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Dangerous Experiments

Dangerous Experiments is the LabSpaces spot for guest bloggers. The purpose of the blog is to give new and old bloggers a space to experiment with blogging. If you'd like to contribute to this experiment, send us an e-mail or contact us on twitter at either @LSBlogs or @LabSpaces.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Angela Monaghan is a geophysicist living in southwest Montana. In her spare time she trains and field trials her Hellfire Springer Spaniels, sporadically blogs as GeoFizz and tweets as MTHellfire.

"Tide goes in and tide goes out...you can't explain that." Bill O'Reilly recently told Dave Silverman of American Atheists, during a recent airing on Fox News as they debated the integrity of religion.

Although I was disappointed Dave couldn't  just blurt out "It's the MOON, moron" and melt Bill into a gooey puddle of religious ignorance, I did sympathize with him. (Just look at his stunned facial expression!)  He was probably thinking the same thing I was, it's impossible to rationally argue with a person who thinks facts don't matter anyway.

Facts Don't Matter

The frightening aspect to a highly paid TV personality being so ignorant should be obvious. There are thousands, if not millions, of people watching who might be even more ignorant than "Bill-O The Clown", and who might believe every ignorant thing he says is true.

Recently, I was told through a Facebook interaction, that much of the distrust of science is due to this: "What do you expect Scientists can't explain how the first spec of dirt was created, but they can tell you how life was created. And about Global Warming and everything else having to do with the World that they can't explain how the material was created to make. So can you really trust what they say is true. Are do you just have to have (FAITH)."  (original unedited text)

How does one rationally argue on that level?

As an applied earth scientist, this is both a curious and disturbing phenomenon to me. I write curious because I am left wondering how these people find their own cars in a Wally World parking lot.  Do you think they notice the clouds moving above them, or the sun changing position in the sky? Do they ever wonder why the earth shakes, why it rains, what climate change will really mean for humankind beyond their own life, and do they even understand why we have day and night? Do they never watch National Geographic or PBS NOVA on TV, read a Nature magazine, check out a science book at the public library, or challenge themselves by reading easily accessible resources like (gasp) Wikipedia? What kind of mind does one possess to not ask what causes tidal changes after spending a day at a (non-equatorial) beach? Are some people still just a hair away from tossing virgins into the caldera of an active volcano to prevent it from erupting?

I write disturbing because they seem content not knowing much about the planet that gives them life, but are so eager to believe the anti-science, anti-intellectuals spewing religious and patriotic propaganda on FOX News. If your faith is big enough, facts don't matter? Truth doesn't matter? Knowledge doesn't matter? Education...doesn't matter?

THE FACTS THAT CANT BE EXPLAINED AND (apparently) DON'T MATTER:

Earth and MoonThe Earth is round. If you struggle with this fact, even NASA says so and has lots of pictures, even satellites in outer space that prove it. Once we can get beyond the obvious, things can move faster.

Tides were explained in  1632. That year Johannes Kepler correctly suggested that the moon caused the tides. Isaac Newton was the first to do so with scientific method in 1687 using his theory of universal gravitation to account for the tide-generating forces due to lunar and solar attractions on the Earth's waters. This approximation developed by Newton and his successors became known as the 'equilibrium theory' of tides.

Moon, Earth and gravitational pullTractive forces make tidesThe Moon and Earth are attracted to each other like magnets. While the Moon is pulling upwards on the water, the Earth is pulling downward. Because there is a slight advantage to the moon, it causes the oceans to bulge in the direction of the moon and away from the water on the far side of the earth. The Sun's gravity also produces tides. However, since the forces are smaller, when compared to the moon, the effects are greatly decreased. Whenever the Moon, Earth and Sun are aligned, the gravitational pull of the Sun adds to that of the Moon causing maximum tides. Tidal physics are both beautiful and complex, but even the saltiest of sailors and scurviest of pirates don't have to know the exact maths to know it's the moon that causes them.

The Earth rotates. That means it turns about its own axis. As it does so, the moon completes one orbit in our sky every 25 hours, producing two tidal peaks and two tidal troughs, separated by about 12 hours.

Tides have been predictable since 1873The first mathematical formula was developed by Lord Kelvin of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, using a beautiful integrating machine designed to compute the height of the tide. h = Ho + Sum{ƒH cos[at + (Vo+u) - K]} The second formula developed by Rollin A. Harris and E.G. Fischer of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1910 with a machine that could simultaneously compute the height of the tide and the times of high and low waters. dh/dt = - Sum{aƒH sin[at + (Vo+u) - K]} = 0

Tide table books are readily available. Most if not all coastal groceries carry them, and they can be found online for free, almost everywhere in the world. I grew up near the ocean and as a young girl the skinny, yellow tide books were amongst my favorite things to pack around.  Tide Forecast - Global **   NOAA 2011 Tide Predictions - US

The US Government knows its tides. NOAA is the world's premier Oceanic and Atmospheric resource. Check it out sometime. After all, Bill, your tax dollars pay for the incredible variety of  science it provides.

Tidal phenomena are not limited to the oceans. Hold on to your hats! Tidal forces can occur in other systems whenever a gravitational field that varies in time and space is present. For example, the solid part of the earth is affected by tides. Even moons of other planets.  Like magic. But not.

Finally, in the prophetic words of His Holiness, Ronald Reagan, communism killing saviour beloved by the American Conservative and patriotic Tea Party movement (O'Reilly's tribe) - "Facts, are stupid things."

"Tide goes in and tide goes out... You can't explain that."

Right. Who can?



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JayC

Guest Comment

Facts dumb! Science dumb! O'Reilly SMASH!


Evie
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This is a great post Angela, awesome read. "Like magic. But not" Love it :)


Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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I think Bill and FoxNews could serve as a great springboard for many mis-information debunking posts but I just can't stand to subject myself to that idiocy.  This is a great post, Angela. Informative and hilarious, a winning combination.


Genomic Repairman
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Angela, I don't know you personally, I've never seen your writing before, and don't much about your character.  But I want to give you a huge high-five because was probably the most awesome thing I've read in a while.  Kudos to you lady.


Ana Montana
Darkside
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Evie said: This is a great post Angela, awesome read. "Like magic. But not" Love it :)
Thank you!

Brian Krueger, PhD said:

I think Bill and FoxNews could serve as a great springboard for many mis-information debunking posts but I just can't stand to subject myself to that idiocy.  This is a great post, Angela. Informative and hilarious, a winning combination.

Thank you, too!

 


Ana Montana
Darkside
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Genomic Repairman said:

Angela, I don't know you personally, I've never seen your writing before, and don't much about your character.  But I want to give you a huge high-five because was probably the most awesome thing I've read in a while.  Kudos to you lady.

Thanks Geno!

As for my character, I prefer this definition:

char·ac·ter(kk-tr) n.

b. A person, especially one who is peculiar or eccentric: a shady character; catcalls from some character in the back row.;)

 


Thomas Joseph
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Love the informative post! The denialism defies explanation really. Hell, there are people who still argue geocentrism.

http://www.scripturecatholic.com/geocentrism.html

http://www.catholicintl.com/articles.html (scroll down to "geocentrism")

Obviously, some people are stupid.



Guest Comment

What a moron. Surely this imbecile understands what O'Reilly is saying. O'Reilly was simply saying that structure and order in the universe cannot be explained without admitting a Prime Mover or Creator. William Buckley responded to a group of retarded evolutionist in much the same way once when he told them something to the effect that "at this time a 5 year old child is going to die an untimely death". Buckley asked, "How can that be explained?".

Psalm 14:1 "The fool says there is no God."


Evie
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Hey guest commenter, if you'd like to debate the idea of looking at the world for yourself, to see how it really works, to the best of your ability and understanding, vs. blindly buying into whatever happens to be written in one of many ancient books that have been translated a whole bunch of times and have little to no factual basis to back them up, we can do so. However.. if you can't even leave a name, and choose to hide behind 'guest' as a handle, I think that in itself says a lot about the validity of your arguments even in your own eyes.. and potentially indicates some fear you may possess as to what you may discover if you were to question that blind faith you have in that one particular line you chose to quote, which, as you should know, was not actually stated in English to begin with...

And O'reilly, other than being uneducated and completely ignorant, is a lying ass.


Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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GUEST COMMENT said:

Surely this imbecile understands what O'Reilly is saying.

I never understand what Bill O'Reilly is saying.  That'd require a complete lack of rational thought.  If Bill O wanted to use the Big Bang as an example, that might have worked, but using a natural phenomena with a known cause as an example of a sky wizard's hand at work is moronic.  I won't debate you about your faith.  You can believe whatever you want, but don't use your faith as an excuse for ignorance about how the world actually works.

 


Ana Montana
Darkside
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Eww. Fundie troll.

So sayeth the jaded writer, "Only the fool argues with psalms instead of reality."

Unhappy

Guest Comment

Angela Monaghan the springer spaniel breeder is a pyscho liar, stalker that harasses anyone that has competition with her dog business. She is not the woman that she appears to be :( EVIL and VINDICTIVE !!!

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