The 10 Dumbest Things I’ve Seen An Undergraduate Chemist Do

In no particular order, here are the 10 dumbest things I’ve seen an undergraduate chemist do in the last decade or so.

1. Derive a bond-length longer than the Humber bridge

This is a fairly common error that results from not keeping track of your orders of magnitude properly. If you’ve got a lot of 10-19 or 108 type things flying around, it’s easy to get lost. But, you should at least be able to sanity check your answer and figure out that a chemical bond is about an ångström  long, with comparatively little variation – it’s not going to be 8,000 metres.

There’s plenty of theoretical dumbness where this one came from, but they’re boring to non-specialists and would take a while to explain. The rest of this list is pretty much the horror-show that is the teaching laboratories.

2. Stab themselves with a pipette full of chloroform

It turns out that while we’re pretty careful about needle-stick injuries (one a week for postgraduates, none at all for undergraduates, remarkably) it turns out that a simple Pasteur pipette can be equally capable of breaking the skin and injecting a toxic compound into you. This is probably at the more sensible end of the “how the shimmering fuck did you do that?!?” scale.

3. Throw acid in someone’s face

Let’s just summarise this one thusly:

Student A: “Watch out! This is acid!!”

**throws a beaker of clear liquid in their friend’s face**

Student A: “Haha! Lol. It was just water… Joke’s on you! Wait… wait… why are you screaming?”

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Not pictured – the shouting… the glass breaking… the demonstrators head-desking after being asked “can’t you just tell us the answer?” for the fifteen time that day

4. Syphon an ice bath… filled with unknown crap

What’s the fastest way of emptying excess water from an ice bath? Easy – simply stick in some rubber tubing, suck it up, and and let the syphon action do the rest. Sounds great… unless you failed to spot someone spill some toxic crud in there earlier, and then sucked it into your f**king mouth. The end result of this one involved screaming across the lab to spit it out into the sink, right as the senior demonstrator turned up.

5. Spray hot oil into someone’s face

While we mostly work with metal heating blocks now (possibly for this very reason) it’s still common to use oil baths to warm things up. Even for a distillation. The trouble with a distillation is that you need to get everything else on the heated side of the condenser to get hot, and this takes a while. So you can speed it up by heating the still head yourself, and this often involves a heat gun (aka, a hair dryer).

This is fine, providing you don’t point it down into the oil bath, where a sudden blast of hot air hits the hot oil and sprays it everywhere.

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They’re queuing up outside. The cleanliness has mere seconds to live…

6. Getting capsaisin in their eye

Remember:

The first rule of Extracting Capsaisin Club is: you do not touch your eyes while extracting capsaisin!

The second rule of Extracting Capsaisin Club is: YOU DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES WHILE EXTRACTING CAPSAISIN!

It’s a very effective method of getting closely acquainted with an emergency eye-wash station, though.

7. Pass out in the lab

Normally, this would be considered a sympathetic accident. Call first-aider, and get them checked out.

However, when the lab starts at 10 am, and it’s because they skipped breakfast, possibly sleeping in despite not going out the night before (they said) it’s their own damn fault and they’re a god-damned danger to others.

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*Shoves fuming and smoking bottle of soon-to-explode stuff into the demonstrator’s face* – “What do I do with this?!?!” – “What’s in it?” – “It’s the top layer from Part B.”

8. Turn up to the lab drunk

One student turned up to the labs still visibly drunk from a previous evening – explaining the lack of an apparent hangover that hadn’t yet kicked in. They then proceeded to wander around the lab doing Jack Sparrow impressions until their lab partner kicked them out and sent them home before the idiot broke something or tried to pick a fight with the senior demonstrator.

9. Fail to understand the purpose of a spreadsheet

You’ve got data. Lots of it, in fact. It all needs the same calculation performed on each point. So, obviously, you type it into Excel, do your formula on the next cell, and drag/copy down. Presto.

Of course, this wasn’t good enough for the geniuses who decided to write each one out on paper, type them into a calculator step by step, then manually type the answer into the spreadsheet. All 150 data points worth over the course of about an hour. The reason, apparently, was that they didn’t trust the computer to get it right.

10. Spill ethylenediamine down their arm and not notice… for half an hour

Ethane-1,2-diamine, ethylenediame, diaminoethane, en, whatever you like to call it, it’s a common ligand that appears everywhere in the theory component of an undergraduate chemistry course. Small wonder, then, that they forget that it’s a strong base, a derivative of ammonia, and will rip your skin off in short order if you don’t do something about it. But at least now I know what a proper ammonia burn looks like. And smells like, to be overly-honest.

You’re Not Here To Study Chemistry

I don’t gripe about work too often here… okay, maybe I do. Anyway, here’s one thought flowing throw my head as I have ten minutes to kill between doing allegedly important things.

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Sometimes, I want to scream to my students: “You’re not here to learn chemistry!

Pfft!

If you want to learn chemistry, read a book. Read Wikipedia. Read ChemGuide. Read HyperPhysics. Any idiot can pick up the material and learn all about it. Science is, possibly more than any other discipline, a well-documented subject. Want to learn some science? It’s out there for you to take. Now, more than ever, with knowledge freely flowing through the internet, anyone can learn about chemistry.

You are mere clicks away from a myriad of experts who have it all written down for your personal consumption and pleasure.

If you’re throwing 3-4 years of your life to come and study, you need to do more than just learn the chemistry. Much, much more. And this is a lesson most of us fail to learn until it’s way too late.

You’re not here to learn chemistry…

You’re here to learn how to be a decent human being. If you leave this place thinking it’s okay to treat the rest of the world like pieces of shit, you’ve wasted your time. Graduate and become a Daily Mail reader, you’ve wasted your time. Graduate and think “well, I don’t mind gay people just so long as…”, you’ve wasted your time. Graduate and think “but women should never earn the same as men because…”, you’ve wasted your time. And you’ve wasted my time, too.

You’re here to become a rounded individual. If you do nothing but learn chemistry, and chemistry alone, and just what we put on the syllabus only, and take no time to engage with another subject, join a society, pick up an instrument, join a protest, write a novel, finger-paint the windows… I dunno, just anything else, then you’ve wasted your time. Take the opportunity to get out there and do more. Do different. Try things. Find out what you hate by doing them. If you don’t, it’s time wasted.

You’re here to become a scientist. If you just learn the facts, you’ve wasted your time. If you can’t think critically, you’ve wasted your time. You’re here to practice science, to do science, to experiment and figure out how to experiment. So if you just learn about it, you’ve wasted your time. You need to do it. Learn some philosophy of science. Learn hypothesis testing, and p-values, and Bayesian statistics, and distributions, and confidence intervals whether your module requires it or not. Learn how to write, to communicate. If you stay up all night fiddling over one lonely mark out of 100 on your lab report, you’ve wasted your time: get hammered in the pub and explain quantum mechanics to your friends instead.

You’re here to become a functioning adult. That means figuring out how to pay bills, cook food, live with others, be on time, and organise your day. Forget the alternative-living hippy-crap for now because you can’t accomplish that with dreams and wishes; if you want to change the world you first need to know how to survive in the crapshack that it is. You need to know when to sleep, when to wake up, when to plough ahead and work hard and when it’s best to give up and try another method another day. You have to tackle your anxieties, fight your depression, face your self-doubts and crippling insecurities, and learn to manage stress about deadlines. You’ve got 3-4 years of your life in the most supportive environment that is physically possible to create – and make no mistake, few other humans get that kind of opportunity. If you can’t do that here and now, when else are you going to pull this off? If you don’t take the opportunity to fight yourself head on, you’ve wasted your time.

You’re here to learn how to take over the world. In 3-4 years time you’ll graduate. You’ll be a post-graduate researcher, a teacher, or in industry, or anywhere else with a job and making a difference in the world. 5 years after that you’ll be managing and leading, making decisions. 10-15 years after that? Who knows. But without warning. and without your consent, and without any other time to prepare, you’ll be running this planet. Remember all those dicks out there running the show and making the world worse? You’re destined for their position – so if you don’t learn how to do that job less dickishly than they are, you’ve wasted your time. Whether you like it or not, all the adults, the ones that you think know what they’re doing, will die off. You are going to have to take their place. There’s not another batch of replacement adults and rulers out there to make decisions… there’s you. And you have to do a much, much better job than they have. And the bad news is that you have to do that all while being the most detested and maligned generation on record; the generation that has come before think you’re all lazy, whiny, self-entitled, self-obsessed losers for wanting even a sliver of the advantages they got, and they want to punish you for it. The hate you with a passion that’s absolutely unrivalled across countless centuries of grown-ups muttering “Bah! Kids these days!” They want to strip you of your voting rights, lumber you with debt, deny you prospects and shit on your happiness – and you’ve got 3-4 years to learn how to tell them you’re not going to fucking take it any more. You’ve got 3-4 years to unlearn everything they taught you that was to make them feel better, and learn that you have to take the keys to the planet from them before they can cause any more harm to it.

You’re not here to learn chemistry, you’re here to make the world a better place by learning that chemistry. So don’t waste your time.

The Environment: Social vs Science

A thing I’ve long suspected, but have really only figured out and cemented after having to write some lecture materials on it, is that green chemistry, climatology, sustainability and environmentalism aren’t technological issues or scientific issues – they’re absolutely social issues. I apologise if this seems utterly trivial to people and that I’m a little late to the party – and I did say something similar regarding health issues a while back – but it really does seem like this is 100% social and 0% scientific.GreenChem_green

On one level climate change denial is entirely social – it sure as hell isn’t based on the scientific evidence or a through understanding of climatology. Merely presenting evidence doesn’t change minds, so it cannot be a simple scientific issue. Science can figure it out, science could save us from the ill effects, but it doesn’t convince and it doesn’t convey with relatable rhetoric. Instead of searching for the right evidence for people to believe it, we have to search for the right incentives for people to believe it – and those two things aren’t even in the same ball park when it comes to looking for them. If the climate changes irrevocably, we could survive through technology, that’s certainly true, but… only the ones that can afford the technology will have it, and therefore only the ones who can afford to survive can thrive. That’s a social, not a scientific, issue, and no amount of technological advancement and research will help with that.

We charge 5p for a plastic carrier bag now, even though carrier bags aren’t the biggest use/waste of plastic and aren’t as big a deal as you might think… yet that isn’t really the point. No-one sensible thinks this minor little thing will change the world. If you charge for it, though, it makes people think “maybe I shouldn’t use this material as a disposable commodity… hmmm, perhaps I should re-use an old bag instead”. It makes people think “this thing has a value, I should use it responsibly.. perhaps I could use other things responsibly”. Those are social incentives, independent of any technology – we could implement such a change, and have a real impact, without having to spend a single minute in a lab developing degradable co-polymers or decomposition photocatalysts. If a simple social incentive makes people think more about where it’s come from and where it’s going, and whether it can be reduced, re-used or recycled, then it will do more for the planet than any amount of technological development in biodegradable polymers will.

Decent incentives can make people think, because science can’t do that for them.

Sustainability_greenWe can recycle cow dung into vanilla, recycle water between toilets and sinks, and breed insects for the same amount of protein at a fraction of the environmental cost of cattle – all of which could have staggering benefits for us and the planet. Yet people (well, North America and Europe for the insect thing) may well go “squick” to all of it.

We expend vast amounts of energy to purify and sterilise drinking water and pump it into homes, then use about a quarter of it flushing shit into the sewers – and no one, here in the big, developed, supposedly-civilised first-world seems to think that this is maybe, just maybe, a little bit weird. We can purify waste water to a high standard but people either won’t accept it as drinking water without an emotional buffer in the way.

I can sit through presentations from students returning from work experience in the chemical industry and note that 10% of their efforts are expended in getting a product that works and 90% of their efforts are expended in getting a product that looks and feels like it works. We are quite literally blowing our technological advancement on placating social norms and pandering to conventions. That is absolutely a social issue to be addressed. Can we educate society to accept cloudy washing-up liquid and less-viscous shampoo in exchange for diverting our scientific efforts elsewhere? Can we de-brainwash people about what things should look like providing they still work?

None of these are technological issues. Grey-water toilet systems exist. Half the planet already consumes insects. Flavourings from bio-mass and waste already exist. Bio-derived and biodegradable surfactants already exist. But accepting them as solutions or potential solutions isn’t exactly trivial. They’re new, they’re weird, and sometimes they can be a little yucky. So should we should begin draw the line and say that it’s our responsibility to adapt to the better technology rather than the technology’s responsibility to adapt to our artificial preferences? Or is that solution just too difficult?

Sure, we need the technology to develop better approaches, but without the incentive to use them that’s nothing but a pointless academic exercise.

What I’d say to climate change deniers if… fuck it, I AM saying this

You may have read this before, so you know where this is going… I just wanted to say to you by the way of introductory remarks that I’m extremely miffed about this subject, and in my quest to try to make you understand the level of my unhappiness, I’m likely to use an awful lot of – what we would call – violent sexual imagery and I just wanted to check that none of you would be terribly offended by that.

Okay?

Just before we do begin, if you are an actual climate change denialist – you might call yourselves “skeptics” but we both know that term is wholly inappropriate here – then, yeah… don’t bother commenting. Don’t bother. I don’t care. You’re wrong. You are factually incorrect in your opinions, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that, unfortunately. I know your arguments, I know your reasons, and they all fall flat – I know this for reasons that will become apparent shortly. So, don’t waste your breath. Feel persecuted all you like, I don’t care. I literally Do. Not. Care. That’s prior warning: I might just dump you in the spam filter and I will not care.

Okay… now we’re ready.


Dear Climate Change Denialists….

Actually, screw the formalities, you really don’t fucking deserve to be addressed as mature fucking adults…

DEAR FUCKING IDIOTIC FUCKTARDED DANGEROUS LUNATIC FUCKING CUNTSNACKS,

Did that get your fracking attention?

Yeah, I’m talking you, fuckstains, the fucking idiots who think “bah, global warming is bollocks because it’s snowing outside!” – because you’re fucking stupid. Yep, that’s you, you “but what about the medieval warm period?!” intellectual fucking losers – because you don’t even have the first idea of what any of that even means.

Enjoy hiding this fucking decline, shitheads. Because I am really going to mine the depths of indecency coming up with this, but it needs said to you thick-as-fuck, shit-headed, tit-moochers.

You’re stupid. Really stupid. Like… fucking hell, creationists think the world is 6,000 years old and that evolution is fake because giraffes don’t give birth to crocoducks, but by hecking-hellsacks they’re complete utter geniuses compared to you ballsacks-for-brains idiots. Yes, really, fucking creationists are brighter than you. Creationists, fucking creationists, enjoy a closer bond with reality than you knob-handling wank-puffs.

Let’s look at the scale of stupid here, and how dangerous it can be:

creationists photo creationists.jpg

Creationists: believe the world magically poofed into existence more recently than the domestication of the dog, but that hardly causes any harm, does it? Like, sure, the religious fundamentalism that backs it is homophobic as fuck and hates women, but creationism doesn’t exactly kill, right? They’re stupid, and off the fucking charts with how wrong they are, but they’re nothing but a fuck-dumb intellectual curiosity.

Moon Landing Conspiracy Theorists: boy, oh boy, oh boy are these fuckers stupid. I mean, we could go over the cognitive biases they have all damn day, but apart from being loud and stupid, again they’re mostly harmless. They’re mostly a danger to themselves when they try this shit in front of Buzz Aldrin. They’re fucking hilarious. Stupid, and hilarious for it. But harmless.

Homeopaths: the perfect cure for Heavy Wallet Syndrome, definitely, but at least when they cause death and illness it’s limited only to the people they engage with. Homeopathy is a self-contained problem, restricted to the idiots who want to fall for it, and eventually at worst Darwinism will kick in eventually. So, homeopaths stupid, and potentially causing harm in certain circumstances, but self-contained harm.

Mediums: sick fuckers pretend to talk to the dead, but they don’t actually go around putting the dead there in the first place, so whatever. It’s their victims who are the gullible pricks: oh, boo-fucking-hoo for them, they’ve been tricked and swindled and emotionally mangled for money. But still, this is mostly harmless shit. The world won’t end because Psychic Sally is a fraud. People aren’t going to starve in a drought because someone paid tuppence for someone to stare into a ball and talk crap about their dead relatives.

But you… you, climate change fucking denialists, your ass-sitting, ass-pulling, ass-fingering opinions would let the whole fucking world burn just because you’re too fucking busy, too stupid, or too intentionally ignorant to understand the very fucking basics of the science you think isn’t real. And that’s what fucking brings people like me to say shit like this; to belittle, insult, berate and fucking go to town with anger and profanity and shit-knows what else frothing at the front of my brain. We’ve tried reason, we’ve tried evidence… and you don’t fucking care.

It’s the entire fucking world, our future, the planet – everything – that’s at risk and you don’t care. You don’t fucking care. You’re endangering people who aren’t you, who aren’t even born yet – you’re fucking up the future for my fucking kids that don’t even exist yet without their fucking consent, because you’re simply too stupid to grapple with climate science. You’re fucking over everyone. Without their consent. Why not just strap a barbed-wire-wrapped dildo to your fucking tits and actually fuck us, it’s the same thing. That’s why I fucking hate you. That’s why you’re worthy of near-infinite contempt. You’re the half-a-maggot in a fucking apple. You’re the pube in the pudding. You’re the shit-stain on the butt-plug.

You’re fucking scum of the lowest order and the world will be better off without you.

And it’s not like you even have a proper fucking motive to derp around as you do – what’s the worst that could happen if we respond to global warming and it turns out it is a hoax? What? Did we just make the world cleaner, safer, more sustainable, more equal… all for nothing? OH FUCKING YOUR GODS THE SHEER FUCKING HORROR OF THAT!

Nope, you seem to just want to deny it because you can. Literally, apart from using it to self-evidence your stupidity, there’s no other reason I can think of. You have nothing to lose from just rolling with what climatologists and environmentalists say. Nothing. Yet you deny it anyway. You’re fucking us over because you’re stupid and for no real reason at all. Fucking Jesus’ testicles! That’s not just ignorance, that’s fucking hardcore fucking malice!

Okay, so climate science isn’t piss simple. It’s a bit more than “2+2=4”. It takes a bit to get used to modelling, predictions and forecasts, the physics of the atmosphere, the heat capacity of the oceans… It’s okay, you’re allowed to not fully understand it.

But get this, idiot: NOT UNDERSTANDING SOMETHING ISN’T AN ARGUMENT AGAINST IT.

climate-change-peer-reviewed-publications

It really fucking isn’t. You can be ignorant all you like, it says nothing. You can pretend to know what you’re talking about (fucking spoiler alert; YOU FUCKING DON’T) but that doesn’t interfere with the fucking facts, which have been fucking speaking for themselves for years.

Did I fucking make myself a-shitting-bundantly clear, you obnoxious little fuck-weasel? Your own fucking pig-face-fucking-ignorance of science, climate, history, geology, atmospheric chemistry, the dynamics of the hydrosphere… fuck, I could list this shit all day.. your stupidity and wilful fucking blindness when it comes to nearly every relevant branch of science DOES NOT SAY CLIMATE CHANGE DOESN’T HAPPEN. Hell’s bollocks, I don’t fucking understand why the fucking X-Factor is so popular, you don’t see me spaffing my cock all over some shitty comments section about how the X-Factor isn’t real. No, because that would be madness – but when you do it it’s your free-dumb of freeze peach.

You don’t get that privilege. You don’t get the right to espouse an opinion because you didn’t put the fucking effort in.

And, no, reading an article in the fucking Daily Fucking Heil doesn’t count. Or watching some cunt-weasel chomp through the bit on Fox News; that’s also a “fuck off” from me. “Effort” means actually haven’t learned about some real climatology, like, you know, from a real fucking scientist that’s studied it, not some fuck-goon you find convincing because they can drawl shit out of their mouths so loud and thick you can see the air distort around them.

Jesus fucking wept… what in every level of unholy fucking hell makes you shit-tarded absent-minded (that is, absent of any functioning mind whatsoever) freaks-of-fucking-nature think that you’re qualified to make this kind of judgement? You can’t even grapple with the fucking basics. Watching you people even try to grapple with the basics is like watching a two year old bang pans together. “Wah! Wah! LOOK AT ME! AREN’T I SO CUTE WITH THIS!!” – except the pan-banging isn’t going to have a long-lasting effect on the human race.

It’s self-evident each and every time you speak.

How about this: What effect do the thermohaline currents of the North Atlantic have on the heat deficit of the planet?

Answer: YOU DON’T FUCKING KNOW, DO YOU?

You couldn’t even begin to fondle the bollocks of that question. You couldn’t even shoot that question a seductive look across a fucking crowded bar. You couldn’t even be admitted to the fucking bar to even see that question and her tight fucking hoochy pants because the intellectual bouncer would throw you out for wearing trainers. Yeah, that’s a fucking “extended metaphor” for how fucking brainless you are…

Actually, no, sorry: people have actually survived as competent human beings without brains (really, look it up), so what the fuck is your excuse?

Really, what fucking excuse do you have for not even wanting to engage with the basics of this? Did a climatologist finger you up the bumhole when you were five and now you can’t talk about the enhanced greenhouse effect without throwing up all over your keyboard? I mean, I get it, I do – vomiting your guts on a keyboard is literally the only fucking explanation I can think of as to why some of you would write this shit. Surely, fucking human fingers operated by actual functioning neurons couldn’t come up with some of it.

“Eeeeuggggh, the planet hasn’t warmed for 18 years!”

Oh, get fucking bent over a barrel you fuckwit – the warmest years on record have been in the last decade. It correlates with anthropogenic activity. Get the fuck over it already. Your inability to read data is your fucking problem, asshole.

“BBllllleeueueueghggggggggg…” **dumshit-hand-gesture** “…but the medieval warm period! But we’re just warming after the Little Ice Age!”

Do you know what global means? It means “all the fuck over the planet”, not our corner of fucking Europe. Hey, fucking news flash, dipshit: the world isn’t fucking flat, you know. Do you know how long those periods cycle over in contrast to post-industrial warming? Nope, you don’t.

“GGGgrrrrrrr…” **drools-a-little** “…but the sun… and cycles… and the planet does stuff… natural…”

Have a fucking prize you cunt-smush, this isn’t news to climatologists. Do you seriously think your five seconds of looking at stuff on the internet has discovered a truth that has eluded hundreds of thousands of people who have been looking at data for decades? Oh, yeah, you do think that. That’s why I’m fucking here you moronic deformed fucking cock-end.

“Fffffffffrrrrrruuulllllllbb… water vapour…”

It’s the fucking ENHANCED greenhouse effect, dipshit. Do you not even understand that?!?

No, you don’t. You prove it every single time you put fingers to keyboard, open your mouths, turn on your webcams or stand up in front of Congress or Parliament to “herp-a-derp-a-derp-a-herp” your way through your own pathetic ignorance. I wouldn’t give two shits if this wasn’t a serious issue, if there weren’t real ramifications that you were forcing on us. Fuck, I’d treat it as comedy, but it’s not fucking funny.

Hey, another quick question: What’s the difference between low-altitude ozone generation, and high altitude photochemical ozone depletion?

YOU STILL DON’T FUCKING KNOW, DO YOU?

At least not without Dr Fucking Google to guide you to the first denialist website you can find that will intentionally misunderstand it for you. You’ll ask the internet the question, ignore every single site for at least three pages of search results until you find one that goes “flllurrbelllehblleeflahhh!!!!” and choose that explanation to regurgitate like yesterday’s fucking spit. Hell, at least fucking creationists would do their own fucking fundamental basic 101 entry-level misunderstanding themselves, you have to go to fucking “CO2 is Green” or some shit like that to tell you what to think because the words are too god-fucking-damn long for you.

You don’t know the science.

You can’t engage with the science at a basic level.

You can’t fucking bring yourself to get a basic fucking education in the difference between “weather” and “climate”.

And you don’t want to.

denial

And what really fucking pisses me off… the thought that physically keeps me up at night frothing, fuming and fearing for the fucking future… is that you have the exact same number of votes as me.

If some politician comes around to say “hey, we need to deal with this climate change thing!”, and then another comes along and flapples his arms around saying “but how come it’s snowing outside!!” your vote for that fucking idiot would cancel mine out. How is that fucking fair? I know the basics of climate science. I’m not an expert, but because I’m a smart, intelligent, rational person – or, at least, not on your level of unfathomable, arrogant stupidity – I’m happy to defer to the people who know more than me. The fact that I can do that proves that I’m fucking smarter than you, fuckwort.

In a fair and decent world I’d get the say. In a fair and decent world you’d get tossed out on your ass for being too mentally incompetent to make any informed decisions.

But nooooo, cries reality. You have the same fucking number of votes as I do. You apparently get a voice. You get the media exposure you’re not entitled to through hard fucking work. You’re the idiot that can outvote the expert in sufficient numbers. You’re the shit-for-brains, regret-ridden cum-stain on the soiled underwear of the planet that would vote people into power who will happily fuck over the earth for a quick dollar, pound, bitcoin or what-the-fuck-ever like some fucking Captain Fucking Planet villain.

You’ll do that because climate science is hard and you’re too proud of your ignorance to think “hey, maybe I should defer to all the myriad people who dedicated their fucking lives to understanding this stuff for me”. And that isn’t fucking fair. I can’t tell you how to be what you’re an expert in – that is, how to be a fuck-nutted, shit-tarded, wilfully-ignorant imbecile – why do you get to even come close to making decisions on behalf of the world?

You actually pose a danger with your opinions. You can be put in a position where you can cause harm and excess suffering through your ignorance. And that’s a fucking serious problem, that leads me to this:

Just grow old and die of old age already so people like me can get the fuck on with fixing the mess you’re making!

And if you’re a climate change denialist and a creationist, and a faith-healer or medium… please, just skip the growing old part and just speed the process up of your own accord. Really, we don’t have time to fucking mess around and wait for natural causes to remove you from the gene pool and the voter pool.

Anyway…

Let’s get onto some specific tubular bell-ends, because I’m on a fucking roll, here.

Johnny Ball

My own view, for what it’s worth, is that the water content of air has far more impact on temperature than carbon dioxide levels do…Any increase in air temperature produced by raised water vapour levels will be minor and largely self-regulating…

Oh fuck off, Ball, you cock-handle. No your opinion isn’t worth it. Anyone after two minutes of fucking physical chemistry could tell you what the fuck is wrong with your worthless shitting opinion. Haven’t you fucking heard? The atmosphere is already saturated with water vapour. How the hell do I know this? Ever looked outside when the window starts making funny “pip-pip” noises and see water drops hitting it? Yeah, that. It’s called fucking rain you ass-cloud. It rains because the atmosphere can’t take any more water. The water gets the temperature up from “fuck-my-tits-it’s cold” to barbecue weather. Carbon dioxide is on top of that, and the atmosphere can take more since it doesn’t fucking rain CO2, does it?

Sarah F**king Palin

The e-mails reveal that leading climate “experts” deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

Sarah Palin – only the forth dumbest living human on the planet behind Ken Ham, Ray Comfort and Andrew Schlafly. None of this is true. Literally fucking none of it. There’s nothing else to say, except that Palin is a lying liar who lies by lying her lies. It is as fucking fictitious as her shitty belief that she can see Russia from her house and that the entire universe magically poofed into existence 6000 years ago. Go fuck yourself instead of fucking your daughter with your shitty and demonstrably useless purity and anti-sex bullshit.

Jim Inhofe

In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, do you know what this is? It’s a snowball. And it’s just from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out. Very unseasonable.

Like everyone with “(R)” after their name, Jim Inhofe can also go suck on a fucking barbed-wire-wrapped dick and swallow. This cunting cunt-stash couldn’t tell his arse from his elbow if you showed him the difference with a fucking pop-up book. And what really pisses me the fuck off is that in one two minute interview with this cock-sack, he fires off so many half-truths no-truths, logical fallacies, and pebble-dashes the world in so much bullshit, that I could take hours to debunk it. If I set one minute of him talking as an undergraduate assignment with the question “why is this guy full of shit?” they’d clock up enough hours tearing him a new one that they’d be qualified for a fully-credited Masters degree in it. I should do that. We could call it an ‘MBull’.

Joe Barton

Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up?

GET IN THE FUCKING SEA! DIE IN A FIRE! FUCK YOURSELF! SUCK YOURSELF! GET IN THE CUNTING-OCEAN AND SET YOUR BALLS ON FIRE WITH A LUMP OF POTASSIUM!

All of you, in fact. Get in the fucking rising sea. Drown. Die. Stop polluting the planet with the shit emitting from your worthless fucking mouths you weasel-brained, fuck-nosed, cockwombling, cunt-hammering, dick-splushing, gobbleshitting, twitchbarfing, pseudo-intellectual, screamo-fucking, planet-raping, brain-dead shits.

No, Scientists Didn’t Do The Thing

I threatened to write this a few posts back, and after I Fucking Don’t Understand Science’s last clusterfuck, I’m going to. So next time a major science story gets reported in the popular press, this is the generic response:


No, despite what you have read, Scientists did not do the Thing that has been widely reported in the media yesterday.

You might have heard that scientists did a Thing. This Thing was pretty world-changing. Certainly, if you were to do the Thing, there would be several Nobel Prizes involved. However, you should note that the Thing is, in fact, so far removed from reality that the universe would probably implode with contradictions if the Thing was indeed true.

What was widely reported as “scientists”, plural, with connections to some big science-y organisation you probably have heard of thanks to a Brian Cox documentary, actually just came from one lone scientist, Scientist. As you can probably tell from a quick Google search of their name, this is not the first time Scientist has done something like this.

In fact, they are prone to talking about doing the Thing quite frequently, which was debunked the last time this blog mentioned Scientist.

Scientist has never so far reported doing the Thing in a peer reviewed, decent journal. In fact, the Thing was originally just a conference poster, presented to five people in Ass-end, Nowhere. They then emailed this to Journalist, who started the ball rolling as every other “journalist” just copy-pasted the press release, word for word, about the Thing. Of course, journalists have no expertise in the Thing, so we can’t quite expect them to know that the Thing overturns almost everything experts in the Thing already know as actual facts.

But spotting a few glaring inconsistencies with Scientist’s insistence that they did the Thing isn’t hard. You will note it was never published in a decent journal. You’ll note that their paper doesn’t even begin to prove that the Thing was done, nor happened, nor even is a thing to start with. Their communication about the Thing is devoid of any experimental details of how they came about the Thing, making replication difficult, and where Scientist did give us information on the Thing, it turned out to be severely lacking.

So, in conclusions, the Thing is not real. Scientists did not do the Thing. Can we please have a bit more fucking skepticism and less clickbait next time, please, is that too much to ask?

The Predictability of Science Churnalism + Bonus Sweary Rant

Ca. 20 hours ago, I dropped the following comment on Facebook:

Currently trending is that the Philae lander has perhaps found life on a comet… yeah, if that turns out to be verified and not just media mis-reporting of one lone nut with an incredibly tenuous association with NASA I will physically eat my shorts.

Now, I should reiterate that as I wrote that I had read absolutely nothing about the story on the Philae lander. I had no idea about the specific claims made. All I knew was the phrase “Trending: Philae: Comet That Spacecraft Landed on Could Have Alien Life, Scientists Say”. That’s all.

How much of it did I get right without even looking? Well, it’s obvious innit?

The pattern has become so predictable it was possible to get pretty much all of it right from seeing the mere fact that the story was trending. “Found alien life”? No. Just no. “Scientists say”? Nope, it was one lone nut, namely Chandra Wickramasinghe. “Evidence”? Smevidence.

The only thing I didn’t get right was “tenuous association with NASA” – not surprisingly, Philae is an ESA project, not a NASA one (idiot – though perhaps I just had the EmDrive on the brain). Still, that tends to fit the pattern; since it employs nearly 20,000 people and is associated with countless others, it’s not hard to have a connection with NASA, and “NASA claims” makes a pretty headline no matter the article content.

Still, the story trended anyway.

ALIEN LIFE? Astronomers say there are signs of possible alien life on Comet 67P, after studying data from the European Space Agency’s Philae Lander.

….ABC7 News said.

Philae’s comet may host alien ‘life’: astronomers

….Some other guy said.

Scientists have spotted what some believe to be evidence of life on the Philae comet.

….I Don’t Fucking Understand the First Thing About Science said.

….

…said the Daily Mail because for the last few months I’ve set AdBlock to kill anything from that site and my life has been so much better ever since. Although I’m told their article was on form.

Mere hours later, the refutation articles finally caught up. Bullshit, called Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy (in a near-identical reflex-action to mine). Nope nope nope said Rachel Feltman in the Washington Post. What a croquembouche of solidified emu excrement declared… well, pretty much anyone who knows even the first thing about the subject.

Why do we even bother with the refutation articles? The pattern is quite literally that predictable. Why not just write the generic post – titled “No, Scientists Didn’t Do The Thing You Read About” – and point to it? We can have a few set phrases like “It turns out that the evidence they presented has a more simple, parsimonious and perfectly expected explanation” and “No, the scientist in question wasn’t actually associated with the research project” and absolutely certainly “The claims weren’t published, they were just mouthed off in an email to the press desk” and words to that effect.

It would save so much time.

— Note, profanity begins here —

Mainstream popular science right now is a fucking shambolic piece of cunting horse bollocks. We thought it was bad before, but it hasn’t got much fucking better. The rise of the internet and – buzzword alert – social media has given us easier and more ready access to experts than ever before, but still these fucking fucktarded fucking newspapers, sites and the people who read them still gobble up any old shite guffed up by fucking moron that tells them something.

Lone Nut: “Hey, I’ve got a fucking PhD, kind-of, doesn’t matter that I’ve spent the years since plucking shit-covered morsels of Wrong out of my hairy anus and flinging them at the fucking internet, I have a crank theory for you to post!”

Shitty Newspaper: “Oh, sweet, dude, just what we needed! We haven’t undermined the public’s trust in science for fucking ages!”

Lone Nut: “Yeah, you take that sweaty morsel of shit I just told you!”

Shitty Newspapers: “Yes, sir, please feed me more of your shit! I love it because I’m a filthy fucking whore!”

That’s basically what happens. Each. And. Every. Fucking. Time.

It has been over a decade since Andrew Fucking Wakefield shat all over our collective consciousness with his outright fucking fraudulent claims about autism and measles jabs – and now people are starting to fucking die because of it – and the shitting papers still haven’t learned their fucking lesson about basic fucking fact-checking before jumping to publish some trumped up fucking dingo’s kidneys coming from some twat-mouthed cockwomble.

Just fucking admit it you cunts – you’re not fucking writing science articles, not even fucking popular science articles. You’re writing fucking clickbait for shit’s sake! Or worse, you’re trying to fuck about with peoples’ perceptions of what science even fucking is so that when you publish your own fucking horseshit like “vaccines cause AIDS” and “climate change isn’t real” people will believe your version of events because “Hey, scientists thought there was life on a comet! What idiots!”

Something needs to fucking change. Fucking pronto.

Magical Narrative Thinking

Before I begin, this focuses on a very specific example – so, if you have time, have a think about how it generalises. There are countless examples out there, in fiction especially, but where it bleeds over into real life we can run into serious problems.


Yes, it’s a post dedicated to Ken Ham, the dumbest person on the planet not named Ray Comfort, who recently said this in “celebration” of the same-sex marriage ruling in the United States:

hambow

Specifically, I want to look the part that says “Well, the president did not invent the rainbow; God invented it.” (emphasis added)

I’m sure many Christians out there think God is the de facto inventor of the rainbow by virtue of being the creator of the universe, but I’m not talking about that. That’s actually fairly self-consistent, and I can’t really fault it much. This is different. Remember: Ken Ham is a literal Biblical creationist.

He genuinely, literally believes the Bible is the historical book of record for all of history. And by extension, all of physics, too.

He honestly, really, genuinely doesn’t believe in any science that contradicts the Bible, never mind any historical fact that contradicts it.

He literally, actually, genuinely, really believes that the Book of Genesis is correct that the atmospheric phenomenon we call a “rainbow” is a sign from God, an apology for taking his anger management issues out on the entire population of the world in the single biggest act of genocide in “recorded” history.

Ken Ham literally, really, honestly, actually, literally, genuinely, properly, really, actually thinks that the rainbow was invented by God after the flood.

It didn’t, therefore, exist before the flood.

This is what Ken Ham actually believes – otherwise his entire world collapses in on itself faster than the rectal prolapse suffered by a homophobic televangelist after too much anal sex with gay hookers on speed.(That’s quite enough of that, Ed.)

Now to cut a long-winded pseudo-intellectual story short; we simply cannot build a universe where a rainbow cannot exist.

Well, we can, but we have to understand its wider effects. I’m perfectly okay with God Almightly clicking his non-corporeal fingers and altering physics in such a way that one moment there was no optical phenomenon in the sky and then suddenly there was… but we have to follow those changes to their logical conclusion. In stories, with their narratives, you can get away with changing one thing, but in real life you can’t.

There are three things you can change in order to stop a rainbow from being physically possible: the light, the principles of optics, and the source (I suppose one could call it the “material cause”?) of the refraction. Remove one of those components, and no rainbow is physically possible.

The details makes a fun and entertaining thought-experiment: what would happen if we stopped a rainbow from happening?

  1. Remove the light – No light, no rainbow. But then we can no longer see, either. Our vision requires light, so any antediluvian civilisation would be blind and incapable of sight. It doesn’t stop there, though. Without photons, chemical reactions that are sensitised by photons or that emit photons wouldn’t happen. Energy level changes at the quantum level would all have to take place non-radiatively. There would be no mechanism to masslessly transfer energy about the universe. Quantum mechanics breaks at the seams as it can’t shed energy around as photons. At the very least, the Earth would freeze solid as the sun was no longer capable of warming it from across the void of space with a massive influx of solar radiation.
  2. Remove the optical effects –  Now we’re cooking! We can keep the light, but let’s kill the concept of refraction. Okay… now we can’t see either, since our (allegedly “intelligently” designed) eyes have to bend light twice in order to focus. Once through the main cornea and then through our squishier lens. Antediluvian civilisation is still blind. Light now travels at the same speed through all media, not slowing down or altering. Light is no longer interacting with matter in the way it should. Quantum mechanics as we know it again shatters into a thousand pieces, the universe dies of entropic heat death before it is even born.
  3. Remove the water – Okay… let’s keep all the physics behind the rainbow! The universe exists, light interacts with matter, let’s just kill the rainbow at its source – the condensed water droplets in the atmosphere. Immediately we all die of thirst and starvation as there’s no water, so let’s put the water back. Oh, wait, the hydrogen bonding between water molecules, as well as the mass of two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom give bulk water very specific properties such as its vapour pressure, and its melting/boiling points – that means if we put the water back we’ll have water vapour, and it’ll condense around any particulate matter in the atmosphere… back to the drawing board, let’s alter conditions so that water vapour can’t condense! Aha! Let’s lower the pressure of the atmosphere, that should keep it in the gas phase… oh, wait, now people can’t breathe because the partial pressure of oxygen is too low for haemoglobin to work properly. Let’s up the molar proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere so the partial pressure is still ca.0.2 atm as it is now…. oh great, now not enough nitrogen for nitrogen-fixing bacteria to work with and we all die of starvation and let’s not even start with what the lower pressure does to the boiling point of the oceans and the gases dissolved in them… okay, so let’s boost the temperature above the dew point of water… bah, we’re all dead again… quantum mechanics remains in tact, but chemistry explodes in fireball of icy self-contradicting death and destruction that renders the planet inhospitable to everything that isn’t a self-contained abstract concept.

That’s consistency for you. There isn’t a world where you can’t have a rainbow yet let it still work exactly as it does today. You can’t pick it apart from the rest of the universe and treat it as a narrative block, a piece of magic with its own separate rules. If you change one rule, it changes for everything.