|We control what|
you think with
|Said and done|
|Jargon, buzzwords, slogans|
“”Most bona fide scientists aren't interested in spending their valuable time testing what seem to be obviously bogus assertions.
|—Michael Shermer, Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist|
WOMBAT is an acronym meaning "Waste Of Money, Brains And Time". Examples include spending three years and thousands of dollars studying homeopathy, reiki, acupuncture, or any other form of bullshit tooth fairy science.
At first glance, it might seem nonchalant or even Orwellian of scientists to ever refuse calls to either unconditionally study some issue when asked to or to step back and let cranks present their own "findings".
The fundamental problem, however, is that those refusing the scientific consensus only do so because they've got a dog in the race themselves. Besides, they wouldn't settle for anything but their favored conclusion anyways.
And to add insult to injury, it doesn't help when the proposed thing to be studied is already known to be fallacious, or is logically incoherent to begin with.
Each year, the US wastes a quarter of a billion dollars on the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine and OCCAM, or whatever they have been rebranded as. After several decades and several billion dollars, these two organizations have yet to produce a single productive result.
The Gravity Research Foundation was founded and funded by a successful businessman in the hopes of finding means of either harnessing or defeating gravity (yes, defeating — the founder, Roger Babson, wrote an essay titled Gravity — Our Enemy Number One). Since 1948 the organization has been doling out thousands of dollars for essay contests about gravity and funding research on materials that might dampen the effects of gravity (which isn't possible under general relativity). The Gravity Research Foundation has, since the late 1960s, shed its crackpot atmosphere, and has attracted reputed contributors such as Stephen Hawking, who won their essay contest in 1971.
After a focused letter-writing campaign to the CDC, Congress, and other authorities, the CDC decided to do a study on the purported disease Morgellons. After two years and many many lab tests, the CDC concluded that Morgellons was just delusional parasitosis. The response by Morgellons-related associations was that it must surely be a conspiracy.
Research on an actual wombats
While research on why wombats have cube-shaped feces may sound like a WOMBAT, having won the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize in physics, there may be actual real-world applications in manufacturing based on the research.
- Chapter 8, 8:55 (Audiobook)
- Last Rites for Alternative Medicine? Thompson, Damian
- Martin Gardner, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, second paperback edition, 1957 pages 92-100.
- List of 1971 winners
- S. W. Hawking, Black Holes, University of Cambridge, 1971.
- Clinical, Epidemiologic, Histopathologic and Molecular Features of an Unexplained Dermopathy
- Mystery skin disease Morgellons has no clear cause, CDC study says, by JoNel Aleccia, NBC
- The 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Winners Improbable Research.
- Presentation E19.1, How do wombats make cubed poo? by Patricia J. Yang, Miles Chan, Scott Carver and David L. Hu, (Nov. 18, 5:10 p.m.) 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Volume 63, Number 13.
- Wombats are the only animals whose poop is a cube. Here’s how they do it. The elasticity of wombats’ intestines helps to shape their distinctive poops by Laurel Hamers (November 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm) Science News.