Mechanics: Terrestrial, Celestial, and Political

The Gentle Reader may remember the pointage, laughery, and mockification that resulted for Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asking an admiral if the Navy might cause the island of Guam to capsize if too many personnel were stationed there. Earlier this week, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked the associate deputy chief of the Forest Service a question about climate change.

I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change.

I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun. We know there’s been significant solar flare activity. And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun? Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate.

The usual suspects saw what they thought was an opportunity, and they pounced.

However, there is a significant difference between the two incidents. Johnson was asking his question in all seriousness. Gohmert’s question was framed to make the rhetorical point that the Sun probably has a greater effect on the Earth’s climate than anything the Forest Service might do.

Remind me. Which is the party of Science?

Some New Words

One of the advantages of a proper education in Western Civilization that included ancient languages is the ability to coin new technical and scientific words without having to resort to Newspeak. Take the word hoplophobia for example. Jeff Cooper created the term by combining the Greek words όπλο (weapon) and φοβία (fearfulness) to describe the irrational fear of weapons. It succinctly describes an attitude held by many who favor suppression of Second Amendment rights. BTW, it is more on point than the misuse of the -phobia suffix in the words homophobia and Islamophobia which seems to mean the hatred of homosexual and muslims rather than the fear of them. A proper Greek-derived suffix for hatred would be -echtra.

I see a need for a couple of new phobia-suffix words to describe attitudes that are becoming prevalent in our public discourse. They are epistimiphobia and altitheiaphobia.

The first is based on επιστήμη which means science, so it means an irrational fear of science. I believe it will be useful in describing the sort of person who clings to a particular hypothesis long after it has been falsified repeatably because of an emotional investment a false belief.

The second is based on αλήθεια which meant truth or reality. It means an irrational fear of the truth. I believe it will be useful in describing  the sort of person who is even further along in his denial than an epistimiphobe.

The guy who is still wearing two masks in the park may be an epistimiphobe, but if believes that he is a woman, he’s probably an alitheiaphobe.

Doing Science in the Laboratories of Democracy

Different states have taken different approaches in dealing with the Wuhan Virus Pandemic. Some states have operated based on a working hypothesis that said extensive lockdowns, prolonged masking, and the like would provide better outcomes than states which began returning to normal life more quickly.

The various experiments have been run, the differing hypotheses tested.

Texas began reopening fairly early and reported no deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday.

Maryland, a smaller state which has followed a middle course, reported 3 Covid deaths for Sunday.

New York, which has taken one of the most restrictive approaches, reported 35 Covid deaths for Sunday.

The Gentle Reader may form his own conclusions as to which, if any, hypothesis has been shown false.

Updating An Earlier Post

On Monday, I put up a post about getting The Right Answer from the Wrong Argument. I received this comment in a email from one of the Gentle Readers named Mary Pat Campbell, and I believe it’s worth sharing:

I am happy that you address what Stacy wrote. I have the same perspective as you, being a run-of-the-mill Catholic. My own degrees are in math & physics, and I loved quantum mechanics… and some asked me how I could reconcile that with being a believing Catholic. My response: who am I to tell God how to order the universe?

We were given reason to figure out how God has ordered creation, not to make aesthetic critiques of those choices.

Separately, I do find it grimly amusing that those who take the (translated) words of Genesis literally usually don’t do the same thing when considering Jesus saying “This is my body”.

Ms. Campbell and I most likely have different understandings of what Jesus meant when He said, “This is my body,” but I bet we both are thankful that God is doing something wonderful for us in ways we can’t completely understand.

More Reporting on Rebekah Jones

Charles C. W. Cooke has a good summary post up at NRO that explains why the conspiracy theories being spun by Rebekah Jones are bunk. More people are starting to catch on to her scam.

Eventually, though, her luck is going to run out. And when it does, no amount of flailing or distraction is going to prevent the bills from coming due.

Yep. It may take a while, but everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.

 

The Right Answer from the Wrong Argument

My podcasting partner Stacy McCain has a post up at The Other McCain titled
Of Course, Evolution Is Racist. I believe his concluding paragraph is absolutely correct.

God rules the universe, all men will be judged by Him, and “there is no respect of persons with God.” The high and the low, the rich and the poor, men of every race and tongue — all shall acknowledge God’s authority at the final day. Never doubt that for a minute. Selah.

However, much of his post is simply wrong, based on a lack of understanding of Darwin, Nietzsche, and Genesis, compounded by a century-and-a-half of pseudoscientific and pseudotheological spin.

Properly understood, evolutionary biology does not address the existence or non-existence of God. As I show in the essays found under the Science and the Bible tab in the Menu above, nothing in the Hebrew text of Genesis limits how God exercised his power creating the Universe. Moreover, what we know from Science is fully compatible with what is revealed in the Bible. There’s no reason to be drawn into a false contest between two strawmen, one created to attack religious faith and the other created to defend a particular limited understanding of the Bible.

Indeed, being wrong about the commonly understood facts of the natural world tarnishes one’s credibility. As Augustine wrote,

If they hear a Christian embracing error in a thing that they know well, and hear him defend in the same way our Scriptures, how will they believe those books concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of life eternal, and the kingdom of heaven, when they believe they are full of lies about facts they themselves have learned from experience and the light of reason?

Here are some snippets from those essays.

I’m not a scientist or a theologian.  I’m an engineer.  In practicing my profession, I’m often presented with a problem that is too complex to be solved all at once.  When this happens, my usual approach is to try to break the problem in to smaller chunks and to go after each simpler piece using what I know about the basic laws of Physics.  These first principles include such things as Newton’s Laws of Motion or the Laws of Thermodynamics.  It should not be surprising that I would take a similar approach to my understanding of how what we know of God from the Bible squares with what we know of God from the fingerprints He has left on His handiwork in creation.

What are the first principles that apply to this inquiry?

The very first principle is a belief in the existence of God and an understanding that He tells the truth.  I’ll take that as a given for this work.  If I’ve lost you at this point, let me suggest that you leave this post now and pick up a copy of a book such as C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity instead.

If you’re still with me, the next of these first principles is that, if God is who He says He is, then we ought to pay close attention to what He tells us—both the explicit things He tells us in the Bible and the implicit things we learn from our knowledge of the natural world.

The third of these first principles is that we will ask questions only where we can expect valid answers.  When we want answers concerning the general history of the universe or the laws of its mundane behavior, we will go to Science, but there are things for which Science cannot have an answer.  In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking asks

What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?  The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.  Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?

Science is about how; religion is about why.  Thus, if we wish to know about God’s governance of the universe or His relationship with man, we will look first to the explicit statements of the Scriptures.

* * * * *

The scientific evidence for common descent is quite strong.  Indeed, over the last century or so, no other hypothesis has been able to account scientifically for the unity and diversity of life on earth. Common descent has been verified so extensively that it is the currently accepted scientific “fact.” The common descent hypothesis makes predictions that have been confirmed not only in genomics and molecular biology but also in other areas such as paleontology and anthropology. No significant contradictory physical evidence has been found. Competing proposals either have been contradicted by the evidence or are not testable using the scientific method. No other scientific explanation competes with common descent.

* * * * *

No serious biologist doubts the theory of evolution is the best explanation we have thus far for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Given the genetic relatedness of all known organisms, it is hard to imagine how one would go about understanding biology without the foundation that evolution provides. Oh, one could do what was once called natural history and classify living things in various ways, but one could not engage in modern biology.

* * * * *

Notice also that God commanded that the earth and the waters “bring forth” the living things He created. The text doesn’t say how, it just says that God commanded and that it was so. Thus, when I look at what Scripture really says and the evidence of God’s handiwork in creation, I am led to believe that He was wise enough to create a universe that would use the natural processes He provided from the beginning to work its way toward producing the creatures God wanted. Of course, God may have created each species or group of species separately, but there is nothing in Genesis that requires us to say that God used any particular means other than His commands for the universe to be as He willed. But His fingerprints seem to be on one particular method—evolution through natural selection.

* * * * *

I wrote in the Introduction that Science and Theology are both attempts to learn true things, but they usually use very different methods. As we’ve gone down the Science-side of the street, we’ve looked at what Science and the Bible have to say of about the origin of space and time. We’ve considered the spectrum of beliefs about the origins of the universe, the Earth, life, and man, and the nature of time and its relationship to God. We examined what our own DNA and the Bible reveal about the origin and nature of man, and at what physics, geology, chemistry, biology, and Genesis tell us about how the earth got to be like it is today. We looked at how astronomy reinforces the New Testament’s record of the life of Christ.

On the Bible-side we’ve seen how the truth of the Scriptures can inform our interpretation of Science. Science and the Bible are not to opposing ways of looking at the world. They are complementary ways of understanding different slices of God’s truth.

A God Who can say “Let there be …” and have things of unimaginable complexity happen is an awesome God. I hope that you leave this series of posts with a deeper sense of awe of the Almighty.

* * * * *

Selah.

One more thing … Evolution isn’t racist, but many so-called Social Darwinists used it as a false foundation for their racism just as some religious folks tried to use various misinterpretations of the Bible to support their racism.

UPDATE—There really isn’t a philosophical connection between Darwin and Nietzsche. In fact, Nietzsche was dismissive of Darwin. He wrote this in Beyond Good and Evil

There are truths best perceived by mediocre minds, because they are most suited to them; there are truths that have charms and seductive powers only for mediocre spirits: we are being forced just now to embrace this perhaps unpleasant tenet, ever since the spirit of respectable, but mediocre Englishmen (I am thinking of Darwin, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer) has begun to gain the upper hand in the middle region of European taste.

Nietzsche’s posthumous Writings from the Late Notebooks contains this—

What surprises me most when surveying the great destinies of man is always seeing before me the opposite of what Darwin and his school see or want to see today: selection in favor of the stronger, in favor of those who have come off better, the progress of the species. The very opposite is quite palpably the case: the elimination of the strokes of luck, the uselessness of the better-constituted types, the inevitable domination achieved by the average, even below-average types.

Nietzsche didn’t see how Darwin’s views lead to the Übernensch. The imagined connection between Darwin and Nietzsche comes from the writings of late 19th- and early 20th-century pundits who had no real understanding of either the Englishman’s or the German’s work.

Solving the Problem of Woke Math

There’s an excellent review of woke math over at Legal Insurrection. Go read it; it does a better job of summarizing the danger to our society.

However, I have a suggestion about how to shutdown woke math education in the schools. Simply calculate the pay of any teacher or education bureaucrat using or promoting woke math on the basis of 2 + 2 = 3.

TANSTAAFL

Science Alert reports that accurate testing of the so-called EM reactionless drive showed that it does not produce any thrust. A previous test at NASA Eagleworks lab claimed to have detected thrust, but at a statistically insignificant level.

The latest attempt to replicate the shocking results has resulted in a simple answer: the Eagleworks measurement was from heating of the engine mount, not any new physics.

The Conservation of Momentum is a bedrock principle of Physics, so no one should be surprised when a real world apparatus conserves momentum. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

It All Depends On What You Mean By “Equality”

The House has passed a legislative nightmare called the “Equality Act.” If it passes the Senate and becomes law, it would amend federal statutes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and it explicitly will destroy religious freedom protections related to sexual and gender identity. The bill explicitly states: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”

Stephen Kruiser has suggested that the Equality Act is proof that the Democrats are clinically insane. OTOH, The Party may need the words “equal” and “equality” to have different meanings. Sometimes  two plus two equals four. But not always.

Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.

Don’t Know Much About a Science Book

Uh, no, the failures in Texas are what happens as a result of the pursuit of unreliable “green” energy sources instead of reliable, science/engineering-based systems.

BTW, because I viewed the tweet on one of my engineering computer which has its clock set to Coordinated Universal Time, the timestamp on the tweet is +5 hours from Eastern Time. 0500 UTC is 12 midnight ET.

At the Intersection of All Things

Noted warmmonger Gina McCarthy, who ran Obama’s EPA, has been appointed as His Fraudulency’s National Climate Advisor. She posted a video over the past weekend making the pitch that climate change is a racism/social justice issue. No verifiable facts were offered to support any of her claims.

One of the claims that she makes is that the Xiden climate program will result in the creation of good paying “union jobs.” 27 states have right-to-work laws that allow people to work without having to join a union, and very few of those states cast electoral votes for Joe Xiden. Is this “union jobs” claim a threat to shift economic activity away from those states to punish them? Would that be socially just?

Another claim is that the Xiden climate program will leverage existing technologies. OK, how will the administration deal with the problems created by those technologies? The blades from worn-out wind turbines are going into land fills because there is no economically viable way of recycling them. Solar arrays that have reached the end of their useful lives are beginning to pile up, creating a significant amount of waste that includes heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and cadmium. Will racial and social justice require this waste to be disposed of in Palo Alto, Belle Meade, Stamford, or Bethesda?

And back to those union jobs? Where will they really be, and what will they be doing? Under the Xiden program, they won’t be for pipe fitters building pipelines in the middle of America. When Gina McCarthy was running the EPA, American labor saw a lot of “clean energy” jobs making equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines move offshore, principally to China. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but usual the safe way to bet.

Is it 2025 yet?

A Science Experiment

Whether or not they have realized what they were doing, the political leaders of several states have been conducting a scientific experiment. Their implied hypothesis is that extended draconian restrictions on the activities of the people in their states would result in fewer deaths from the Wuhan virus pandemic. Simultaneously several other states took the opposite approach to managing the pandemic, effectively providing a control group for the restrictive state experiment. We now have data comparing the results of the two approaches. Has the restrictive state hypothesis been falsified?

Here’s a chart of the relative performance of the states plowing relative levels of restriction versus death rate. A higher number on the death rate axis corresponds to a higher death rate. A higher number on the restriction axis corresponds to tighter restrictions.Chart Source: Wallethub

While there are more restrictive states among the ten best performing states, restrictive states account for half of the ten worst. Thus, the data do not support the hypothesis that tight restrictions on the public’s activities necessarily will result in relatively lower death rates.

It’s possible that tight restrictions on public activity might be beneficial in some circumstance, but the data also suggest the possibility that many other factors have affected the variation in performance among the states. For example, Hawaii and Vermont have relatively high restrictions, but are their low death rates a result of their relative isolation from the nation’s large population centers or some other factor? Could such relative isolation have a part in Nebraska’s low death rate? Could California’s high poverty rate be affecting its poor performance?

The science isn’t settled on exactly why some states are doing better than others, but it does seem to show that lockdowns and other such measures weren’t and aren’t a magic bullet.

Oh, one more thing …

The average unemployment rate in the the most restrictive states is 7.1% (9% in California). The national rate is 6.7%. The rate in the least restrictive states is 4.7% (3.1 % in Iowa).

I’m Confused

After ending a prayer with the word awomen [autocorrupt really fights me when I try to type that word], the Democrats imposed a new rule on the House of Representatives that eliminates the use of such “gendered” words as mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle.

So are they for celebrating the biological differences between the sexes, or are they insisting that we’re all the same and the differences are socially constructed?

Or will they also end prayers with words like atrannie?

2020 has turned 21 and is now drinking openly.