Joe Rogan, And Other Podcasters, "Influence" Does Not Equal Expertise, Let Alone Data. Science Is Not Debate, It Is Data Lead.

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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the College of DuPage. My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and raised in Chicagoland I have lived... Read More »

Finally thanks to the sheriff we have some actual scientific information on this whole story.   The sheriff with the actual balloon on hand and in consultation with a professor took measurements.  The balloon could not have held the boy due to an 18 lb discrepancy in it's measured weight and the weight reported by Richard Heene.  The balloon was made of duct tape, tarps, plywood, and tinfoil.  The sheriffs department put it back together and it supported the weight of the boy.    He cited a Colorado state rule which keeps him from stating if polygraphs were administered or the results, or if confessions were obtained.  
According to ABC 7 Denver unnamed "friends" have dubbed Richard Heene a "Mad Scientist".Oh here we go again!  Then this news station reports every bad word someone can say about him, with no independent verification.    There are many many stories like this out there, all relying on the reporting of other news outlets often with no independent verification of anything. Most of the "news" out there on this topic is the same way.  The meta message of all this that I am getting is "of course he's bad he's interested in science."  Another case of the mad scientist stereotype at work.  
The "unusual", "eccentric", extraordinary Heene family.  It seems clear to me that these people have been through 24 hours of hell thanks to the cynical media.  Watching them on TV I ask myself, how would one raise children who you would be interested in science?  I think of my own family, and the families of many other scientist I have known, and heard of.  For the record I don't think this was a hoax, at worst this was a practical joke cooked up by those kids, more likely this was just a great deal of confusion.  (I still don't know who would rescue someone from a runaway balloon.  I guess if that happens your just screwed.)  
It's been all over the news for so long and so hyped that people expect it to be 1918-1919 all over again.  Well I reckon that I have that pandemic flu.  Let me tell you all you need to know about this flu.  How bad is it? How easy is it to catch it?  How long has it taken for me to get over it? How does it feel to have it? (Some of you will ask how do I know I have that flu?)

I am not a medical doctor, if you feel sick follow the guidelines given by the Centers for Disease Control, and if you feel really sick report to an emergency room.  Though honestly I don't think you'll need to. because...
Genealogy is the study of ones family history and background.  I have been doing such a study in my spare time.  What I found was in a word shocking, affirming, and surprising.  I knew from oral history passed down by my elders including a 98 year old Aunt, now passed away, that our family originated in colonial Virginia.  What I did not know was much about what happened between our earliest African ancestors arriving, and my great great grandfather. 

What I knew was told to me in the form of a oral history.  
What happened to all the enthusiasm?  Perhaps new astronomy will shed light on the matter.
In 2005 the anniversary of Einstein's miracle year there was much talk of "new Einstien"s and why there have been no new ones.   Carlo Rovelli published a very good book on the subject.  String theory and M theory were as hot as the surface of the sun.  In a heated exchange on Wikipedia I made the acquaintance of Lubos Motl.   There was much excitement 4 years ago.  So what happened?  Why no accepted theory of quantum gravity?