Roulette Science

I seem to spend most of my time these days debunking ‘health threats’ of one sort or other: tobacco smoke, alcohol, obesity, global warming, to name a few.

So it’s a bit strange to find myself taking another ‘health threat’ very seriously: the threat of rocks raining down from the sky, and exploding like atomic bombs.

I suppose that I think that atomic bombs really do pose a genuine health threat. Particularly when they start landing everywhere out of the blue.

But apart from the Russians, nobody else seems particularly bothered about them.

You’d think that, in a world in which SHS is perceived as a tremendous threat to human health, that rocks raining down from the skies and exploding like nuclear bombs would be seen as an even bigger threat.

But no, it doesn’t work like that. It seems that when people play up minuscule threats (like that posed by SHS), the flip side is that they’ll play down real threats.

It has seemed horribly complacent of a number of astronomers to compute a possible orbit of the Chelyabinsk asteroid, and conclude that it came from the asteroid belt, and had nothing whatsoever to do with asteroid DA14 that arrived the same day – and ignore all the other fireballs seen in the skies around that time (two in Russia, two in Japan, one in Cuba, one – possibly two – in the USA).

They worked out the orbit by studying the many videos of the Chelyabinsk fireball, and calculating its direction and angle of impact and speed, and then working backwards from there to an asteroid belt origin.

Yet all their estimates would have been imprecise. They would have said that the speed of the fireball was 20 km/sec ± 0.5 km/sec, or something. And the same kinds of ± numbers  for the direction, and the angle of descent. They most likely took mid-range values of every variable, and said those were the most likely values, and so that’s where it came from. And now that orbit has been broadcast all around the world, and has become the official story: the Chelyabinsk meteor came from the asteroid belt, and it was a complete coincidence that it arrived the same day as DA14.

I adopted a very different approach. I noted that there’d been 7 or 8 (maybe more) fireball sightings in a 3 day period around 15 February, and supposed that there was a cloud of rocks around DA14, travelling alongside it, and it was some of these that came raining down over those few days.

This possibility was dismissed at the time, both by NASA and ESA, on the grounds that DA14 was approaching Earth from below its South Pole, and so accompanying fragments couldn’t have landed in the northern hemisphere.

But, using my own simple orbital simulation model, I’ve managed to get such fragments to land as far north as 49°N. Chelyabinsk is 55°N. And I think I can see, in principle, how all the reported fireballs could have been Earth-skimming meteors that curved up over the equator, and part way round the Earth’s northern hemisphere.

But a DA14 fragment cloud is a hypothetical entity. Nobody’s actually seen it. And it might not be there. I’ve been testing a hypothesis, and working forward from hypothetical locations and velocities in space to an impact point near Chelyabinsk. But the astronomers who figured out the asteroid belt orbit were working backwards from Chelyabinsk. They might have said that they were doing “evidence-based science”: they looked at the evidence that was available – videos, eyewitness reports, etc – and just used that. They didn’t make any hypothesis at all.

And they’re the experts. I’m just a filthy smoker with a clunky computer simulation model that I wrote myself. So when it comes to who to believe, pretty much everybody is going to believe the experts.

But, once again, I think the experts are wrong. And, worse still, I suspect that – just like lots of other ‘experts’ – they actually came to a pre-determined conclusion. They probably believed from the outset that the Chelyabinsk fireball came from the asteroid belt, and when they found that some combination of their numbers gave them an orbit that passed through it, they picked that one.

And it was a politically convenient orbit, because it meant that it was just another lone rock coming in from the asteroid belt, that nobody could have foreseen. Because if they’d concluded that it came from a rock cloud around DA14, people would have said that it was predictable, because DA14’s close approach was predicted a year back, and that the possibility of a rock cloud around DA14 should have been predicted too, and NASA and ESA and all the other space agencies had let the whole world down. Heads would have rolled. So they couldn’t come to that conclusion, could they? And indeed they didn’t.

I pretty much expect, these days, that almost all health scares (like SHS) are politically motivated. Global Warming too. It’s all pretty soft science, after all. But I’m now beginning to think that the rot goes much deeper, and it has infected the hard sciences as well. And the rot always seems to set in whenever any probabilities are involved, because when numbers become probabilistic, it becomes possible to pick and choose which numbers to use. Given that all numbers are equally probable, you can choose whichever one you like. So you choose the ones that point to secondhand smoking as a health risk, or an asteroid belt orbit for the Chelyabinsk fireball.

It becomes roulette science. You place your chips on number 17. Or odd numbers. They’re all equally likely, or unlikely. And you have to place your money somewhere. And so once the wheel is spinning you’ll be rooting for 17, or for an odd number. Because there’s money riding on that wheel, and you have a deep interest in it. You’re not a disinterested observer any more. It’s win or lose, you or me. And all our scientists have become roulette players, with their money on some number in a roulette game. They have a personal interest in the outcome.

But I have no money down. It doesn’t matter to me whether the Chelyabinsk meteor came from the asteroid belt or not. I’m not going to lose out if it did. But it seems to me that it almost certainly didn’t.

About Frank Davis

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24 Responses to Roulette Science

  1. beobrigitte says:

    You’d think that, in a world in which SHS is perceived as a tremendous threat to human health, that rocks raining down from the skies and exploding like nuclear bombs would be seen as an even bigger threat.

    Quite contrary to SHS, rocks raining down from the skies and exploding like nuclear bombs ARE a threat, unless a meteor didn’t contribute massively to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
    A thought just crossed my mind:
    What will be tobacco control’s response be to funding being re-directed to research of detection and diversion of such meteorites? After all, aren’t we supposed to live 10 years longer if smoking is eliminated from society?
    Next question: FOR WHAT REASON are we living 10 years longer if we are forced follow the panicky healthists’ regime which dictates that common sense is an unnecessary commodity ?

  2. wobbler2012 says:

    As for the global warming science there isn’t any science to it at all, just follow the money.

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank it might well be the Nazis havent figured out yet how to capitalize on fireballs from Heaven!

  4. c777 says:

    Comet Pan-STARRS and Comet Lemmon are now both visible in the southern hemisphere.
    Comet Ison arrives in November.
    So that’s three comets visible to the naked eye in one year.
    Three comets in one year?
    This is unprecedented in recorded human history.
    Normally comets visible without optical aid are once in a lifetime events, three?

    http://gchbryant.tripod.com/Articles/darkages0999.htm

    Could it be periods of planetary bombardment are more common than previously thought?
    Just sayin’.

  5. smokervoter says:

    I’ve said it before on here that I generally like Matt Drudge’s choice of news items to highlight. He gets tons and tons of eyeballs at his website. He seems like anything but a fidgety nanny for the most part. So I was a little disappointed to see that he chose to feature “Study Points to Declining Life Span for Some U.S. Women“.

    The study concludes that fat, white trash Southern girls who lack a rich white girl Ivy League educaysion “are dragging down life expectancy” for the rest of Northeastern American womankind.

    I try to visualize what all of the “statistical tricks to account for factors like income and education” might look like in a real life application.

    So, if I am doing my own voodoo math correctly, this is the pragmatic bottom line of this study:

    If I were to attend an event in which every man, woman, child, teenager and elderly person in my town turned out for, I’d be left focusing on all of 5 women. And what would I be fixating on? Just why these 5 women died at the age of 78 rather than 81, that’s what.

    And so that these 5 women might just boost our precious life expectancy bragging rights, we’ll hound all of the rest about their smoking, make them guilt-ridden over enjoying a bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken and urge them to become so overly cerebral that they waste time with studies such as this one.

  6. Walt says:

    Well according to this article, interest in Global Warmism is at an all-time low, at least among actual people:

    http://www.science20.com/science_20/climate_change_runs_against_green_fatigue-105131

  7. nisakiman says:

    I would have thought, Frank (and I’m speaking from a position of total ignorance in these matters) that if the mass and speed of the asteroid happened to be exactly right when it closed on the gravitational pull of Earth, then there is a distinct possibility that it could be drawn into orbit around us. Slightly off that perfect speed / mass configuration, and it could virtually circumnavigate Earth before entering the atmosphere and burning up. Maybe all these things have been taken into account already, but it does seem to me that the direction from which it came doesn’t necessarily dictate where it eventually impacts on the atmosphere, particularly given that the gravitational pull is not constant around the globe and that the asteroid was, relatively speaking, quite small, and thus perhaps vulnerable to vagaries of gravitation.

    As I say, I really know nothing about this subject, so may well be talking out of my backside. :)

    • Frank Davis says:

      if the mass and speed of the asteroid happened to be exactly right when it closed on the gravitational pull of Earth, then there is a distinct possibility that it could be drawn into orbit around us.

      I think you’re right. But you have to include distance from the Earth too. If something approaches the Earth slowly, and gets quite close, it’s very likely to fall to Earth. If it approaches rapidly, it’ll shoot past. Half way in between, and it’ll be drawn into orbit.

      The hypothetical rock cloud around DA14 was approaching fairly slowly. Its speed relative to Earth was about 6 km/s. And that made it much easier for it to deposit a few rocks onto the Earth. Although the rocks that came down were doing more like 13 km/s when they hit.

      By contrast, another big rock – Asteroid 2013 ED or something – passed between the Earth and the Moon just yesterday. But it was moving much faster relative to the Earth than DA14. And coming from a different direction. It must’ve been doing somewhere around 15 km/s, maybe more.

  8. garyk30 says:

    Here is a ‘Health Threat’ for you.

    It is said that 75-90% of the dust in indoor air is dead skin cells.
    The average person loses about 8.8 pounds of this stuff per year.

    Does that bother the antis; that is, do they try to clean up that decaying flesh stuff?

    Do Vegans realize that their veggies are coated with dead human flesh? ROTFL

  9. garyk30 says:

    A baby licking the floor or furniture will get 39 times as much dead skin as 3rd hand cig smoke!!
    The percentage of the dust in your home that is actually dead skin cells is approximately 75% to 90%.

    30,000-40,000 skin cells fall off you per minute, and on average 8.8 pounds of dead skin cells fall off your body per year.

    http://tobaccosmoke.exposurescience.org/abcs-of-shs/the-cigarette-is-a-major-source-of-pollution

    the average amount of PM2.5 mass emitted per cigarette is about 14 mg.
    14 mg of smoke.

    20 cigs/day = 102,200 mg per year of cig smoke.

    8.8 pounds of dead skin = 3,999,000 mg of dead skin per year.

    A smoking Mommy will produce 39 times as much dead skin per year as she does cigarette smoke.

    When her baby licks the floor or furniture, it is licking up 39 times as much of that Mommy’s dead skin as it does her 3rd hand cig smoke.

    • garyk30 says:

      Smoking bans actually do not prevent exposure to the ‘toxins’ in cig smoke.

      EPA says that urban air contains about 30ng/cubic meter of Arsenic.

      Arsenic is cancer causing, lung cancer especially.

      The average person breathes about 11 cubic meters of air per day and would breathe in about 330 ng of Arsenic per day.

      All of the smoke from the average cig contains 32 ng of Arsenic.

      The average smoker inhales about 20% of the smoke produced by a cigarette.

      That is 6.4 ng of Arsenic per cigarette per day or 128 ng for a pack a day smoker.

      The non-smokers 330 ng inhales is about the same as smoking 2.5 packs of cigarettes every day.(330ng divided by 6.4ng = 51.6)

    • garyk30 says:

      Does that make the baby a cannibal that enjoys a smoke with their meat?

  10. Johnnyrvf says:

    Check out Tallblokes Talkshop for more on DA 14, it seems you may well be correct in what you surmise.

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Government to legislate for plain cigarette packaging this year

    UK to follow example of Australia, where cigarettes must be sold in drab packets with graphic health warnings

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/05/government-legislate-plain-cigarette-packaging

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    NHS staff at University Hospital North Staffordshire win right to smoke at work

    HOSPITAL staff are to be given hiding places where they can smoke out of sight of patients and relatives.

    Two ‘smoking tolerance zones’ are planned for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, which has just been forced to lift its lighting-up ban.

    Officials had initially only proposed to build five new smoking shelters for the public – including one outside the cancer centre.

    But union leaders representing up to 7,000 staff complained that they were missing out because employees were having to walk out of the Hartshill grounds to have a cigarette in residential areas.

    Now the tolerance zones will be installed in disused buildings near the new accident unit and next to the medical school on the A34.

    Patients and visitors will not be allowed to use them – while staff will be banned from the public shelters.

    The U-turn comes after householders in roads surrounding the hospital have protested about groups of staff huddled around litter bins near their homes and leaving cigarette ends on the floor.

    Hospital officials say the move is not a signal that it condones smoking and as the habit declines among the population, it hopes to remove all shelters in years to come.

    A spokesman said: “While the blanket ban on staff smoking on our property has, on the whole, been adhered to, we accept this has caused problems for neighbouring residents and reflected poorly on the reputation of our staff.

    “Therefore, we are to create two smoking tolerance zones for staff on site.

    “These zones will be located on the site itself, but our staff will not be visible to patients and visitors.”

    The zones have been backed by health union Unison. Branch secretary Rob Irving said: “We had initially supported the total ban and wanted management to enforce it properly but that wasn’t the case.

    “Given that they were to drop the ban among the public we argued that staff were not being treated equitably by being stopped from smoking in the grounds. They had to go off site instead and we understand how that causes nuisance for residents so we feel the staff tolerance zones are the best solution.”

    The restrictions have been broken to such an extent that patients and relatives light up near to hospital entrances where litter bins are often overflowing with butts.

    Visitor Grant Williams, aged 54, of Clayton, who accompanies wife Joanne to medical appointments, said: “I cannot understand why the hospital has dropped the smoking ban and installed the shelters.

    “I have seen a bin full of cigarettes which has been moved to two feet from the main entrance of the beautiful new hospital and people gathered round it smoking and spitting.

    “Non-smokers with heart and chest conditions are forced to walk right through this making their illness worse. Yet I have seen patients wheeled from their wards to the bin to have a cigarette.”

    Hospital chief executive Jim Birrell said: “I despise smoking and would ban it everywhere if given the choice. But we have no legal powers to enforce a ban and at other hospitals people have got violent when asked to stop smoking.”

    Read more: http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/story-18323959-detail/story.html#ixzz2MiRr6I98

  13. Woodsy42 says:

    How can they be sited in disused buildings, by law smoking is banned indoors in places of work so they must be outdoor shelters. Nice to see the law being nibbled away.

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    BREAKING NEWS: Socialist Dictator Hugo Chavez is Dead. Details at the link below.

    http://www.mrconservative.com/2013/03/5780-venezuelan-dictator-hugo-chavez-is-dead/

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Contraband Cigarettes Entering the UK in 2012

    in Counterfeiting, Europe, Tax Evasion

    In 2012, there was increase of 10 percent in the number of illicit or counterfeit cigarettes that were smuggled into the United Kingdom, according to a survey commissioned by tobacco companies.

    The city of London had the highest amount of contraband cigarettes with 35 percent of the market being fakes or smuggled cigarettes.

    In total, the United Kingdom Government losses up to $5.4 Billion in tobacco tax revenue each year due to smuggling activities.

    Source: Justin Davenport, “Third of cigarettes are illicit as smuggling is new ‘crime of choice’,” London Evening Standard, March 4, 2013.

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    Looks like the Nazis are about to get BURNED AT THE STAKE!

    http://www.cspnet.com/news/tobacco/articles/federal-tobacco-program-under-fire

    Federal Tobacco Program Under Fire
    Did the CDC use stimulus funds to incent communities to adopt restrictive tobacco laws?
    By Melissa Vonder Haar, Mitch Morrison
    CSP Daily News | March 4, 2013

    [Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part Special CSP Investigative Report on whether the CDC incented local communities to adopt restrictive tobacco measures.]

    ATLANTA — Stimulus.

    The mere mention opens up a debate about whether federal funds were necessary to ensure our nation’s economic recovery. But are these funds having a direct effect on retailers’ tobacco business on a local level?

    Perhaps. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allotted $650 million to carry out clinical and community-based prevention and wellness strategies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enlisted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to allocate these funds through an initiative known as the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW).

    “Communities Putting Prevention to Work was a two-year funding project that began in 2010 to address obesity and tobacco,” says Karen Hunter, CDC senior press officer.

    The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) reports that the CDC granted $142.8 million in tobacco-related grants to 19 cities and counties in 2010 alone. The CPPW evolved into the Community Transformation Grant (CTG)–a piece of President Obama’s health-care legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Between CPPW and CTG, NATO estimates these dollars will fund an additional $315 million to $450 million in tobacco-related grants from 2011 to 2015.

    Put another way, these funds are incenting communities across the country to adopt further restrictions on the sale and merchandising of tobacco products.

    “The grant funds have been used to propose a variety of different local ordinance restrictions,” says NATO’s executive director, Thomas Briant, “including graphic health warning posters at registers, cigar package size restrictions, restrictions on coupon redemption and a ban on the sale of certain flavored tobacco products.”

    From a health perspective, one might approve the federal government’s incentive program as a vehicle for reducing health-care costs.

    There’s one problem, though: The use of federal funds to enact tobacco regulations is against federal law.

    Not surprisingly, the CDC and communities that have enacted regulations emphatically deny that CPPW funds were used to support such efforts. Yet trade organizations aren’t alone in questioning the use of CPPW dollars: The U.S. Inspector General’s Office and U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee have also expressed concerns.

    ‘He Said, She Said’ Debate

    In 2012, NATO observed an increase in the number and type of tobacco-related ordinances being considered at the local level and began to monitor the situation.

    Its conclusion?

    “The CPPW and CTG grant programs have resulted in more local units of governments considering tobacco-related ordinances as NATO monitored and responded to more than 50 local tobacco ordinances in 2012,” Briant says, and he expects the trend to continue. “The number of local ordinances that NATO will monitor in 2013 will exceed the more than 50 ordinances in 2012.”

    Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS), agrees with NATO’s assessment, calling out New York and Haverstraw, N.Y., specifically.

    “Here in New York, and presumably in other states, hyperactive anti-tobacco groups infused with federal stimulus dollars are hounding cities, villages and counties to force retailers to conceal tobacco products and reduce or eliminate tobacco signage,” he says of New York’s graphic health warning point-of-sale (POS) requirement and Haverstraw’s proposed tobacco display ban. (Both have failed to be enacted.) “Some elected bodies are acquiescing, either because they accept the propaganda as gospel or because they just tire of the relentless badgering.”

    Asked about these claims, the CDC flatly rejects any federal financial connection with Haverstraw or other local proposals.

    “There was no tobacco-related legislation enacted through CPPW funds,” says Hunter. “The CPPW grants were designed to support environmental changes that address obesity and tobacco use. However, CDC awardees were prohibited from using federal funds for lobbying activities and CPPW funds could not be used to enact legislation.”

    There’s good reason for such adamant denials: Use of Congressional funds in an attempt to enact tobacco regulations is illegal. Under United States Code Title 18, Section 1913, federal law states that “no part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall … be used directly or indirectly to pay … to influence in any manner a member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation …”

    But it’s not just retail organizations questioning whether certain CPPW and CTG grants were used to do just that. Government officials also are suspicious.

    In Part 2 of this special report, read what the U.S. Inspector General’s Office has to say.

  17. Pingback: Asteroid is our number “ONE” threat and not global warming says global threat analyst expert, Baron Baretzky ! | UFO NEWS TODAY

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