Dr. Carlos Finlay and that “consensus” on the incredibly flexible theory

A couple of days ago I posted this picture that I took of a painting at CubaNostalgia and asked our readers to name that even in Cuban history. We got one response and it was correct.
Depicted in the painting is the Cuban Dr. Carlos Finlay (far right) who is sharing his theory about the transmission of Yellow Fever with American Dr. Walter Reed (center in the gray uniform).
The reason I mention this again today is in response to a comment about a post I made yesterday about global warming. My post was a link to web site about something called the “petition project”. The petition project is a collection of signatures of scientists that are concerned about the so-called consensus about man-made climate change.
For 20 years Dr. Finlay theorized that Yellow Fever was transmitted through a certain species of mosquitoes and that eradicating or controlling the population of such mosquitoes would serve to lower the number of people that were infected with Yellow Fever. The “scientific consensus” at the time was that Finlay was crazy.
Eventually, Dr. Walter Reed listened to Finlay. There is much debate about whether Finlay got the credit he deserved for his discovery or not. I’m not going to get into that here except to say that Finlay was right and the “consensus” was wrong. For whatever reason Reed had the credibility to go against the “consensus” and win.
The problem with consensus is that it’s not really part of the scientific method. Science is not a matter of opinion. We know certain things about the world and sometimes those thing we know are proven false or sometimes they work in a different way than we originally thought. Sometimes people jump to conclusions about causation because of a correlation.
The problem with proponents of the incredibly flexible theory of man-made climate change is that they are attempting to describe a very complex phenomenon (that of temperature changes on the surface of the earth) based on models which make many scientists uncomfortable because of their simplicity. It is a scientific fact that temperatures have changed on earth drastically throughout the 4.5 BILLION year history of the earth. Man’s reign is but a footnote in that history. Normally this would simply be a scientific debate that does not concern us lay persons but the problem is that this “science” is being used to push a political agenda of energy and technology rationing that will affect the entire world and some countries disproportionately.
Scientists, especially when looking at something for the first time, can be wrong, as in the case of Finlay’s contemporaries. That doesn’t invalidate science. It actually elevates it. Science uses observation and testing to describe the natural processes around us. We have to be willing to hear alternate viewpoints, because those viewpoints, like Dr. Finlay, might be right.
Consider that in 1975 this article appeared in Newsweek about the probable coming ice age. It would be a fallacy of logic to say that because scientists were wrong then that they are wrong now but I refer to that article to demonstrate that we are still only beginning to scratch the surface of climate science.
My plea to you readers is to question. Question Al Gore when he attempts to stifle discussion that is contrary to the “consensus”. The decisions at stake are way too important to base on a theory that is far from proven.

6 thoughts on “Dr. Carlos Finlay and that “consensus” on the incredibly flexible theory”

  1. Very true. Also please point out that there can also be a financial reasoning on why everyone is pushing to go green….I’m sure Mr. Gore has some interesting investments in the Green Sector.

  2. Very good Henry. I believe Al Gore is an opportunist and has no interest in Global Warming other than to make a name for himself.
    As to the beautiful painting:
    The painting is “El Triunfo de Finlay” by Esteban Valderrama (1944).
    In fact, the only fly in my ointment during my very enjoyable visit to Cuba Nostalgia was the “Ramos Masters Collection.” Mr. Ramos was in Maria Elvira Live several weeks ago explaining how he came about to own several of these paintings. In his own words, “he is a “Cuban Rafter” who arrived in the United States a few years ago with several of these paintings. He claims that the Ramos Collection “is a private initiative begun to recuperate and preserve visual art produced in Cuba, basically between the end of the 19th Century and the first six decades of the 20th Century.” He also claims that both he and his brother “overcame the challenges posed by distance, time, and governmental impediments to rescue both the artworks and the archival art history of the Cuban Republic (1902-1958).” Since his arrival to the U.S., Mr. Ramos has been selling many of what he considers the “less worthy” of these paintings and -also in his own words- “traveling to Cuba in order to ‘rescue’ more. What, in my humble opinion, (and please correct me if I’m wrong) the Ramos brothers are doing is working very closely with someone in Cuba who is helping them (for a profit) to take out, little by little, whatever is left of Cuba’s patrimony. By the way there’s nothing –as far as I know- in the Cuban Embargo or Helms Burton Law that prevents the lucrative trafficking of Cuban art.
    It pissed me off no end to see these “less worthy” paintings of Cuba’s patrimony being sold in Cuba Nostalgia between $20,000-50,000. The Ramos brothers have an exhibition in Daytona Beach called “Cuban Masters Collection.” Artists featured in this exhibit include great Cuban masters such as: Jose Joaquin Tejada Revilla, Enrique Crucet, Concepcion Ferrant y Gomez, Antonio Rodriguez-Morey, Juan Emilio Hernandez-Giro, Federico Sulroca Spencer and Maria Capadevila y Casas. Many of these paintings were shown on the Ramos web page http://www.ramoscollection.com, which is no longer available.

  3. Firefly,
    First of all it was a pleasure to meet you over the weekend. Secondly, I agree that Cuban art is a dirty business, I alluded to that in a post I did about Ramos a while back. I intend to visit that exhibit in Daytona but my motives are simply to enjoy art from Cuban masters. The collection in Daytona also includes works that were donated to the City of Daytona Beach by onetime resident Fulgencio Batista.
    The work pictured in the post is actually a print of the original Valderrama painting not the original.

  4. Likewise Henry, it was great seeing you and Val again and meeting so many others this past Saturday. I had a wonderful time at the Babalublog booth.
    Your cookbook is to die for!

  5. Well, I definitely agree that Marta’s cookbook is a gem.
    Look, put aside Al Gore. Who cares about Al Gore. I’m talking about: (1) reducing pollution (2) American energy independence, especially from oil-rich countries with wacko leaders, (3) energy efficiency (remember the gas guzzlers of the 70’s, compared to today’s cars?) and American innovators being a leader in technology, (4) substantial evidence that human industry has a negative environmental impact.
    Aren’t these all legitimate concerns? Do you really want to be dependent on foreign oil and paying $4 at the pump? Why not reduce that dependence and while we’re at it, stimulate American innovation in energy efficiency. We become less dependent and becoming a leader in technology fuels our economy.
    To properly carry out the scientific method you’d have to have a control group, which would mean another planet Earth, as a comparator. By that standards, global warming is impossible to prove. But the weight of the evidence shows that human activity DOES have an impact on the environment, and that we are destroying natural habitats, resources, and everything on this Earth that God made beautifully. So if we see evidence of this impact, and reducing that impact has the side benefit of being less dependent on foreign oil…
    So (again, forget Al Gore) along comes a solution that could make us worldwide leaders in technology, less dependent on small oil-rich countries, uses resources more efficiently, and disturbs the beauty of nature just a little bit less.
    What’s the opposition here? I just don’t get it.
    I don’t think anyone would accept energy rationing or anything like that. Who has said that but the most extreme environmentalists? I think market-based solutions help both the American economy and the environment. I don’t think anyone is saying we have to stop industry, change our habits, etc., except for extremists. Why NOT push for progress that helps America in international politics as well as polluting less??

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