Strange Galactic Science

Guest Opinion by Kip Hansen – 5 August 2020


featured_image_SGSMany of the fields of Science practiced today seem to have veered off into some kind of Alternative Universe – some kind of “Science from a far and very different and strange Galaxy”, maybe the same Galaxy inhabited by the editors and journalists of The New York Times.

As Bari Weiss said of The New York Times:

“The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.”  [ source  — my bold, kh ]

In that far distant and far different strange Galaxy, Science is performed by a process of imaginary cause.   I call it Strange Galactic Science.   That is to say, Science from some Strange Galaxy.

 “What?” you say.   It works like this:

A Strange Galactic Science Primer:

  1. Identify some thing (some activity, some substance, some chemical or compound) that you and yours don’t like.  Identify that  thing as a Bad Thing.  It doesn’t matter why you don’t like it, it is enough that you don’t and it helps if some other people also don’t like it, especially your peers in your research field.
  2. Identify something, some outcome for someone or something, that is generally considered to be undesirable.  This is the Undesirable Thing. Again, doesn’t matter what it is but it is best if almost everyone would at least consider that this something as on the negative-side-of-good somewhere.
  3. Now, all you have to do is measure (count) the Bad Thing in the first step, measure the Undesirable Thing in the second step and simply claim that the first causes the second!  Note, it is always trivial to find some way to connect the two.

This is the basis of nearly all  environmental health “epidemiology” done today.   Researchers do not have to worry that they have provided no biological plausibility – not in today’s Strange Galactic Science (SGS).  This works because nearly everyone agrees that the Bad Thing in step one is BAD and that the Undesirable Thing – some outcome –  in step two is UNDESIRABLE and NOT GOOD.  None of your peers (at least those in their right minds and aware of the threat posed by the Twitter-mob) will step in to defend the Bad Thing in step one.  No one, no peer-reviewer, no journal editor, would think of demanding biological plausibility.  Why?  Two reasons:  If one objects to SGS, one will be labeled a Bad Thing Denier (which can end an academic career) and because in Strange Galactic ScienceBad Things have magical powers and can cause almost any Undesirable outcome, even from a distance: cancer, low birth weights, premature births, birth defects,  heart attacks and strokes, deadly stress, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, high blood sugar, low blood sugar . . . .  oh my, the list is endless.

Not only can Bad Things cause Undesirable outcomes – but they can magically do so selectively against specific groups of humans.

Please, do not think I am jesting here, the evidence is far too extensive to deny.

The latest example is this study:

Flaring from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas

By Lara J. Cushing,  Kate Vavra-Musser,  Khang Chau, Meredith Franklin  and Jill E.Johnston

The authors are all associated with UCLA and USC.  It is notable that, as far as can be determined from the study and its methodology and supplemental information, none of the authors actually went anywhere near the study area – Texas – to perform this study.

Julia Rosen,  of The New York Times, summarized their findings this way:

“Pregnant women who lived near areas where flaring is common had 50 percent  greater odds of giving birth prematurely than those who did not. These births occurred before 37 weeks of gestation, when incomplete development raises a baby’s chance of numerous disorders, even death.

“It’s on par with the increased risk you see for women who smoke,” said Lara Cushing, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lead author of the study. Unlike smoking, however, “it’s not really something you can do much about on an individual level,” she said.

The analysis also found that the impacts of flaring fell entirely on Hispanic mothers, raising concerns about environmental injustice at a time when questions of racial inequality have gripped the nation.”

Applying even a modicum of critical analysis to the results of this study reveals that it is indeed an example of Strange Galactic Science.

  1. Somehow the findings only apply to “unconventional oil and gas development” – see the study’s title. It does not apply to all the other gas and oil wells, of which there are thousands, in the study area of Texas.
  2. None of the researchers spent even one minute in the area of study.
  3. Not one woman was interviewed.
  4. Not one woman’s real-world exposure to air or water or soil pollution of any kind was measured in any way.
  5. The number of methane flares in the study area was not measured. The number of high temperature sources in the study area, assumed to be methane flares,  was counted auto-magically by computer algorithm, from satellite data, but only those that occurred during the hours of darkness.
  6. The study offers no evidence of any kind of any measured or discovered “cause” that might be responsible for the low birthweight or pre-term births – there are only suppositions of what “might cause” or “might be associated with” pre-term births, but none of these “maybes” was found or measured in this study.
  7. The study finds specifically that : “Our stratified analysis suggested that Hispanic women were vulnerable to the effects of flaring on preterm birth, whereas non- Hispanic white women were not.”
  8. Point 7 above must be considered in the light of Earth-based science systems, as opposed to Strange Galactic Science: no evidence whatever is found in this study that there are any “effects of flaring on preterm birth”.

The Times says: “The study found that the odds of preterm birth were 30 percent higher for mothers who lived within three miles of an oil and gas well compared with those who did not, and 50 percent higher for women who were exposed to 10 or more flares over the course of their pregnancies.”

Note that there was not a single measure of actual, real-world exposure of even a single woman to flares of any kind.  The authors have no idea whatever if any of the women who gave birth during the study period even saw a single flare, no less were exposed to anything about flares that could harm their health.  There is no data on how many months of their pregnancy each (or any) of the women spent living in the study zone (or how many went and stayed with their mothers during the period.)  There is no data about daytime flares which happen when pregnant women are more likely to be out and about.

Only in Strange Galactic Science can one assign as a cause something that was not realistically quantified in its relation to the posited effect and for which there is no biological plausibility whatever.

In the discussion section of the paper, the authors do recount some of the known possible causes of pre-term birth:

  1. being “socioeconomically disadvantaged”
  2. living below the federal poverty level
  3. differences in pre-existing health status
  4. greater co-exposures to other pollutants (however, remember no pollutants are identified as resulting from flares in this study and no pollutants of any kind were measured)
  5. compromised ability to cope with the adverse effects of pollution due to poor nutrition or limited access to health care
  6. modifying effects of psychosocial stress associated with living in poverty or experiencing discrimination
  7. [and the odd belief that] “socially disadvantaged women”… “are more vulnerable to the impacts of ambient air pollution” [ my bold – kh]

ethnicityRemember, the finding of this bit of Strange Galactic Science is that only women that identify as “Hispanic”  are victims of “flaring”.  And this might be one of those weird-yet-true quirks of genetics if “Hispanic” was a racial identity, if Hispanic meant being of some specific race with a shared genetic history.  But Hispanic does not mean that, it means “People who identify as Spanish or Hispanic may be of any race.  As one of the only two specifically designated categories of ethnicity in the United States (the other being “Not Hispanic or Latino”), Hispanics form a pan-ethnicity incorporating a diversity of inter-related cultural and linguistic heritages.” and  “The United States Census Bureau uses the ethnonyms Hispanic or Latino to refer to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race and states that Hispanics or Latinos can be of any race, any ancestry, any ethnicity.”  [ Wiki ]   So, in this study, “Hispanic” apparently can mean Hispanic White, Hispanic Black, Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander (because they list “non-Hispanic” categories for these).   Oddly, most American Latinos (Hispanics) are actually mixed race:  “A study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Human Genetics, based on 23andMe data from 8,663 self-described Latinos, estimated that Latinos in the United States carried a mean of 65.% European ancestry, 35.0% Native American ancestry. The study found that self-described Latinos from the Southwest, especially those along the Mexican border, had the highest mean levels of Native American ancestry.”   [ same Wiki ]

The nonsensical character of this Strange Galactic Science paper is epitomized in this: “Our stratified analysis suggested that Hispanic women were vulnerable to the effects of flaring on preterm birth, whereas non-Hispanic white women were not.  As far as we are aware, this is the first study to document greater health impacts associated with OGD [oil and gas development]  among women of color.”  [quote from the study].  Not to put too fine a point on it, but Hispanic people are not necessarily “people of color” by actual skin color – or by genetics [see above]  — except in the weird weird world of Identity Politics.

[Personal Note: I know that that is a dangerous thing to say.    But my mother and my grandfather were both as dark-complected as most (and darker than many) of the people in those linked photos of Hispanics (above) .   My grandfather, whose family was from northeast Germany, was one of those “Germans with swarthy or darker complexions were called “Black Dutch” (or Schwarze Deutsche). “  [ Wiki ]   And my skin color, if I get the slightest amount of sun, turns a deep warm brown.  I easily passed as Latin while serving in the Northern Caribbean.  Despite these physical facts, I do not believe I qualify as a “person of color”.]

The Times reports that:

“It can be hard to tease out cause and effect in retrospective studies such as this, said Dr. Heather Burris, a neonatologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine who was not involved in the work. But Dr. Burris said the researchers did their best to rule out factors that might make some women prone to preterm birth, like age, smoking habits, socioeconomic status and access to prenatal care.”

[On the contrary, the researchers used these factors to try to explain the odd finding that only Hispanic women were affect by flaring. This is a “kind” peer comment which appears to be from someone saavy to Strange Galactic Science and knows not to rock the boat by pointing to the lack of any biological plausibility or the lack of scientific measurements — kh]

“Scientists do not know exactly why some women give birth prematurely, Dr. Burris said. But the new study adds to growing evidence that environmental factors play an important role.”

The audacity of our journalist….the first sentence is the salient fact – we don’t know what causes some women to give birth prematurely.  Readers of the Times will not know from the above whether Dr. Burris uttered the second sentence, or if this is simply the opinion of The NY Times reporter or a statement required by the Editorial Narratives of The New York TimesIf the Times still had real editors, the editor would have demanded, we hope, that the journalist clarify the last paragraph so readers would know exactly what part was said by Dr. Burris.

And, in an effort to supply “balance”, the Times includes this dismissive short note:

“ The Texas Oil and Gas Association took issue with the study. “The researchers used proximity as a surrogate for exposure,” said Todd Staples, president of the association and a member of the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition…”.

This study is based on a couple of models and a lot of statistics attempting to control for confounders – which are at least known, unlike the posited cause which is only partially known, partially quantified.  Ioannidis has pointed out that such “controlling” is just not possible given that “Scientists do not know exactly why some women give birth prematurely” – thus it would be impossible to control for “other” factors that cause preterm births.

It is my hope that this kind of Strange Galactic Science is not actually practiced anywhere in the known Universe – and that such anomalies, such divergence from reality, only occur  here on Earth, in our failing science journals and, of course, at  The New York Times.

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

I would have liked to avoid mentioning race and ethnicity but they were the very point of this misguided and ill-performed study.  I am appalled that the authors, when arriving at a non-credible result, did not backtrack and find out what they had done wrong in their data collection and/or analysis.

It is the nature of our current methods of scientific endeavor that this study, now published, will become “accepted fact” – in spite of the impossibility of the major finding.  “Impossible?” you ask.  Whatever, if anything, that flaring might do to “cause” pre-term births does not go out into the countryside of Southeastern Texas’ oil country and attack ONLY the women who self-identify as “Hispanic”.

We live in hard times.

# # # # #


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Thomas Gasloli
August 5, 2020 10:27 am

There is no science anymore–there is only politics.
There is no art anymore–there is only politics.
There is no entertainment anymore–there is only politics.
There are no sports anymore–there is only politics.
There is no journalism anymore–there is only politics.

And politics consists entirely of lies.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
August 5, 2020 11:25 am

As does most journalism.

Bill Powers
Reply to  DHR
August 6, 2020 10:28 am

It all flows together. Journalism does not stand alone. They operate as the Propaganda Ministry for the Political Puppets who are bought and placed by the Faceless Cultural Elite who need Central Authoritarian Governance to more officially rule over the masses which would be we.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
August 5, 2020 11:42 am

These could all be the result of the objectivization of subjective reasoning that arises from emotional manipulation which seems to be the modus operandi of the political left.

While both the left and the right mislead and even lie, the left is way ahead of the pack, especially when it comes to lies that can be bolstered with emotional platitudes.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
August 5, 2020 12:05 pm

“here is no science anymore–there is only politics.
There is no free speech any more- there are only politically correct banal platitudes.

Reply to  Vuk
August 5, 2020 2:53 pm

And apparently, whatever science is left perpetuates Eurocentricity, which must be dismantled.

Reply to  Vuk
August 5, 2020 7:14 pm

I was reading an article on “TheHill” this morning that 50% of liberals had no problem with the position that it is OK to fire a CEO if it is discovered that he/she had contributed to the Trump campaign.

The most depressing thing was that not a single one of the liberal readers had a problem with this.

Reply to  MarkW
August 5, 2020 11:27 pm

In the UK, we had the appalling sight of idiots far too young to know what 70s Britain was like dancing in the street and singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” when Margaret Thatcher died

The same will happen when Trump kicks the bucket

Reply to  Redge
August 6, 2020 7:31 am

When Reagan died, many Democrats who had described him as evil incarnate when he was president, rushed to the nearest microphone to extol his virtues.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
August 5, 2020 9:03 pm

So Marx was right after all, when argued that everything is politics…..😝

Timo Soren
August 5, 2020 10:38 am

Larger sales of Habenero peppers might produce the same results.

Charles Higley
Reply to  Timo Soren
August 5, 2020 6:47 pm

So, did they ask if 90+% of the women in that area were Hispanic?
Was it an even mix of all ethnic groups?
Why were blacks excluded from this study? That’s racist.
It also did not include same sex married couples and the effects of flares on them.
Wow, not inclusive at all. Shame on them.
And they p[robably think they are doing science. Yeah . . .

August 5, 2020 10:41 am

NY government will ban out of the abundance of caution for purely political and donor reasons as part of the mob rule. Thugocracy can spring up anywhere that allows it to get established.

Throw in some extra donations and paid legal contractors and they will start up the nuisance court case machine for you.

Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 10:45 am

““Black Dutch”

I am “Black Irish”. During my life I have been identified as Mexican, Cherokee, African-American, as well as others. Yet I am a real mutt – Irish, Dutch, and French among others. Am I a person of color?

Garland Lowe
Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 11:01 am

We’re all persons of color, just different shades.

Reply to  Garland Lowe
August 5, 2020 11:29 pm

Exactly and, no matter what shade we are, remove the skin and we’re all the same colour.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 11:32 am

The speculation on the origin of the “Black Irish” suggests that you may have some Spanish genetics as well.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 5, 2020 12:20 pm

Yep. I sailed with a guy who had quite dark skin and who could trace his ancesrty back to a survivor of a wreck on the west coast of Ireland of a Spanish Armada ship.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 11:36 am

You have to fill out a social conscience survey to have our answer determined.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 5, 2020 12:25 pm

“Despite these physical facts, I do not believe I qualify as a “person of color””

Since any color is a color, we’re all “persons of color”. It’s an idiotic phrase.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 5, 2020 2:53 pm

Be very careful never to say “colored persons.” That is, for some reason, entirely verboten

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 6, 2020 11:45 am

Yet, the NAACP has never changed its name.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 5, 2020 5:05 pm

Is black a color? Is white all colors?

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
August 6, 2020 4:09 am

I remember back in Jr. HS art class being taught that black, white, and gray are not colors but shades!

That black and white are what result from the absence of color and gray is a shade that results from the combining of the black and white shades. There are primary colors and all other colors result when one mixes one primary color with another but when one mixes black with a any color it darkens the color creating a different shade of that same color and when one mixes white with a color it lightens that color creating a lighter shade of that same color.

Now just doing a quick search and scan I can’t find those definitions of color and shades anywhere. Was my art teacher back then putting out misinformation or has the definition of color changed over the years?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
August 6, 2020 8:15 am

Rah, but no one is truly white, nor truly black. Some come close to those extremes, but don’t get there.

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
August 6, 2020 9:07 am

I was just speaking of colors and shades and not what a particular race a person is based on the amount of melanin they have in their skin.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 5, 2020 2:22 pm

I am amazed that so far no one has self identified as God.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 5, 2020 3:39 pm
Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 1:39 pm

Tim, you must be “a person of color”, as I must be with my patriarchal + matriarchal Irish lineage.

After all, our forebears were commonly known as “the (n-word)s of Europe”

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 2:13 pm

White skin is white because it reflects nearly all wavelengths of light, so I much be a “person of colors.”

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 3:02 pm

A friend stopped in at an aerospace corporation while on vacation. He asked an HR man if they had any openings at the PhD level. The man said “No, but you can leave your resume.” My friend handed over his resume with ‘Jack Roberto’ at the top. “Roberto? When can you start?”

“Jack Roberto” is very, very Irish, with blue eyes and red hair. Didn’t matter. The only thing that counted was that ‘o’ at the end of the name.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 6, 2020 6:42 am

Speaking of which. I wonder what the “white privilege” was for the Italian and Irish immigrants to the country was during the late 19th and early 20th century?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 6, 2020 11:47 am

I know that and Italians were identified as lazy “Whoops” and criminals as if they were all associated with the ways of the Mafia. It was meant to make people think about how stupid this “white privilege” and “systemic racism” stuff is. Kids aren’t taught history nor to think for themselves because if they did they would be asking how did Barrack Obama become POTUS if the system is racist?

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 3:34 pm

There have been a few times when I have been darker than my brother-in-law, who is half Mexican. Not often, he is mostly an outdoor person and I am not, but there was one fairly long period when he had a desk job himself and I was doing a lot of work on our landscaping during high Arizona summer.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 5, 2020 9:10 pm

You are only a “person of colour” when it supports some hysterical Woke position.
I have a multi-ethnic background but a first glance look Caucasian, but have been told to my face that the rest of my make-up doesn’t count and that I should consider myself a privileged white male – which by progressive Woke definition also explicitly means I’m a racist.
Follow the logic….?

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 6, 2020 2:41 am

I, too, am apparently “Black Irish,” according to my neurologist (based on one blood test result). I’m also of German descent. And as an Irish-German, I suffer the curse of my people: every payday, I get really, really drunk…then invade France.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
August 6, 2020 4:47 am

All or western Europe has been invaded and is occupied now without a shot fired.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 6, 2020 5:39 pm

I’m glad! Your posts are always so great, and it’s good that I can at least reply with something that gives you some enjoyment.

August 5, 2020 10:58 am

{Insert Catastrophe Here}. Women and Minorities Hit Hardest.

Reply to  damp
August 5, 2020 6:30 pm

“It’s just a classic example of environmental racism”, she said

Now the white old males have made nature racist as well.

Reply to  LdB
August 5, 2020 9:08 pm

Thank our lucky stars that the democratic candidate for President …..

…….. hold on a sec.

August 5, 2020 10:59 am

“But Dr. Burris said the researchers did their best to rule out factors that might make some women prone to preterm birth, like age, smoking habits, socioeconomic status and access to prenatal care.”

And just how did they determine age, smoking habits, socioeconomic status and access to prenatal care if they did not visit the study area and did not talk to any of the alleged victims? This must be some newly discovered emanation from Texas perhaps akin to the emanation from the Constitution that the Supreme Court found many years ago to justify abortion. Are there similar emanations from other States or perhaps foreign countries? Clearly, more study is required.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 5, 2020 6:18 pm

So in the US you have to fill in ethnicity in your hospital admission form or does the admin staff guess at it???

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 6, 2020 6:32 am

Wow I wouldn’t even know what to put I guess “none” or “a lot”.

I don’t have any connection to any of my ancestry because of my large mixed ethnic background and don’t identify with any of them. I would not pass as European or British being to dark for that. So what would I be expected to put on the form?

August 5, 2020 11:01 am

Images reconstructed from signals passing through a black hole… whore h/t NAACP, may not represent actual objects, past, present, future, or real.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  n.n
August 6, 2020 11:35 am

Think of the politics involved to get governments to shell out billions of dollars to build tens of kilometer in diameter particle accelerators to throw subatomic particles at each other at speeds near that of light while consuming cities worth of energy.

Then the debris is examined using detectors designed to detect exactly the “signature” of some fantasy “God” particle or particle of “dark matter’ or who know what? It’s no surprise that after trillions of collisions the detectors built to find that specific signature, actually find it.

Then we are told they will have to run the thing many more times and build and accelerator ten times as big to determine the exact characteristics of the particle which they formerly claimed knew exactly.

Loren C. Wilson
August 5, 2020 11:05 am

When the effect only affected one subgroup of women, this should have raised a big red flag for the researchers, the reviewers, and the editors. In real science, not SGS, this type of result must be investigated and explained. Otherwise, the study is incomplete and not ready for publication.

steve marden
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 5, 2020 12:39 pm

Another possibility for the ‘only’hispanic’ result is that its statistical abberation caused by a very low sample size.

Reply to  steve marden
August 5, 2020 3:31 pm

Alcohol use during pregnancy is one of the known causes of premature birth. [March of Dimes Update: Taking action against prematurity. Ellen Fiore. Contemporary Ob/Gyn 2003;2:92-104.]

Inclusion of “Hispanic” subjects with native American ancestry, where alcoholism rates approach 100%, would skew the study.

The study is drivel.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
August 5, 2020 12:06 pm

It’s all part of the left’s strategy of identifying groups sensitive to specific emotional triggers and then weaponizing those triggers in an attempt to achieve consensus for their degenerative agenda. Proper science just gets in the way.

Ron Long
August 5, 2020 11:14 am

Kip, I think the filter for Strange Galactic Science is “feelings”. If you feel like something is reality, then attempts to disuade you from believing your feelings are interpreted as an assault, and probably something attempted by “deniers”. For a current example CNN says the ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in Beirut, Lebanon, produced the large explosion yesterday. Ammonium nitrate is a provider of oxygen for burning with a fuel, like diesel, and only is a provider under conditions of sufficient initial shock (chemical explosions are fast burning events). I wonder if there are degrees in Feelings? That Sciencey stuff is too complicated.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ron Long
August 5, 2020 11:39 am
Reply to  Ron Long
August 5, 2020 11:43 am

There was a cargo ship in Texas City, Texas that blew up back in the 50’s (it was mentioned in the article). The ammonium nitrate in the cargo holds was not mixed with anything. Adding fuel oil makes the boom bigger, but isn’t necessary for a boom to exist.

Reply to  MarkW
August 5, 2020 6:21 pm

Ask Lebanon about that yesterday

Ron Long
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 5, 2020 2:00 pm

My experience is with ANFO (ammonia nitrate fuel oil) utilized in mining operations. [while it may be public information, we will endeavor to keep bombmaking instructions off this site. -mod] Who is to say that barrels of some type of fuel were not co-located with the ammonia nitrate and the initial fire set off some fuel and started the whole process? Although the explosion was large, it was not large enough for 2,750 tons of ammonia nitrate mixed in the proper ratio with fuel oil, so only a few tons of ammonia nitrate and a few barrels of fuel would do the trick. In the case of exploding shops or trucks on fire the fuel tank(s) exploding due to the fire would be sufficient for a significant explosion. It will be interesting to see what the eventual analysis of the Beirut explosion shows, but whatever that is the damage to life and limb is tremendous.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ron Long
August 5, 2020 4:34 pm

You said, “Who is to say that barrels of some type of fuel were not co-located with the ammonia nitrate and the initial fire set off some fuel and started the whole process.” Well then, by coincidence, the second ship, flying under a different flag, must have had the same situation when it blew up the next day in Texas City.

Actually, while diesel fuel (or any organic material, well mixed) makes a bigger explosion than ammonium nitrate alone, AN is perfectly capable of exploding in the absence of a high explosive detonator.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 5, 2020 7:22 pm

According to all reports, some fireworks that were stored next to the ammonium nitrate had caught fire. This can be seen in any of the videos from before the explosion.

I don’t see how barrels of fuel oil, stored near the ammonium nitrate could add more than a trivial amount to the explosion. By the time the shock wave reaches and breaches the barrels, pretty much all of the ammonium nitrate would have already exploded. Beyond that, the shock wave would push the vaporized fuel oil away from the core of the explosion.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  MarkW
August 6, 2020 6:31 am

Or it could have been a munitions storage “cooking off” in the first fire/explosion. This seems more plausible to me: why store fireworks in the same location as the ammonium nitrate, if the nitrate was intended for use as a megabomb?

Reply to  MarkW
August 6, 2020 7:35 am

The ammonium nitrate had been there for 6 years, after it had been confiscated.
Videos show fireworks going off right up to the moment of the explosion.
Storing fireworks near a large stash of ammonium nitrate is not smart, but it is apparently what was done.

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  MarkW
August 6, 2020 1:00 pm

Storing the fireworks near hundreds of tons of NH4NO3 was really stupid. The truly mind blowing things is the fact that they allowed welding near the fire works without a proper fire watch.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 6, 2020 5:46 am

NH₄NO₃ is used as the primary component for blasting in mines because:
1. It is very stable and generally takes a good initiator to explode. Stable explosives require both pressure and heat to initiate the reaction. Neither heat or pressure alone can initiate the reaction.
2. It’s relatively cheap
3. It’s reaction or explosion is relatively slow which makes it a more effective at breaking up or displacing rock and earth than explosives that react at a faster rate such as TNT.

Though my primary MOS in the Army was 18D (Special Forces Medic) my secondary MOS was 18C (Special Forces engineer) and I was school trained. Loved to blow stuff up. I believe MarkW’s scenario with fireworks being the initiator is the most plausible based on what we know so far. But as I remember there were two great round tanks at the port in which NG was stored.

BTW I was in Beirut or the immediate area Jan through Apr of 1984. In my salad bar I have the Order of the Cedar 3rd class.

Met many fine people there and was shot at, shelled, rocketed, and mortared by others that were not so fine. The place has so much potential with many very capable motivated entrepreneurs but both the Muslims and the Christians refused to get rid of their long standing cast systems which runs right up into government and military and that characteristic in society seems to always set the stage for instability no matter if there is outside influence or not. Even if you got the Syrians and Iranians out, Lebanon will never reach it’s full potential until the reject the cast system IMO.

Reply to  rah
August 6, 2020 11:57 am

I don’t know about now, but back when I was in Beirut it was the place to buy high quality gold jewelry. 22k stuff. Bought my wife a nice fish bone necklace while I was there that she still wears today. She named it “Nonabel”.
The place I bought it from you went up a narrow outside stairway to the 2nd floor and entered thorough a bank type safe door into a show room with display cases. The jewelry was being made from ingots in the same building on the lower level.

Coeur de Lion
August 5, 2020 11:25 am

I note that three and possibly four of the authors are women.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
August 5, 2020 6:31 pm

It’s NPC to assign gender they could be just trans or gender fluid.

Norm Milliard
August 5, 2020 11:27 am

It’s all unbelievable what’s happening in our nation. We’re fans of women’s basketball. Last night during a WNBA game every player had a shirt on supporting a GA candidate. I don’t watch sports to see politics, now I watch to escape the insane politics of the way left. The NY Times has a purpose and it’s not in the nation’s interest.

Reply to  Norm Milliard
August 5, 2020 11:46 am

For the foreseeable future, I am finished with professional sports. Won’t watch it, won’t buy the products.
As for college sports, I’m taking a wait and see attitude. It’s quite possible I will have lots of free time on my hands until those who run the sports come to their senses.

Reply to  MarkW
August 5, 2020 12:33 pm

I’m with you, MarkW. I wrote a letter to our local pro baseball team-turned-propaganda ministry and told them not to expect revenues or ratings from me until the SJW virus has been eradicated.

Reply to  MarkW
August 6, 2020 4:44 am

Ditto. If you like racing go to your local tracks. I love watching the sprints and midgets run on the dirt being an open wheel fan myself. Those drivers are there because they love racing.
The standard joke is: “Do you know how to make a small fortune racing? Start with a big one!”

You can go down in the pits and look at the cars and talk to the drivers and crews and some of them will let you help out if you want. A couple races and you have picked your favorites. Best value for your sports entertainment dollar to be found. BTW some sprint cars have as much horsepower as the F1 cars.

Americans doing an American thing! You won’t see anyone kneeling for the National Anthem in those forums. It would not be a smart thing to do.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Norm Milliard
August 5, 2020 12:34 pm

“GA candidate”


Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 5, 2020 1:40 pm

GA is the US postal abbreviation for Georgia.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
August 6, 2020 8:13 am

Ah. I know all the abbreviations for the states, but there was no context connection Georgia, so I didn’t connect the dots. Thanks.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Norm Milliard
August 5, 2020 12:48 pm

I’ve never been a big fan of women’s basketball; I much prefer women’s volleyball and fast-pitch softball. Of course, women’s surfing and beach volleyball get a lot of my attention because they have such great uniforms! But the absolute best is barrel racing; where two of God’s most beautiful creations work together to win!

Reply to  Abolition Man
August 5, 2020 7:24 pm

They use their breasts to win?

Drake Cherry
Reply to  Norm Milliard
August 5, 2020 2:06 pm

Should the wearing of the shirts be quantified as to the value to the campaign and then the team be charged with a donation equivalent to that value in like kind contributions?

Time to hold the teams accountable, and if excessive, fine them for their over contributions.

Just sayin.


Reply to  Norm Milliard
August 5, 2020 3:47 pm

“The NY Times has a purpose and it’s not in the nation’s interest.”

My budgie also thinks the NYT has a purpose.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 8, 2020 12:39 pm

Words to live by, Kip. I also wash my eyeballs and spend a quiet hour in a darkened room listening to Ayn Rand tapes and rain sounds.

J Mac
August 5, 2020 11:30 am

The referenced study uses junk science to draw a spurious correlation between gas/oil well flaring (Bad Thing!) and premature births (Bad, Bad Result from Bad Thing!). Even worser (!) the flaring only affects Hispanics…. OMG! Oil/gas well flaring is ray-cist! Way, Waaay Bad Result!

Hey! This Strange Galaxy Science really works! I’m so woke, I’m stoked!
How am I doing, Kip?

Abolition Man
Reply to  J Mac
August 5, 2020 12:25 pm

J Mac,
Remember to be very careful when patting yourself on the back for your wokeness! Many SJWs suffer sprains and sometimes even breaks and spiral fractures from excessive self-congratulations! Most experts now call for using another woke warrior who can also be congratulated when their arms grow tired.
Maybe one of the high-tech companies can come up with a device for back patting on command; then they will hardly ever have to leave the house! It will only be necessary when more targets of of their vitriol and condescension are needed!

J Mac
Reply to  Abolition Man
August 5, 2020 6:36 pm

Not to worry, Ab Man!
To prevent potential physical injuries from self-back-patting ‘Virtue Signaling’, I have trade marked and am marketing ‘Virtual Signaling’, a ‘green’ back patting, smiley face emoji every SJW can attach to their twit tweets n texts. The per use cost of the VS emoji is equivalent to ‘tossing your 2 cents’ into the conversation. We ‘got’ this!

HD Hoese
August 5, 2020 11:37 am

From the paper —
“The exact exposures through which OGD may elevate the risk of adverse birth outcomes remain unclear…We considered flared area because it may be a better proxy for the volume of gas flared and, hence, the quantity of air pollutant emissions………Details on the clustering method used to filter out aberrant observations are provided elsewhere (Franklin et al. 2019)…..We utilized a novel exposure metric derived from infrared satellite observations that provides an objective, highly spatially and temporally resolved measure of flaring activity…Monitoring studies have indicated that incomplete combustion during the flaring process can release a variety of air pollutants, including particulate matter, which has been linked to preterm birth and reduced fetal growth in other contexts (Ballester et al. 2010; Brauer et al. 2008; Dadvand et al. 2013). However, there is a lack of air pollutant monitoring data in areas with flaring due to OGD, which are primarily rural.

Because we relied on live birth records, we were unable to assess potential effects of flaring on the risk of miscarriage. We were also unable to examine critical windows of exposure due to the high correlation between pregnancy-long and trimester-specific estimates of exposure to flaring in our population. Another limitation of our study is that we were unable to capture maternal mobility because only the birth mother’s place of residence at the time of birth is recorded in the birth records. ”

Of course, that was out of context, but not as hypothetical as their “race” classification and other “assumptions.” Wonderful things doing science from an office where your data goes through satellites and other data bases, and apparently don’t visit the site to see if there are other apparent factors that need to be measured. Big hypothetical jump as to causation, didn’t used to allow this.

I get a little royalty from the Eagle Ford, used to go on college field trips through oil fields well lighted by flares. Have lots of experience with hispanics, family, friends, and otherwise, terms long been political designations, authors probably couldn’t classify one walking down the street, at least to percentage of heritage. The serious question that they study deserve the really novel “checking on things.” After I wrote this checked on the author’s location, almost in the Pacific Ocean.

August 5, 2020 12:05 pm

My favorite example of this retarded non-science is quantum mechanics and astrophysics.

You’ll see people arguing about M-theory, String-theory and all sorts of shit AND NONE OF THEM ARE THEORIES because they are literally on the surface intentionally incomplete.

It sets a very very bad example to the rest of science. Worse example to the rest of science is giving awards to criminal felons like Mann. If his hockey stick had been his tax returns the IRS would have shown up with M16’s, body armor, dogs, explosives and the Air Police.

There is no “theory” of global warming, nor is there a “theory” of climate change. *ZERO* science has been done and I’ve seen far more accurate statistics used in specious arguments by 4 year olds about hotdogs.

August 5, 2020 12:27 pm

These authors should be fired from whatever positions they hold at USC and UCLA for incompetence. Any advisors they have should be dismissed for cause. Any degrees they obtained should be recalled. There are no standards any longer; no rational measures of performance. If it wasn’t such an example of failure and idiocy on our university campuses, it would be funny. Of course, the NYT featured it.

old engineer
Reply to  DrEd
August 5, 2020 3:36 pm


Fired? Don’t you realize the authors were all from the Colleges of Grievance Studies at these Universities (the ones with the Departments of Women’s studies, gender studies, hispanic studies, racial studies, black studies, you-name-it studies)? This study might get them all a promotion! (I wish I could say” /sarc”, but it is probably true.)

Reply to  DrEd
August 5, 2020 3:38 pm

That’s rather harsh. Perhaps they could be awarded PhDs in Propaganda Science as consolation prizes.

Pat Frank
Reply to  DrEd
August 5, 2020 3:58 pm

They bring in grant money. DrEd. End of story.

If you want to kill a snake, go for the head.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  DrEd
August 6, 2020 4:54 am

My hypothesis is that the Left Coast has it in for the Gulf Coast. Anything to attack, discredit, divest, etc. etc. could be about Texas. After all, TX is HQ for Big Oil (ExxonMobil has 178 B market cap.) and CA is HQ for Google, Apple, Facebook, VISA, Tesla, & Adobe (market cap 5,500 B).

Ed Zuiderwijk
August 5, 2020 12:40 pm

This appear so bad that I wonder. Are you sure it’s not a spoof?

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
August 5, 2020 1:28 pm

I was wondering if it came from the Babylon Bee.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
August 6, 2020 2:24 am

Ed – I think there is a bit of an industry using similar methods – typically to associate some problem (cancers for example) with some pollutant based on distance from an alleged source (highway, factory, etc) as inferred from a postal code/zipcode. William Briggs has periodic rants about them. So, not a spoof in the usual sense, but certainly without scientific merit.

When one comes across papers of this sort, it is shocking, at least the first few dozen times, but as John Ioannidis has shown, a very large proportion of published, peer-reviewed papers are garbage. Maybe this has always been so – the real problem, though, is that politicians and government bureaucracies take these papers seriously.

Abolition Man
August 5, 2020 12:41 pm

Thanks for an interesting and amusing look into the weird world of SGS, or should that be the universe? I too acquire a dark coloration when I spend a lot of time in the sun, although mine has a strong reddish mix to it.
I used to explain this by repeating my paternal grandmothers belief that there was some Native American blood in our family tree. It’s probably not true but since I now self-identify as a Native American lesbian y’all are just going to have to accept it!
It would seem that the newest competition in “science” is to try to outdo Lysenko. I guess we should always bear in mind Einstein’s quote about the Universe and human stupidity!

Reply to  Abolition Man
August 5, 2020 1:14 pm

Not only are you native American (jurisdictional), but also indigenous American (conception? birth? place). Transgender? A sexual orientation diametrically divergent from normal? As a girl, you will still be competing with girls. Trans/inter and trans/neo will require a bit more forcing. Are you albino, too? Orange? Chartreuse? Diversity dogma matters.

Abolition Man
Reply to  n.n
August 5, 2020 3:19 pm

My dear, sweet mother; God rest her soul, always said we were Heinz 57 flavors of Northern European! As far as colors go I’m feeling a little Neapolitan today!
Do you think what my mother said makes me related to Teresa and qualifies me for part of the Heinz fortune?

Robert of Texas
August 5, 2020 12:45 pm

1) Identify some…Bad Thing.
2) Identify … the Undesirable Thing.
3) … measure (count) the Bad Thing …measure the Undesirable Thing …and simply claim that the first causes the second!

Oh! I like this explanation. Simple, direct, and accurate.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 5, 2020 1:36 pm

aka, Post hoc ergo propter hoc

“An informal fallacy that states: ”
“Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.” It is often shortened simply to post hoc fallacy.

A logical fallacy of the questionable cause variety, it is subtly different from the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc (“with this, therefore because of this”), in which two events occur simultaneously or the chronological ordering is insignificant or unknown.

Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because correlation appears to suggest causality. The fallacy lies in a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors potentially responsible for the result that might rule out the connection.

A simple example is “the rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.”

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 5, 2020 5:30 pm


August 5, 2020 1:03 pm

A word everyone should understand: underdetermination.

account for (a theory or phenomenon) with less than the amount of evidence needed for proof or certainty.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
August 5, 2020 1:29 pm

Another aspect of Strange Galactic Science: retrospective studies regarding health issues are always valid for everything except “controversial” drug treatments.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
August 5, 2020 2:32 pm

Ralph, your mention of health issues provides me with an opportunity relate a joke I recently heard.

“The quickest way to get rid of the corona virus pandemic is to let it slip that they have some dirt on the Clintons, and the corona virus will be killed before next Tuesday”.

It would not be as hard to prove this as it is to defend the subject “scientific” article.

August 5, 2020 1:07 pm

Actually, there is a logical progression, perhaps evolution, (depending on your fitness function), from the belief in Earth-like planets, follows the belief in Earth-like life, babies selectively, opportunistically excluded.

August 5, 2020 1:12 pm

Another aspect of Strange Galactic Science: retrospective studies regarding health issues are always valid for everything except “controversial” drug treatments.

John Bell
August 5, 2020 1:29 pm

How does the study know just when each women became pregnant?

Joel O'Bryan
August 5, 2020 1:29 pm

“Climate Justice” = psychobabble

No doubt the ambulance chasers are now lining up to use this (toilet)paper to sue for all the assumed damages done to hispanic mothers and their infants from flaring.

August 5, 2020 1:48 pm

So, the equivalence principle doesn’t apply to the NY Times and Marxist science. Who’d’ve thunk?

August 5, 2020 2:40 pm

I’ve been saving a few examples of what I call p-hacking roulette wheel science.

Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows.

Not politically motivated science, but approval seeking “I found a positive result” science.

The titles are hilarious. You have to wonder what they originally set out to study.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Charles Rotter
August 5, 2020 4:44 pm

NAMS – The North American Menopause Society!!? Who knew??

August 5, 2020 3:36 pm

@ Kip Hansen

Very good step-wise procedure for generating Strange Galactic Science. But you may have overlooked something. I propose Step 0.
As you might gather, Step 0 is more basic and comes before Step 1.

Step 0. Throw out all current knowlege and understandings of a given topic. (Open Window, Then Toss)

It would be no good if your new SGS discovery were to be contradicted by prior observations, and thus shown to be false. Your new discovery would be Dead On Arrival. Thus, it is necessary to clear the board first to make room for the new.

A note: This requires the destruction of all science and all scientific knowledge prior to this time. This is a Feature, not a Bug.

Pat Frank
August 5, 2020 3:49 pm

Kip, why not submit a critical comment to Environmental Health Perspectives? You know the statistics to take the study apart.

If you can find a professional statistician collaborator who knows the methodological approach you could really go to town. Ross McKitrick is also competent there. He’s of a very critical mind and may enjoy exploding a pseudo-study for the fun of it.

Dudley Horscroft
August 5, 2020 5:18 pm

There are two possibilities for the excess of pre-term babies apparently not considered by the authors. These are:

1. Hispanics speak Spanish as their ‘mother tongue’.

2. Hispanics tend to be/are Roman Catholics.

Either of these could be the missing explanations for the excess of pre-term births. Don’t ask me the connexion – but it is obvious that it must be at least as good as exposure to ‘flares’, which would not be visible if the ladies concerned spent more time indoors that out.

Brooks Hurd
August 5, 2020 6:32 pm

Retrospective studies appear to suffer from faults similar to climate science computer models. Both also appear to allow for confirming the authors’ initial assumptions about cause and effect. Since authors’ assumptions, rather than collection of empirical data, appear to be the basis for both retrospective studies and computer model projections of future climatic conditions, the authors of this studies need not concern themselves with data collection and analyses. The authors need only to have an idea about something and then select information which has already been collected by others which supports there assumptions.

Geoff Sherrington
August 5, 2020 7:03 pm

Thank you for the neat and relevant compression of the methodology of poor science as Strange Galactic Science.
To understand SGS better, I decided to participate, to see the response. For some years now I have been promoting Sherrington’s hypothesis that increased CO2 in the air has caused abnormally large teeth to grow, as seen in those born after about 1990 – and getting larger by the generation.
The feedback from those like dentist’s who should know has been absolute zero.
This highlights in a tiny way the aspect of SGS that allows it to flourish. Experts are not tearing it down. They permit it to grow.
Sometimes, like the learned societies show with climate change, they do not contest it as experts should, they swallow it and even promote it. Geoff S

Leo Smith
August 5, 2020 10:09 pm

“Hispanic” = underprivileged and poor, mainly.
who lives near oil refineries and drilling stations? Underprivileged and poor, mainly.
Who gets the most birth defects? Underprivileged and poor, mainly.

I am reminded of the man who ‘proved’ that a high wheat price ’caused’ drawn cricket games..
Until someone pointed out that both were symptoms of a wet summer.

old construction worker
August 6, 2020 12:32 am

Where are the teeth in the Data Quality Act?

August 6, 2020 12:34 am

In the early days (1980s) of the hazardous waste / Superfund era, activists and ambulance-chasing lawyers sifted the population’s health information looking for statistical hot spots or disease/cancer clusters, areas with anomalously higher incidence of a health malady, from age spots to baldness to cancer of any variety, and everything in between. Once a cluster was identified, they then looked at the industries/businesses located there to determine what chemicals were used / produced / emitted. Without plausible mechanisms, they took the correlations to court or funded university researchers. By the 1990s, they added “environmental justice” to the mix, with the implication that businesses locate their “dirty” operations and disposal sites in poor or minority areas so that they could make those people sick. After a number of years, and many failures in court, it was generally concluded that clusters were most often expressions of statistical variability rather than discernible environmental factors or exposures that could be quantifiably teased out of poorly characterized, multivariate systems. However, post-normal “science” researchers, hungry for grants and following Kip’s paradigm, just can’t or won’t learn even the basic principles and gross uncertainties of environmental toxicology.

August 6, 2020 12:44 am

Talcum powder. A product used copiously on babies’ bottoms and by girls and adult women for many decades now suddenly appears to cause ovarian cancer. Really? All it took was one win in court based on likely flimsy correlations, and now there is a new industry sector fo plaintiff attorneys. Since almost every woman has been exposed to talc at some time in her life, then if she comes down with cancer she has a basis to sue for damages. We could easily name other products being attacked on flimsy data, such as glyphosate herbicides.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Pflashgordon
August 6, 2020 1:58 am

I suggest to look at eating potatoes.

Wolf at the door
August 6, 2020 12:57 am

Brilliant.Why not a book? “Strange Galactic Science ” Bet you’ve got enough examples and stories!
But who are these people?

Old Retired Guy
August 6, 2020 8:10 am

Kip, thanks for a good article. And agree with the weakness in their “science”. Too much finding what they’re looking for.
I did check your reference to Black Dutch though, and I think you misunderstood Deutsche. That is German for German or Germans, so it would actually mean Black Germans.
As an old guy with southern German ancestry on both sides who now lives in far south Texas, with my tan I might qualify.

August 6, 2020 9:07 am

I think this now massive, worldwide abuse & manipulation of “science” was pioneered at the giant-scale w/so-called climate-change, and when that was considered by the cultural-marxists to be effective, is now being used wholesale w/all kinds of issues, lately the covid virus.

Thanks alot, marxists, for regressing humanity away from the Age of Enlightenment.

Dudley Horscroft
August 6, 2020 9:29 am

There is of course a fallacy in classing people as ‘black’ or ‘white’. This omits the ‘brown’ and the ‘yellow’ people (as in ‘Yellow Peril’), also the ‘red’ people as in ‘RED Indians’.

But the reference to ‘white’ people also is wrong. Late in the 1980s we were re-classified as being ‘pinko-grey’ as apart from albinos no one had white skin. So we are all truly ‘people of colour’ – aka ‘coloured people’. This was based on a remark by E M Forster in “A Passage to India” (1924).

See the OED and

NOT to be confused with ‘Pinko’, which see.

August 6, 2020 8:09 pm

One more comment about the explosion in Beirut.
A couple of little stories to give you an idea how casual the Lebanese I worked with while in Lebanon were about the handling of explosives.

1. It is common when training new troops to have a shake down. We brought out the Lebanese Defense Force troops with ruck sacks and all equipment to shake them down. What this means is we needed to see what they had, and what they intended to carry into combat so we could give them pointers on what to carry and how to carry it and so we knew what they had. I found one guy that had a ball of plastic explosives about the size of a grapefruit complete with blasting cap, fuse and fuse ignitor in his rucksack. You NEVER carry something like that. Blasting caps are kept away from the explosives until they need to be used. Nonelectric blasting caps can be initiated by a hard shock alone!

2. When I went down to visit where they kept their explosives I had to step over a dried stream of white crystaline substance on the concrete floor. Tracing the residue back to it’s source I found it ended at a box of civilian manufacture dynamite! Civilian manufactured dynamite contains nitro glycerin! That Nitro had leached out of the sticks of dynamite and had flown across the floor and dried. So those guys had a box of highly reactive old dynamite stored with a bunch of other explosives. It was just asking for an accident. The place we were at got shelled and rocketed on occasion too! BTW one of the troops working at the place was smoking in there.

So, based on those experiences and some others I would say it is quite plausible that the explosion was an accident.

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