[EAS] Sleepwalking in our Technological World
Peter J. Kindlmann
peter.kindlmann at yale.edu
Fri Jun 11 20:27:03 EDT 2010
Dear Friends and Colleagues -
Further to the Bob Park mailing about charlatans I sent in March, I just had to
send you the below, because the lead items are so tragic.
Another example how the public diet of
information is deeply deficient in objective fact is the reporting about the oil
well disaster in the Gulf. Have you seen a news story with a single diagram as
to what the well-head equipment, the "blowout preventer," looks like?
Where the debris of the sunken platform is located, in terms of underwater
operations? How the dual-redundant safety features of the blowout preventer
were supposed to work, and didn't?
Except for one item in The Economist
there's been deplorably little.
The well head related BP operations right now are probably being done by the
best available people.
There is no 'Red' Adair
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Adair> of deep sea oil well blowouts. I hope
we get some technically informed investigation why the blowout preventer didn't
work at all, and how the Deepwater Horizon got a drilling license without any
proof of emergency planning or capability in case of a mishap.
Approved-By: bobpark at UMD.EDU
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 17:27:37 -0400
Reply-To: whatsnew at BOBPARK.ORG
Sender: "Bob Park's What's New" <BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW at LISTSERV.UMD.EDU>
From: Robert Park <bobpark at UMD.EDU>
Subject: [BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW] What's New Robert L. Park June 11, 2010
To: BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW at LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
<mailto:LISTSERV at LISTSERV.UMD.EDU?body=INFO BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW>
<mailto:BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW-unsubscribe-request at LISTSERV.UMD.EDU>
List-Subscribe: <mailto:BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW-subscribe-request at LISTSERV.UMD.EDU>
List-Owner: <mailto:BOBPARKS-WHATSNEW-request at LISTSERV.UMD.EDU>
WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 11 Jun 2010 Washington, DC
1. FAKE BOMB DETECTOR: THE HIGH COST OF IGNORANCE.
According to a story in The Independent (UK) on Tuesday, the investigation into
the sale of fake bomb detectors has been expanded to a number of firms in the
UK. It seemed comical fourteen years ago when we learned that golfers were
buying fraudulent golf-ball finders (WN 12 Jan 96). The Quadro Tracker was
nothing but an "antenna" mounted on a pistol-grip with a swivel that was free to
rotate 360Â°. An almost imperceptible deviation of the swivel from horizontal
would cause the antenna to rotate under the force of gravity to its lowest
point. To a credulous observer it might seem to be controlled by some mysterious
external force. Quadro soon began marketing them to law enforcement agencies and
the Department of Defense for $995 each to search for drugs and weapons. It
failed a simple scientific test. Sandia National Labs took one apart and found
it contained no internal parts. The FBI shut Quadro down and arrested its
officers (WN 26 Jan 96). However, the device soon reappeared in the UK as the
ADE 651, sold by ATSC for prices as high as $48,000. At least 1,500 were sold
to the government of Iraq as bomb detectors at a cost of millions of dollars, as
WN reported in January (WN 29 Jan 2010). The fake bomb detectors have
reportedly contributed to hundreds of bomb deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan,
including British and American troops.
2. MAGICAL THINKING: DOWSING IS NOT ILLEGAL IN THE US OR THE UK.
In spite of the heinous nature of the ATSC crime, it may be difficult to obtain
a conviction. The defense of those charged with selling fake bomb detectors will
be that they believe the devices work. Their defense will point to the hundreds
or thousands of people who openly market their services to dowse for water or
other substances. Sometimes called water- witching, dowsing is said to rely on
supernatural influence over the muscles of the person holding a willow fork or
an ADE 651. Dowsing doesn't always work, but what does? The prosecution will
find itself hip deep in arguments over how an ADE 651 differs from prayer.
Magical thinking will be with us until children are taught that observable
effects result only from physical causes. It must be taught at the time they
are learning their first language.
3. CONSTELLATION: PULLING THE PLUG ON A LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEM.
Although NASA spent about $10 billion on the Constellation program since 2005,
the program is currently in a costly vegetative state from which it won't
recover, but Congress hasn't agreed to cancel Constellation. At issue is a
clause in contracts with the prime contractors, including Lockheed Martin and
Alliant Techsystems, which says the contractors are responsible for cancellation
costs. That's a standard clause in most federal contracts.
4. LIES: THE ANIMAL THAT TALKS OFTEN TELLS LIES.
The Polygraph can't tell a lie from the sex act. But four years ago we predicted
that functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, might (WN 23 Jun 2006). This
week in a Tennessee court case the defendant sought to use fMRI to demonstrate
his veracity. The judge did not allow it. Good! The only thing worse than a lie
detector that doesn't work, would be one that does. It would be the ultimate
invasion of privacy.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of
Maryland, but they should be.
Archives of What's New can be found at http://www.bobpark.org What's New is
moving to a different listserver and our subscription process has changed. To
change your subscription status please visit this link:
More information about the EAS-INFO