Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Oxygen Myth - the Empire strikes back!

No no no no! 
From an e-mail by a friend  
Cherry-picked, selectively quoted, full-tilt, bat-shit insane...
Another favorite rhetorical trick the ignoranti use is that ANYTHING can be said as we can't disprove something... the point i believe you tried to make about the "god is a yellow pig..." But the BURDEN of fucking proof rests on those making bat-shit crazy statements... not the other way around... 
Leave the lady alone! 
We got ourselves a veritable argumentum ad verecundiam which as everybody knows is the closest any common mortal like us will ever get to being infallible! Unless, that is, one took up opulent residence in a southern European capital, sported a pointy hat and presided over a cabal of geriatric pedophiles etc - but I'm digressing as usual. 
And, it of course goes both ways: 
don't you dare criticizing Obama unless you've been a US president as you would simply (caps lock) LACK THE KNOWLEDGE TO EVEN WEIGH IN ON THE SUBJECT!! Yes that would be not one but TWO exclamation marks! 
So there! 
Jessica is not just any dumb blonde bimbette! 
Far from it, she has majored in biology, making her an instant expert of not only cat poo and composting, but Shark biology to boot! And, she's a Biologist, shark lover, microscopy lover, honor society member, award-winning published writer, Nobel level thinker... Plus, after informing me that You and Jessica aren't friends (never have truer words been uttered!), Facebook also warns me that Jessica Works at Back Off, Man. I'm a Scientist
So being undoubtedly Man, I'm gonna certainly back off! 
And not only that: in order to preserve this pearl of wisdom and education for posterity lest it gets accidentally deleted, I'm gonna re-post Jessica's comments in their entirety! The links are mine not hers.
Enjoy and be amazed!
I'm not even going to read this drivel because I've seen this website already and the guy who runs it has about as much education as one of my cats. It seems there are A LOT of people out there (with zero education) who spend a lot of money on shark diving and then start a blog and call themselves experts.
The lack of education is spreading a very dangerous message. 
You CANNOT understand this stuff, post a bunch of thoughts and ideas and throw in some pictures found on google in an effort to prove or disprove a scientific theory. THEY LACK THE SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE TO EVEN WEIGH IN ON THE SUBJECT!! I recently remained anonymous and broke this down for the folks over at Shark Defenders and I would be happy to do the same for these guys as well.  
Without further ado, here are copies of what I wrote, which pretty much shut them up btw. 
Feel free to copy and paste my messages and let people know the facts: "In university right now, ecology professors are teaching this very idea. You need to understand that much of science deals in theories... I am sure you have heard of "Newtons Theory of Gravitation?" Basically theorizing that gravity exists; it's still just a theory...and "The Theory of Relativity?" 
Many of these ideas are based on hypothesis as opposed to using empirical discovery, however they are all considered acceptable and people agree that they are as close to the truth as we will ever get. While I am unaware of one particular study that tests the marine food web collapse theory in terms of proving that the loss of phytoplankton would significantly reduce the world's oxygen (it would make for a great thesis or dissertation for those of us continuing our education in the science field), in theory, it would make sense that if sharks were to disappear, forage fish would proliferate. 
If there is an overabundance of plankton feeders, the phytoplankton could disappear and the question is, how would it affect the Earth's oxygen supply? The other question is would the marine food web evolve to make up for the disturbance? It could go either way. Notice I use words like "can" and "could." While we can't say, that something is for sure without proving it, on the other hand, we also cannot say that it is emphatically incorrect, again, without testing it. So, just as there may not be a study to prove the theory correct, there also isn't one to prove it wrong. So, to answer your question, it cannot be answered by a simple yes or no, but we can theorize what will happen one way or another. " Their response was: "We haven't been able to pinpoint the earliest mention of the sharks-oxygen link, but here is a story from 2004 in National Geographic that links sharks to oxygen, not the other way. The myth may have started with Erich Ritter, who was in Sharkwater, and has posted on his website: "The protection of sharks is crucial for the balance of the oceans, earth’s main producer of oxygen." 
" Then Shark Diver wrote the following: "It was Rob Stewart who spent far too much time in the media fog of Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson a man known, even praised, for his magical ability to pull made up and factually incorrect quotes out of his hindquarters at will. Rob Stewart used that quote in his film and in most of his media appearances after the fact to sell Sharkwater to the public. I am sure Rob and Paul never imagined the public would adopt this strange narrative as readily as they did without any question of it's validity."  
And finally, I ended it with this:
"Again, in Universities all around the world, including the U.S., it is being taught that 70% of Earth's oxygen is derived from cyanobacteria (phytoplankton) in the ocean. Will disrupting the marine food web cause an issue for us in terms of obtaining oxygen? Until a model is formed and tested, there is no answer to that question. So, we are left to theorize and unfortunately, the information that is available shows that there likely would be some negative side effect (small or large scale) regarding our oxygen supply. All scientists agree that cyanobacteria (phytoplankton) were not only responsible for initially supplying the Earth with oxygen, but that they continue to do so. This is not a debate and there is plenty of proof. Here is a wonderful article, one of many, to prove to you that EVERYONE KNOWS that our oxygen comes from the ocean; in this, experts pin pointed when the oxygen was first created, no one is arguing about WHERE it came from. 
Erich Ritter was not lying or being hyperbolic."
Forget science (did I just say that?) 
Even in a basic COLLEGE LEVEL PHILOSOPHY CLASS, which would go right over these guys' heads, it is taught that you cannot dismiss something by saying it isn't true just because you don't believe it. You need to either prove, or disprove something. Just because there hasn't been an actual study (that we know of) that proves removing sharks would cause a marine food web collapse, thus causing a side effect to phytoplankton, does not mean it cannot happen. 
One need merely apply syllogism to solve this argument: 
Major premise: Phytoplankton supply Oxygen to Earth. Minor premise: Sharks keep Phytoplankton in check. Conclusion: All Sharks supply Oxygen to Earth. The model: Major premise: All P affect O. Minor premise: All S affect P. Conclusion: All S affect O. ------------- The best way to approach people who are trying to "debunk" this theory with their google searches and blogs is to use the link to the study above and point out that WITHOUT PHYTOPLANKTON, THE EARTH NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN OXYGENATED, lol. So, if we remove the top predators and allow the little guys WHO EAT PHYTOPLANKTON to explode, what is the best educated guess or theory as to what would happen? LESS PHYTOPLANKTON, maybe none at all. So, in dealing with cause and effect, what would happen next? Umm...oxygen depletion? Likely scenario. Can we say it's definite? No. Can we say it's impossible? Absolutely not!! That leaves us to wonder why they are trying so hard to disprove something that is impossible to prove or disprove without a proper study and model... 
Maybe these divers/bloggers secretly hate sharks and oxygen. 
Well, then they can get on their rocket ships that they built at the "University of Googling Information and Placing it on a Free Blog" and head to another planet. :)

Touché - yes I confess, I secretly hate oxygen! 
As I said, I am fatally intimidated by this deluge of erudition and will not even dare commenting on the fact that the COLLEGE LEVEL PHILOSOPHY CLASS syllogism is formally faulty (see it?) as that would just be petty nitpicking! 
But you may be braver. 
You may dare and go and re-read the drivel
If so inclined, chances are that you would discover that the hypothesis that the overfishing of Sharks will lead to the depletion of the planet's oxygen etc is so totally implausible (= utter unadulterated moronic bullshit) and the postulated causal relationship, to cite Rick, so spurious that nobody in his right mind would think of elevating this to the rank of a legitimate scientific query, ever! But then again, maybe Jessica will do the honors? And concerning the syllogism, you may discover this.
  • Major premise: not so fast!
  • Minor premise: utter unadulterated moronic bullshit!
  • Ergo?
Or as they say. Errare humanum est - perserverare, diabolicum! 
But blessed are the poor of mind - and I suspect that on this, even the man with the pointy hat would agree! 
Patric on Jessica Perry-Targaryen here
Question: can Majors in Biology be un-bestowed? 
PS - Rejoice it gets even better!  
Here's one more impressive bonbon by the diabolically clever Jessica the Biologist and I discover, soon-to-be PsScD from the same insanely educative thread, in answer to comments by that extra-creeper and TROLL, poor David from SFS
"No scientific papers, no technical reports, no presentations at conferences, nothing." 
So, according to your logic, because no one has broached the issue utilizing a scientific model, then it can't possibly be so. I suspect you come from the same school of thought where "the Earth MUST be flat because no one has proven it otherwise." And I guess you don't believe in global warming since that too is a theory and has yet to be emphatically proven. And while we're at it, where do you stand on evolution? And the list goes on... Who makes you the end all authority on it? Oh, because YOU say so it must be true. I think those blogs of yours have fed your ego so much that it has consumed your brain. If you truly knew anything about biology, then you would know that in order for something to be considered untrue, there must be a study to discount the theory and since YOU say that no such study exists, then it could still be possible. 
Go take a philosophy class and then come back and talk to me because although you may know a lot about sea sponges, you don't know a damn thing about logic. And for the record, yes, there are studies being done and I actually plan to incorporate this subject into my dissertation when the time comes. I guess I'll put this baby to bed one way or another and whether I am wrong or right is not what this is about... It's about the fact that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN and if you say it can't, without proof, then you're no better than the people who say that it can, without proof. I only said that it "COULD" happen. So, your point is moot and illogical. I have a deal to make with you, instead of you just saying "I'm right and you're wrong" and then accusing me of spreading pseudoscience, lol. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is? Since you feel so passionate about the subject, why don't you give me the results to your hypothetico-deductive model and prove the theory wrong? (You've already made your prediction so, get going) If your results prove that a marine food web collapse would not have a small or large scale effect to oxygen supply on Earth (taking into account that cyanobacteria "phyotplankton" were the cause of oxygenation 2.4 billion years ago and continue to supply us with 70% of O2) and publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, then I will take your findings as facts and let the world know. See, it works both can't say something isn't so without proof, just like you can't saying something is so without prove, but we can always hypothesize. 
And I must say, I'm rather impressed by Julie!


jsd said...

Major premise: Phytoplankton supply Oxygen to Earth.
Minor premise: Sharks keep Phytoplankton in check.
Conclusion: All Sharks supply Oxygen to Earth.

The model:

Major premise: All P affect O.
Minor premise: All S affect P.
Conclusion: All S affect O.


Major Premise: Aristotle invented the syllogism.

Minor Premise: This is a sillygism.

Conclusion: Aristotle must be turning in his grave.

BeachNomad said...

my head hurts.... but on the plus side, since we are eating all the cows that eat grass we should be able to make up for the loss in phytoplankton due to the decrease in shark numbers.. right?

DaShark said...


And, we need to jail the vegans for tampering with the Planet's supply of oxygen - or better yet: feed them to the Sharks!

OfficetoOcean said...

The shark world's David Koresh has a bride...Who knew!

Up Welng said...

With apologies to The Princess Bride and Inigo Montoya: "She keeps using that word science... I do not think it means what she thinks it means."

DaShark said...

Ahhhhh Rick you're always so intellectually karmic! :)

Will I ever get you to explode & utter a beefy expletive like all my other friends! :)

Anonymous said...

You can't fix stupid. And when it hybridizes with flaming ignorance, it seems you can't even dampen it. But, hopefully, you can at least shut it up for awhile. Here's hoping that this will be the beginning-of-the-end of pseudo-science in shark conservation. [Let's get this team on 'intelligent design' next!]