Monday, September 16, 2013

I Have Hair, Therefore All Food Should Have Hair In It

I suppose that if we're going to talk about fun science and exciting science here, we ought also to discuss goddamned stupid science, right?

There's a guy at Nigeria's University of Lagos named Chibuihem Amalaha. He's a postgrad student there. And Amalaha seems to have a very stupid idea about homosexuality. You see, Amalaha compared it with magnets. As he points out, and as you probably learned at some point in your life while playing around with magnets, when equally-polared magnets are placed next to each other, they repel instead of attract (you need a northerly-poled and a southerly-poled magnet to attract). So obviously this means that gays shouldn't get married, because gays are just like magnets. Or something.

He is pictured here proudly holding a beaker with some kind of stuff in it like it has anything to do with the matter in the slightest and is seen below explaining all his science like it's worth a damn. He also uses as 'proof' the fact that gay marriages don't produce children (extreme forced fertility in Nigeria being itself an issue we covered last year and which continues to be a problem), that other animals do not exhibit homosexual behavior (spoiler alert: yes, they do) and that pouring acids on acids and bases on bases doesn't do anything (even though you can in fact get an acid/acid reaction in microbiology and you can get a base/base reaction in the biodiesel community, so he's wrong there too).

And there's math. Try to follow this one, reposted verbatim from This Day Live:

In mathematics which is another core area of science, I used what is called the principle of commutativity and idepotency [sic]. Commutativity in mathematics is simply the arrangement of numbers or arrangement of letters in which the way you arrange them don’t matter. For example, if you say A + B in mathematics you are going to have B + A. For example, if I say two plus three it will give five. If I start from three, I say three plus two it also give you five showing that two plus three and three plus two are commutative because they gave the same results. That shows that A + B will give you B + A, you see that there is a change. In A + B, A started the journey while in B + A, B started the journey. If we use A as a man and use B as a woman we are going to have B + A that is woman and man showing that there is a reaction. A + B reacted, they interchanged and gave us B + A showing that commutativity obeys that a man should not marry a man and a woman should not marry a woman. If you use idempotency, it’s a reaction in mathematics where A + A = A. Actually in abstract algebra, A + A =2A but we are less concerned with the numerical value two. We are more less concerned with the symbols A, you find out that A + A will give you A showing that the whole thing goes unchanged. It didn’t change unlike commutativity A + B give B + A there is a change. A started the journey in commutativity and A + B gave us B + A and B started the journey after the equality sign. But in the case of idempotency A + A will give you A showing that it goes unreacted. You started with A and you meet A ,the final result is A. Showing that a man meeting a man A + A will produce a man there is no reaction, it goes unreacted and in chemical engineering you have to send the material back to the reactor for the action to be carried out again showing that it goes unreacted. That is how mathematics has shown that gay marriage is wrong because commutativity proves that gay marriage is wrong. Idempotency also proves that gay marriage is wrong. So these are the principles I have used to prove gay marriage wrong in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and by the grace of God I am the only one that has proved this in the whole world.
I'm not a math person, admitted, but Amalaha does appear to have at least explained the basic concepts of idempotency and commutativity properly. But then, as in all his other examples, he just launches right into 'and therefore gay marriage is wrong' without any attempt whatsoever to explain what in blazes gay marriage actually has to do with any of his examples. It's an entire paper full of ad-hoc arguments. He wrote a bunch of words and said nothing. How does math factor into being LGBT? He doesn't say. How do magnets tie into being LGBT? He doesn't say. He just expects you to go with it. To give an analogy is all well and good, but an analogy is only supposed to flavor your argument; make it easier to understand. The analogy cannot itself be the argument. You cannot bake cookies by throwing sprinkles and frosting into the oven and not any actual cookie dough. And this leaves alone the fact that the premises of actual content that he does work from- the lack of acid/acid or base/base reactions; the lack of other species exhibiting homosexual behavior- are just plain wrong to a degree that would instantly torpedo anything the rest of the paper was attempting to prove. That amount of demonstrative error in a premise would ruin any study and, I daresay, any scientific reputation. As for the magnet thing, well, that appears to be the part the media at large is latching onto, and in this case that's plenty good enough. In a paper this ridiculous, you might as well take the most laugh-worthy part of it and go 'hey, everybody, get a load of this one'.

Amalaha says university staff are hoping he wins the Nobel Prize for this and becomes the first African to win a science Nobel. I laugh my loudest Internet laugh. First, because the Nobel committee frowns on such talk to the point that anyone who nominates themselves is automatically disqualified. Second, because if that's what he's going for, he's already too late, because Sydney Brenner of South Africa shared in the 2002 Nobel in physiology/medicine. And Ahmed Zewail of Egypt took the 1999 Nobel in chemistry. And Allan M. McCormack of South Africa shared in the 1979 prize in physiology/medicine. And Max Theiler of South Africa became the actual first African to win a science prize by taking the 1951 physiology/medicine prize for his work on combating yellow fever. And maybe even 1982 chemistry laureate Aaron Klug, who counts as British for statistical purposes but did have some South African collegiate experience. (We'll leave alone the four literature and ten peace laureates from Africa. One of the literature laureates, 1986 winner Wole Soyinka, stands as the first Nigerian Nobel, so if Amalaha was going for that, he is also too late.)

Need I even mention that in some parts of Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death? I needn't? Groovy.

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