Scientific Inaccuracy, Or: This is not another anti-global warming rant.

by hulk

I swear. I’ll shut up about global warming. That rant has been made, more than once by me if memory serves, you can find the rant and comment there. Here’s what’s pissing me off today: the phrase “long overdue”. Can you use a colon and then quote something? Is that appropriate from a literary perspective? Can I deviate from the topic like this? I need an independent editor, not like redshift who feels the need to make up rules about parantheses. I honestly think he’s just lying. Why can’t (I) d(o) this()()((((()((()(()()))())()()))))?()

Anyway. The phrase “long overdue”. Here’s my problem. While radiological dating is pretty reliable, it’s not exceedingly accurate. I also believe, and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, that the error increases as you go out. Such that the predictions that something happened 400,000,000,000 years ago, and the prediction that something happened 30,000 years ago, do not have the same error. I’m guessing that 400 googly years ago number has a error of oh, say, 30 brews of coffee (a widely accepted unit of time), whereas the 30,000 year number has an error of maybe 0.5 batches of chocolate chip cookies. I’m sorry, I’m using two different units, and you canadian readers (assuming I didn’t piss all of you off with my asian rant) are confused what with your metric thing. 0.5 batches of chocolate chip cookies = 3 brews of coffee = 8 minutes. That should clear things up.

So we look at major events in Earth’s history. Or even galactic history. Earthquakes, the life of a star, volcano eruptions, plate tectonics, asteroids, and this latest scare, the magnetic field of the earth. This magnetic field thing has been building up for a while, with several news articles in the past several months. They’ve been working on predicting the next shift, and now it looks like we’re “long overdue” for a magnetic pole shift. Which they predict happens every 250,000 years. And we’re long overdue for one. Please take a moment and consider what that means.

That means that sometime in the next few years Earth is going to look at its watch and say, “Holy crap, I forgot to shift my poles!” Then we all die. Horribly. Seriously, it’ll totally suck. We’ll all be exposed to massive levels of cosmic radiation and possibly asteroid impacts and cockroaches shall inherit the earth. Doomsday. Hey…maybe I can bring on the apocalypse if I do change the magnetic pole shift! That’s scary, the fact that some people WANT doomsday. I’m not just talking the Christians, I read somewhere that the Iranian President? Prime Minister? has been known to speak with members of a weird Islamic cult that wants to bring about the Apocalypse. Can we just put them somewhere with the evangelists? Forgive me for being ignorant. Most of these people are well intentioned. Even the ones wanting the apocalypse are well intentioned. And most evangelists are totally normal, and I’m giving the appearance of suggesting that there’s something wrong with Islam. I’m not. Notice I used the words Islamic cult, not “Islam is a cult”. Damnit, that just became a search phrase. I’m also not arrogant enough to believe that those who believe in the Apocalypse haven’t considered that it was just a book. I’m sure they have reasonable explanations for their beliefs. I’m just saying they’re completely psychotic. That’s all.

Let’s get back to “long overdue”. I wonder if someone could plot the number of deviations I make per rant…Damnit! Okay. So now think about the age of the Earth. Think about something as complicated as a magnetic pole shift. We’re talking flows of magma under the Earth. Interactions with the Earth’s core, gravitational forces, radiation possibly having an influence…What’s the likelihood that the 250,000 figure is accurate? Given the number of “observations” we can make? Let’s consider the source. Our “observation” of this effect comes from the geological rock layers. How far down can we really go? Several million years, maybe? Is that enough to develop an average figure without much error? Moreover, what kind of error do you think that figure has? Moreover…why do we think there’s been a big shift in the past 300 years? I’m not saying that the scientists studying this haven’t considered this. I’m saying that these thoughts aren’t being reported. Instead what’s being reported is that it happens every 250000 on average, we’re long overdue, and the field has decreased over the past few hundred years. I contend with observer bias. My skeptical flags raise whenever I see some conclusion made on data from the past few hundred years, at least when it comes to stuff with a time order of thousands of years.

Again, it’s not the scientists. It’s the TV shows and reporters. They want to sell you an exciting story. Hence we get “long overdue”. Whenever you hear that phrase, think the opposite, and it’ll be accurate.