Video on the Authority of Science, Stuff I’ve enjoyed

A few weeks ago, I made a video about hydra, the little freshwater creatures, not the mythical beast or the Marvel villains. I got people up in my comments talking about a conspiracy theory I’d never heard of. According to this theory, “THEY” are adding HYDRA to the vaccines (along with NANOCHIPS with NANO-ONIONS)! My cat is more wise than i am with regard to YouTube comments (in that he has no idea they exist).

So, I started reading about what the best practices are for talking with conspiracy theory believers and science deniers. And that led to the video I uploaded last weekend.

I was inspired by this talk by Naomi Oreskes called “Why Trust Science?” Dr. Oreskes wrote a book about that topic that was published before COVID-19. It is especially relevant now, thanks to all of the anti-science talk on social media. She asks a simple but important question: why should we trust science, and more practically, why should people trust scientists?

Ultimately, scientists are people. Science is a human endeavor. There will be problems. But scientists are accountable to reality. Scientists are accountable to experiment. Scientists are accountable to observation and data. That’s the final, highest authority.

On a mostly unrelated note, here are two terrible aquatic creature jokes I made up:

  • What do you call a baby frog caught in a storm? A SQUALL-iwog.
  • What’s a jellyfish’s favorite exercise? Pull Ups (polyps).

Things I watched:

Neuroscientist: “First Hour of The Morning is CRUCIAL” | Andrew Huberman – YouTube – This makes a lot of sense to me. I tried to stop reading comments and youtube junk in that first hour. It’s a hard habit to break. I definitely feel better when I read a book in that time.

This Rod Fountain Finally Proves Me Right – YouTube – The Mould effect, analyzed. I think I agree with Steve on this one. Once again, the data is the authority, but this shows just how hard it can be to get the right data.

Couple rescues wild sparrow. Now she refuses to leave. – YouTube

Buying illegal drugs in Canada is SHOCKINGLY easy. – YouTube – Hey, contemptible laws make for contempt of the law! What an idea. Also, selective enforcement is a way to perpetuate terrible injustice without having it “on the books” as it were.

Piranha Solution Eats Stuff – YouTube – Yay, Science! Skittles get eaten by angry clear liquid.

HOW TO MAKE A FOLDABLE STAIRCASE! – YouTube – I hard relate to this guy’s conflict with his negative commenters. Spite is a powerful motivator

A Tool with No Blood on It – YouTube – We are all desperate to find a tool with no blood on it. Yeah, you just have to get used to the blood, I think.

Sci-Fi Short Film “The Black Hole” | DUST – YouTube

AI BREAKS NES TETRIS! – 102 MILLION and level 237 – YouTube – Surprisingly relaxing.

Newton’s Fractal (which Newton knew nothing about) – YouTube – I love fractals and this one is related to numerical solvers. I know what that is! That’s rare for me in math stuff.

We’re Thinking About Facebook Wrong – YouTube – Great quote: “Your platform is forcing us into more extreme positions than we want to have and maybe even than our constituents want us to have because in order to get elected we have to play the attention and engagement game that you have set up for us.” Politicians have power, but the person who sets the rules for politicians has systemic power.

How to Talk to a Science Denier – with Lee McIntyre – YouTube – Relevant. Flat earthers etc. It has a great section where Dr. McIntyre goes to a Flat Earth conference.

Things I read:

Growing Crops Under Solar Panels? Now There’s a Bright Idea | WIRED

Calls for better nootropic regulation following discovery of unapproved drugs

QAnon: What Kind of Person Gets Drawn to Conspiracy Theories? – Rolling Stone This is a little hopeful. It suggests that the internet didn’t make more people believe in bullshit, it just made the same people louder and better connected with each other. It’s still a problem, but maybe not as big as it feels.

How Reddit is launching the careers of webcomic artists | by Simon Owens

Comic: The Monster In My Closet [OC] – ✨ Sure DO | Viral Every Day

Lab-grown coffee brewing in Finland as scientists develop cells from plant biotechnology More details: a bioreactor was used to grow plant cells as disorganized biomass, not beans, then the biomass was dried and roasted. The fact that it tastes anything like coffee is amazing.

The Secret History of Dune – Los Angeles Review of Books – I was reading a bunch of Dune stuff for my video on Dune and Drugs. This review has the reference for “The Sabres of Paradise.” I gather that the book is about Imam Shamyl, ‘The Lion of Dagestan’ who fought the Russians in the Caucasus in the 1800s: “Anyone who has obsessed over the mythology of Dune will immediately recognize the language Herbert borrowed from Blanch’s work. Chakobsa, a Caucasian hunting language, becomes the language of a galactic diaspora in Herbert’s universe. Kanly, from a word for blood feud among the Islamic tribes of the Caucasus, signifies a vendetta between Dune’s great spacefaring dynasties. Kindjal, the personal weapon of the region’s Islamic warriors, becomes a knife favored by Herbert’s techno-aristocrats. As Blanch writes, ‘No Caucasian man was properly dressed without his kindjal.’”

2021-10-25 11_35_04-comic.pptx - PowerPoint

LSD and The Hippies: A Focused Analysis of Criminalization and Persecution In The Sixties | The People, Ideas, and Things (PIT) Journal Miranda DiPaolo writes: “Because of the increasingly negative media portrayal of LSD, public fears about LSD soared… The drug was classified as Schedule I, which the DEA defines as ‘drugs, (substances, or chemicals) with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse’ (DEA). If the stipulations of this classification hold up in a technical analysis, then we can conclude that the dangers of LSD were legitimate cause for its criminalization. If these stipulations don’t hold up, I maintain that the reason for LSD’s criminalization was to persecute and silence the hippies.” Spoiler alert: it wasn’t legitimate.

Johns Hopkins Receives First Federal Grant for Psychedelic Treatment Research in 50 years

Efficacy and Safety of MMFS-01, a Synapse Density Enhancer Neuro-Mag – Magnesium L-Threonate, 

Opinion | A step-by-step guide to heading off the next coup attempt – The Washington Post I like this piece but it is written for a small group of elected officials and (maybe) for candidates. I agree with the plan, but there’s nothing here for me to get behind. So I sent this to my representative with a $25 campaign donation in the hopes of getting his attention.

Hood County elections administrator resigns after push from Trump loyalists | The Texas Tribune – Look at that, nonpartisan election authorities are getting pushed out by partisan mobs. That’s not ominous.

Opinion | The GOP’s ideology doesn’t match economic reality. Just ask Nobel Prize winner David Card. – The Washington Post “Depriving those in need of modest help (e.g., a slightly higher wage, subsidized child care) and barring able-bodied immigrants from entering the country lack solid economic justification. Such an approach not only hurts working-class Americans, but deprives the entire country of the benefits of more productive and better-educated workers.”

Love-Letters and Thing-Bads: Video Essays and ‘Intellectual’ Self-Presentation Academics write dry prose. It makes for dispassionate reading that helps survive peer review, maybe? But it is less engaging. Authentic enthusiasm is more fun.

A decade after gene therapy, children born with deadly immune disorder remain healthy | UCLA

A pig kidney has been transplanted into a human successfully for the first time : NPR

AlphaFold Is The Most Important Achievement In AI—Ever – This is a huge deal. And I might be in a position to get into it. Design with alphafold is still in its infancy.

The Denialist Playbook – Scientific American

How to Talk to Coronavirus Skeptics | The New Yorker

Coronavirus doubters follow climate denial playbook » Yale Climate Connections

To Understand How Science Denial Works, Look to History – Scientific American

Why Science Can’t Settle Political Disputes | The MIT Press Reader Put very briefly, science can address “IF YOU DO X, Y WILL HAPPEN,” but it can’t tell you whether you should want Y or not.

More stuff about Hydra and COVID Vaccines:

Just to get it off my chest, here at the end is more information on the whole hydra COVID-19 vaccine thing.

  1. I got one comment that flat out denied that there were any images of SARS-CoV-2. There are many peer reviewed papers from independent groups in different countries with electron microscopy images of SARS-CoV-2. They list all their procedures and controls. Here are a few.

  1. The genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was sequenced amazingly early. They didn’t “use a computer” to generate this sequence, they used BGI MGISEQ2000 and Illumina MiSeq 3000 sequencers.

  1. The genome of SARS-CoV-2 and a really detailed history of its mutations have been confirmed in multiple places by multiple research groups. Here’s a review summarizing a collection of some such studies.

  1. Tens of thousands of people (MYSELF INCLUDED) have used the RT-qPCR test based on this genome sequence and found that it works as advertised.
  1. No, there are no hydra in the vaccines. They wouldn’t even fit through an intramuscular needle. They would die in the hot salty environment in our bodies. The vaccines are stored at ‑80 degrees C. So that’s not going to be OK for almost any creatures. Hydra are cool, they don’t age(!), but they are not supernatural. Just little animals. Maybe some honest people might get fooled by aggregates in old vials into thinking that there’s something weird… but there’s no reason to believe this nonsense. Plus, it seems that there are some verified bad actors who are amplifying this kind of junk:

Facebook bans Russian network for covid vaccine disinformation – The Washington Post

Russian trolls, Twitter bots stoked vaccine debate by spreading misinformation, study finds | Hub

Facebook removes Russian network that targeted influencers to peddle anti-vax messages 

Russian Disinformation Campaign Aims to Undermine Confidence in Pfizer, Other Covid-19 Vaccines, U.S. Officials Say – WSJ

It seems like a lot of this originates with one osteopath doctor. She has made all kinds of false, unfounded claims about the mRNA vaccines. Like how they can change human genes (they can’t, mRNA gets degraded) or how they have luciferase in them (she confused fluorescent nanoparticles for a firefly enzyme, and neither are in the vaccine). I think she just puts together a word salad of scary, sciencey language and puts it out to get the clicks. The whole thing has been debunked by multiple fact checkers:

FALSE: Debunking this round of conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccine – Poynter

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines contain graphene or parasites – Health Feedback

The QAnon Doctor Pushing Wild Conspiracies About the COVID Vaccine – Are we surprised this stupid brick road leads back to QAnon city? We are not.