The Real War On Science

Yes, it comes from the Left and (as with racism) always has. And when they accuse the Republicans of it, it’s simply the usual projection from them. I’ve offered to debate Chris Mooney, too, but I suspect he knows he wouldn’t do well.

[Update a while later]

More thoughts from Judith Curry. And I agree with her that Mooney’s Storm World was (surprising to me, after the polemical Republican War On Science) a good book.

[Update a while later]

This seems sort of related: The global warming “consensus” falls strongly on the side of skeptics:

Taken together, these four skeptical groups numerically blow away the 36 percent of scientists who believe global warming is human caused and a serious concern.

One interesting aspect of this new survey is the unmistakably alarmist bent of the survey takers. They frequently use terms such as “denier” to describe scientists who are skeptical of an asserted global warming crisis, and they refer to skeptical scientists as “speaking against climate science” rather than “speaking against asserted climate projections.” Accordingly, alarmists will have a hard time arguing the survey is biased or somehow connected to the ‘vast right-wing climate denial machine.’

I’ve often written this, but anyone still using the “97%” number is either a demagogue, or ignorant. And when they use it, it’s a strong signal that their opinions can be safely ignored.

[Early afternoon update]

Thoughts from John Tierney himself, where he briefly discusses the unwillingness of the Left to debate him.

20 thoughts on “The Real War On Science”

  1. Yes, George W. Bush refused federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research

    As he goes on to note, it didn’t stop research. That’s the thing isn’t it? Lack of funding with taxpayer dollar is not the same as doing away with it. Progressives can’t handle this, because to them, government is the center of their religion “complete with anti-blasphemy laws“. If government does not bankroll something, then it is akin to excommunication.

    For a point of comparison, Obama actually blocked oil exploration on federal lands for some time (until the federal courts found his action broke the law). This didn’t stop oil exploration in the US. It just shifted to private lands and flourished. Same with stem-cell research. It just shifted to private funding and flourished.

    Good link Rand. Enjoyed reading it. I expect we will have the same reflexive derisions of the article over here that are in the comments there.

    1. It is also ironic that the bulk or advances in stem cell research have been from stem cells other than embryonic.

      Its a weird pseudo religious belief that people still think that the ability to grow body parts can only come from embryonic stem cells because babies grow body parts in the womb.

      1. I’m not taking sides on the abortion debate, or more to the point, I don’t want to get sidetracked by discussing all the nuances of my legal-with-limitations viewpoint.

        But, it was immediately clear that the rush to embrace ESC research had a lot more to do with establishing a moral framework diminishing fetal personhood than it did with actual scientific promise.

  2. I’ve offered to debate Chris Mooney…

    I’m curious about this, Rand. Did you formally ask Mooney if he was interested in debating you or did you just volunteer to debate him when sounded out by a third party or something else entirely?

    If you did ask Mooney directly did he explicitly decline or did he ignore you?

    1. Honestly, I don’t recall exactly; it was years ago. It wasn’t formal. Either it was a private email exchange, or a posting at my blog, to which I may have pointed him. I don’t recall the response, or if there was one. In any event, if he won’t debate Tierney now, I certainly wouldn’t have expected him to debate me then.

      1. I should note that I wasn’t prepared to do it ad hoc. If we’d set a date, I’d have had to spend some time boning up. I’ve toyed off and on with the idea of writing a book to counter his, but it would be a lot of work.

  3. The treatment of social science surveys as established science facts – and then blasting the people that say “That Emperor has no clothes” is pernicious.

    “One in five American children has gone hungry in the past year.” (According to surveys -asking- ‘Were you ever hungry in the last year?’)

    Ok, but:
    1) How many have been diagnosed with malnutrition?
    2) What percentage of children were not seen by a doctor last year?

    You can’t even have this conversation, because “Why do you hate the children!?!?” So, the countering data is rarely even assembled.

    Solid article, thanks.

  4. Please note that the Global Warming survey article is dated FEB 13, 2013. This is not new information, just actively suppressed information.

    1. We’ve talked about it here before. It was a survey of _petroleum engineers_. Nice people, but not necessarily representative of overall scientists.

      1. What survey is representative overall? None that I know. Definitely not the ones purporting third world dictator election margins.

        And, those scientists who are skeptical tend to be like Trump voters – why raise your hand just to get it chopped off?

        1. Every survey is imperfect, but some are more imperfect than others. This survey was fine, if you want to understand something about petroleum engineers. Which is all the authors of the study did.
          The author of the post linked, on the other hand, decided to claim that a study of apples teaches us all about plant life in general. Ridiculous.

  5. Regarding the “97% Consensus” – something I’ve been meaning to share for a while:

    Before the late 70’s every book and article I read about dinosaurs regarded them as cold-blooded (ectothermic) reptiles, that were stupid, slow moving, terrible parents (like sea turtles, females laid their eggs in nests, covered them and walked away, leaving their progeny to incubate, hatch, and the fittest of them to survive), and most noteably, Sauropods (those dinosaurs with elephant-like bodies, with extremely long necks and tails) inhabited lakes and rivers , the water buoying them up, because they couldn’t possibly support their immense weight on land, and they ate the soft plants at the shoreline, or scooped up molluscs from the muddy bottoms of their habitat.

    I don’t know how many paleontologists believed these “facts” without a single shred of doubt, but the literature of the time seems to point to near 100% consensus.

    Then everything got flipped on its head.

    Paleontologists like Bob Bakker, and John Ostrom started questioning the consensus. Bakker looked at predator-prey ratios in dinosaurs and found them far more similar to endothermic (warm-blooded) animals than ectothermic animals. Ostrom’s discovery, the raptor-dinosaur Deinonychus looked like a very active predator, not a slow-mover at all. Maiasaur fossils showed dinosaurs that looked after their nests, and raised their young, sauropod tracks showed that they lived on open land, and in herds…

    So what was once heresy has overturned the consensus, and with no political interference, paleontologists continue to research and debate what dinosaur metabolism, behaviour, and appearance might have been.

    Because politicians didn’t see any politcal reason to get involved, and didn’t throw federal funds at maintaining the old consensus.

    Full discosure: I was a biology major in college, palnning on getting my B.S. in biology and going on to get my M.S. in vertebrate paleontology, but burned out on staring at “little critters” under microscopes. [sigh.]

    1. I expect there is a buildup of charge, or some kind of rectification phenomenon due to magnetic flux distortion, or some such. Get it out into space, and it will only produce torque, not force.

      1. Or, perhaps metal ions are being ejected from the surface. Since more are ejected from the wide end than the narrow one, thrust is in the direction of the narrow end.

        1. Here’s an interesting thought…

          On a plane flight, being extremely bored, I pulled up one of those lecture/investigative shows on the entertainment screen, and watched a show where they tested this device at some university in Germany. They found that they got thrust when it was pointing up, but they got thrust in the same direction when pointing down, so they chalked it up to some bias in the test setup, and gave up.

          But, what if metal ions are being ejected? Then, you might expect to get a downward force both when it was right side up, and upside down.

          How when it was upside down? Like this:

          Unfortunately, I do not recall if they got upward or downward force, or if there was a difference in the thrust level.

          But, I always loved those road runner – coyote cartoons where the coyote did impossible stuff like that.

  6. Re Robson’s point on dinosaurs — ditto for archeologists on the “Clovis People”.

    Science progresses best when left to the random walk curiosity of scientists rather than herded by the directed financing of politicians.

    I have some respect for those who suggest that we MUST find out what outcomes WILL arise from various current inputs or practices — carbon dioxide dumping into the atmosphere being only one such. (Also, the disposal of CFL bulbs in landfills, the excavation of Dark Age graves that may or may not contain bodies of plague victims, the “farming” of salmon…) Those are questions of validity deserving of research. But I strongly object to those who already know the answer and fund only the research that will tend to show why government MUST address the still-to-be-determined problem. As if, “Of course the government must regulate energy. Of course the government must require retailers to collect the bulbs they sell. Of course the government must forbid new buildings to be erected on these historic and sacred sites. Of course the government must balance interests in feeding the hungry and making a profit in a new industry against the (presumably cost-free) preservation and health of wild salmon species.”

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