At Last! A Scientist Admits The Science Is Wrong

Unfortunately it is not a climate scientists or one of those wankers who likes to tell us a few beers or a tasty meal are bad for us, but it’s a start.

A new way of calculating the notorious Body Mass Index (BMI) has been proposed – but does it really solve any of the BMI’s well-known problems?

BMI you may remember is the scientific measure of weight to height ratio that pronounced Arnold Schwartzenegger obese when he made Terminator and Mike Tyson obses when he was at his peak as World Heavyweight boxing Champion.

How often have we heard similar tales of the stupid prouncements made by doctors and health experts who put to much faith in ‘science’ (i.e, meaningless statistics) and ignore the evidence that is STARTING THEM IN THE FUCKING FACE! Like; Brad Pitt at the time of Fight Club, and England rugby player Jonny Wilkinson in his prime, were “overweight” – according to their BMI?

Any system that tells people whether they are “normal”, “underweight”, “overweight” or “obese” is bound to be controversial, but the obvious weakness of the BMI is that it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle, let alone between people with high or low muscle density or the numerous other variations that make us indichuffingviduals.

First devised by Adolphe Quetelet more than 150 years ago, BMI is calculated by taking your weight (in kilograms) and dividing it by your height squared (in metres).

Put simply, it is nothing more than a way to compare the weights of groups of people of different heights.

But mathematician Nick Trefethen, Professor of Numerical Analysis at Oxford University, thinks that the old formula is wrong, as he explained in a letter to the Economist newspaper published earlier this month. His letter to the Editor began,

Sir, The body-mass index that you (and the National Health Service) count on to assess obesity is a bizarre measure… As a consequence of this ill-founded definition, millions of short people think they are thinner than they are, and millions of tall people think they are fatter.

Actually he is wrong (but he’s a mathematician so we would expect no less. It has long been known that stocky, thick set, heavily muscled people are disadvantaged bt the flawed measure

Prof. Trefethen does however make a good point when he remarks that government pokenoses and medical ‘professionals’ have put too much trust in it in part because it looks so precise – like, say, Einstein’s famous equation E=MC² (which everyone knows is bollocks because multiplying mass by speed and getting the answer in energy is like multiplying apples by eggs and getting the answer in sardines).

Treftethen misses an opportunity to show a little sanity, he says “That’s an equation of physics and it’s really right. The BMI formula looks similar. It seems to have the same character but it doesn’t reflect a precise truth about our world, it’s an approximation to a very complicated reality,”.

With that in mind he has proposed a new formula: 1.3 x weight, divided by height to the power 2.5. Huh? That’s crazier than the old one.

Prof Trefethen Explains his formula

6 thoughts on “At Last! A Scientist Admits The Science Is Wrong

    • And global warming wost case scenario is now only a millionth of a degree warmer than NHS hospital soup (which is close to absolute zero by the time it reaches patients)

      Wonderful things, those mathematical models.

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      • As an ex mathematician I think it’s used so stupidly… words fail.I know I’m overweight just by looking ! To alter that seems tough.
        This post really made me laugh.Thanks

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      • An ex mathematician? How do you become an un – mathematician.

        I do give mathematics a hard time on the blog, when I see scientific journals publishing articles title “Mathematics Is The Mind Of God” I just feel some people in the business have lost the plot.

        Mathematics is a fine tool for measuring and analyzing the physical world and in design of machines, buildings, civil engineering projects and business.

        In common with other forms of philosophy it is useless for defining the meaning of life – or for telling us how healthy our weight / height ratio is.

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      • History, like Euclid and Pythagoras and stuff. Did you know that Pythagoras never ate beans because he believed every time we fart a bit of our soul escapes.

        Moral philosophers back then were no better. Aristotle believe snot was our brain trickling down our noses. So we had Pythagoras distended with wind and Aristotle with both candles dripping, must have been fun for satirical bloggers in ancient Greece.

        On a more serious note, are you familiar with the Zoroastrian / Hermetic creation myth. It is referred to in William Blake’s most famous painting The Ancient Of Days which depicts a godlike figure reaching down with a geometric divider presumably to measure Earth.

        The creation myth itself really makes much more sense than most because it tells that the first divine figure uttered only two words, “I am” (symbolising the dawning of consciousness?) and then was usurped by a new god who drove an axle through the earth and designated the cardinal points of the compass and then … did a lot of other stuff, I’m shaky on the details but it covers the development of animal husbandry and primitive farming. In tandem the god also develops astrology which attracts sneers but plotting the movement of stars and by that mapping the changing of seasons was vitally important to early farmers.

        The whole theme of it is that knowledge is divine, enlightenment, ascending to the light and all that.

        That is more myth than history but as mathematical disciplines all have their roots in Hindu / Zoroastrian traditions I find it very interesting compared with much of the orthodox versions of early human development.

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