Do doctors understand test results?

Author: William Kremer, BBC World Service on 07 Jul 2014

Are doctors confused by statistics? A new book by one prominent statistician says they are - and that this makes it hard for patients to make informed decisions about treatment. 

confused doctor

In 1992, shortly after Gerd Gigerenzer moved to Chicago, he took his six-year-old daughter to the dentist. She didn't have toothache, but he thought it was about time she got acquainted with the routine of sitting in the big reclining chair and being prodded with pointy objects.

The clinic had other ideas. "The dentist wanted to X-ray her," Gigerenzer recalls. "I told first the nurse, and then him, that she had no pains and I wanted him to do a clinical examination, not an X-ray."

These words went down as well as a gulp of dental mouthwash. The dentist argued that he might miss something if he didn't perform an X-ray, and Gigerenzer would be responsible.

But the advice of the US Food and Drug Administration is not to use X-rays to screen for problems before a regular examination. Gigerenzer asked him: "Could you please tell me what's known about the potential harms of dental X-rays for children? For instance, thyroid and brain cancer? Or give me a reference so I can check the evidence?"

The dentist stared at him blankly. 

Life on Titan - it's a salty ball!

Author: Brid-Aine Parnell, the Register on 07 Jul 2014

Astrophysicists have come up with compelling evidence that the ocean inside Saturn’s largest moon Titan is as salty as Earth’s Dead Sea, making it an unlikely location for alien life. Titan

The scientists used the data collected during repeated flybys of Titan by NASA’s Cassini satellite to study the gravity and topography of the massive moon. The data gave the boffins a model structure for Titan that they could use to find out more about its outer ice shell.

Scientists reckon that this shell is rigid and in the process of freezing solid, something the current study agrees with. But the researchers figured out that a relatively high density was needed in the subsurface ocean to explain Titan’s gravity. That density is probably provided by extremely salty water, mixed with dissolved salts that contain sulphur, sodium and potassium.

"This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards," said the paper's lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. "Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past."

The clue is in the comparison to the Dead Sea – so not really a hospitable location for life to be flourishing. The saltiness isn’t the only thing getting in the way of extraterrestrial microbes though. Cassini data also shows that the ocean is slowly crystallising and turning to ice.

The topography indicates that the thickness of Titan’s ice crust varies from place to place, which would be best explained if the shell was stiff and slowly freezing. This process would also mess with the habitability of the moon, as it would limit the ability of materials to exchange between the surface and the ocean.



Author: Nick Hallett, on 06 Jul 2014

The British Medical Association (BMA) is facing a backlash from Scottish doctors who say it is not doing enough to investigate the effects of giant wind turbines on the health of people living near them. wind turbine noise

Residents who live within a few miles of wind turbines have complained of chronic sleep deprivation due to the whirring of the blades, while others report nausea and headaches linked to the low frequency sounds they emit.

The symptoms are collectively known as Wind Turbine Syndrome, yet the Sunday Times reports that a meeting of BMA representatives was last month urged to support renewable energy due its purported benefits in mitigating the effects of climate change.

It was even suggested that if the BMA – which acts as a trade union of doctors – holds any assets in fossil fuel companies, it should switch them to "those providing renewable energy sources."

Some doctors are now angry that the BMA is apparently ignoring pleas to address the public health impact of wind farms. The European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) had been lobbying the BMA to address the health of patients within close proximity of turbines, yet this was not considered at their meeting

A BMA spokeswoman said that EPAW had made contact after the deadline for submissions had passed, and added that the BMA does not make direct investments.

An EPAW spokeswoman said, however: "That a vote was subsequently taken at the meeting to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy without members having had access to the information we sent raises an issue of conflict of interests. Since May, attempts were made to have information given to members concerning adverse health effects of turbines. These attempts failed."


Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Mechanics Wrong This Whole Time?

Author: Natalia Wolchover, Quanta magazine on 05 Jul 2014

For nearly a century, “reality” has been a murky concept. The laws of quantum physics seem to suggest that particles spend much of their time in a ghostly state, lacking even basic properties such as a definite location and instead existing everywhere and nowhere at once. Only when a particle is measured does it suddenly materialize, appearing to pick its position as if by a roll of the dice. Solvay conference

This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality.

The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.

Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features.


Global Warming And Settled Science

Author: Andre Lofthus, American Thinker on 05 Jul 2014


The AGW community would have you believe that the science in favor of AGW is settled. As a professional scientist, a physicist with 40 years experience in aerospace and extensive knowledge of atmospheric physics, I can tell you that, indeed, the science is settled, but not the way the AGW extremists would have you believe. burning earth Atmospheric transmission measurements taken in the 1950s demonstrate conclusively that increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere cannot be the cause of global warming if global warming even exists.

A basic principle of science is that correlation does not prove causation. Climate scientists are working overtime fudging temperature related data showing global warming over many decades that correlates with the industrial revolution and increasing use of carbon-based fuels. Climate scientists are boldly asserting that this correlation proves global warming is caused by increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

Real scientists would demand to know the physics of how increased CO2 in the atmosphere causes global warming.  Is there any real physics behind this unsupported bold assertion?  As I am about to explain, based on test data from the 1950s, there is not.

There are three points I want to make that fall in the categories of physics and atmospheric physics. First, molecules in the atmosphere absorb lightwaves over what are called spectral bands. The spectral band can be narrow, as small as a single wavelength, or broad, covering a continuum of wavelengths or frequencies. This molecular absorption causes increased vibration within the molecule exciting certain vibration modes. The physics of each molecule determine which wavelengths can be absorbed to excite internal vibrations. Spectral band absorption in the atmosphere can be quantified based on measurements over a certain distance through the atmosphere such as “90 per cent absorption in this spectral band over a distance of 300 meters at sea level through the atmosphere”.

The second point is not really atmospheric physics, but more fundamental. Objects like the earth emit a spectrum, or wavelength continuum, of radiation that is completely described by “Planck’s Law” of black body radiation, derived in the 1900 by Nobel-winning physicist Max Planck. That curve predicts the peak intensity of light from the sun in the visible spectral band, and the peak intensity of light emitted by the earth in the LWIR spectral band. Planck’s curve has been validated by experimental data for over a hundred years, and was a huge breakthrough for the physics community in the 20th Century.


The BBC's re-education programme

Author: on 04 Jul 2014


The BBC Trust has issued a new report into progress on adopting the recommendations of the Steve Jones review of science coverage. bbc biasThis was the integrity-free publication that recommended keeping sceptics off air as much as possible.

According to the new paper, the BBC has been holding a series of seminars to bang home the "keep sceptics off air" message and will keep up this re-education programme in the future. There's also this:

"The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences. The Trust also would like to reiterate that, as it said in 2011, “This does not mean that critical opinion should be excluded. Nor does it mean that scientific research shouldn’t be properly scrutinised.” The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately. Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices.“

Given that we know that BBC editors are telling their staff not to allow scientists to appear opposite anyone who might disagree with them, I would suggest to readers that the paragraph quoted above is entirely mendacious. And the idea that the English literature graduates and environmentalists who infest the BBC are going to "properly scrutinise" scientists is beyond contempt. It is simply a case of putting two fingers up to the general public.

It's time to close the BBC down.




Apollo Astronaut: Climate Alarmism Is the ‘Biggest Fraud in the Field of Science’

Author: Craig Bannister, on 04 Jul 2014

Climate alarmism is "the biggest fraud in the field of science" and the 97% consensus claim is nonsensical, Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham tells MRCTV in a preview of his presentation at the upcoming Heartland Institute climate conference, July 7-9. Cunningham

"Since about 2000, I looked farther and farther into it," Col. Cunningham (USMC, Ret.) tells MRCTV in an exclusive interview. "I found that not one of the claims that the alarmists were making out there had any bearings, whatsoever. And, so, it was kind of a no-brainer to come to the conclusion."

Cunningham rejects the notion of man-made climate, not only as fact - but also as even qualifying as an actual "theory":

"In the media, it was being called a theory. Obviously, they didn't know what it means to be a theory."

"If we go back to the warmist hypothesis - not a theory, but, a hypothesis - they've been saying from the very beginning that carbon dioxide levels are abnormally high, that higher levels of carbon dioxide are bad for humans, and they thought warmer temperatures are bad for our world, and they thought we were able to override natural forces to control the earth's temperature. So, as I've looked into those, that's the problem that I've found, because I didn't find any of those to be correct - and, they certainly were not a theory, it was just their guess at what they wanted to see in the data they were looking at."

Cunningham urges Americans to look at the data and decide for themselves, instead of taking anyone else's word for it:

"You go out and take a look at it and you find out that a lot of it is pure nonsense and wishful thinking on the part of the alarmists who are looking for more and more money to fall into their hands."

"Don't believe it just because your professor said it. You gotta go take a look at it. Go back and look at the history of temperature and carbon dioxide, and you look at the value of carbon dioxide, and how it's a benefit today."


Aussie Climate Professor Exposed as Dishonest Alarmist

Author: Dr Judy Ryan, Dr Marjorie Curtis on 03 Jul 2014

Professor Ken BaldwinBaldwin
Director Energy Change Institute
The Australian National University
Building 141, Linnaeus way
Canberra, ACT, 0200

Dear Professor Baldwin,

On Wednesday 28th May 2014, Tony Dale and I attended a presentation you gave at a community forum run by the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Canberra. The topic was the future of renewable energy in Australia. You made a number of comments there that we think were misleading, either by omitting relevant information regarding renewable energy or exaggerating the effects of climate change.

According to my notes, your introduction included the statement   it is imperative to reduce our carbon emissions to combat global warming”………. we need to move away from using fossil fuel.

As you surely must know, it is carbon dioxide, not black carbon, that is emitted from fossil fuel fired  power stations. CO2 is a transparent trace gas which is essential for all plant life. Its solid state is dry ice, therefore impossible to be emitted upwards from the point of combustion. It is neither a pollutant or a warming agent. You were extremely misleading when you referred  to it as “carbon emissions”. The listener was led to believe that you were referring to some form of ‘black carbon’. Some forms of black carbon are pollutants, albeit at a regional level.  However, as you must be aware, Clean Air Laws, were introduced in most industrialised nations more than a century ago.  The  result is that black carbon (soot) is no longer emitted into the atmosphere. Further, Australia’s  coal and its power stations are amongst the cleanest in the world. 


Changes In Albedo Are Called An Enhanced “Greenhouse Effect”

Author: Carl Brehmer on 01 Jul 2014


A study done by John Christy (IRRIGATION-INDUCED WARMING IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA?) has been touted by some as being “proof” that humidity causes an enhanced “greenhouse effect”.

The conclusions drawn in the paper are based on the following two graphs (the red trend lines were added for clarity):

Brehmer fig 1 and 2

At first glance the increase in the daily minimum temperature (just before sunrise) exceeds the decrease in daily maximum temperature (~2:30PM) giving the impression that there was an over-all increase in the daily mean temperature from 1930-2000, but look at the scale. Each line in the TMin graph is 2 °C while each line in the TMax scale is 4 °C.

So, as you can see the daily minimum temperature increased about 2 °C while the daily maximum temperature decreased by about 2 °C meaning that the overall affect of irrigation on the daily mean temperature was nil. Rather, the affect of irrigation in this study shows that ground water decreases the diurnal temperature swing. This is not surprising since water has a higher specific heat than does dry soil. As a result the specific heat of wet soil is nearly double that of dry soil.


Antarctic Sea Ice Growing Despite Global Warming Warnings

Author: Sandy Fitzgerald, on 30 Jun 2014

The sea ice coverage around Antarctica over the weekend marked a record high, with the ice surrounding the continent measuring at 2.07 million square kilometers, according to an environmentalist and author who says the ice there has actually been increasing since 1979 despite continued warnings of global warming. antarctic sea ice

The new record was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s online record, The Cryosphere Today, early Sunday morning.

It's not apparent if the record actually occurred on Friday or Saturday, says Harold Ambler on his blog, Talking About the Weather.

Ambler is a journalist and author of the book "Don't Sell Your Coat: Surprising Truths About Climate Change." 

"The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007," said Ambler. Meanwhile, he pointed out, global sea ice area on Sunday was standing at 0.991 million square kilometers above average, a figure he arrived at by adding anomalies for the North and South hemispheres.


The Backyard Volcano

Author: Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser on 30 Jun 2014

Hawaii is a favorite vacation destination. There the ocean is blue and the plants enjoy a lush environment. Though I’ve never been to that paradise, my white and red-blooming Hawaiian Queen-of-the-Night plants keep growing and bloom every year. mauna loa

But the islands of Hawaii have more to offer; for example live volcanos like Kilauea and Mauna Loa (pictured). The Earth’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa, appears once again to be awakening from its decades-old slumber.

Volcanology is the science of volcanos, when, where, and how they erupt, how much lava and gases are being expelled with how much force, et cetera. If you like to get to the nitty-gritty of that, try visiting the Oregon State University web site and similar ones. Volcanos come in many varieties. Some explode every few hundred years with cataclysmic blasts of gas and pumice, others are content to regularly send out slow-moving lava streams which you can watch as it flows downhill, twisting and bulging as they progress.

More importantly, if it gets too hot underfoot you can leisurely walk away to cooler grounds. Not so in other areas of the world which experience powerful eruptions; occasionally so powerful that they affect all life on earth.

Cataclysmic Eruptions

Cataclysmic volcanic eruptions are known to have occurred on earth repeatedly.

For example, the eruption of Mt. Toba in Indonesia approximately 75,000 years ago was such an event. It blasted nearly 3,000 cubic kilometers of ash into the air, together with one thousand million tons of sulfur dioxide and probably even more carbon dioxide. The effect on the earth’s climate was severe. It caused an estimated drop of 10 C (15 F) for several years.

In comparison, Mt. St. Helens’ (Washington) blast in 1980 was a pipsqueak. Toba’s blast was approximately 1,000 times stronger than that of St. Helens’ though that blast was the biggest ever recorded in U.S. history.


You can't prove God or man-made global warming doesn't exist – (but here’s $30,000 if you can)

Author: PSI Staff on 29 Jun 2014

At a time when ever more scientists agree that worries over climate change are misplaced undaunted supporters of the 'science' of man-made global warming are desperately resorting to new strategies.   Some are even making apparently bold financial challenges to their opponents. 

win cashSo, enter the stage Dr Christopher Keating. He is offering '$30,000 to anyone Who Can Disprove Climate Change’ (prize now increased from $10,00) Keating declares:

“I have heard global warming skeptics make all sorts of statements about how the science doesn't support claims of man-made climate change. I have found all of those statements to be empty and without any kind of supporting evidence. I have, in turn, stated that it is not possible for the skeptics to prove their claims.”

 This is an intellectually bankrupt equivalent of challenging a religious devotee to back their own claim that God exists. Such statements are intended to shift the burden of proof away from the believer and onto the skeptic, and therefore represents a logical fallacy.

Quite simply, Keating is putting forward an argument from ignorance. In effect he is saying: "Belief in proposition X is justified because you can't prove it's not true." Keating is a physicist, so he should know better.

If Keating’s reasoning was widely accepted in the sciences then we would be unable to develop any useful picture of reality because every claim would be necessarily accepted as true until it was disproved. This is a burden that is impossible to meet when dealing with claims that are bereft of sufficient empirical evidence, as is man-made global warming.

Keating believes humans are dangerously warming the planet and catastrophe looms – his view is     unfalsifiable based on current data and the limits of scientific knowledge. Philosopher Bertrand Russell addressed the similar quandary of attempting to disprove god. Since it is impractical to expect a disproof of either and are therefore unfalsifiable, the burden of proof cannot lay with the sceptic.

We took Keating’s fatuously worded challenge from above and replaced ‘sceptics’ with ‘promoters’ thusly:

 “I have heard global warming promoters make all sorts of statements about how the science (doesn't) support claims of man-made climate change. I have found all of those statements to be empty and without any kind of supporting evidence. I have, in turn, stated that it is not possible for the promoters to prove their claims, because they have been falsified in many ways by many sceptics.”

Also, we provide below our 50-point guide to further demonstrate to Keating and other logical fallacy promoters why their ‘challenge’ is fatuous – it certainly cannot form the basis of any scientific debate.

  1.      Before playing a game it is good policy to understand the rules and how to keep score.
  2.      The Proposer of a game has the duty to explain the rules and how to keep score and the Denier may refuse to play for any reason.
  3.      The Proposer of a theory has the duty to explain and prove it is true, the Denier only has a duty to explain why it is not.
  4.       Any theory, postulate, hypothesis, surmise or hunch may be true, false or unproven. If true it is promoted from a Theory to a Law of science.
  5.       While Denier may prove a different theory is true so that proposed greenhouse gas theory (GHGT) must not be, he does not have to meet that standard to claim GHGT is not proven.
  6.       If Denier merely proves the theory is unproven and not of sufficient quality to be promoted to a Law that would satisfy the claim the theory is not true.
  7.       If Denier finds one flaw in theory, that is sufficient to deny it status as a Law.
  8.      A theory of science or mathematics may be considered true if it meets some well-established criteria, until then it is not yet proven.
  9.      Consensus about the validity of a claim not supported by science or evidence is irrelevant to decision to elevate theory to Law.
  10.   Since GHGT promoters still call it a theory, they acknowledge it is not a Law.
  11.   Since some GHGT promoters claim it is not falsifiable, they place it in the realm of religion, superstition or politics. This is evidence they accept it is not a Law.
  12.   Science has clear criteria standards to be met before a theory is considered true. Engineering profession has additional standards.
  13.   Both sets of standards must be satisfied before GHGT is deemed proven; if any one criterion is not satisfied, it is not proven.
  14.   Since there are a number of evolving attempts to define the GHGT, there is no accepted standard version.
  15.   Therefore a correct one is not finally offered for rebuttal. No proposed unique GHGT exists. Without a uniqueness proof, it must be held false.
  16.   Therefore it is important to clearly state what the theory is in English and mathematics, the language of nature.
  17.   Since Earth’s atmosphere is a chemical process system, chemical engineers holding degrees from accredited universities and professional licenses from State governments are qualified to be Deniers.
  18.   Since application of GHGT to control Earth’s temperature and climate is a control system, like a thermostat, control systems engineers holding degrees from accredited universities and professional licenses from State governments are qualified to be Deniers.
  19.   The GHGT must explain why CO2 is a pollutant, and what the consequences are if it is.
  20.    Since GHGT claims anthropogenic CO2 causes catastrophic global warming and climate change, the terms catastrophic, climate and change must be quantified scientifically, mathematically, before they can reasonably be denied.
  21.   Correlation does not prove causation. That breaks the foundation of GHGT.
  22.   The physical link between CO2 as prime cause and each claimed global consequence like temperature, sea level, drought, habitat destruction, hurricanes, tornadoes, and more must be expressed in laws of physics.
  23.   Theory must provide the laws of nature, like mass, energy and momentum conservation and transfer rate laws of physics, chemistry, biology and chemical engineering that quantitatively describe the effect of greenhouse gases on Earth’s temperature and climate.
  24.   Unintended consequences must be identified, according to the Precautionary Principle.
  25.   Actual financial damages from anthropogenic CO2 must be quantified. Otherwise the catastrophe denial exercise is futile punching as a ghost.
  26.   If the Denier can identify one mechanism that provides a counter effect excluded from the proposed GHGT, would suffice to deny GHGT status as Law.
  27.   Photosynthesis is cooling and CO2 consuming chemical reaction neglected by GHGT. CO2 is green plant food, an important Law of science neglected by GHGT.
  28.   The proposed theory must not violate any existing laws of nature deemed to be true without first proving they are not true.
  29.   The proposed theory must predict behaviour in nature which is verified by observation measurement. This has not been done, so GHGT must be deemed false.
  30.   In summary the theory must be completely defined and explained to anyone invited to falsify it.
  31.   The criteria for judgment of falsification success must be clear from the outset.
  32.   If Denier shows GHGT violates Stefan-Boltzmann Law of radiation intensity, that would be sufficient. This has been done.
  33.   If Denier shows GHGT violates a Law of Thermodynamics, that would be sufficient. This has been done.
  34.    If Denier shows GHGT incorrectly uses the law of radiant energy transfer, that would be sufficient. This has been done.
  35.   If Denier shows a thermostat for Earth adjusting fossil fuel combustion rate is unmeasurable, unobservable or uncontrollable and hence will never work, that would be sufficient. This has been done.
  36.   If Denier finds one peer reviewed paper by a professor of physics that falsified GHGT, that would be sufficient. This has been done.
  37.   The Reward Offerer may not be a judge of a Denier’s falsification success since that would be a conflict of interest.
  38.   Merely having $10,000 does not qualify one to judge the scientific arguments of Deniers.
  39.   The judges must be identified at the outset, with credentials and agreement on the rules and score keeping.
  40.   The Reward Offerer must disclose who is financing the reward. Any government financing may be deemed inappropriate by invited Deniers.
  41.   Since many promoters of GHGT lack credentials and have public records of unprofessional conduct in the debate attempting to elevate GHGT conjecture to scientific Law, like name calling, hate mail, slander, intimidation, threats, and bogus lawsuits, the Reward Offerer should indemnify any contestant from harm, including from government. Guaranteeing anonymity is a minimum.
  42.   What assurance do Deniers have the Reward Offerer will designate someone a winner and grant Award rather than arbitrarily reject all responses?
  43.   Will Reward Offerer publish results and acknowledge Denier successfully showed GHGT remains unproven?
  44.   If it looks like a scam email offer of a free lunch, it probably is. There is no such thing as a free lunch either.
  45.   Stefan-Boltzmann Radiation Law gives temperature of any radiating body with emissivity e < 1 as T = 100(I/5.67e)0.25.  Earth’s global emissivity is difficult to measure or determine, but Standard Global Climate Model uses e = 0.612. It increases with content of radiating gases like H2O and CO2. (It goes down with T.) Since e is in the denominator, if e increases, T decreases. That proves CO2 has a small global cooling effect.
  46.   GHGT underlying global warming and climate change claims is thereby falsified. Forever. By scientific method.
  47.   Since there are many proofs the GHGT is false in the peer reviewed literature and internet since 1997, the fact Reward Offerer is making this offer in 2014 proves he is unfamiliar with the literature. He can be excused since the literature on GHGT, global warming and climate change is in such a poor intellectual state.
  48.    When Reward Offerer fulfils all these conditions for a fair contest according to the scientific method, Deniers should consider teaching GHGT Promoters how to reject unproven theories and claiming the award.
  49.   Until then Deniers are free to assume the Reward Offer is not legitimate and they may rightfully claim it.
  50.   Since we just did falsify GHGT throughout and precisely in item 43, we claim the $10,000 (or $30,000) as rightfully ours.