It's not quite so simple. There are always infinitely many hypotheses consistent with available data, so we have to decide initially which ones are worth testing-in other words an initial judgement that some should be taken seriously and others not. How do we do that? By evaluating proposed hypotheses in terms of background knowledge and accepted theoretical frameworks (paradigms, research programs, whatever). If hypotheses consistent with accepted background eventually prove inadequate, that may lead us to question our framework, but that takes time.

At any rate, it's philosophy of science 101 that it's possible (in fact, necessary) to make a judgment about the plausibility/implausibility of a hypothesis before it has been tested, and it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that the DU hypothesis is so initially implausible that time and resources would be better used in elaborating and testing some of the many alternatives that initially seem much more likely.

Incidentally, it's also true that if our political judgments are evidentially based (and are not mere expressions of subjective preference), they may legitimately play some role in determining whether or not a line of research is worth pursuing. The fact that politics often intrudes into scientific research in an illegitimate way, does not mean that it always does so, or that the belief that science should be "value free" is even coherent.

In other words, I think Michael's implied formulation throws the baby out with the bath water.


At 6:23 PM +0100 4/21/07, Michael Balter wrote:
I suppose it would just be bourgeois intellectualism to suggest that while it is fine to hypothesize about the cause or causes of bee colony collapse, any hypothesis would need to be tested and supported by evidence before it could be taken seriously. Or do we want to fit the facts around our politics?

On 4/21/07, Jonathan Campbell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
This is exactly my point. I don't think it can be cell phone towers. But I don't think it can be GMOs either, because their introduction has been gradual as well, and is almost non-existent in Europe because it took almost a decade for Monsanto to break down the opposition there.
Also, the usual raiders of abandoned bee hives don't go near these hives. There is something in the hives that is driving them away.
Worldwide DU pollution has increased dramatically during the past year because the war in Afghanistan has become, like Vietnam, an air war involving thousands of bombing runs. I saw one account documenting 10,000 bombing runs in 2006. Assuming that each bombing run dropped two 500-lb bombs, that is 10 million pounds of DU weaponry. This weaponry, often nearly 100% DU-content projectiles, begins to burn upon firing from the cannon, and the explosion releases most of the weapon in micro/nano-particle dust. This is carried as fallout in trade winds, and in dust storms into the lower stratosphere, and then released in rain storms.
The health effects of DU concentration can be physically felt by affected soldiers. Is there any reason to expect that bees would be immune to internal radiation contamination?


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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