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Science Politics

The Encroachment of Fact-Free Science 962

Posted by Soulskill
from the truth-is-out-there dept.
G3ckoG33k writes "Fact-free science is not a joke; it is very much on the move, and it is quite possibly the most dangerous movement in centuries, for the entirety of mankind. One can say it began as counter-movement to Karl Popper's ground-breaking proposals in the early 20th century, which insisted that statements purporting to describe the reality should be made falsifiable. A few decades later, some critics of Popper said that statements need peer acceptance, which then makes also natural science a social phenomenon. Even later, in 1996, professor Alan Sokal submitted a famous article ridiculing the entire anti-science movement. Now New York Times has an article describing the latest chilling acts of the socially relativistic, postmodern loons. It is a chilling read, and they may be swinging both the political left and right. Have they been successful in transforming the world yet? How would we know?"
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The Encroachment of Fact-Free Science

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  • by Intron (870560) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:33AM (#35405064)

    Let's agree not to call this a "Republican" or "Democratic" position. The problem is that there are adherents to scientific claims who don't know the truth on both sides. I don't claim to know much about climate science, evolution, natural history or reproductive biology. So me claiming a "scientific" position on global warming, creationism, evolution or abortion is to some extent who I want to have faith in. Generally I choose respected scientists, but its still faith on my part because I haven't done the research myself.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:40AM (#35405132) Homepage

    The problem is not that someone is ignorant, it's that people who are ignorant and unqualified to make any decisions, make those decisions based entirely on ideology, and present their ideologically-inspired beliefs as "truth".

    What, I guess, is a step up from doing the same with religion instead of political ideology (hi, "pro-lifers" and evolution deniers), but not by much.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:42AM (#35405176) Homepage Journal

    Really, how does this story rate posting here?

    This is not even a thinly disguised attack piece. Yet another "if you don't subscribe to the current global warming facts you are an idiot" . As in, there is no room for debate, it has been decided, any contrary view is automatically wrong. Any discussion which does not state full agreement is wrong. Any facts not in the approved list are wrong.

    So the entire basis to attack the other side simply is over the one issue Global Warming which is not even completely decided science. We get new information daily, we get contrary information daily, we get supportive information daily, yet the one thing we can guarantee is that the NYT will voice the opinions of the Democratic party as indisputable fact at all times.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:43AM (#35405180)

    Peer review seemed like a good idea at the time, but these days it increasingly seems to be a way for the most powerful clique to ensure their papers get published and no-one else does.

    Ultimately consensus is worthless in science because it's so often been wrong.

  • Most people aren't really suited to a career in science. However, you don't have to be a physicist to "believe" in science (if that's the right word). It's the denial of reality that's the problem, not a lack of scientists.

    Oh, well, even if we cause an ecological holocaust, wiping out all animals on earth larger than a mouse, the biosphere will adapt in the long run. I, for one, welcome our new cockroach overlords!

  • No link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edremy (36408) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:48AM (#35405238) Journal
    Warner seems to be arguing two points

    A) There are lots of climate change deniers out there
    B) Postmodernism has caused lots of people to think that science is all relative, and the folks in A) have adopted that banner.

    I'll really argue the link here- I doubt that *anyone* in A has really, seriously read the literature from B. A is comprised primarily of folks who are either highly religious and refuse to adopt a scientific worldview at all (and would be totally horrified by the philosophy of B if they actually read it) or people who have massive financial incentives to believe that climate change isn't true. The fact that A people argue against science has far more to do with those two factors than anything a bunch of academic nutcases wrote about.

  • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:48AM (#35405240)

    Let's agree not to call this a "Republican" or "Democratic" position. The problem is that there are adherents to scientific claims who don't know the truth on both sides. I don't claim to know much about climate science, evolution, natural history or reproductive biology. So me claiming a "scientific" position on global warming, creationism, evolution or abortion is to some extent who I want to have faith in. Generally I choose respected scientists, but its still faith on my part because I haven't done the research myself.

    It most certainly is a Republican/Democrat position. The difference is that Republicans who don't understand something dismiss is altogether, while OTOH as the Sokal incident pointed out, some Democrats held too much faith in scientists. I would hope that, in matters of science, politicians have more faith in scientists and in, say, religion. I mean, this is pretty chilling.

    As John Shimkus of Illinois, who also sits on the [House Energy and Commerce Committee]— as well as on the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment — has said that the government doesn’t need to make a priority of regulating greenhouse-gas emissions, because as he put it late last year, “God said the earth would not be destroyed by a flood.”

    This kind of ignorance is dangerous and baffling. It's not as if he's arguing against anthropogenic global warming using science. Hell, maybe he believes in global warming and that it really is man-made. But he refuses to accept what will happen because the Bible says otherwise. What. The. Fuck.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:49AM (#35405260) Journal

    Let me guess, you're a Republican Right? And you're too embarrassed to admit that by and large your party has become the anti-science party (unless it fits your religious world view).

    I'd prefer to call a spade a spade and IF THE FACTS SAY (as is appears to be the case) that Republicans have become the party of ignorance then that's what they say. I had no trouble railing against the radical left's relativism so why should I give the conservatives a pass?

    As much as I'd hate to live under an authoritarian police state with few individual rights maybe the Chinese DESERVE to win. They certainly don't have a problem with pushing science and technology as the keys to a powerful and wealthy nation.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:53AM (#35405298) Homepage

    Call it what it is: religion. And no, that does not exclude the "Left".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:54AM (#35405312)

    Just because Republicans think we are some blessed species that should be able to soil this planet any way they see fit thus dooming our species to extension (oh, sorry, "bringing on the second coming of jesus") doesn't make global warming junk science.

    Also, Republicans believe in the biggest junk "science" ever. It's called religion.

    Check and mate.

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:56AM (#35405338) Homepage Journal

    Let's agree not to call this a "Republican" or "Democratic" position.

    Have you read the article? It clearly states that the vast majority of Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates are against global warming. So, yes, this is clearly, first and foremost, a "Republican" problems -- though I'll be the first to admit Democratic politicians also trade in "woo".

    So me claiming a "scientific" position on global warming, creationism, evolution or abortion is to some extent who I want to have faith in.

    First of all, how can you have a scientific position on abortion? It's a moral issue, not a scientific one.

    Second, Abortion is pretty much a clear-cut case: the vast majority of abortions take place while the foetus is several millimeters long. They are not human beings, don't even have a brain let alone pain centers, and don't even remotely look like a child. You may still be against abortion -- and I am even willing to admit there is a moral component to this -- but it definitely require a bit more than the fuzzy statement given above.

    Third, evolution is also pretty much a clear-cut case: we have evidence of evolution happening right now, under our very noses. Evolution has been proven true, again and again, since Darmin formulated it in the 19th century, and only the brainwashed religious masses still contest it. There are even 'sophisticated' theologians who are perfectly willing to admit that evolution and the existence of God are perfectly compatible, for Pete sake!

    Fourth, pretty much everything I said about evolution is also true about global warming: this is not a scientific problem: it is a political problem and a problem of corporate propaganda (meaning: there are some very very rich, powerful and influential people who still want to pollute unhindered by rules and regulations). Period.

    Generally I choose respected scientists, but its still faith on my part because I haven't done the research myself.

    No, you are just propagating Republican talking points. if you have nothing to offer to this discussion, please, by all means remain silent and let other debate with more ideas and facts on both sides.

    There, i have finished my rant, feel free to mod me down to the center of the Earth...

  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:56AM (#35405350)
    Because there is a huge amount of evidence available to even a casual observer, and the opposition has no answer that is even remotely convincing. This is not a statement of faith, this is a statement of reason. To deny that this position is the correct one is to deny that there is any such thing as truth or reason and that we might as well give up trying.
  • by nharmon (97591) on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:58AM (#35405368) Homepage

    There is a problem with ideology being thrust into issues that are not ideological. Which is why I found it a bit strange you lump "pro-lifers" in with people who deny evolution. Doctors and other qualified medical people are not entirely on one side of the abortion debate. And it is often the case where two people can be well-informed on reproductive biology and still arrive at different positions on the issue.

    This is because abortion is fundamentally an ideological issue, incorporating morality, reproductive freedom, and value of life. Which is wholly different from taking an ideological stance on an issue that is not at all ideological, like evolution. In contrast to abortion, with evolution it is very rare for two people who are well-informed of the facts to arrive at different positions on the issue.

    So while I agree with you that ideology does get thrust into situations where it should not be, the reverse of that; taking an ideological issue and demanding that it be evaluated purely on scientific grounds, is equally problematic.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday March 07, 2011 @10:58AM (#35405372) Homepage

    See my reply to the GP below. Then please tell me, why do you believe in evolution?

    Because of the only two available explanation -- evolutions and divine intervention -- one is presented as plausible explanation with evidence, and another is "believe in what I said, or my imaginary friend will tell my imaginary enemy to burn you in hell after you die!".

    If I was a biologist, I would be qualified to analyze the evidence deeper and in more details, however being merely an educated person capable of thinking, I have to do with this.

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:04AM (#35405444) Homepage Journal
    Even if it is a viewpoint typical of Republicans, not all of the social, political, and economic conservatives who align themselves with the Republican party are antiscientific. It's true that many of them have jumped ship at this point, but not all of them have. We shouldn't generalize. Also: spewing bile like that is bad for your credibility, even when your opponent is clearly equally or more aggressive.
  • by bunratty (545641) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:05AM (#35405450)
    If your idea of a "not completely decided science" is one in which we "get new information daily" then there is no completely decided science. I haven't seen any information contrary to the hypothesis of AGW. I see lots of claims of this evidence, just like I see lots of claims that evolution is not how the variety of species came to be [intelligentdesign.org], or claims that the theory of relativity is all wrong [conservapedia.com]. These are all examples of "fact-free science", in that they do not involve scientific evidence. What scientific evidence contrary to AGW do you think you've seen?
  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:09AM (#35405490)

    I've seen this from both the religious and the ardently atheist. I used to work for a guy who was positive the world was 4000 years old. I explained to him several times how things like superposition work but he just never listened. I also have known several people over the years who were ardently atheist, and would gladly tell religious people how stupid they were, but at the same time believed just pharmaceutical companies are trying to trick them into giving their kids autism through poison vaccines.

    It seems to me that the problem is humans are inclined to accept some form of religion, so when most people make the leap to agnostic or atheist they have to find something new, and its usually something moronic like joining PETA.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:10AM (#35405498) Homepage

    That's why it is unwise to simply accept big subjects with many parts, like evolution, as true and inerrant. You wind up believing work from a scientist who may or may not have exhaustively researched the work, combined with many others, and accepting it all without question since it sounds reasonable and either agrees with your assumptions, or disagrees with a belief you dislike.

    I'll take the word of a scientist who may or may not have exhaustively researched the work above that of a random guy who most certainly has not done any research at all.
    The reason science requires theories to be falsifiable is exactly because scientists know they will never ever get to 100% truth. By making sure everything is falsifiable, atleast they can be certain that they get closer to the truth every time a theory is disproven.
    "The whole truth" is a holy grail that'll never be attained, but a good model that can predict reality closely is a pretty good substitute.

  • Climate change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:11AM (#35405516)
    I don't deny that climate change exists; the climate on Earth has been changing since the Earth began and continues to do so. What wasn't been definitively established is to what extent this change is due to the activities of man versus to what extent it is due to the Earth's natural cycles and was going to happen anyway. Although it stands to reason that reducing the albedo of the Earth and dumping all that crap into the atmosphere should have some effect on global temperature, there is no proof that ceasing this activity would reverse the warming trend. We are experiencing basically the same climate now that existed 5000 years ago... what do you blame the climate change of 5000 years ago on?
  • by gehrehmee (16338) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:18AM (#35405586) Homepage

    Things are getting more difficult to prove.

    Depending on what you mean by "prove". It's all too easy to present an argument and have it taken seriously, because the rigor in filtering out bad science is lacking, so it's easy to get something published that "proves" a position. Of course, when the proof/review system starts allowing proofs of all sorts of contradictory things, people's faith in the inscrutability of the proof system goes out the window.

    Now, when you have several thousand people doing scientific research into one subject, you're going to get some dissenting results, either as a result of the "law of averages"-kind of thinking, or because sloppy methodology will creep in. It doesn't matter how rigorous the review system is, this is going to happen occasionally. So we need to figure out how to prevent people from latching onto the one result that shows what they want it to show, as opposed to the thousands that show the opposite.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:19AM (#35405602)

    It's really not strange to lump pro-lifers in with those anti-science nutters. They frequently take the position that a fetus is a person complete with all that entails and that a fetus exists from conception. Such a clumping of cells isn't any more a person than that wart I had removed was.

    A person is entitled to have an opinion on that issue, but rewriting our knowledge to suit somebody that's probably too stupid to recognize that IVF results in far more embryos being disposed of than abortion on a per instance basis.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:19AM (#35405604)

    Actually, wouldn't a real Luddite glom on to AGW as proof that technology is going to destroy us?

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:20AM (#35405618)

    Yes there are bozos out there who push their illogical political. views. There always have been. And some people want to deny science and/or critical thinking, to push a political agenda.

    But I do not see where this is impacting actual scientific research.

    This article is a liberal democrat biased "news" source, trying to smear the republicans. I am not repub myself, and I am not trying to defend the repubs. But, to say this article is shallow, and biased, would be understatements.

  • by kyz (225372) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:27AM (#35405734) Homepage

    This is not even a thinly disguised attack piece. Yet another "if you don't subscribe to the current global warming facts you are an idiot" . As in, there is no room for debate, it has been decided, any contrary view is automatically wrong. Any discussion which does not state full agreement is wrong. Any facts not in the approved list are wrong.

    I don't like the article either, it casts aspersions and doesn't say much. However, I don't like your comment either.

    If you don't subscribe to the current facts, then you are an idiot.

    Global warming is happening. We have hard evidence that the global average surface temperature of the earth has risen between 0.4 and 0.8 degrees C in the past 100 years, and that the majority of this increase can be attributed to human activity.

    This has been under sustained scrutiny for years, and while there have been plenty of improvements in the accuracy, nobody has provided credible evidence that the contrary is true; that AST is not increasing, or that its not primarily attributable to human activity.

    You are free to debate what we should do about it, you're free to model what you think the localised effects of global AST increase will be, you're free to critique the methodology used for data collection, you're even free to throw out the "conclusions" section of any paper and come up with your own conclusions based on the same facts. You're just not free to make up your own "facts".

  • by Artraze (600366) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:27AM (#35405736)

    > Have you read the article? It clearly states that the vast majority of Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates
    > are against global warming. So, yes, this is clearly, first and foremost, a "Republican" problems -- though I'll be the
    > first to admit Democratic politicians also trade in "woo".

    I suppose that depends if "against global warming" is the problem here. Or, perhaps I should say openly against the unscientific plans the Democrats make to "deal" with global warming? But that sounds biased... Better stick with the first one.

    The fact of the matter is that Democrats only _pretend_ to agree with science: Where's their love of science when it comes to nuclear power? Where was all this science on corn ethanol? Has there ever been a scientific study on the effectiveness of wind or solar power in reducing carbon emissions once all factors are considered (production, maintenance, lifetime energy output)? That last one's a serious question; if you know please link me.

    The simple fact of the matter is that politicians don't give a damn about science at all. The just use it to manipulate their constituents and maximize their profits... Democrats pretend the world is ending and that it has to be stopped no matter the cost, and the Republicans pretend it's not and that the Democrats are trying to crush the country. The truth is a mix of both, but let's not pretend that just because a group superficially agrees with a scientific consensus or two that they care about science. It's really just another form of damned lies and statistics.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:28AM (#35405754)
    Can someone tell me how the same people who believe that pumping tons of smoke into the air and pouring millions of gallons of oil into the ocean has no effect on the environment and that the Earth is 6000 years old, are willing to buy off on at least basic atomic theory? Is it because the atomic theory gives them weapons?
  • by hexghost (444585) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:30AM (#35405780) Homepage

    Yet another "if you don't subscribe to the current global warming facts you are an idiot"

    Well, yes, if they are facts, then 'not believing' in them makes you an idiot. You can still debate, but there are certain facts in the global warming debate that are not debatable.

    The article is talking about those who completely deny all facts. The fact you get offended and consider it 'the voice of the democratic party' means you're probably more in the ideology camp than you are in the science camp.

  • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:33AM (#35405822) Homepage
    I don't think YOU read the article, because it spends significantly more time attacking Postmodernism and Relativism - decidedly liberal/democratic phenomena - than anything else. You may be disgusted to realize this, but as far as Truth goes, you're probably closer to the fundamentalists than the postmodernists, because you're convinced that something of the kind at least exists even if you disagree with the details.
  • by rennerik (1256370) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:33AM (#35405830)

    Have they been successful in transforming the world?

    Anti-intellectualism, anti-science, or anti-whatever-else has been prevalent in at least the United States for a very, very long time. And it starts when you're very young.

    I remember being in school, in first grade. I was smarter than a lot of other kids in my class, and because of that I was ostracized. I wasn't allowed to be an intellectual; stupidity was celebrated. Acts of buffoonery were promoted and lauded.

    Is it any coincidence why the most socially-outgoing people, in the history of K-12, are typically *not* the intellectuals? The "nerds" and "geeks" are always kept from ever rising above the "jocks" on the social ladder.

    When you make it to college/university, it doesn't change very much. The nerds are at least not the brunt of jokes, and they're allowed to sit in the science and engineering buildings well into the night, silently doing their nerdy sciency and engineery things.

    But the loud ones -- in sports, and poli-sci -- are still the non-intellectuals of the high school years. And these are the ones who grow up to be politicians.

    So when articles like this act surprised that the majority of the government is filled with anti-elitist and anti-intellectuals, I have to wonder – were they paying attention any, growing up? This sort of conditioning –letting people know that being smart is NOT COOL – starts from a very young age.

    But these people became successful? So they must be smart, right? Oh, if only. It's not about what you know, but rather about who you know. Nerds don't really socialize; we focus on our work, because that makes us happy. The others schmooze and network like crazy, with like-minded anti-science colleagues, who later become leaders, while we're the ones left wondering where the world is heading.

    They become rich and powerful, and spread their ideas to the next generation. Of course, not all of them are successful. Many of them are not. Many of them remained dumb because they didn't realize the importance of knowledge, since it was ingrained to them from a very early age to think that knowledge and intellect are ELITIST and UNCOOL. And so they raise their kids that same way.

    And we're back to square one.

    I've experienced this first hand, and I am sure many have here as well.

    It sucks; it's terrible. It shouldn't be like this. But it is. And I really have no idea what to do to stop it, but the article is right about one thing – it's terribly dangerous.

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:42AM (#35405960)

    We are constantly dismiss non-probably events like invisible leprechauns hidden in the server room. Yet when it comes to your "invisible dad in the sky who gives eternal life" suddenly we're all concerned about the possibility. Biased much? Humans use a mechanism like Occam's razor constantly and its philosophically defensible.

    Its very, very, very likely that the magical beings described in 1st century Jewish writings aren't real. The same way its very, very likely that Gandalf doesn't exist.

    God does not exist because you can't prove it and the ONUS OF PROOF IS ON YOU. You're making an extraordianry claim with ZERO EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE. Everytime we look into the validity of miracles or other religious claims we see nothing but falsehoods. Get over it. If you accept god(s), then you must accept all fictional beings including Gandalf and Arthur Dent.

  • by danbert8 (1024253) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:45AM (#35405988)

    I guess my problem stems from the same argument as drug legalization. I know the ideal is that it only hurts yourself but it causes societal harm. However, the effects of making it illegal are worse than the effects of using the drug. I guess that is more utilitarian than anything else. But realize that my libertarian side says, hey just because I believe that life begins at conception, my neighbor does not. So since this is not a clear cut issue, they should decide based on their beliefs. Now if we had a good legal definition for life, and it was at conception, then definitely abortion would be murder. However, that legal definition appears to be at birth right now (or in the third trimester if late term abortions are illegal).

    ---This is a section break between calm, collected argument and outright flames.---

    However, to touch on the AC's reply, I hate the term Pro-Choice. Unless it was rape (which is a separate issue), there was already a choice made. You don't want to get pregnant, then DON'T FUCK. I choose not to have sex because I don't want a baby. At the very least there is something called "birth control" that when used properly (i.e. not in a drunken horny state) works quite effectively. Don't whine and moan and kill a baby because you decided after the fact that you screwed up. An abortion is not pro-choice, it's pro-regret. I am not forcing you to be pregnant no more than I am forcing you to be in prison after committing a crime. What I am forcing on you is living with the consequences of the choices you already made. Women don't need a mulligan unless they haven't been taught the birds and the bees. Face it women know the dangers of having sex before engaging. Don't let them about face when shit gets real. /flame

  • by pezpunk (205653) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:47AM (#35406008) Homepage

    i would imagine that his libertarian viewpoint informs him that while he has come to that conclusion, reasonable people may possibly disagree. since he acknowledges that his conclusion is a philosophical one, and his ideology values individuality and independence, then it is not necessarily logical to make abortion illegal even though the individual is opposed to abortions.

    This is in fact one essential pillar of pro-choice that people forget. one can be opposed to abortion itself and still be pro-choice. for example, if one believes that the individual, and not the state, is most qualified to wrestle with such fundamental philosophical questions.

  • Caution: FALLACY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mangu (126918) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:47AM (#35406012)

    Well my "casual" observation shows there was another global warming period during the time of Ancient Egypt (circa 3500 BC) and again in the Roman Empire (circa 300-1300).

    Clearly those global warming periods were not caused by cars, so there's no reason to think the present period is either. We need to find the REAL cause for these three Warming periods, which are not man-made.

    Also Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, long before firearms were invented.

    Clearly he was not killed by a firearm, so there's no reason to think someone could die as a result of being hit by a gunshot.

  • by Xest (935314) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:49AM (#35406040)

    Your argument is precisely what TFA is talking about, you don't provide any evidence that evolution isn't real, instead you say that it might not be by asserting that someone has seen no evidence for it, when in reality what you're actually saying is "How do you know evolution is real? I'm too lazy to research it myself, so why should I believe you have?"

    Well here's a shock for you, I have seen evidence for it, I can even replicate it in my greenhouse. I can take a set of plants and sow seeds from them, say 10 out of 1000 seeds germinate in the first 5 days, if I take these 10 seedlings and grow them on to produce seeds themselves cross pollinating between each other I can get a higher proportion within 10 days from those seeds- maybe 50 in 10 days, if I repeat this then over just a few generations I can get high germination rates within 10 days- I can personally select for certain characteristics.

    Similarly in a species of plant with multiple flower colours if I continuously cross pollinate plants with the same colour flowers I can select for a certain colour creating a population where pretty much only this colour ever comes through when the plant flowers. In nature this may occur where there is an abundance of a pollinator that is attracted to certain coloured flowers, meaning that colour is selected for and thrives more than plants with other coloured flowers.

    There are plenty of easily reproducible (albeit sometimes time consuming) examples like this where you can force selection, and it's not hard to see how your artificially forced selection might come about naturally in the wild. If you're really interested, it's not even hard to go and find some examples in the wild.

    You aren't calling anyone out, you're illustrating the problem precisely, you're demonstrating that rather than use science to prove your point you'd rather insist that your viewpoint is valid, even though you have not an ounce of evidence to back your viewpoint. Your method is entirely anti-science, and it is based on nothing more than pure laziness. Yes there's little we can prove without a doubt but you have to make your choices on the balance of evidence, yet people like you wont even look at the evidence, you'll just claim your opinion holds equal merit when it simply does not because you have not done the groundwork to warrant equal treatment for your viewpoint.

    This is what fact free science is, you speculate and question but you do not add to the discussion, you do not provide evidence counter to the viewpoint you disagree with. This is the kind of idiocy that we need to wipe out, if you're going to imply someone might be wrong, provide some degree of evidence beyond your simple preference that it is wrong to back up that point, and most importantly, be willing to accept that YOU might be wrong. If you have a hunch that something is wrong and can't prove it then state that, but do not under any circumstances claim you are definitely right when you don't have the balance of evidence to back up your assertion, else if you do that you are simply put, a fucking idiot.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:55AM (#35406106) Homepage Journal

    But he refuses to accept what will happen because the Bible says otherwise. What. The. Fuck.

    It's not that surprising actually. That is precisely what the Christian faith teaches from day one. You are born, raised by Christian parents, brought to a Christian school once a week (more if you're extra special), and told continuously when you make an inquiry that, "God works in mysterious ways," "Well let's see what the Bible has to say about that," and, "The Bible tells us that if our faith is true, then God will protect us," and other stuff along those lines.

    When you are fed an ideology like that continuously for the first 18 years of your life, and then you see your mentors (parents) react violently or offensively if anyone else comes along and proposes a different viewpoint, then by the time you are an independent adult, you may well consider statements like those made by the representative above to simply be fact, a given, as natural as 2 + 2 = 4.

    That was the final straw that turned me away from my own faith when I hit my young adult years. I realized just how close to outright brainwashing religion was. The fact that some of my otherwise intelligent friends absolutely refused to dig deeper on certain paths of thought (evolution, big bang theory, etc.) simply because they were taught from day one that such types of thinking are, "dangerous," or "unacceptable." Personally, I couldn't force myself to support an institution that actively suppressed curiosity and the quest for knowledge. It just went against everything I felt was important.

    Of course, such teachings aren't exactly the same across the entire religious spectrum. There are some sects of Christianity that actively promote coexistence with scientific research. There are also a lot of intelligent Christian folk out there. But when it comes right down to it, they type of thinking displayed by the representative is not that surprising or baffling to anyone that was raised in the church. It's pretty par for the course for someone of the Christian faith to turn to the Bible on matters or problems that are vexing or frustrating or even scary.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:55AM (#35406110) Homepage Journal

    Of course it is wrong - science is always wrong. It is simply a process of iteratively reducing the amount of error by which you are wrong. And, quite frankly, the current scientific margin of error in most fields is far beyond comprehension. How far is it from LA to NY? How precisely do you want the answer? We have scientific theories in many fields that can give you answers in their respective fields that are equal to giving you the LA-NY distance in millimeters, with the margin of error meaning they're not quite sure about the numbers after the decimal point.

    Science is not a status quo. Science is a method by which to improve the status quo. We had times when the ether was a scientific theory, then it was replaced by a better theory. Any and all current theories are up for grabs - if you can come up with a better one.

    That includes peer review. If you have a method that can be proven to provide better results, show it.

  • by qmaqdk (522323) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:55AM (#35406118)

    As in, there is no room for debate, it has been decided, any contrary view is automatically wrong.

    But from a scientific point of view it has been decided:

    * There is compelling evidence for rapid climate change. [nasa.gov]
    * With 90% probability we caused most of it. [nasa.gov]

    I don't know what it will take to convince you, but if an approval by NASA isn't good enough, I don't know what will be.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:57AM (#35406150)

    The West is already on its way out as a manufacturing and innovation base , most of which has headed east. Soon the chinese will be doing most of the science too and the west will be free to degenerate back into superstition and ignorance once more.

  • by mangu (126918) on Monday March 07, 2011 @11:59AM (#35406184)

    Because of the only two available explanation -- evolutions and divine intervention

    And why do you assume there are only two available explanations?

    What, you have a third explanation?

    Note that he mentioned AVAILABLE explanations, not possible conjectures. You are welcome to create a new explanation for biological diversity and present credible evidence for that, please!

    on Slashdot where people can completely lose their claimed open-mindedness.

    Being open-minded does not mean the same as being feeble-minded. The fact is that science progresses towards the truth [tufts.edu], even if the absolute truth may never be reached.

    Being open-minded does not mean one should reject all the facts that have already been discovered. If and when stronger evidence becomes available, only then will the open-minded scientist abandon current ideas that have been proved plausible through experimental observations.

    Being open-minded means one might do further testing on known truths, in order to discover possible errors in experimental data, in order to refine the model, or in order to close the gaps in current theory.

    Being open-minded does NOT mean one should give equal time to ideas that are complete bullshit, that have no evidence for them.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:02PM (#35406204)

    Oh, please. The climate summit farces in Copenhagen and Cancun show how seriously the rest of the world takes the issue. Most of the Kyoto treaty signers actually increased emissions, some by *more* than the US did. Your high horse is made of straw.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:02PM (#35406218)

    The name itself tells you it is a theory.

    It depends on the definition of "theory" you're using.

    The scientific meaning: A collection of predictions supported by observation and tests.
    The layman's meaning: An idea or concept, generally untested (aka hypothesis).

    It's hard to call "String Theory" a theory because, IMHO it doesn't really make testable predictions.

    I would be more acceptable of religion if it called itself "God Theory".

    Only if they didn't declare a crusade on anyone who disproves their theory.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:03PM (#35406224)

    The summary is talking about the evils of postmodernism, cultural relativism, and deconstructivism.

    The New York Times article linked is about head-in-the-sand data denial.

    These two things have nothing to do with each other. The Republican congressmen in question don't give a damn about postmodernistm or cultural relativism. They don't believe that the truth depends on your perspective, or that morals and ethics are culturally informed. They believe that their ideal of the traditional American way of life is the only truth, and that anything that contradicts that must not be true.

    TFS author is trying to shove a square peg down his favorite round hole.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:08PM (#35406314) Homepage

    Pro-lifers get lumped in with creationists because they tend to be busy bodies.

    Proper "pro-lifers" are all about interfering with other people's choices and playing the role of Puritan.

    They also tend to be the same sort of evangelical fundie types that can't leave people alone in general.

    Pro-lifers and Creationists both are all about "I don't like this choice and I won't let you make it either".

  • by Stargoat (658863) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:33PM (#35406732) Journal

    Above is the first comment that mentions Postmodernism in the entire discussion. That may tell us something about the way the /. community understands the world at large.

    Postmodernism is obviously the problem. It is a fundamentally flawed philosophy that has severely damaged the university environment in the west. Further, the post-modernist ideals have been co-opted by the conservative Christians to justify their preference for 2000 year old parables over modern science.

    Fundamental problems with Postmodernism are:
    1. The way that it ignores humanitarian progress in favor of imposed cultural and moral equality.
    2. The way that it forces itself into soft and then hard sciences.

    There was a time when people needed to analyze and record cultures objectively. Obviously, the racism of colonial Europe and the United States was unacceptable and was rightly changed. However, postmodernism has been mistaken with the change in and removal of racist ideas. Now, instead of people being opposed to racism and focused on the individual, there is an emphasis on the cultural and the relative equality of all cultures and morals. Obviously, not all cultures and morals are equal. Cultures that do not value science and the rights of man are inferior to cultures that do and should be replaced.

    The same is true about ideas. Postmodernism would argue that all ideas have equal relevance. This is clearly not the case. Nutters who build perpetual motion machines, build cold fusion machines, draw on powers from the sky horned god and other foolishness should be treated as nutters. That is to say, ignored. The reluctance to do this leads to the greatest problem with Postmodernism.

    The biggest problem with Postmodernism, however, is the way that the far right (in Europe, Russia, and particularly the United States) has co-opted it to justify the "faith" they have in God, abortion, climate change, and anything else they damn well feel like. The Right claims the umbrella of cultural oppression when they are presented with facts.

    The universities caused the problem and they need to fix it. The social sciences in universities need to abandon postmodernist thought and again embrace science. Cultural relativism needs to come to an end. Slavery, misogyny, and fascist dictatorships have no place in the world today. The same is true with large political parties dominated by religion, be they the Hindi controlled INC, the Christian conservative GOP, or the islamist ABII.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:35PM (#35406766)

    Actually, String Theory isn't a theory - it is a hypothesis. It becomes theory once we have evidence for it.

    theory: [princeton.edu] (a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena) "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"

    Unfortunately, in common use a theory is something not yet proven. But in science, a hypothesis is something that has not been proven while a theory is something that has been proven (or at least, has significant evidence in favor of it.)

    (posted AC since I moderated this thread)

  • by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:39PM (#35406834)

    An abortion is not pro-choice, it's pro-regret. I am not forcing you to be pregnant no more than I am forcing you to be in prison after committing a crime.

    That is the argument that I always have a problem with. I hate the idea of a child being a punishment. That is not concurrent with my religious beliefs at all. I hear so many stories on the news and internet about people who are just crappy parents. I would be more in favor of technologically locking people's gonads until they prove that they can be a good parent. To argue that we should punish people who have shown themselves to be irresponsible and poor decision makers by giving them the responsibility of looking after the precious life of a child seems illogical. I do not believe in life for the sake of life. I believe that quality of life is important. And, if you are brought into this world as a punishment for your parents, I do not believe you will have a high quality life (or at least a high quality childhood).

  • by Frangible (881728) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:54PM (#35407108)
    Speaking of anti-science, would you like to see a pitchblende sample? Hey wait, why are you running away, crying, and shaking hysterically?

    Quick, lets ban tritium exit signs like the city of Berkeley so more people die in fires. We wouldn't want a weak beta emitter to cause no measurable increase in radiation levels to possibly get out!

    Give me a break. The anti-science hippies on the left have been just as damaging, if not worse. Most of the technology we have today is a result of defense spending and research. Who do you think it is that supports defense spending and research? Here's a hint: not the people who jihad against nuclear batteries in deep space probes.
  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:18PM (#35407482)

    As far as the law goes, if you got your girlfriend pregnant, you have absolutely shit-all to say in the matter. It's entirely her choice.

    You're willing to take the kid, go, raise your son/daughter, and willing to sign off that she never has to pay any child support or bother to see the kid if she doesn't want to? Too bad. She can abort anyways. You don't have any "parental rights" till the kid is actually born.

    Counterpoint - you don't want kids, never did, she lied about being on the pill? She decides to proceed anyways and you're on the hook for 18+ years of child support.

    Third point - family court is fucked up. You two have a falling-out later? Chances are the judge gives her sole custody, even if you have a solid job and house and she's a waitress who's been through 3 jobs in 2 years and now is shacking up with a pot-smoking loser. (Not joking, happened to one of my best friends). She decides to run off to two states away with the kids? Good luck even getting an out of state court to enforce a custody/visitation order - but oh boy will they ever go after you if you don't manage to keep up with the child support payments.

    The law is terribly fucked up in many respects. Don't think it ends just at the abort/nonabort decision.

  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Monday March 07, 2011 @01:52PM (#35408054)

    If the anti-abortion position was all about "protecting babies" then you'd have a point. But it's not.

    The "tell" is the legislation that anti-abortion people get passed. It always punishes the doctor, never the woman. If it was all about "saving babies" then the woman should be treated as if she hired a hitman. Instead, she's treated like she has no agency. The evil doctor waved something shiny in front of her so she had an abortion.

    The organized anti-abortion position is about controlling women. "Saving babies" is their marketing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2011 @02:33PM (#35408734)

    Can someone tell me how the same people who believe Earth is at millions of years old and has gone through multiple ice ages and natural climate changes think that human activity is the one and only effect on the climate? Especially when other planets in the solar system display similar climate changes to those Earth displays (unless there are people on those planets, too)? Is it because climate change politics gives them money?

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