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Science We Hope Turns Out To Be Settled

Regular readers of Via Meadia may sometimes get the impression that we have something against settled science. In critiquing hysterical greens for their draconian, hear-no-dissent discourse on climate change and what to do about it, we have often pointed to the ever-changing scientific consensus on such diverse matters as video games, human reproduction, the Theory of Relativity and even the origins of the Shroud of Turin.

But let us set the record straight and state unequivocally that we certainly do not oppose the idea of settled science. Take this NPR report:

A new study finds that people who eat chocolate several times a week are actually leaner than people who don’t eat chocolate regularly.

…Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, asked about 1,000 people, ages 20 to 85, a simple question: “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” The participants then completed food frequency questionnaires to estimate their caloric intakes of a whole range of foods including chocolate. They also had weight and height measurement taken to calculate their body mass index, or BMI.

“In our study, people who ate chocolate more often actually ate more calories,” says Golomb. “But in spite of that they had lower [BMI].”

How much lower? For a 5-foot-tall woman, weighing about 120 pounds, the study found that she was likely to be about 5 pounds lighter if she was a frequent eater of chocolate (five times a week).

Some science deserves to be settled; if any papers get published debunking these important findings, we don’t want to hear about them.

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  • WigWag

    On the subject of science versus faith, there is actually one of the most fascinating essays that I have read in a long time in today’s New York Times by retired Professor Stanley Fish.

    Entitled, “Citing Chapter and Verse: Which Scripture Is the Right One?” Fish makes the argument that “science” is far less objective than its proponents claim and that it is as chock full of assumptions as religion is.

    I suspect that Professor Mead and his readers might find it very interesting. The column can be found here,

    As it happens, Fish is the world’s most prominent living Milton scholar (although I think he gets alot in Milton wrong).

    He’s written what may be the two most important works of criticism of Milton that have been penned in the last 50 years; “Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost” (1967) and “How Milton Works” (2001).

    Like Professor Mead, Fish is extraordinarily erudite. They have a very different view of the world; Fish is usually thought of as a postmodernist although the label annoys him.

    I wonder if Fish and Mead have ever met or sat down for a discussion. It would be well worth the price of admission to see the two of them on stage together discussing the classics or, alternatively, the rival claims of religion and science.

    It sounds like a perfect program for the 92nd Street Y in New York or perhaps for Book TV on CSPAN.

    Anyway, the Fish Op-ed is provocative enough to be worth a look.

    I don’t know if Fish likes chocolate though.

  • Felipe Pait

    The faster-than-light neutrino experiment was incorrect. Relativity stands, settled almost one hundred years ago.

  • Benjamin

    Seems like this could be the kind of readership that is extremely vulnerable to social desirability bias, where people give the answers that they think the surveyors want to hear or that they *want* to be true.

    ie, heavier people are under-reporting how much chocolate they consume because they don’t want to be seen as gluttons.

  • JimK

    Well then I guess it’s time for our daily govt chocolate ration to go up to 15 grams from 25 grams, aye?

  • Corlyss

    NPR wouldn’t know science, settled or not, if it jumped up and bit them in their wedding tackle. The next time Guy Raz (NPR’s science reporter) pulls a blooper like the one 2 years ago where he solemnly agreed with a climatologist who mischaracterized the loss of Artic ice as equal to the size of Texas, I’m going to send him the money I’ve been saving up to send him to a decent science course at a community college near him.

  • Andrew Allison

    Fun post, but let’s not lose site of the fact that “settled science” is an oxymoron!

  • Kris

    “if any papers get published debunking these important findings, we don’t want to hear about them.”

    We’ll make a Green out of you yet! 🙂

    WigWag@1: “I don’t know if Fish likes chocolate though.”

    Burn the heretic!

    Alternately: Fish likes chocolate like Woman likes bicycles.

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