[EAS]Voodoo Science Defenses
pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Jan 25 19:52:45 EST 2002
Mail*Link¨ SMTP Voodoo Science Defenses
Dear Colleagues -
Please read this and think about it. That there have been worms in the
apple of science is not new, that they are gaining larger niches in
funding agencies and the public's attention is!
At a time when many of us at Yale are thinking about educational
objectives for our ABET reaccreditation, a nice objective would be to
have our engineering graduates live in their complex technological
world in an informed and reasoned way. The charlatans below should
provoke their scientific and technological "immune responses." But is
our teaching in fact accomplishing that? This is good material for
science fact vs. science fiction.
All best, --PJK
Date: 1/25/02 3:45 PM
From: What's New
WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 25 Jan 02 Washington, DC
1. DOE VOODOO: INSPECTOR GENERAL UNCOVERS MORE HIGH-TECH DOWSING.
The DOE Office of Environmental Management supports development
of innovative environmental cleanup technologies. It would be
hard to imagine anything more innovative than "Passive Magnetic
Resonance Anomaly Mapping," which combines an electronic system
and a human operator into a single bio-sensory unit by connecting
the operator at the wrists to an electronic system strapped to
his waist. The device is supposed to locate underground water,
faults, fractures, buried objects and chemicals. Specifics on
the interaction between the operator and the electronics are, of
course, proprietary. However, it relies on the operator's
ability to sense tiny changes in magnetic fields. You've been
having trouble sensing magnetic fields? Not to worry. The
operator, a Ukrainian, is said to be the only person in the world
who can. According to the DOE Inspector General's report, no
peer review was sought before spending $408,750 on field tests.
You will be shocked to learn that it failed every test. The
company that developed it blamed calibration problems. We are
reminded that DOE also bought into the DKL LifeGuard. It was
supposed to detect a human heartbeat through 500 ft. of concrete
and steel(WN 25 Sep 98). Before that, DOE fell for the Quadro
Tracker, a dowsing rod with lights and buttons (WN 12 Jan 96).
2. IRISH VOODOO: REUTERS BITES ON THE LATEST FREE-ENERGY CLAIM.
I got a call this week from a Reuters correspondent in Dublin who
had witnessed a demonstration of the Jasker Power System, a motor
that is said to replenish its own energy source. All he could
tell me about it was that it's the "size of a dishwasher," and it
kept three 100-watt light bulbs lit for two hours without running
down the "starting batteries." To prevent the idea from being
stolen, everything else was secret. It was developed in Ireland
to keep the U.S. government from suppressing it. What did I
think? I think he was a damned fool for covering it. The first
warning sign of voodoo science is that it's pitched directly to
the media. Second, details of how it works are withheld. Third,
a powerful establishment is said to be attempting to suppress it.
3. PRAYER: DOES BELIEF INFLUENCE WHAT THE RESEARCHER REPORTS?
As WN reported last month, Mayo Clinic researchers could find no
benefit to coronary patients from prayers if the patients didn't
know they were being prayed for. This week, writing in Time.com,
Leon Jaroff points out that, by contrast, Elizabeth Targ, who is
funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine, found a positive distance healing effect on AIDS and
cancer patients. Jaroff says such work should be monitored by
qualified scientists from outside the paranormal and quack
communities. "Past experience," he writes, "suggests that under
such safeguards miracles do not occur."
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND and THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
Opinions are the author's, and are not necessarily shared by the
University or the American Physical Society, but they should be.
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Subject: What's New for Jan 25, 2002
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