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Republican War on Science: Science Fights Back

June 12th, 2008

Via discussions at Wikipedia, this editorial in the Chemical & Engineering News, weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, The editorial notes

There really is a right-wing effort in the U.S. to discredit widely accepted science, technology, and medical information.

prominently represented by Fox News “junk science” correspondent Steven Milloy,

the tireless antiscience polemicist who started out as an apologist for the tobacco industry and spends most of his time these days claiming that all climate-change research is, of course, junk science. It’s a catchy little phrase that Milloy applies to, well, anything that doesn’t match his right-wing concept of reality

as well as those of Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (responsible for the original Oregon petition much beloved of our local delusionists) and the Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons (JAPS), the source of the most recent version of the petition.

What’s striking about this is that, as scientists go, chemists are not exactly renowned as radical extremists, and not many members of ACS would be involved in climate research. Recognition that the political right is at war with science is spreading beyond those most directly affected (such as researchers in climate change, biology, and epidemiology) to the broader community of scientists (and even, more recently engineers).

In the short run, the political costs of a war on science aren’t that great. There just aren’t enough scientists to make up a big voting bloc. But science, while fallible, is the most reliable source of truth we have, and most people know this. A party at war with science is, in the end, at war with truth, and truth will out.

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  1. BilB
    June 12th, 2008 at 17:37 | #1

    If science opinion is not believeable then hear from some people on the ground…water…loiving wit the consequences.

    UP THE CREEK: People paddle a raft down a flooded street in Sirajganj town, 150km from the capital Dhaka. Experts say a third of Bangladesh’s coastline could be flooded if the sea rises one metre in the next 50 years, creating an additional 20 million Bangladeshis displaced from their homes and farms.
    Abdul Majid has been forced to move 22 times in as many years, a victim of the annual floods that ravage Bangladesh.
    There are millions like Majid, 65, in Bangladesh and in the future there could be many millions more if scientists’ predictions of rising seas and more intense droughts and storms come true.
    “Bangladesh is already facing consequences of a sea level rise, including salinity and unusual height of tidal water,” said Mizanur Rahman, a research fellow with the London-based International Institute for Environmental Development.
    “In the future, millions of people will lose their land and houses. Their survival will be threatened,” Rahman told Reuters.
    Experts say a third of Bangladesh’s coastline could be flooded if the sea rises one metre in the next 50 years, creating an additional 20 million Bangladeshis displaced from their homes and farms. This is about the same as Australia’s population.
    Saline water will creep deeper inland, fouling water supplies and crops and livestock will also suffer, experts say.
    Government officials and NGOs estimate about 10 million people are already threatened by annual floods and storms damaging riverine and coastal islands.
    It is unclear how the government could feed, house or find enough clean water for vast numbers of climate refugees in a country of 140 million people crammed into an area of 142,080 sq km.
    “We are taking steps to face the threats of climate change. Bangladesh needs $US4 billion ($NZ5.12 billion) to build embankments, cyclone shelters, roads and other infrastructure in the next 15 years to mitigate the threats,” Mohammad Aminul Islam Bhuiyan, the top bureaucrat in the government’s Economic Relations Division, told Reuters.
    “These are big challenges and only time will say how efficiently we address them, including finding accommodation for the displaced millions,” he said.
    In a taste of what the future might look like, Bangladesh suffered two massive floods and a cyclone last year that together killed about 4500 people, made at least two million homeless and destroyed 1.8 million tonnes of rice, the country’s main staple.
    Even without the additional threat of global warming, the country’s future is under pressure from a rising population and shrinking farmland.
    The country lost a third of its agricultural land to accommodate more people as the population rose from 75 million in 1971.
    Bangladesh has been able to increase food grain production to nearly 30 million tonnes from less than half that in the early 1980s because of better farming practices and high-yielding varieties of rice.
    But many believe Bangladesh has reached saturation point in producing grains, while the population is still growing at nearly 2 percent annually.
    The World Bank thinks Bangladesh should change cultivation practices to boost food security, plant large areas of forest in flood-prone areas along rivers and the coast and build embankments.
    “We are conducting various studies to find options to save future environmental refugees,” said Sakil Ahmed Ferdausi, a World Bank executive in Dhaka.
    “The environmental refugee situation will turn into a dangerous problem in the future and the Bangladeshi government may find it difficult to face the challenge. So we asked donors to help the country,” Ziaul Haque Mukta, of Oxfam International in Dhaka, said.
    For Majid, the issues are more immediate.
    He lives on Batikamari island on the Januma river, 300 km north of Dhaka and fears his remaining days will be spent on the run from the river, which is constantly creating and retaking land, depending on the season.
    There are millions like him. Some have found temporary shelter, mostly on other islands in the rivers that emerge when water levels drop during the summer.
    Government and non-government organisations (NGOs) are trying to help Majid and others.
    Friendship, a Bangladeshi NGO, is providing houses, latrines, capital for agriculture, pumps for irrigation among the poor people in the river islands.
    “Migration rate is very high among the islanders,” Runa Khan, executive director of Friendship, told Reuters. “We have covered 3.5 million people in Bangladesh’s riverine islands but many more are still left.”
    Friendship operates a floating hospital to provide health care to the islanders. It has treated 600,000 people since 2001.
    But climate change could wipe out their nomadic lifestyle altogether.
    “Where will all these people go?” asked Mohammad Nurul Islam, a resident of Cox’s Bazar on the shore of the Bay of Bengal.

  2. rog
    June 12th, 2008 at 19:35 | #2

    Re your quote: “There really is a right-wing effort in the U.S. to discredit widely accepted science, technology, and medical information.”

    Information needs to assessed before it can be termed scientific, to say it is widely accepted is not a scientific term.

    Science denies the validity of a hypothesis until it can be proved.

    This is the system we have, it is an adversarial system and to be properly scientific you must prove your point with facts not opinions.

  3. Ian Gould
    June 12th, 2008 at 20:57 | #3

    “Science denies the validity of a hypothesis until it can be proved.”

    Not according to Popper, rather the opposite in fact.

  4. Ikonoclast
    June 12th, 2008 at 21:14 | #4

    I’ve been bemused by the “Republican War on Science” for some time, although it did not have quite that title in my mind. I thought of it more as a general right wing and corporate business attack on science.

    It seems very ironic considering that the vast manufacturing concerns of corporate business are founded on the developments of science and technology. Equally, the power of the extreme right in the US is founded on their high tech armies and the vast scientific R&D machine that gives them their “goodies”.

    However, science apparently was only welcome while it facilitated the concentration of power in a few hands, the “subjection” of nature and general delusions of granduer. Now we are all confronted, via the latest science and rapidly moving events, with a much better appreciation of the primacy of the world and the secondary nature of humanity. We are fully contingent on nature.

    I remain suspicious that the development of solar power, wind power and tidal power is being resisted by the “right” because of the ubiquitous availability of such power; because the likely decentralisation of physical power making sites might in turn have social and political consequences unwanted by the right, namely some decentralisation of political power.

    Either that or the powers-that-be genuinely believe that solar, wind and tidal cannot provide base load power. In this they are wrong. A combination of many distributed collection sites on both the micro and macro scales (there will still be the need for industrial scale solar,wind,tidal) will do the trick.

    Hmmm, hope I did not go too much off the point here.

  5. Ian Gould
    June 12th, 2008 at 21:27 | #5

    To speak of a “Republican” war on science is grossly unfair to the many (probably the majority) of Americans who are registered Republicans. These are the people who chose John McCain as the Presidential nominee of the Republican Party this year. (It also omits the non-Americans who are what Tailgunner Joe used to refer to as fellow travellers.)

    It also overlooks the sizable minority of Democrats who partake of the world-view of which anti-science is just one component.

    All that being the case, I suggest we need a more fitting and descriptive name.

    At the risk of adding more heat than light to the discussion I propose “fascist” or “neo-fascist”.

    Check out Umberto Eco’s “Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt” and ask yourself if the comparison is inappropriate.

    http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

  6. Alan
    June 12th, 2008 at 22:48 | #6

    rog, how many peer-reviewed scientific research papers have you read?

    How many of the following terms can you define off the cuff: falsifiable; null hypothesis; statistically significant; Occam’s Razor; double-blind trial; indeterminacy principle; countable; heritable.

    If you are not familiar with most of these terms, you probably don’t know much about science and how it works.

  7. rog
    June 12th, 2008 at 23:33 | #7

    Not really, I take hypothesis to mean assumption and information to mean unprocessed data. On the latter I see I am incorrect, information does mean processed data

  8. jack strocchi
    June 12th, 2008 at 23:38 | #8

    Pr Q says:

    But science, while fallible, is the most reliable source of truth we have, and most people know this. A party at war with science is, in the end, at war with truth, and truth will out.

    Its nice to see scientists fight back against the Republicans. But its a pity that Pr Q ignores the Cultural Left’s many and continued violations of scientific probity, particulalry in the “Culture War” dept.

    The Republican’s are losing key intellectual debates underpinning critical ideological orientations. Mainly because the Republican party has hitched its fortunes to particular interests (churches, companies, foreign lobbies) rather than a general institution.

    These interests are interested in power, not truth. That is why Republican’s are engaged in a war against publicly contentious science, whether it be evolution (ID), climatology (APG), toxicology (DDT), fiscal valency (Laffer curve), epidemiolgy (Lancet study) and now even on their home ground of geo-politics (Mesopotamian misadventure).

    More to the point, the US constitution mandates “the pursuit of happiness”. Sci-tech truth is the most efficacious means to promote material progress. So I dont see a party that retards sci-tech as going far in the US.

    I am a little disappointed to see that Pr Q does not acknowledge that the Cultural Left is also guilty of waging war against science, most notably anthropology (socio-bio) in particular and genetics in general. THese sciences show that human bio-diversity is naturally heritable – a point hotly disputed and denied by Cultural Leftists.

    Thus the Cultural Left have more or less failed to prove their case that human nature is mostly culturally constructed. Leftists cannot truthfully establish their claim that politically contentious (biologically correlated) status disparities are anchored in socially inequitable institutions. This seriously undermines the intellectual justification for identity politics that coheres the Cultural Left political program.

    Consequently Cultural Leftists have resorted to lies and smears to silence criticism. This ideological hegemony (sometimes misleadingly called “political correctness”) has a serious effect in chilling free debate on these matters in cultural institutions. Most recently in the cases of Messrs Murray, Wilson, Eysenk, Summers and Watson.

    Chris Mooney, Pr Q’s source in most of these matters, admits that there is considerable anti-scientific tendency on the Left in his book:

    It must also be acknowledged that much of science emerges from the liberal-leaning academic world. In an interview, Harvard’s celebrated cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, explained to me how this political reality tends to wall of certain areas of inquiry that might be seen as supporting conservative viewpoints: “When it’s academics who wield the power, the political bias will be on the Left.�

    Though they often have little control over government science policy-making, academics wield plenty of power in universities. As a result, Pinker notes, topics such as the genetic underpinnings of human behavior have often gone unstudied out of a “general left-of-center sensibility that anything having to do with genes is bad.�

    I disagree that Cultural Leftists “have little control over government policy making”. In this country immigration and indigenous affairs were run as part of the Cultural Left’s gift for most of the post-modern period (mid seventies thru mid nineties) with results which are unspeakable for themselves.

    And of course the academy is full to the gunwhales with junk pseudo-scientific culturalist studies. Pretty much the whole of the post-Vietnam war humanities is a complete write off from a scientific point of view (imagine the whole of Glebebooks in a remainder bin – not hard.)

    As the “truth” gradually “outs in the end” in the key areas of genomic and neurological science the Cultural Lefts “war with science is, in the end, at war with truth”. It is also at war with the general public, going by its elitist tendencies and political losses in the USA, AUS and now apparently the USE.

  9. rog
    June 12th, 2008 at 23:53 | #9

    Looking at the group in question, AAPS, I see that they are regarded as an “ultra-right-wing… political-economic rather than medical” group”

    The inference being drawn is that the right wing are anti science and unrealistic and left wing are pro science, or realists.

  10. Ian Gould
    June 13th, 2008 at 00:52 | #10

    “Most recently in the cases of Messrs Murray, Wilson, Eysenk, Summers and Watson.”

    Hans Eysenck died in 1997.

    If you have to go back a minimum of 11 years to pad out your list of the “most recent” victims of political correctness it suggests that perhaps it’s not as big a problem as you are implying.

    If by “Wilson” you’re refferign to EO Wilson, then I assuem you are referring to the (vile) assault on Dr. Wilson in 1977 (31 years ago.)

    Let’s see if that incident is representative of Dr. Wilson’s treatment at the hands of “the Cultural Left”.

    # Pulitzer Prize for On Human Nature, 1979
    # Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, 1984
    # ECI Prize, International Ecology Institute, terrestrial ecology, 1987
    # Crafoord Prize, 1990, a prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in certain sciences not covered by the Nobel Prize, and therefore considered the highest award given in the field of ecology
    # Pulitzer Prize for The Ants (with Bert Hölldobler), 1991
    # Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science 1994
    # Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People in America, 1995
    # Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, 2000
    # Nierenberg Prize, 2001
    # Dauphin Island Sea Lab christened its newest research vessel the R/V E.O. Wilson in 2005.
    # TED Prize 2007 given yearly to honor a maximum of three individuals who have shown that they can, in some way, positively impact life on this planet.
    # XIX Premi Internacional Catalunya 2007
    # Member of the World Knowledge DialogueHonorary Board, and Scientist in Residence for the 2008 symposium organized in Crans-Montana (Switzerland).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._O._Wilson#cite_note-8

  11. Ian Gould
    June 13th, 2008 at 01:42 | #11

    Rog, the AAPS own website would appear to support that inference.

    http://www.aapsonline.org/

  12. Marion Delgado
    June 13th, 2008 at 05:29 | #12

    Steven Pinker was a poor choice for Mooney to cite. He’s a popularizer of radical sociobiology, not even a researcher or scholar. He’s one step up from being an anti-science right-wing crank himself.

    He disgraced himself in his polemical attacks on the late Stephen Jay Gould because, frankly, Pinker clearly sees science as being a political, lawyerly process, and has never bothered with evidence, research or even reason.

    He’s basing his latest crank attack on allegedly Marxist American academia almost completely on Lawrence Keeley’s research on the Jivaro in South America – extrapolating it to all “non-Western” people everywhere, especially aboriginal people, because he can. Because the truth is, American academia is right-wing, and as much that way as at any time since the McCarthy Era, and still being purged by people who openly proclaim Joe McCarthy as their hero AND role model.

    Surprisingly, he’s pushing an essentially police state approach now – that a strong state in terms of cops and soldiers is the only thing that allows people to live in peace – yet with unlimited and unregulated CORPORATE activity as a key ingredient.

    And he claims to find evidence for this fascist utopia being the human ideal in “human nature” that only he and a few other radical ethologists can comprehend.

    Nothing Pinker says or does is either new or accurate. He is expanding beyond cognitive psychology in the same way Lysenko expanded beyond being an agriculturist – by telling the elites what they want to hear.

  13. Peter Gargan
    June 13th, 2008 at 07:14 | #13

    Its not currently a popular view but Carbon Dioxide is a fertilizer. The carbon that comes out of it, makes fuel and food. It does need farmers to liberate that carbon, although the sea is a fairly effective liberator, and about half the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is split back into oxygen and carbon, by algae, starting the bottom of the food chain,and ending in fish dinners. When an element gets out of balance, the predators, plants and algae, usually expand to bring it back into line. In 1989, in Cairns Far North Queensland, there was a view that the sea would rise about six feet, and drown the Esplanade. Nineteen years later, it is still idyllic,and the sea is still behaving itself. In another experiment in Far North Queensland where it is warm, and rains regularly, scientists were able to vastly expand carbon uptake,on a sample of the millions of hectares of Savannah Woodlands, in an experiment designed to prove that it was not neccessary to clear trees to get fat cattle. The side effect was an enormous increase in carbon sequestration. All that was required was a little additional fertilizer. The Carbon Dioxide present was adequate. Warm rain over millions of years, leaches minerals, and carries them out to sea. The results of these experiments are all documented and stored in Mareeba FNQ where the experiment, funded by the Beef Levy, was conducted. Bring on science, but bring it all on. Balance the debate.

  14. jquiggin
    June 13th, 2008 at 09:13 | #14

    #13 “It is not currently a popular view, but …”

    The fertilization effects of CO2 are in fact extensively discussed in IPCC reports. I’ve written quite a bit on the subject myself (links to follow). Rather than repeating slogans about science, you might do better to read it.

  15. Ken Miles
    June 13th, 2008 at 09:18 | #15

    What’s striking about this is that, as scientists go, chemists are not exactly renowned as radical extremists, and not many members of ACS would be involved in climate research.

    I got interested in climate science because of a second year environmental chemistry course. Chemists study and use spectroscopic techniques on a daily basis so tend to find it absolutely ludicrous when informed that carbon dioxide doesn’t cause warming.

  16. devin
    June 13th, 2008 at 09:20 | #16

    How odd that a publication by the American Chemical Society would go after the anti science crowd.

    According to their page at Sourcewatch, they have some of their own problems with anti science that include firing journalists who expose corruption in the chemical industry, and pumping up their executive salaries.

    And the American Chemical Society has been behind attempts to undermine Open Access here in the United States.

  17. Alan
    June 13th, 2008 at 11:19 | #17

    Ken Miles at 15

    I routinely work with, have done scientific research on, and hold a patent for industrial processes that rely on differences in absorption of infra red by gases including carbon dioxide. Science is all of a piece: it doesn’t work or not work to suit wishful thinking. Every global warming denialist would own and use products that rely on this type of equipment.

    The rest of you guys, if you don’t understand the technical meanings of falsifiable; null hypothesis; statistically significant; Occam’s Razor; double-blind trial; indeterminacy principle; countable; heritable and infra red, kindly sit down, keep quiet and pay attention to the people who actually know what they are talking about.

  18. Dylwah
    June 13th, 2008 at 13:10 | #18

    Alan said
    “The rest of you guys, if you don’t understand the technical meanings of falsifiable; null hypothesis; statistically significant; Occam’s Razor; double-blind trial; indeterminacy principle; countable; heritable and infra red, kindly sit down, keep quiet and pay attention to the people who actually know what they are talking about.”
    Wow, things have become a little tougher since CP Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’. back then it was just a question of whether you understand the second law of thermodynamics, or what was ment by mass, or acceleration. mind you Snow thought that less than 10% of non scientific intelectuals would be able to do so.

  19. O6
    June 13th, 2008 at 13:58 | #19

    #8, ‘Pinker notes, topics such as the genetic underpinnings of human behavior have often gone unstudied out of a “general left-of-center sensibility that anything having to do with genes is bad.â€?’
    Actually, up there in Pr Q’s territory these contentious topics are being carefully investigated at QIMR. They’ve had a lot of success. See http://genepi.qimr.edu.au/ .

  20. Lesley de Voil
    June 13th, 2008 at 14:29 | #20

    I’m not a scientist, but I look at things in my immediate environment carefully. It’s always been a puzzle to me that my potplants should do much better after being put outside during a shower of rain where the amount of water they receive is often less than I would give them with a hose. Now I know why! Thankyou John, thankyou Peter G.
    BTW, Peter, I observe that this week’s tidal minima around Cairns average about 1.09m. and that’s coming up to full moon. I’m certainly glad not to be owning property on the Esplanade.

  21. jquiggin
    June 13th, 2008 at 17:13 | #21

    Thanks for that link, O6. Following it produces some interesting, if inconclusive, research on the diagnostic value, if any, of relative finger lengths (there was a mild hubbub about this a few years ago).

    #17 and #18. I don’t think the point is that you can’t join the discussion on say, global warming, unless you know all these things; rather it’s that these are minimal requirements if you want to challenge the conclusions of mainstream science. If you don’t have the necessary scientific expertise to do this, you should take the conclusions of mainstream science as (provisionally) correct, and discuss the implications. An exactly similar point applies to technical issues in economics, like estimates of the cost of mitigation – if you don’t understand elasticities and equivalent variation, leave this to the experts.

  22. John Mashey
    June 13th, 2008 at 17:21 | #22

    OISM tidbits from past research …
    or whacko in the woods

    1) Arthur Robinson’s address is 2251 Dick George Rd, Cave Junction Oregon, which GoogleMaps or better, Google Earth locate pretty well. I think the building shown in OISM home page is the white building at the end of the loop. This is in SW Oregon, not near anything in particular.

    2) Of the 8 “faculty” listed on the home page:

    - Kamen died in 2002
    - Merrifield died in 2006
    - Westall lives in Temecula, CA (near San Diego)
    - Boehme is an EE/software guy who lives in Boise, ID
    - Orient lives in Tucson, AZ and appears to be {AAPS, Doctors for Defense Preparedness, and Physicians for Civil defense}, all of which are located 1t 1601 N. Tucson Blvd, Suite 9, Tuscon, AZ

    that leaves Art Robinson and his two sons, Noah (a Professor at OISM!) & Zachary.

    So, unless the two dead faculty are there in spirit, OISM = Robinsons located in their 7000-sq-ft modern laboratory in the woods.

    3) For a truly bizarre/painful experience, one can watch George Gilder, at Telecosm 2007, introduce Noah, who then gives an talk that well-illustrates cherry-picking, strawmen, and silly unsourced charts in which correlations are asserted or denied by eyeball). It is amusingly is hosted by the Discovery Institute [i.e., "Intelligent Design"].

    Some people listen to Gilder, who thinks Art Robinson is “legendary”.

    4) Steve Forbes (Forbes Magazine) cites George’s daughter Mary Ellen Tiffany Gilder, a medical student, who wrote another poor piece, which at one point was hosted or linked at OISM.

  23. chrisl
    June 13th, 2008 at 17:44 | #23

    ” you should take the conclusions of mainstream science as (provisionally) correct”
    Are you sure you meant to say provisionally?
    Wiki defines it as temporarily.

  24. Pepper
    June 13th, 2008 at 18:08 | #24

    To #5
    “To speak of a “Republicanâ€? war on science is grossly unfair to the many (probably the majority) of Americans who are registered Republicans.”

    Well, no. If the uniform is disgraced, all wearers suffer. It’s only a bit unfair. They can deregister or else do something about it.

    But it is not a war on science; it is a war on an interpretation of data. That paper nailed it which says that English language books disputing global warming are 92% from “conservative think tanks� and that 90% of conservative think tanks “espouse environmental scepticism.�

    The general polarisation may be appreciated by doing a quick internet search of the Club of Rome’s 1972 “Limits to Growth”. (See eg Wikipedia discussion and Amazon comments.) This old report is probably more stridently debated today than when it was printed, the disparity in the two sides’ assessments (it is obviously wrong; it is obviously right) astonishing in view of its numerical and scientific content and its absence of overtly political material.

    To #8
    “topics such as the genetic underpinnings of human behavior have often gone unstudied out of a “general left-of-center sensibility that anything having to do with genes is bad.” ”

    Contra Ian Gould at #10, I agree with Jack Strocchi that the left is at war with science. Anthropology has utterly left science behind. Anthro is the extreme case but you can look in any of the social sciences and you will find no recognition of the genetic influence on behaviour.

    Social science deludes itself that conducting surveys and analysing the results is science. It is bureaucracy. Anthro does not even do that.

    To #19
    Contentious is the contribution of genetics to behaviour, not to disease. Why do some people behave “irrationally” in game theory experiments. Why does rational choice theory apply more to men than women?

    One thing science does is categorise and find how the named parts interact. The left abhors categorisation, seeing it is the beginning of discrimination. When it comes to the social world science is nearly blind because of its reductionism. But the left is impatient of process, wanting to see only the utopian whole.

  25. El Mono
    June 13th, 2008 at 18:13 | #25

    I think he means you should take mainstream science correct until it is proven otherwise.

  26. jack strocchi
    June 13th, 2008 at 18:37 | #26

    Ian Gould Says: June 13th, 2008 at 12:52 am

    If you have to go back a minimum of 11 years to pad out your list of the “most recent� victims of political correctness it suggests that perhaps it’s not as big a problem as you are implying.

    So its safe assume that the treatment that Cultural Leftists meted out to Murray, Summers and Watson never really happened. No war on science to see hear folks, just keep movin’…

    The Cultural Left’s taboo on the anthropological basis of social stratification is a big enough problem for even Mooney, a fairly committed, but scientific, Leftist, to acknowledge it. This is not a small issue, it underlies the entire “rainbow coalition” identity politics ideology,.

    Mooney’s phrase “war on science” has simply been picked up by from the “science wars” which the Cultural Left waged from the late seventies through late nineties, until the Republican’s got in on the act. But I can see from your response that this stuff has not registered on your radar, so maybe it never happened or has just slipped down a memory hole..

    The [Republican Right] has always been at war with science. Since the beginning of your life, since the beginning of the Party, since the beginning of history, the war has continued without a break, always the same war. Do you remember that?

    Comrade O’Brien

  27. jack strocchi
    June 13th, 2008 at 19:10 | #27

    Marion Delgado Says: June 13th, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Steven Pinker was a poor choice for Mooney to cite. He’s a popularizer of radical sociobiology, not even a researcher or scholar. He’s one step up from being an anti-science right-wing crank himself…Pinker clearly sees science as being a political, lawyerly process, and has never bothered with evidence, research or even reason.

    Here is a biblio of Pinker’s articles (not books, which is his overwhelming priority). With titles like “Affectedness and Direct Objects: The role of Lexical Semantics in the Acquistion of Verb Arguement Structure” Cognition, 4, 153-195.(1991) and “Rules of Language” Science, 253, 530-535(1991) under his belt its easy to see how he has enjoyed a stellar career as an “anti-science right wing crank”.

    Marion Delgado Says:

    He disgraced himself in his polemical attacks on the late Stephen Jay Gould because, frankly,

    Gould, a seriously flawed genius, was no stranger to ideological hatchet jobs. His “mismeasure of man” was a particularly egregious and disgraceful attack on Jensen, at a time when that scholar regularly had to deal with death threats on account of his work. Pinker’s exchange with Gould was civil enough, by comparison.

    Marion Delgado Says:

    Surprisingly, he’s pushing an essentially police state approach now – that a strong state in terms of cops and soldiers is the only thing that allows people to live in peace – yet with unlimited and unregulated CORPORATE activity as a key ingredient. And he claims to find evidence for this fascist utopia being the human ideal in “human natureâ€? that only he and a few other radical ethologists can comprehend.

    I will not make specific comment on this spray, apart from noting that it is a diagnostic symptom of exactly the kind of ideological bullying that has given the Cultural Left the anti-scientific reputation it so richly deserves.

  28. jquiggin
    June 13th, 2008 at 19:44 | #28

    Quite a few people in the thread above (Pinker, Gould, Wilson, Watson, Summers and, implicitly Herrnstein) share the following characteristics
    1. A well-deserved professional reputation for work in a narrowly-defined field relevant to debates about culture and evolution (language, snails, ants, DNA, macroeconomics)
    2. A willingness to make broad claims about these big questions on the basis of limited or non-existent evidence.
    There are of course a much larger number of people who display characteristic #2, but not #1 (Murray for example). This gave rise to plenty of heat but not much light in the second half of last century, and Jack S is still warming himself by the glowing embers.

    But none of this is remotely comparable to the lying-for-hire of Milloy, Seitz, Singer, and similar shills, or the outright lunacy of OISM.

  29. June 13th, 2008 at 22:04 | #29

    A tilo, but perhaps a useful one. Somewhere up there jack strocchi clamis that “the US constitution mandates “the pursuit of happinessâ€?.” It does not.

    This is a term from the Declaration of Independence, which claims as a matter of natural rights that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    and goes on to say that governments are established to secure these rights. We will postpone till later how a bunch of slaveholders could write that, but more to the lack of point (this is a tilo), when the current US government was established somewhat later, there is a preamble to the Constitution which sets forth WHY the government was being established

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    A fairly communitarian vision IEHO.

  30. rog
    June 13th, 2008 at 22:54 | #30

    A quick google on “rights” and “happiness”; it is not part of the US constitution but it does form part of various states legislature; along nwith the Bill of Rights it is used as part of a legal argument and has been included in judgements eg

    In my opinion, the statute, in its application to the case now presented, is an illegal interference with the liberty both of Mott and of Hooper, as well as an abridgement of the privileges, not of a foreign corporation, but of individual citizens of other states through whom the policy in question was obtained. ….Among the inalienable rights possessed by American citizens is, as Mr. Justice Field has said, ‘the right of men to pursue their happiness, by which is meant the right to pursue any lawful business or vocation in any manner not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, which may increase their prosperity or develop their faculties, so as to give to them their highest enjoyment.’ Butchers’ Union Slaughterhouse Co. v. Crescent City Live-Stock Landing Co.

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&court=US&case=/us/155/648.html

  31. Steve Bloom
    June 14th, 2008 at 05:13 | #31

    Re #29: Eli, I believe you’ll find that in the original it’s “bleffings.” :)

    Re #30: Perfect, Rog. That sort of reasoning is the first step toward the present commodification of happiness.

  32. June 14th, 2008 at 06:11 | #32

    I think much of this discussion misses the key point about the complexity of the climate debate. This is not just the truth versus the “Republican war on science”. There is an interesting article in the New York Review of Books by Freeman Dyson that is worth reading as are the two books reviewed.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494

    Warwick McKibbin

  33. John Mashey
    June 14th, 2008 at 09:51 | #33

    re: #32
    And after reading Dyson’s review, read the review of his review at RealClimate, which now has 500+ posts attached.

  34. June 14th, 2008 at 18:53 | #34

    Amusing that jack strocchi keeps talking about the “Cultural Left” without bothering to make clear what in the blazes he means by that phrase, and who are representative of this supposed “Cultural Left”.

    “More to the point, the US constitution mandates the ‘pursuit of happiness’. Sci-tech truth is the most efficacious means to promote material progress. So I dont see a party that retards sci-tech as going far in the US.”

    The erroneous claim aside… if anyone who thinks a few pieces of parchment are an indication of citizens’ voting preferences, then he’s obviously damaged up there.

    – bi, International Journal of Inactivism

  35. June 14th, 2008 at 18:53 | #35

    s/anyone who/anyone/

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