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Science Wars: The Battle of Five Armies

February 5th, 2007

Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science has joined forces with Alan Sokal, scourge of leftwing relativism and pseudoscience, in an LA Times op-ed piece on the current state of the Science Wars.

As Mooney and Sokal note, the decline of antiscience views on the left

frees up defenders of science to combat the enemy on our other flank: an unholy (and uneasy) alliance of economically driven attacks on science (on issues such as global climate change, mercury pollution and what constitutes a good diet) and theologically impelled ones (in areas such as evolution, reproductive health and embryonic stem cell research).

Following up on the Mooney-Sokal piece, Tim Lambert notes that Norman Levitt (author of with Paul Gross of Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science.) is taking a similar line, saying

we weren’t all that worried about the fate of science; rather, we were concerned that the antics of the postmodernists would eventually drag down the “humanities” as a whole, the good along with the bad.

“Right-wing” abuse of science, on the other hand, as it has evolved under Bush, is an altogether different and far more dangerous phenomenon–dangerous in the bluntest and most alarming sense.

So, the realignment of forces sees the previously discordant defenders of science united against the much more powerful armies of the religious right and the business wing of the Republican party, along with the the dwindling remnant of leftwing relativists (represented in the Dover ID trial by Steve Fuller).

Of course, whereas the relativist left never exercised any real power outside a few university departments, the rightwing enemies of science control the Bush Administration and are well represented in the commentariat, here as well as in the US. Nevertheless the collapse of global warming denialism, and the exposure of the Big Tobacco-ExxonMobil machine suggests that even such powerful forces are not unbeatable.

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  1. February 6th, 2007 at 08:52 | #1

    I didn’t realise that trying to get us to include mercury in our diet was a right-wing initiative. I’ll have to update my little red book.

    Seriously though I think this is mostly a US phenomena. And the cocktail of religion and politics clouds issues of left and right. Obviously the Republicans are championing religious causes and the Republicans are the party of the right in the two party US system. Where the advocates of market liberalism once characterised what it was to be right-wing the advocates of social conservatism are increasingly coming to represent the brand and in the process they are importing the religious essentricities held by many of their constituents. That is a pity.

    Having said that it seems clear that ideas like “intelligent design” are definitely on the march in Australia. And I expect they will gather a larger following in time. The end point of all this will depend on the advocates of evolution and the scientific method getting out and selling there wares. Complaining about how unfair this all is will not win hearts. The idea that dud ideas will go away if they are ignored assumes that they are self-evidently dud. When it comes to perpetual motion machines that can be tested through application this approach generally works. When it comes to esoteric questions of origin the game is not so simple.

    As the term “right-wing” morphs it will be interesting to see what happens to “left-wing”. There is an opportunity for those on the left to embrace market liberalism and become the movement for liberty. Hopefully Kevin Rudd was trashing Hayek so that he can safely move in that direction. His talk about the inefficiency of state/ federal inefficiency is the first broadside that a prominant politician has launched against excessive government for some time. However he ironically brings religion into the game with him.

  2. February 6th, 2007 at 08:55 | #2

    Okay so the word “inefficent” was not used efficiently. Sorry.

  3. Hal9000
    February 6th, 2007 at 09:18 | #3

    And the word ‘phenomena’ is the plural of ‘phenomenon’, Terje. ;-)

  4. February 6th, 2007 at 10:16 | #4

    I typed it with two thumbs on my mobile phone. So I think I did okay on the editing. There is of course always room for improvement. Maybe I need a mobile phone with a bigger screen.

  5. Simonjm
    February 6th, 2007 at 14:24 | #5

    Terje You could probably put “such issues such as global climate change, mercury pollution and what constitutes a good dietcase” under the belief overkill bias. Since from certain viewpoints anything that interferes with the ‘free market’ -which is always good- must be bad or false. From that baised heuristic it’s not hard to then say anything concering protecting the envornment is plain wrong. Funny how this position ends up infact distorting the market.

  6. still working it out
    February 6th, 2007 at 16:57 | #6

    I sometimes wonder if the net result of all this will be to see the centre of the enlightened world move. Countries like America and Australia for that matter are so used to living in a world dominated by rational science based thinking that we don’t really appreciate how bad the old way was. In parts of the world like China and India where modern rational scientific thinking is a newer concept there seems to be a greater appreciation of the benefits of science. They have been living the the dismal results of superstitious thinking for so long it does not have any credence left.

    There has never been an entire world of rational scientific thought. It has only existed in certain parts of the globe. The assumption has been that as societies develop this enlightened area will eventually evelop the whole world. Perhaps that assumption is false.

    It may be that America might go backwards, at least for a while and the centre of scientific enlightenment could be moving to Asia. A look at the faster rate of adoption of new technologies suggests this might be the case as well as the seriousness with which science is taken by most Asian governments compared to those of the Anglosphere.

  7. Ros
    February 6th, 2007 at 17:16 | #7

    Funny places unis, to conclude that what was and is taught in unis by left wing relativists is of little import and has had a negligible impact on Australian society seems, wishful? Maybe Economics is different. The height of anti-science for me was several years ago as a mature age student in a first year geography Research unit with the young female tutor on loan from Women’s Studies instructing the mainly young students that the science thing was dead and it wasn’t the case that effect necessarily followed cause. They bought it. Later my daughter’s decision to move to another uni to do her masters in psych because during her Honours year the post-modernists managed to take over the faculty. My philosophy school was one determined not to be overwhelmed, but much of the humanities lost to these “benign� forces of left wing post modernism. However that they were crushing dissent within fields such as psychology says they were more than just a passing phase, and the low turnover of tenured academics leaves me in no doubt that they and their views are not on the decline.

    And then there is the right wing attack on science. Don’t really get it. Certainly am aware that across the world religion has made a comeback, about the only thing I would agree with Phillip Adams about, I too thought in the sixties that reason was triumphing over religion. So I see that revival being reflected in the views of those that societies put up to represent them, not the other way around. Beazley and Howard have kept their religious views to themselves, Rudd and Abbott are constantly in our face with their religion. And it is not just Republicans who can’t get elected in the States if they are atheists; name the Democrat who declares his/her atheism.

    Having not read Mooney I cheated and googled to get the gist of his argument. First review I read says he made this claim,

    “Forced the National Cancer Institute to say that abortion may cause breast cancer, a claim refuted by good studies.�

    Now there is a matter that both interests me and about which I have made some effort to inform myself, particularly after being subjected to the most appalling push survey on RU486, which included the codswallop about cancer and abortion. So visited the American Cancer Society site. And this is what they say.

    “In February 2003, the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a workshop of over 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. The experts reviewed existing human and animal studies on the relationship between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. Among their conclusions were:
    Breast cancer risk is temporarily increased after a term pregnancy (resulting in the birth of a living child).
    Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.
    Recognized spontaneous abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. “

    Then there was apparently this claim by Mooney

    “Ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove information about condom use and efficacy from its Web site.�

    So visited their site and searched it for condoms. Got 2391 hits, just checked a few, as follows.

    “For persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for STDs, correct and consistent use of the male latex condom can reduce the risk of STD transmission. However, no protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD. Furthermore, condoms lubricated with spermicides are no more effective than other lubricated condoms in protecting against the transmission of HIV and other STDs.�

    Or this

    “Laboratory studies have demonstrated that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens.�

    Oh well, maybe these bodies were instructed by Bush and gave him the finger.

    But there is always of course the fallback position that demonstrates the perfidy of right wingers, that they are AGW deniers, and proved by the fact that someone danced with someone who knew a denier who was also a creationist. What gnaws at me most about the man is destroying the earth thing is the underlying belief that man can. So the possibility that cosmic rays or sun spots could be the cause are dismissed as right wing claptrap, because “man� is so special, and a vast indifferent universe ain’t what determines what happens on man’s planet. I know I struggle, but am just not persuaded of CO2 levels as cause rather than correlation or effect.

  8. jquiggin
    February 6th, 2007 at 17:55 | #8

    Maybe you need to brush up on your Google skills, Ros. Googling for “national cancer institute” +breast +cancer +abortion +Bush led me straight to this NYT article which confirmed Mooney’s points. Opening para

    The National Cancer Institute, which used to say on its Web site that the best studies showed ”no association between abortion and breast cancer,” now says the evidence is inconclusive.

    A Web page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used to say studies showed that education about condom use did not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity. That statement, which contradicts the view of ”abstinence only” advocates, is omitted from a revised version of the page.

    And if you’re having trouble finding creationists in positions of influence over science policy, can I suggest the initials “GWB”.

  9. Ros
    February 6th, 2007 at 19:39 | #9

    Your search produced

    http://oversight.house.gov/features/politics_and_science/example_breast_cancer.htm
    quoting the NYT.
    Says from the NCI

    “T]he possible relationship between abortion and breast cancer has been examined in over thirty published studies since 1957. Some studies have reported statistically significant evidence of an increased risk of breast cancer in women who have had abortions, while others have merely suggested an increased risk. Other studies have found no increase in risk among women who have had an interrupted pregnancy. [4]�

    Sources for the article from the Government Reform Minority Office, New York Times and

    http://oversight.house.gov/features/politics_and_science/pdfs/pdf_admin_hhs_info_abc_fact_sheet_revis.pdf
    11/25/2002, NCI

    However the NCI document goes on to say

    “NCI is currently supporting mechanistic and population studies to gain a better understanding of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and interrupted pregnancies and how they relate to breast cancer.

    Future Plans

    Further research needs to be done to determine and to investigate the relationship of breast cancer to hormone changes. NCI is sponsoring a workshop “early reproductive events and breast cancer� to be held in early 2003, that will address the epidemiological, biological, molecular and hormonal relationship of pregnancy that alter breast cancer risk…..will seek to identify the gaps in our knowledge of reproductive risk factors, including those associated with spontaneous and induced abortion….�

    The document then lists the current accepted risk factors for breast cancer, and it did not include either forms of abortion.

    In June 2002 fact sheet says no problem with abortion. In November,the NCI acknowledged the contrary research on their site (this is good old litigious USA after all) but restated risk factors without including abortion. Ran their workshop in February, then posted to their site in February 2003 (search of site for abortion). And site still shows

    Item 1
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/breast/page4
    Risk Factors
    Large, well-designed studies have shown no link between abortion or miscarriage and breast cancer.

    Item 2
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/abortion-miscarriage
    The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.

    Now “some studies have reported statistically significant evidence of an increased risk of cancer in women who have had abortions, while others have merely suggested an increased risk. “ (they didn’t say the evidence is inconclusive) is evidence of Bush declaring war on science? Possibly being a little more concerned about breast cancer than the chaps who gleefully found a conspiracy, I appreciate that, as there were studies that did show an increased risk of breast cancer if a woman had an abortion, the issue was considered. And made public. Here women are advised to have mammograms from age fifty, unless the recognised risk factors apply to them. I believe it is then recommended for women from age forty, though I know some who, because of their very high risk commence earlier. I also have a friend who had 5 miscarriages/spontaneous abortions and it would have been important for her to know whether those abortions put her into a higher risk category.

    Perhaps the NYT could have considered the matter a little more carefully.

  10. observa
    February 6th, 2007 at 22:01 | #10

    Let me quote you from the front page of yesterday’s Advertiser-

    � Catholic Vicar-General David Cappo will meet 5 families at the centre of a notorious aboriginal gang in an attempt to stop an escalating crime spree. Monsignor Cappo has been asked by the State Govt to develop a plan to address issues surrounding Aboriginal youth crime and his main focus will be young offenders targeted by the police force’s Operation Mandrake.

    But he concedes the job will be difficult and ‘we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board’.

    The 49 Mandrake targets , mainly youths from the NW suburbs are responsible for hundreds of crimes over the past few years, including violent home invasions and high speed chases.�

    You see what has really gone on here is an intelligent Labor State Premier, who prides himself on laura norder, has virtually thrown up his hands in disgust at all his university educated psychologists, sociologists, social workers, not to mention the lawyers, the courts and the whole penal system available to him and gone looking for a man of the cloth to clean up the fallout from the lost generation. Forget GWB folks, we’ve got a real live one right here. You don’t think he’s going to put the missionaries back into the Pitlands to clean up the Dreamtimers vision splendid do you? So much for all that sandstone, scientific approach eh?

  11. Damien Eldridge
    February 7th, 2007 at 02:47 | #11

    I think it is necessary to distinguish between critiques of science and critiques of the use of science.

    Critiques of science might include denying the possibility of evolution or the the likely impact of human greenhouse gas emissions on global warming. These critiques are clearly anti-science, in that they are inconsistent with the existing body of knowledge and evidence. They can also be unhelpful. The debate over the significance of global warming has probably resulted in a delay in the introduction of policies that might reduce human greenhouse gas emissions.

    Critiques of some uses of science includes opposition to abortion, opposition to the morning after pill and opposition to the use of embryonic stem cells. These critiques are not ant-science. The people who hold them do not deny the scientific evidence. Rather, they object to these practices on moral grounds. Reasonable people can hold different views on these issues because of different value systems and different beliefs about what constitutes a human life. As such, opposition to the abortion, the morning after pill and the use of embryonic stem cells should not be interpreted as an attack on science.

  12. Damien Eldridge
    February 7th, 2007 at 02:55 | #12

    Please note that the second sentence of the final paragraph in my previous comment on this thread (comment number 11) should read:

    These critiques are not anti-science.

  13. February 7th, 2007 at 08:02 | #13

    A critique of global warming or evolution might be:-

    1. Scientific
    2. Un-Scientific
    3. Anti-Science
    4. Pro-Science

    For instance proponents of “Intelligent Design” use theories such as “irreducable complexity” to argue their case. Such a theory is subject to scientific enquiry and as such it is scientific. When the proponents refuse to address the evidence against this theory (by refining or disguarding their theory) then they are being unscientific.

    If somebody says they believe all life on earth was created in 7 days because the bible is Gods word then they are being unscientific. Whether they are being anti-science depends on what happens next.

    Buying a lottery ticket is unscientific. However it is not anti-science. And many people that are pro-science (including scientists) draw conclusions on some things in a manner that is all together unscientific.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  14. Damien Eldridge
    February 7th, 2007 at 08:18 | #14

    Thanks Terje. You are right that there are more than two categories. Nonetheless, I still think that it is a mistake to label all criticisms of the use of the science an attack on science. The mere fact that something can be done done not mean that it necessarily should be done.

    As an aside, I don’t think that a person buying a lottery ticket is unscientific. Lots of people buy lottery tickets. This suggests that models of choice under uncertainty need to be able to account for this. Risk-loving preferences would do it, but they wouldn’t account for the purchase of insurance. I suspect that there are people who purchase both lottery tickets and insurance. There was some early work by Friedman and Savage that attempted to explain this sort of behaviour. I think it involved preferences that involved risk loving for small gambles and risk aversion for large gambles. JQ is probably the man to ask about this!!!

  15. February 7th, 2007 at 09:23 | #15

    The ban on human cloning is arguable an example of a law that is anti-science. Nobody really knows what the social consequences would be and we won’t be able to test any theories whilst cloning is banned. However many people that are pro-science support this law on moral grounds. So you can be pro-science in general but anti-science in the particular.

  16. wilful
    February 7th, 2007 at 09:57 | #16

    Ros, you went to a seriously crap Uni if you discovered leftwing pomo relativism in the geography department. Melbourne Uni certainly had nothing of the sort. We had very healthy debates abut the issue (with dissent very much allowed and encouraged) in the proper forum, which was the History and Philosophy of Science Department. Not calling you a liar, but I am very surprised at your experience.

  17. jquiggin
    February 7th, 2007 at 13:36 | #17

    I’ve done a bunch of work on the rationale for buying lottery tickets, and I think it’s a reasonable preference though not one I share. Those interested can read my 1991 article in Economica, On the Optimal Design of Lotteries. It’s on my website.

  18. Simonjm
    February 7th, 2007 at 21:10 | #18

    Terje just been looking at that exact topic in the Practical Ethics unit I’m doing now. Cloning was only briefly covered & I did find the objections extremely poor, but in no way could it be considered anti-science, there is something else going on.

    Considering how poorly the Liberal/Feminist accounts in abortion are argued esp regarding the tying together of personhood and moral value, reproductive issues are a mess. It shouldn’t be surprising that this flows into cloning as well.

  19. rog
    February 7th, 2007 at 22:14 | #19

    There is a consensus of opinion supporting the link between breast cancer and abortion.

    http://jech.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/50/5/481

  20. observa
    February 7th, 2007 at 22:24 | #20

    So Damien, do you think the SA Labor State Govt is being anti-science by calling in Monsignor Cappo to sort out their ‘aboriginal problem’, or are they just being unscientific?

  21. Damien Eldridge
    February 8th, 2007 at 02:11 | #21

    Observa, I don’t think they are being either.

  22. Damien Eldridge
    February 8th, 2007 at 03:19 | #22

    The issue of cloning is probably a thorny one for a number of reasons. One of these relates to the purpose of the clone. If the clone is going to be used as a source of “spare part” organs and the like to help the original when needed, then I suspect that many people would have moral objections to this. Anything that harms a human life is unacceptable. These objections would be similar to those that some people have against abortion or the use of emryonic stem cells. If you believe that human life begins at fertilisation, then all of these practices involve harming a human life. I suspect that most people agree that harming a human life is unacceptable. As such, when reasonable people disagree over these topics, it is most likely to be cxaused by different beliefs as to when a human life begins.

    Embryonic stem cells are a particularly difficult topic here. If the embryo that they come from is never going to be implanted, then it will never have the opportunity to develop into a human life. If there is a chance that the use of the embryonic stem cells might result in the development of a treatment for some debilitating disease, then why shouldn’t they be used? After all, the unused embryos will eventually be disposed of in any event. A counter argument to this is that by allowing there use, a signal is being sent to develop more such embryos. If someone believes that human life begins with fertilisation, then they might well objectr to this on moral grounds. Indeed, if more embryos are created in the process of invitro fertilisation than are actually used, then some people might well object to invitro fertilisation on moral grounds.

    In my first comment on this thread, I had included the morning after pill as an example of things that people might object to on moral grounds. After writing that comment, I had a look on the wikipaedia entry relating to it (see below for the link). (Of course, not being an expert in this area, I do not know how whether or not the wikipaedia entry is accurate.) The reason for this was that I was unsuire whether it actually had the potential to harm an embryo or whether it just prevented fertilisation from taking place if it hadn’t already taken place. It seems that there is some uncertainty about this. Apparently there might be some possibility that it could prevent the implanting of an embryo. As such, if a person believes that human life begins with fertilisation, then that person might object to the morning after pill on moral grounds.

    The wikipaedia entry mentioned above can be found at the following link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_contraception .

  23. Paul G. Brown
    February 8th, 2007 at 04:16 | #23

    Rog –

    Bullsh**t.

    That’s 1 paper. From a “Department of Natural Sciences”. The paper describes a “meta-study” which imposed “No quality criteria” on the studies it examined, didn’t weight by size of the study, found only that the “increase in risk was relatively low” by ignoring standard practices for understanding ranges, and was published in a journal that is sufficiently rigorous as to include a “poetry collection”.

    Click on the “Google Scholars” link, and survey the papers which cite this one. I looked at 6. NONE of them found any evidence that supported the cited paper’s conclusion.

    That doesn’t look like consensus to me.

  24. February 8th, 2007 at 08:17 | #24

    I do think the ban on cloning is anti-science. To simplify the example lets say that we are talking about people cloning grandpa so that when he is gone we can watch his replica grow up to be a happy well adjusted adult.

    In order to argue for or against such cloning we would need to make a case about the socialogical implications. However this is all merely postulation unless we can test out our theories. However the ban on cloning says that such theories must not be tested. As such it is anti-science.

    Lets suppose I have the theory that if people populate other planets they will not be happy and their children will hate them and suffer physical difficulties. So I propose that we ban all settlements beyond the earth. Essentially this ban rests on the same logic as the ban on cloning outlined above. I contend that both bans are anti-science. They relate to theories that we refuse to submit to scientific experiment.

    Of course you can be anti-science in one area of your life (eg refusing to test creationism scientifically and wanting to ban others from doing so) whilst be scientific in other areas (wanting to allow polygomy to see if people end up happier). Being anti-science need not be a global label applicable to every aspect of your persona.

    I argue a lot about liberty. I am always intrigued by the boundaries people create. People will argue the merits of liberty in one sphere and denounce it in another sphere. People are far more complex than their views on one issue may suggest. As such I suspect that the anti-science movement is like the anti-liberty movement. It is a movement that few will see themselves as being a part of but most will contribute to in some way or other.

    I am not saying that banning cloning is necessarily wrong or unwise. I am merely pointing out that being anti-science is not necessarily wrong either. And I say that whilst regarding myself as pro-science.

  25. Damien Eldridge
    February 8th, 2007 at 10:16 | #25

    John, thanks for the reference to your 1991 paper. I’ve had a qiuck skim of the introduction and section one and it looks quite interesting!!!

  26. rog
    February 8th, 2007 at 13:17 | #26

    Obviously there is some difference of opinion on the matter; from Harvard “Our findings suggest that an interrupted pregnancy does not impart the long-term protective effect of a full-term pregnancy attributable to terminal differentiation.”

    pubmed is a useful site for medical matters

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=7705945

  27. Simonjm
    February 8th, 2007 at 14:22 | #27

    Terje it was raised in the lecture that many of these issues while raised in philosophical ethical debates are grounded in empirical studies in the social sciences. What was mainly raised in reproductive cloning is that it may seriously impact the identity and life goals of the child. While one could be concerned it hardly reasons to outlaw the practice. My view is that for conservatives it is one they can affect which doesn’t deal with female reproductive rights while some on the left may think it undermines the reproductive and social importance of females.

    What it does highlight is the social upheaval that will explode when, not if, they perfect both reproductive cloning and an artificial womb. Just imagine the fireworks not to mention it’s affect on the abortion debate.

    BTW terje it can go both ways “anti-science movement is like the anti-liberty movement� many Libertarians who want to discount the environmental sciences because it impacts on their core ideology are equally ant-science by this account. I think holding strongly to any one ideology has a good chance of falling victim to the belief overkill bias.

    We all have to be careful not to feed our own inner troll.

    Lastly just found out that Transhumanists also share my concerns about rooting out cognitive biases. It seems they also have a strong Libertarian bent.

  28. February 8th, 2007 at 16:25 | #28

    I agree that a person could choose to give more weight to the idea of liberty over the idea of confirming aledged truths via experimentation. However the two ideas are only occasionally in conflict so I would not over play that hand.

    It does raise an interesting point though. Can the quest for scientific truth and knowledge be considered a form of ideology? I would say yes. However I don’t generally regard the word ideology to be implicitly negative.

  29. Jill Rush
    February 8th, 2007 at 20:17 | #29

    The truth is that science aids abortions that are safer than the backyard variety – whether there is a long term risk is probably difficult to establish. However the risks of continuing a pregnancy will involve a number of more immediate and serious risks. The science of its relationship to breast cancer will not feature in the thinking of anyone considering an abortion. That there are serious studies on this topic as opposed to how other factors can be controlled has probably got more to do with religion and those who have strong anto abortion beliefs trying to find a bogeyman to wave in front of women who are facing difficult life choices.

    On the other hand under our current right wing government the survival of science is under threat. Terje pointed out the market forces and those forces are leading to a decline in the study of anything but computer science.

    Social Sciences have been under threat for the last 10 years as Arts degrees are not valued in the market place. Arts graduates are expected to end up flipping burgers.

    Maths departments are winding down if not closing down as the student market moves to courses with a more prosperous future.

    Science courses are not chosen by students as science organisations have been forced to face a hand to mouth existence and be market driven. This of course means that scientific research which has no immediate prospects of producing income isn’t undertaken. It means that scientists aren’t guaranteed enough income to pay off large HECS debts or to marry and have a family or a family home. It means that the hard work involved in reaching high levels of scientific research is seen as too hard for too little future reward.

    It is not the science of global warming that has won over the right wing leaders but the ability of hard droughts and melting icecaps and bleached coral – which has more to do with loss of beauty and money than appreciation of the science.

    Part of the reason that GWB and JWH get on so well is they have a lot in common and part of that is a lack of respect for science except where it accords with their own prejudices.

  30. Simonjm
    February 8th, 2007 at 21:29 | #30

    terje I would agree even so it would appear even scientists cannot avoid severe cogntive biases. The latest Science Show has a someone talk about the latest work on the Hobbits that shows without a doubt taht they are a new species yet she couldn’t explain why some scientists -even if in the minority- still maintain they are diseased.

    BTW have you ever come into contact with a green Libertarian?

    Jill couldn’t agree more.

  31. Jill Rush
    February 9th, 2007 at 18:41 | #31

    The Csiro has suffered a number of funding blows in the past ten years. The latest is an effective funding cut. If the Government was serious about global warming or water resources the CSIRO as the pre-eminent scientific organisation would have had the same level of funding boosts as the Defence Dept.

    Premier Bracks is unimpressed with the level of funding for the Murray Darling system. Whilst there is much bluster about education levels the fact that faith based education has had an enormous increase under this government shows that they agree with Karl Marx and his belief that religion is the opium of the masses.

  32. February 9th, 2007 at 22:48 | #32

    BTW have you ever come into contact with a green Libertarian?

    Good question. Most would reject the “green” label due to the association with imposed collectivist solutions typically representative of “green” philosophy. Most would support the position of the Australian Greens that recreational drugs should be less restricted, however unlike the Greens the libertarians would expect people to pay for their own drugs.

    According to your view of the world what does it mean to be “green”?

  33. guthrie
    February 10th, 2007 at 02:23 | #33

    I’ve seen one or two green libertarians. Outnumbered by the zealot anti-markets and cornucopians of course, but they do exist.
    I personally define “green” and “environmentalist” as being willing to restrict some aspects of your lifestyle in order to ensure the survival of part of “nature” or ecosystems, or whatever you want to call it.

  34. February 11th, 2007 at 21:36 | #34

    Guthrie,

    By that definition probably 100% of the population is “green”.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  35. Simonjm
    February 13th, 2007 at 10:14 | #35

    Terje I don’t like labels and think if you identify too strongly with one you are more likely to come under some sort of bias.

    I like what has happened in the UK, being ‘green’ is now living an ethical lifestyle that incorporates ecological, social and sustainability issues. You live a lifestyle that is ecologically sustainable, respects human rights/avoids exploitation-strong social justice- and you accept the best science, not picking and choosing to suit your agenda.

    This would mean that some hard core ‘greens’ may in fact not be Ethical if they dismiss nuclear out of hand. Let the facts speak for themselves.

    “By that definition probably 100% of the population is “greenâ€?.”

    Was that a joke terje?

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