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Chemtrails, an example of Pseudo-Science

JetContrails

To begin, I want to take a moment to define, and explain, what pseudoscience is.  Pseudoscience is an adjective, used to describe a thought process which borrows from the scientific lexicon and claims to be based on scientific principles, in order to put forward an idea or ideology deserving of more merit than it would otherwise receive.  Advocates and practitioners of pseudoscience are not necessarily malicious or intending to do wrong or cause harm.  Many times advocates and practitioners of pseudoscience are scientifically illiterate true believers in the idea, concept, or product they are putting forward.  Believing strongly in something however, does not make it correct or incorrect, that is what the scientific method is for.

Let me be clear, just because a conclusion is based on the scientific method, or arrived at using sound scientific principles and methodologies, does not make it necessarily correct.  It may simply be the best explanation we can provide based upon the current evidence at hand.  Science is self correcting, and the best science never stops searching for better explanations to explain our surroundings, the universe, and how it all fits together.

The scientific method is simply a process by which we test claims and ideas, and then make testable predictions based upon those claims and ideas.  If the testing, experimentation, or observations prove the test or claim incorrect, it is either rejected or modified to account for the new data.  The claim or idea is then published or made known, and other people, with knowledge related to the claim or idea, do their best to prove the claim or idea incorrect.  This is accomplished by looking for holes in logic, and independent testing, experimentation, or observations.  It is sometimes mean, it is often hard, and many times even the best claims and ideas are found to be either completely wrong or in need of refining.

Pseudoscience does not follow the above process.  Claims or ideas are put forward as fact, and then evidence is sifted, cherry picking out testing, observations, or experimentation which supports the claim or idea, and discarding that which refutes.

I would like to use chemtrails as an example.

The above image is a jet, flying through air which is sufficiently cool enough to allow condensation trails ( Contrail ) to form.  The science behind how the exhaust from a jet engine, or the decrease in pressure caused by the wing tips, forms contrails is established science that has met all of the above tests.  It is reproducible, independently verifiable, and conforms with other established theories of physics and chemistry.  With this knowledge we can accurately predict when a particular aircraft flying through a particular part of the atmosphere, will or will not form a contrail.

Chemtrails by comparison are based upon an idea that a government, group of governments, or another unknown body is for various reasons dispersing chemicals into the atmosphere using civilian and / or military aircraft.  There are a variety of chemicals claimed to be dispersed, and there is no consensus among chemtrail believers regarding the chemicals dispersed, the chemical dispersal mechanism, or timing of dispersal.  Some believe all contrails are actually chemtrails, while others believe there are subtle but clear differences between the two.

If you have time watch this youtube clip sent to me by someone on Facebook.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijlY6qgnv-s

Kirsten Meghan certainly sounds like a sane rational person, and she tells an emotionally compelling story that seems on face value airtight.  What’s more, she worked in the Air Force, her career is apparently spotless, she received medals and ribbons, and she’s mother.

Unfortunately her time in the Air Force as an industrial hygienist, does not make her an expert on the formation jet engine condensation.  It does not make her an expert on how to perform environmental studies of background pollution.  It does not make her an expert on fluctuations of background pollution, and how they relate to weather, dust formation in natural versus artificial clouds, and what role the hypothesized chemtrails would have on an industrialized countries chemical signature without chemtrails when compared to an industrialized country plagued by chemtrails.

Ms. Meghan asks us, the scientific skeptical community, to have a cognitive dissonance, to hold two opposite views in our head regarding her expertise.  On the one hand, she asks us to regard her as an expert on this topic because of her working knowledge of science as it applies to this topic of chemtrails.  On the other hand she displays a lack of experience on eliminating variables, control experiments, publishing in peer reviewed journals ( such as The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene ).  This last but important part of the scientific method allows others in her field to review her data, her collection methodology, her testing methodology, and her conclusions.

As it stands, from this presentation, we don’t know how she collected her samples, what volumes were collected, over what period of time, and if she collected samples from areas presumed to be either less effected or even free of chemtrail pollution for control purposes.

Ms. Meghan discusses various people she encountered who were suffering from various ailments, yet she does not discuss whether or not medical doctors were enlisted to treat these symptoms.  She does not give any examples of testing that was performed to ensure the symptoms were brought on by the causative agent(s) she claims.

Ms. Meghan does not offer a reason for the chemical dispersal at either facility, does not elaborate on what possible weapon system or specific geoengineering project was taking place.

This is not science, this is pseudoscience, but let me again clarify, she may in fact be right.  Everything she claims, everything claimed by the chemtrails conspiracy people may be correct.  However, it is not science, it is a guess based upon circumstantial evidence with a conclusion only reached by ignoring evidence to the contrary, and accepting evidence that supported the original preconceived guess.

To be a truly freethinker as Kirsten Meghan claims to be, she should first understand what constitutes good evidence.  Then like the scientific skeptical community, she can believe anything and everything presented to her, assuming of course there is sufficient evidence to believe it.

-Maddy