Wednesday, August 9, 2017

offbeat.topix.com: Bill Nye Science Lies

My Facebook brought up a quiz yesterday, (as in puked). Offering to tell me my level of ejucation by asking me some 'science' questions. The picture and text referred to Bill Nye.  Now I don't have a TV.  But I'm not stupid.  I've heard of Bill Nye, the Science guy - even though I've never seen him on TV.  I also guessed, immediately, the punch line.

This was not a post about science, it was a post of vaccine propaganda. But I went ahead. Just to experience the delivery.

After a while, I was - frankly - tired and bored.  Over 50 questions, then 60 questions, most of them pretty basic. But more about that later....

Let's look at the quiz from a science perspective.The starting page has a picture that looks like Bill Nye. Is it? Or not?  So, let's ask Google to search for similar images. Google says:
"Best guess for this image: bill nye the science guy".

Is it really Bill Nye? I still don't know. Google doesn't seem to know either.  When I click Google's link for 'bill nye the science guy' images - this image does not appear.  Strange. It does appear, in a larger, modified version (matching the above image) on pages like CollegeHumor.com:15 Celebrities That Should Have Bill Nye The Science Guy Nicknames", and DrinkingGameZone.com: Bill Nye the Science Guy Drinking Game.

Is this quiz presented by Bill Nye?  Certainly not.   It's a page at offbeat.topix.com, which also offers posts like "29 Industries Millennials Have Killed" with picture of Nicki Minaj (sorry, I've never heard of her), and "35 Things Dudes Need to Stop Doing" and "37 Outrageous Celeb Photo Recreations" with a, shall we say 'enticing' photo crop that also appears - according to Google, at WeFreeChat.Com, which Google offers to translate from Chinese, with the headline "Yoga woman VS not yoga woman, Zhai heart!",

So this is a quiz by OffBeat.Topix.com. Does Offbeat know science? Does Offbeat offer science?  Not at all.  Their ABOUT page says "Need a smile or a laugh? Offbeat will turn your day around with an uplifting dose of hilarious, heartwarming, awwww, and awesome. We bring you the cutest baby animals, the funniest photos, the most on-point tweets, the best Pinterest fails, the most viral videos, and the most feel-good family moments." And they will, supposedly, tell me my level of education by asking me a few 'science questions'.

And... who is the author of the 'science quiz'? She's listed in Topix.Com as "Topix Editorial Team: Jennifer C. Martin, Staff Writer: Her favorite topics are religion, politics, food, and parenting, which make her super fun at parties".  So, her quiz is going to tell me what I know about Science? Her qualifications: "religion"  and "super fun at parties".

So we know where it's coming from.  Nonsense.  Where's it going?

Well, there are 70 questions.  The first 69 are nonsensical - from the perspective of science.  They might appear, to a novice, to be 'science' questions.  Actually, they are simple questions of accepted fact, not of science. Questions like "Which planet is a gas giant, Mars or Neptune." and "3. Our sun is an example of: A planet, or A star" (and the 'correct answer' is 'The correct answer is A star.". No points for correct capitalization.

You might think, that with the effort to create 69 'correct' answers, to get you ready for the propaganda - they get all 69 right answers as well? But no.

For example, one answer advises: "The correct answer is A scavenger. Vultures and hyenas are examples of scavengers - they don't kill the animals they eat, they just wait around for the leftovers." However, www.africa-wildlife-detective.com/hyena.html says "They (hyenas) are accomplished hunters and they get up to 75 per cent of their food from their own kills."

The answer to question 11, states "The correct answer is An invertebrate. Invertebrates like clams do not have a backbone like humans or tigers." Is that a science error, or just an inability to speak English? Or do invertebrates have backbones that are different, 'not like humans or tigers'.

Worse, the answer to question 12 states "The correct answer is The crust. The crust rests on top of the mantle, which is liquid rock.", but Wiki says " Earth's mantle is a silicate rocky shell with an average thickness of 2,886 kilometres (1,793 mi)".  Who do you trust, Wiki's reference (the book  Evolution of Earth and its climate birth, life and death of Earth), or some jokers from a site designed to bring you a smile and a laugh? The author is confusing 'mantle' with magma - which is fluid, or semi-fluid material under the earth's crust. That's science for you, apparently.

Let's keep going... #13, the answer states "An apple core is biodegradable - if it has a chance to break down before a squirrel eats it!". Duh. Biodegradable is defined as "capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms", but I guess a squirrel is not a living organism.

Question #18 asks "When the last of an animal has died off, that animal is considered", but judging by their answers, they meant to say "When the last animal of a species has died off, the species is considered", but what's a bit of confusion between friends - it's just a science quiz after all..

If you give the wrong answer, for question #19, the response is "The correct answer is False." Frankly, I was confused before.  Now I'm even more confusing. The answer continues with "weight measures the pull of gravity on an object". It's a simple science error.. Weight measures the effect of gravity, but saying it measures the 'pull of gravity on an object' is not scientifically accurate. Both objects are 'pulling' on each other.

Question 20 gives the wrong question, and then matches it with a wrong answer.  The question is "20. What are the three states of matter?", but Wikipedia tells us that "Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma." I'm not that fond of Wikipedia, but they can get some facts right.

Answer 24 says "Precipitation is water released from clouds. Although rain is the most common, snow and hail are other types of precipitation." Duh.  I hate to get technical (no, acutally I don't, and this is a 'science quiz' after all).  But. Dogs are animals. But animals are not dogs. Water released from the clouds is precipitation.  But precipitation is not 'water released from the clouds'.

#28 makes a minor technical English error, in an answer that includes "There are 16 oz. in a pound." Oz is an abbreviation, not an acronym.  Correct scientific English would state: "There are 16 oz in a pound."

Question 30 asks "What is the name for the explosion that began the universe?", but LiveScience.Com advises "Though the term may sound like the universe began with a giant explosion, many scientists say that's not part of the theory. An explosion implies that something exploded, or expanded, from one center point outward into space. In fact, the Big Bang theory suggests that space itself expanded."

Question 34 asks and answers "The galaxy closest to ours is called...." "The correct answer is Andromeda"  But Wikipedia's list of known galaxies puts Andromeda number 23, 22 from our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Answer #36 offers this gem: "The correct answer is Hydrogen. Helium is the second-most abundant element in the universe.Scientists believe the most of the stores of these two elements were created during the Big Bang." It is important, I guess, to know that hydrogen and helium are contained in 'stores'. But don't worry about the English error in the phrase "the most of stores".  Nobody cares.

#40 advises that "The periodic table of elements is arranged by their atomic number."? The table is arranged? Nope.  The elements are arranged.

#44 offers "The odometer records the distance, while the speedometer tells you how many miles per hour that you're driving."  Perhaps not technically incorrect, if you live in the USA.  But in the entire rest of the planet, a speedometer tells you how many kilometers per hour you are travelling.  A more accurate, scientific answer would have stated that "a speedometer tells you have fast you are driving".

#47 asks  Which of these is the scientific name for baking soda? and answers "The correct answer is Sodium bicarbonate. In England, baking soda is referred to as "bicarbonate of soda."  Actually, the scientific, chemical name is sodium hydrogen carbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is a common name, but not the scientific one.

#48 offers total nonsense of a question: "Which of these describes an underground structure that contains groundwater?"  An underground structure? An aquifer (the supposed correct answer) is "An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt) from which groundwater can be extracted using a water well."

#50 offers this question "So what part of the brain controls the involuntary functions of our body, such as breathing or heartbeat?".  So... what's with the 'so'?  Is this science, or bar-room betting? Or did they mean to say "Part of the bring controls the involuntary functions of our body, such as breathing or heartbeat. So what."

Answer 55 states " The tundra or the savanna are examples of biomes."  So, which is it, the tundra, or the savanna?

Answer 57 asks "57. In which period were Wooly Mammoths alive?"  and answers  "The correct answer is Ice Age. The plesiosaurus is from the Jurassic period."... but... the 'ice age' is not a period, it is a description of a number of repeating periods of ice ages. A correct answer might be "The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is a species of mammoth that lived during the Pleistocene epoch" - that is if you can spell 'woolly mammoth' correctly.

Question 58 asks "Which is closest to Earth?" (mars or venus).  Duh.  It depends on where the earth is, where Mars is, and where Venus is. Any 'correct answer' is simplistic and wrong.  But that doesn't stop this author.

#61 asks "What is it called when there is a change in the frequency or wavelength of a wave?". Duh.  It's called "a change in frequency or wavelength of a wave".  The author neglected to add the condition necessary to define Doppler effect "when the source and the observer are moving towards or away from each other".

#63 gives this gem in an answer "It is theorized that because black holes are disruptions in spacetime, if one traveled through one, they could wind up anywhere -- or anywhen." Frankly, it's speculated maybe, but certainly not 'theorized'.

Answer #65 says "The correct answer is False. Lasers are focused light waves, rather than sound waves.". Nonsense, actually.  Lasers are coherent light waves, not 'focused' light waves.

after much stuff and nonsense,


 we get to the final question, the punch line:

"70. True or False: There is a documented relationship between childhood vaccinations and autism."

Now I know the science answer. And maybe you know the science answer. There are LOTS of documented relationships between childhood vaccinations and autism. If there were none, there would be no discussion.

The discussion, the debate - if you can call it that - is not about "documented relationships".  There's no argument there. Documented relationships exist. The argument is whether or not the documented relationships are valid, important, even whether they are scientific.

But what does Topix.Com offer as the answer:

"False. There is absolutely NO correlation between vaccines and autism. Vaccines do not cause autism."

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't, that their answer goes much farther than the question, 'documented relationship' vs 'absolutely no correlation'. The answer is nonsense. Correlation is a measure, where a positive result indicates a positive correlation, a negative number indicates a negative correlation, and zero indicates that there is 'no relationship'.  It does not indicate 'no correlation. But, as we can see, science is not their strong suit.

Frankly, it's a lie.  And it's not science. It's ignorance.

The quiz consists of 69 questions to set up one final nonsense assertion.  Of the 69 questions, more than 20 have wrong answers, English errors, and nonsense, wrapped in a cloak of science.

The authors haven't bothered to check their answers.  They don't care.  They are assuming that no-one else will bother to check either.  That everyone will drill through the questions, like dummy students, and check their score.  And along the way, their brains will be infused with a little bit of nonsense, of 'faith', that there is 'no correlation between vaccines and autism'.

So... I got my score. I did the test twice.  The first time, quickly, and I was rated 95.  After researching the answers - that means I got LOTS of wrong answers, because the quiz is simply wrong.

But there's another problem.  It turns out - I should have guessed, that 95 is not a valid score.  If every one of the 70 questions gets one point, the valid scores are not integers. With rounding, the valid answers are: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, ..... 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, and 100.

It is not possible, scientifically, to get a score of 95 percent.  It is not possible to get a score of 5%. What score would I get if I had actually answered all of the questions correctly?  

How can I answer an incorrect question correctly?

Wouldn't you know it.  The second time I went through the test, I got a score of 5%. I tried unsuccessfully, to answer every question incorrectly. My score of 5% is also an invalid score.

It's not written by Bill Nye
It's not the science guy,
It's the science lie.

It's bunk. But I suspect many find it entertaining, and that's good enough for simple, or inattentive minds....

to your health, tracy
Founder: Healthicine