Thursday, July 16, 2009

Take Time to Smell the Horsepucky

By Rich Kozlovich

This first appeared on June 18, 2006. This is a lead in article to two other hard hitting articles that I have been working on for some weeks. I have crossed the Rubicon.

I have quoted Ben Franklin in a number of articles saying, “Truth will very patiently wait for us”. One of my fellow pest controllers took umbrage with that statement. Actually he took umbrage with me being the one saying it. Why? He stated that it wasn’t for me to point out what was truth since I have no qualifications and hadn’t done any research. He then went on to imply that truth was in the eye of the beholder. I have some questions.
1. How qualified does someone have to be to point out “truth”?
2. How does one become qualified to be able to see that which is true?
3. What determines what the qualifications are?
4. Who determines who is qualified?
5. Are public officials automatically qualified?
6. If public officials are elected officials, are they now qualified by virtue of their election?
7. If public officials are found to be wrong are they now unqualified?
8. Are they unqualified forever?
9. Is honesty a quality necessary to point out the “truth”?
10. Is an alphabet soup of letters behind your name necessary to be able to point out “truths”?
11. Does education guarantee integrity, insight and understanding?
12. Is integrity more important than education or visa versa?
13. Is being over educated and under smart acceptable?
14. Has a researcher ever been found to be lying? If so, is he disqualified forever?
15. Is he only disqualified until the next government grant?
16. If a researcher lies should his alphabet soup of letters behind his name be removed?
17. If that happens is the one who was not formally educated now more qualified?

Well then, let’s try this. One and one are two….right? See, there are absolute truths. Then again it didn’t take much brainpower to come to that conclusion. Perhaps it was far too bold for me to be the one point this out. This bodes well the question; is integrity and a legitimate concern for that which is right more important to brainpower than formal education?

The problem we have today is that we have the tendency to rely on “experts” entirely too much. Who says they are “the experts”? Scientists who are “experts” in their own field very often disagree. Vehemently! Global Warming is one such issue. We also have to tendency to run to the middle of the road. Well, let me say this about the middle of the road. That is where the dead animals are.

When Mann, Bradley and Hughes published their now infamous and discredited Hockey Stick graph to show global warming was an Earth threatening event that had to be addressed immediately; it was received by the greenies with utmost enthusiasm.

When McIntyre, a consultant for mineral exploration, and McKitrick published their independent study (they received no funding so as to avoid being criticized as lackeys of big business) the Greenies went almost apoplectic. So what was the solution? Mann and his cohorts merely needed to turn over all their research and show how they arrived at their numbers, which is typically done to allow for peer review. They refused; demanding that everyone had to just accept their conclusions and that there was “consensus” among all serious scientists regarding this matter and further review was unneeded.

Well, first off, that isn’t how peer review works. Secondly, part of the funding for their research came from the United States government which prompted a Senate committee chairman by the name of Inhofe to demand that they turn over their information or else. They and their allies went into even further stages of purple apoplexy. Once released it was obvious to the scientific community why they didn’t want to turn over the information. It exposed how they worked the numbers to get the answer they and their Greenie allies wanted. It was a case of a conclusion in search of data.

Now entering stage left, the High Priest of and First Televangelist for the “First Church of the Warming Globe”, Al Gore, with his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” with his pitch to send out 1000 apostles (Wow, Christ only needed 12) to spread the word to high schools and anywhere else uninformed, unformed minds could be molded.

Who amongst all of the above are qualified to expose the “truth”?
• The scientists who have been shown to have baked the data?
• The scientists who exposed them?
• The political leader who desperately wants the limelight and is inclined to accept any foolish Philosophical Flavor of the Day to get it?
• Or perhaps it is the honest "reader"!

Is a dishonest scientist more qualified than an honest “reader”? Education is a wonderful thing. We need to be constantly educating ourselves by reading books, articles in newspapers, magazines and listening to discussions regarding a whole host of issues. In grade school, junior high school and high school we get the basic tools necessary for independent thought. This requires a certain amount of teaching of what to think versus how to think. Yet isn’t self-education the basic ingredient of formal education? Reading the information, discussing the information, and challenging each position by cross-referencing various writings. Finally writing about the information ourselves, since nothing sharpens the mind quite like having to place your thoughts down on paper.

Unfortunately higher education has lost sight of its role. Formal education at the higher levels continues to teach you what to think, not how to think. Unfortunately so many come out of college as a herd of independent thinkers. Has it always been this way? I don’t know; although I do believe it depends on the school and the professors; and more schools and their professors are more and more radical. Woe be unto any student who stands against one of his professors pet theories. Worse yet; one who proves this pet theory has the smell of horse pucky attached to it.

It may take a little time, but eventually truth comes out. We need to stop being intimidated. We have the right and duty to challenge those in leadership positions in our industry irrespective of their credentials. We have the right and duty to challenge those who would destroy the pesticide manufacturing/distribution/application industries. This is our industry, not the experts. It is our families who will suffer the consequences for their being wrong. They will just move on to some other project. As Winston Chruchill pointedly stated, "experts should be on tap, not on top". If we have opinions that are contrary to what has become the conventional wisdom we need to speak up and not allow anyone to intimidate us into submission. We need to avoid the middle of the road and take a stand for what we believe is “truth”.

Albert Einstein once said, "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." While I don’t present myself as the absolute judge of truth and knowledge, I do however think I’m a pretty good judge of the smell of horse pucky.

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