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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics


Monday, September 20, 2021

COVID-19 Origins Groupthink Resembled Human Origins Groupthink

The COVID-19 pandemic began spreading worldwide in the year 2020, after originating in Wuhan, China, the site of two major virus labs. Throughout that year scientists showed a very high degree of "follow the herd" behavior and groupthink and conformism when talking about the origins of the virus. "Singing from the same hymn book," scientists almost uniformly claimed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 had a purely natural origin.  

In February 2020 a letter had appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet entitled "Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China combatting COVID-19." The statement denounced as "misinformation" and "conspiracy theories" suspicions that "COVID-19 does not have a natural origin."  It stated the following:

"The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin."

The authors suggested that "conjecture" on this topic should be repressed for the sake of "unity," stating, "We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture." 

The authors very inaccurately claimed to have no conflict of interests, stating "We declare no competing interests."  In reality, several of the authors had major conflicts of interest. The scientist who had orchestrated the Lancet letter (Peter Daszak) was very entangled with a Chinese lab (the Wuhan Institute of Virology) that was very close physically to the place where the COVID-19 virus outbreak first occurred.  Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance organization had given lots of money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for it to engage in dicey research on viruses. 

Later in The Lancet we read this reference to the letter mentioned above, one that embarrasses that letter's authors by calling on them to "re-evaluate their competing interests":

"In this letter, the authors declared no competing interests. Some readers have questioned the validity of this disclosure, particularly as it relates to one of the authors, Peter Daszak....The Lancet invited the 27 authors of the letter to re-evaluate their competing interests."

There then follows a statement by Daszak in which he seems to confess quite a bit of what sounds like  conflict of interest, but still fails to mention the name of the Wuhan Institute of Virology that he was closely involved with, using instead three times the vague phrase "work in China."   

The Daily Mail quotes a scholar of COVID-19 origins (Jamie Metzl) as speaking very unfavorably about the February 2020 Lancet letter orchestrated by Daszak:

"Jamie Metzl, who sits on the World Health Organization's advisory committee on human genome editing and is a former Bill Clinton administration staffer, said Dr Daszak's letter was a 'form of thuggery'. He said: ‘The Lancet letter was scientific propaganda and a form of thuggery and intimidation. By labelling anyone with different views a conspiracy theorist, the Lancet letter was the worst form of bullying in full contravention of the scientific method.' "

Metzl was using a little hyperbole, as no literal thuggery (no literal physical violence) was involved, and mere words are never "the worst form of bullying," which is physical violence. It is rather hard to judge exactly how much of an effect the February 2020 Lancet letter had. But it did rather seem in early 2020 that the letter had "worked like a charm" to tell scientists that no heresy was allowed from the prevailing view on this topic.  Throughout that year scientists acted as if they were thinking, "We got the memo: it is a taboo to question the purely natural origin of COVID-19." 

When I wrote my January 21, 2021 post "Gene Engineers Keep Up Their Risky Tinkering, Unfazed by Pandemic Suspicions," such a taboo was very much in effect; and I was "going out on a limb" by giving equal treatment to natural origins ideas and the hypothesis of a lab leak as being the cause of COVID-19, stating the following:

"Because of such explanatory difficulties, there does not currently exist any plausible detailed theory of a purely natural origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19...We do not yet know exactly how COVID-19 originated, and we do not know whether its origin was purely natural."

But then in the next few months the taboo started to break its stranglehold on the thinking of scientists, as you see in the postscripts I added to my January 21, 2021 post, mentioning discussion of the lab leak hypothesis starting to occur in mainstream publications in February and March 2021. By spring 2021 many a scientist was saying that we do not know whether COVID-19 originated by purely natural effects or because of a leak from some lab doing research on viruses.  

Mainstream sources began to point out that it was not at all a conspiracy theory to merely doubt that COVID-19 had purely natural origins.  There were three main hypotheses:

(1) That COVID-19 had originated because of purely natural evolution. 

(2) That COVID-19 had accidentally escaped from a laboratory (the lab leak hypothesis), presumably when well-meaning scientists were working to try to prevent future pandemics. 

(3) That COVID-19 had been deliberately designed as a biological weapon. 

Mainstream sources began to point out that the second of these two hypotheses (the lab leak hypothesis) is not at all a conspiracy theory, as it involves merely a hypothesis of an accident. 

By March 25, 2021 there appeared a letter in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters which was titled "Should we discount the laboratory origin of COVID-19?" and stated the following:

"Several characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 taken together are not easily explained by a natural zoonotic origin hypothesis. These include a low rate of evolution in the early phase of transmission; the lack of evidence for recombination events; a high pre-existing binding to human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2); a novel furin cleavage site (FCS) insert; a fat ganglioside-binding domain (GBD) of the spike protein which conficts with host evasion survival patterns exhibited by other coronaviruses; and high human and mouse peptide mimicry. Initial assumptions against a laboratory origin by contrast have remained unsubstantiated. Furthermore, over a year after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, there is still no clear evidence of zoonotic transfer from a bat or intermediate species."

US President Joe Biden ordered an intelligence review on the topic. CNN describes the resulting report like this:

"Four intelligence community agencies and the National Intelligence Council assessed, with low confidence, that Covid was likely caused by natural exposure to an animal, the summary says. One agency assessed with moderate confidence, however, that the first human infection most likely was the result of a lab-associated incident that 'probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute.' And three agencies said they were unable to coalesce around either explanation without additional information."

An article in the journal Science very inaccurately describes this intelligence review as favoring a purely natural origin for COVID-19, which makes no sense because having one agency conclusion with "moderate" confidence in favor of the lab leak hypothesis is stronger than having several agency conclusions against that hypothesis (all of merely "low" confidence). 

A sign of the new respectability of the lab leak hypothesis is a recent (September 17, 2021) letter in The Lancet, one entitled, "An appeal for an objective, open, and transparent scientific debate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2."  The letter strongly criticizes the Daszak letter that had appeared in the same journal in February, 2020.  The September 17 letter states the following:

"As will be shown below, there is no direct support for the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, and a laboratory-related accident is plausible. There is so far no scientifically validated evidence that directly supports a natural origin...After 19 months of investigations, the proximal progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 is still lacking. Neither the host pathway from bats to humans, nor the geographical route from Yunnan (where the viruses most closely related to SARS-CoV-2 have been sampled) to Wuhan (where the pandemic emerged) have been identified. More than 80 000 samples collected from Chinese wildlife sites and animal farms all proved negative....A research-related origin is plausible...Overwhelming evidence for either a zoonotic or research-related origin is lacking: the jury is still out... As shown above, research-related hypotheses are not misinformation and conjecture. More importantly, science embraces alternative hypotheses, contradictory arguments, verification, refutability, and controversy. Departing from this principle risks establishing dogmas, abandoning the essence of science, and, even worse, paving the way for conspiracy theories. Instead, the scientific community should bring this debate to a place where it belongs: the columns of scientific journals."

The claim that COVID-19 had a purely natural origin was a questionable dogma that was kept in place through almost all of 2020 because of sociological conformity effects such as groupthink.  While the stranglehold of that dogma has weakened, there continues to exist many other dubious dogmas in the world of science academia that keep sitting on thrones largely because of sociological effects and peer pressure.  One such dogma is the dogma that humans had a purely natural origin.  The way in which such a dogma has continued to reign is very similar to the way that the dogma of purely natural COVID-19 origins kept in power throughout the year 2020.  Below is a table comparing the two cases:


Purely natural COVID-19 origins versus design involvement in COVID-19 origins (possibly well-intentioned design) 

Purely natural human origins versus design involvement in human origins

The main issue was a conflict between a “purely natural” origins explanation and an explanation involving intelligent agency.

Yes.

Yes.

“Purely natural” theory became an orthodoxy that it was “heresy” to question

Yes, during the year 2020.

Yes, through most of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.

“Purely natural” theory was never well-established by observations

Yes (see the previous quote in The Lancet).

Yes.

The “heretical” design hypothesis was always reasonable and not very far-fetched

Yes.


Given Wuhan virus labs in the same city where COVID-19 arose, and many cases of “gain of function” research by scientists, a “lab leak” hypothesis was always reasonable.

Yes.


Given enormous levels of hierarchical organization in the human body, tons of functional information in DNA, very many uniquely human mental traits and mental abilities not credibly explained by brain activity, and seemingly fine-tuned fundamental constants in nature, the hypothesis of design involvement in human origins was always reasonable, and never was far-fetched.

Lack of any credible detailed theory to explain “purely natural” origins

Yes (see recent letter in The Lancet).

There was never any credible explanation of how the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 could have so quickly become so well-adapted to transmission in humans. An intermediate organism serving as a bridge between bats and humans was never found.  

Yes.

The misleading term "natural selection" (which does not actually involve selection, a choice by a conscious agent) was never a credible explanation for the origin of so many unique human capabilities, as the co-creator of  evolutionary theory (Alfred Russel Wallace) explained at length in an essay "The Limits of Natural Selection As Applied to Man."

Proponents of reasonable “design” hypothesis unfairly described with a misleading epithet.

Yes.


Proponents of the lab-leak hypothesis were called “conspiracy theorists,” even though they did not actually believe in a conspiracy, but merely some possible overconfidence and carelessness.

Yes.


Theorists of intelligent design were frequently called “creationists,” a word implying   biblical fundamentalism, even though the Bible is rarely mentioned in the literature of such theorists, who argue not by appealing to scripture, but by describing the fine-tuned functional complexity and   enormous level of hierarchical organization in human beings, and the inadequacy of Darwinist explanations for such biological wonders and the human mind.

The prevailing orthodoxy was established partially to serve the vested interests of biologists

Yes.


If a pandemic arose from a lab-leak in a scientist lab, the prestige of scientists would be lessened, and they might get less funding and more restrictive regulations.

Yes.


The claim that scientists understood the origin of humans and other species led to a huge boost in the prestige of scientists, who could then paint themselves as “grand lords of explanation.”

The table above mentions only one of the forms of bullying that has been used against theorists of design involvement in human origins, who are sometimes defamed as  "zealots" or "fanatics" by their Darwinist opponents, even though there is no sign of any difference in the levels of passion in the two camps. 

heresy shaming
Shaming a guy with a "could easily be true" hypothesis

An excellent article by journalist by Paul D. Thacker discusses the groupthink, dysfunctional journalism, intellectual bullying and herd-following cowardice of the year 2020. The article is entitled "The covid-19 lab leak hypothesis: did the media fall victim to a misinformation campaign?" The misinformation campaign referred to is one coming from the mainstream science news sources. 

Referring to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), the article begins by stating a little of what I mentioned above:

"For most of 2020, the notion that SARS-CoV-2 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, was treated as a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory....But that all changed in the early months of 2021, and today most outlets across the political spectrum agree: the 'lab leak' scenario deserves serious investigation."

The article mentions quite a few mainstream sources that were to blame for the supression of one of the two leading hypotheses about COVID-19 origins, mentioning censorship by Facebook. It mentions the failure of science journalists, quoting science journalist Nicholas Wade:

"Wade explains, 'Science journalists differ a lot from other journalists in that they are far less sceptical of their sources and they see their main role as simply to explain science to the public.'  This, he says, is why they began marching in unison behind Daszak."

We see such a failure constantly on science news sites: science journalists meekly acting like  North Korean journalists, repeating trustingly any claims that come from professor authorities, no matter how groundless, dubious or speculative such claims may be. 

What we saw in the year 2020 in regard to COVID-19 origins (the premature claim that scientists knew about about how a mysterious biological innovation had appeared) was no fluke. It was just another example  of a malfunction that repeatedly occurs in modern academia: overconfident scientists dogmatically proclaiming they  understand things that they don't actually understand.  It was the opinion reversal of 2021 that was the real fluke, because once scientists start claiming in great numbers to understand something they don't understand, they typically persist for very many years to repeat such boastful claims of understanding, rather than realizing within a year or two that they claimed to understand things they don't understand.  

What goes on regarding scientific matters is that a very tiny group at the top of a pyramid can control what millions of other people believe, as illustrated in the diagram below (in which the tiny pink triangle at the top controls the beliefs of all the other layers).   

pyramid of belief

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Why "We Are All Star Stuff" Is a Poor Slogan

Trying to make astronomy seem more relevant to the average man, the astronomer Carl Sagan tried to popularize the slogan "we are all star stuff," a slogan that many people have since repeated.  But there are several reasons why the slogan "we are all star stuff" is a poor slogan to be using. 

Reason #1: We Don't Really Know How the Elements in Our Bodies Originated

Scientists sometimes boast about understanding how the elements originated.  Their claim is that the three lightest elements (hydrogen, helium and lithium) originated in the Big Bang, the sudden origin of the universe. They claim that other elements such as carbon and oxygen originated in stars. 

But the Big Bang theory does not correctly predict the amount of lithium. This shortfall is called the cosmological lithium problem.  A university press release tells us, "The standard models of the Big Bang that are currently used predict an abundance of Li-7, the main lithium isotope, which is three or four times more than that determined via astronomical observations."

The biggest failure of the Big Bang theory is that it incorrectly predicts the universe should consist of equal amounts of matter and antimatter.  We know from experiments in particle accelerators that when two high-energy photons collide at very high speeds, they produce matter and antimatter in equal amounts. In the first instants of the Big Bang, the universe should have consisted of such very high-energy photons, colliding with each other constantly, leaving equal amounts of matter and antimatter. A web page of the leading particle physics organization CERN starts out by saying, "The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe." But it is known that the amount of matter in the universe is actually at least 10,000 times greater than the amount of antimatter in the universe.  If even a tiny bit of antimatter came into contact with some matter here on our planet, it would create an explosion vastly bigger than a hydrogen bomb explosion. 

It seems the Big Bang theory is a far-from-perfected work-in- progress, and currently way, way off in its prediction about the ratio of matter and antimatter in the universe, and also way off in its predictions about lithium. So we cannot rule out the possibility that future refinements of the Big Bang theory will claim that the Big Bang produced not just the first three elements on the periodic table (hydrogen, helium and lithium) but the first eight elements on the periodic table (hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen). If that were to happen, then scientists would stop claiming that most of the mass in our bodies comes from stars. 

No one would be terribly surprised if scientists were to stop claiming that most oxygen and carbon came from stars.  The current theory to explain the origin of oxygen and carbon has a rather fishy smell to it.  The theory is that the oxygen and carbon on Earth came from one or more other stars. But the problem is that stars are very, very far apart.  The nearest star is 25 trillion miles away.  There has always been the problem of accounting for how so much material from other stars could have got here.  An average star will not shoot out matter that far away from it. 

There are rare events called supernova explosions in which stars explode violently and shoot out matter far away. Scientists claim that such explosions can account for planets like Earth getting elements such as oxygen.  Such claims may not be warranted. 

The Crab Nebula is a nebula caused by a supernova explosion nearly 1000 years ago:

Crab Nebula
 Credit: NASA

The NASA web page here lists the width of the Crab Nebula as six light-years. In the calculation below I'll assume a supernova casts heavy elements across an area of about 1000 light-years (more than the roughly 200 cubic light-years of the Crab Nebula).

Below we see some very rough calculations on the topic on how much of the galaxy should have been seeded with heavy elements from supernova explosions. I'll use the estimate of about 3 supernova explosions per century given by several sources. 

Length of our galaxy, light years

100000

Cubic size of galaxy, light years

1000000000000000

Number of supernova per year in our galaxy

0.03

Number of supernova in past 6 billion years in our galaxy

180000000

Number of cubic light years that get heavy elements from one supernova

1000

Number of cubic light years in our galaxy getting supernova heavy elements (past 6 billion years)

180000000000

Fraction of our galaxy getting heavy elements such as oxygen from supernovas during the past 6 billion years

.000180


These calculations suggest that less than two ten-thousandths of our galaxy should have got elements such as oxygen from supernova explosions.  So what confidence can we have in claims that the oxygen and carbon in our body came from distant stars?

Attempts to account for the origin of heavy elements by stellar activity don't quite work correctly. To account for the abundances we observe of gold and silver, scientists have appealed to far-fetched ideas like colliding neutron stars. A recent paper attempting a "latest and greatest model" confesses, "We find that silver is overproduced by a factor of 6, while gold is underproduced a factor of 5 in the model."  Oops, our "elements from the stars" guys still haven't got things right, it seems.  A 2019 paper states, "The origin of many elements of the periodic table remains an unsolved problem."

My purpose here is not to claim a refutation of current models of the origin of elements, but to merely point out that such models are far from proven.  We don't really know that the oxygen and carbon in our bodies came from some other star or stars.  Such elements could have originated before any stars existed, at the time of the Big Bang. 

Also, the entire universe could have been divinely created ten thousand years ago, a million years ago, a billion years ago, or any number of years ago, in some state of organization far greater than the hot, disorganized state of the Big Bang.  In that case it would be false that the carbon and oxygen in our bodies came from stars. Similarly,  a builder can create a Colonial-style house in Vermont that looks like it is 200 years old, but which is actually only three months old.  

Commenting on the prevailing hypothesis that the oxygen and iron in our solar system came from a nearby supernova explosion, one scientific paper states, "Numerous individual characteristics of the solar system when viewed collectively reveal that the supernova enrichment scenario is not sufficiently self-consistent." The author then discusses at some length some serious problems with such a hypothesis. 

Given all these uncertainties, claiming "we are all star stuff" is not a statement of scientific fact, but a statement of shaky scientist speculation.  

Reason #2: It Is Misleading to Use the Term "Stuff" to Refer to Our Enormously Organized Bodies

Let us consider the word "stuff" in the slogan "we are all star stuff." The word "stuff" implies a disorganized set of things or disorganized material.  For example, if someone said to you, "Let me show you some metal stuff I have in my garage," you would be surprised if the person opened his garage door and pointed at a car.  The word "stuff" implies some not-very-organized set of things.  For example, someone may say, "I bought some stuff at the food store," referring to various items that are not any very organized arrangement.  

But human bodies are not some disorganized stuff. Bodies are things that have an enormous degree of hierarchical organization.  In a body subatomic articles are organized into atoms, which are organized into simple molecules like amino acids, which are organized into vastly more complicated protein molecules consisting of hundreds of amino acids arranged in just the right way to produce a functional effect. Then such protein molecules are organized into protein complexes or organelles, which are organized into cells that may have thousands of such organelles. Then the cells are organized into tissues, which are organized into organs, which are organized into organ systems. "Stuff" is a misleading term to use about that type of organization. Using such a term for something as organized as the human body is like calling the Golden Gate Bridge "some metal stuff." 

Reason #3: We Are Mainly Our Minds Not Our Bodies, and It Is Dehumanizing and Morally Hazardous to Refer to Humans As "Stuff"

A human being is mainly a mind rather than a body. You are mainly your thoughts, your self, your personality, your memories, your beliefs, your feelings, and your way of living, none of which are any kind of material stuff. (The claim that memories are material has no basis in robust science.)  When you speak as if a human being is "some stuff," you are engaging in dehumanizing speech. Such speech is morally hazardous. Once a person starts talking about a human as "some stuff," he may feel no qualms about getting rid of that "stuff."  For example:

Captain: Get rid of all that stuff over there.
Corporal: How should I do that, with a machine gun or a flame thrower?

Slogans such as "we are all star stuff" are loved by those who wish to get people to think of themselves as mere accidents of nature. Get a man to think of himself as mainly some stellar debris, and you may get him close to thinking of himself as some mere accident of nature.  But ironically, in developing their theories of the origin of elements, scientists find themselves appealing to very lucky fine-tuning in physics which does not sound accidental.  For example, a paper entitled "Chemical Elements Abundance in the Universe and the Origin of Life" states this: "

"Element synthesis which started with p-p chain has resulted in several specific characteristics including lack of any stable isotope having atomic masses 5 [boron] or 8 [oxygen]. The carbon to oxygen ratio is fixed early by the chain of coincidences. These  remarkably fine-tuned conditions are responsible for our own existence and indeed the existence of any carbon based life in the Universe."

Sunday, September 12, 2021

No Committee Ever Got More Shocking Testimony

"Whenever the scientific men of any age have denied the facts of investigators on a priori groimds, they have always been wrong."

A committee to investigate the paranormal was formed by the Dialectical Society of London, founded in 1867. In January 1869 the society resolved, “
That the Council be requested to appoint a Committee in conformity with Bye-law VII., to investigate the Phenomena alleged to be Spiritual Manifestations, and to report thereon.”  
The full 400-page report can be read here. The report issued by the Committe is summarized on pages 138-149 of the Psychical Review (Volume 1, Number 2, November 1892).  

The Committee was composed mainly of people skeptical about paranormal phenomena. Early in the report we read this:

"Of the members of your Sub-Committee about four-fifths entered upon the investigation wholly sceptical as to the reality of the alleged phenomena, firmly believing them to be the result either of imposture or of delusion or of involuntary muscular action. It was only by irresistible evidence, under conditions that precluded the possibility of either of these solutions, and after trial and test many times repeated, that the most sceptical of your Sub-committee were slowly and reluctantly convinced that the phenomena exhibited in the course of their protracted inquiry were veritable facts."

The Committee hoped to get a lot of negative evidence, but was disappointed. In the Psychical Review we read the following:

"Notices were printed in the daily papers inviting all interested persons to meet the committee and testify to events within their own knowledge, and a special invitation was given to all who had detected fraudulent manifestations or had seen such exposures, or who knew of any ways and means of detecting or of perpetrating frauds of that kind. Of the latter class of witnesses none appeared, except one man who attempted to prove by a priori reasoning that the manifestations were of the devil and were necessarily fraudulent!... Practically no evidence was offered against the reality of the phenomena." 

On this topic the Committee report states the following:

"Your Committee also specially invited the attendance of persons who had publicly ascribed the the phenomena to imposture or delusion. Your Committee, however, while successful in procuring the evidence of believers in the phenomena and in their supernatural origin, almost wholly failed to obtain evidence from those who attributed them to fraud or delusion."

A very distinguished Earl (called under British customs the Master of Lindsay or Lord Lindsay) reported a paranormal elongation of the body of the medium Daniel Dunglas Home, and something else equally strange involving a piano-like instrument:

"I saw a grand pianoforte raised in the air about four inches, without any noise; and subsequently the notes were struck, although it was locked and the key taken away. On another occasion I saw Mr. Home, in a trance, elongated eleven inches. I measured him standing up against the wall, and marked the place."

A Miss Douglas also testified to have seen the same paranormal elongation of Home. The effect is particularly notable as it is apparently impossible to fake. 

In the Committee report the same Lord Lindsay testified as having seen an apparition of Home's wife:

"A few minutes after, I saw an apparition which seemed like a column of vapour or an indistinct shadow, which grew gradually into a definite shape, and I then saw the form of a woman standing en profile to me. She stood between me and Home, I saw the features plainly, and should have recognised them again anywhere. She seemed to be attired in a long flowing gown which hung without belt from the shoulders. The figure seemed quite solid, I could not see through it, I spoke to Home, he said he saw her distinctly, and that it was the apparition of his late wife ; she often came to him. She moved and stood by his side. She then walked to the right of the bed and rather behind it, but not out of my sight, and then slowly faded away like a column of vapour. The next morning I found an album, and on looking over the pictures carelessly, I saw a photograph exactly like the figure I had seen. Mrs, Jencken said it was the likeness of the late Mrs. Home."

The same Lord Lindsay provided this remarkable testimony of Home levitating through one window, and floating back through an adjacent window:

"I saw the levitations in Victoria Street, when Home floated out of the window ; he first went into a trance and valked about uneasily; he then went into the hall ; while he was away, I heard a voice whisper in my ear, ' He will go out of one window and in at another.' I was alarmed and shocked at the idea of so dangerous an experiment. I told the company what I had heard, and we then waited for Home's return. Shortly after he entered the room, I heard the window go up, but I could not see it, for I sat with my back to it. I, however, saw his shadow on the opposite wall ; he went out of the window in a horizontal position, and I saw him outside the other window (that in the next room) floating in the air. It was eighty-five feet from the ground. There was no balcony along the windows, merely a strong course an inch and a-half wide ; each window had a small plant stand, but there was no connection between them. I have no theory to explain these things. I have tried to find out how they are done, but the more I studied them, the more satisfied was I that they could not be explained by mere mechanical trick. I have had the fullest opportunity for investigation."

A Mr. Jones gave similar testimony. On page 212 of the Committee report we read this testimony by Jones:

" I have seen Mr. Home's levitations. I saw him rise and float horizontally across the window. We all saw him clearly. He passed right across just as a person might float upon the water. At my request he was floated back again."

Another witness states this on page 117:

"The levitations of Mr. Home are so well known, that I need not more than allude to them — upwards of one hundred levitations have taken place during his lifetime, of which perhaps the most remarkable was the carrying of his body out of one window of the third floor, at Ashley House, into an adjoiuiug window; and the lifting of his body raised 3 or 4 feet off the ground at Adare Manor for 20 or 30 yards. As regards the lifting of heavy objects, these I can testify to myself; I have seen the semi-grand [piano] at my house raised horizontally 18 inches off the ground, and kept suspended in space two or three minutes. I have also witnessed a square table being lifted one foot off the ground, no one touching or near to it, at the time, a friend present seated on the carpet and watching the phenomena all the time. I have also seen a table lifted clear over head, 6 feet off the ground ; but what may appear more remarkable, I have witnessed an accordion suspended in space for 10 or 20 minutes, - and played by an invisible agency."

The observations about Home are similar to those made by the very accomplished scientist Sir William Crookes, who reported many inexplicable occurrences involving Home (and no fraud) after testing Home in Crookes' own house.  Home was not at all the only person who reliable witnesses have described as levitating. You can read  accounts of other people levitating in my post "Levitation Reports: The Best Cases."  On the page here you can read eyewitness accounts by six named witnesses  who claimed to have seen Margaret Rule levitate around 1697. 

The Committee also received testimony about what are called apports -- objects that seem to mysteriously appear in a paranormal manner. Below from pages 153-154 is very dramatic testimony about such a phenomenon, given by a Miss Houghton, who describes the mysterious appearance of many types of fruits spontaneously requested by individuals in a group of 18 people:

"On the 3rd of October, 1867, I went to a dark seance at Miss Nicholl's own house, on which occasion there were eighteen ladies and gentlemen present, with all of whom I am acquainted...By raps the spirits desired me to wish for a fruit, and I chose a banana, which they promised me, and then said, ' Now all may wish,' which they did, for various fruits, sometimes having their wishes negatived, but in most instances, agreed to. The fruits were then brought in the order in which they had been wished for. One lady said, ' Why do you not ask for vegetables ; an onion, for instance? and even as she said it, the onion came into her lap. I will give you a list of the various things brought : a banana, two oranges, a bunch of white grapes, a bunch of black grapes, a cluster of filberts, three walnuts, about a dozen damsons, a slice of candied pine apple, three figs, two apples, an onion, a peach, some almonds, four very large grapes, three dates, a potato, two large pears, a pomegranate, two crystallised greengages, a pile of dried ciurrants, a lemon, and a large bunch of beautiful raisins, which, as well as the figs and dates, were quite plump, as if they had never been packed, but had been brought straight from the drying ground."

On page 128 a witness recalls seeing an apparition of a deceased relative, one that passed through a human body and caused the room to become "fearfully cold":

"We first heard raps and then saw a human figure at the window. It entered and several other figures came trooping in after it. One of them waved its hands. The atmosphere became fearfully cold. A figure which I recognised as that of a deceased relative, came behind my chair, leaned over me, and brushed my hair lightly with its hand. It seemed about eight feet high. Then approaching the Master of Lindsay it passed right through him, causing him to shiver with cold."
 
On page 195 a Signor Damiani gives some testimony. First he tells us that he was very skeptically inclined:

"I had been, up to that moment, an utter sceptic in spiritual matters ; chokeful of positivism, I conceived man to be but a very acute monkey (simia gigantis stupenda, to be scientific), and recognised in life only a brief and somewhat unsatisfactory farce."

His first experience at a seance left him disappointed:

"Shortly afterwards it came my turn to talk with the spirits. ' Who is there? 'Sister,' was rapped out in reply. ' What sister ?' 'Marietta.'  'Don't know you ; that is not a family name ; — are you not mis- taken'!' ' No ; I am your sister.' This was too much : I left the table in disgust."

But soon Signor Damiani reports a great success:

"'Who is there?' 'Your sister Antonietta.' ' That is a good guess,' thought I. ' Where did you pass away 1 ' ' Chieti.' ' When ? ' — Thirty-four loud distinct raps succeeded. Strange — my sister so named had certainly died at Chieti just thirty-four years before.  'How many brothers and sisters had you then? Can you give me their names?' Five names (the real ones) all correctly spelt in Italian were given. Numerous other tests produced equally remarkable results. I then felt I was in the presence of my sister. ' If that is not in truth my sister,' I thought, ' then there exists in nature something more wondrous and mysterious even than the soul and its immortality.' "

Upon later inquiry, Damiani found out that he had a sister he never knew about who died six hours after being born. The sister's name was Maria, and Marietta is a diminutive version of the same name. 

 The Committee received lengthy testimony by Cromwell F. Varley, who was the chief electrician of the first successful trans-Atlantic cable.  Varley told the Committee he saw a transparent apparition:

"I saw a man in the air -- a spirit -- in military dress.  I could see the pattern of the paper on the wall through him." 

Varley also gave this testimony to the Committee:

"My authority for asserting that the spirits of kindred beings do visit us is : — 1. I have on several occasions distinctly seen them. 2. On several occasions things known only to myself and to the deceased person purporting to communicate with me, have been correctly stated while the medium was unaware of any of the circumstances. 3. On several occasions things known only to our two selves, and which I had entirely for gotten, have been recalled to my mind by the communicating spirit, therefore this could not be a case of mere thought-reading. 4. On some occasions, when these communications have been made to me, I have put my questions mentally, while the medium private lady in independent circumstances — has -written out the answers, she being quite unconscious of the meaning of the communications. 5. The time and nature of coming events, unanticipated and unknown both to myself and the medium, have, on more than one occasion, been accurately made known to me several days in advance. As my invisible informants told the truth regarding the coming events, and also stated that they were spirits, and as no mortals in the room had any knowledge of some of the facts they communicated, I see no reason to disbelieve them."

Besides taking testimony from other people, some committees of the Dialectical Society of London did their own experiments. One set of experiments was carefully done to test whether a mysterious movement of tables (reported very widely by a large number of observers) were due to mere subconscious movement by finger tips resting on the tables. Below is a discussion in the report of the very careful experiments done:

"Since their appointment on the 16th of February, 
1869, your Sub-committee have held forty meetings 
for the purpose of experiment and test. 

All of these meetings were held at the private 
residences of members of the Committee, purposely 
to preclude the possibility of pre-arranged mechanism 
or contrivance. 

The furniture of the room in which the experi- 
ments were conducted was on every occasion its 
accustomed furniture. 

The tables were in all cases heavy dining tables, 
requiring a strong effort to move them. The small- 
est of them was 5ft. 9in. long by 4ft. wide, and the 
largest, 9ft. Sin. long and 4.^ft. wide, and of propor- 
tionate weight. 

The rooms, tables, and furniture generally were 
repeatedly subjected to careful examination before, 
during, and after the experiments, to ascertain that 
no concealed machinery, instrument, or other con- 
trivance existed by means of which the sounds 
or movements hereinafter mentioned could be caused. 

The experiments were conducted in the light of 
gas, except on the few occasions specially noted in the 
minutes. 

Your Committee have avoided the employment of 
professional or paid mediums, the mediumship being 
that of members of your Sub-committee, persons of 
good social position and of unimpeachable integrity, 
having no pecuniary object to serve, and nothing to 
gain by deception... 

Every test that the combined intelligence of your 
Committee could devise has been tried with patience 
and perseverance. The experiments were conducted 
under a great variety of conditions, and ingenuity 
has been exerted in devising plans by which your 
Committee might verify their observations and pre- 
clude the possibility of imposture or of delusion....

The result of their long-continued and carefully- 
conducted experiments, after trial by every detective 
test they could devise, has been to establish con- 
clusively : 

First: That under certain bodily or mental 
conditions of one or more of the persons present, a 
force is exhibited sufficient to set in motion heavy 
substances, without the employment of any muscular 
force, without contact or material connection of any 
kind between such substances and the body of any 
person present. 

Second: That this force can cause sounds to 
proceed, distinctly audible to all present, from solid 
substances not in contact with, nor having any 
visible or material connection with, the body of any 
person present, and which sounds are proved to pro- 
ceed from such substances by the vibrations which 
are distinctly felt when they are touched. 

Third : That this force is frequently directed by 
intelligence. 

At thirty-four out of the forty meetings of your 
Committee some of these phenomena occurred....
In all similar experiments the possibility of 
mechanical or other contrivance was further nega- . 
tived by the fact that the movements were in various 
directions, now to one side, then to the other ; now 
up the room, now down the room — motions that 
would have required the co-operation of many 
hands or feet ; and these, from the great size and 
weight of the tables, could not have been so used 
without the visible exercise of muscular force. 
Every hand and foot was plainly to be seen and 
could not have been moved without instant de- 
tection. 

Delusion was out of the question. The motions 
were in various directions, and were witnessed simul- 
taneously by all present. They were matters of 
measurement, and not of opinion or of fancy. 

And they occurred so often, under so many and 
such various conditions, with such safeguards against 
error or deception, and with such invariable results, 
as to satisfy the members of your Sub-committee by 
whom the experiments were tried, wholly sceptical as 
most of them were when they entered upon the in- 
vestigation, that there is a force capable of moving 
heavy bodies without material contact and which force 
is in some unknown manner dependent upon the pre- 
sence of human beings."

Such findings are shocking to the modern ear, but they should not have been so shocking to the observers; for they had merely replicated what a previous scientific investigation had found. The phenomenon of inexplicable table movements was scientifically investigated at length by Count Agenor de Gasparin, who had published in 1857 a scientific book describing countless paranormal effects (such as table levitation and mysterious rappings) observed under controlled conditions. (Gasparin's research is well-summarized in Chapter VI of a book by the astronomer Camille Flammarion.)   

Early in the report of the Dialectical Society we have this summary of phenomena documented in the report:

"These reports, hereto subjoined, substantially corroborate each other, and would appear to establish the following propositions : —
1. — That sounds of a very varied character, apparently proceeding from articles of furniture, the floor and walls of the room — the vibrations accompanying which sounds are often distinctly perceptible to the touch — occur, without being produced by muscular action or mechanical contrivance. 2. — That movements of heavy bodies take place with- out mechanical contrivance of any kind or adequate exertion of muscular force by the persons present, and frequently without contact or connection with any person. 3. — That these sounds and movements often occur at the times and in the manner asked for by persons present, and, by means of a simple code of signals, answer questions and spell out coherent coniimunications .4. — That the answers and communications thus obtained are, for the most part, of a common- place character ; but facts are sometimes correctly given which are only known to one of the persons present. 5. — That the circumstances under which the phenomena occur are variable, the most prominent fact being, that the presence of certain persons seems necessary to their occurrence, and that of others generally adverse ; but this difference does not appear to depend upon any belief or disbelief concerning the phenomena. 6. — That, nevertheless, the occurrence of the pheno- mena is not insured by the presence or absence of such persons respectively."

But how many witnesses were there in support of such phenomena? In the Dialectical Society's report we read the following summary:

"1. Thirteen witnesses state that they have seen heavy bodies — in some instances men — rise slowly in the air and remain there for sometime without visible or tangible support. 
2. — Fourteen witnesses testify to having seen hands or figures, not appertaining to any human being, but life-like in appearance and mobility, which they have sometimes touched or even grasped,
and which they are therefore convinced were not the result of imposture or illusion.
3. — Five witnesses state that they have been touched, by some invisible agency, on various parts of the body, and often where requested, when the hands of all present were visible.
4. — Thirteen witnesses declare that they have heard musical pieces well played upon instruments not manipulated by any ascertainable agency.
5. — Five witnesses state that they have seen red-hot coals applied to the hands or heads of several - persons without producing pain or scorching ; and three witnesses state that they have had the same experiment made upon themselves with the like immunity.
6 — Eight witnesses state that they have received precise information through rappings, writings, and in other ways, the accuracy of which was unknown at the time to themselves or to any persons present, and which, on subsequent in- quiry, was found to be correct.
7. — One witness declares that he has received a precise and detailed statement which, nevertheless, proved to be entirely erroneous.
8. — Three witnesses state that they have been present when drawings, both in pencil and colours, were produced in so short a time, and under such conditions, as to render human agency impossible.
9. — Six witnesses declare that they have received information of future events, and that in some cases the hour and minute of their occurrence have been accurately foretold, days and even
weeks before."
 
The 400-page report of the Dialectical Society of London is probably the most extensive report ever issued by an organization or committee devoted to an impartial inquiry into the paranormal. But you will find no mention of the report's astonishing findings in a typical textbook on psychology, and the report will not be mentioned in a college psychology course you may take.  Similarly, you will read no mention of how a five-year French committee investigation of the Royal Academy of Medicine came out very clearly in favor of the observational reality of clairvoyance. We must always remember that today's academia mainstream is very careful to not tell us about a large fraction of the most relevant observations that have been made pertaining to questions of mind, spirit and brain.  The academia mainstream is very careful not to tell us about the very many reliable observations that defy their belief dogmas, such as the dogma that the mind is a mere product of the brain. 

mainstream information censoring

A very different committee report on the paranormal (appearing as a mere preliminary report) was made by a University of Pennsylvania committee that was organized after Henry Seybert left money in his will to fund a committee to investigate the paranormal.  The report can be read here.  The report was obviously written by investigators very hostile to claims of the paranormal, and if you skim through the report, you may get the impression that it provides no support for claims of the paranormal.  

However if you make a very careful reading of the report (paying attention almost exclusively to what the witnesses report seeing and hearing and paying little attention to their attitudes towards such sights), you will actually find the witnesses (despite their intentions)  provide abundant evidence for the paranormal. Again and again we read testimony of extremely anomalous things that the paranormal-hostile witnesses fail to credibly explain, such as an abundance of inexplicable raps coming from spots other than where a human stood or sat. Justifying that claim will require a future blog post, but I can give now just one example. On pages 95-96 a skeptical witness reports a meeting in a sitting room in someone's house, and seeing something rather like what was reported occurring in great abundance by Henry S. Olcott.  A small corner of the room (only four feet in size) is covered with a curtain. From such a small corner of the sitting room the witness reports seeing over the course of two hours quite a few luminous faceless human-like forms arising from behind the curtain, some tall and some short, two such forms once appearing at the same time. The witness says  she touched one of the forms. But no credible explanation is given of how such forms could have appeared. 

No mention is made of any actual discovery of fraud by our skeptical witness, who no doubt would have inspected the room corner for any sign of a trap door. No mention is made of anything suspicious about the corner of the room, such as a sign of a trap door,  and no credible explanation is made of anything that might explain such sights. The witness does not report the luminous forms rising up from the ground as they would if a trap door had been used.  The only attempted explanation is an unbelievable one: "If the drapery were raised or lowered the appearance could readily have been produced, and the person holding it would have been quite invisible."  This explanation is not believable because if luminous forms had come from elsewhere, their entrance into the small corner area from elsewhere in the room would have been reported by the witness; and the witness reported no such thing. The witness also fails to report seeing anyone suspiciously entering into the small corner, something the witness would have seen even in darkness, because of the ability of the human eye to see dimly in darkness after ten minutes or so in darkness.  At one point the witness suggests the possibility that "luminous paint" was used to make the glowing forms. But the witness was writing in 1886, and when I ask Google "when was luminous paint invented" I get an answer of 1908. 

Such a thing happens very often in this Seyfert report: extremely skeptical observers describing very spooky paranormal-seeming things that they fail to offer credible explanations for.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Political Correctness Goes Galactic

Aeon magazine (an online "mainstream" magazine) sometimes publishes nonsensical articles, such as its current article claiming that the mind does not exist.  When currently popular academia ideas cause people to make such claims, it is the strongest possible signal that those who advance such ideas are people marching in the wrong direction.  A little less inane is a recent article in Aeon magazine entitled "Do we send the goo?" in which an assistant professor  ponders whether we should send "life-generating goo" to planets revolving around other stars. 

The author makes the doubly misleading statement below:

"Each planet or moon is its own world, with its own history and story to tell, and its own potential (however one might define this) for the future. Though mostly barren of life, they are far from empty; many are chock-full of the materials that would go into life-generating goo: sugars, amino acids, carboxylic acids and powerful molecules that drive reactions away from equilibrium."

The claim about many planets or moons being "chock-full" of amino acids and sugars like those used in life is extremely erroneous. There has never been any well-established replicated observations of amino acids or sugars existing on any other planets or moons. Not counting the very tiny traces of amino acids reported in lunar samples (believed to have come from earthly or astronaut contamination), the only claims of detecting an amino acid on another planet or moon is a dubious claim of detecting the simplest amino acid (glycine) in a very tiny trace amount (1 part in a billion) in the atmosphere of Venus.  Made by one paper, the claim has not been replicated by another paper. Since a claim last year of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus in the trace amount of 20 parts per billion was disputed by several other scientific papers (here, here and here), we can have little confidence in the claim of a much smaller 1 part per billion abundance of glycine in the atmosphere of Venus. 

No amino acids or sugars have been found on Mars or on Saturn's large moon Titan (where about 20 other chemicals have been detected) or an Enceladus (another large moon of Saturn where some chemicals have been detected, but not amino acids or sugars).  A claim has been made that some amino acids existed in a meteorite (Nakhla) reputed to have come from Mars, but the paper making that claim says, "The amino acids in Nakhla appear to be derived from terrestrial organic matter that infiltrated the meteorite soon after its fall to Earth." 

No one has claimed to have detected a ribose or deoxyribose sugar (the types of sugars used by life) on some other planet or moon. Some scientists claimed to have found a ribose sugar in a meteorite, but only in the trace amounts of a few parts per billion; and we can't be sure whether such an amount arose from earthly contamination. No one has generated a ribose or deoxyribose sugar (the types of sugars used by life) in any experiment realistically simulating conditions on the early Earth on some other planet.  

Claims such as the claim that "the stuff of life is all over the place in space" or that "the building blocks of life are common in our galaxy" have been commonly made ever since the often-misspeaking astronomer Carl Sagan started making them about 50 years ago. Such claims have no basis in fact.   

The building blocks of multicellular life are cells, which have never been detected in space outside of spaceships and space stations. The main building blocks of one-celled life are functional proteins, which have never been detected in space outside of spaceships and space stations. The building blocks of the building blocks of one-celled life are the twenty amino acids used by living things, and nucleotides.  No nucleotides have been detected in space, and only two of the twenty amino acids used by living things have been found in space, but only in the tiniest trace amounts. 

No experiment done by scientists provides any warrant for any guess that amino acids or the type of sugars used by life are common on other planets or moons.  The famous Miller-Urey experiment produced some amino acids, but it was never a realistic simulation of conditions on Earth or any other planet.  The experiment consisted of a small closed glass apparatus only 5 liters in size that was subjected to weeks of semi-continuous electrical bombardment of 30,000 volts (with 12 hours a day of such electrical bombardment). There is no reason to believe that any similar-sized enclosed space on any other planet has ever been subjected to anywhere near as strong a daily electrical exposure.  So there is no observational or experimental warrant for the claim that any other planets are "chock-full" of amino acids or the type of sugars used by life.    Other experiments similar to the Miller-Urey experiment have had the same lack of realism because they used chambers subjected to near continuous bombardment of high energy, such as would not exist in nature. Any experiment realistically simulating planetary conditions will not produce amino acids or the type of sugars used by life. 

The second misleading part of the statement quoted above is its reference to "life-generating goo." Such a phantasmagorical concept has no basis in fact, and is like the idea of "car-generating tar." Even the simplest life is a state of extremely great organization and information. There is no reason to believe that any non-living information-free "goo" consisting of unorganized chemicals such as amino acids and sugars would ever give rise to life. No one has ever observed any type of life arise from any type of chemical "goo."  Moreover, no one has ever observed any of the real "building blocks" of one-celled life arise from some mere "goo" of chemicals such as amino acids and sugars. The main building blocks of one-celled life are functional protein molecules. No one has ever observed even a protein molecule appear from some mere "goo" of chemicals such as amino acids and sugars. 

By using the phrase "life-generating goo," the author has given us more "crumbs into castles" nonsense.  Such talk is fantasy, not science. The concept of abiogenesis (that life can naturally arise from non-life) has no basis in scientific observations or relevant scientific experiments. It would be much easier to build a castle than to build a one-celled living thing from low-level chemicals such as sugars and amino acids. 

materialism fallacy

The scientist author misspeaks when stating this: "Life is a molecular memory written in genes describing a basic chemical architecture." No, life is not genes, and is not a memory; instead DNA and its genes are one of many co-dependent complex components of living things. Multicellular life is something almost infinitely more complicated and organized than "a molecular memory written in genes describing a basic chemical architecture." Even the simplest known types of life (one-celled life) is a  state of organization so high that it is  misleading to describe such a thing as "a basic chemical architecture." There is nothing "basic" about the architecture needed for even a single self-reproducing cell. Such a thing would require more than 50 different types of protein molecules, each a very complex invention.  Most of these protein molecules would have hundreds of parts (amino acids) arranged in just the right way to achieve a particular functional end.  Neither a self-reproducing cell nor any of its a protein molecules has a "basic chemical architecture"; they have very complex and extremely organized architectures. Genes don't even specify the structure of cells. A much more accurate description of life would be this: "Biological life is when you have enormously organized and information-rich organisms that make copies of themselves." 

The author's shrink-speaking definition of life is just the latest example of the same error that many modern scientists very frequently commit: the sin of misrepresenting life, trying to make it look vastly simpler and less organized than it is.  Kind of the opposite type of error occurs when scientists attempt to describe DNA as if it were something much more than it is.   The author commits this error by stating, "DNA is at least a 4-billion-year-old encyclopaedia with information about the extant world, and the world that once was." No, the DNA in an organism is a repository of low-level chemical information, telling us which amino acids make up the proteins in that organism. An encyclopedia is a book or set of books containing alphabetically sorted essays about an extremely broad range of topics. DNA bears no resemblance to an encyclopedia, and does not have any description of the extant world or a previous world. 

Our scientist author then ponders a very strange proposal I have never heard anyone else propose:  that maybe we should create missions to send "life-generating goo" to other planets that do not have life.  The idea is not to plant actual living things on other planets, but some kind of chemical goo from which life might supposedly arise. The author seems to have interstellar ambitions for this very strange proposal, and rather seems to have got the idea that some very rapid progress is being made in interstellar rocketry (something humans have no actual competence in). We read the following:

"Destinations in our galaxy that once seemed ‘impossible to reach’ are now just ‘prohibitively expensive’. These destinations are, as I write, moving quickly into an even lesser category of ‘logistically difficult.’ "

But if you want to spread life around the galaxy, why not just directly plant life,  after some terraforming process that might make a planet habitable to life? Why plant chemical goo that would never actually give rise to life, and that even in the fondest dreams of materialists would only give rise to visible multicellular life maybe a billion years after the chemical goo was planted?  The author seems to be thinking that it would be more politically correct to just send lifeless chemical goo. We read this: "By sending a biogenic capacity and not a strictly predetermined molecular architecture, we would circumvent some of the uglier, more domineering aspects involved with pushing an alien (ie, Terran) physiology on other unsuspecting worlds through in situ missions or terraforming."

So the idea seems to be kind of: let's wait an extra billion years, because we don't want to be politically incorrect and domineering and colonialist when bringing life to other planets.  I don't know which is more ridiculous, this idea or the idea that incredibly organized information-rich self-reproducing cells can arise from lifeless disorganized goo containing no information.  

This "spread goo to the stars" proposal very much clashes with the writer's groundless previous claim that many planets and moons are "chock-full of the materials that would go into life-generating goo: sugars, amino acids, carboxylic acids and powerful molecules that drive reactions away from equilibrium."  If many planets and moons were "chock-full" of such materials, there would be no need for humans to go around planting chemical goo on other planets. 

There's another reason the "spread goo to the stars" idea is nonsensical: the fact that goo is biodegradable.  Some chemical goo planted on another planet would decay away fairly quickly, just as a spoon full of jelly won't last more than a year if you dump it on a rock in your back yard.  There would be essentially zero chance of anything living arising from some chemical goo before it dissolved. 

Postscript: On September 16 we had the latest example of a scientist trying to create unwarranted ideas about amino acids and sugars in outer space. We have a press release discussing some observations in space of three chemicals that are not any of the building blocks of life  and also not any of the building blocks of the building blocks of life. The paper presenting these observations does not refer to amino acids, sugars or nucleotides.  But one of the scientists misleadingly refers to "sugars, amino acids, and even the components of ribonucleic acid (RNA)" that he did not actually observe: "Laboratory and theoretical studies have suggested that these molecules are the ‘raw ingredients’ for building molecules that are essential components in biological chemistry on Earth, creating sugars, amino acids, and even the components of ribonucleic acid (RNA) under the right conditions."  This is rather like some boulder observer who did not observe interstellar spaceships trying to plant in your mind kind of the impression that he sort of observed interstellar spaceships, on the grounds that boulders have the kind of ingredients that would be used by interstellar spaceships.