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February 19, 2004

CONSERVATIVE LYSENKOISM....THE DEFINITIVE REPORT....Chris Mooney emailed me yesterday to draw my attention to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists about how deeply the ideological tentacles of the Bush administration have extended into the process of scientific research in America. I was planning to write about this myself but I wanted to look at the actual report first. Unfortunately, the UCS website was down when I tried to read it. Today it's back up.

Regular readers will know that I've blogged about individual aspects of this in the past, and in a lot of ways it represents one of the most chilling aspects of the Bush administration: they just don't care about facts. They want to do what they want to do regardless of whether it will work or whether it makes sense, and this extends to economic policymaking, war planning, and now even scientific studies. "Conservative Lysenkoism" is the term I've coined for it.

The UCS report describes several specific examples of the Bush administration deliberately ignoring or distorting scientific results for purely ideological purposes:

  • A flat refusal to believe the (by now) almost unanimous scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to global warming. In one case, the EPA had to scrap an entire section on climate change because the White Hous simply wouldn't accept any form of wording that was even remotely true to the scientific evidence.

  • The White House suppressed data on mercury emissions not because the science was wrong, but because it interfered with their plans to reduce regulation of coal-fired power plants. They also suppressed an EPA report on a bipartisan Senate alternative to their "Clear Skies" proposal because it concluded that the Senate version would do a better job of cutting pollution.

  • The Bush administration has interfered with CDC research on teen pregnancy that doesn't support its position on abstinence-only sex education programs. It has replaced condom information on government websites with questionable data emphasizing condom failure rates. And it has tried to push a link between abortion and breast cancer that is supported by no reputable scientific data.

  • A USDA researcher was prohibited from publishing his findings on health hazards posed by airborne bacteria resulting from farm waste. In addition, "a directive issued in February 2002 instructed USDA staff scientists to seek prior approval before publishing any research or speaking publicly on 'sensitive issues'...."

  • The administration ignored scientific analysis of Iraq's aluminum tubes that suggested they had nothing to do with uranium enrichment. We know all about that, don't we?

  • A team of scientists who drew peer-reviewed conclusions about the management of the Missouri River that was at odds with what the Bush administration wanted to hear was swiftly replaced with a "SWAT team" that could be trusted to say what they did want to hear.

  • A new Bush administration rule on peer-review would essentially require that all government research be vetted by industry reviewers before it was published. Tobacco research, for example, could not be reviewed by anyone else who received government funding, but only by industry funded "researchers."

The report also talks about the litmus tests that are widely in place for appointment to scientific panels. Rather than picking the best scientists, the White House instead chooses people who are most likely to agree with their own ideological preferences. As the report puts it, "the current administration has repeatedly allowed political considerations to trump scientific qualifications in the appointment process."

The UCS report, which is endorsed by 20 Nobel prize winners, makes clear that it has no problem with arguments over policy. After all, there are usually plenty of facts and arguments on both sides of any policy question. It's perfectly valid, for example, to argue for a wide variety of policy responses to global warming, including doing nothing.

But putting your head in the sand and refusing to accept the actual research itself is another thing entirely. It's hard to think of anything more corrosive to the scientific process, and the extent to which the Bush administration does this is unprecedented. Nixon didn't do it, Reagan didn't do it, and Bush Sr. and Clinton didn't do it. Only the current administration has done this on a regular and sustained basis.

As John Quiggin pointed out last year, there is now virtually no academic discipline acceptable to orthodox Republicans. They don't want to hear about facts and they don't want to hear about research. Rather, they seem to think that somehow the world will conform to their views regardless of what the reality actually is, and anyone who says that the reality is different is simply a political enemy to be ignored or smeared as circumstances require. It's scary.

The full UCS report is here.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 19, 2004 12:29 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I find it hard to believe that no previous administration acted in this manner (not that it makes it right).

Posted by: Ugh at February 19, 2004 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone expected anything less from people who said that the jury was still out on evolution during the campaign, who had crowds that cheered on the phrase "Fuzzy Math", who shortly after they took office blocked upgrades in arsenic filtering in drinking water, who picked a magic number of stem cell lines out of the air without any knowledge about where that number came from, and who were put in office almost entirely thanks to people who stand to benefit the most from ignoring what science has to say about the environment, there's something wrong with you.

Any sane person saw this coming months, years ago. Heck, we can even put a good portion of the blame for the Mad Cow scare on this kind of philosophy.

I keep hearing from Republicans how they're the party of progress, that by being pro-big business, they're the ones who can help technology advance fastest into the future. We should cut regulations on things like the FDA so that drugs get moved through faster and things of that sort. But when they're sayign we should cut regulations to help science on one hand, and then ignoring any conclusions they don't like on the other hand, where's the credibility?

http://balta.blogspot.com

Posted by: Balta at February 19, 2004 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! Thanks, Kevin.

Unfortunately, as in most elections, issues pertaining to the health of the environment will probably not be in the forefront of this year's debate. I guess it's just not sexy enough.

My Republican brother-in-law still believes that global warming is a figment of the imagination of research scientists that cannot ween themselves off of the research grant teat....

Posted by: TheGlaweman at February 19, 2004 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Those who don't believe in evolution should not be allowed anywhere near the apparatus of government. Period. Well, except maybe Afghanistan.

Posted by: Elrod at February 19, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK
I find it hard to believe that no previous administration acted in this manner (not that it makes it right).

Which is probably why this administration mostly gets away with it; lots of people just assume that that's what's going on anyway, and don't believe that anyone in government really cares about the truth.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 19, 2004 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Scientific matters are really no different from other areas for Bush. People argue about whether Bush lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction in justifying the invasion of Iraq. "Lying" is not the correct term. The real issue is that Bush couldn't care less what was true and what was not. If what he was saying was true, fine. If not, who cares? It's not that he intentionally lies, but that he has a reckless disregard for the truth. Blogger Zizka (John Emerson) has coined a term for this phenomenon: "truthslaughter". Truthslaughter is to lying as manslaughter is to murder.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at February 19, 2004 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I feel so much safer with people at the helm who will make bold decisions based on what they want to believe, rather than being distracted by inconvienent facts. Don't you?

If use the scientific method to determine what's true and what's not, then the terrorists have won.

Posted by: uh_clem at February 19, 2004 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Here's one thing that no previous administration has done before the Bush Administration:

Pay the Moonie purity cult's wacky missionaries to teach in public schools under Abstinence-Only.

Pass it on.

Posted by: John G at February 19, 2004 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Par for the course. For the Bushites, ideology trumps truth every time.

Posted by: "Fair and Balanced" Dave at February 19, 2004 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you have to include the stem cell research debacle in that list. It's the hottest thing going in medical research, and we basically shipped it overseas to help Bush with a constituency, and only because of an irrational perception within that constituency (that the embryos being used in stem cell research were created for that research).

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee at February 19, 2004 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ben, I did slap it in my comment earlier, if that makes you feel better.

http://balta.blogspot.com

Posted by: Balta at February 19, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Most American voters do not follow scientific research closely. However, this travesty should not disappear into media oblivion. I can think of two fellas named John who should be front and center drumming up this issue and stating clearly how they plan to undo it in their first 100 days. Not only is it an important reason to replace the current ideologues in the Executive branch, but there is widely underestimated political hay to be made of it.

Posted by: froz gobo at February 19, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The thoughts of the Glorious Leader are without blemish or flaw.

In other words -- we don' need no steenkin' science!!!

Posted by: Charles K at February 19, 2004 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

uh clem, yesterday's SUV thread had a link to an article about the differences between SUVs and cars. The SUV drivers feel safe but aren't, whereas small car drivers feel unsafe but are actually better off.

If it feels good, do it. It's the conservative way.

Posted by: Matt at February 19, 2004 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

I can't deny facts, but I do question the timing of this report. Why is it released during a heated presedential campaign? Shouldn't scientists be objective? Anyway, every time I hear about scientists becoming involved in politics I think about the Rosenbergs. Scientists keep your nose in your research laboratories and out of politics. Do not degrade your trade or Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind will come true.

Posted by: Ricky Vandal at February 19, 2004 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, if they insist on governing like this, perhaps Republicans should be treated like the Taliban...

Posted by: Thumper at February 19, 2004 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

Your demand that the Bush administration apply the scientific method to obtain results displays a woeful ignorance of how faith-based scientific research works.

First God's favorite president tells you what outcomes he wants, then you give him those outcomes and call them science.

Faith-based intelligence works the same way.

Posted by: Austin Mayor at February 19, 2004 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

What about the brain drain this causes in the US science community? I've read that stem-cell researchers have all gone to Europe.

It's ironic that Bush has us inching ever closer the same religious fanatisim that powers Osama. Bush most not get another 4 years...and now I finally believe he won't.

Posted by: drip drip at February 19, 2004 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

froz gobo -

Don't count on at least one of those Johns to put science at the forefront. He built his fortune on ignoring scientific evidence.

Posted by: Ugh at February 19, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why won't you give up on your tinfoil hat conspiracies? Let's hear some issues!

Oh, oops, I meant to post this in some other thread. Now I look like a total friggin' retard, don't I?

Posted by: Al - I mean, Matt Young - I mean, Freeptard at February 19, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

Other than wiping out the school system, hampering research has got to be the policy most destructive to our nation's future.

Posted by: Boronx at February 19, 2004 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yet another reason to regard the Bush Administration as the worst in modern times. They don't care if they get anything right. They are in government only to enrich themselves and their cronies. That's ALL they are about.

Posted by: grytpype pronounced grit-pipe at February 19, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Ricky V:

I can't deny facts, so ad hominem.

Posted by: Tripp at February 19, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't scientists be objective?

Yes. The objective truth is that the Bush administration has a reckless disregard for science. Being "objective" does not mean one pays lipservice to falsehood.

Anyway, every time I hear about scientists becoming involved in politics I think about the Rosenbergs.

Weren't the Rosenbergs a pair of working-class children of immigrants from Manhattan's lower-east side? How do you associate scientists with the Rosenbergs?

The problem with scientists is that they care more about their work than with politics. While this is the nature of science and the nature of being a specialist, the problem is that this allows them to be used and abused by those who would exploit their work for political purposes. They're learning that they need to become more politically astute and politically involved to make sure that their research isn't, shall we say, "drowned in the bathtub."

Posted by: Constantine at February 19, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

I can't deny facts, but I do question the timing of this report. Why is it released during a heated presedential campaign?

The campaign supposedly hasn't started yet. And when is it more appropriate to inform the people that their incumbent government ignores facts?

Posted by: NTodd at February 19, 2004 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

RU, why do you think the Adminstration should be sheltered from criticism -- even very well founded criticism -- because it is an election year? I know why the Administration thinks that, but what's your excuse?

Posted by: grytpype pronounced grit-pipe at February 19, 2004 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

I can't deny facts, but I do question the timing of this report. Why is it released during a heated presedential campaign?

Doesn't matter The campaign hasn't ever stopped for this adminstration. That's precisely why they behave the way they do.

Posted by: David W. at February 19, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's not even ideological -- it's just corrupt. They're not blinded by the truth, they're indifferent to it. They are driven solely by ambition to keep power -- they exist to provide advantage to their base in return for the base keeping them in power, regardless of the basis of the advantage.

Posted by: eyelessgame at February 19, 2004 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

Far left interest group dislike Bush. Film at 11...

Posted by: Al at February 19, 2004 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

Who's Lysenko???

(Sorry, too many people have used this word for me not to know :( )

Posted by: bubba at February 19, 2004 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not so sure this hasn't been done before (not that I'm condoning it, you understand). Didn't C. Everett Koop resign as Reagan's Surgeon General because the True Believers in that administration were telling him what they wanted him to "find" regarding AIDS?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 19, 2004 01:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can you spell "Nazi?"

Posted by: Alli Gator at February 19, 2004 01:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Far left interest group dislike Bush. Film at 11..."

Yeah, what do Nobel Prize Laureates know about science anyway?

Certainly no more than a man who doesn't read the newspaper, right, Al? And definitely not more than you.

Jesus, Al... whose head is bigger, yours or Bush's?

Posted by: scarshapedstar at February 19, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK
I find it hard to believe that no previous administration acted in this manner (not that it makes it right).

Two comments. First, it wasn't always this way according to some Republicans and many Democrats. NPR yesterday quoted Russel Train, EPA Administrator under Nixon and Ford: "In all my time as EPA administrator under Nixon and Ford, I do not recall ever receiving even a suggestion, let alone an order from the White House as to how I should make a regulatory decision. How times have changed!"

The other point is that while there is always politics involved in developing regulations, it's far different (and relatively unprecidented) to inject politics into the actual science behind those decisions -- changing the science, witholding results, prohibiting qualified people from being on advisory committees, etc.

It's also interesting that the White House defense was to boast about the Administration's new "peer review" regulations that would prohibit any reviews from scientists who had done work for that government agency, leaving primarly industry "scientists" to do the "peer" reviewing.

This actually can be a campaign issue. We're talking about real effects on peoples lives. Discrediting OSHA scientific witnesses, complaining about "Lack of science" was very effectively used with Congress, small businesses and the press to first delay, and then repeal the OSHA ergonomics standard.

The challenge is to make the connections between the (academic sounding) distortions of the scientific process, and the actual effects -- more people with crippling ergonomic injuries, more lead poisoned children, and more harmful pesticides.

The challenge is bringing this one-day story into peoples' homes and workplaces on a daily basis from now until November. Like the employment issues, that's job not just for Edwards and Kerry, but for all of us.

Posted by: Jordan Barab at February 19, 2004 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

bubba: For the lowdown on Lysenko, try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko

Posted by: Shem at February 19, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

Since when is this news? This isn't a Bush- or even Republican-specific problem; the majority of Americans are Creationists and the vast majority believe in God. The dominant American worldview is magical rather than naturalistic, so why are we surprised when our democratically (or not) elected leaders look to the Bible for truth and to science for supporting propoganda?

Posted by: tps12 at February 19, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

I can't deny facts, but I do question the timing of this report. Why is it released during a heated presedential campaign?

Because this is the time when the report could make a difference. If one political party is politicizing science in an unprecedented way, then the objective, rational response by scientists is to oppose the actions of that political party, and to do so as effectively as possible.

Posted by: eyelessgame at February 19, 2004 01:30 PM | PERMALINK

Far left interest group dislike Bush. Film at 11...

People engaged in rational, objective analysis of the world are a far left interest group? Reality aligns with the opinions of the left? Not that I don't agree, but I certainly didn't expect to hear this sentiment from a freeptard.

Posted by: eyelessgame at February 19, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

Lysenko was the science policy advisor to Stalin who successfully advocated policies -- particularly agricultural ones -- that conformed to political doctrine but were scientifically unfounded and ultimately proved catastrophic. He cultivated an image as a scientist but was little more than a charlatan. His actions led directly to the deaths of thousands to millions of citizens of the then-USSR.

Posted by: bleh at February 19, 2004 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

Some mindless troll spewed...

Far left interest group dislike Bush. Film at 11...

Amongst the "far left" types who signed on to that report are 20 Nobel laureates and 19 winners
of the National Medal of Science (some overlap here).

That's a lot more intellectual firepower than you'll find anywhere on the right.

Posted by: caerbannog at February 19, 2004 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you didn't even mention their clean bill of health to the World Trade Center site.

When you get right down to it, the Bush administration hates quantification of all kinds. Even their love for smashing things pales beside the intensity of their hatred for counting them. They took office by stopping the counting of votes, they started a war by stopping the counting of weapons, they destroyed the budget by refusing to count costs, etc. etc. etc..

Posted by: FlipYrWhig at February 19, 2004 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Scientists keep your nose in your research laboratories and out of politics."

If only the religious right would heed the same advice.

Posted by: Fred Arnold at February 19, 2004 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Far left interest group dislike Bush. Film at 11..."

So science is an "interest group" of the far lest, huh? Guess that's cause Jeebus don't like no science right?

Posted by: The Templar at February 19, 2004 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

You know what sucks, this means people like me who would rather fuck around with guitars allday now have to not only pay attention to the news,
we have to Fucking actually get involved in changing this administration, so we don't have to feel guilty in 20 years for ignoring reality until something horrible happens

Posted by: Thomas Vida at February 19, 2004 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't just the natural sciences. In education research, they've established the "Institute for Education Research" with a crazed man (Russ Whitehurst) who thinks that science only occurs if you have double-blind research studies. (So, the work NASA is doing on Mars is not scientific!) As a result, virtually all research on education has been labelled non-scientific.

Posted by: Blue at February 19, 2004 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Ricky -

think you're pretty wrong on the timing thing.

scientists have been saying this in scientific journals for a while now. this prompted Congressman Waxman, in California, to issue a report charging the Bush Admin with various specific instances of manipulating, skewing and ignoring science. that report was issued last summer; it can be found here:
http://truthout.org/mm_01/4.wax.pol.n.science.pdf

the response at the time? "we need time to respond." as yet, there of course has not BEEN a response. guess they're still prayin for it.

so the "timing" issue you raise? it's wrong. it's an issue of "we're not giving you any more time to respond to our complaints about manipulating science."

Posted by: Wendy at February 19, 2004 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

"That's a lot more intellectual firepower than you'll find anywhere on the right."

Ah, but as Peggy Noonan in the WSJ so happily declared of Bush:

"He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world."

So you'll need a lot more than intellectual firepower to pursuade this bunch.

Posted by: TRipp at February 19, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, Al... whose head is bigger, yours or Bush's?

Wrong question, scarshapedscar, should have been-

whose head is emptier, your's or Bush's?

Posted by: four legs good at February 19, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

Al, was that you or your stalker? It's so hard to tell. If you or your stalker have specific objectsion, please address them.

Posted by: M. at February 19, 2004 01:45 PM | PERMALINK

Any sane person saw this coming months, years ago. Heck, we can even put a good portion of the blame for the Mad Cow scare on this kind of philosophy.

Balta, you're closer to the truth than you might have thought. The report includes copies of two agency-internal memoranda. One describes in excruciating detail the anguish at the EPA as they decided simply not to include the climate-change chapter in the ROE. The second is a list of 28 sensitive issues that "accompanied a directive to USDA staff scientists to seek prior approval before publishing any research or speaking publicly on 'sensitive issues.'" And there on the list, at #15, is this gem: "All transmissible encephalopathy (TSE) research including BSE research."

That's right: scientific research on Mad Cow Disease is subject to administrative approval (elsewhere known as "prior restraint") over at the USDA.

Thank you, Dear Leader!

Posted by: Dr. Bonzo at February 19, 2004 01:45 PM | PERMALINK

As Al has noted above Nobel prize winners are a left wing interest group. You elitist cowards might not like to accept the obvious glaring truth of it but it is true nonetheless, in the same way that a beautiful poem or a sunset lightly tinged with chemical haze is true.

The fact is that these folks, I use that term advisedly, are traitors, by accepting a prize from a bunch of commies such as the french - who once again have insulted the fine anglo-american tradition of english by spelling noble wrong - they are succumbing to worst kind of blame america firstism. You know america has it's own prizes for intellectual achievement, have any of these people seen fit to get the

the merit badge? or the thingamajig? No, I thought not. They'd rather kowtow to a bunch of european anti-semites by winning stuff from THEM.

Posted by: Blaise Cassidy at February 19, 2004 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

Lets all put our money where our mouths are and send $25 (or more, if you are one of the few people who has had steady employment over the last few years) to the Union of Concerned Scientists. I signed up via their website today and for a $35 donation you get a canvas tote bag - perfect for hauling your groceries home from the store without killing trees.

Posted by: Texan embarrassed by Bush at February 19, 2004 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ever seen a western where the hero achieved anything at all by caring about science?

Posted by: John Wayne at February 19, 2004 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

Heros in Error. We follow them BECAUSE they are wrong. Only stiff wonks and pointy-headed intellectuals care about getting things right.

Posted by: grytpype pronounced grit-pipe at February 19, 2004 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't faith-based thinking what BushCo, neocons, and the fundamentalists are all about? 'I believe, therefore it is so'.

If nothing else they are perfectly consistent in their thinking. Why should science be excluded?

Posted by: category 3 at February 19, 2004 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

One of the signatories, Richard L. Garwin, had an op-ed in the NY Times praising Rumsfeld -- though this was on Dec. 30, 2000, before the inaugeration. I suspect that Garwin, who if I recall correctly describes himself as a "lifelong Republican", would no longer write so favorably of Rummy.

Posted by: bob at February 19, 2004 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know much about most of those issues, but I wouldn't say that there is "no reputable scientific data" showing a link between abortion and breast cancer. In fact, there have been about 30 studies showing such a link, while about a dozen studies fail to show that link. See a summary of research here. The best one could say, as far as I can tell, is that the studies are mixed -- which is exactly what the Bush administration's website said.

Posted by: Stuart Buck at February 19, 2004 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

Re: "Conservative Lysenkoism"

Kevin,

It may be Lysenkoism, but there is nothing "conservative" about the Bush administration and its policies. I think we do a disservice to the decent and honorable tradition of Conservatism when we use that word so casually and inappropriately.

Posted by: peter jung at February 19, 2004 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to welcome Ricky into the Drum troll family. All our temps have left, and I was worried about being all alone.

Posted by: Al at February 19, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

This issue was brought up 2 months into the Bush Presidency as a feature article in Scientific American.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 19, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

BushCo is a confluence of the very wealthy, who only know of getting their way, and the religious who deny the existence of the scientific method. Their denial of reality is hardly surprising.

Posted by: g2k at February 19, 2004 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

Links to prior stories regarding Administration and science can be found here. Those are links to (mostly) stories in scientific publications regarding this politicization, and they go back at least a year and a half.

Posted by: Linkmeister at February 19, 2004 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

re: why this is being published now

The article in the NY Times quoted someone associated with the UCS as saying that this report took year to produce.

Sometimes it takes 2 years to make an enemy with your policies.

Posted by: ChrisS at February 19, 2004 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't deny facts, but I do question the timing of this report. Why is it released during a heated presedential campaign?"

Mr. Vandal, if the administration's politicization of science isn't a legitimate political issue, then what the heck is? When people and institutions are under political attack, aren't they entitled to respond politically? What remedy do we have for the Bush administration doing things like this, other than to chuck the whole gang out of office?

Posted by: rea at February 19, 2004 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

I find this to be THE biggest injustice of the current regime.We live in a world that relies totally on the facts that science delivers.
The conservatives like to blow off the concept of global warming because the winters are so cold thinking this is cause to disbelieve.
The truth is global warming causes ice ages.
Where would we be if solutions to polio and other such diseases were not founded in real science.
The republicans believe that faith will bring us our due.I cannot dispute this.death is,in the end,our due.
The administration loves the drug industry,and yet drugs are the result of the book the origin of the species.Creationism has no input into the real facts of life.How can we dispute that organisms evolve when in fact we watch it in progress everyday.Sperm multiplies and evolves to create life in the form of a baby.
Bush believes that industry is the back bone of our economy and thats true but real science has delivered industry not the other way.
Any attempt to remove unbiased decisions in science undermines not just americans but the entire world.America has been the frontier for new science throughout most of the last century and that edge teeters due to one mans policies

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

So we have a bunch of left leaning scientists complaining about the inclusion of some right leaning scientists. More of that big tent philosophy of the left?

And for the inevitable "but all science is objective" cries, I will submit this link
Facts versus Factions: the use and abuse of subjectivity in scientific research

Link blatantly stolen from Deinonychus Antirrhopus

Posted by: Ron at February 19, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK


So we have a bunch of left leaning scientists complaining about the inclusion of some right leaning scientists. More of that big tent philosophy of the left?

Oh gawwwd.... not another right-wing postmodernist....

Posted by: caerbannog at February 19, 2004 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

It may be Lysenkoism, but there is nothing "conservative" about the Bush administration and its policies.

Actually, I'd say the Bush Administration is fairly Conservative in the old, authoritarian/traditional/religious sense, rather than the newer, small government libertarian sense. Its also, of course, conservative in the even newer "neoconservative" sense.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 19, 2004 02:21 PM | PERMALINK

A nice Freeman Dyson, on being a smart kid in a tyrannical public school:

"With no help from the school authorities, we founded a science society. As a persecuted minority, we kept a low profile. We held our meetings quietly and inconspicuously. We could do no real experiments. All we could do was share books and explain to each other what we didn't understand. But we learned a lot. Above all, we learned those lessons that can never be taught by formal courses of instruction; that science is a conspiracy of brains against ignorance, that science is a revenge of victims against oppressors, that science is a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny and hatred."

From "To Teach or Not to Teach," 1990

Fortunately, science nerds in this country have the option of speaking out.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a necessary counterweight to the Legion of Bought-Off Token Researchers employed by places like the American Enterprise Institute and the Club for Growth. More power to them. May they raise holy hell about the slow degredation of truth and reason.

Posted by: Stefan Jones at February 19, 2004 02:21 PM | PERMALINK

Last night I watched part of some special about the Vatican forcing Galileo to recant, it seemed so up to the minute! And G's sponsor Medici knuckling under to remain in power. Amazing stuff.

Posted by: Chasseur at February 19, 2004 02:23 PM | PERMALINK

I think the most craven example of the Bushie's rewrite of science was the override of EPA warnings of the unprecedented level of harmful pollutants in NY after 911. They used sympathy for 911 for every political advantage, while of course they didn't give a rat's behind about the health of any New Yorker.

Posted by: ESaund at February 19, 2004 02:29 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Thanks for the response. What I think is going on is that the entrenched interests have managed to take good old-fashioned corporate cronyism and dress it up as "conservatism." Of course, they could not have accomplished this without plenty of help from their wholly-owned subsidiary, The Media.

Posted by: peter jung at February 19, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

I generally agree with what this group of famous scientists say in their report, but by making it an attack on the Bush Administration they've identified themselves as partisan activists. This makes them heroes to their supporters but easily dismissed by their detractors, no matter how many shiny medals from Sweden they've amassed. To everyone else it's just another NY Times article they won't bother to read.

The report would have been much more potent if it had been phrased as a criticism of trends in Federal science policy and aimed at the relevant people on congressional subcommitees and similar Washington science folk. Instead this group went for the big publicity stunt (not uncommon behavior among Nobel Prize winners like Lederman) to get their positions (and names) in their favorite newspaper -- maybe even generate an editorial!

Lots of fun for the chattering classes but not very helpful for science.

Posted by: Del at February 19, 2004 02:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't scientists be objective? Anyway, every time I hear about scientists becoming involved in politics I think about the Rosenbergs. Scientists keep your nose in your research laboratories and out of politics.

So are scientists less entitled to political opinions than lawyers or businessmen or farmers or what-have-you, then? Guess I never got the memo. I guess if you know something about science, then you have a conflict of interest and should automatically recuse yourself from any political issues that relate to science. Just like if you know something about economics, you should automatically recuse yourself from political discussions on the economy (fortunately for us, our president is "not a statistician" and can therefore offer statistics w/o a whiff of conflict of interest). Heaven forbid if knowledge of a subject were to actually give you *more* credibility to speak on it.

Posted by: Suzanne at February 19, 2004 02:40 PM | PERMALINK

Like we needed any more proof of the failure of Scaife-style solipsism: how about that accumulating pile of bodies in the Mesopotamian basin?

And I don't see how you can talk about this w/out indicting the present administration, Del. They and their supporters were going to stick their fingers in their ears anyways, which is how we got to this sorry state of affairs.

Watch this:
LIBERAL!!!
[poof]

And it all goes away! Neat, huh?

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan at February 19, 2004 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

I generally agree with what this group of famous scientists say in their report, but by making it an attack on the Bush Administration they've identified themselves as partisan activists.

If you bothered to read it, you would have noticed htat several of the points describe things that no previous administration, Republican or Democratic, has done. there's nothing partisan in pointing this out.

... no matter how many shiny medals from Sweden they've amassed.

Typical wingnut attitude. When your child gets meningitis, please call a faith healer.

The report would have been much more potent if it had been phrased as a criticism of trends in Federal science policy and aimed at the relevant people on congressional subcommitees and similar Washington science folk.

The Washington science folk aren't the problem It's the political operatives who shove them aside to score money and votes. Career science people are probably appalled bu this administration and applaud the letter.


Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 19, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

Al, was that you or your stalker? It's so hard to tell. If you or your stalker have specific objectsion, please address them.

The "Film at 11" comment was me. The "Drum troll family" comment was my stalker. Yes, it is hard to tell sometimes, but I, frankly, don't have any solution; I can't stop my stalker from stalking me.

Of course, when I said "far left interest group", I was referring to the Union of Concerned Scientists, not Nobel Prize winners as a whole. Among the group of Nobel Prize winners will be members who are all over the board politically (although I suspect that the group in general is liberal, simply due to the selection process and the fact that academics are more likely to be liberal), and so it is completely unsurprising that a group of 20 of them will have far-left political views. There have always been groups of scientists who have far-left views and have been willing to express them - groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists (and the Federation of American Scientists) were always among the groups calling for nuclear disarmament, for example (together with other far left groups like Greenpeace).

Moveover, I'd object to the "problem" of disregarding science being a Bush or Republican "problem". Remember the arsenic controversy? Well, it turns out that the "science" upon which the left-wing slammed Bush was a complete hoax - junk science. Did the left care? Nope. As long as they got there "do you want more arsenic in your water" advertisement on the air, the "science" involved was irrelevent. Ignoring science is just as much a left-wing problem as it is a right-wing problem.

Posted by: Al at February 19, 2004 02:48 PM | PERMALINK

Scientists keep your nose in your research laboratories and out of politics.
Yeah, and nevermind how badly you get assraped by the politicians. This is none of your business, citizen.

Sounds like somebody would be happier in North Korea!

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan at February 19, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

From that left-wing rag, Fortune magazine:

?In sum, the risk of abrupt climate change remains uncertain, and it is quite possibly small. But given its dire consequences, it should be elevated beyond a scientific debate. Action now matters, because we may be able to reduce its likelihood of happening, and we can certainly be better prepared if it does. It is time to recognize it as a national security concern.?

?Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.?

http://www.fortune.com/fortune/technology/articles/0,15114,582584,00.html

the Pentagon?s willing to admit it. but not Bush. He?s still prayin on it, I reckon.

Posted by: Wendy at February 19, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

You could also add in Gingrich's closing down of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and Bush's marginization of the Whitehouse science advisor office.

Shorter Ricky Vandal: Why do Nobel Laureates hate America?

Posted by: Tom at February 19, 2004 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

and I was worried about being all alone.

as you surely know, a man with one hand is never alone.

Posted by: Al's other hand at February 19, 2004 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

academics are more likely to be liberal
Well, we're certainly less likely to be stupid enough to buy into cold-fusion economics and the cherry-picked blood-taboos of an ancient, wandering desert tribe, if that's what you mean.

What Conservatives preach today is actually traditional Liberalism, though they don't seem to know it. What they actually do, however, is another story.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan at February 19, 2004 02:52 PM | PERMALINK

Roger Bigod,

As I said, I don't disagree with the content of the report. The subtitle/mission statement refers to Bush's misuse of science. This phrasing is political, and it is a mistake.

Typical wingnut attitude.

Wingnut? Oh my. As a professional scientist I take Nobel Prizes for what they're worth. They are awarded based on a politics all their own.

The Washington science folk aren't the problem.

I agree completely. I think they are in fact the solution. Articles in the NY Times and anti-Bush rhetoric, however, are not. Science policy is generally done under the radar, and if that changes I shudder to think what kind of science will start shaping policy.

Posted by: Del at February 19, 2004 03:02 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, when I said "far left interest group", I was referring to the Union of Concerned Scientists, not Nobel Prize winners as a whole. Among the group of Nobel Prize winners will be members who are all over the board politically (although I suspect that the group in general is liberal, simply due to the selection process and the fact that academics are more likely to be liberal), and so it is completely unsurprising that a group of 20 of them will have far-left political views.


Well, you're wrong. Notice the famed physicist and uncompromising jingo Steven Weinberg is on the list. He's a Nobel Prize winner to boot. This may rock your world, but it's true. He's a hard-core scientist who believes, basically, all societies that are not technologically advanced should be nuked as to not contaminate the gene pool (as evidenced in his book "Facing Up"). Go ahead and argue that he's a liberal. No, really, try it.

Posted by: VR at February 19, 2004 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Scientists keep your nose in your research laboratories and out of politics."

Lawyers, should too. Businessmen too, Farmers as well, Service Industry workers, Blue Collar workers, military personel, ...

See how ridiculous you sound. Let me remind you:
BY the friggin PEOPLE, FOR the friggin PEOPLE and OF the friggin PEOPLE. So don't you dare tell scientists like me off. God, I've never engaged in the Nazi-Right comparison, but your post comes awfully close to making me break my promise.

Posted by: ch2 at February 19, 2004 03:05 PM | PERMALINK

The SWAT team on the Missouri sided with the environment, which was totally unexpected. Otherwise the report is acurate.

Posted by: argalite at February 19, 2004 03:08 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously now, George W. Bush thinks he's a man with a religeous purpose. His god saved him from self-destruction, and that He did for a purpose. Now George W. believes in this destiny because it's everything and all he has.
On his task he must be strong and determined, undistracted by false gods, unbelievers and ignorants (including scientists and other modernists). You can hear him saying: "It's tough, you know, but I will prevail. God is on my side, I must be strong." The gunslinging rhetorics that are so typical to his speech do not come out of the Republican P.R. department, it's George W.'s honest to god faith. And his faith is his ultimate source of purpose, duty, existence, knowledge.

George W. is a religious fundamentalist leader. In the core, he's operating on the same level as his Muslim peers. How *could* he like or care for science?

Posted by: John Wayne at February 19, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

I've never heard the term left or right leaning scientist.Unless your talking about junk scientists.This is precisely what the Bush administrations science policies are.JUNK

Across a broad range of policy areas, the administration has undermined the quality and independence of
the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government?s outstanding scientific personnel:
Highly qualified scientists have been dropped from advisory committees dealing with childhood lead
poisoning, environmental and reproductive health, and drug abuse, while individuals associated with
or working for industries subject to regulation have been appointed to these bodies.
Censorship and political oversight of government scientists is not restricted to the EPA, but has also
occurred at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Interior, when scientific
findings are in conflict with the administration?s policies or with the views of its political supporters.
The administration is supporting revisions to the Endangered Species Act that would greatly constrain
scientific input into the process of identifying endangered species and critical habitats for their
protection.
Existing scientific advisory committees to the Department of Energy on nuclear weapons, and to the
State Department on arms control, have been disbanded.
In making the invalid claim that Iraq had sought to acquire aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment
centrifuges, the administration disregarded the contrary assessment by experts at the Livermore, Los
Alamos, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.
The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease if the public is to be properly
informed about issues central to its well-being, and the nation is to benefit fully from its heavy investment
in scientific research and education.

This is racism in science being promoted in the white house and it cannot be permitted to continue.I dont care which side of the "isle" you stand on.The science of life is too important to just play blind mans bluff on.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

Some years ago the Episcopal Church ran an ad campaign that included a poster with the phrase: "He died to take away your sins, not your brains ." Note how Bushco takes full advantage of modern science while constantly denigrating it. Maybe he should give up the 747 and take a stagecoach to and from Crawford.

Posted by: ____league at February 19, 2004 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

Blaise: you need to check out http://www.nobelpeacecenter.org/
and note that they did not spell Nobel incorrectly. The prize is named for an actual person with the name Nobel. Maybe you should also note that the organization is located in Norway - not France.

Hopefully these tidbits of actual factual information will help you realize that you could possibly be wrong about some other views you harbor.

Posted by: USAF Brat at February 19, 2004 03:30 PM | PERMALINK

I still wait for the day that supporters of the administration will recognize that their beloved leader has made a policy mistake. I was a big fan of Clinton but, my god, he said and did things that I thought were plain stupid.

But this administration has engendered a kind of loyalty i haven't seen since the reagan years. Tax cuts / Homeland security shortfalls / the Deficit / International Relations / The War in Iraq ! / Job Growth / Science Policy: the Bush admin never lies, never is wrong, never is at fault.

The UCS makes specific verifiable claims of partisan interference in science policy. Is there ONE factual rebuttal in this thread?

NO!

Just the usual claims: Clinton did it / UCS is a bunch of liberals / the partisan interference really didn't happen.

For the Bush partisans on this thread: what evidence do you need before recognizing that the administration made a policy error? I'd love to know what the quantum of evidentiary proof is to get you partisans to change your minds.

ye gods, what an unbelievable story, and what pathetic defenses.

Francis

Posted by: FDL at February 19, 2004 03:30 PM | PERMALINK

As a professional scientist I take Nobel Prizes for what they're worth. They are awarded based on a politics all their own.

I kind of doubt you're a professional scientist, because your dismissal of Nobel Prizes as "shiny medals from Sweden" implies that they're trivial or fraudulent. There is certainly a polical process involved in the decisions, which has been written up several times. But the general consensus is that they are reasonably fair and accurate in picking the best work. At least for the last 50 years or so under the present selection process, every one I know about represents a solid accomplishment. It is the case that the Prize tends to allow recipients to pontificate outside their domain of competence, with mixed results. But speaking out against this administration's dishonesty appears to be an excellent use of the laureates' prestige.

Certainly if a corporation misrepresented data in a submission to the FDA, prison sentences would be appropriate.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 19, 2004 03:31 PM | PERMALINK

___league,
That's the wonderful thing about religion, it doesn't have to make sense ("making sense" and reason are modernism). His god gave him the 747 to use and that is that.

Posted by: John Wayne at February 19, 2004 03:32 PM | PERMALINK

February- The bloodiest month on record in Iraq,All based on bad science.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it all we see from the wingnuts here are antiscience heretics.Because there is no scientists that can back up the policies that this white house promotes.You base your life on religion but science bails you out when religion fails you.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 03:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bad intelligence, Bad science, Bad economics.

A C- president makes for C- administration, makes us C-US.

Posted by: ch2 at February 19, 2004 03:46 PM | PERMALINK

I find it hard to believe that no previous administration acted in this manner (not that it makes it right).

There was some of it under Reagan. Serious neuroscience was harmed because word came down that funds were to be used to promote a moralistic approach to reacreational drugs rather than study their effects. The had of HHS or whatever it was called, a women named Heckler, lied egregiously at press conferences about AIDS, at least at first when it was a political hot potato. Missle defence was and is a scam and several prominent physicists and computer scientists testified to that effect. There were good review articles on journals like Nature pointing out that it was delusional.

But the Bush administration seems to have taken it to a new level.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 19, 2004 03:48 PM | PERMALINK

There are no pro-Bush scientists left. I've witnessed the 30% of people at work who had voted for W 3 years ago (benefit of the doubt and all), turn solidly ABB.

Disaster is the commonly voiced sentiment.

Posted by: ch2 at February 19, 2004 03:49 PM | PERMALINK

I kind of doubt you're a professional scientist, because your dismissal of Nobel Prizes...

Er, right, I just say that to impress the ladies. The best measure of a scientist's success is their citation index, not their prize list.

Anyway, my point is that these scientists are picking a political fight. When a scientist and politician fight in public, the scientist will always lose. When a scientist operates outside the public eye, the scientist usually wins. The UCS is not being helpful, no matter how correct they are.

Posted by: Del at February 19, 2004 03:50 PM | PERMALINK
So are scientists less entitled to political opinions than lawyers or businessmen or farmers or what-have-you, then?

Of course not, but shouldn't it be stated explicitly if it impacts on their research?

I guess if you know something about science, then you have a conflict of interest and should automatically recuse yourself from any political issues that relate to science.

No of course not, becuase if we followed this strictly there wouldn't be scientist out there that could comment on anything. However, it would be nice if a scientists subjective beliefs and views were reflected explicitly in their research...sort of like laying their cards on the table.

As for politicized science of previous administrations how about second hand smoke? The evidence is shakey at best and yet policy is based on it. As for global warming, near unanimity does not mean the scientists are correct. At one time scientists were unanimous about the existence of the atom; i.e., it didn't exist. Scientists were also pretty much unanimous about the interior rotation of the sun...turned out they were all wrong.

Posted by: Steve at February 19, 2004 03:51 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of politics involved in who is awarded a Nobel Prize in science. The reason for this is that there is so much good science out there. Noone has ever claimed that a Nobel Prize winner didn't deserve his or her prize, though certainly there were dozens of other qualified candidates.

Posted by: Constantine at February 19, 2004 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

The UCS is not being helpful, no matter how correct they are.


I agree to a point.Scientists play better behind closed doors.But when the politicians start making policies behind closed doors this is not play is murder.The UCS has a moral obligation to come out with the facts.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 03:53 PM | PERMALINK

I've just been out to the UCS homepage. Citizen's and Scientists for Environmental Solutions. A couple of other papers they have going:

The Dark Side of Bush's Moon Mission
and
Misplaced Priorities in 2005 Budget

It looks to me like the UCS is trying to politicize science as much as Bush.

Posted by: Ron at February 19, 2004 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

Holy crap, FDL, what supporters of this administration have you been following... Look at the criticism at Nation Review Online, and other conservative sites. Show me similar left leaning criticism.

Blinding following a group of scientists, heavily left leaning ones with a political agenda, because they are "scientists" is the ulitimate in "faith". I'll bet most of you that believe in the "almost unanimous scientific consensus" haven't researched the massive disagreement on the MAGNITUDE of the human influence of global warming.

In short, many of you lefties, are no better than the "ignorant" righties, believing conclusions that agree with you view of the world and dismissing the ones that don't.

Posted by: JFH at February 19, 2004 03:55 PM | PERMALINK

near unanimity does not mean the scientists are correct


Untill a better theory comes to light unanimity is the basis for scientific facts.usually this unanimity is right,for the majority can repeat tests and hypothysis and this is the basis of science that has led to all discoveries over the course of all history.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 03:58 PM | PERMALINK

JFH

If I am a scientist and come to a conclusion that is not what Bushco believes does that make me "left leaning"?

Posted by: ____league at February 19, 2004 04:04 PM | PERMALINK

At one time scientists were unanimous about the existence of the atom; i.e., it didn't exist. Scientists were also pretty much unanimous about the interior rotation of the sun...turned out they were all wrong.

And they would never have gotten it right if politicians and prists hadn't corrected them.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 19, 2004 04:21 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't deny facts, but I do question the timing of this report. Why is it released during a heated presedential campaign? Shouldn't scientists be objective? Anyway, every time I hear about scientists becoming involved in politics I think about the Rosenbergs. Scientists keep your nose in your research laboratories and out of politics. Do not degrade your trade or Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind will come true."

Ricky Vandal

This has to be a plant just to get a bunch of people all riled up. Nobody, simply nobody can be this brainless. Unless....Ricky, just between you and me, are your initials G.W.B.?

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 19, 2004 04:35 PM | PERMALINK

"At one time scientists were unanimous about the existence of the atom; i.e., it didn't exist."

Ridiculous !

They were unanimously ignorant of the existence of the atom, not unanimous that it DIDN'T exist.

Posted by: ch2 at February 19, 2004 04:43 PM | PERMALINK

The UCS is not an apolitical group. The left is just as intolerant of dissent and you should go to Bjorn Lumborg's web site to see how viciously he has been attacked for questioning the orthodoxy of global warming. We are emerging from an ice age and another ice age may even have been averted by the warming. The little ice age lasted from 1400 to about 1850. Human activity is probably part of the story and dates from 10,000 BC when agriculture began. The left orthodoxy holds that civilization, and especially the automobile, is responsible and must be stopped. There is no realistic prospect of altering human activity significantly and those who raise the issue with the most passion are the same people who oppose nuclear power, a reasonable alternative to fossil fuel use for electricity generation.

Posted by: Mike K at February 19, 2004 04:45 PM | PERMALINK

The left orthodoxy holds that civilization, and especially the automobile, is responsible and must be stopped.

Er, no, it isn't.

The most common position on the left is that civilization, particularly burning of fossil fuels(which includes, but is not limited to, the automobile) contributes significantly (not "is responsible"), and more importantly, contributes reducibly, and that there are potentially disastrous effects of not reducing the warming trend to the extent that it is controllable.

Even if warming was completely natural, some of the possible consequences -- including, paradoxically, a potential rapid-onset mini-ice age if a major antarctic ice sheet slides into the sea -- it would be desirable to reduce it to the extent practical to avert the risks involved.

There is no realistic prospect of altering human activity significantly

By most definitions of "alter" and "human activity", this is nonsense, so I assume you are using some bizarre definition of one or the other.

and those who raise the issue with the most passion are the same people who oppose nuclear power, a reasonable alternative to fossil fuel use for electricity generation.

IME, that's not particularly true. The groups overlap, but are not identical, or even particularly strongly connected.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 19, 2004 04:57 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Al:

"Lies, I tell you, damned lies."

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at February 19, 2004 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

Ridiculous !

They were unanimously ignorant of the existence of the atom, not unanimous that it DIDN'T exist.

not according to the bushies/religious right.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 05:09 PM | PERMALINK

The left is just as intolerant of dissent and you should go to Bjorn Lumborg's web site to see how viciously he has been attacked for questioning the orthodoxy of global warming.

There have been lots of infantile controversies in different parts of science, most without any obvious connection with conventional politics. The two most eminent neuropathologists in the world didn't speak for 20 years because of a disagreement over a very obscure point of interpretation.

Recently, the bad science has been promoted by the Right. Creationism is the obvious example. There's also Duesberg's theories of AIDS, in which he was encouraged by Phillip Johnson, a crank Berkeley law professorwho promotes Creationism. But there's no reason why left wingers can't be wildly wrong. The people Sokal sent up in his famous hoax had probably never voted Republican in their lives.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 19, 2004 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

The left is just as intolerant of dissent and you should go to Bjorn Lumborg's web site to see how viciously he has been attacked for questioning the orthodoxy of global warming

History has been famoous for strife within the scientific community,do not take this as a sign of discontent or discord.This Bjorn has every right to dissenting views and the majority has a right to critize.without debate within the community there is no consensus which direction the inquiry should go.The same should be said about politics,tho to hear the right its hate thats being spoken.
The science community has seen a aplit latley by so called mainstream scientists trying to have their opinions heard over dissenting voices and some science IS being overlooked,this may be what your seeing but in this case I dont think so.Global warming has been studied long enough now and evidence is weighing on studies showing global mean temperatures ARE rising nad consequences ARE imminent.The majority of scientists ARE able to confirm these therories.It is ok for this guy to dissent but dont let just his argument be made as fact.
Science has a long history of never being exactly sure,it just hypothysis and longer term evidence is needed to be 100 percent sure ,In this case we cannot afford to be 100 percent sure.Its kind of like the bumper sticker you see"if you dont believe in Jesus you better hope your right" in this case if you dont believe globale warming is happening you better HOPE your right.

http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/currenttopics/ct_abruptclimate.htm

Woods hole oceanographic institute is a very respected science community and they have an opinion that is bordering on conclusion read it and make your opinion based on evidence rather than fear or lack thereof.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 05:25 PM | PERMALINK

In Missouri there's a new House Bill that's been introduced (No. 911 - how cute), the "Missouri Standard Science Act", which will require the teaching of "Intelligent Design" (first cousin of Creationism). The debate is being framed as "Intelligent Design" vs. evolution but it's much further reaching than that. The "act" would require that "All science taught in Missouri public elementary and secondary schools, including material concerning physics, chemistry, biology, health, physiology, genetics, astronomy, cosmology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, ecology, climateology, or other topics..."

"Willful neglect of any elementary or secondary school superintendent, principal, or teacher to observe and carry out the requirements of this section shall be cause for termination..."

Furthermore, the "act" calls for "...a committee of no fewer than five individuals who are knowledgeable of science AND SUPPORTIVE OF "INTELLIGENT DESIGN" to serve...prescribe a list of suitable textbooks which meet the requirements of this section..."

Given all the state battles being waged it looks like the federal government is also going down the fundamentalist Know-Nothing road. I used to think that this administration wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s but it's apparent that they, and their base, really want to turn time back to the 7th century.

These people aren't Taliban-like. They ARE the Taliban. Fundamentalist Christian madrasas anyone?

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 19, 2004 05:26 PM | PERMALINK

Dear smalfish,

Pick up an itroductory science book. Read the definitions of hypothesis, theory, and scientific law. Memorize these definitions. Make an attemt to understand something of the scientific method. Your post lacks any credibility because it's all too apparent you don't understand the fundamentals of the arguments that you're trying so hard to make.

The "left" IS intolerent of foolish notions dressed up as scientific. I suspect that the "right" is equally intolerent of foolishness (at least I hope so).

"Dissent" IS the scientific method. The holy grail of science is to challenge scientific "truths" of the day. Imagine you're the first scientist to discover that gravity doesn't work (gravity is after all only a scientific theory, OK, maybe a law)!! You'd be famous. You'd get ALL the funding!! Whew, times would be good. BUT, and it's a big BUT, there has to be credible supporting observations and evidence and the evidence has to be thoroughly vetted by your peers. I'm gonna stick with the scientific community on the gravity thing. I'll probably go with the overwhelming scientific concensus on global warming too.

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 19, 2004 05:48 PM | PERMALINK

Religion has,all thru history played on our fears and held back the human spirit.This kind of hysteria over evolution is so suspect.The catholic church has needed a very large stick with witch to rule that they made up this thing called religion.like the current administration,They struck down dissenting views untill all had become believers.The catholic church is still very much in control of the majority and holds sway over the minds of these believers.It's such a pity too because we can become so much more than we are if religion would only stay in the places it belongs,in the hearts of the believers and not the minds.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 05:49 PM | PERMALINK

gravity is after all only a scientific theory, OK, maybe a law

What????

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 05:52 PM | PERMALINK

Show me a gravity.

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 19, 2004 05:55 PM | PERMALINK

WHAT?!?! You've got to be kidding!
you want to see gravity?You'll need a very very very powerful microscope.in this microscope you'll find whats called a graviton.but you probably wont believe it anyway so whats the point.Let me introduce you to an experiment.
ready?

ok now I need you to jump.Yes jump.Good.
no lets summerise.You jumped.DID you come back down?Good I'd hate to see you float out of the atmosphere.You do believe in atmosphere right?
Ok you jumped and you came back down.very good you just performed whats called an experiment.You came to an end result ie; you landed.conclusion;You just got the exact same result predicted by many and repeated by even more.some decided to call the result(landing back on earth to put it simply)GRAVITY! wow.Now I wont charge you for this simple physics lesson but in the future others may want to.

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 06:06 PM | PERMALINK

"The left is just as intolerant of dissent and you should go to Bjorn Lumborg's web site to see how viciously he has been attacked for questioning the orthodoxy of global warming"

Maybe I jumped to the wrong conclusion on your earlier post. I didn't recognize that this statement is probably from someone else and that you were responding to it. Sorry - please accept my apology. I was too hasty. My comments should have been directed to the author of the above line and similar postings.

However, even though the price certainly was right, your experiment does nothing to "prove" gravity. It simply proves that if I jump off of a chair that I will land - hopefully not on my butt. In earlier times and in less advanced regions of the world today (White House) this observation would simply be attributed to 1) nothing, 2) God, 3) the gods, 4) pixies, 5)trolls and on and on. I shouldn't have taken a shortcut. When I referred to gravity I was really referring to the overall scientific conceptual framework that has been developed over the last few hundred years to explain apples falling to the ground and the motions of planets - not merely to the observation that things fall downward on earth.

My haste was because I get ticked when people that really don't understand the argument go on spouting invective and trying to subvert the system of science that has been so hard won. Now that I've been vetted by my peers I vow to show more restraint.

Just out of curiousity, when I hit the floor am I standing on a solid surface?

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 19, 2004 06:27 PM | PERMALINK

I was wondering.If cannot see air am I really breathing?

Posted by: smalfish at February 19, 2004 06:33 PM | PERMALINK

During Lysenko's reign as Soviet science czar, his rivals were actually shipped off to places like Siberia. Russian research in genetics was destroyed because Lysenko espoused the inheritance of acquired traits (Lamarckism) that seemed to him to be consistent with communist ideology. Geneticists who knew better had to be dismissed from their faculty positions and research laboratories to clear the way for Lysenko's toadies.

The Bush administration is not as bad as Lysenko because it merely suppresses inconvenient results and threatens politically unhelpful scientists with defunding. Imprisonment is not yet a viable option. Real restructuring of science along Bushian lines will have to wait for a second term...

So let's make sure there isn't one.

Posted by: TonyB at February 19, 2004 06:50 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone not scared-or at least, profoundly disturbed- by the consequences this adminstration's distain for facts just hasn't thought things all the way through. Read Tom Barry's piece on the NeoCons' Philosophy of Intelligence in the Asia Times of Feb 19, (atimes.com),the same day the mainstream press released the USC report, I believe. One doesn't need to be a historian of American politics, though I am that, to understand that this administration's approach to policy making is indeed unprecedented. This administration is Nixon's stripped of policy makers and policy structures, staffed instead with a handful of political advisors hardwired to the clinically lunatic rightwing fringe on one hand and to corporate masters on the other. As far as the eye can see, Bush's political appointees are corrupt and cynical beyond measure, and often enough, just plain criminals(think Eliot Abrams, for example). Throw in that for a variety of reasons this adminstration has been largely exempted from scrutiny by the media, that a Republican Congress long ago abandoned any pretense of fulfilling its constitutional oversight duties, and that until fairly recently, our fellow American citizens have been willing to be terrorized into blind patriotic submission, and yeah, I think this adminstration is one that should scare us and then motivate us to do anything within our means to work for its defeat.

Posted by: Julie Whitcomb at February 19, 2004 07:18 PM | PERMALINK

This is what Lomborg actually argued:


Climate science is very uncertain, but nonetheless the real state of the science is that the sensitivity of the climate to carbon dioxide will turn out to be at the low end of the IPCC uncertainty range--which is for a warming of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C if carbon dioxide were to double and be held fixed over time.
Emissions scenarios, according to the IPCC, fall into six "equally sound" alternative paths. These paths span a doubling in carbon dioxide concentrations in 2100 up to more than tripling and well beyond tripling in the 22nd century. Lomborg, however, dismisses all but the lowest of the scenarios: "Temperatures will increase much less than the maximum estimates from IPCC--it is likely that the temperature will be at or below the B1 estimate [the lowest emissions scenario] (less than 2? C in 2100) and the temperature will certainly not increase even further into the twenty-second century."

Cost-benefit calculations show that although the benefits of avoiding climate change could be substantial ($5 trillion is the single figure Lomborg cites), this is not worth the cost to the economy of trying to constrain fossil-fuel emissions (a $3-trillion to $33-trillion range he pulls from the economics literature). Asymmetrically, no range is given for the climate damages.

The Kyoto Protocol, which caps industrialized countries' output of greenhouse gases, is too expensive. It would reduce warming in 2100 by only a few tenths of a degree--"putting off the temperature increase just six years." This number, though, is based on a straw-man policy that nobody has seriously proposed: Lomborg extrapolates the Kyoto Protocol, which is applicable only up to 2012, as the world's sole climate policy for another nine decades.

In other words, he said that anthropogenic global warming was real, but (a) the the low-end estimates are correct, and (b) Kyoto is bad policy.

Posted by: praktike at February 19, 2004 07:37 PM | PERMALINK

An excellent example of "faith-based" science is mentioned above on this thread. It is the abortion-breast cancer debate (mentioned at 1:56 PM).

The link between the two was discredited in the late '90s The religious right insisted the link exsisted and demanded that the NCI support that position. After another review the NCI refused since there is no evidence to support the connection.

The religious right has not been deterred. They continue to insist that the NCI is "covering up evidence," and to push for the passage of state laws that insist physicians "tell the truth" about breast cancer and abortion. The only "truth" is "approved truth."

The administration treats all science like this.

Concise history with good footnotes here

NCI Page here

Posted by: caduceus at February 19, 2004 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

The religious right has not been deterred. They continue to insist that the NCI is "covering up evidence," and to push for the passage of state laws that insist physicians "tell the truth" about breast cancer and abortion.

It looks like they've manipulated Google so that a search on "abortion breats cancer" returns mostly false material

The truth is not in these people.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 20, 2004 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

eppur si muove!

Posted by: Matthew at February 20, 2004 02:56 AM | PERMALINK

Al write: "Remember the arsenic controversy? Well, it turns out that the "science" upon which the left-wing slammed Bush was a complete hoax - junk science. Did the left care? Nope. As long as they got there "do you want more arsenic in your water" advertisement on the air, the "science" involved was irrelevent. Ignoring science is just as much a left-wing problem as it is a right-wing problem."

Al, this is complete bullshit. Your use of "junk science" suggests you've been reading Steve Milloy. He's the man you want to read if you want the official right-wing view on a particular scientific issue. He is not the man to read if you want an accurate assessment of scientific information. A better source of the latter would be the National Academy of Sciences, whose 2001 report is here:

http://www.nap.edu/books/0309076293/html/

Al, think hard about this: when you make the conservative position the anti-knowledge position, you have really lost the battle.

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee at February 20, 2004 05:16 AM | PERMALINK

Lysenko:
"In order to obtain a certain result, You must want to obtain precisely that result; if you want to obtain a certain result, you will obtain it .... I need only such people as will obtain the results I need".
Could Bush say something like that? Would it sound something like this:
In order to - so to get a result - you have to want it. We want it and the American people support us in our wanting.


Posted by: WhyNot at February 20, 2004 06:33 AM | PERMALINK
Untill a better theory comes to light unanimity is the basis for scientific facts.usually this unanimity is right,for the majority can repeat tests and hypothysis and this is the basis of science that has led to all discoveries over the course of all history.

This is stunningly bad. Unanimity is not the basis for scientific facts, but for scientific hypotheses. Facts are observed phenonmena like the sunrise. Hypotheses explain why we are observing the facts and no hypothesis should be considered fact. Lets take an example, Evolution. Evolution is a fact. Organismis evolve, i.e., their genes mutate. The Theory of Evolution--i.e., the theory that explains these facts is itself not a fact, but a construct of the human mind. It is the best explanation that we have for what is going on, but it could be replaced someday. The theory that replaces it will have to explain everything the current theory explains so please don't trot out the bullshit rhetoric about my supporting intelligent design (for my position on intelligent design click ).

As for global warming there are no "tests". You can't do tests with this area of science in the sense that you can't pump out more or less green house gases and observe their effect. Further, with the global warming hypothesis there is considerable problems with things like the data that is used to arrive at the conclusions. Moreover, there is uncertainty over the magnitude of the change that is necessary. Finally, even some of those who believe in the global warming hypothesis agree that Kyoto will do virtually nothing (see Tom Wigley's paper on this) and that the steps necessary to prevent global warming would have to be much more draconian.

Ridiculous !

They were unanimously ignorant of the existence of the atom, not unanimous that it DIDN'T exist.

Wrong. Actually when the first theories of the atom were being floated there were scientists who actively argued the atoms did not exist. These were actually top scientists and they argued using Popper's methodology. Try reading the link Ron posted above.

Posted by: Steve at February 20, 2004 09:14 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry if this has already been mentioned. My current pet peeve regarding the degradation of science in the U.S. is the recent controversy at the Grand Canyon. For those of you unaware, the Park Service employees have been forced to include literature at the book store that contains the "theory" that the Grand Canyon isn't approx. 5 million years old. Nope. It might actually have been created all at once in a gigantic flood occurring, um, maybe 5-10,000 years ago!

Below is just one link. If you google "grand canyon" and "creationism" you'll find hundreds.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001833017_canyon09.html

How in the world does Bush think that we can develop the geological knowledge required to interpret our data from the Mars trips he envisions when his political appointees allow (demand!) that this kind of nonsense be given space at the Grand Canyon book store.

Posted by: AzRez at February 20, 2004 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

"The "act" would require that "All science taught in Missouri public elementary and secondary schools, including material concerning physics, chemistry, biology, health, physiology, genetics, astronomy, cosmology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, ecology, climateology, or other topics..."

Lots of bad laws are proposed in legislatures every day. The origin of the proposition 209 in California (banning affirmative action in state schools) was a proposed law by Willie Brown, then the Assembly Speaker, that would require state colleges and UC to GRADUATE minority students in the same percentage as they were admitted. That bill didn't pass but it stimulated two college professors to propose what became prop 209.

The religious fundamentalists can home school their kids (a practice that liberals tried to outlaw) to believe in creationism, if they want to. Most of the stuff about creationism in schools is hyped by left wing groups fund raising by scaring people into thinking their liberties are being taken away. Exactly the aame practice is used by NOW and NARAL. The fundamentalists do the same thing in reverse.

Lomborg, for proposing exactly what you posted above, was stripped of his teaching position. Here is the link:

http://www.forsk.dk/uvvu/nyt/udtaldebat/bl_decision.htm

He simply proposed an alternative that was more supported in science than Rachel Carson's science in Silent Spring. Both sides tend to be intolerant of their opponents but the left has had the upper hand in recent years. Espeically in Europe.

Posted by: Mike K at February 20, 2004 02:29 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the stuff about creationism in schools is hyped by left wing groups fund raising by scaring people into thinking their liberties are being taken away.

Creationism is a religious doctrine without scientific evidence or sceitnfic support. Teaching religion in public schools violates the First Amendment. It certainly is taking away liberties.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 20, 2004 03:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,
"Wrong. Actually when the first theories of the atom were being floated there were scientists who actively argued the atoms did not exist. These were actually top scientists and they argued using Popper's methodology. Try reading the link Ron posted above."

You are wrong on ALL counts. Actually I know my history of science. And it's quite clear that you are confusing several things: the modern atom concept and the atom concept of the Greeks. Apples and Oranges.

Popper's methodology came out in 1934. Good evidence for the atom came about in the 19th and early 20th century, and was accepted before Popper ever came out with his "The Logic of Scientific Discovery".

Finally, think through your logic carefully:

When there is resistance to a new idea, by definition, there IS NO UNANIMITY.

I'll coin a new word: Ignorepublican.

Posted by: ch2 at February 20, 2004 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

I meant Steve.

Posted by: ch2 at February 20, 2004 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Creationism is a religious doctrine without scientific evidence or sceitnfic support. Teaching religion in public schools violates the First Amendment. It certainly is taking away liberties."

The "establishment clause" has been expanded into areas the founders would not recognize. This must mean that the Congress is in violation when they open their session with a prayer, money should not have "In God We Trust", we should not swear on bibles or say "So Help Me God" when taking office.

Teaching religion in public school is gone unless you count environmentalism as a religion. The point of my post was that the danger is exploited by fund raising groups like NOW. That statement was actually made by Ralph Nader in 2000. What you choose to be frightened of is up to you. I think it's a minor issue but agree that creationism is not science. "Intelligent Design" is actually not a problem for me even though I'm agnostic.

Posted by: Mike K at February 20, 2004 04:54 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K,
I went up to your post.
"The religious fundamentalists can home school their kids (a practice that liberals tried to outlaw) to believe in creationism, if they want to. Most of the stuff about creationism in schools is hyped by left wing groups fund raising by scaring people into thinking their liberties are being taken away. Exactly the aame practice is used by NOW and NARAL. The fundamentalists do the same thing in reverse."

I don't see what part of saying "creationism is not science" is hype. Second, it is scary to most reasonable people not because any rights are being taken away, but because it's about as sound as teaching that the Earth is flat, the universe revolves around us and Sun goddess is chasing the Moon goddess: it's garbage. Third, what does the National Organization for Women have to do with creationism ? You probably left out a sentence or two, but I can't guess what they were.

Posted by: ch2 at February 20, 2004 05:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is truly awful, and the regular media outlets don't talk about it. Perhaps Bill Moyers can do it, and if enough people in top science push it to NPR, we could get it there. One thing to remember about stuff like this: if enough people call in to shows like Alan Colmes (big audience but fair change of getting in), write letters to the big newspapers, pop science mags, etc, it raises the profile. Many of those "skeptic" people hate this sort of anti-science: if we can get them off religion-psychic obsession and to realize the political component, some will publicize this.

Ironic, how this confirms the very worst stereotype of the conservative as irrational and stupid, yet proud and belligerent about it. There must be some virtuous conservatives out there who hate what is going on. (There are in fact many non-liberal commentators who are hitting this absurdity, like Arthur Silber of http://blog.light-of-reason.com. You don't need to agree with his overall perspective to appreciate his sharp jabs.)

Posted by: Neil at February 20, 2004 07:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Intelligent Design" is actually not a problem for me even though I'm agnostic.

Mike K

Everyone should have the right to seek and choose their faith (or not). I say if a person wants to believe in creationism or intelligent design that is there right. But intelligent design is in no way science. This is an important distinction when considering what to teach the people that will determine our future.

I have to say that I do and have known a fair number of very rational, compassionate (not the perverted Bush version), intelligent, and thoughtful conservatives. They do exist and to the best of my knowledge are disgusted with what's happening.

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 20, 2004 08:13 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K,

The link that you posted is a long complex document - I'll look at it more closely. But, the conclusion of the document reads...

"8. DCSD's position

On the basis of the material adduced by the complainants, and particularly the assessment in Scientific American, DCSD deems it to have been adequately substantiated that the defendant, who has himself insisted on presenting his publication in scientific form and not allowing the book to assume the appearance of a provocative debate-generating paper, based on customary scientific standards and in light of his systematic onesidedness in the choice of data and line of argument, has clearly acted at variance with good scientific practice.

Subject to the proviso that the book is to be evaluated as science, there has been such perversion of the scientific message in the form of systematically biased representation that the objective criteria for upholding scientific dishonesty-cf. Danish Order No. 533 of 15 December 1998-have been met. In consideration of the extraordinarily wide-ranging scientific topics dealt with by the defendant without having any special scientific expertise, however, DCSD has not found-or felt able to procure-sufficient grounds to deem that the defendant has misled his readers deliberately or with gross negligence.

In accordance herewith and subject to the proviso that the book under review is to be evaluated as science, DCSD has arrived at the following

Ruling:

Objectively speaking, the publication of the work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty.

In view of the subjective requirements made in terms of intent or gross negligence, however, Bj?rn Lomborg's publication cannot fall within the bounds of this characterization. Conversely, the publication is deemed clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice."

I'm not sure of your point. "...simply proposed an alternative that was more supported in science than Rachel Carson's science in Silent Spring" ??? What am I missing? Was there some kind of "gross negligence" involved? This could be grounds for severence.


Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 20, 2004 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

The "establishment clause" has been expanded into areas the founders would not recognize.

The Founders were perfectly capable of recognizing "areas" likke religion, science and public expenditure. It is fraudulent to promote Creationism as a scientific theoryy when it is clearly a religious interpretation of a relligious text.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 21, 2004 01:38 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this report certainly echos Bill O'Lielly's question: "Who is looking out for you?"

And the answer is: "certainly not the Bush administration, that's for sure."

Well, then, whom are they looking out for?

$$$$$$$$+christian votes.

F-them.

Posted by: chica toxica at February 21, 2004 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I assume everybody here then is in favor of increased use of nuclear energy? Last time I mentioned it around here the most prominent arguments against are that "radioactivity is dangerous because it's dangerous" and that complex systems should never be trusted. The complexity of nuclear reactors is due to large size and nuclear reactors don't have to be huge, especially if we don't elect a trial lawyer as President.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at February 21, 2004 09:38 PM | PERMALINK

Joseph:
Could you explain the correlation between reactor size and a President's job history?

Posted by: Keith at February 23, 2004 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Union of Concerned Scientists used their great analytical minds to determine the world would run out of gasoline by 1980.....so how can Bush be distorting the facts of global warming when we haven't had any gas for over 20 years????

Posted by: chris at April 8, 2004 09:40 AM | PERMALINK

An unimportant door is never locked.

Posted by: Boskovic Helena at May 3, 2004 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Very good subject.
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