Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Fog Of Dishonest Scholarship

Environmental Science has frequently proven itself to be oxymoronic. It's one of those phrases like Military Intelligence that requires a certain level of ridicule for its audacious dishonesty. Since the halcyon days of disco and The Club Of Rome, environmental scientists have been generating gloom and doom scenarios that have been has collossaly wrong as they've been depressing.

This continual overexaggeration on the part of these researchers is nothing accidental or innocent. It's how they pay the bills. A lot of success in science depends on the ability to attract attention and research money. No one in the field of environmental science ever got payed for predicting a nice day.

An article in the Nov. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association continues the distressing trend.

The researchers compared the non-injury-related death rates and smog measurements for 95 urban areas for the period 1987-2000. They reported a one-half percent (0.5 percent) increase in premature death (mortality) per 10-part per billion increase in ground-level ozone (smog) in the urban areas. Reducing smog levels by 35 percent, they claim, could save about 4,000 lives per year.

However, the methodology employed in the study is badly suspect.

First, if smog is deadly in New York City, then it should be deadly everywhere. But even granting the researchers every benefit of the doubt with respect to the validity of their analysis, among the 95 urban areas included in the study, the correlation between smog and mortality is only statistically meaningful in five of those 95 urban areas (New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Chicago).
That means in 95 percent of the urban areas studied, there was no meaningful correlation between smog and mortality.

The only conclusion I can come to in all of this is that the researchers believe that their goal of a clean environment justifies their means. They've decided that lying and overhyping a risk has value if it makes the public take action and assuage the potential negative cause they are hyping.

This may actually work in the short term. However, the day will come when the environmentalists will actually be right and nobody will bother listening because they lied so badly and so often. Then, where will you be the day after tommorrow?


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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