April 19, 2014

Open letter to Susan Watts’s about scientific journalism:
Was posted on go.nature.com/  Here it is on nobabies.net

Dear Susan Watts:
I very much liked your article (Susan Watts Society Needs More than Wonder to Respect Science  NATURE vol. 508 no. 7495 April 10, 2014 page 151), both the content and the style.  I agree completely that science needs outside critical review and needs to have the hard questions asked as much as it needs vast sums of money.

Scientists, particularly in NASA I find, are quite happy to respond to an inquiry concerning their work.  But if a question is of the form, “What do you think about this?” they virtually never respond.  That would be a “hard” question and be shunned.  I wonder whether a journalist would have more luck. 

Years ago I ran across numbers that suggested Vietnam Veterans, the war then being over, were dying at a greater rate than their non-serving age mates, and that this increase approximated the death rate they had faced in combat.  Horrified, I looked around to volunteer with some organization that was addressing the tragedy.  There was no such organization.  In fact nobody knew it was going on or even believed it when told.  After two years a study was done that explicitly addressed the issue.  Basically I had been right all along, and that is now public knowledge although I still feel the issue is not treated with the respect it deserves. 

More recently I found numbers that suggest that a random mating population of humans numbering a thousand or more will go extinct within ten generations.  There is some mechanism that accumulates over generations that depresses fertility.  This notion (if not the exact numbers or the ultimate die out) is well supported in the scientific literature.  You will find copious evidence at nobabies.net.  Just go there, scroll down to January 1 of this year and click on “summary” to wander through the strange and terrible facts plus my reasoning.  This, quite frankly, is a new law of nature.  It has to be true, given the laws of Mendel and the phenomenon of natural selection.  When I test it (Fluctuation of fertility with number in a real insect population and a virtual population M.L. Herbert& M.G. Lewis African Entomology 21(1): 119–125 (2013)) expectation is born out.

Babies are important.  Everything anybody does starts with the person being born.  Developed countries have for a generation been unable to produce enough babies for long term survival.  There can be no greater issue.

So perhaps a crusading reporter can get appropriate attention to be brought to bear.  If nowhere else, one could go to nobabies.net and scroll down the list of articles in the home page.  Many are letters to luminaries.  What do they think?

There is one renowned scientist who has taken an interest and may publish this year.  If you like I can ask his permission to tell you who he is. 

It’s the journalistic opportunity of a life time.  Nay, that’s too modest.  Let me know what you think.


M. Linton Herbert MD

There have been 93 visitors over the past month.

Home page.