules per liter, and Megajoules per kilogram. Usually you see stuff in Kilowatt-hours per liter, etc. (Conversion is straight multiplication where 1 megajoule = 0.27778 kilowatt-hours, and 1 kilowatt-hour = 3.6 Mj.) The graph includes Lithium-ion batteries, gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene, Natural gas, hydrogen, and a bunch of other stuff.

    Lithium-ion batteries score about 0, compared to everything else on the chart.

    The article from 2015 talks about some “new battery technology” that is going to revolutionize everything. But it isn’t the only article of that nature I’ve read in the past 30 years. When I was in college, fusion power was just a few improvements away. Pretty much where it is right now. Does anyone remember bubble memory? And look up super-capacitors. They’re another, “just around the corner” technology. Eventually one of those technologies will arrive, but they are not here right now.

    Consider, when you are doing your calculations around batteries and use in aircraft, that a Boeing 777-200LR burns about 6.66 tons of fuel per hour. That is 8,297 liters/hr of jet fuel. (Jet fuel isn’t listed on that graph, but for the purposes of commercial airliners it is essentially kerosene.) A 747 burns more fuel, and an Airbus 350 burns less. All of that is going to depend on weight of the passengers and cargo, and the fuel.

    The Insanity That Passes for Research

    Call attention to the insanity in “research” that is loved by the Left, and lose your job. Because, “How dare you question anything on the Left!” Boghossian/Pluckrose/Lindsay Hoax: How Corrupt Is Higher Education?.

    Just how corrupt is higher education? Let’s return to October of 2018 and Grieving Grievance Studies: The Continuing Scam. There, I introduced readers to Peter Boghossian, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, academics all, who had an interesting idea: Write parodies of academic writing, so outlandish, so obviously jokes, no rational editor of an academic journal could possibly buy them, submit them to various academic journals, and see what happened. They wrote more than 20. Seven were accepted to fulsome acclamation, seven were rejected, and the rest were still being considering when they went public, as they always intended. In that article, I also reminded readers of the gold standard, the Sokal Hoax:

    As they say, go read the whole thing, and then when some talking head on CNN or elsewhere says something like, “Studies show…” or “Research says…” remember this insanity.

    “consumers are barely aware of what it would mean to stop using the herbicide.”

    That’s an understatement. Defending glyphosate: A ‘Roundup’ of German agribusiness sentiments.

    I always say that people who’ve never seen a combine harvester in real life, have no idea of the scale of modern agriculture, and no appreciation for the history of what life was like before it was mechanized, and chemistry was applied can solve all the problems with modern agriculture while drinking their soy-latte.

    Now I’m not an apologist for Monsanto, but you can’t just drop the use of Roundup and expect that nothing else will change. The linked article talks in part about the raising of sugar beets in Germany, and the use of glyphosate.

    Critics of the herbicide in Brandenburg are quick to demand that weeds be removed mechanically, but Peters says they usually fail to mention the downsides of such an approach.

    “Yes, another cultivation strategy would indeed be to remove the weeds mechanically with tractor-driven plows,” Peters admits. “But that would cost a lot more energy and increase the use of diesel enormously and our CO2 emissions respectively. Food products would become more expensive,” he notes. “And using plows extensively would harm our fields as it would worsen our already existing wind erosion problems.”

    So does the Left want to reduce the use of diesel? Of course they are going to try and mandate the elimination of diesel as well. I hope everyone reading this is prepared to grow all of your own food if they do. Again, they’ve never seen a combine harvester, or a full size Deere tractor, or any other bit of Ag machinery up close.

    Some statistics on life before agriculture was mechanized.

    • In 1790 farmers made up about 90% of the population. Agriculture was labor intensive.
    • In 1860 farmers made up 58% the working population. Several machines – McCormick’s Reaper in particular – had been introduced.
    • In 1900 farmers made up 38% of the labor force.
    • 1930: Farmers made up 21% of labor force. After the Dust Bowl, better conservation methods were introduced. (see quote above re: wind erosion.) Also the tractor (as we know it) came into widespread use in the 1930s.
    • In 1950 Farmers made up 12.2% of the labor force. The 1950s saw chemical revolution. Fertilizers had been available since before the Civil War, but now became cheap. Also herbicides and pesticides came into use.
    • 1980: Farmers made up 3.4% of labor force

    There are more statistics, about hours of labor for 100 bushels of wheat, etc. over the years at that link.

    So how far back to you want to turn the clock?

    Don’t Believe the Polls – Australian Edition

    Remember how the polls said there was no chance Hilary could lose the 2016 election? Well they’ve done it again. This time in Australia. The expert who predicted Trump, Brexit – and Scott Morrison

    The referenced article, or any of the others on the Australian elections, isn’t really of interest. What is of interest is the polling was wrong. Completely wrong. Again.

    Despite trailing in every major poll for three years, the Coalition retained power on Saturday night and could yet form majority government.

    With polling and betting markets missing the mark, experts are increasingly turning to social media to judge voter sentiment on a larger scale.

    And with the crackdown on conservative thought by Big Social Media, even that will be hard to pin down.

    So the next time some talking head, or politician, says that X percent of the population favors their latest Big Government power grab, ask them about 2016, or Australia.

    So I’ve been trying to figure out how polling companies can get so much wrong. So I went looking for their methodology. Pew Research was my first (and only) stop. What I found is inexplicable. Trump’s Staunch GOP Supporters Have Roots in the Tea Party: Methodology.

    This isn’t the only piece of Pew’s methodology I looked at. And what I saw wasn’t 100 percent uniform, but a whole bunch of what I saw, fell into this pattern.

    The ATP [Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel] is a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults recruited from landline and cellphone random-digit-dial surveys.

    They will determine that 312-555-12XX is in a particular part of the Chicago area (for example) and dial random digits. They do similar calling for blocks of numbers that are cellphones. I can’t think of a more self-selecting group to answer questions. If you “randomly” call my number, and you aren’t in my contacts list, I’m going to assume you are the credit fraud scammer, and ignore the call. (Anyone with real business will leave a message.) If Pew research left a message – which I don’t believe they do, but I’m not 100 percent clear on that – I wouldn’t call them back. Would you?

    Maybe dialing people randomly could have worked back in the dark ages, before answering machines, but with caller ID and voicemail, and the proliferation of scams, who answers a call from an unknown number?

    And this isn’t a poll from the dark ages. This is from a document published in 2019, based on group recruited to be on this panel in 2014 and 2015.

    Polls in which the surveyed population is a self-selecting sample are not usually too good. People who will answer random calls from unknown numbers. People who will agree to work with Pew for years out. I don’t know anyone, of any political affiliation, that I think would fall into a group like this. Random sample? Not hardly.

    And then I’m still a fan of Mike Royko’s call to lie to exit pollsters, from 1984.

    But he said if enough voters lie, ‘The entire nation will be treated to one of the finest evenings of television viewing since the tube was unleashed.

    ‘As the evening wears on and the actual votes are counted, we will see Dan become more and more wild-eyed. We’ll see Peter hyperventilating. And even Davie will look like he is fully awake. And they’ll all be stammering about how ‘goodness, something seems to have gone wrong.’

    Surprisingly good description of what happened in 2016, even if the players had changed.