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Thread: "High Quality Research Act"

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    There are anti-science people all over the political spectrum, and if a similar case came up from a different portion of the political spectrum, I'd make the same complaint: ideological controlof science is a hallmark of tyranny.
    Recently a PM discussion unrelated to this thread led me to say this:

    I worry that what I perceive to be the key contribution of cultural evolution is in danger in today's world. I hold the fruits of the Enlightenment, free inquiry and a healthy respect for the truth (as difficult as that is to define), the scientific method in its broadest social sense, to be humanity's crown jewels.
    I think the fight is on, and most definitely do not refer to standard domestic political partisanship as per some of this discussion. I mean that if today's champions of reason do not realize that there is a task at hand, one common to all, then we may be in for a rough few decades.

    That task is to help everyone understand that the hallmark of critical thinking among honest brokers is disagreement in good faith, and not a single narrative. That discussion only bears fruit when performed in full respect of all of the rules of proper debate and requirement for evidence. That it is not absolute truth that will save us, but the most ardent pursuit of our best understanding of a conflicting and contradictory world. That perhaps science is like a court of justice, which must resort to best judgment with incomplete facts, and use probabilities, to be fair.

    And in marketing terms, it is time to strut our stuff. To focus attention on all the benefits of open debate, the science and political freedom that depends on it, and place the two together as one: open inquiry, regardless of consequence and station, and liberty.

    Humanity best advances with a short, clear path forward based on best guesses. It is really best to muddle our way through in little bursts of clarity. Any narrative or dogma that pretends to eliminate chaos, the unexpected, or to provide permanent, long-term answers to all our problems is at best a well-intentioned recipe for disaster, or more likely the prelude to a grab for power on the surging tide of new truths that are sadly neither new, nor true.

    Yet the world from time to time demands answers when the old rules seem inadequate, the future unclear. I am of the opinion that we are in dangerous times. So, I engage people when they are open, and really try to add a little something that might strengthen their faith in reason.

    And that is the response in action any of us can have to the news in the OP. Those here in a position to do more, can, and I hope, will.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    Name some legislation initiated by the left that either interferes with or goes against the scientific evidence.
    I can't give you a specific piece of legislation, but there must be some anti-GMO legislation out there pushed by the left.
    I'll give you that, except it's still not equivalent. You don't see the mainstream party leadership embracing the cause and courting voters by pushing anti-GMO legislation. You don't see anything being pushed in food or commerce committees, do you?

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    I'll give you that, except it's still not equivalent. You don't see the mainstream party leadership embracing the cause and courting voters by pushing anti-GMO legislation. You don't see anything being pushed in food or commerce committees, do you?
    No, it doesn't seem so in the US at least. I'm not so sure about in Europe, though.
    As above, so below

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    Name some legislation initiated by the left that either interferes with or goes against the scientific evidence.
    What about roadblocks put up against nuclear power? How do we analyze those? Who gets the "credit"?

  5. #35
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    Or someone who states that the overpopulation of Guam may cause it to tip over like a sailboat.
    Solfe

  6. #36
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    I don't know about legislation but this article has some statistics about republican vs democratic views on some specific items. If the people feel that way, I would assume the party would generally match those views.
    Take whatever partisan view you want (yes, one was stated at the end), but I agree with the final statement.
    I do also agree with Berezow that scientific “ignorance has reached epidemic proportions inside the Beltway.

  7. #37
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    Was waxing a bit bombastic last night on my earlier post. Sorry, guys. But let's skip the donkey vs elephant jokes, it ain't worth a minute's notice. Both Rep and Dem critical thinkers need to unite on the core issue here; the rest is detail and water under the bridge.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Or someone who states that the overpopulation of Guam may cause it to tip over like a sailboat.
    He claimed it was a joke, a metaphor. It's plausible as was his ignorance, I'd need to know more about the man to judge. But I've never claimed the GOP had a monopoly on stupid.

    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    I don't know about legislation but this article has some statistics about republican vs democratic views on some specific items. If the people feel that way, I would assume the party would generally match those views.
    Take whatever partisan view you want (yes, one was stated at the end), but I agree with the final statement.
    There is a lot of complexity to this issue.

    First, the Pew poll was of the general population, and party affiliation, not elected officials or legislation.

    Second, you have to sort out bad or unsound science from corporate regulation, pro or con. Dr Ben Goldacre, a respected scientist among the Bad Science community, has thoroughly documented a serious issue with corporate influence on scientific research in the medical field. To read an opinion piece in a Libertarian magazine that equates pro-regulation with bad science, I don't find the piece to have a neutral point of view.

    OTOH, one has to be careful not to let confirmation bias affect one's perception of this issue.

    From Scienceblogs, commenting on the 2009 Pew Survey
    4. The greatest potential threat to the science-society relationship is not politicization or religion, but rather the increasing privatization of science, especially at the university level.The Pew survey of the public does not ask specific questions about perceived conflicts of interest, concerns over privatization, and/or the “hyping” of market applications, but as we note at Nature Biotechnology, scholars point to these trends as having the greatest potential to generate public distrust of science, perceptions that are likely to span ideological and demographic segments.
    While the increasing privatization and marketing orientation of science may be a still latent challenge to public trust, it is a trend that scientists are already deeply concerned about, especially those scientists working in private industry. In the Pew survey, close to half of all American scientists and 68% of those working in private industry agreed that the possibility of making a lot of money “was leading many scientists in their field to pursue marketable projects that do little to advance science.”
    That's where I see the core of the problem.

    And as the core of the problem, it seems to me the profit motive of the Merchants of Doubt tend toward promoting GOP legislators that while are not terribly more sympathetic than the Democratic legislators, have traditionally held more favorable attitudes toward the corporations that promote them.

    In short, corporations have a profit motive to promote bad science and it is reflected in the powerful influence these corporations have in our government.

  9. #39
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    The current anti-science trends are most visible in GOP politics. It's rather sad, but conservative politics have changed entirely within my lifetime. Attitudes of conservatives were far different back in the 1950's. Science was seen as the hope for the future, as a means to improve everyone's life and build a strong economy. Atomic energy had strong support. (Read the 1956 Republican Platform. It appears strikingly different from contemporary conservatism in deeds.)

    The liberals do not get a pass. While I wouldn't call them anti-science, they certainly seem unable to evaluate some scientific issues objectively. Major examples are nuclear power (which is treated like the devil incarnate) and genetically modified foods which evoke a similar reaction.

    In reality, the nuclear safety record is far better than other energy sources. Nuclear wastes can be used as fuel. Nuclear power can be made even safer.

    In reality, we have been genetically modifying food and animals since the birth of agriculture, the difference now is that we have a more effective way to do it.

    Would political propaganda, that ignores science or even contradicts science, be possible if most Americans were well informed about science?

    Even with scientific training, people can be swayed by propaganda, especially when it is tied to already held political beliefs. Take for example the conservative outrage at Al Gore for publishing "An Inconvenient Truth". An argument for public concern over climate, based on science, can be tainted (e.g., for those on the right) simply by suggesting that climate science is some conspiracy created by the left.

    I guess the bottom line is that the American people (and others as well), being uninformed about science, are easily manipulated by politically motivated propaganda.

    Perhaps the best and most respected of our scientist should to step forward, force their way into the media limelight and denounce the political abuse of science.

  10. #40
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    I support fundamental fairness acts, but with science radio required every week.

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