Sunday, February 24, 2013


The scientific world has been in decline for a long time.  Precisely when science stopped being empirical and became faith based is hard to pin point but I think it started with the popularization of science by Carl Sagan.  Science – real science – is very complicated, technical, and thus hard to follow.  Because of this Carl Sagan in the brief time allotted to him by TV began to state various theories as facts when in fact they not.  From that time on things that had been postulated slowly morphed into facts ignoring the very basis of science which is empirical proof.  This erosion of science started with cosmology but rapidly infected other portions as well, especially the Theory of Evolution.  The very idea that Evolution is theoretical has disappeared.  Darwin reigns supreme even though the proofs demanded by Darwin have been ignored.  What Darwin observed and described is environmental adaptation not speciation.  No where in his seminal book “The Origin of Species” does he describe the origin of species and from that day to this how species originate is unproven and undemonstrated.  Many theories exist but none have been demonstrated.  This problem has plagued science for years but the scientific community is convinced that evolution is real even though they can’t actually prove it.

The evolutionary problem begins with the Cambrian Explosion.  The Pre-Cambrian is that period from the origin of the Earth to the fossil rich Cambrian and the beginning of the Geologic record.  Due to some unexplained process or event – non-divine event – life began in the Pre-Cambrian.  This life – based on limited evidence – was primitive bacterial life that evolved into something like pond scum and possibly simple worms.  But the Cambrian teems with fossils of complex life forms -- creatures with eyes, ears, organs, and complex bodies and ecologies.  How did these come to be and to be so diverse without any indication of their origin?  No transitional fossils exist – a criteria demanded by Darwin. 

The lack of transitional fossils is described as Stasis meaning a particular species exists unchanged in the fossil record for millions of years and then another species suddenly appears without any transitional fossils.   However, on close inspection these new species are really just examples of environmental adaptation by the same species.  That is the new trilobite is similar to the old trilobite, the new brachiopod is similar to the old brachiopod.  This pattern is repeated throughout the geologic record with new species looking like the preceding one, but are these truly new species or merely new versions of the same species much like a race horse looks different from a Clydesdale or a donkey but they are all equines.  How the ancestor of the horse divided into separate and distinct species remains an article of faith rather than a demonstrated fact.  The fossil record is devoid of transitional forms so to address this problem scientists have decided on Punctuated Equilibria.

This theory claims that no transitional fossils can be found in the geologic record because the separation between species happened at an accelerated rate requiring merely thousands of years rather than millions.  Because of this rapid evolution no transitional fossils were created because there wasn’t time.  That is a rather silly argument because the existing fossils were created one at a time and within the life time of the living fossil.  So while Punctuated Equilibria may sound like a viable theory it really doesn’t explain the absence of transitional fossils anywhere in the hundreds of millions of years of the geologic record.

This brings us to the descent of man – from pond scum to interstellar explorer.  Current thinking is that modern man has descended from a primitive ape that lived in Africa approximately three million years ago.  This original human (?) ancestor consists of a handful of bone fragments from which a proto-human has been constructed.  With this as a starting point additional bone fragments have been found in various places which has led the construction of the tree of human evolution which shows various species that have branched off and remained in the animal kingdom while others are shown to have continued their evolution into homo-sapiens and modern apes like the Chimpanzee. 

Whether or not this evolutionary tree of human development is true or not may be arguable but the real point is that this evolutionary span is approximately 3 million years and these various bone fragments can be argued to be transitional fossils.  If this is true then it seems logical that the geological record would contain transitional fossils of other life forms and whether Punctuated Equilibria is true or not-- it wouldn’t preclude finding transitional fossils.  The reality is that throughout the geological record new life forms suddenly appear with the most recent being Cro-Magnon man.  The question of speciation remains open and Darwin’s criteria for proof of his theory remains unanswered.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Troubles In China

A casual reading of the news would lead you to believe that China is about to overwhelm the US and the world economy as a whole.  That it is not just a rising economic power but a military one as well.  However, a closer look would indicate that perhaps things are not as they appear and in fact China is struggling with some very significant internal problems.  People tend to ignore that this is The People’s Republic of China, a communist state where the government owns everything and is responsible for everything.  While it is true that the government has relaxed some of their rules on private ownership, the government still controls anything of importance.  Like most dictatorships the people offer passive resistance thereby obstructing government programs, while there is inefficiency and corruption within the government this passive resistance exacerbates the problems.

Perhaps the best example of problems the government cannot control is pollution.  China’s pollution problems are great and increasing.  They have huge energy demands which are being met with coal powered plants and their accompanying air pollution.  In an effort to meet the growing demand for power the government built the Three Gorges Dam which introduced significant environmental and social problems. Not only has this dam created internal problems with the local population it has brought worldwide concern over its environmental impact.  But China's pollution problems extend even further. In an effort to stimulate the economy and stifle unrest the government relaxed their regulations regarding private enterprise.  With this shift came increased personal wealth and with that wealth came more auto’s.  As the number of autos grew so did the smog and a decline in air quality which the government has been unable to control or reverse.  But more alarming is how the managers of the government owned facilities ignore regulations and are pouring untreated sewage and chemicals into their rivers.  

China, even Imperial China, has historically had a long history of corruption and that continues today even at the highest levels. Those who control the government are very rich and their business practices are carefully guarded secrets but that attitude simply percolates downward and spreads across the entire infrastructure.  Nepotism is rampant so organizations are overstaffed with family members who pass business back and forth within the family.  Nowhere is the mismanagement and corruption more evident than in the financial sector where the government banks make loans to other government operations without any due diligence.  These bad loans are not repaid but are carried on the books as assets. So the government makes the loan to the government without creating any jobs or wealth, the result is less money available for capital investment or new endeavors.

Socialism and communism place employment over efficiency and this is certainly true in China.  The means of production in China are located along the coastal areas and are wholly owned by the government.  These factories are subsidized by the government and the production targets are set by the government.  As long as the global economy was growing this was not a problem but as the economies of the US and Europe slowed unsold inventories have accumulated.  This has made many employees redundant in an environment where employment is a primary objective. So the government is faced with unsold inventories and too many workers.  Adding to this problem has been an influx of young workers who are leaving the agricultural areas looking for higher wages and a better life.  The result is a growing unemployment problem which the government is struggling with.  The subsidies are siphoning off money needed for infrastructure improvements needed in the interior plus the agricultural workers are struggling to make a living.  How the People’s Republic of China deals with this problem while maintaining their Communist ideals is to be determined.

In spite of these problems there is an even larger problem facing China and that is their determination to keep the value of the Yuan low.  The Yuan has been tied to the dollar which worked well for the Chinese when the economy and the dollar was strong but as the value of the dollar declined so has the Yuan.  The result has been inflation making foreign goods more expensive to the Chinese citizen just as they are beginning to enjoy their increasing wealth.  This in turn is putting pressure on the government to increase wages just as they are faced with unsold inventories and redundant employees.  Adding to their financial woes is pressure from the US to revalue the Yuan which they resist because it would simply make a bad situation worse.  But the undervalued Yuan is adding to their inflationary pressures so the government is caught between a rock and a hard place. 

How long The Peoples Republic can continue with the central planning demanded by communist philosophy remains to be seen but they have significant problems, which are growing daily.