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Letter: One study isn’t ‘proof’ that ethanol is a scam

One study isn’t ‘proof’ that ethanol is a scam

I have no idea whether the writer of the Sept. 12 Another Voice on biofuel requirements really has a point regarding ethanol being a scam. However, the language used by him and the author of the quoted study violated “Science 101.” It makes their whole argument weak, amateurish and suspect.

According to the writer, the policies used to promote biofuels for reasons of climate “have now been proven to be scientifically incorrect.” It may seem so and he may think so, but no reputable scientist would say so or use that language.

Proof is correctly used as a term in math and is used undefined by laymen, but “proof” (or proven) has no meaning in science. Correct or incorrect, as well as “fact,” also have no scientific meaning. Valid or invalid would be a more honest term when justified.

One study does not provide “the” answer to a question. After the study has been peer-reviewed, meaning its methods, variables, controls, etc., have been appraised by fellow scientists, its conclusions will have more weight. Additional studies should be done to corroborate or invalidate the first study. It was arrogant to make statements of “proof” by this study. It makes further argument and conclusions seem unsubstantiated.

Readers have to appreciate what science can offer, but its conclusions are only as good as the evidence that backs it up. A study’s methods, data and conclusions need to be scrutinized to eliminate errors and biases. A conclusion that is consistently validated by evidence is credible, trustworthy and useful to determine public policy. But don’t expect proof or facts from science or elsewhere. It doesn’t exist.

Charles Friedmann


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