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United States Science

U.S. Pushing Conservative Science 1036

Posted by michael
from the badthink dept.
mozumder writes "Does abortion lead to breast cancer? Does condom use lead to increased sexual activity? According to the government, the answer is now inconclusive. The New York Times has a story on how the government is altering low-level scientific conclusions to satisfy conservatives. Will this lead to a mistrust of the government? Or is the government now correct?"
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U.S. Pushing Conservative Science

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  • by SoVi3t (633947) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:34AM (#4975562)
    Will this lead to a mistrust of the government? Umm, since when was the government actually trusted?
  • Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smagruder (207953) <stevem@webcommons.biz> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:36AM (#4975571) Homepage

    You see, there *are* consequences to *not* voting, Virginia.

    What else is there really to comment on?

    • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:15AM (#4975671)
      The more I think about it, the more I like the system that Ecuador uses.
      Voting is mandatory. You want the government services available to citizens? Vote, otherwise you get what's available to legal aliens. While I'd love it if everyone understood thieir civic duties as well as they do their civil rights, which would make this idea unneccesary, the fact is, people don't vote often enough, as a rule.
      And I know there will be those screaming about secrecy of the vote, etc.Note: I didn't say keep track of who you voted for, I said keep track of WHETHER you voted or not. Should be easy enough to do, given the near-universality of SSN's and the like.
    • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zoop (59907) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @11:10AM (#4976452)
      What else is there really to comment on?

      Hmmm...how about the fact that gov't research is being swayed by whomever is in office? This should offend you much more than the fact that your Republican didn't get in (you know, the one for defense, low taxes, and album stickering, or George Bush if you didn't like the Republican).

      This lends credence to the complaints during the Clinton administration that conclusions were being altered to support his policies. I don't care if you're conservative, liberal, libertarian, or socialist, doing policy first and science later leads to bad policy and worse science.

      You should demand more of your politicians and government scientists. I'd hate to think that you'd be just peachy if they faked data to show that the ice caps would melt tomorrow and we need a crash refrigeration program, just because you prefer environmental issues to, say, poverty reduction.
    • Re:Not votint (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099)

      The problem is having someone to vote for. While most people think of not voting as a form of laziness, there is also conscientiously looking at the cantidates and deciding that none of them deserve a vote. If 'none of the above' were a meaningful option on the ballot, I'd vote a lot more.

      Currently, the best one can do is not vote at all, or game the system by voting for the most contentious rivals and hope they are caught in a hopeless snarl of infighting and don't get to do too much damage.

      Currently, we have as close to none of the above as we have ever had, but to little effect. I should think that a vote resulting in a margin smaller than statistical error should send a message, but it seems that the recipiants are oblivious.

      As for the issue at hand, this sort of revisionism is truly a cornerstone of the 1984 scenerio, but I have little doubt that Gore would have done it as well.

  • This may shock some (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nizcolas (597301) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:42AM (#4975577) Homepage Journal
    but most readers familiar with the way science "works" won't be all that shocked. Scientific results are frequently altered or completely made up for one reason. Money

    Most science is funded by a sponsorship of some kind. Very little is done out of the scientist pocket. Because of this, science becomes a sort of business model. As long as the scientist is producing results, his funding continues. See where this is going?

    Is this going to lead to a distrust of government.? Doubtful. It may wake up a few but the vast majority either know now, or will never know.

    • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @11:55AM (#4976620) Journal
      but most readers familiar with the way science "works" won't be all that shocked. Scientific results are frequently altered or completely made up for one reason. Money

      Most science is funded by a sponsorship of some kind. Very little is done out of the scientist pocket. Because of this, science becomes a sort of business model. As long as the scientist is producing results, his funding continues. See where this is going?

      Erm. You neglect a few key points. First, (most) scientists like to publish interesting--or even controversial--results. It enhances their standing among their peers, and often leads to promotion, job offers, and better funding.

      If the results they publish do not suit the whims of their current industrial masters, there is often other funding to be had elsewhere. The flawed 'business model' you describe assumes that there is only one source of funding for only one preferred result. Usually competing interests will fund interesting research. In may nations, government funding is provided by agencies that operate at arms' length from politicians and are most concerned with doing good science.

      Finally, if you make something up in science, you eventually get caught. It's the nature of the scientific method. Someone will check your work--often fairly soon after publication, if not before--and you will have some explaining to do. 'Because the United States Government says so' is not an acceptable proof, no matter what results they buy. Conclusions not based in fact will be challenged.

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:44AM (#4975581)
    Tell me again how a sheep's bladder may be used to prevent earthquakes!

  • I can see how the abortion/breast cancer issue is blatant suppression of scientific evidence,
    however, reading the article the information about condom use seems very accurate to me, and very similar to the information I was taught in middle/high school sex education, condoms work alot of the time, but the only truly sure way to stay safe is abstinence, or monogamy...
    not that most of the slashdot crowd should care eh?
    I mean really a post about sex on a geek website, not having to do with pr0n... come on guys... really..
  • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:50AM (#4975600)
    I don't blame them. According to the studies I've heard, I should be blind now. I haven't had any real problems other than needing to shave my hands once in a while.
  • by Arkan (24212)
    ... some archives are "reinterpreted" so that Watergate never happened, first A-Bomb scientists never disagree with its use, and Bush never choked on a pretzel.

    Welcome to 1984... well, actually 2003, but short term previsions are always optimistics.

    --
    Arkan
  • Condom use leads to increased sexual activity which causes more "accidents" which is why America has a much larger population (density) than China!!

    I hope I'm not trolling, but it seems to me as if the government should have something better to do. This might not "wake up" the average citizen, but I think that I've lost even more faith in my country while still considering it the best in the world.

    God bless America, we sure as hell need it.
  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:57AM (#4975627)
    is all the liberal/anarchists knees jerking in response to this stimuli.

    Disclaimer: For the last 20 years, I have been a legal resident that cannot vote in the U.S., and on every political placement test I've taken, be they from the right or the left, I have landed smack dab in the middle.(end disclaimer)

    That no one ever mentions the idea of "Liberal Science" I find somewhat amusing (and quite frankly, a little biased). Do we all think that products like RU-486 sprung from the ground unaided? The findings of science have ALWAYS been slanted to advance someone's politics, be they environmentalists, cultural conservatives, radical feminists or bomb-throwing moderates such as myself.
    • Perhaps the laws governing technology, research funding, etc have a place on the simplistic "liberal/conservative" spectrum, but science itself, the pursuit of knowledge is apolitical.

      Your suggetion that RU-486's development or even the research that fathered its development is politically driven has a scary luddite feel to it, something like the "arguments" the populace used to buy about the religious amorality of experimenting on cadavers not so long ago. Which itself caused untold suffering by holding back medical science, which is what the Bush administration along with the religious right are planning on doing on other types of research right now. Stem cells anyone?

      Is it really so "liberal" to sell RU-486 in a society in which abortions are legal? Sounds like good sense to avoid the physical abortion procedure.

      I don't know whats more pathetic, that conservativism now means "in bed with big business and big religion" or that we still haven't learned the lessons of history. Not to mention co-opting the word "liberal" to mean anything that isn't religiously conservative is more than a bit disingenuous.
  • by enkidu (13673) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:03AM (#4975642) Homepage Journal
    This is the same administration which when initially asked the question concerning global warming, wanted "more research" to verify that the phenomenon was real. Now that it has been proven to be real, they want "more research" to clarify the extent of the phenomenon. Essentially, after insisting that smoking wasn't harmful to your health, upon being shown that smoking is harmful to one's health, they now want more research to figure out "the degree of damage" caused by smoking.

    This administration is one of the most idealogically fixated administrations in recent history. Ideology always trumps reality in the decision making of this administration. Consider their positions on Iraq vs. North Korea. Consider their positions regarding our signed commitments and treaties vs. our Oil interests (Kyoto treaty). Or "Free Trade" vs. the interests of our Steel and Lumber producers. Or contraception vs. AIDS.

    From what I can tell, the basic ideology of this administration seems to be: The interests of the United States of America lie with the interests of it's big companies, it's religious right, and it's rich and powerful.

    Of course, now I can expect friendly clicks on my telephone and strange delays to the delivery of my email.

    EnkiduEOT ( bomb uranium plutonium smallpox anthrax sarin mustard )

    • by slipgun (316092) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @09:10AM (#4976075)
      This is the same administration which when initially asked the question concerning global warming, wanted "more research" to verify that the phenomenon was real.

      Everyone knows that the earth is warming up. What people disagree over is the cause of that. The theory that it is because of man made CO2 emissions is just that - a theory.
  • If... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cornjchob (514035) <thisiswherejunkgoes@gmail.com> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:07AM (#4975652)
    If there were a connection between abortion and breast cancer, wouldn't there be a connection between miscarriages and breast cancer? Same hormonal changes would occur, I'd think. Only differences would be how the abortion was induced (drugs or surgical). Anyone have any ideas?
    • Re:If... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! (213333)
      I dunno, I wouldn't summarily lump intentinionally induced, accidental, or surgically extracted fetuses as the same.

      A miscarriage is sorta like a pregnant mother rejecting her fetus, which is likely different than intentionally inducing a miscarriage, in which case different hormonal changes would occur. Likewise, a surgical extraction might not have the same chemical footprint as a miscarriage, induced or accidental.

      A more concrete example: Losing fat via liposuction, vs losing fat through diet, and losing fat through exercise are three totally different things: One changes your morphology, one changes your metaBolism, and one changes your physical structure and energy level.
  • The American population is grossly uneducated. If you look at our Japanese or European betters, we can see what a REAL public education system is. A place where people actually LEARN real things.

    Unfortunately, christian wackoes combines with bad journalism has spread many false ideas and impeeded science. Maybe if Americans were more educated more votes would go to people who actually are GOOD for the country (eg.. Not BUSH)

    Things appear to be in a sad state these days...
    • "christian wackoes" "combines with bad journalism"
      "impeeded science"

      Victim of the system huh? Here's my grammar nazi post for the day.

      Your sentences should read "christian wackos", "combineD with bad journalism", and "impeded science". If you're gonna criticize public schooling, don't do it like a retard, unless you're really proving a point by showcasing your own American School System ignorance.
  • by mc6809e (214243) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:32AM (#4975720)
    How can there be any such thing as liberal or conservative science? If the new conclusions are consistent with scientific principles, then they are scientific. The end.

    Oh, you don't like them? BFD. Science doesn't care what you think or what you wish to be true. And guess what -- sometimes science just happens to support the positions of the political right. Anyone who is intellectually honest will just have to accept that.

    And I'm not just some right-wing Bible thumper. I happen to be an atheist and a strong advocate of science. But even I can see how the political left in this country has politicized science and it fucking pisses me off. Science isn't about trying to verify your political prejudices and the political left doesn't have a monopoly on science.

    • by Borealis (84417)
      I think the title reflects the tendencies of the religious right to misrepresent or falsify scientific studies. While I'm by no means implying that there is no such effort by parts of the more liberal elements of society, their efforts at least tend to be a bit less outrageous. Trying to scientifically show that evolution is non-existent and that creationism can be supported using scientific methods would be only one prime example.

      While I have seen liberals misrepresent scientific studies (it's easy to lie with statistics yadda yadda yadda), I have never seen outright lies from the liberal front along the lines of, say, "The Silent Scream". I believe this is because of an idealogical difference of approach. The religious right believes science to be a dangerous and biased opponent and has no qualms about outrageously falsifying it, whereas the liberal society is able to convince itself that the numbers it manipulates reflect "the truth".

      This is a generalization of course, because there are undoubtedly some liberals who believe science is bunk and some religious conservatives who respect it. In general however, the majority of liberals respect the scientific method enough to at least consider conclusions reached using it.
        • Secondhand smoke kills ###### people a year.
        • The rich don't pay taxes.
        • Cell phones cause cancer.
        • There are # million homeless people in the US.
        • Breast implants cause illness.
        • Global warming will kill us all in ## years.
        • Ozone depletion will kill us all in ## years.
        • Overpopulation will kill us all in ## years.
        • Women are paid $.7# cents for every dollar a man is paid.
        • No one knew cigarettes were dangerous before 19##.
        • Cigarette smoking costs the public $## billion for health care.
        • Animals have Rights.
        • There are ### species going extinct each day/month/year.
        • It's ---------'s fault children are fat, not their parents' fault.
        • Nuclear power is more dangereous than ------ power.
        • -------- is dangerous in small doses.
        • Vaccines cause autism.
        • Organic food is safer.
        • GM "frankenfoods" will kill us all in ## years.
        • Air polution is getting worse.

        If you want a hundred examples of outright leftist falsehood, you only need to look to junkscience.com [junkscience.com]. It's updated daily. They're not always right, but they seem to have brought back the concept of healthy skepticism.

        This is not a defense of untruth by the right either. I've noticed just the opposite of your contention. Untruths are more a historical phenomenon for the right and more a contemporary phenomenon for the left.

        The thing is, political falsehood is usually used to oppress people, not to free them. In general, modern conservatives in the US want more freedom, and modern liberals want more control over people. This represents a shift from the '60s, and it goes hand-in-hand with the shift in political untruth-telling.

        • Where are you diging this up from? I've had family members who have died from smoking, was their death faked for me by the left?
          Air pollution is getting worse, try breathing country air compared to the air in Detroit where I live.
          No homeless in the country? Have you ever left the pedistol you're on and visited, oh I don't know, ANY inner city?
          Want examples of women being paid less than men? Let me take you to the k-mart where I used to work where I would get a $0.35 raise and a woman would only get a $0.25 raise.
          Of course cigarette smoking dosen't cost the public money, because people who are suffering from lung cancer don't go to the hospital, right?
          Animals don't have rights? Tell me that again when the ecosystem is in shambles and we don't have anything to eat.
          No species going extinct per day? Oh what do you care, they're just insignifigant bugs.
          Nuclear power isn't dangerous? Go visit Eastern Europe and tell people that.

          For the love of God, think before you sound tremendously stupid, but above all, remember that no one political party is out to "get you", and so no one political party is going to make up world history and scientific breakthroughs over the past century! I suppose man never landed on the moon too, right?
        • by Hauptkov (414018) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @08:11PM (#4978788) Homepage
          "If you want a hundred examples of outright leftist falsehood, you only need to look to junkscience.com [junkscience.com]. It's updated daily. They're not always right, but they seem to have brought back the concept of healthy skepticism."

          Ah, Steven Milloy. Webmaster of junkscience.com [junkscience.com], and tobacco industry shill.

          PR Watch [prwatch.org] had a huge article on Milloy, which you can read here [prwatch.org].

          Basic story: "the Junkman" got his start through Phillip Morris's dealings with PR firm Burston-Marsteller when they started creating phony scientific groups to oppose inconvenient research into the harmfulness of tobacco, and phony grassroots citizens' groups to make it appear there was a public groundswell of support for tobacco companies. Guess who was on board some of the groups to give "scientific weight" to what they said.

          Here are some excerpts of the article:

          Steven Milloy describes himself as the publisher of the Junk Science Home Page and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. "Milloy appears frequently on radio and television; has testified on risk assessment and Superfund before the U.S. Congress; and has lectured before numerous organizations," it adds, noting that he has also "written articles that have appeared in the New York Post, USA Today, Washington Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, and the Investors' Business Daily."


          These facts are all accurate as far they go, but they say nothing about how Milloy came to be a prominent debunker of "junk science." This omission is undoubtedly by design, because it would certainly be embarrassing to admit that a self-proclaimed scientific reformer got his start as a behind-the-scenes lobbyist for the tobacco industry, which has arguably done more to corrupt science than any other industry in history.

          Early in his career, Milloy worked for a company called Multinational Business Services, a Washington lobby shop that Philip Morris described as its "primary contact" on the issue of secondhand cigarette smoke in the early 1990s. Later, he became executive director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), an organization that was covertly created by Philip Morris for the express purpose of generating scientific controversy regarding the link between secondhand smoke and cancer.
          ...
          After leaving Tozzi's service, Milloy became president of his own organization called the "Regulatory Impact Analysis Project, Inc.," where he wrote a couple of reports arguing that "most environmental risks are so small or indistinguishable that their existence cannot be proven." Shortly thereafter, he launched the "Junk Science Home Page." Calling himself "the Junkman," he offered daily attacks on environmentalists, public health and food safety regulators, anti-nuclear and animal rights activists, and a wide range of other targets that he accused of using unsound science to advance various political agendas.


          Milloy was also active in defense of the tobacco industry, particularly in regard to the issue of environmental tobacco smoke. He dismissed the EPA's 1993 report linking secondhand smoke to cancer as "a joke," and when the British Medical Journal published its own study with similar results in 1997, he scoffed that "it remains a joke today." After one researcher published a study linking secondhand smoke to cancer, Milloy wrote that she "must have pictures of journal editors in compromising positions with farm animals. How else can you explain her studies seeing the light of day?"

          In August 1997, the New York Times reported that Milloy was one of the paid speakers at a Miami briefing for foreign reporters sponsored by the British-American Tobacco Company, whose Brown & Williamson unit makes popular cigarettes like Kool, Carlton and Lucky Strike. At the briefing, which was off-limits to U.S. journalists, the company flew in dozens of reporters from countries including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru and paid for their hotel rooms and expensive meals while the reporters sat through presentations that ridiculed "lawsuit-driven societies like the United States" for using "unsound science" to raise questions about "infinitesimal, if not hypothetical, risks" related to inhaling a "whiff" of tobacco smoke.
          ...
          Milloy is also highly visible on the internet. In addition to publishing the Junk Science Home Page and a website for the No More Scares campaign, Milloy also operates a "Consumer Distorts" website devoted to attacking Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, which Milloy accuses of socialism, sensationalism, and "scaring consumers away from products."


          And here are some more PR [prwatch.org] Watch [prwatch.org] articles [prwatch.org] on Mr. Milloy.
        • Animals have Rights.

          "Outright lie"?

          This is a political belief. It can be right or wrong, but not true or false.

    • by jgalun (8930) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @12:16PM (#4976711) Homepage
      You know, the modding on Slashdot is outrageous sometimes. There is nothing trollish about this post. But too many moderators on Slashdot think that trolling means saying something they don't like.

      Someone posts a comment that the only reason other countries in the world have weapons is because they're afraid of an American attack, and it gets moderated as +5 insightful. Someone simply says that there are left-wingers who produce biased science too (which is demonstably true), and he gets modded as a troll.

      Recently, in a thread on SGI, I saw a post by a user with an ID around 600, which gave a lot of evidence for why SGI is in trouble in a number of marketplaces, because of pressure from cheap Athlon systems. He got modded as a troll. Then a user with a userID above 600,000 posted nothing more than "SGI will lose because Linux is taking it on the low-end" and got rated as insightful. So apparently, if you say SGI is dying because of low-end PCs, that's trolling because Slashdotters emotionally prefer SGIs to PCs. But if you say SGI is dying because of Linux, that's not trolling, because Slashdotters emotionally prefer Linux to all else.

      You can mod me down as off-topic, or as a troll, but I don't care. Moderators need to recognize that just because you don't like an opinion doesn't make it a troll.
  • by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:38AM (#4975737) Journal
    Two recent political leaders allegedly had
    this nefarious habit:

    -: Both came to power after dubious elections,
    by non-electorial and irregular methods.
    -: Both nations immediately experienced attacks
    on famous public buildings.
    -: Both blamed an ethnic minority before
    forensics had any evidence.
    -: Both led "witch-hunts" against the accused
    minority.
    -: Both suspended civil liberties "temporarily."
    -: Both put the citizenry under surveillance.
    -: Both maintained secret and clandestine
    governments.
    -: Both launched wars against most of the world.

    One had a funny mustache.

    Can you name the other one?
  • by Tracy Reed (3563) <treedNO@SPAMultraviolet.org> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:41AM (#4975743) Homepage
    Q: Does masturbation cause you to go blind?

    A: Not as far as I can see.
  • More Infections (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigTom (38321) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:46AM (#4975754) Homepage
    The sad thing is that, as the condom information permeates through the population, the message will end up as "condoms aren't any use" and a load of teens won't bother with them (amazingly they'll still have sex) and infection and pregnancy rates will go up. Tom
  • by rde (17364) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @06:52AM (#4975768)
    Bush's pernicious zealotry is mainifesting itself in far more that revisionism; last July, he cut funding to the UN Population Fund (normally at http://ww.unfpa.org , but I can't seem to get in ATM).
    An enthusiastic bunch of our right-wing friends in the Population Research Institute claimed - without evidence and despite UN law to the contrary - that the UNFPA supported coerced abortions in China. Everyone from Colin Powell down who knew anything on the subject derided the PRI's claimes - check out the PDF [house.gov] from the House of Representatives - but despite all the evidence to the contraray, Bush went ahead and cut funding.

    Interestingly, I googled to check the facts before posting (going against /. tradition, I know. Forgive me.), and came across a plethora of news stories on the topic, most of which run along the lines of "Bush cuts funds to UN body that supports coerced abortion", usually with a denial from some Chinese official. Here's the Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk] version.

    The PRI are here [psu.edu]; couldn't find a link to the story.
  • then guns must lead to more killing, no?

    i'd like to hear the conservative gun crowd scream "it's not the gun, it's the criminal" and then in the same breath tell us it's not the teenager, it's the condom.

    so which do we get rid of? condoms? or guns?

    that personal accountability thing is pretty sneaky! ;-P
    • by kfg (145172) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @07:57AM (#4975900)
      they make sex safer from unintended consequences.

      All we need to do is apply this to guns, then there'll be more, but safer guns.

      The conclusion is obvious. Nerf bullets.

      KFG
  • 21st century (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @07:17AM (#4975817) Homepage Journal
    As someone wiser than me already noticed: This century, it ain't about xianity vs. islam or any that media bullshit. It's about fundamentalism vs. people-with-brains. There really isn't much difference between xian right or conservatives of the bush streak, or islamist terrorists. They're all bludgoning their world-view into other peoples heads with whatever tools are available, and moral is something that applies only to other people.
  • by Rhinobird (151521) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @07:57AM (#4975898) Homepage

    OK. For some reason, all the posts sem to say the same thing.

    • Bush sucks
    • Conservatives don't believe in global warming
    • Condoms are good, how dare Bush push abstinence on the people.


    • First, Bush doesn't suck. Granted I'm a right leaning mid-liner, but that isn't a crime unless I'm in Berkely or San Francisco. ;-)
    • Second, if you believe in global warming, find some real evidence. Yeah there may be an elevated level of CO2 in the air now, but CO2 is a piss poor 'greenhouse gas', methane and water vapor work way better. If there is a global warming trend I'd be inclined to think that it's the sun causing it as there is evidence that Mars is warming, also.
    • Thirdly. What's the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases? Condoms or Abstinence? Maybe there was a leftist bias on those pages to begin with and they really do refect more acurately scientific evidence?
    • by caek (571864) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @11:40AM (#4976558) Homepage
      First, Bush doesn't suck. Granted I'm a right leaning mid-liner, but that isn't a crime unless I'm in Berkely or San Francisco. ;-)

      Your logic is flawless.

      Second, if you believe in global warming, find some real evidence. Yeah there may be an elevated level of CO2 in the air now, but CO2 is a piss poor 'greenhouse gas', methane and water vapor work way better. If there is a global warming trend I'd be inclined to think that it's the sun causing it as there is evidence that Mars is warming, also.

      I've got a masters in Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry. I know what I'm talking about. You are appallingly wrong. You may have heard of a book called the Sceptical Environmentalist, which was pounced upon by many groups (with vested interests in a preservation of the status quo) as proof that Global Warming is a liberal lie. It isn't and that isn't what the book says. The case for Kyoto isn't cut-and-dry by any stretch of the imagination, but asserting that global warming is not happening right now is up there with creationism.

      Thirdly. What's the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases? Condoms or Abstinence?

      OK then. By that logic, what's the best way to prevent gun crime? What's the best way to prevent road traffic accidents? Abstain from guns and cars? We use cars (and the USA inexplicably retains it's paranoid and damaging right to bear arms) because we like and need them. Most people like sex and none of us would be here without it. Persuade teenagers to abstain from sex? You've got to be kidding.

    • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus,slashdot&gmail,com> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @12:37PM (#4976818) Homepage Journal
      * First, Bush doesn't suck. Granted I'm a right leaning mid-liner, but that isn't a crime unless I'm in Berkely or San Francisco. ;-)

      Well, you haven't really said anything here about Bush, just about yourself... But then, the "Bush sucks" posts don't say anything about why he sucks, so most of those are equally invalid.
      No, what's more interesting is the stuff about how Bush went AWOL during a war for over a year - potentially an act of treason, how Cheney's accounting scandals have been swept under the rug, etc. Refute those, and we can start discussing Bush's suck-factor.

      * Second, if you believe in global warming, find some real evidence. Yeah there may be an elevated level of CO2 in the air now, but CO2 is a piss poor 'greenhouse gas', methane and water vapor work way better. If there is a global warming trend I'd be inclined to think that it's the sun causing it as there is evidence that Mars is warming, also.

      From the EPA's Global Warming site: [epa.gov]

      A warming trend of about 1F has been recorded since the late 19th century. Warming has occurred in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and over the oceans. Confirmation of 20th-century global warming is further substantiated by melting glaciers, decreased snow cover in the northern hemisphere and even warming below ground.

      Now, OTOH, what's that mean? Average temperatures have increased slightly, but that could be a natural cyclical trend - records don't go back long enough.
      Rather than saying "find some real evidence" - plenty exists - you should be saying "what does that evidence really mean?"

      Incidentally, on the last Talk of the Nation [totn.org] Science Friday (from NPR), they had a segment on Antarctic science that mentioned global warming studies. Interestingly enough, though parts of the continent are warming, others are cooling, and there's about a 60% cooling trend across the continent.

      Global warming is happening - but we have no idea what that means yet.

      * Thirdly. What's the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases? Condoms or Abstinence? Maybe there was a leftist bias on those pages to begin with and they really do refect more acurately scientific evidence?

      Depends on your definition of "best". What is the surest way to prevent pregnancy? Abstinence. What is the one that most people would be willing to follow? Condoms.
      Look, if what's going on with the Catholic Church is any indication, not even priests can maintain a vow of chastity. To believe that anyone else can is wishful thinking at best and self-delusion at worst.

      People will have sex. Teenagers will have sex. While abstinence would be best, they aren't going to do that. We might be able to get them to compromise and wear condoms, and that is much more preferable to the alternative.

      Similar is dieting - obesity is a huge [pun intended] problem in this country. The obvious solution - eat less, eat more nutritionally, exercise more, etc. is very tough for a lot of people to do. Humans, in general, tend to lack the willpower for self-denial. So, though people know that they're slowly killing themselves, they continue eating Super-sized big mac meals.

      Likewise smoking - anyone who doesn't know at this point that smoking is harmful is an idiot and has been living in a shack for the past sixty years. Nonetheless people still smoke. It takes a whole lot of willpower to change behaviors, particularly when you have to deny yourself immediate gratification - such as the Big Mac, the Marlboro, or the blow job - in exchange for a few possible extra years on your life... at the end, particularly when you don't know if you'll be hit by a bus or drafted and not get to die of natural causes.

      In short, this is why condom use is the best way to prevent pregnancy and STDs - it's the one people will actually follow.

      -T

    • you forgot about some of the other things that keep being said on this thread:

      What's the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases? Condoms or Abstinence?

      I'm getting sick of this misrepresentation of the issue. No shit abstinence is better, but this is a choice that OTHER people are making, not the government. A real characterization of the issue before the government is this:

      Which would be a more effective method of preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STD's: passing out condoms or advocating abstinence?

      This is a much more difficult question, and it is the one we actually face. Just because you say abstinence a better idea dosen't mean ANYONE is listening, and it could be possible that these people who are going to have sex whether you like it or not (which is most people I've knew in highschool and college) could benefit from condoms.
  • by Stonehead (87327) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @08:00AM (#4975909)
    To hell with an euphemism like 'pushing conservative science'. What the NYT describes seems plain censorship and degradation of science to me. So much again for your Land of the Free.
  • by intnsred (199771) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @08:36AM (#4975986) Homepage
    Will this lead to a mistrust of the government?

    That's funny. Let's see, we have a president sitting in the White House who lost the election. The election was rigged in a state run by his brother, oversaw by Florida Sec. of State Kathleen Harris (G. Bush's Florida campaign director). This election included denying tens of thousands the right of voting by a deliberate move of removing felons from the voting rolls (fine) and people whose names and SSNs were similar to those of a felon (not fine!). There are clearly documented examples (referenced by federal US election officials) of denying blacks and minorities the right to vote and of several Republican counties throwing ballots away. When the vote was close military ships and bases overseas were alerted to get more people to vote (on the theory those votes would be overwhemingly Republican). Despite the law clearly saying those votes had to have a valid postmark by the election day, Harris' Florida election people said to count those votes that were not validly postmarked.

    Voting was confused enough that a recount was ordered, a recount approved by the Flordia state Supreme Court. When it was clear that Gore was going to win the recount, the media clearly had to fix Bush in the public's mind as the winner. So the head of Fox News (G. Bush's first cousin) called the election in Bush's favor.

    The vote then moved to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had to work fast because Gore was catching up and would soon pass Bush in the recount. One Supreme Court "justice" [sic] had a son working for the legal firm which presented the Republican's case. Another "justice" [sic] had a wife working for Bush's campaign transition team. Yet those 2 justices did not recuse themselves, and instead were the key votes in the 5-4 decision to stop the recount. A very nice, clean, bloodless coup!

    Many times I've heard the US president tell tales of how the IAEA said in 1998 Iraq was working on nuclear weapons, but he IAEA said no such thing. Many times I've heard the president say how the UN weapons inspectors were "kicked out" of Iraq -- yet they left voluntarily after being frustrated by Iraqi resistance to inspections. It's clear these repeated incidents are not "slips of the tongue." It's clear why the president is lying like this -- he simply wants to build support for an attack on Iraq.

    Why this ramble? My point is this: What person is fool enough to trust the government now? What makes you think we're that naive?

    Given the above examples, given the lies surrounding the Iran-Contra affair and the US importing of drugs to support the Contras during the 1980s, given the history of the Vietnam era -- deliberate large-scale lies to the American people and attempts by the Nixon administration to rig an election -- is there any person who really thinks we live in a democratic republic and that our government is trustworthy?!

    This message -- and your e-mail and movements across the WWW/Internet -- is being monitored by the US gov't and it's "new" version of the First Amendment. Don't worry, you have nothing to fear, just trust us -- we'll only use these new draconian laws on the bad guys and you're "free" talk talk about J.Lo or the Super Bowl all you want...

  • by MickLinux (579158) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @08:38AM (#4975997) Journal
    I'd like to point out that this article is probably true -- almost completely true -- and it's stuff that matters, and it's for us nerds alright, and it's appropriate for slashdot, but it isn't news.

    More than that, the same thing happened in the opposite direction under the Clinton administration. It is one of the reasons that Ayn Rand (and no, I'm not a Randian; I think her books are lousy) claimed that government-sponsored science cannot be science.

    That said, this problem is everywhere. Take a look at science news this week [sciencemag.org], for example. Every week, at least two of their articles are directly politically topics, mostly on the liberal end.

    Or try Scientific American [scientificamerican.org]. Just in time for a big Democrat Party gun-control push, they came out with a whole issue complete devoted to the source of terrorist and revolutionary-army weaponry.

    I have no inherent reason to believe the latest results any less or any more than the results that came out of the Clinton Administration, "proving" that condom use reduced the incidence of STDs, or anything else of a political nature, for that matter. The real benefit (if you want to call it that) of all this pseudo-scientific politics is that it allows anyone to believe whatever they want, and draws all of society away from reality into a fantasy land.

    I'll go one step farther and personalize the statement: if this is the first time that you noticed anything, or if this is the first time you complained -- then you need to rethink whether what you call "science" really is science.

  • by theolein (316044) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @08:43AM (#4976014) Journal
    Since a lot of people seem to make some sort of bond between this topic and global warming, I agree that there isn't much proof that the planet is warming, in an abstract theoretical sense. However I consider what I experience as proof for me:

    When I got to Europe in 1986 from Africa, Winters were blisteringly cold in Berlin in Germany, and I remember one Winter in particular, 86-87, where the temperature went down to -29 Degrees Centigrade. I remember summers here being a balmy 26 to 28 Degrees Centigrade, on a hot summer. I mived to Switzerland in 1989 in time to see a small lake near to Zurich freezing over for most of the Winter for the last time.

    Since then, in the countryside near to Zurich, the last time the small ski-stations had enough snow, anytime in winter for people to ski for more than a week was 1992. I remember sitting outside in the sunshine at 14 degrees Centigrade in a T-shirt, playing my bass guitar, on January 14th 1998. Summers have, since the mid to late 90's, regularly broken all time high records and almost every summer since about 1998 has reached 30 to 32 Degrees Centigrade.

    On top of this the weather has become increasingly chaotic. Autumn and Spring storms that regularly reach huricane strength, each couple of years breaking the record of the last set of storms a few years ago, meandering cold fronts going off their usual west-east course in Winter and bringing a week of sudden (in the space of one hour) freezes of down to -14 Degrees Centigrade which last a few days and the temperature then suddenly boucing back up to 10 Degrees Centigrade. Almost every year now has major flooding in central Europe.

    That was my experience here in Europe. My sister in Australia tells me that the country is getting dryer all the time and the bush fires bigger every year.

    That does make me think, and I don't think that any piece of strange, backward legislation by a somwhat dubious Dubya is going to change that.
    • by Ektanoor (9949) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @10:31AM (#4976301) Journal
      You are partially wrong. While there is no doubt that average temperature has been going positive, there are several situations that lead to conclude that maximums and minimums have not been in place also. Right now, in central European Russia we are suffering the worst Winter since 50 years ago. For nearly all December we are getting an average -20 in several places. Right now, in some cities temperatures are beating the -40 limit. Last year we didn't have such a radical frost but it was largely colder than average. Note that for many regions in European Russia the average in December is -15 - -5, with episodical minimum limits of -20.

      Summer floods have also presented an interesting pattern. Usually, a large section of East Europe gets hotter than +20 degrees (note all numbers are in centigrades). However, this last Summer has not only be too wet but also too cold. In Russia several regions beated the low records for Spring and early Summer. In our region, temperatures were frequently not higher than +15. And it was raining non-stop for several days. Meanwhile, in Siberia it was largely hotter than usual.There they entered Autumn with temperatures higher than +10 in many places.

      Some other examples.

      For some years I see snow falling in middle to late May, what is considered quite unusual for older generations.

      In other situation, a highly traditional weather pattern seen here, suddenly broke for quite a long time. We are not too far from Moscow, so, it is usual to see Moscow's weather coming down here in two or three days. This year, either we had the same weather pattern as Moscow for several weeks, or we were generally colder than Moscow.

      Meanwhile, while colder than usual, Moscow's green belt suffered one of its worst forest fires for many years. Due to the cold weather and these fires, for weeks Moscow was engolfed in a huge smog.

      While I would not dispute the fact that the globe is getting hotter, I would advise to be careful on direct experiences. The weather is surely changing, but not in the stereotyped pattern that the partisans of global waring think.
  • by ONOIML8 (23262) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @09:05AM (#4976060) Homepage
    You guys are trying to mix political terms with science in a very odd way just to stir something up here. Anywhere else on here and this would be modded down.

    Conservative science means running the experiment twice instead of once.

    It is not the same as conservative politics, which I think all this was supposed to be about. Unfortunatly the author, and the /. editiors it seems, had a political axe to grind.

    So now we are left with a parent post that is not a good report on politics, not a good report on science, and is just not good reporting at all.

    Or am I wrong? Is it more important to grind the political axe than to have honor in journalism?

    • It isn't all the editors, it is just Michael. He is an idiot. His stories are generally factually incorrect, and he has absolutly no journalistic integrity. Seriously, look at his previous stories, he always slips in his political views whenever possible.

      Finkployd
  • by Mad Man (166674) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @10:52AM (#4976378)
    Glenn Reynolds [instapundit.com] posted the following on this subject a few days ago, which puts it into perspective better than I could:

    http://www.instapundit.com/archives/006302.php [instapundit.com]

    I'VE BEEN, WELL, NOT EXACTLY CRITICAL of the claims that the Bush Administration is politicizing government science, but quick to point out that this is a problem that's been around, well, forever. (Insert obligatory reference to CDC gun-violence studies [guncite.com] here.) Nonetheless, I'm disturbed at this report [azcentral.com] that the CDC is no longer promoting condom use as a response to STDs, even though condoms are highly effective against AIDS. Sure, they're not perfect protection against everything. But then, seatbelts aren't perfect protection either, and they promote those.

    The problem, of course, is that once the science is politicized and the public health community forfeits much of its public trust, well, the door's open. I'd like to see the public health establishment focus more on science and less on politics. But then, I wanted that five years ago, too.

    UPDATE: Reader Dick Dalfiume emails that concern over the guidelines is overstated, and sends this link [cdc.gov] to the actual CDC page on the subject. I have to say that I agree with him that the story exaggerates the degree of the change.

    Posted by Glenn Reynolds at December 21, 2002 10:08 AM

  • Good troll! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chacham (981) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @11:04AM (#4976425) Homepage Journal
    I just search at +4. Every comment agrees with the story poster. It's amazing how the slashdot crowd responds like clockwork.

    The same story could be written from the exact opposite viewpoint. The author *wanted* to prove what he said well before the article was written. The article preaches to the choir, and does nothing for those who already disagree.

    Was there even a purpose to the article?
  • Sex, Truth & Race (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seven89 (303868) <rc@m3pe[ ].org ['eps' in gap]> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @11:22AM (#4976496) Homepage

    From the article:

    "Information that used to be based on science," the lawmakers said, "is being systematically removed from the public when it conflicts with the administration's political agenda."

    I'm not impressed by the holy hand-wringing. There are large agendas on all sides of issues pertaining to human sexual activity. Whatever a government agency puts up on a web site will always represent the triumph of one faction or another.

    If Republicans and "conservatives" tend to be less than 100% eager to have their moral positions illuminated by "scientific truth," then Democrats and "liberals" get massively rabid whenever the cold reductions of science threaten to intrude into their favorite racial fantasy, i.e., that there are NO racial differences at all, except for those caused by oppression and discrimination.

  • by rearden (304396) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @11:29AM (#4976519) Homepage
    As a part time AIDS/ STD counselor in the gay community I can tell you that the revisionist changes being made by the Bush administration are having devastating consequences on the community as a whole (not just the gay community). Besides changing the sex education training from risk reduction to abstinence only, they are also revising what can be taught and what cannot. No longer can federally funded programs teach things like masturbation- the safest kind of sex (minus the blindness that comes!). We have been told that we must teach everyone that sex out side of marriage is dangerous, unhealthy and immoral! Yes, they actually tell us to tell these kids its IMMORAL! I have to tell a room full of young scared gay boys and girls that they cannot have sex out side marriage... but you can't get married. When pressed on this subject the HHS (Health and Human Services) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) only respond that "Condoms can fail and if you are unmarried it is dangerous and IMMORAL to have sex!" All I can say is that I fear for these kids... they leave these classes thinking that they have no hope- either forget sex completely, because they can not get married, or just do it with out a condom because it is no safer with one! That is what they believe, because at 16, 17,and 18 they cannot always work out the finer details of the tricky HHS wording on condoms. Hell, I had to read it two or three times myself.

    The second problem with the new "Sex Education" (or Abstinence Advocation as we call it) is that in many places it is now taught by "Community Leaders"- better known as religious groups. Now this inherently is not a problem, but the failure to monitor what they are teaching is a big problem. I have been observed no less than 4 times by HHS (which claims to be understaffed) yet the religious groups are not monitored. I have had years of training, studying and education on AIDS, STD, sex education and working with teenagers and the priest at the local church is 50 and knows only that God says do not sodomize, do not fornicate and have sex only in the confines of marriage. Yet in the same time period they have not monitored his program once. I have watched him my self and he refuses to answer so many questions, gives wrong answers to many more and gives religious responses to more questions than not. He has actually called AIDS the gay scourge and implied that the "righteous will be saved by God". I cringe, imagining some confused young man or woman coming to him with AIDS and being told he lived an unclean immoral life and that this is what he gets as "retribution from god" and that he will die.

    Many in the Religious Right (supporters of Bush) accuse the "gay community" of recruiting young men and women into our "cult" (words used by Pat Robertson). Yet, this new "Sex Education" is little more than a recruitment call of children into the Judeao/ Christian belief system- funded by tax dollars. If Churches want to teach abstinence only and parents want to send their kids there then fine. But I have serious problems with revisionist science being taught by Theological Scholars on my dime. If they want to stone children to death with bad science, let it be their own children with their own money!

    If you think that because you do not have children this does not apply to you think again. Who to do you think is going to have to foot the tax and medical bills of all of these uneducated children when they gets AIDS and their parents abandon them as "god less heathen children".

    ***END RANT****

    PS: Just to clarify, my old teachings on sex educations included in the forefront that having sex with only one person in a monogamous relationship is the only partner-to-partner safe sex. Also, I taught them that the only real safe sex is masturbation. But, if they were going to have sex with someone, especially multiple partners, I gave them the knowledge they needed about condoms and other such devices.

    "To the victors go history."
    • Your sex ed classes are the exact opposite of those I had to take when I was a kid. We were never told about abstinence (but we were smart enough to realize it existed). Instead we were told that we would have sex with multiple partners and told how to use a condom (complete with banana demonstration) because we would have the need before the month ended.

      Two opposite assumptions: all teenagers will have sex before marriage versus no teenagers will have sex before marriage. Isn't there a middle ground here? I'm guessing a solution that manages to piss off both the left and the right might be the right one. How about: "If you are going to have sex then use a condom, please. But do your best to wait until you're mature, married, committed, or similar."
  • Political Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HorrorIsland (620928) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @12:30PM (#4976788)
    Did anyone here read the article? Here's an example of a change: from "no association between abortion and breast cancer" to "evidence is inconclusive".

    The first statement should have been removed because it is bad science - science cannot prove a positive.

    The new statment, however, is true - "many studies had reached varying conclusions about a relation between abortion and breast cancer, as the article itself confesses about eight paragraphs later.

    So, the changes now are about putting science ahead of politics. If you don't like politics corrupting your science, you should have been complaining about 2 election cycles ago. Now, instead, you should be applauding.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @01:10PM (#4977002) Homepage

    This is why these organizations should be privatized non-profits. The FDA, EPA, NCI, etc. should be able to say whatever they think best. If some group disagrees, then they can start another group that says something else. No social or political group should be backed by the government as the absolute authority on a subject. This would lead to honesty and lower taxes.

    (Vote libertarian!)
  • And this is news? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tz (130773) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @04:52PM (#4978006)
    All through the '70s and '80s there was a push to fund the panicmonger scientists on the left - The new ice age (switched to global warming, but they will probably be back to Ice Age in a decade or so), Acid Rain (lakes that were highly acid in 1800 but were limed returned to becoming acid, but it was our fault).

    The Hyperliberal New York Times is now upset that instead of giving THE LIBERAL PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC LINE they National Cancer Institute is actually looking at data.

    Abortion is either a factor or a nonfactor in breast cancer. There have been studies validating both sides, but Bill Clinton will have the NCI say there is no effect, and GWB will have it say there is a clear causal connection.

    Condoms are another problem. If they were a drug the FDA would ban them for not being effective or being too hard to use. "Those who used latex condoms correctly and consistently". But how many is that out of everyone who uses condoms? And what of things like HPV that isn't covered by the condom. That, and abstinence. was being censored by the previous administration.

    Maybe there will be a page saying "We recommend the use of low-tar cigarettes and filters" and not making any mention of quitting or abstinence of cigarettes if a Tobacco state politician becomes president.

    The government should stay out of this too. Where in the constitution does it give them the power to do this?
    • by jpmorgan (517966)

      Abortion is either a factor or a nonfactor in breast cancer. There have been studies validating both sides, but Bill Clinton will have the NCI say there is no effect, and GWB will have it say there is a clear causal connection.

      Since when did paralytic fear of coming to conclusions based on the evidence become part of the scientific process? Apparently when GWB got elected...

      The biggest, the best and the most generally trusted studies of the issue have shown that there is no causal connection. Science is full of disagreement, but good science is looking at the evidence and coming to a conclusion based solely on the facts, not the political agendas. In this circumstance, despite the existance of some evidence to the contrary, the facts primarily support the no causal connection side of the argument.

      To overlook the fact that a significant majority of the evidence is in favour of the no causal connection side, and suggest that because there is some disagreement the evidence is inconclusive isn't science. It's a weak attempt to pass off a highly political agenda as scientific fact, and censor information that the administration doesn't want revealed.

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