Show me – the problem with evidence

On May 8th, 1978, the Austrian/Italian Reinhold Messner and his friend Peter Habeler made history. They were the first people ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest without using artificial oxygen. 

A very notable achievement. It made Messner an instant authority on mountaineering and everything Himalaya. 

But there is more. Messner was not happy with only having scaled the highest mountain without oxygen first. He toped it off by also becoming the first person to scale all summits above 8000 meters. To this day, only 17 persons managed to pull this off without artificial oxygen.

Reinhold Messner is truly the stuff legends are made off. 

His renown was such that his mere mentioning anything gave it instant credibility. No need to establish the facts – people took it on faith.

That is until – one day in 1986 – he claimed to have seen the famous snow-man or Yeti during one of his many expeditions to the Himalaya. If you ask any Austrian today about Reinhold Messner, many won’t tell you about his incredible exploits. The only thing that stuck in everybody’s mind is the – by now debunked – Yeti claim.

Messner remains one of the most noteworthy alpinists ever. But many who believed his Yeti story on faith now have a sour taste in their mouth. And he still is the butt of many jokes.

Messner was not capable to show us that what he claimed to be true was actually true. 

In a rational world, we are expected to show our game if we expect the world to believe us. Show up at the patent office of a developed country and you will be required to demonstrate the inner workings of your invention. Not in theory or through explanations or models. They will want to see a working specimen doing what it’s supposed to be doing. That is if you expect that the law protects your ownership of the invention you made. 

If you cannot show the working specimen, you are in the area of belief. And this is nothing but hope (or fear) that things might turn out a certain way. 

When I grew up (feels like ages ago) we were also expected to show ou stuff. Science was science only when it could demonstrate what it claimed to be true. Theoretical science and speculative science were clearly marked as such.

No more. Even respectable science today has fallen victim to belief. Today it does not matter anymore what we know or can know. It only matters what some say if only they can engender enough belief in it so it takes a modicum of believability. 

Ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilisation depict the image of a Unicorn. The depiction reached Europe through ancient Greek writers such as Ctesias, Strabo and Pliny the Younger. But they did not refer to it as a fable. They put it squarely into Natural History books. And there it remained until the late 19th century when Unicorns as living things were finally debunked. 

Those trading in beliefs always make vague, exaggerated and unstable claims. If one particular claim is disproven, they quickly change it for something else. We can see that now with climate alarmism. 

Its proponents have made wild claims of ice-free arctic and no glaciers sometimes way more than a decade ago. Now, as all their claims have turned out to be wrong, they go for the next series of dates. Sure enough, they are sufficiently far in the future to allow them to peddle their beliefs for a long while yet.

Nobody seems to challenge them on their broken models. Nobody requires them to show their game. Michael Mann preferred to lose a lawsuit to Dr. Ball rather than show his hand. We must assume that he did not want the world to see the inner workings of his models. If there is anything to that in the first place.

Beliefs are pervasive as long as they are not put to rest with a vengeance. In the Unicorns case, scores of snake oil sellers made little fortunes on the gullible. Like the current green industrial complex feasts on cheap scares of the masses instead of showing us their hand.

Sellers of belief systems have some traits in common.

  • They need to hide their stuff from those that want to verify or test it;
  • They cannot progress – when you have the ultimate truth, you cannot get better;
  • They take any criticism – no matter how well-founded – as a personal attack on them;
  • They use vague and mushy language to obfuscate things;

Traditional science uses well-established processes and knowledge to establish its theorems. Anything that cannot be established in scientific facts must be refuted. The same must be true for observations from the real world that don’t conform with the predictions the scientist makes 

The Collins dictionary defines para science as follows: “the study of subjects that are outside the scope of traditional science because they cannot be explained by accepted scientific theory or tested by conventional scientific methods”.

We are dealing with a deluge of failed predictions in climate science – time to put those theories to where they belong. It’s tough to watch even members of the British monarchy peddling those parasciences. But people want to believe – even when the evidence to the contrary flies in their faces.

By the end of July 1920, the best-known con artist of the world got exposed. Charles Ponzi’s scheme collapsed and he spent 5 years in prison. Did you know that more than half of the money Ponzi had ever raised in his life was raised after his scheme floundered and he got exposed and known as a con artist?

Was it tribal solidarity? Was it status-seeking? Was it the desire to stand out? 

Today’s scientists are snobbish status seekers that are caught in a self spun web of tribal auto-confirmation. Anyone contradicting the pretended majority opinion is immediately labeled a heretic and expelled from the holiest of holies. 

Un unverifiable quasi consensus has replaced observation, facts, and verification. 

And an obscenely tilted peer review system just reinforces this science marching in goose-step behind those playing the flute of recognition by the masses, peer-belief, and green paper. Yes, scientists are just like other people. They like cash. What better than an infinite cash dispenser that nobody dares to criticize.

Politics, press, and academia all have their hands in this cash pot. Why would they ever do their job and ask questions when life is so sweet?

But how did we end up in a world where belief tops facts? Let me give you a little story and you understand.

A group of scientists has locked 5 monkeys into a cage. In the middle was a ladder with bananas on top. Whenever a monkey tried to climb the ladder to get the treat, the others received an ice-cold shower. No wonder the others ended up preventing any other monkey to climb up the ladder.

When new monkeys were introduced into the cage the cold showers stopped but the new monkey was still prevented by the others to climb the ladder. And so it continued until all the original 5 monkeys were all replaced. No monkey present in the cage knew anything about cold showers now. Still, they prevented anyone from wanting to climb the ladder from doing so.

Assume they could talk and you ask them why they don’t go for the bananas. They would likely have told you “That’s how we do things here”. 

Next time someone does not want to show his working model including all assumptions and associate data and/or does not explain how it functions, put them where they belong. Among fortune-tellers and experts in paranormal activities. 

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