Showing posts with label Anthroslug. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthroslug. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Republican "Agenda" against Science.

Second round with Anthroslug.

My points were:

1. There is a history of what might be called “Democrat anti-science” in the example of William Proxmire.

2. Although we may disagree with Proxmire, as an elected representative, he had a public duty to represent the public vis a vis what he considered to be fraud, corruption and waste.

3. The link you provided to support your claim that Inhofe was terrorizing scientists only allowed the inference that Inhofe was properly calling for investigation and prosecution of FOIA violations and/or fraud.

4. There is nothing about such a call – specifically the call that FOIA violations should be investigated and prosecuted - that should offend a reasonable scientist other than the natural tribal tendency to “circle the wagons.”

5. The term “scientist” used in the study reflected people in employment settings that in general were dependent on government money for their livelihood.

6. The “liberalism” of “scientists” was better explained by the dynamics of human psychology and the entrenchment of liberalism in academia than by some “anti-science” attitude among Republicans.

My summary of Anthroslug's response was:

1. You assert that I have accused you of being an ideologue “circling the wagon against fair criticism.”

2. I disagree with your thesis that the reason there are more Democrat scientists than Republican scientists is due to the ideological opposition of Republicans to science in the areas of climate, geology, biology and archeology.

3. In some fashion, you believe that I have called or implied that you are an “ideological liberal,” which you find humorous because some other person thinks that you are a conservative.

4. You think that I am doing to you what you think I am accusing you of doing, i.e., pulling one sentence out of context from your article, misreading that sentence and disregarding everything else as the product of ideological bias.

5. You think that I am acting like creationists and homeopathists, who do the same thing.

6. You think that my argument arises from the satisfaction I take in discounting someone who I write off on ideological grounds.

7. You claim that Republicans have been more successful in pushing “an agenda” which is “hostile to a good deal of science.”

8. You think that I have conflated Academia with science.

9. You assert that the preponderance of Democrats in science doesn’t prove “sinister indoctrination” than the preponderance of Republicans in business proves indoctrination.

10. You claim that the allegations against CRU may not show that there was criminal wrongdoing, but you acknowledge that there was a finding that the scientists were not as “forthcoming or open as they should ethically have been,” which bothers you because scientists should be held to high standards.

11. You assert that I “failed to mention” that Inhofe’s grandstanding call for prosecution was “one more damn thing” in Inhofe’s attempt to “discredit science” and “bully scientists” based not on the validity of data or arguments but on pure politics.

12. You ignored Proxmire.

My response to those points:

1. I didn’t accuse you of being an ideologue. I didn’t say that “you” were “circling the wagons” against “fair criticism.”

If you go back to my comment, you will see that I spent a paragraph pointing out that your source didn’t support the contention that Inhofe was engaged in some “broad vendetta” against science. In other words, I clicked through your post and read your supporting material and I went further and read the material that your supporting material was relying on. What I found was a Senate Report where I learned that the McCarthyite tactics included a statement that the authors of the report were investigating to determine if there were any FOIA violations.

Color me unconvinced by the data supported your contention that “it is telling that the Republican Party went from an organization that once respected science and scientists to one where prominent members in elected office can publicly call for the use of criminal prosecution in an attempt to bully scientists into silence.” I don’t see that in your supporting data. What I saw was a public official doing his job of, inter alia, overseeing the enforcement of the law.

Since I can’t fathom why anyone would be opposed to seeing the law enforced, I asked why you wouldn’t want FOIA law enforced and wrote “Why would you think otherwise, except for a "circle the wagons" mindset?”

I would think that one thing a scientist should be in favor of is the dissemination of scientific knowledge. One of the most inexplicable things I have seen in the CRU controversy was the failure of CRU to provide its back-up data for years. Fortunately, some scientific publications finally enforced the basic rule of sharing data. But why any scientist would think that withholding data from other scientists may be excused is beyond me. (Parenthetically, the Guardian article is misleading; a sin of the CRU was not complying with requests for data from other scientists, which turned into FOIA requests from other scientists, not from “ideologues” trying to “scare” scientists. So, it would seem that CRU was doing what you have accused me of doing.)

Two points:

A. Perhaps it is the case that Inhofe is engaged in a vendetta against science, but your source doesn’t make the case.

B. I didn’t say what you accused me of saying. My point was more precise, and was targeted on what you wrote.

2. I do disagree with your thesis. I explained why I did. What I haven’t seen is any explanation that tells me why I’m wrong.

Yes, I understand that you think that there is an “agenda,” but seriously outside of certain limited areas do you really think that in 99.999% of “science,” there is such an ideological separation. Do you really think that in the science that most scientists are doing – outside of life issues or race issues or “global warming” – that politics is implicated in the slightest?

If you do, I’d like to see the data that supports your view, because as we both ought to know, most science is science within an established paradigm.

On the other hand, wars are fought over money, and we know that rewards, such as money, are positive reinforcement for behavior.

Let’s take your examples. You cite archeology, but liberal democrats have stymied research in that area, See the Kennewick Man controversy. Likewise, investigation into social behavior, intelligence, genetics, etc. on the basis of racial, gender or ethnic differences is severely punished by liberals. Larry Summers wasn’t fired by conservatives after raising the issue of gender and the hard sciences for example. Likewise, the cost of true political correctness may include the recent recession since no one was particularly encouraged to investigate the social behaviors of minorities in repaying mortgages.

Those things count as “science,” don’t they? In light of those examples, why can’t we say that scientists are frightened by the anti-science ideology of Democrats? The answer doesn’t seem to lie in the fact of “censorship” but on whether there is a prior acceptance by scientists of the ideology in question. So, something precedes ideology. What is it?

3. All I know about your “ideology” is what I read here. I think that you have a tribal loyalty to scientists, which is why you tell stories about how people have some kind of prejudice to archeologists, which is weird because everyone loves archeologists.

4. When you write something, often times your argument stands or falls on the particular, discrete claims that you make. I selected the one that I did because you made a blanket claim about Republicans having a vendetta against science. I checked your source and explained why I found it wanting. Your response, ironically, was to accuse me of ideological blindness, notwithstanding the fact that I did not accuse you of ideological blindness.

5. Speaking of which, accusing me of being “like” a creationist smacks of “well poisoning.” The syllogism might go – Creationist arguments are stupid, this argument is like a Creationist argument, therefore this argument is stupid. Well, if you accept the premises, that might work.

6. I wouldn’t post a comment if I was writing something off.

7. In light of my observations in 2, I’m not seeing it.

8. I didn’t conflate academia and “science.” What I said was that “scientists” qualify as “scientists” by passing through academia, which we see is preponderantly liberal and democrat. I, therefore, argued that peer pressure is a better explanation than an “anti-science agenda.”

9. I never spoke about “sinister indoctrination.” However, I do believe that indoctrination necessarily takes place whenever anyone joins a profession, in that they are not just learning facts, but attitudes and values. Science is no different, as has been shown by Thomas Kuhn and other historians of science. If values are being indoctrinated, then it isn’t surprising that a political ideology – particularly one that says that spending public money for things that would not otherwise get private funding - can get smuggled for the ride.

And, yes, I do think that indoctrination into “Republican values” happens in “business.” Such values might include a desire for lower taxes, self-reliance, personal initiative, and “business” would be those businesses who do not have a “rent seeking” relationship with the government. Likewise, I think that the military is preponderantly Republican because of the historic support of Republicans for spending public money on national defense.

Same idea, different results.

10. The standard for criminal liability is high. I don’t know that American law or FOIA applied to the CRU. CRU’s documented conduct in withholding data, claiming that primary data was destroyed, providing only adjusted data, etc. tears at the heart of proper science. If CRU was guilty of criminal violations, they should have been prosecuted, for, among other reasons, the purpose of restoring public confidence in science. If they were not guilty, handwaiving about “stolen” e-mails misses the point. We should not have needed a leak of data to find this out.

11. I “didn’t mention” Inhofe’s history of “bullying science” because I don’t know of any such thing. I still don’t. I know that Inhofe is skeptical of AGW claims and the idea that there is a consensus, but at least he has the merit of actually believing that AGW is nonsense on the merits and is willing to deal with arguments about the science. The liberals who arranged to have Larry Summers fired and to pour concrete on the Kennewick Man site were not so honest. Their concern wasn’t that the science was nonsense and that we would be formulating expensive public policy on bad science, they were afraid that the science might upset their ideology and they have been successful in tarring those who might want to pursue such science as racist or sexist.

Leftwing regulation of science exists and is apparently socially acceptable, unlike rightwing regulation of science, which hits all the news shows when it happens. You might be interested in this article.

Last point – you’ve raised the “creation question” in Presidential debates. I’m not sure what your point is. The fact that someone – a journalist – asks a question doesn’t prove that the person who was asked the question has an anti-science agenda. In fact, 7 of the 10 candidates said they did believe in evolution.

What would the Democrat field have said? We don’t know because the point of that question is to embarrass Republican candidates who have to vouch for either their scientific bona fides or their tribal allegiance to their particular church. Mike Huckabee made a fair point about how silly that question was in the context of a presidential “debate.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Those Anti-Science Republicans.

Anthroslug writes:

Hell, it is telling that the Republican Party went from an organization that once respected science and scientists to one where prominent members in elected office can publicly call for the use of criminal prosecution in an attempt to bully scientists into silence.

My Response:

Remember Democrat William Proxmire?

Proxmire was infamous among scientists - and readers of Analog magazine - in the '70s for his "Golden Fleece Award," which was often an exercise in exposing his own ignorance of the state of scientific issues.

But to be fair, Proxmire was a government representative and if money was being spent foolishly, he had a duty to call out such expenditures as foolish.

On the other hand, your link to Inhofe is really unsupportable. The link doesn't demonstrate that Inhofe was engaging in some broad vendetta against science. In fact, Inhofe showed more restraint that Proxmire because he is addressing a particular issue in the contest of particular suspected legal violations. The CRU and other climate researchers appear to have had a policy of violating the Freedom of Information Act. They aren't excused from complying with the FOIA - which as a scientist you should fully support. If they violated the FOIA - or committed fraud while using public money - then they should be prosecuted.

Why would you think otherwise, except for a "circle the wagons" mindset?

On which point,one thing that these scientists are is heavily indoctrinated. Look at the poll data and you can see that the highest number of Dems are in Academia, the lowest in Industry, and that a sizeable percentage declare themselves independent. That means that scientists are formed by people who are Democrat and largely liberal and supported by public money. It is also consistent with a truism of political science that most communities are effectively "one party." Even in the Old South, One-party Democrat states had Republican enclaves that were effectively all Republican. It's a truism of human nature that we like to be popular and part of the in-crowd and that only a minority is willing to accept the social ostracism of belonging to a minority.
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