Thursday Thoughts

I’ve gotten to the point where I hate reading the sports news.  No, not because “my team” isn’t doing well, but rather, what’s been happening in college sports.  Over the past couple of years, it seems like there’s been an unending series of stories about conference “realignment.”  Yes, it’s happening again, as Maryland, Rutgers, and Louisville all are getting ready to jump from their respective current conferences to new ones.  The reason?  Money.

It’s rather hypocritical for various university administrations to, on one hand, piously proclaim their commitment to education, while on the other leaping towards whichever conference may make them more money.   Some coaches aren’t happy, and neither are the fans.  Long-standing rivalries are being dropped by the wayside.  It’s sad, and I don’t know if “the benefits” are worth the cost.  I have a feeling some of these colleges will come to regret it, but for now, all I can do is be sad.

I know “voter tests” have a bad connotation, but, I am definitely in favor of tests for officials and pundits.  I think it should be mandatory for them to take a course on the Constitution and government, with a tough exam whose score is public.  I’m getting tired of seeing elected officials or media figures making statements about something, trying to couch it as “what the Constitution says”  when the Constitution doesn’t say that at all.   That way, when they make an idiot statement, everyone can look at their test score and go “Oh… right.  Failed the class.” and ignore them.

There’s been a lot of speculation about what the Mars Curiosity Rover found, that has the scientists at JPL excited.  Well, according to a tweet today, it wasn’t organics, so a whole load of media speculation went out the window.  I’m sure it’ll be interesting, when they tell us on Monday, but it won’t live up to the media hype.  That’s the problem sometimes with scientists.  What they find exciting and “cool!” is not necessarily what the general public does.  I know that from experience, having gotten my share of strange looks and being told “You’re weird!  You know that, right?”

Apparently, someone down in Texas is announcing that they’ve sequenced the genome of a Sasquatch.   This is being taken with a large, enormous, Empire State Building size amount of salt by scientists and journalists.

There are several significant issues with this. First is this line from the news release, “Full details of the study will be presented in the near future when the study manuscript publishes.”

That is a massive red flag. Real research scientists almost never pre-announce their research findings. That is, they don’t go public with big news until it has been vetted by peer reviewers and, at the very least, been accepted for publication. In this case Ketchum is stating a discovery as scientific fact before other scientists have studied her evidence. In effect she is using the mantle of science to confer credibility on her discovery, without actually deserving the credibility.

Or has John Hawks puts it:

One benefit of the world of genetics as opposed to traditional anthropology: The original sequence data must be made available to the public. No data, no discovery.

Mind you, lots of us would be thrilled to death if it turned out that Bigfoot, Yeti, or whatever it is actually exists.  The problem?  No real, stand up to hard scrutiny evidence.  It’d be nice if this were real, but the betting odds are … another hoax.

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5 Comments

Filed under Politics, Science, Sports

5 responses to “Thursday Thoughts

  1. Vic78

    I feel like snapping whenever I hear about Bigfoot. We would’ve seen something by now. How in the hell do they know that’s Bigfoot DNA?

    I’m not a fan of conference changes. There’s news of Chapel Hill leaving the ACC. North Carolina basketball rivalries make life interesting.

    • It’s much the same around here. The “big dog” is Syracuse, and Syracuse basketball. Everyone looks forward to the rivalries that have sprung up over the years, when Georgetown or Connecticut come to the Dome. That those won’t be happening anymore isn’t being met with lots of joy.

      I agree with you about Bigfoot. I use this example: The Adirondacks are 6.3 million acres. I know there are moose here. Now, they’re extremely hard to find. It’s amazing at how fast one can “disappear” into the woods. Despite that, I have tracks, pictures, I’ve seen them, and we’ve had accidents where there are bodies of moose. In other words, we can prove they’re here. No one has done that for Bigfoot.

  2. see above

    I love the idea of a Bigfoot or Nessie but am with you one this. My favorite is the test for pundits and elected officials not to disqualify them but to rank them just think how much fun that would be. Yes, I know he said that but do you know what his score was on ___? Fun fun fun. I think having to pass a history test too would be a nice addition

    • Biologists would love it if they were around. I used the moose example, but here’s another one. There have been, over the years, sightings and reports of mountain lions here in the Adirondacks, but nothing “confirmed.” A little over a year ago, one was hit by a car in Connecticut. It turned out it had migrated from South Dakota (DNA samples found along it’s route) and had been in this area. Now, the difference is that we know mountain lions exist, they were here in the past, and now we know that some move long distances. We also have a lot of hard evidence to point to that. It’s one thing to say “new to the area” or “didn’t expect to find it there,” and another to say “haven’t turned up hard evidence” for something extremely large with a supposedly limited range.

  3. see above

    That mountain lion actually came within about five miles of where I live. It was spotted in a number of neighborhoods in the area and then across the boarder in the state next door. I did read about it being killed and it was sad because he had in a short time become a wonderful symbol that we have not yet destroyed all the wonder of the wild.