A Science for Everyone

Quasi-Experimental Research and Old Ammo

Ammoland has an article that shows what we term “quasi-experimental” research at ammoland.com.

As a sociologist – studying people in groups – using experimental methodology has some ethical drawbacks.  So we’re probably more likely than most to look for situations that allow some of the inferences we can make without well designed, well controlled experiments.

This study isn’t sociology – it’s about how well 22 ammunition that has been stored for 65 years will work. Quasi-experimental research depends on serendipity – in this case, the research isn’t on 25-year-old ammunition or 50-year-old ammunition, like it might be in a designed experiment.  It’s on 65-year-old ammunition because that was the oldest stash left when a competitive shooter died. 

“Over 20 thousand rounds of the cache was Remington standard velocity ammunition obtained in or prior to 1956, transferred to quart jars from boxes by 1956. It was stored for 15-17 years in an attic in Madison, Wisconsin, then underground from 1970-72 to 2018 in a basement in Middleton, Wisconsin. After the ammunition was purchased from the estate, it was moved across the country, then stored in a secure underground location.”

Quasi-experimental – most 22 ammunition isn’t transferred to quart jars and sealed, but attic and basement storage is normal.  I’m not certain what qualifies as a secure underground location (it brings to mind finding a blasting cap box in the old root cellar – Dad quickly relieved us of that treasure).

The article is worth reading – the author documents reliability and group size – 2 relevant measurements.  If I were doing the research, I’d probably include some new Remington standard velocity as a control.  He used CCI – and it was likely as good a control as Remington subsonic would be . . . 65 years has probably seen as great a changes within Remington’s factory as between Reminton and CCI.

His results: “Velocity measurements for 50 rounds, average velocity, Standard Deviation, extreme spread in feet per second (fps).

  • CCI Standard Velocity:   Average 1072.3 fps, SD 17.5, extreme spread 84 fps, 1035 to 1119.
  • Old Remington Standard Velocity: Average 1098.9 fps, SD 19.8, Extreme spread 101 fps, 1041 to 1142.”

Weingarten describes how he intends to continue the test until 2056 or later.  For right now, his results suggest that I might have been better off to store my ammunition in canning jars- but it should still be reliable when Sam inherits it.  I’d really encourage reading the article – the experimental method isn’t confined to university campuses. https://www.ammoland.com/2021/09/shelf-life-22-rimfire-ammunition-test-65-year-old-ammo/#axzz77CythOXe

A Science for Everyone

Using Science

I noticed a Dilbert cartoon that seemed to epitomize a lot of the comments I’ve seen on Facebook.

The challenge is that there are a lot of folks who believe in science, or at least think they do.  The thing is, science is a method of understanding parts of the world, or universe, around us.  We call it scientific method – and skepticism even toward your own results is an important part.  I too am skeptical of the chipmunk understanding what he heard.

Part of my job description included the expectation of “using science-based information.”  There’s a difference between “science-based” and “evidence-based.”  Court verdicts are based on evidence – and decisions often made based on a jury of reasonable men and women.  Science doesn’t require consensus, agreement, or a majority vote.  It requires formulation and testing of a hypothesis – and if the hypothesis doesn’t meet the test, it is discarded or modified.  If it does meet the test, the hypothesis is tentatively accepted . . . until a better explanation comes along.

Sometimes it’s difficult for scientists to use scientific method in their daily lives – we all have this thing called confirmation bias.  In a meeting on hiring, someone mentioned the high cost of getting a computer background check through the police.  My comment was “Well, we might just require a South Dakota concealed carry permit – that gets the check completed, and only costs $10.”  The reply, from the department head (full professor and  Ph.D) was direct: “I can’t believe that.”  It was the week after my daughter’s 18th birthday – and I had just bought the permit as part of the birthday gifts.  My fact was solid – but there was no space for it in her reality.