Belief ≠ Science

I see Contrails North NZ has already covered this topic pretty well, but I thought I’d add my own thoughts, as it really is a story packed to the brim with head-against-brickwall ignorance. The gist of the story is such: NZ Member of Parliament Jim Anderton has replied to a chemtrail-hoaxer’s letter by asking for scientific proof. To quote a bit of Jim’s reply…

…I do not have any scientific credentials myself, and is the case in such circumstances I have to rely on those who do. The source you quote does not seem to have any such credentials either, and I have seen no evidence to date to suggest that the claim you make has any scientific foundation.

Well, he wouldn’t have, would he — there isn’t any. Of course, Clare & co. have had to think of how they might get some of this so-called ‘scientific evidence’. Bill Blyth suggests non-scientists using the scientific method might be in with a shot. He undermines this sensible suggestion by alluding to the fact that the existence of ‘chemtrails’ is just blindingly obvious, and draws on this analogy:

…would you need a scientific report if a tsunami was ariving in ten minutes, of cause not.” (sic)

Well, actually, unless you’d felt the earthquake that had triggered the tsunami and suspected one might be on the way, you would need a scientific report; probably relayed by a non-scientifically worded alert from the media or civil defense, but a scientifically-sourced report nonetheless. Anyway…

The problem is, of course, that no chemtrail-hoaxers ever get to the ‘experimentation’ step of the process. Instead of doing any sort of logical scientfic analysis, they tend to see a persistent contrail, at which point they jump straight to the ‘draw conclusion’ step of the process (“it’s a chemtrail!”) and call it quits.

You can see a classic example of such non-science on a subsequent post (in fact, you could just about pick any post at random, but anyway): Person sees ‘chemtrail’. Person gets sick. Thus ‘chemtrail’ has caused ‘illness’. The complete lack of any scientific rationale there is mind-boggling. Has Whitianga really been hit with wave of inexplicable disease? Has anyone checked?

It’s actually a hypothesis that is often suggested by chemtrail-hoaxers (that we’re being sprayed with various diseases in some sort of depopulation programme), and one that you’d think would be pretty easy to analyse. If you see ‘chemtrails’ (A), check hospital admissions (B). If  (A) leads to an unexpected increase in (B) then you’ve got a working hypothesis! This approach was even suggested to Clare Swinney over at Uncensored a while back, but such suggestions just lead to the usual cries of ‘disinformation agent’. Sigh.

Paeroa weighs in with, again, some sensible suggestions, which are, again, undermined by glaring problems:

A team could be assembled to interview on video, people suffering from the classic symptoms of being exposed to the sprays.

Just what are the ‘classic symptoms’? How do you prove it’s caused by the ‘chemtrails’? Oh, hold on, Paeroa continues:

Difficult to prove it’s caused by chemtrails, just need to show there is something very wrong occurring in our environment and the health issues can be linked to the common chemicals used in the spraying.

On the first point – dead right. On the second point, there very likely are problems with our environment that are causing health issues for some people, but to pin it on persistent contrails is a stretch, at best.

Still, maybe it’s a step in the right direction. If some of the chemtrail-hoaxers do apply a little scientific scrutiny to their hare-brained theories, they might well discover they’ve been woefully misguided, and decide to put their energies into some sort of activism that better serves the community. We can but hope.