Saturday, March 24, 2007

Real Life Science Babe Under Attack !

Louise Riofrio, a cosmologist, has been asked to speak at the Imperial College in London on March 29th at the Outstanding Questions for the Standard Cosmological Model conference. She has some interesting and controversial theories. Her most controversial idea seems to be the GM=tc^3 equation which...well it's way beyond my paygrade...but seems to indicate that the speed of light is slowing. Physicists are unsure of what it means but she seems to be onto something. It is at least sparking some discussion and she is rated enough to get invited to the aforementioned conference. So far so good....but wait...there is a campaign to get her uninvited.
From Miss Riofrio's Blog:

From: Don Barry []
Sent: 19 March 2007 00:51
To: De Nadai-Sowrey, Graziela C
Cc: Simeon Warner
Subject: A crackpot has slipped through your screens..

Dear organizers,

I notice that you have given a slot to Louise Riofrio in one of your
sessions in your upcoming conference.. She's listed in your
section as affiliated with James Cook University, Queensland. A simple
will reveal that JCU/Queensland does not list her in any capacity.

She's been a frequent crackpot pest trying to post papers on the
server. If you take a look at her blog,,
all should become clear. It's actually rather hilarious in spots.

In any event, you may get some comic relief as people become somewhat
glass-eyed on the last day of a conference.


Don Barry,
Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Spectrograph Team,
Cornell University

Oookay. I'm not a physicist, I'm an undergraduate oceanography major so for all I know, she might be a crackpot, but she has some interesting ideas and was invited to give her viewpoint. In the above E-mail Mr. Barry indicates that she is not affiliated a JCU Queensland at all, but according to her blog her records got hacked. She is listed as affiliated with James Cook U in this lecture program and here as well as in these two abstracts from the Harvard Website. It would seem that Mr. Barry is wrong.

Indeed, Mr. Barry, it seems is quite a piece of work, according to his astronomy dept bio...he is a Chomskyite Marxist Leninist
OTOH he does use a slide rule which is way cool.....but can't really compensate for his moonbattery.

I'm still wondering what his bio has to do with astronomy.
More on the mad on Louise Riofrio gives certain scientists here. She may well be wrong, science, especially very hard to observe things like these is a LEARNING and EXPLORING experiment but she seems to at least be asking the right questions, not trying to ignore or silence the questions of others.

OK bear with me as I have a tangentially related political digression for a moment. Feel free to scroll past...

Given the observable, objective failures of large scale Leftism in bringing about prosperity since people really began experimenting with it during and after the French Revolution, why do many scientists, who are, in theory, all about observing cause and effect, still adhere to this.

In spite of all the evidence of history, the above mentioned moonbat scientist at Cornell is an adherent to a philosophy that killed a comparable number of people in the last 80 years to those that were killed by all the religious wars in Europe and the Levant in the last thousand. He extols an economic plan that has never worked absent US subsidies or huge infusions of cash from local resources (see Norway) , one that really doesn't work well at its best and is absolutely catastrophic at its worst.

He is not an aberration.
Whiskey tango foxtrot?

I dunno, I have 3 theories.
1: A university by necessity, is essentially a socialist, bureaucratic structure with a big implicitly Malthusian component (research monies). Thus to operate in that system one must understand and apreciate the system. Being totally in the system at all times doesn't help.

2:To get to the highest levels of academia often requires that one spends ones entire careerer in a university environment so there is, ironically for such learned people, a certain amount of provincialism that informs their viewpoint.

3:Peer pressure. The left is
very good about punishing heretics, if one does not extol politically correct viewpoints one does not get invited to the cool parties. More importantly, one might not get tenure, so there may be an subtle but active weeding of more dynamic viewpoints.

I don't think that things are quite as bad as some suggest, but I think it it does influence scientific debate. Global warming is a case study...
Global warming is happening
There likely IS an anthropogenic component.
But given that the whole solar system is also warming should we go whole hog into Kyoto, despite the fact that it gives a pass to non western polluters (some of the worst in fact).
Kyoto is an egalitarian socialist dream, it punishes the evil west and in particular the hated USA, It uses bureaucratic machinations to put the sort of centralized planning in place that has pretty much been a bust previously, but now is presented as an emergency earth saving measure.

Now I don't want to continue the transcendentally stupid experiment of deffacating in the atmosphere with tons of pollution every year and see what new wretched things happen, but the sort of dynamic "boing boingy:)" solutions, that are more likely to generate long term solutions than a top down statist approach. In the near term, nuclear power, small scale solar where practical and biofuels to the extent they don't egregiously displace food crops perhaps assisted with gene modified crops are a good bet.

Of course the first and last of my near term items are double-plus-ungood to the left...and therein lies the rub.

The semi-religious nature of leftism is not in
any way conducive to open debate and inquiry the attempt to shut up L. Rofinio is symptomatic of this. *

Anyway, my own wingnuttery aside, Those of us at Brickmuppet Blog (and, of course, the Brickmuppet's Crack team of Science Babes) wish the Babe in the Universe a successful speech received in the spirit of open mindedness and intelligent discourse. In the unlikely event she is a crank utterly without merit then she will make an ass of herself as certain IDiots did and her theories can be put to rest. If upon careful analysis her theories do not quite pan out, then eliminating them or perhaps modifying them will narrow down our search for the truth in this area and thereby expand our body of knowledge. If she's right then she certainly deserves not to be silenced, not just for her career but the good of mankind.
There are no real arguments for not hearing such an august individual, save the jealous rantings and cybermischief of an angry passive aggressive quidnunc.

*I don't mean to suggest in any way that Leftism is a religion:
Religion is the belief in that which cannot be proven or disproven...Leftism is the belief in the demonstrably false.


ザイツェヴ said...

What next, invite evolution deniers with interesting theories?

Ken said...

Sure, baby/bathwater all that.

In fact, regards the IDiots that was actually done, they made asses of themselves, science moved on.

IF they had had any merit to their arguments regards irreducable complexity it would have been a great advancement and spawned all sorts of not necessarily religious questions regards evolutionary biology. Of course their science was debunkable by a clever sixth grader.

L.Riofrio's theories are controversial, but there does seem to be something going on the extent that the Imperial College in London has invited her. The actions of mister Barry are just petty, reprehensible mischief, and he tried to give his mischief the weight of Cornell university to shut her up.

This just strikes me as wrong.

Wonderduck said...

I'd say it's mostly #2, with a good helping of #3 thrown in. I'm not tuned in enough to the high-level financial stuff to know how that works, but my experiences at Duck U. would indicate the ratios not mentioned above.

delio said...

attending a conference is mostly a matter of applying for that, *not* being invited. and when you apply, you also tell the organizers what your affiliation is. it's that simple.
a much safer way of checking affiliation is to look at her e-mail address: is it a JCU's? nope.

besides: in cosmology, as well as in most other fields, a bunch of communists have been active researchers over the last 100 years, even in america -- and a bunch of anti-communists too. how can their political thoughts possibly make their scientifical research less (or more) worth?

Anonymous said...

I have to post this anonymously for compelling reasons but wanted to let you know that you should be careful who you choose to support you might not want to say a person is a victim of sexism if you haven’t met them. riofrio claims to be a victim of sexism, but is only a victim of her own incompetence. it is also bothersome that she claims to be a woman when she is NOT. she is using her appearance as a smokescreen to detract from the fact that there is no substance behind her so called theories. see this link for a picture of louis riofrio before changing to louise.

the purpose of this post is to remind us to be careful as scientists. we can want to support new ideas, but they should be consistent and make sense in their own framework. riofrio sadly, does not present a supportive case for her hodge podge of equations, nor does she seem to take criticism well; bad combination.

Ken said...

Thank you for your concern.

I looked again at my post, I don't think I accused Dr. Barry of being sexist. I hava a higher tolerance than some for mildly sexist remarks as I consider Political correctness to be a greater threat to freedom and a somewhat thick skin to be a responsibility....there are limits of course.

As to if L.Riofro is a crackpot, I have stated that it is entirely possible that she is. My areas of (limited) expertise are not in cosmology or astrophysics, but in hazardous materials response, certain Coast Guard procedures, and my beginning steps into the field of biological oceanography.

As I stated I don't know what to make of her theories. They are beyond my expertise.

As a layman in these matters, I found some of her ideas interesting.

Mr. Barry's correspondance seemed presumptuous and rude.

Additionally he stated that L.Riofrio is not affiliated with James Cook U. A very quick web search gave at least some evidence that she is.

We live in a time where people who have non-mainstream ideas regards the degree to which global warming is caused by industry are equated with holocaust deniers.

This dynamic is a far more dangerous thing IMHO than a crank (assuming you are right and she is a crank)

I am NOT endorsing L.Riofrio's ideas because I don't know enough. I AM endorsing the idea that she not be muzzled. The attacks on her seem to revolve more around name-calling and creepy allegations than her work.

Regards your assertion that she is a transexual (or whatever the accepted term for this is now):
I'm a fairly conservative person and I personally find such things more than a bit creepy,however, It is a fre country and I don't see what the HELL this has to do with the merits of her ideas or if she should be allowed to speak.

If she starts talking about shape shifting reptillian martians from the center of the earth, ireducable complexity disproving Darwin, how dinosaurs were demons, how the Dean drve was supresed by the millitary industrial complex or how the UN is spreading AIDS through immunizations....or anything that I have enough knowledge to say "LOOOOON!!" then I will do so.

Until then I'll await her speech and see what critiques she recieves.