Constipated Science

We come to the boundary of week in and week out and things are a bit slow this morning. One more piece of evidence that the human body (and mind?) is a dissipative system where all sorts of things, including energy, are not conserved. So since I am a bit lethargic this morning, it is, after all, sleep in morning for the week, I suspect this blot will be a bit lethargic as well.

Starting off, the Higgs boson has still not officially been discovered. [Link] I wouldn’t mention this except for getting sucked into this article yesterday. Its title “Don’t Believe The Rumors – The Higgs Boson Has NOT Been Discovered! Really!” was the (very) strange attractor. And so I found myself having to read the article. I have to reproduce a quote,

“Why Is It Still Not A Discovery?
However, the data collected is not enough to guarantee a discovery, not even when integrated with the 7 TeV data. The 7 TeV data had yielded a confidence level of 1.9 sigma from the CMS detector and a confidence level of 2.3 sigma from the ATLAS detector. Both numbers are far from the 5 sigma confidence level needed to guarantee a discovery. However, the coincidence of the mass range for the fluctuation in the two detectors is heartening.”

to make my explanation. This is the face of modern science and it is the face of bureaucracy and shmuckness. In addition to the rise of BIG science in the days since the Great Patriotic War, we have had a rise in regulation and administration and general absence of initiative. The utter faith in statistics is one of the symptoms and well as one of the consequences. Simply put statistics is a nice tool if it is applicable. It is not that I am saying that statistics is not applicable, just that almost all scientists aren’t asking the question.

As a ‘fer instence’, the five sigma selection is completely arbitrary, arising out of the bureaucracy, caution, and demand for mindless public stewardship that has come to characterize science since the middle twentieth century. If you go back and look at significant historical discoveries, none were made with five (or even three) sigma confidence, and most were made with zero sigma confidence. Consider Galileo and the swinging chandelier in the cathedral. That was a zero sigma discovery. Discoveries are supposed to be the instant of perception, of insight, of epiphany. Not the moment when we get overwhelming amounts of data according to a possibly appropriate statistical model.

Discoveries are supposed to be verified. That’s where statistics sorta belongs, not in the discovery.  You can discover lots of things, but the ones that aren’t verifiable, aren’t reproducible, don;t count. And you don’t shout too many of them before you get considered for a rubber room. Which is why modern scientists have lost the distinction. They’re so insecure – itself a form of unsanity – that they can’t say discovery without verification.

The crude analogy is that a woman cannot be pronounced pregnant until the child has been successfully born.

And this is one of the big reasons that science, and society, are failing.

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