Thursday, August 30, 2018

Scientific Fraud

This month fraud was exposed, in numerous papers by Yoshihiro Sato, regarding clinical studies of supplements showing outstanding results in preventing skeletal fractures and/or other problems in elderly patients.  The dedicated work of Alison Avenell and Mark Bollard  was a major contribution toward exposing the fraud and subsequent retraction of many of the flawed studies.

Kai Kupferschmidt (2018, Tide of Lies.  Science, 361:636-641) doe a good job of reporting the results of their efforts and the difficulty of getting scientific and/or medical journals to address the issue.  The delays helped proliferate grants, studies, and publications that would never have been undertaken without the fraud.  The principle author committed suicide; co-authors often had no knowledge of the fraud and very small, if any, role in the research.

Their problems of dealing with publishers of fraudulent papers made me change my mind about trying to get retractions of two papers giving invalid support to Ecdysozoa and Lophotrochozoa as legitimate animal groups.  The authors did good work and were not fraudulent.  They were just mistaken in relying on other papers to support some poor scientific choices.

The above address is for my sixth blog post on May 31 of 2013.  The errors in the criticized papers have probably been a major reason my views on the pogonophorans have gotten so little, if any, attention.  I just checked and the sixth post noted has had 15 page views.  The most popular post on this blog, about the body cavity, has had over 3930 page views since it was written in early 2015.

I was recently, in the process of trying to minimize the debris my heirs will have to deal with after I am gone, going through some accumulations packed before this blog was started.  I found numerous science journal articles supporting points I was trying to make in blogs I have written.  I have been writing mostly from memory and manuscripts I have written and research literature from reference files on my computer.  I should blog about some of those items before I get back to the clean-up tasks.

To the kind person who commented on my October 2015 "insect speciation" post (51 page views), thank you, you made my day.

Joseph G. Engemann    Emeritus Professor of Biology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan       August 30, 2018.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Book of the Decade

Lightman, Alan. 2018.  Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine,  New York.  Pantheon Books.  226 pages.

Delightful reading, perhaps a surprise for essays from a theoretical physicist.  He seems to be trying to reconcile truths of science and the humanities, which he now teaches at MIT, in twenty well written and understandable essays.

A French cave painting from 17,000 BC provoked thinking about humans and their role in nature.

Reconciling cause and effect leads to thoughts about our inability to prove absolute truth.  Absolute truths are most often claimed in theology (and the humanities?).  Some philosophers of science claim falsifiability is a requirement for for all scientific concepts, laws, and theories.  That does not mean they will be falsified, just that they must be capable of being tested by new hypotheses and evidence.

His fascinating blend of science and humanities topics, from the universe to subatomic particles, from the origin of the living world to the future of humans, will enlighten and hold the attention of most of us.


He finds the evolution of our species, Homo sapiens, is likely to lead to Homo techno, a blend  of biological and electronic parts.  I personally think it is impossible to the degree he describes, but I was wrong about us never reaching the moon.

His search (for God and/or absolute truth?) described in his exploration of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic views, as well as a ten-day Buddhist retreat in Wisconsin, and discussion of many other views, and bits from classics in the humanities, is a marvelous story well worth reading.  But his scientific skepticism and application of humanities based thought leads him to a god much like mother nature.

I really like Alan Lightman, just from reading his book.  It would be great to sit around the coffee table discussing all sorts of things with him.  But, unfortunately, I can not sucessfully introduce him to God; he is still trying to use his skills as a scientist in the material world to prove God's existence. 

All he needs to do is ask God directly, God is everywhere and always listening.  He does not need to be knocked off his mount as St. Paul was, St. Paul already believed in God and was trying to serve Him in his way.

Joseph Engemann      Kalamazoo, Michigan     August 25, 2018