Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 14 No.
3 • June-July 2011
Facts are the air of scientists. Without them you can never fly.
Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.
— Linus Pauling
There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.
— Enrico Fermi
The 2nd law of thermodynamics has the same degree of truth as the statement that if you throw a tumblerful of water into the sea, you cannot get the same tumblerful of water out again.
— James Clerk Maxwell
In God we trust; all others must bring data.
If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.
Learning is not compulsory ... neither is survival.
— W. Edwards Deming (Deming (1900–1993) was a statistician who pioneered the application of statistical techniques to the solving of manufacturing and industrial problems, especially in the area of quality control. It was largely through his influence that post-war Japanese manufactured goods went from being considered “junk” to being state of the art high quality.) His classic book (1950 edition) Some Theory of Sampling is available from Dover Publications:
There’s talk in Hollywood about doing another “Mad Max’ movie, where gas is so expensive that people steal and kill to get it. It takes place sometime in the future — like July.
— Jay Leno
Intelligent design is just as bad at explaining politics and business as it is at explaining evolution.
— Matt Ridley (in a book review, Nature 2 June 2011)
Central Planning As Intelligent Design
Why Doesn’t It Work?
A remarkable book review by Matt Ridley (of Tim Harford’s “Adapt”) in the 2 June 2011 Nature describes how intelligent design is just as bad at explaining politics and business as it is at explaining evolution.
Ridley notes that “[t]he book’s message will be music to the ears of many scientists, for Harford exposes the dismal inefficiency of the preconceived, top-down grant-giving that funds much of modern academic research. He celebrates instead the power of prizes and blue-sky funding, and even molecular geneticist Mario Capecchi’s documented Nobel-prize winning decision to use grant money given for one purpose for another. Innovation and discovery come from pluralism and serendipity, not command and control.”
But, as Ridley explains,
[Y]et this will also be an uncomfortable book for some scientists who read it carefully. For however much they celebrate bottom-up, emergent, evolutionary order in the genome or an ecosystem, most scientists embrace intelligent design as soon as they turn to politics or economics, with government planning playing the part of God. The messy, competitive, pluralistic, unplanned nature of the marketplace is too often anathema to the scientific mind.
A good example is climate policy. Harford shows how exhortations from on high to people to cut their carbon footprints, or winner-picking by governments for advancing certain technologies, is ineffective and counterproductive. Why? Because, he explains (citing chemist Leslie Orgel), “evolution is smarter than we are, and economic evolution tends to outsmart the rules we erect to guide it.” A planning rule that forces British developers to install a minimum amount of on-site energy generation in new office buildings has led to the lunatic spectacle of convoys of diesel-drinking trucks taking carbon-rich wood from forests to biomass boilers in city centres because solar and wind power cannot meet the requirements on such small scales.
There’s lots more wisdom in this great book review (and, it would appear, in the book “Adapt” itself):