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Sane Republican hunt

August 2nd, 2009

Looking at this video of GOP members running away (in one case literally) from questions about Birtherism it struck me that rather than looking at the vast majority of GOP types who consistently trade in delusion, it would be more interesting to see if there is even one prominent GOP figure certifiably sane. By “certifiably sane”, I mean someone who has clearly and publicly rejected all the main forms of delusion propounded by the majority of Repugs. These include:

AGW delusionism (an explicit statement of support for mainstream science is required)
Birtherism
Creationism (must reject both creationism /ID and “teach the controversy’)
9/11 Trutherism (not, in most cases, the “Bush knew” version, but the “Saddam organised it, via meetings in Prague” version)
Crank medical theories: on passive smoking, the Terri Schiavo case, abortion-breast cancer link, AIDS reappraisal, claims about stem cells (to make it easy, getting any of these right will suffice)
Rejection of plate tectonics: According to the same poll that found most Republicans to be Birthers/sceptics, the majority also deny or doubt that America and Africa were once part of the same continent (brand new, so I’ll take absence of evidence on this one).

Bonus points if we can find one who’s not from Maine.

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  1. August 5th, 2009 at 16:20 | #1

    Pr Q says August 3rd, 2009 at 22:22 #20

    Jack, this stuff isn’t science, it’s the worst kind of pop science. Pinker’s Blank Slate is a poorly argued polemic

    Pr Q’s “no Left-wing war on science to see here folks, just keep moving” stance seems more than a little bizarre. I lifted the quote from Chris Mooney’s book, who is acknowledged as the worlds expert on Science Wars. The book is currently featured on Pr Q’s academic site.

    I’m arguing for some ideological balance on the question of intellectual sins against epistemological values. From my angle it looks like the worst political abuse of natural science is on the Industrial Right (Bush, Big Oil et al), who are thwarting good public policy. Whilst the worst professional abuse of social science is on the Cultural Left (political correctness etc), who are chilling free and fearless research.

    Pinker’s “polemic” criticism of the Blank Slate might be as “poorly argued” as you like. (Friendly suggestion: self-referential sources for sweeping crtical generalisations are not likely to sway doubters.) As H Allen Orr points out, Pinker does have an unfortunate penchant for just-so “Darwinian Storytelling”, usually tied to a straw-man construction boom.

    But Pinker’s stories are streets ahead of the tall tales spun by his intended target: the legions of lumpen-intelligentsia esconsed in Humanities and Social Science faculties cranking out their smelly little social constructivist orthodoxies. As Pr Q might say, the “vast majority of [this] research…has been rubbish”, virtually all Left-liberal in orientation and anti-scientific in its obfuscation. This turgid waste is then regularly re-cycled through the media, courtesy of the so-called quality press.

    And its not as if its a small,isolated matter. Dont tell me that the purveyors of “womyn’s [sic] studies” (whopping 12,900,000 hits!), “queer theory” (mere 480,000 hits – homophobes asleep on the job), black studies (549,000 hits), “cultural studies” (a respectable 7,380,000 hits) and the like are engaged in anything resembling falsifiable science.

    Is it any wonder enrollments in liberal arts, humanities and social science courses are plummeting.

  2. Alice
    August 5th, 2009 at 16:29 | #2

    @Jack Strocchi
    Ewwww Jack. They are plummeting because the damn unis are half privatised and are catering to an export market that sees accounting as the only degree worthwhile to get points for immigration. Its not just the arts, its maths, science and a wwhole lot of worthwhile knowledge areas…we are short of real skills in a whole lot of areas but governments (especially the prior Howard govt were so hell bent on turning unis into semi sausage factories for students who pay..)

    What on earth do you expect? We are losing aour ability to generate independent knowledge in favour of a surplus of accountants who cant get jobs on any decent pay and a whole lot of people who hope with one, they can have a better life.

    Short term investment – long term loss of intelligence Jack.

  3. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 5th, 2009 at 16:56 | #3

    Jack Strocchi, I don’t understand you for you are highly critical of the humanities and yet use language and critical thinking to make your point of view.

  4. August 5th, 2009 at 19:22 | #4

    Pr Q says August 3rd, 2009 at 22:22 #20

    Jack, this stuff isn’t science, it’s the worst kind of pop science. …and Derbyshire is not an authority on anything.

    Excuse me but who died and made Pr Q Pope of authorized science? I am dismayed that he finds the Derb not fit to cut the scientific mustard.

    I say “no fair”. Not only has JD published two books on knotty mathematical problems, he has also appeared in a Bruce Lee movie (he’s the tall, skinny dude on the Right, of course). Pr Q could only dream of such accomplishments.

    Pr Q, before issuing blanket condemnations, should actually read the linked article. Its mostly JD giving an underground genomics blogger, “godless capitalist”, some well-deserved but anonymous publicity:

    a researcher at a famous university, in a field that is new: computational genomics…He: “I can’t afford to be known. There are people out there trying to find out who I am — people who mean me no good, people who could wreck my career. I’m not going to let that happen.”

    I daresay that even Pr Q would allow that computational genomics is more elite than “pop science”. Yet elite status did nothing to save James Watson – lucky co-discoverer of DNA, sincecured in the Human Genome Project and weasled into the Allen Institute for Brain Science – when he violated Left-wing taboos on knowledge. But not to worry, he got his just come-uppance.

    If a situation where Left can drive both promising young scientists and world-historical scientific pioneers underground or out of public life is not classed as a front in the War on Science then it will do until the real thing comes along.

  5. August 7th, 2009 at 00:00 | #5

    ..and by the same test you will reject newtons laws of physics because he believed in turning base metals into gold?

    But then again if you don’t believe that markets can and are efficient, how can you spot a flake of gold in the rock?

  6. August 10th, 2009 at 22:21 | #6

    Pr Q says August 3rd, 2009 at 22:22 #20

    On free speech grounds I disagree with Rose, but he’s right to say that “race” is not a biologically meaningful construct, particularly in a country like the US, where social divisions based on assigned race mask centuries of genetic mixing (or, as the racists would call it miscegenation). And, whatever the theoretical possibilities, he’s right that the vast majority of research on gender differences has been rubbish.

    Pr Q’s strictures against biological anthropology have a curiously fin de siècle period flavour, somewhat dated in the post-HGP era. They do not sit well with his commitment to apolitical science.

    Steven Rose, and all who sail with him, are wrong to say that ‘“race” is not a biologically meaningful construct’. Race, according to the HGP, has predictive validity, which is all we can ask from any meaningful scientific concept. Lewontin’s fallacy has long been exploded. One is almost tempted to call it “popped science”!

    Moreover race, as a biological concept, is helping to save lives. Population genetics has been used to tailor medical research for different ethnic groups for most of this decade. But, as the NYT reported

    In asserting that race is a valid concept for medical research, Dr. Risch has plunged into an arena where many fear to tread.

    Sound familiar? The Left’s war on science, again. From this we can surmise that its more important for some Left-liberals to protect their endangered politically correct ideology rather than save the lives of those they feign to care for.

    He is also way behind the scientific times in his out-dated supposition about the US’s alleged “centuries of genetic mixing”. Does the phrase “one drop rule” ring a bell? Shriver estimates that at most ~ 20% of African-Americans have some Caucasian ancestry. So in the US, “social divisions based on assigned race” do mostly reflect the reality of racial diversity.

    No doubt there is more exoagamy practised, as evinced by the conspicuous rise of the new mulatto elite. Although this strata are frequently the issue of free immigrants rather than indentured labour.

    As regards the biological basis for gender social stratfication we can all agree that the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” stuff should be best left to womens magazines.

    But that doesnt mean that neuroscientists and geneticists are not successfully working together to develop a more biological theory of behavioural diversity. Which must, in the nature of things, be grounded in Darwinian theory of human evolutionary history. Here is a typical sample of routine scientific work which assumes the hard-wired biological conservation, rather than soft-wired social construction, of much behavioral diversity.

    Unless of course you want to assume that the Y chromosome is a social construct, in which case I give up.

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