How much do you weight?

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Scientists measure the weight of our galaxy using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite.

It seems that the Milky Way weighs in at about 1.5 trillion solar masses, according to the latest measurements. Only a few percent of this is contributed by the approximately 200 billion stars in the Milky Way. Most of the rest of the mass is locked up in dark matter.

Although we cannot see it, dark matter is the dominant form of matter in the universe, and it can be weighed through its influence on visible objects like the globular clusters. “We know from cosmological simulations what the distribution of mass in the galaxies should look like, so we can calculate how accurate this extrapolation is for the Milky Way,” said Laura Watkins of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, lead author of the combined Hubble and Gaia study. These calculations based on the precise measurements of globular cluster motion from Gaia and Hubble enabled the researchers to pin down the mass of the entire Milky Way. (1)

Measuring something (mass) which we do not know what it is exactly (energy? creation of our observations? strings in multiple dimensions?) or how it is formed (Higgs?) through the use of observations interpreted via assumptions based on simulations based on other assumptions, only in order to discover that most of our galaxy is made up of something which we do not know anything about (dark matter) but which we use in our models that we then use to predict its mass…

Impressive isn’t it?

Building castles of sand on foundations of sand…

At the end we will end of explaining everything.

And a soft wave will hit the shore and will take everything away…

We will cry when this happens.

But our children will laugh…

And they’ll just start playing again!

Don’t be so serious.

Look closely.

And you will see your own small footprints on the beach too…

Can you start laughing?

Do lizards dream like us?

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Do lizards dream like us? Researchers have confirmed that lizards exhibit two sleep states, just like humans, other mammals, and birds. They corroborated the conclusions of a 2016 study on the bearded dragon and conducted the same sleep investigation on another lizard, the Argentine tegu. Their findings nevertheless point out differences between species, which raises new questions about the origin of sleep states. (1)

Dull science. Making humans go to sleep again, as Wittgenstein postulated.

We should not care about how lizards dream. But what keeps us awake.

Dreaming of dragons. Breathing fire. And you will wake up terrified.

Stepping on the small lizard.

Ready to destroy the cosmos…

And give birth to nothingness which will breed chaos into the stagnant pool of existence…

“Cell phones do not cause cancer” and other Science-Money fairy tales. (as in “Smoking does not cause cancer”)

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According to studies, cell phones do not cause cancer. (1)

So reassuring.

In the same way the old days science was not sure whether smoking caused cancer, or was even convinced that in some cases it was even beneficial! (2)

On one side, there is the ridiculously slow pace at which science crawled towards the obvious (yes, if you put smoke in you something bad will happen). Even though smoking was around for years, official science starting to realize the connection between smoking and cancer only in the 1950’s. (3) (6) Surely science tries to reach a certain degree of certainty to say something, but this should never conflict with common sense.

“Putting tar inside your organism causes nothing”.

Does that make sense?

“Putting radiation inside your brain causes nothing”.

Does that make sense?

Scientists should be clear when making statements and they should clarify what the lack of evidence for correlation does not necessarily mean that there is no correlation. Not clarifying this is certainly not a result of stupidity. After all, scientists should know better right?

And now we come to the other interesting point: How science and scientists can be manipulated by money. It had happened before with smoking. (4) Scientists of respectable positions we also part of a specific “council” for research on the subject of smoking with clean instructions not to actually find any connections with cancer. (5) (7)

You may say that these scientists did not represent science.

But what is science except the scientists who practice it?

Would you say that Pope does not represent Catholicism?

Many claim that science is all about methodologically and systematically analyzing something. Any errors related to its practice do not relate to science per se. It is a beautiful childish opinion. And as all childish opinions, it is very appealing. But it is wrong.

Not because a bad scientist represents science.

This is indeed false.

But exactly because science is all about the systematic analysis of things. This makes it void of any ethical obligation to follow any common sense outside its own methodological constraints, thus leaving room for research which claims that “we do not know” even in the face of the obvious. And there is where money comes in.

You see, no scientist will even admit that he is doing wrong or insufficient research. But what he will never admit is that given the proper statistics, almost anything can be supported. Give some funds on top of those inherent limitations of science and statistics and you will get this research paper stating “No evidence for cell phones related to cancer”.

At the end, a slight connection will be found.

Then some more serious evidence will ‘arise’.

And at the end, scientists will be certain that cell phones are dangerous.

Not sure it will be like that?

Well, you may be right.

Like the scientists who claimed that things heavier than air will never fly. (8) Now we laugh at those scientists. But their analysis and conclusions were not to be laughed at.

At the end, you are allowed to believe what you wish.

Put a cell phone next to your head and speak for hours.

Are you willing to testify for what you believe?

Do you believe that science puts anything in the line for you? And yet, you believe in science and not in those who did actually put everything in line for you. (who are they? find out yourself)

Science today is cut from ethics and the obvious ever since it claimed was against religion. Because religion is the art of the obvious and the ethical. You can read Harmonia Philosophica for more on that, but in any case it is easy to see that in the case of smoking science feel in the trap of its own convictions. Seeking certainty is not always the way to go when lives are at stake. And taking money while doing it does not make it look prettier. It happened with smoking. It had happen before (yes, science has been about money and corruption for many years now). And the same story seems to be repeated now with cell phones. Radiation had been constantly seen as a source of problems when it comes to mutations, but now for a magical reason there seem to be “no evidence” for problems.

Yes, science continually questions itself. And that is a good thing. For science.

But life and common sense cannot question themselves.

Yes science needs and seeks certainty.

But life does not offer certainty. (let alone the fact that science has anyway proved that it will never find it)

Yes science is not the experiments done by Mengele.

But he did make those experiments in the context of science. (and papers were published and research – from which you may even benefit today – was conducted based on them)

And humanity cannot accept that.

Yes scientists are just humans.

So why not admit that instead of playing God?

Yes science is cold and systemic.

But life should not be anything like that.

Yes, you can “prove” with proper assumptions and statistics that infinite parallel universe exist.

But smoking killed people down here, in this universe.

Hang up the phone.

Wait for science to decide.

Take a walk.

Do you need science to tell you that?

PS. And yes, there is research which shows that cell phones are linked to cancer. See here for one recent example.

Science: This beautiful whore! [From the Reproducibility crisis to Epstein connections]

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In Greece (and many other countries) there is a saying: After going to the doctor, always go to a second one to get a second opinion! This public wisdom has been so much embedded in our everyday life that we do not even consider it as something special. And yet, this simple but highly intuitive advice hides something much more sinister than we would like to admit…

But let’s take things from the beginning.

In the times of ancient Greeks, science and religion were not even separated. Both fields of thinking existed harmoniously together and helped wise people to their common goal: reach the truth. This common path continued up to the era of Galileo (whose case was largely overstated and wrongly attributed by all – read the relevant articles in Harmonia Philosophica), when for reasons altogether irrelevant to the essence of science or religion philosophy science was separated from religion.

And then the downfall started…

Science started being an independent realm of human endeavor and this resulted in the infamous “war” with religion. A war based on false premises and fed by the hate of the new intellectual order against the old one (read the “Enlightenment was not light” article in Harmonia Philosophica). It was about that time that another factor came in to fuel the fire even more: MONEY.

The result of the corrupting effect of money in science can easily be seen today by anyone even remotely connected to science. If you are not, let me draw you a picture: You are a scientist. You are funded to conduct research but only as long as you produce results. And results mean publications. So you need to publish, but this is not enough on its own. You need to publish more and more quickly before the other publish first! In that way you will get more money from funds and then you will publish more and then… Well, you get the meaning.

All this has resulted in a gruesome comedy of tragic proportions: We are everyday bombarded with new “scientific news” (the most important of which are debunked or analyzed philosophically here in Harmonia Philosophica every four days) which often contradict each other or which are so immature which should never see the light of publication. Newton used to keep volumes unpublished for decades before he was sure that the quality was good enough and today we see minions of science to publish new papers every a month or so.

This ridiculous situation would be funny if it wasn’t serious as well. In this parade of publications we also see medical publications about what we should eat (coffee, wine, etc), what we should not eat (coffee, wine, etc), what we should do in order not to die, what we should not do, what medicine will save us from death (even though not even clinical trials have started and they usually never do – you see, only the initial publication is usually enough to ‘prove’ that you do research) et cetera. Doctors are also of course taking part in the party (why wouldn’t they anyway? they are Scientists!). So medical companies pay their bills and give them bonus trips, they suggest to you the medicine they are paid to suggest, they may even promote some surgeries to write a paper! (remember, always get a second opinion)

Meet the Reproducibility Crisis!

At some point the problem mentioned above started to become so huge that even scientists took notice (remember, true science has a serious lag to notice obvious things). This is what is now known as the Reproducibility Crisis in science. And when we say science we mean Science! As a whole. As it turns out, the eagerness to publish resulted in scientists faking results. According to a 2016 poll of 1,500 scientists reported that 70% of them had failed to reproduce at least one other scientist’s experiment (50% had failed to reproduce one of their own experiments). In 2009, 2% of scientists admitted to falsifying studies at least once and 14% admitted to personally knowing someone who did. Misconducts were reported more frequently by medical researchers than others. (source)

That article you read about not having to drink coffee because you will get cancer? Forget it! Or perhaps not! Actually that is the problem now: We cannot know what is false and what is right! As long as there was money to fund the research, then the research would yield a result! How can you trust anything today when it is known that about 70% of scientists cannot replicate the experiments of others?

And yet the money is still flowing in…

The problem is so big that you can easily find articles pinpointing the problem – focusing also mainly in the medicine related research. (source) (source) (source) Karl Popper, the 20th century’s pre-eminent philospher of science, said that science without a testable hypothesis really isn’t science at all, but rather a “pseudoscience.” Much of today’s so-called science, which relies on scary projections without tests to back them up, fits this description. (source)

And yet the money is still flowing in…

Meet Epstein!

The billionaire who served time for a sexual offense involving a minor and then, afterwards, jailed for being accused of running a worldwide ring of pedophiles. Yes, so? What about him? Well, it turns out that Epstein was in love with… science! As it turns out he was a patron of many well known scientists! Scientists who took Epstein’s money or associated with the financier even after he was jailed for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. Some of them issued apologies, some failed to comment. (source) Would this sound as a surprise? Not to those who have been looking at the path science has taken for the last centuries or so…

One of the science institutes which took money from Epstein includes the famous MIT Media Lab. There has been a huge uproar for this, which resulted in the Media Lab issuing statements and promising to give the equal amount of money it had received to the victims of Epstein. Are they really sorry? Hard to distinguish the truth behind the statements made under public outrage. One of the founders of MIT Media Lab – Nicholas Negroponte – provided an answer though: In an event he said quite simply and honestly that he suggested that the Lab took the money from Epstein and that he would do it again! “Take the money!” he added emphatically. “Take it!” he repeated. (source)

Many people might object here. It is some scientists who are not moral. It is some scientists who are not good and ethical. Not science. But they would be wrong! It is exactly science which is inherently immoral today!

Science is supposed to be morally neutral [1] [2]. Today we believe that knowledge is intrinsically good [1]. But it is exactly this ethical neutrality which leads to unethical paths! It is exactly this certainty of goodness which leads to everything bad modern civilization has experienced. This is what Rousseau tried to point out in the first place – knowing what is good has nothing to do with being good.

“Take it!” said Negroponte.

And so he did. And so other will keep on doing…

And that beauty which was once science, will turn into an beautiful old whore… Looking at us with a promising look and a tear in her eyes. And as the Polar Star of Lovecraft, she has forgotten what message she has to give us. Except that she has a message to convey…

Bibliography 

  1. Paul RootWolpe, Reasons Scientists Avoid Thinking about Ethics, Cell journal, Volume 125, Issue 6, 13 June 2006, Pages 1023-1025, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2006.06.001
  2. Ma-Kellams C, Blascovich J, “Does ‘Science’ Make You Moral? The Effects of Priming Science on Moral Judgments and Behavior”, 2013, PLoS ONE 8(3): e57989, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057989.

Old philosophers, science and the poison of knowledge…

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A friend recently asked: how can we seriously read philosophers from before the 18th century, now that we know of their lack of knowledge regarding the cosmos and the universe? How can we read them and draw any serious conclusions now that we know that they knew almost nothing that we currently do, based on our supreme technology and modern science?

And my answer was: Actually it is only those philosophers whom we need to read! Because their thought was pure and not yet poisoned by the knowledge we think we have.

My friend was stunned. But what about all this knowledge we have amassed?! All the things stubbiness know for the universe? All the things physics knows about the workings of the cosmos? My friend was not the exception. It is really unfortunate that so many people believe that science today has proved things regarding the truth of our cosmos instead of what it is really doing: formulating theories to model the cosmos based on specific unproven assumptions.

But what do I mean by that?

Let’s take for example the field of astronomy and the infamous cosmological principle. This is a principle which governs astronomy today and which in two words holds the belief that the universe is homogenous and isotropic. This principle is based on observations and on this principle many theories are built by modern astronomers.

So far so good, one might say. Except the fact that nothing of the above is true.

What is true is that there are indeed observations which support the cosmological principle, but there are also observations which refute it. (See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_principle or https://philpapers.org/rec/KAKFGT)

So why do we hold that principle? one might ask. The answer to that would be more shocking to someone not acquainted with epistemology: Science continuously used unproven theses as a starting point of theories! This is not bad nor good. It is just the way science works. What is wrong is to take these starting point as “true” even though they never meant to have any relation to what philosophy calls “truth” or “reality”.

Scientific models are just… scientific models!

Nothing more.

Think of a glass dropping to the floor for example. This is something we all observe. Let’s now try to formulate a theory to explain this observation. The modern atheist will hold the belief that the explanation of why the glass is dropping to the floor is something “objective” and based on “facts” and data. But he would be wrong. For the observational data is just… observational data. The theory to interpret that data is something else. And for the glass dropping to the floor we have many!

Ancient Greeks thought perhaps that Zeus made the glass drop. Then came Newtown. And we explained the observation with the help of an invisible all existing field called gravitational field. And then Einstein changed everything and now we have not a field but curved spacetime!

See?

Same observation, three different theories!

But are those theories equally valid? And do they all adhere to the data equally successfully?

The answer is yes, if we wish so! Even the theory which wants Zeus to bring the glass down to earth can be formulated in such a way that there is full compliance with the observational data in hand. (E.g. by starting that Zeus makes the glass fall with an acceleration equal to g) In the same way the theory of Newton can be also as accurate as the latest theory of Einstein if we make it so. The problem is that scientists rarely tend to update the details of old theories, so people tend to believe that these theories were abandoned because they were less accurate. A grave misunderstanding which is based on the arrogant ideas that we know more than the people before us. And yet the ancient Greeks could easily predict celestial phenomena centuries in the future even while believing that the gods were moving the planets in the celestial sphere…

To the modern atheist all this is crazy of course.

People who believe in scientism today can hear nothing which could refute their perfect idea of science as a method to reach the “truth”. Not even Godel could change their mind.
Going back to the cosmological principle, today’s believers (in science and scientism) truly believe that this is a fact we hold true on the basis of observations. My friend and his friends could not even consider an alternative. So here we are. Men who do not know if Mars had water, but who do know with certainty that the whole universe is isotropic and homogenous! It would be comical if not so terribly arrogant…

At the end it is not a matter of data or knowledge. It is a matter of the ability to think freely without just following what others say.

Today’s atheists and proponents of scientism would be the greatest followers of the institutional church during the middle ages. Because what makes them blind today is not a lack of knowledge for something specific, but the arrogance of a man who does not want to admit that others might be able to see things clearer than him. These people would follow the Pope in whatever he said, in the same way they now follow the opinion of the majority regarding the truth of science.

The same people would swear that you can only draw one parallel from a straight line.

They would argue fiercely in favor of the fifth axiom of Euclid and would mock anyone trying to attempt to utter a different opinion.

At the end, we will discover if Mars has water…
At the end, we will “know” that no parallel lines can be drawn…
At the end we will draw multiple parallel lines…

Do you see?
There is nothing there.
Except for the things you see…