The War on Science

The folks at Effect Measure have a great post on the war on science and they make a very tangible point:

The attack on the science has two components. The first is the most obvious: to use what appear to be scientific arguments to cast doubt on what the scientific community deems valid arguments about climate change. But the second may be the most important: to do it in a way that casts aspersions on all kinds of scientific argument. The attackers don’t care if they are accused of political or economic bias in making their own scientific arguments because one of their objectives is to establish a covert narrative that says science is always biased and tainted by political corruption. The aim is to destroy the moral authority of science, not its factual basis. They then erect a new standard based on economic promise and the virtues of “progress” and modernity.

I’ve said before that scientists tend to be liberals. It’s just a fact, just like big business guys tend to be conservatives. I don’t think either side needs to apologize for this. But the Right Wing hates this because science does hold a special place in our debates. You can’t argue about issues like climate change, embryonic stem cell research or natural selection without involving science and the fact that all the scientists are on the Left makes it seem, to some, that “science” is just a political tactic to win debates. The above quoted paragraph makes quite clear how the Right Wing has chosen to fight this: just claim that all science is biased!

I interviewed a particle physicist lately (which I will soon post over at Slacker Astronomy) and he said, and I quote, “I don’t believe anything.”. He has trained himself as a scientist to not believe things — he either knows or he doesn’t know and “knowing” involves a file cabinet full of data and research. He has purged himself of belief because it is a liability as a scientist.

So, I’m sorry, you sad little Righties. Science is not a tactic and when your beliefs are in opposition with science your beliefs needs to be modified.

6 thoughts on “The War on Science

  1. “Righties” are not anti-science any more than “lefties” are anti-baby.

    Most righties are not in opposition with science and most lefties don’t want to kill babies.

    Some righties are religious fundamentalist retards and some lefties are outright communists.

    Some righties support stem cell research and believe in catastrophic climate change.

    Some lefties think the war in Iraq is worthwhile winnable, and in fact being won. Some lefties think Barack Obama is a disaster.

    You want to try and win an argument by beating up the far right wingnuts because I guess they justify your outrage when really the debate needs to be between reasonable people who can at least understand and weigh all sides of an argument even though they don’t agree. That’s where agreement is reached and things move forward.

    You don’t seem much interested in trying to occupy that space.

  2. Well…the Right Wing that we talk about in regards to these specific issues is alive and well and waging war against science. Every day, it seems, we read about some new school district trying to put non-science into schools as science. So I think it is perfectly valid to discuss and dismantle their tactics.

    In terms of this “unoccupied space”, yes, I agree that we could, you and I, agree on a lot of things and we could create a platform, if you will, on the things on which we agree. On each issue we agreed upon, there would be people who disagreed. In some cases it would be a benign disagreement, like what the correct tax rate is but in some cases it would be harder, like, for example, teaching creationism as science.

    I am interested in the platform of things on which we agree. It doesn’t eliminate the need to emphatically expose people to new ideas.

  3. Again, I’ve been busy and haven’t checked in in a while.

    Here is where I believe our disconnect is…

    I consider myself to be “right wing” but I do not thing creationism should be taught as science. In fact, I don’t even believe that the majority of right wingers believe that. Now the far right wing “wingnuts” as I like to call them probably do. I’ve said this before but you turn off the people you aretrying to persuade by lumping everyone right of center in with your perception of what the right wing is or what most conservatives are.

    You and I agree that creationsism should not be taught as science but I’m still a conservative.

  4. Sorry to jump in on such an old post but just wondering about your take on this scandal…

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017393/climategate-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-anthropogenic-global-warming/

    Because it looks to me like these guys (and they are some of the most prominent scientists in the AGM “community) are in fact using “science as a tactic.” At least it appears that way to me.

    By my reading it certainly looks to me like they are trying to massage data to get the desired outcome, which is not science.

    They also seem to be bummed out when the warming they predicted does not seem to be occuring. Shouldn’t they be happy that the catastrophic warming they predict is not happening?

    And finally, I found it interesting that one guy was complaining that the lack of warming and the questioning of their data might lead to Siemens not funding his research. I thought only the detractors, funded by oil companies, had a financial motive. Looks to me that there is at least some evidence that their funding and their livelihood depends on global warming and so they are very motivated to prove that it’s happening and that man is causing it. To me, this seems like they have a predetermined outcome and they are desperately attempting to make the “science” support that outcome.

  5. Science actually has a trump card because if you jigger the data, for any reason, but especially to make a political point, it’s not science anymore. I’m not surprised that some opportunists try to game the system, *any* system, to make more money or get more attention.

    But climate science is bigger than these guys. There are butt loads of papers and research published every day. “Science” is the bigger picture of making fact-based theories based on the aggregation of all of this research.

    So, yes, there are bad scientists in the world, some of them politically motivated, but they don’t last because their science isn’t real. That’s why we talk about consensus. If 90 independent methods come up with the same conclusion, it’s worth more than just 1 coming up with it.

    I seriously hope we discover that human can’t effect the climate in anything less than million year timescales. That would be great. I don’t think that is what the science is telling us.

Leave a Reply