Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Kon-Tiki Proof

One way to prove that something is possible is to actually do it. I call this the Kon-Tiki proof, from Thor Heyerdahl's famous journey:

Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in the south Pacific in Pre-Columbian times. His aim in mounting the Kon-Tiki expedition was to show, by using only the materials and technologies available to them at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so.

Another candidate for the Kon-Tiki proof was in the news recently. The CIA concluded that special-purpose trailers found in Iraq were actually mobile biological weapons factories. A team from the Pentagon suggested they were instead for hydrogen production.

Somebody should go Kon-Tiki on this. Take one of the trailers and make hydrogen. Document every step and publish it for public scrutiny. Invite neutral observers and partisans from both sides. That would prove its purpose pretty conclusively. As a control (particularly if they couldn't make hydrogen), try making something similar to a biological weapon with it, too. (I understand one can use inert biological substances in place of dangerous ones.)

Another Kon-Tiki example: the press' recounting Florida ballots in the razor-thin 2000 Presidential election.


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