I Ask Only Because I Can

I raise this only because I am here. If I weren’t here I certainly would not raise this issue with you.

Just as Goldilocks found the porridge that was just right, the Earth seems to be just right for living creatures. The Earth seems to be the perfect distance from the sun with lots of water.

The fine-tuned Universe is the proposition that the conditions that allow life in the Universe can occur only when certain universal dimensionless physical constants lie within a very narrow range of values, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood.

As Stephen Hawking has noted, “The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. … The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”

Martin Rees formulates the fine-tuning of the Universe in terms of the following six dimensionless physical constants.

N, the ratio of the strength of electromagnetism to the strength of gravity for a pair of protons, is approximately 1036. According to Rees, if it were significantly smaller, only a small and short-lived universe could exist.

Epsilon (ε), a measure of the nuclear efficiency of fusion from hydrogen to helium, is 0.007: when four nucleons fuse into helium, 0.007 (0.7%) of their mass is converted to energy. The value of ε is in part determined by the strength of the strong nuclear force.[13] If ε were 0.006, only hydrogen could exist, and complex chemistry would be impossible. According to Rees, if it were above 0.008, no hydrogen would exist, as all the hydrogen would have been fused shortly after the big bang. Other physicists disagree, calculating that substantial hydrogen remains as long as the strong force coupling constant increases by less than about 50%.

Omega (Ω), commonly known as the density parameter, is the relative importance of gravity and expansion energy in the Universe. It is the ratio of the mass density of the Universe to the “critical density” and is approximately 1. If gravity were too strong compared with dark energy and the initial metric expansion, the universe would have collapsed before life could have evolved. On the other side, if gravity were too weak, no stars would have formed.

Lambda (λ), commonly known as the cosmological constant, describes the ratio of the density of dark energy to the critical energy density of the universe, given certain reasonable assumptions such as positing that dark energy density is a constant. In terms of Planck units, and as a natural dimensionless value, the cosmological constant, λ, is on the order of 10−122. This is so small that it has no significant effect on cosmic structures that are smaller than a billion light-years across. If the cosmological constant were not extremely small, stars and other astronomical structures would not be able to form.[12]

Q, the ratio of the gravitational energy required to pull a large galaxy apart to the energy equivalent of its mass, is around 10−5. If it is too small, no stars can form. If it is too large, no stars can survive because the universe is too violent, according to Rees.

D, the number of spatial dimensions in spacetime, is 3. Rees claims that life could not exist if there were 2 or 4 dimensions of spacetime nor if any other than 1 time dimension existed in spacetime.

Various possible explanations of ostensible fine-tuning are discussed among philosophers, scientists, theologians, and proponents and detractors of creationism. The fine-tuned Universe observation is closely related to, but is not exactly synonymous with, the anthropic principle, which is often used as an explanation of apparent fine-tuning.

The anthropic principle is a philosophical consideration that observations of the universe must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it. Some proponents of the anthropic principle reason that it explains why this universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life. As a result, they believe it is unremarkable that this universe has fundamental constants that happen to fall within the narrow range thought to be compatible with life. The strong anthropic principle (SAP) as explained by John D. Barrow and Frank Tipler states that this is all the case because the universe is in some sense compelled to eventually have conscious and sapient life emerge within it. Some critics of the SAP argue in favor of a weak anthropic principle (WAP) similar to the one defined by Brandon Carter, which states that the universe’s ostensible fine tuning is the result of selection bias (specifically survivor bias): i.e., only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing and reflecting on the matter. Often such arguments draw upon some notion of the multiverse for there to be a statistical population of universes to select from and from which selection bias (our observance of only this universe, compatible with our life) could occur.

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The Case Is Closed. Period.

Another post from my favorite soldier of fortune.

Darwin’s Vigilantes, Richard Sternberg, and Conventional Pseudoscience

Posted on September 22, 2018 by Fred Reed

I am sorry. I admit it: I am a bad person. I promise I will never write about this again. Well, sort of never. It’s just too much fun. Anyway, it’s not my fault. My childhood makes me do it. Maybe I ate lead paint.

Science is supposed to be the objective study of nature, impelled by a willingness to follow the evidence impartially wherever it leads. For the most part it works this way. In the case of emotionally charged topics, it does not. For example, racial intelligence, cognitive differences between the sexes, and weaknesses in Darwinian evolution. Scientists who do perfectly good research in these fields, but arrive at forbidden conclusions, will be hounded out of their fields, fired from academic and research positions, blackballed from employment, and have their careers destroyed.

A prime example is Richard Sternberg, a Ph.D. in biology (Molecular Evolution) from Florida International University and a Ph.D. in Systems Science (Theoretical Biology) from Binghamton University. He is not a lightweight. From 2001-2007 he was staff scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information; 2001-2007 a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Hell broke loose when he authorized in 2004 the publication, in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, an organ of the Smithsonian Institution, of a peer-reviewed article, The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher taxonomic Categories by Stephen Meyer. It dealt with the possibility of intelligent design as an explanation of aspects of Darwinism not explainable by the conventional theory. This is a serious no-no among the guardians of conventional Darwinism, the political correctness of science.

At the Smithsonian, he was demoted, denied access to specimens he needed in his work, transferred to work under a hostile supervisor, and lost his office space. In the ensuring storm of hatred, two separate federal investigations concluded that he had been made the target of malicious treatment.

Predictably, the establishment dismisses Meyer’s idea as “pseudoscience”:

Wikipedia: The Sternberg peer review controversy concerns the conflict arising from the publication of an article supporting the pseudo-scientific concept of intelligent design in a scientific journal, and the subsequent questions of whether proper editorial procedures had been followed and whether it was properly peer reviewed.

Pseudoscience? Does not Darwinism itself qualify as pseudoscience? It is firmly based on no evidence. For most readers this assertion will seem as delusional as saying that the sun revolves around the earth. This is because we have been indoctrinated since birth in the Darwinian myth. But look at the facts.

 

We are told that life arose by chance in the primeval oceans. Do we know of what those oceans consisted? (Know, not speculate, hope, it stands to reason, must have been, everybody says so). No, we do not. Do we know of what those oceans would have had to consist to bring about life? No. Do we even know what we think evolved? No. Has the chance appearance of life been replicated in the laboratory? No. Has a metabolizing, reproducing chemical complex been constructed in the laboratory, showing that it might be possible? No. Can the chance appearance be shown to be mathematically probable? No. Can Darwinism explain the existence of irreducibly complex structures? No. Does the fossil record, particularly of the Ediacaran and Cambrian, support Darwin? No.

Darwinism was a clever metaphysical idea formed when almost nothing was known about the matter, and imposed by impassioned supporters on a near-total lack of evidence. Should not intensely believing in something that you cannot support by observation or experiment be called pseudoscience?

The ardent of evolution, like Christians, base their creation myth from a sacred book, The Origin of Species, both resting on about as much evidence. Thereafter they assume what is to be proved. Since Darwinists posit the unchallengeable truth of their version of creation, no reason exists for questioning it. If you know it happened, then obviously it was mathematically possible. The math can be discovered later. If you know that life originated in ancient seas, then how it originated becomes a mere detail. If you know the theory is correct, then anyone who doubts must necessarily be at least wrong, and thus ignorable, and perhaps a crank or fool or lunatic.

A classic example of starting from certainty is Darwinism’s reaction to the apparent irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum, though hundreds of others could be adduced. This is an immensely complex cellular organelle which would cease to function of any of its parts were removed. It could not have evolved by Darwin’s gradual changes. The Darwinians say, “Well, we aren’t sure just at the moment, but is possible that we will figure out later how it could have happened.” Yes, and it is possible that I will win three Irish Sweepstakes in a row. They are, again, saying that they know that Darwinism is correct, and therefore the evidence will be forthcoming. This is called “faith,” the belief in the unestablishable.

As a friend has written in another context, “When utterly astonishing claims of an extremely controversial nature are made over a period of many years by numerous seemingly reputable academics and other experts, and they are entirely ignored or suppressed but never effectively refuted, reasonable conclusions seem to point in an obvious direction.”

Just so. A lot of highly credentialed researchers express doubts about doctrinaire Darwinism, asserting that it cannot explain many aspects of nature. What does explain them is a separate question. Why is wondering about this a firing offense?

A difficulty in conveying doubts about Neo-Darwinism (the correct name of the current theory) is that very few people, including the highly intelligent, know anything about the issue. The world is full of esoteric specialities from the decipherment of ancient Sumerian inscriptions to the neural anatomy of squids. Few will have chosen Darwin’s defects for careful study.

This is convenient for Darwinists as the dim will believe whatever they hear on television and the bright usually have other things to do with their brains. As the case of Mr. Sternberg shows, scientists who doubt Darwin–again, there are many–know better than to say anything.

The fury is telling. If the Darwinists could prove the many highly credentialed proponents of ID wrong, they would do so, and that would be that. If they could prove their own propositions correct, they would, and that would also be that. But they can’t (or they would have).

If you follow the controversy, you quickly see patterns. One is that the Darwinists are fiercely defensive, suggesying doubt of their own position.   People seldom become infuriated at doubts of something that they believe with genuine certainty. If a physicist at CalTech expressed doubts about general relativity, he would certainly be challenged to prove his theory. He would not be hounded, belittled, forced to resign, charged with pseudoscience, and banned from publication.

Unfortunately for NeoDarwinism, the likelihood of confirmation diminishes with time. Year by year, the fossil record becomes less incomplete, and still the intermediates are not found. As molecular biology repidly advances, the failure to find a chemically possible chain of events that might produce life leads ever more convincingly to a simple concluseion: There isn’t one.

Publications by Richard Sternberg.

 

Religion, An Examination of History, Beliefs and Connections – An Introduction

An Introduction

These essays represent a work in progress and uses a number of approaches at connecting a diverse collection of religious information, facts and histories and at times represent some of the same information in a somewhat different context.

It is not my intention to be radical, to insult anyone for their beliefs or to suggest that faith represents intellectual folly. These essays represent a personnel exploration of my beliefs.

I am an engineer (retired) that lost my faith long ago but has now come to question if science has become a religion itself with a startling number of beliefs unsupported by facts.

When I started questioning these science beliefs and began reading more I discovered there are a great number of mysteries left in the world and that religious beliefs may offer some insight into understanding the mystery that is life.

I hope you find some value in my ramblings…

Secondhand Smoke

The Case Against Secondhand Smoke

By Steven Milloy
June 04, 2001

World No-Tobacco Day 2001 was yesterday. Sponsored by the World Health Organization, the theme was secondhand smoke. The event’s poster featured “Secondhand Smoke Kills” emblazoned over a photo of the Marlboro Man riding into the sunset.

WHO proclaimed, “Second-hand smoke is a real and significant threat to public health. Supported by two decades of evidence, the scientific community now agrees that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke… The evidence is in, let is act on it.”

That’s quite an ironic statement, though. It appears the WHO doesn’t even put much faith in its own research on secondhand smoke.

The WHO’s World No-Tobacco day web site lists, “Comprehensive Reports on Passive Smoking by Authoritative Scientific Bodies.” The listed reports include the 1986 reports from the Surgeon General and National Research Council, the 1993 report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and two late-1990s reports from the California EPA.

For those unfamiliar with the reports, the list appears formidable. Otherwise, it’s just disingenuous.

The 1986 reports by the NRC and Surgeon General concluded secondhand smoke was a risk factor for lung cancer. But of the 13 studies reviewed, 7 reported no link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Given the statistical nature of these studies, this split in results is precisely what one would expect if no true link existed.

Neither report produced much progress for anti-smoking activists. So they convinced the EPA to pick up the gauntlet.

Thirty-three studies on secondhand smoke had been completed by 1993. More than 80 percent of the studies reported no association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, including the largest of the studies. The EPA reviewed 31 studies – inexplicably omitting two studies reporting no association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer – and estimated secondhand smoke caused 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually.
Under the stewardship of the anti-tobacco Clinton administration, secondhand smoke hysteria caught fire.

Observing the “success” of the EPA report, the California EPA adopted by reference the EPA’s conclusions into the state agency’s own report. Little original or independent analysis went into the Cal-EPA report.
Just when it seemed anti-smoking activists finally succeeded in producing scientific reports establishing secondhand smoke as a health risk, a federal judge overturned the EPA report in 1998. He ruled the EPA cheated on the science.

Later in 1998, the WHO published the largest study ever done on secondhand smoke and lung cancer. The study reported no statistically significant association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Oops.
Now let’s go back to the WHO’s list of reports on its web page.
The 1986 reports don’t carry any weight. That’s why the EPA did a new report. But the EPA report was in all important respects trashed by a federal judge – by implication, a fate also deserved of the California report that relied on the EPA report.

And the WHO omitted its own report from the list of “comprehensive reports” by “authoritative scientific bodies” no doubt because the “wrong” answer was reported.

If secondhand smoke really increases lung cancer risk, why all the smoke-and-mirrors?

Of course, lung cancer is not the only health alarm sounded about secondhand smoke. The science on these issues is also not as it’s hyped.
The WHO claims secondhand smoke causes between 35,000 to 62,000 deaths from heart disease annually in the U.S. But the WHO omits mention of an important New England Journal of Medicine editorial on the controversy.

University of Chicago Hospital health studies chairman John Bailar – hardly sympathetic to the tobacco industry – dismissed the link between secondhand smoke and heart disease, citing the poor quality of study data and evident researcher bias.

WHO claims, “Second-hand smoke also causes and aggravates asthma and other breathing problems, particularly in children. It is also an important cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”

But researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examining data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported in January’s Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine there was no association between secondhand smoke and asthma among 5,400 children studied aged 4 to 16 years of age.

No one knows what causes SIDS. Just this week, Wake Forest University researchers reported SIDS may be related to a genetic deficiency. Reportedly, the absence of a particular muscle enzyme allows fatty acid products to accumulate, producing a toxic effect causing heart arrhythmias and respiratory arrest.

Anti-smoking activists have yet to explain where were all the childhood asthma and SIDS cases in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when smoking indoors was commonplace and adult smoking rates were much higher than they are now.

Secondhand smoke is annoying to many nonsmokers. That is the essence of the controversy and where the debate should lie – the rights of smokers to smoke in public places versus the rights of nonsmokers to be free of tobacco smoke.

In debates over individual liberties, fabricated and propagandized science should play no role.