This is a reposting of a post I made in my other blog http://thepoetsquill.wordpress.com/. I have never done this before, because they are radically different in their purposes. This theme, however, does fit with what I place in the St. Louis Ooz, so here goes.

I haven’t mentioned it before, but I’m kind of a science freak. I read several science blogs everyday when I’m not writing poetry.

Yesterday the news was full of panic because a chemical used in giving cola drinks their brown color has been found to be a carcinogen. Such stories should always be taken with a grain of salt, and anything from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is ALWAYS suspect.

We’ve known since Paracelsus in the 1500’s that the poison is in the dose, and as a former police detective, I enjoy researching things that grab my attention. A little digging led to the fun of writing a rather offbeat poem. It was written quick and dirty, and needs serious editing, but it isn’t destined to become a classic, so I think I’ll let it ride.

by Mike Patrick

Flickr image by Jose L. Pedroso

A startling thing I read today:
Coca Cola should be feared.
Cancer causing chemicals
Have suddenly appeared.

But when one reads the fine print
It seems not all is lost.
Only rodents are in danger
In the many lives it’s cost.

Massive doses the rats were fed
Of chemicals quite rare.
The truth is not in the news release.
Why must they always scare?

150,000 cans a day
A man would have to drink
To equal what the rat just took
To put it on the brink.

Everything causes cancer
Yet the cancer rate still drops.
It’s time to be a skeptic
Until all this lying stops.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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A statistical inference

I could never accept findings based almost exclusively on mathematics. It ain’t ignorance that causes all the trouble in this world. It’s the things people know that ain’t so.
Edwin Armstrong-inventor

A few days ago, I posted on the discovery of a planet, Gliese 581, in another solar system. https://stlouisooz.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/habitable-hmm/ There was a lot of hype at the time about the possibility of it supporting life. I pointed out that its distance (twenty light-years) mass, gravity, tidal lock, red sun and orbit time did not add up to some place we would want to visit.

Guess what? It disappeared http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/12/supposed-new-planet-20-light-years-away-has-been-undiscovered/#more-26298. Now they do not know if it exists or not. It came into being as a statistical inference made from data intermingled with a lot of static.

Such is the state of the scientific community. With each teensy new datum in any scientific field, there must be a massive news release about the impact on our lives—even when it cannot possibly have ANY impact. DDT, chemicals in plastic water and baby bottles, the ozone hole, acid rain, artificial sweeteners, insecticides, fertilizers, and the list goes on forever: all were nothing but overblown statistical inferences. Once the static was removed, they meant nothing—although the greens are still pushing hard on some of them since global warming has stalled.

I don’t know if it’s because everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame or because they hope to gain more funding, but it has gotten silly. Perhaps the time has come to place news releases a little farther down on the priority list after an anomaly appears on a graph; maybe somewhere after testing and verifying. Wow, waiting until after the data are verified before publishing, what a radical idea.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment