by Sen. Doug Whitsett
The College of Veterinary Medicine, at Oregon State University, has asked me to speak at their graduation for each of the past ten years. Last Sunday, Representative Whitsett and I were once again privileged to participate in their Commencement.
My comments to the new veterinarians were focused on their obligation, as scientists and new doctors, to watch over the legitimacy, and the truthfulness, of what we call science. I told them:
“Computers are wonderful devices. They can greatly enhance our ability to learn and to understand complex issues. And computer models, when accurately calibrated and properly applied, can be incredibly effective tools.
However, a computer model is little more than a glorified mathematical spread-sheet. Its usefulness depends entirely upon the validity of the data, with which the model is calibrated.
A corrupt investment counsellor can calibrate a spread sheet to make the worst and most inadvisable investment, look perfectly golden. So too, can an unethical scientist calibrate a computer model to fabricate virtually any outcome that he or she is paid to produce.
The product of any computer model is only as accurate as the data selected to calibrate the model. The data used must be empirically collected, reproducible and statistically significant.
Estimated, assumed, surrogate or fabricated data points predictably produce ‘counterfeit-science’.
Too often, we are asked to believe that biological systems are just ‘too complex’ to support science that is statistically significant. Moreover, we are expected to accept the unsubstantiated and often unverifiable assumptions that are used to calibrate the models.
Scientific reports that are not statistically significant are by definition, insignificant. They are irrelevant, immaterial and inconsequential.
Worse, computer models are too often manipulated to fabricate alleged scientific support to justify a political end.
The modelled reports are then employed to mislead those who believe that science is the ‘final word’.
There is no such thing as ‘the final word in science’.
Moreover, there is no such thing as ‘scientific consensus’ or ‘settled science’. The scientific method requires that we continue to question, continue to probe, and continue to debate the validity of every scientific assumption.”
Politically motivated science and statistically significant science are much like oil and water. First, they are nearly impossible to mix. Second, oil rises to the top like science that is fabricated to support political motives. Computer models that are designed and applied to achieve political ends are well on their way to destroying the economy of the Upper Klamath Basin.
For instance, the Upper Klamath Lake TMDL is based on the false assumption that development of the Upper Basin by European man has resulted in significant increases in the phosphorous concentration that helps to cause poor water quality in Upper Klamath Lake. To accept that assumption, we must ignore the reality that several thousand feet of phosphorous rich sediment accumulated in the Lake long before the Basin was settled. Further, each time the wind blows several million tons of that phosphorous rich sediment is re-suspended in the Lake water. This process has occurred for millennia and will continue to occur regardless of “restoration” efforts.
We are asked to assume that the alleged decline of the endangered suckers is the result of declining water quality. To accept that assumption, we must ignore the written journals of every European explorer that explain in detail how foul and odorous the Lake was before European man settled in the area. Further, we must ignore the effects of predation on the young suckers by birds and other introduced fish species.
We are asked to assume that Coho Salmon are threatened in the Klamath River due to water storage for the Klamath Project.
To accept that assumption, we must ignore the fact that Coho are an introduced species in the Klamath River and that the release of 70 degree plus water from Upper Klamath Lake during summer and fall months could be lethal to the fish.
We are asked to assume that the Northern Spotted Owl is endangered due to man-caused loss of habitat. To accept that assumption, we must ignore the fact that the Owl can and does breed almost anywhere and that their decline is directly attributable to the encroachment and competition of the Barred Owl.
We are being asked to assume that the declining numbers of sage grouse are the result of loss of habitat due to cattle grazing. To accept that assumption, we must ignore the facts that the sage grouse has hundreds of millions of acres of habitat; that cattle grazing significantly reduces the danger of wildfires that utterly destroy sage grouse habitat, and that government agencies refuse to promote or allow the control of predation by coyotes, skunks, raptors, crows, ravens and other critters.
We are being asked to assume that increasing global temperatures are the result of man caused greenhouse gas emissions. To accept that assumption, we must ignore the reality that global temperatures have been cooling for the past 15 years, and that the same data sets were employed to predict global winter in the mid-1970’s. The Klamath Basin is a semi-arid desert because periodic drought conditions have prevailed in the area for millennia.
We are being asked to assume that local air quality in dangerous to our health and that draconian measures are necessary for self-preservation. To accept that assumption, we must accept the absurdity that the Department of Environmental Quality can accurately model air quality from a single point of measurement within the entire Klamath Falls urban area.
Most recently, we are being asked to cooperate with the regulation of groundwater by the Oregon Water Resources Department based on a regional computer model that can only be described as fraudulent. To accept their assumption, we must accept the preposterous allegation that our aquifers are unconfined, uniform and continuous when we know they are confined, faulted, fractured and compartmentalized.
The quality of the science is directly proportional to the quality, reproducibility, and statistical significance of the date used to calibrate the computer models. Much of the data used to calibrate the groundwater model is demonstrably false. In my opinion, it was created and calibrated to support the political will of state and federal government to regulate surface and groundwater conjunctively.
We are expected to accept those assumptions because we are being told they are based on sound science. They are not!
They are based on computer modelled studies purchased by our governments to achieve predetermined political ends.
The only way to “restore” the economy of our natural resource dependent communities is to challenge the veracity of every false assumption. The battle is lost as soon as we accept a false assumption, because the following debate and legal action is then focused on how the false assumption will be enforced rather than the veracity of the assumption.
Government agencies agree to settle with those who challenge their false assumptions using taxpayer dollars to quell the dissent. They admit no culpability, and employ signed confidentiality agreements that effectively pay for the enforced silence of those who agree to settle.
Our governments continue to employ this ruse only because the people continue to allow it to work. There is little hope for the travesty to end until the people refuse to accept government developed scientific assumptions unless they are proven to be based on statistically significant science.
Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls