Tuesday, May 30, 2017

GMO Safety Defined as "Nutritional Equivalence"

As far as I can tell, the definitions of safety used by the scientific community are not the same as those used by the general public. The average person tends to be more interested in drug-style testing which actually  demonstrates safe and effective products. Similar to what we expect for water safety or cars with crash testing. Most people seem to believe water, drugs, and cars have to be positively tested for their impacts, especially unintended ones.

Less educated people tend not to be interested in, and to the degree they're aware of it at all: perhaps even suspicious of "nutritional equivalence" as a definition of safety. On this, they seem to have a point in that the criteria seems too loose, and allow things we would want to keep out. A grain of sand and a grain of plutonium may both have no nutritional value, but one is about as innocuous as it can be, the other maximally toxic. Healthy water may be equivalent in ph and hydration to that with lead contaminated water, but whatever the product, it is generally regarded that people's well-being should be the primary consideration.

Had the car industry been able to have safety defined as "constructional equivalence", it is possible there might have been similar disagreement on a consensus for auto safety. This is a difference of definition in "safety", and the everyday definition has been altered for business reasons, by lawyers seeking commercial advantage. By this standard, any GMO is "not known to produce harm". In contrast, the public expectation that "safety" is a positive claim that evidence of harm was competently sought under all possible conditions under which it might occur, and either none were found, or the harm was so rare, and the humanitarian benefit so much greater, that reasonable objection could not be sustained.

Consider also the huge investment GM companies make to avoid drug style testing. If these products really are completely safe, gold standard testing would seem like exactly the kind of proof one would want. With many billions of dollars to be made, the best possible scientific backing, and huge PR win such tests would deliver, both the investment and the lack of a rational justification for it constitute substantial evidence of a problem in the eyes of many.

Another concern is that GM proponents tend to criticize weak and irrational objections to GE tech and GMOs. Certainly, not much GM work nor criticism reaches the highest quality, but when we don't address critics' strongest objection, most will tend to judge our advocacy for any position as less solid and reliable. This also seems proper to many.

I consider it a virtue when we to try to find the strongest opposing arguments against our own controversial positions. I look forward to the day when I can fully endorse GE tech and marketed GMOs as safe and effective!

Monday, May 29, 2017

GMO & Creation Pseudoscience

One of these practitioners is engaged in what can be generally considered science, while the other cannot.

However, insofar as any research framework is held to be infallible, it will tend to be more pseudoscientific.

In situations when we hold our research paradigm to be science, yet that no possible evidence can refute its assumptions or reduce our level of certainty, we have mistaken our situation, and crossed into pseudoscience.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Saturday, April 14, 2012

US "Toppler Radar" - Smashing Success?

Obama told a television interviewer that the North Koreans have “been trying to launch missiles like this for over a decade now, and they don’t seem to be real good at it.”

According to the piece, our president claimed North Korea's failed rocket launch shows that country is wasting money on rockets which "don't work", while its people starve.  In contrast, the U.S. wastes money on rockets much better at killing, kill more, more rapidly, and engender more fear and hatred on an unprecedented scale - while none of its people (who matter) starve.  OK, perhaps on that last point no one who matters to the North Korean elites aren't starving either, but perfect contrast sets are extremely rare in the real world.

But this post isn't to rag on Obama, it's to point out something I thought about when I first read a news story regarding deployment of the special, secret radar pictured above.  The first thing that was odd about the story was its basic plot: the first launch of a non-ICBM by a basket case of a country required ultra-high resolution imagery & tracking? Of what possible use could centimeter measurements of a missle trajectory be?  Not guidance or thrust, unless we wanted to see if the regime had some older propellant problems like bubbles in the fuel lines, but any significant issue like that would be obvious. It seems pretty unlikely, but if not true, then the claim would be a PR cover for...well what?

Then I thought to myself, if I were advising the military as a consultant on this, I'd not recommend deployment a radar with only detection capability when the US could deploy a dual use asset capable of intercepting the missile.  If successful, it would guarantee a huge financial and credibility loss to an "axis of evil" nation, as well as conduct a live fire field trial of technology in development for the past decade which has never been *really* tested in deployment. If unsuccessful, the US would gain invaluable performance data. The test could be plausibly denied as ever existing, and there would be no chain of clear evidence linking destruction of the missile to the US.  It would seem to be dereliction of duty not to deploy such an asset, given the situation.  The cost-benefit makes it a no-brainer.  The only real liability would be that the rocket did not have a catastrophic failure on its own.

What kind of asset?  Well, it would be an advanced version of prototypes developed decades ago... and deployed in Afghanistan.  Directing EM vibrations at tuned frequencies is the basis of radar as well as microwave ovens, and if you've ever put aluminum foil in your Amana RadaRange set to "High" you've experienced watching last night's Applebee's takeout go up like...well, like a disintegrating North Korean test launch.

As far as I'm aware, there's no plausible way to conclusively prove any frequency directed at a target doesn't have reconnaissance value, especially when the system is super-secret.  Forensic evidence of burned metal would be impossible to distinguish from plain old short circuits, unless there's some really fancy metallurgical analysis which may not even exist outside Raytheon & Texas Instruments labs in Richardson and McKinney, Texas - just off I-35.

Of course, this is all simply natural & idle speculation.

As a noted British minister once said: "One should never really believe anything until it's officially denied."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Humanbirdwings Hoax

If you follow science & technology news like I do, you've received a half-dozen or more news blurbs hailing the breakthrough in human powered flight with links to the YouTube Videos.  Since the story seems to be spreading faster than one can produce individual explanations, it seemed like a good idea to put up one for everyone.

Given the floppy, high-drag wings, I could not understand how something with much less lift area than very efficient hang glider and paraglider wings could *flap* (quite inefficiently) and not just maintain, but actually *climb*...and he has no headwind!  With near perfect surface rigidity and wings of this size filled with hydrogen (or better for weight: a vacuum) maybe such a thing...

When receiving news of the breakthrough, I checked the "100 meters of flight" video, shown as number 14 out of 14.  I noticed a number of strange things:
1 - No witnesses: where were the millions who would want to see this event?
2 - Climbing on upstroke: the flyer's body appears to actually gain altitude in several bounces while the wings are still on the recovery upstroke when there should be substantial CG (center of gravity) loss.
3 - Assistants Run Away: At Kitty Hawk, other early attempts, and with modern gliding, assistants run with the pilot in case of accident.  Only after after dangerous propulsion (props, rockets, jets) would there be any reason to run away.  Watching video 13 of 14, supposedly showing a "near takeoff", I discovered why...it was to explain pointing the camera to the ground!

Blurring the camera digitally and using a wipe effect, this ground is replaced with this...
...a different set of grass and leaves.  If you download the video and watch it at slow motion, the replacement is more easily seen.  The video editors brilliantly capitalized on the shadow of a running assistant to disguise the wipe. When the camera pans back up, we see the purported "test launch":
See the circular graphic on the right wing?  Above it is a black block.  Now look at the right wing in the first picture from 1 second earlier.

GMO Safety Defined as "Nutritional Equivalence"

As far as I can tell, the definitions of safety used by the scientific community are not the same as those used by the general public. The a...