Using Mathematics as Evidence

A thought occurred to me. In ‘proper’ science, someone observes a natural event and, from his observations, deduces an hypothesis. As an example, one could think of the discovery of penicillin. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. It is said that he noticed that, when he accidentally left a Petri dish containing bacteria on a window ledge, something killed the bacteria. (Frankly, I think that that is a story, but it does not matter – let’s accept it) Did he then start doing complicated mathematics? Of course not! He would have repeated the ‘accident’ and observed the effects. He would then have got out his microscope and identified what was killing the bacteria, which turned out to be a mould. The same must have applied to Isaac Newton. He observed the movements of the planets, and was probably aware of earlier work by others. The story of him seeing an apple fall from a tree from which he deduced his theories is almost certainly rubbish, although, I suppose, it is possible that he might have imagined the apple resisting the pull of gravity. Whatever, the important point is that Newton would have already arrived at his ‘laws’ before he started to calculate the mathematics.

Were the mathematics the evidence upon which his laws relied? I think not. The mathematics provided precision in the calculations of future movements of the planets. Thus, it can be concluded that mathematics is a scientific tool and not a science in itself. Newton’s mathematics were not proof of the movement of planets – they were a consequence of the movement of planets already observed.


Epidemiology, as it has been used over the past several decades, has changed its meaning. It might have been ‘scientific’ when Dr Snow used the locations of incidents of cholera in London to isolate the source to a specific water pump. But the use of mathematics in that case was incidental at best. One might assume that the nearer that people lived to the offending water pump, the more likely it was that they would have used that pump. The maths were very simple – numerical clusters of cholera cases surrounded the offending pump. The maths help to isolate the pump in question. But the maths did not prove that the pump caused cholera. In fact, the pump in itself, did not cause the cholera – it was the bacteria. We are in the same sort of area which caused ‘scientists’ from a previous era to attribute malaria to ‘bad air from swamps’.

Now, epidemiology means nothing but maths. Therefore, it should be regarded like maths – nothing more than a scientific tool, and not a science in itself. It quantifies, but does not explain. Thus, it quantifies the incidence of lung cancer in heavy smokers as compared with non-smokers, but is not evidence, in itself, that smoking causes lung cancer. The McTear Case amply illustrated this fact when the McTear ‘experts’ refused to produce ‘evidence’ that smoking caused McTear’s LC. And yet the Zealots continue to use the maths (epidemiology) as though it was ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’.

A ‘scientist’ observes a curious thing in nature. He produces an hypothesis and then tests his hypothesis by more observation or experiment. He then quantifies his observations/experiments. Only at that point, do maths appear. What has been happening in recent decades has been the opposite. Observations (regarding the enjoyment of tobacco in particular) have produced the maths, and from the maths has appeared the hypothesis, along with further observations based upon the maths. IT IS ALL THE WRONG WAY ROUND.

We see this effect also in the matters of obesity, alcohol and global warming. The maths PROVE the effect, rather than merely quantify the effect.

The effects of this misunderstanding of the nature (at this present time) of epidemiology are horrific. For example, according to epidemiology at this time, starvation does not depend upon lack of food, but, instead, depends upon where you live. Therefore, the answer to starvation in a particular place is to move the people out of that place.


Is it likely that Cameron/Miliband/Clegg will understand this? Of course not! But who can blame them? Why should they know these things? They are mere humans beings. But civil servants should know these things because they are supposed to be ‘experts’.

Eventually, the ‘powers that be’ will come to understand. If they had sense, they would see that the BMA support for PROHIBITION discredits the BMA, and thus renders the BMA superfluous.







2 Responses to “Using Mathematics as Evidence”

  1. garyk30 Says:

    An example of this is Faraday.

    Threw intuitive experimentation, he produced some very important concepts.

    He did not use math; because, he did not have enough math in his schooling.

    Maxwell put the concepts into a math form at a later date.

    Thus, we have electric motors and power.

    • junican Says:

      Michael Faraday is a great hero of mine – possibly greater than Einstein or Newton. I have read his life story and loads of stuff about his experiments.
      It is true that his maths skills were not really up to it, but I remember that he said that he did not see the need for the maths, and you can understand his point. He was interested in the creation and use of electricity in a practical sense. For him, the maths were irrelevant. His MASSIVE discovery was that was that it was the CHANGING magnetic field which produced an electric current. As I recall, that discovery was accidental. He just happened to notice that, when a magnet was was removed from a position adjacent to a conductor, there was a ‘flicker’ of the needle which indicated that an electric current had passed it. Imagine his excitement when he started to move a magnet to and from a conductor and observed the needle moving to and fro!
      As I recall, he was complemented by someone on his discoveries, but the person asked what what the use of it, to which he replied, “What is the use of a new-born baby?” The rest is history, as they say.

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