You can’t buy clarity

You can’t buy clarity

Jan 01, 2019 / By : / Category : 老域名购买

Towards the end of June, I covered a few discoveries regarding HIV's ability to cause havoc with the human immune system. The studies provided some new information regarding the virus' interactions with the immune system, information that may prove useful in the future. But at the moment the data mostly serves to deepen the confusion about why this virus is so devastating to humans. 老域名出售

So the thought that more study could lead to greater confusion was on my mind recently. It came up again as I listened to the press conference on a report from the National Academies of Science. The report gave an evaluation on the current state of knowledge in reconstructions of recent climates. If you listen to the audio of the press conference, there's a long question-and-answer session towards the end. One question, however, leapt out at me.

The question focused on the Medieval Warm Period, a time of relatively high temperatures in Northern Europe that coincided with the westward colonization of the Vikings. More detailed studies of samples from around the world, however, have recently suggested that the situation is much more complex. Although some regions of the planet warmed during that time, others did not. Those areas that warmed also did so on different schedules. Combined with large uncertainties in the data, the NAS panel was forced to conclude that the evidence for the Medieval Warm period was ambiguous at best, and that any such even did not represent a period of global climate change.

This really bothered the questioner, who made a series of statements and questions that distilled down to the following: how could we have spent all that money on the studies and wind up knowing less than we appeared to when they started? The scientist who fielded that question seemed to have a hard time of it—after all, how do you distill an inevitable aspect of science down within the context of a press conference?

There are two potential ways of portraying this to the public that have come to my mind since. The first is to simply return to a statement that's become a bit of a cliche: the best scientific results raise as many questions as they answer. In this way, knowing that the Medieval Warm Period wasn't global is a good scientific result, as it raises the question as to whether those regions that did warm shared something in common. A second way would be to point out that the work was a success in that it allowed us to recognize the complexities of the situation. In the US, a war on cancer was declared in the early seventies, and billions of research dollars have been spent during the intervening years. But decades went by during which most of the progress involved thee recognition that cancer was not a single disease, but rather a complex array of diseases. Have those billions been poorly spent? As we are now seeing the first targeted therapies based on this understanding, it's easy to say no. Whether that could have been said so easily a decade ago, however, is less clear.

No Comments