Extreme political positions are bolstered by underweighting the concerns of one’s opponents. This will not do – only dialectic can find the best “solutions” in political matters. In political matters there can be no wholly satisfactory solutions.
Nature is a zero sum in all of its conserved quantities.
Comprehending nature in all of its subtleties requires dialectic; monistic models, such as those featured in popular philosophies and all-too-much of science, will always lead to inadequate fits of the data.
Scientists study the effects of air pollution on the respiratory system.
I have not seen anyone studying the effects of air pollution on the digestive tract. Why is it important? About half of the mucus we produce in our respiratory system, some of which traps air pollutants, ends up in our stomachs. This is a potent mechanism for the introduction of air pollutants into our digestive tracts.
There has been about a 400% increase in major bowel disease in the US in just the last 50 years or so. This cannot be due to genetics. It is due to lifestyle (a mega-variable that includes diet and stress management). But could air pollution also be a contributor, a hidden variable? Was bowel disease once also really bad when the industrial revolution took hold? Did rates subside, as industry became more environmentally conscious, only to increase again, thanks to the ever increasing population of drivers driving automobiles producing soot from small particles? I clean our cars every week and am amazed at the level of soot trapped in microfiber cloths. We are breathing this stuff and we are eating this stuff. Yuck!
I don’t think good scientific instincts can be taught. Few scientists have them. Consider the case of calorie restriction (CR).
My scientific instincts tell me that CR would NOT extend human lifespan past 120 years. Most scientists disagree and have maintained their positions for many years. Unshakeable faith, a lot like religion.
With proper nutrition, CR may be another route to 120 year lifespan, but it would not extend human lifespan to 180 years, as Walford thought. The 120 year lifespan is already an artificially extended natural maximum human lifespan, which I peg at roughly 78-91 years in a true state of nature.
If CR were the driver of (major force behind) human longevity, we would not expect to find ANY overweight or obese people who have pushed the limits of human longevity. The data from the Ashkenazi Centenarian Study directly contradict the predictions of CR.
No doubt CR enthusiasts will dismiss that as genetic. Well then, let’s find the genes! My scientific instincts tell me that genes are not the explanation. A multivariate model is needed. CR is univariate, given sufficient nutrition, and genetics is univariate, period. Univariate models are inadequate models. One needs good scientific instincts to see that. Most scientists find univariate models satisfying.
What is even more interesting is the actuarial data that Walford cites, and then dismisses, in his book, Beyond the 120 Year Diet, in which he explained away using TB the relative absence of skinny people among the longest lived people.
That was only the half of it.
If CR is the driver of human longevity, we do not expect to see the actuarial data. If CR were more important than proper nutrition for a longer life, we would expect that the longest lived people would be below average weight. Not so – the longest lived humans are average to above average weight, and have always been so. This observation is consistent with proper nutrition being more important than CR for a longer lifespan. Why? Given the rather mediocre quality of most people’s nutrition, more calories than needed to maintain a proper weight are going to provide more total nutrition, not to mention better enjoyment of life, a non-quantitative contributor to longevity as well, of which CR makes no account.
The story of Job vs the scientific method.
The story of Job teaches faith – it calls it faith in god, but it is really faith in what men have said about god in the bible. It teaches us that we should ignore the evidence inconsistent with the basic claims of the bible, and keep our faith in the words of men who claim to speak the words of god, no matter what happens to our families, our possessions, etc.
Science teaches us to have no faith in anything but the results of careful experimentation – the highest quality evidence. Science teaches us to build models to fit the evidence, and to never believe in anything wholeheartedly or without proper skepticism. Rather, to believe in proportion to both the quantity and quality of the evidence. A scientist, following the scientific method, cannot believe the claims of religion, and thus cannot interpret the story of Job in the manner of its author.
Recall my convenient distinction of the six degrees of a quantifiable quality, in this case, applied to sanity:
- very insane – 2. insane – 3. not insane – 4. not sane – 5. sane – 6. very sane
- Since so many independent processes have to be just right for true sanity, I doubt there are any level 6 people. Maybe there never were any.
- The distribution is left-tailed (there are level 1 people, and some who are not institutionalized).
- People are mostly 3s and 4s and there are more 2s than 5s.
Evidence: the least sane, the most mentally unbalanced writers are the most read and the most listened to.
The more outrageous their ideas the more popular they are.
Big lies and big exaggerations are more readily believed, given the lack of sanity of the audience (the complete absence of 6s, the dearth of 5s).
There is no master wheel and no master cogs on wheels. The body is a network of networks of networks….like a Swiss watch, with no one and no thing in charge.
Prospective clinical studies attempting to find miracle cures with single nutrients are inane.
So are man-made drugs.
Here is the image to keep in mind, only that in the body the wheels keep going right off the page – every nutrient is a cog and every important structure in the body is a wheel attached to other wheels with thousands of cogs.
The green wheel is bigger than any of the black wheels. This is just like nature, but note that the green wheel is not a behemoth and the black wheels are not pygmies. It is a difference in degree.
As a rule, causal thinking is errant thinking.