Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finally, the media are waking up to the real nature of agenda-driven Shroud research - it's 90% pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience? Definition? One could do a lot worse than consult rationalwiki. Here are its opening  few words under the entry for pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience is any belief system or methodology which tries to gain legitimacy by wearing the trappings of science, but fails to abide by the rigorous methodology and standards of evidence that demarcate true science. Although pseudoscience is designed to have the appearance of being scientific, it lacks any of the substance of science.

First it was Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, deploying the (silent) p word in connection with Shroud research..

Two days ago, checking my WordPress site meter, I found that a critique I had written of ill-defined wacky radiation scenarios had been cited by David Kyle Johnson in Psychology Today.

Annoyingly, I was totally unaware of his three-part posting when they first appeared some two weeks ago. Once again, the strangely selective Google search engine* and (it goes without saying) Troll Central aka (well, my stories) go a long way to explaining why I've been slow to pick up on a kindred spirit taking umbrage with shroudie pseudoscience.

*      Joel's    DKJ's article was nowhere to be seen when I first scanned current (shroud of turin) listings yesterday. Later, after a strong coffee, and trawling through page after page, it was finally tracked down to Page 38 (with 10 entries per page).  Something has to be done about Google, whose listings are still cluttered up with numerous identikit agency stories on the wacky earthquake/neutron nonsense. Yes, pseudoscience rules OK, thanks to media manipulators and the bilge-perpetuating brain-dead Google algorithm.

Here's the belated comment I sent to Psychology Today - though whether anyone gets to see it (except here) after the passage of time remains to be seen:

The curse of pseudoscience (that can ensnare anyone, scientists included)
I've long had a loathing for pseudoscience, and the way the media allows pseudoscientists to manipulate it to sell books, TV documentaries, or, worse still, agendas.
Two years ago I started blogging on the Shroud, gradually wading through the evidence for and against. Reckon on a ratio of approx. 10% science, 90% pseudoscience. The terrifying thing is the way that folk who have a genuine background in science can suddenly get hooked on the Shroud and its curious features (yes, it's still an enigma) and then start nitpicking at the radiocarbon dating, dreaming up and/or subscribing to all kinds of reasons why the answer is 1300 years too young ("invisible reweaving" etc). Before you know what you see the appearance of agenda-driven pseudoscience, always assuming authenticity, always model-building on that basis, and hey presto, finding and publishing the facts that fit and reinforce the assumptions. It's exceedingly rare to find scientists who take non-authenticity as an initial working hypothesis, based on the supposition that the radiocarbon dating is approximately right until proved otherwise. (I'm a rare exception!!!!!, albeit long retired from the laboratory bench).
Methinks the human psyche is perhaps not as advanced as we like to think it is - and we are not really that much better evolved, psycho-socially, than those who hounded Galileo.
Joel Achenbach is presently on Page 6 of Google listings under pseudoscience.  DavidKJ is not as yet in the top 10, though possibly bringing up the rear. These are early days. I'll be checking to see if the Shroud continues to make, er, headway, in the baleful genre that is pseudoscience.

 Update: Sunday.

Once again, I have been subject to an "out-of-the-blue" troll attack elsewhere by someone 'new' appearing out of the woodwork, and the site's proprietor apparently thinks it's fair play and deserved ("If you can't stand the heat of the kitchen etc etc) ". In classic troll tactics, it's specifically alleged that I have no grasp of the minutiae of chemistry - while carefully omitting to give specific examples. That's just the science. The rest is half-baked amateur psychology, intended to demean and damage.

My response: not to be drawn into argument with a troll who has adopted a pseudonym (misspelt), not knowing a thing about him or her. However, I note the rancour that my "pseudoscientist' tagging has aroused, and especially it seems 'Mickey Mouse science', or 'Mickey Mouse scientist(s)'. The site's proprietor has  furiously rounded on me more than once in the past, citing those tags as grounds for allowing character attacks to be made on me, calling me "a jerk".

Fact: the descriptors I have used are unflattering I grant you, but have allowed me to flag up my grievance WITHOUT being personal. Maybe that's a subtlety that some have failed to grasp. (And I would never dream of calling anyone a "jerk" on an internet forum).

Irrespective, the time has now come to document one of the most egregious examples of pseudo- AND Mickey Mouse science. It involves the Italian ENSA team whose report on uv laser beams to produce a "Shroud-like coloration" on linen  was accompanied by a preemptive dismissal of scorching-by-contact  in their paper, AND by a targeted attack on me later on the site in question, together with a risible one-off Mickey Mouse scorch experiment performed with a heated coin.

I shall now assemble a  step-by-step dossier of the entire sequence of events. I shall be denouncing ENSA and its front man Paolo Di Lazzaro as Mickey Mouse scientists but with NO personal attacks, and then send it to David Kyle Johnson as evidence that he and others in the MSM are right to be targeting Shroud pseudoscience, AND the specific tactics adopted by Shroud pseudoscientists.

I shall do that first, before returning to the constructive side of my Shroud research, a description of my latest "pseudo-bas relief' model having to wait for now.

No comments: