Category Archives: Technology and Society

The Advancement Of Science

…is held back by political correctness:

Mr. Cofnas begins the paper with the story of Socrates, who was executed for “corrupting the youth” of Greece. Forebodingly, he adds, “[T]he philosophy of his prosecutors — that morality-threatening scientific investigation should be prohibited — flourishes even today.”

To support his case, Mr. Cofnas focuses on the taboo subject of group differences in intelligence, which he says is suppressed by those who believe that even discussing the topic is “morally wrong or morally dangerous.”

Those who embrace such a viewpoint obviously do so with the honorable intention of preventing discrimination. However, the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions. Such misguided efforts to maintain perfect equality can hamper the advancement of knowledge. Mr. Cofnas states:

“[W]hen hypotheses are regarded as supporting certain moral values or desirable political goals, scientists often refuse to abandon them in the light of empirical evidence.”

Is he right? Absolutely, yes.

Not only do intellectuals refuse to abandon politically correct beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, but simply questioning them can ruin a person’s career. Lawrence Summers’ tenure as president of Harvard was cut short because he suggested that there are intellectual differences between men and women. As a result of such punitive pushback, some researchers are afraid to investigate differences between male and female brains, which certainly exist. Without a doubt, this reticence is holding back the field of neuroscience.

A similar chilling effect can be seen in climatology. The only politically correct belief regarding the climate is that humans are 100% responsible for everything bad that happens and that the Four Horsemen are already marching toward Earth. Questioning that apocalyptic and unscientific belief has resulted in multiple researchers being labeled “climate deniers.” Climatology would greatly benefit from the more skeptical approach of so-called “lukewarmers,” but far too many are ostracized and demonized.

This is why I always laugh when I hear about “the Republican war on science.”

I’d add that, as I’ve long said, the results of studying statistical differences among groups should have zero effect on public policy. If you think it should, you are a collectivist, not an individualist. Or to put it another way, you are a leftist.

This is related: The analysis of Integrated Assessment Models create a trillion-dollar error. I’m glad that Nic Lewis does analyses like this (not sure how he’s funded), even if it has to be published at Judith Curry’s blog, instead of the journals.

Related: Winter is coming.

Again, this is a scientifically legitimate, but completely politically incorrect view.

“Wise Guidelines” For Space Policy

At first glance, these suggestions from my long-time friend Linda Billings seem sort of anodyne, but she gives away the game at the end:

Deep in my brain and in my heart I think and feel that colonizing other planets and exploiting extraterrestrial resources would be immoral at this stage of human development. I’m not at all sure that Eilene Galloway would agree with me. I wish I could talk with her about it.

I’m pretty sure that Eilene would disagree. I know for certain that I do.

Light Blogging, And Reusability

Things have been kind of quiet on the blog because a) I’m still busy renovating the house in Florida and more importantly, b) my bandwidth is limited here, as there’s no Internet service to the house, and I have to rely on tethering to my phone.

I didn’t post about it at the time, but my Twitter followers know that I drove up to the Cape on Saturday afternoon, with a press pass to the SpaceX launch early Sunday morning. It was the first Falcon launch I’ve seen on the east coast (I did see one pass through the clouds at the January Vandenberg launch).

It was impressive. I don’t know what the quantity distance is for that vehicle, but we were on a causeway in the middle of the Indian River at CCAFS, and I think the pad was only a couple miles away, judging from the time that I saw the ignition and started to hear (and feel) the roar. It was sufficiently bright that it temporarily shut down the center of my retinas, but I could see it all the way downrange past staging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rocket naked eye that far downrange. It was very impressive, but I hope it becomes routine, including the landing, if it hasn’t already. The next step is to start reflying those stages that they continue to collect (six now). I told John Taylor that SpaceX now has a bigger fleet of reusable rockets than NASA ever had.

Speaking of which, Stephanie Osborn has a guest post from a fellow former NASA colleague with thoughts on the failure of reusability of the Shuttle.

I think that whether single pour or the selected segmented design, solid rockets on a reusable crewed vehicle were a mistake. And the fact that Jim Fletcher was head of NASA (and “Barfing Jake” Garn) is also part of the explanation for building them in Utah, Florida’s environmental regulations notwithstanding.

But as I’ve noted in the past, it’s a huge fallacy of hasty generalization to attempt to draw lessons about reusability of spacecraft from that program.

I’m Now A “Neoskeptic”

As the first commenter notes here, this is a sign of recognition that the warm mongers are recognizing that the unscientific “the science is settled” argument has failed, and they’re starting to slowly capitulate, though they continue to do so irrationally. As Judith notes, they continue to rely on the flawed precautionary principle, when the uncertainty remains far too high.

Chromebooks

…are about to get awesome.

This seems like what I probably need. My Gateway laptop is impossible to use on a plane unless I’m in first class (which I rarely am), and it’s getting a little long in the tooth, with some keys starting to fail. It also tends to hang after a while in Fedora 23. So if I can replace it with something with a touchscreen and separate keyboard, compatible with my Android phone, that’s probably the way to go now.

Culture Of Corruption

An email that requests that the State Department “take care” of a Clinton Foundation donor. And surprise, surprise! Hillary didn’t turn over all of the emails discussing interactions between State and foundation donors.

More from Mark Tapscott. Can there be any doubt, at this point, why she set up the personal server?

[Update a few minutes later]

Hillary’s pay-for-play scheme at the State Department. No one who paid any attention in the 90s would be surprised by any of this, when they peddled the White House for donations. Just ask Johnny Chung.