Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Startling Statistic

Maybe it's because they live so much longer?

Update: I thought this was an interesting point of view, so I looked into the AAPS just a little. A smorgasbord of other AAPS headlines "in perspective":
  • The Dark Side of Peer Review
  • 32,000 Scientists Dissent from Global Warming "Consensus" *
  • US Scientists Back Autism Link to MMR **
  • European Population in Decline, Welfare State Threatened
  • Thank Hillary Clinton for Flu Vaccine Shortage


  • Ron Paul’s “tea party” breaks fund-raising record
  • Ron Paul sets one day GOP fundraising record
  • Ron Paul supporters aim to break record for contributions on Nov. 5
  • Michigan GOP leader wants Paul barred from future debates
  • Ron Paul introduces bill to rein in the FDA


* 32,000 Scientists Dissent from Global Warming "Consensus"

Um, not really. The petition web site as of today lists 31,072 people (not 32,000, and not scientists, as we shall see) who mailed in a postcard. While the web site says that signers must have degrees in "appropriate scientific fields", the organizers seem to be pretty casual about what those might be. Your family doctor apparently qualifies. So does Fluffy's veterinarian. And anyone with, say, a B.S. in electrical engineering. Are they really qualified to voice an informed opinion on the science of global climate change?

I think it's quite interesting to note that, of those 31,072 signers, exactly 40 claim a degree in climatology. Four-oh. About one-tenth of one percent.

Moreover, having a B.S. doesn't make you a "scientist" by any stretch of the imagination. Nurses generally have a B.S. degree or equivalent. God bless 'em ev'ry one, but do you know many nurses who refer to themselves as "scientists"?

Now, the list of "scientists" posted on the site does not include locations or institutional affiliations, so it's pretty durn hard for anyone independent to validate them. Is "R. Payne" qualified? Who knows? There's no way for us to check, is there?

The petition organizers claim to have validated "most" of the signers, but, just for fun...

...I picked a name at random from the list and fired up Google. I'm sorry, Alison. Alison M. Azar holds a B.S. in chemistry and is Vice President of Sales for the M.F. Cachat Co, "a regional technical sales organization focused on the marketing and distribution of specialty chemical products." Previously she was Midwest Regional Sales Manager. Her professional affiliations include the Institute of Food Technologists and the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.

I feel quite certain that Alison is a very fine person, but is she a "scientist"? In an "appropriate scientific field"? If she is, then so am I (and I'm not, I assure you).

** US Scientists Back Autism Link to MMR

Um, not really. Their own article has no statement from any scientist saying anything remotely like that. This is all they can say:

The vaccine strain of measles virus has been found in 85% of samples taken from the guts of children with regressive autism, according to a study to be presented in Montreal, Canada, this week by Dr. Stephen Walker of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina.

Right, probably because 85% of the kids he studied had been vaccinated. I'll bet he found milk in 95% of 'em, too. I think the real cause of autism is probably milk.

In point of fact, Dr. Walker himself warns that his study does not indicate a link between MMR vaccine and autism: "That is not what our research is showing."

I guess the good scientists at AAPS have forgotten what they learned in their high school science class: correlation does not imply causation.

  1. Sales of ice cream cones increase during summer months.
  2. Drownings increase during summer months.
  3. Therefore, ice cream cones cause drowning.

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