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Earth Government Republicans Science Politics

Should Science Be King In Politics? 737

Posted by Soulskill
from the instead-of-the-court-jester dept.
Layzej writes "According to former Republican representative Bob Inglis, being conservative means dealing in facts. He suggests that energy and climate policy warrants a conservative approach based on science and accountability, rather than a populist approach based on denial and wishful thinking. He also proposes an intriguing free market solution to our energy and climate challenges."
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Should Science Be King In Politics?

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  • by i_ate_god (899684) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:19AM (#37597528) Homepage

    Surely this subject will instil nothing but the most civil, logical, and objective debates. After all most debates about climate change somehow morph into a left versus right debate, and it's that transition that's really hard. But now we can have the debate in parallel to each other. Throw in the libertarians, and I'm positive that we will all get through this one with not a swear in sight.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Yep, took about 4 posts after yours to happen.
      And he also seems to forget that scientists will lean to where the money is (left or right, up or down). They don't get lots of money if they are studying things that either 1) don't interest, or 2) don't coincide with the purse-string holders' ideas/beliefs.

      • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:49AM (#37598332)

        And he also seems to forget that scientists will lean to where the money is (left or right, up or down).

        If you want to deal in facts, then perhaps you should try showing us evidence for this assertion. The idea that we have been mislead on a massive scale by grant-loving scientists is entirely from the imagination of people who dislike the findings, or from crackpots who had their unscientific papers rejected.

        • by bryan1945 (301828)

          Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Roemer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, 363-406.

          http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/141453-scientists-put-aside-politics-and-focus-on-climate-science [thehill.com]

          http://www.servirglobal.net/tabid/409/Article/497/nasa-to-focus-more-on-studying-climate-change.aspx [servirglobal.net]

          http://articles.latimes.com/1994-03-03/local/me-29585_1_animal-science-curriculum [latimes.com]

          http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/29/yale-to-gre [wattsupwiththat.com]

          • by BergZ (1680594) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @11:44AM (#37599834)
            There was a poll of climatologists conducted back during the Bush administration and even those "government grant" scientists felt pressured to downplay/minimize the consequences of Anthropegenic Climate Change.

            High-quality science [is] struggling to get out," Francesca Grifo, of the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. A UCS survey found that 150 climate scientists personally experienced political interference in the past five years in a total of at least 435 incidents. "Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change', 'global warming' or other similar terms from a variety of communications," Grifo said.

            Source [newscientist.com], 2007.

          • The two links that I can read and that aren't some fringe blogs are completely unrelated to your statement that scientists will study what is popular and receiving grant funding. Furthermore, they also do not support your implied statement that scientists will produce the result demanded by the grant givers, which is the far more damaging claim. The first claim is nothing but basic employment. If you want to have a job, you look to people who are willing to pay you for doing it.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          He didn't say mislead. That's something you added. He said they will study what gets funded. This is obviously correct, as to study something requires money.

          It's also true, however, that there are many individual scientists that have shaded their studies, or neglected to publish studies that came to the "wrong" answer. Elsevier published an entire medical journal that was staffed, edited, and written for by the employees of one drug company. Many of those employees were scientists. All the articles re

  • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:19AM (#37597530)
    Start a "The Scientific Party" and let the democratic process do it's work. If there's a demand for such thing, it will be.
    • by AnonGCB (1398517)

      Not when voting favors big winners over third parties.

      Once we get range voting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Range_voting) then I'd agree with you.

    • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:32AM (#37597616)

      The problem with democracy is that it assumes everyone's opinions on every subject are equal.

      In the real world, they're not. With a sufficiently educated populace, or a sufficiently minor subset of the populace who gets involved in voting and politics, it can potentially work. But with a populace with shrinking levels of basic education and basic abilities to rationally evaluate the information they're receiving, the US is showing that democracy largely does not work.

      The world was a far simpler place when the US system of government was put together.

      • everyone's opinions on every subject are equal.

        I rather believe democracy is the equality in rights. Not the assumption to equality of one's intellect or alignation of ideals with what is best. And a system to avoid domination by those who feel their ideals are superiour as the "stupid uneducated populus".

        In a multi-party system you do end up, sortof, with a more colored government with different ideals in a representation of ideals. (Christian, Liberal, Environmentalists, Extreme Right, Socialist, Chauven

        • by LordNacho (1909280) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:02AM (#37597818)

          "I rather believe democracy is the equality in rights."

          That's perhaps how it ought to be, but these days having a majority based on equal votes is how things are actually decided. Doesn't matter who is right or wrong, just who has most votes. A bit of a problem, because the minute you decide to let people who understand the issues decide them, you will be charged with weakening democracy.

          • "That's perhaps how it ought to be, but these days having a majority based on equal votes is how things are actually decided."

            Boy do they have you fooled. Real democracy these days is based on clever writers and kingmakers who are able to make two sides out of a single sided question. It doesn't matter who the majority votes for if the end result of every question on the ballot is the same.

      • by G3ckoG33k (647276)

        "The problem with democracy is that it assumes everyone's opinions on every subject are equal."

        That is not the characteristic of democracy per se.

        It is rather the hypocritical version of it, the postmodern world.

      • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:50AM (#37597738)

        Our population is more educated today than ever before, though I can't comment on their ability to rationally evaluate much. We also have the ability to do what the Greeks considered essential to Democracy, which is allow every citizen to witness the debate over every subject.

        Internet, TV, newspapers, these things should be improving democracy and making it work on a larger scale than ever. That we use them mostly for porno and formulaic television shows is unfortunate. You could maybe make watching a debate prerequisite for voting, but we have a hard time even making people identify themselves at the polls, much less prove their fitness for being there.

        • Really? Are you sure about that? Because we have ever higher rates of students failing basic math and science tests upon entrance into universities that have been the same for over 100 years. You apparently have been hiding under a rock whilst your education system has been crumbling.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            More educated and better educated are not equivalent statements. More people are given a larger amount of education (finishing high school, attending college, etc.)

            The main problem is that education is primarily behavioral conditioning that would be beneficial for unskilled laborers. So mostly we're teaching our children how to be replaceable by robots or off shore labor.

          • by tbannist (230135)

            Playing devil's advocate, those facts are not contradictory. If a larger percentage of students are allowed to take the entrance tests, you would see a correlated rise in exam failures unless the quality of education was improving at a faster rate than the increase in university exam positions.

        • by Nemyst (1383049) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:14AM (#37597942) Homepage

          The Greeks were arguably far more educated than we are. There is a difference between knowing stuff and being educated. We know way more maths than they did, our science is lightyears ahead, but what does that change? If the state of the art is making wheels out of iron instead of wood, then democracy will ideally work when the voters have a minimal knowledge of wooden and iron wheels.

          The Athenians, for instance, did. Obviously, the people who could vote in this ancient democracy were but a small subset of the population of the city, but those were pretty much guaranteed to have had extensive education in litterature and philosophy, with the latter being critical for thought processes and passing for science at the time.

          In the modern days? State of the art is so diverse and impenetrable to the common man that they know nothing. They do not know the actual statistics on how much nuclear power is dangerous, nor have they read Darwin's theory and the multiple refinements done to it in the years after. They do not understand relativity, they do not comprehend how vaccines work or how virus work.Most do not know psychology, statistics, they barely have a primitive knowledge of their own history learned and then quickly forgotten in high school. In this perspective, we know more on average than the Greeks did absolutely, but quite a bit less relatively.

          I'd say that unfortunately the problem is that democracy was initially created for mid-sized communities with a very uniform distribution of knowledge and education. For extremely large scale communities like many countries these days, where knowledge levels vary wildly, it isn't adapted.

          • by vlm (69642)

            In the modern days? State of the art is so diverse and impenetrable to the common man that they know nothing. ... In this perspective, we know more on average than the Greeks did absolutely, but quite a bit less relatively.

            Maybe short summary is better trained, poorly educated.

            Don't forget cultural and economic pressures to be an idiot, in ancient Greece those pressures were the opposite, to not act like an idiot.

            In ancient Greece, people aspired to be educated, to learn how to think. In modern America, people would literally die rather than think. Its not a fair comparison.

          • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:55AM (#37598384) Journal
            Your post reminded me of a quote from Sagan's book "Demon Haunted World (Subtitled: Science as a candle in the dark)";

            Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United State is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."
        • Re:Voter fraud? (Score:5, Informative)

          by taiwanjohn (103839) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:43AM (#37598262)

          > we have a hard time even making people identify themselves at the polls

          Actually voter fraud is quite rare. There's been something like a couple dozen cases in the last decade or two, and most of those were just mistakes (eg: people voting in the wrong precinct). Election fraud, on the other hand, is a real reason for concern. With recent revelations on the weakness of electronic voting machines, that seems a far greater hazard.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by satch89450 (186046)
        When the US system of government was first put together, the States did most of the actual governing. Federal government didn't have their hands in everyone's pocket -- that came considerably later. There is also the concept of "the science is settled", which conveniently forgets that the climates sciences battle with the physics people about what's verity and what's balderdash...yet the conventional wisdom is that climate change is man-made. Have we as a species affected the climate? Yes. Have we affe
      • Keep in mind that the USA are not a democracy (like most nations) but a republic. In other words you vote for someone, and he does what *he* wants, and nto what *you* want.

        In a democrycy you would vote over: do you want this war, yes or no? Do you want this new law, yes or no? You would not only "apoint" a "leader" and some mediocre control in a "parliament".

        On top of that the USA is perverted into (or always was?) a money aristocracy.

        • by The Moof (859402)
          Actually, we're sort of hybrid of a democracy and republic. We do elect representatives to do our bidding, but we also have votes to pass referendums and propositions (usually happens at the same time as elections). At a federal level, we're a republic. But as you start looking at state, county, and municipal governments in our country, there are democratic processes in place.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        In the real world, they're not. With a sufficiently educated populace, or a sufficiently minor subset of the populace who gets involved in voting and politics, it can potentially work. But with a populace with shrinking levels of basic education and basic abilities to rationally evaluate the information they're receiving, the US is showing that democracy largely does not work. The world was a far simpler place when the US system of government was put together.

        When the US system of government was put together, there was no such thing as the telegraph or telephone or radio. You had messengers riding with news across the country, which was printed in newspapers far from all could read. You can bemoan the current education system and mass media all you like, but to pretend it was worse 200+ years ago you must be dreaming. I would wager the average voter knew far less about what they were doing in Washington than today.

        The main problem is that the US system fairly qu

      • The problem with democracy is that it assumes everyone's opinions on every subject are equal.

        That's not a problem, that's a feature. Do you really want to go back to a feudal system (nobles opinions count more)? Do you really want to go back to a dictatorship (one guy's opinions count only)? Do you really want to go back to an oligarchy (ruling party members opinions count more)?

        In the real world, they're not. With a sufficiently educated populace, or a sufficiently minor subset of the populace w

      • by khallow (566160)
        It's worth noting that the primary reason education doesn't work like it used to in the US is because it has been suborned by an elite who seem more interested in job security and risk avoidance than in teaching the next generation of kids. I speak here of the teachers and their administrators. Sure, there's plenty of blame to be laid at the hands of parents, students, and a tight-fisted community. But none of those three groups is paid to be responsible for the system.
      • You can't have scientists running policy on global warming. If the world is warming, they'll propose anything scientifically possible to do something about it.

        But how about someone who will tell you the economic impact of those actions? How about someone who will tell you the social impact of those actions? How about protecting freedom while implementing the actions?

        Scientists can't answer that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:26AM (#37597562)

    The world is run on emotion as much as logic. Anyone that thinks logic can be king either has never been married, or is rapidly headed towards a divorce...

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:26AM (#37597568) Homepage

    The two solutions that are in line with both past experience and economic theory are:
    (A) cap-and-trade, where the government sells a limited number of pollution permits, allows the buyers of those permits to trade them, and then sends inspectors (funded by the proceeds of the original sale) to ensure that nobody goes over the number of permits they have. This was successfully used to reduce SO2 emissions back in the 1980's and 1990's.

    (B) A CO2 tax, where the more you pollute the more you're taxed. This gives companies a financial incentive to reduce their emissions, and means that those that do reduce their CO2 emissions aren't at a competitive disadvantage from those that don't. Again, inspectors are needed (funded by the tax) to ensure that nobody cheats.

    Both of these basically rely on putting a price on pollution, and then making sure nobody cheats on paying that price. It's enforced by the government because nobody else can - nobody owns the country's air, and nobody reasonably could.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      The problem is that companies don't actually comply - they ship their plants overseas instead. It is often more economical for them to transport goods and raw materials to and from, say, China, than it is to comply with such regulations. The only way for this to work is to implement it on a global level and well... good luck with that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jbeaupre (752124)

        How about if said carbon tax was calculated at point of sale based on CO2 produced to manufacture and transport, regardless of where?

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        US negotiator to foreign counterpart: "We need to reduce global CO2 emissions. We'd like you work with us to create a global cap-and-trade system so that everyone is in the same boat. If you prefer not to be involved with such a system, we will be imposing a tariff of $X to compensate for how much extra CO2 cleanup we need to do because you're not helping us out."

        This sort of thing could be done, if we had the political will to do it. We don't, so it's not going to happen, but it could be if we really wante

  • thats a bigger belief and wishful thinking than anything else.
  • If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:28AM (#37597584)

    If only more conservatives felt the same way. But American conservatives (and Republicans in particular) are about as far as it gets from "dealing in facts" these days and are more anti-science than the far left.

    "Dealing in facts" means recognising evolution. That's unacceptable in the US Right. So something even mildly controversial, like climate change, has no hope.

    • I'd appreciate it if you took a moment of self reflection to examine what you just did. A self identified conservative put forward for debate possible solutions to a problem your platform holds important and regularly has problems with conservatives denying even exists. Presented with this extraordinary opportunity to initiate constructive dialogue to solve this important problem what action did you choose to take?

      "Dealing in facts" means recognising evolution. That's unacceptable in the US Right. So something even mildly controversial, like climate change, has no hope

      Instead of addressing said solution or debating it you make ad hominem attacks on conservati

    • by Solandri (704621)

      But American conservatives (and Republicans in particular) are about as far as it gets from "dealing in facts" these days and are more anti-science than the far left.

      This is one of the myths created by the left. The actual facts are, the recent Bush administration massively increased Federal funding for science [aaas.org], with the vast majority of the increase being non-defense. It's just that the left blew the SSC cancellation, embryonic stem cell research ban, and some purported fiddling with climate research co

  • Not on everything (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nharmon (97591) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:28AM (#37597588) Homepage

    While I can see many will knee-jerk themselves into an emphatic "YES" to scientific superiority in government, there should still be a place for philosophy and morality in politics as well. And in some cases, philosophy should trump science.

    When you might ask? How about in terms of macroeconomics? It makes little scientific sense to provide welfare to people who will never be productive citizens ever again. Yet it goes against our values to not take care of our most vulnerable who are unable to care for themselves.

    It also makes little scientific sense to protect individual rights to the extent that we do. My friends over in Europe and Asia often point out that the banning of hate speech has a demonstrable effect on reducing bigotry. Yet our non-scientific culture values free speech.

    So, science should play a big role in determining the fundamental facts of a political discussion, but after that it is all about values and philosophy.

    • by tbannist (230135)

      It makes little scientific sense to provide welfare to people who will never be productive citizens ever again.

      That's because you are only placing value on economic work. Grandparents (especially retired grandparents) provide a great deal of high quality and unpaid services such as day care which don't show up as economic transactions. Productive is hard to quantify. There are people who do little to be worthwhile people, but I think they are less common than many people believe.

      It also makes little scientific sense to protect individual rights to the extent that we do. My friends over in Europe and Asia often point out that the banning of hate speech has a demonstrable effect on reducing bigotry. Yet our non-scientific culture values free speech.

      Not really. The non-scientific culture values free speech that it agrees with. There are many examples of populist reprisals against p

      • by nharmon (97591)

        Productive is hard to quantify.

        And the difficulty of quantifying it is due not just the multitude of factors but the vagueness of the underlying concept as well. Which ultimately makes the question "How much welfare should we provide in society?" one that science can not answer. Science can only provide the facts upon which society can apply its values against.

    • In order to make any moral decision at all, you need to know the consequences of those decisions. People who don't know science or are not properly informed about the results of scientific studies, cannot make reliable moral judgments and should refrain from doing so. (The latter being obviously problematic, because most people don't know about their ignorance or delude themselves about their knowledge - and there is a selection bias in politics that favors those who are overconfident about their knowledge
      • by williamhb (758070)

        In order to make any moral decision at all, you need to know the consequences of those decisions. People who don't know science or are not properly informed about the results of scientific studies, cannot make reliable moral judgments and should refrain from doing so. ...
        Moral judgment is entirely derivative of our knowledge of the world, of the cause and effect relationships involved.

        You are stuck in a very narrow utilitarian preconception of morality, which is not how most people consider morality.

        That we do not chop up one healthy person to harvest their organs to save five critically ill people is not based on a utilitarian cause-and-effect chain; it is based on the moral judgment your healthy body is not ours to chop. That I do not cheat on my wife is not dependent on a utilitarian cause-and-effect chain (the likelihood of getting away with it and whatever benefits I might persuade

    • by Arlet (29997)

      It makes little scientific sense to provide welfare to people who will never be productive citizens ever again.

      It does make sense. Without welfare, they'll be more likely start criminal activities to support themselves. In the end, these have a higher cost to society than welfare.

  • from the full article: " 'If there is a problem, surely there’s some brainiac who will invent a solution.' Call it the faithful’s faith in the faithless."
    so true.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:32AM (#37597620) Journal

    Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts.

    News flash: neither party can be counted on to deal in facts. I will also say with utter confidence that your party line (of which there are only two) will not determine how factual you are. There are goddamn liars among all the ranks of any party.

    We base policies on science, not sentiment, we insist on people being accountable for their actions, and we maintain that markets, not mandates, are the path to prosperity.

    If you based your policies on science, then why isn't it a completely open process? Anonymize the names (if any) and release the numbers (especially who pays what in taxes from which areas) behind your policy making. Of course you don't and on top of that, paltry though it may be, we have to wait until Obama to get that ball started rolling [whitehouse.gov].

    Oh, yeah, accountable of their actions? Yeah, you rich bastards love to hold each other accountable for your actions [forbes.com] -- especially your financiers [bloomberg.com].

    You would expect conservatives to stand with 95 percent of the scientific community and to grow the 13 percent into a working majority.

    Oh, wait a minute, I see what's going on here. You're not really a conservative. You're like Zell Miller [wikipedia.org] who is a Democrat only by label and paperwork.

    Your proposal, though noble, is a fool's errand. I believe this has been tackled before and the real problem is that you can always find more and more ties to pollution or non-renewable resources being used to make your product and get it to the consumer and then even after that you have the whole usage of it followed by proper disposal and returning the resources. That cheap Dell computer your secretary is playing Bejeweled on? Yeah, that's a nightmare.

    What if we attached all of the costs -- especially the hidden costs -- to all fuels?

    Once you lay out a comprehensive and complete list of what the costs are -- especially the hidden costs -- then I'll hop on board. For now you're basically scratching the surface of a very deep and complicated rabbit hole that is hard to trace backward for many reasons. Some of them supply line problems, some of them scientific problems, some of them statistical problems and some even privacy problems for the users.

    Companies already try to regulate themselves by paying a so called 'carbon tax' by being 'carbon neutral' or by planting just an assload of trees so they can say X trees for Y products sold. But you know, that's all really neither exact nor assuredly truly undoing all that is done in their dealings. And while they might tell the public one thing, I don't think they believe it.

    Could someone please enumerate every true cost of getting one gallon of gasoline into my car tank? What about what happens as I use it? What about what happens after I've used it?

    And the best part is that at some point, as you noted, loss of life is going to be on that list of true costs. Whether you're buying an Apple iPhone that some worker committed suicide while making at the Foxconn plant or BP's little explosion killing 11 oil well workers, you're going to have to say at some point that 1 human life = X million dollars in cost. And that makes people really uncomfortable. It gets even more uncomfortable when whoever deciding that cost considers nationality in influencing that ratio.

    • by Alomex (148003) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:46AM (#37597700) Homepage

      News flash: neither party can be counted on to deal in facts. I will also say with utter confidence that your party line (of which there are only two) will not determine how factual you are. There are goddamn liars among all the ranks of any party.

      Sorry, but for the last ten year or so they haven't been comparable. Yes, neither party is perfect, but only one party has taken a conscious ideological (as opposed to strategic) hard tack away from the facts.

      Only one party has made it a party platform to attack scientific facts based upon religious or ideological principles.

    • by tbannist (230135) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:10AM (#37597892)

      Frankly, Bob Inglis sounds like a true fiscal conservative.

      I suspect people have forgotten what they are, ever since talk radio began turning "conservative" into "people we like" and "liberal" into "people we don't like", there seems to have been a coarsening of the public debate. Nixon officially ended the days of the Republican party being the party of fiscal conservatives, he alienated scientists and universities and began the descent of the Republican party into social conservatism.

      Frankly, I suspect that the Republican party is on the verge of a huge collapse that will have them spending 20 years in the wilderness again, if they're lucky. They are deliberately or ignorantly leading their followers astray, and this will blow up in their faces unless they continue to lose to the Democrats. If they win in 2012 it just may destroy the party. It seems highly unlikely the current Republican fiscal policy will make the U.S. economy better. If it doesn't the party could implode like it has so many times before.

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @10:04AM (#37598494)

        Frankly, Bob Inglis sounds like a true fiscal conservative.

        "True fiscal conservative" usually boils down to "don't tax the rich and don't spend on the poor". Look what happened when the party of "fiscal conservatives" controlled the whole US government for six years during the last decade.

        Frankly, I suspect that the Republican party is on the verge of a huge collapse that will have them spending 20 years in the wilderness again, if they're lucky. They are deliberately or ignorantly leading their followers astray, and this will blow up in their faces unless they continue to lose to the Democrats.

        Fortunately for the Republicans, no one is so adept at screwing the pooch as Democrats are. If the Democrats' politicians had values and leadership, they could have beheaded the Republican party since 2005.

      • by microbox (704317) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @10:27AM (#37598762)

        It seems highly unlikely the current Republican fiscal policy will make the U.S. economy better.

        Agreed. Supply-side economics has been an abject failure. True to form, adherents blame the failure not on the application of supply-side economics, but that it has not been applied enough. A tea-party president and congress might be bloody-minded enough to actually pass legislation that would be disastrous for the US economy.

        If it doesn't the party could implode like it has so many times before.

        I also see this. At a certain point, the public will just switch off as the ever-party-faithful complain that it is really the democrats that caused all the problems by not letting them cut the budget enough, or lowing taxes below third-world standards.

  • false premise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094)

    "Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts."

    I don't think he understands how the rest of us view (modern) conservatives.

    If he's trying with this article to pitch reason and science to his fellow conservatives, by suggesting to them that it's consistent with their core values, best of luck to him. But if he really thinks that this is where his audience is really coming from, he's woefully out of touch. Today's conservatives' unwavering faith in The Market doesn't come from their obs

    • by radtea (464814)

      I don't think he understands how the rest of us view (modern) conservatives.

      From the article: "New power turbines would come to market that remove the sulfur and the mercury from coal before combustion, burning only the hydrogen"

      I'd say he has grasped modern conservatism in its incoherent essentials.

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:37AM (#37597660)

    The problems are many though.

    Conservatism is usually an expression of:

    1. Tradition-keeping
    2. Protection of the already powerful
    3. Fiercely challenging new ideas

    However conservatism changes with its constituents, and across different nations, this core of conservatism tends to be in direct opposition to the changes brought about by science.

    What support of science in conservative circles usually means is: Science has made us strong, we should support what science has done to make us strong, but oppose anything else it may do.

    So yes, we may see some support for an HPV vaccine with more conservatives if this view becomes more common, and I hope it does - but the interests of the already powerful is still what matters, not wherever the scientific method leads.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:42AM (#37597684)
    "former ... representative Bob Inglis"

    I've heard a lot of politicians talking sense, but they are always *former* office holders.

    No human with skin in the game can tell the truth (the whole truth). It is against nature.
  • Scientists produce data. But this data already has some uncertainty (which is often not reported, btw).
    This data is then interpreted, manipulated and possibly even extrapolated, which might introduce additional errors.
    Then extra assumptions are made to arrive at an answer to a question from a politician.

    Can you still call that a fact? I think politicians should merely aim to understand this process.

    • by Arlet (29997)

      Scientists also produce error bars with their data. As a politician, you should look at the data including the error margin.

      For example, if a scientists says that 'A' is happening with a 95% confidence, the politician can then calculate the costs as 0.95 * cost(A) + 0.05 * cost(not A). All kinds of strategies to deal with 'A' can be calculated in a similar way. In the end, net costs for all policies can be listed, and the cheapest one can be implemented.

  • by ideonexus (1257332) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @08:53AM (#37597758) Homepage Journal

    I think it's important to understand why conservatives are rejecting certain scientific facts. People like me on the left often make fun of them as being ignorant or anti-intellectual, but the reality is that it's very difficult for anyone to accept a fact that conflicts with your worldview. For example, history has turned the lawyer William Jennings Bryan from the famous "Monkey Trial" into a caricature of ignorance of foolishness in the face of scientific fact, but that belittles his motivation for fighting against the teaching of evolution: the textbook in question was pro eugenics [ideonexus.com] and used the theory of evolution to argue that society should breed people the way we breed dogs. The Theory of Evolution was a fact, but the public policies people were proposing from it were an anathema to our human values. The theory of evolution has never recovered from the damage the eugenics movement did to it in the early 1900s.

    The same thing is happening now with Global Warming. Whether conservatives know it or not, they are not resisting the Theory of Global Warming, they are resisting the policies that many conclude from it. Publicly accepting the theory and taking a more nuanced position about what we should do about, if we should do anything about it at all, isn't as straightforward as simply running a campaign against the theory itself using the same tactics the Tobacco industry used [ideonexus.com] as recently as 15 years ago to defend smoking against its link to cancer (Yes, 15 years ago. I recently listened to a 1996 Larry King interview with Presidential candidate Bob Dole where they argued about whether smoking was safe or not).

    It's a natural human reaction to reject facts that conflict with our vision of the world. That's why I love the term "Inconvenient Truth" to describe an empirical fact that generates cognitive dissonance. Just today I was reminded of one such truth as the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the discovery that our Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate [npr.org], a fact I resisted for a decade because it paints such an incredibly bleak picture of our Cosmos where the galaxies will eventually vanish from the night sky as they fly away from us and the Universe eventually freezes at absolute zero. But you have to accept the fact and adapt your worldview to it.

    Liberals have their own anti-science views: resistance to GMO Foods goes pretty far into unscientific scaremongering ("Frankenfoods" and anti-corporatism), the idea that smaller classes sizes are the only way to improve student performance (teacher accountability does demonstrate equal results for less money), and anti-vaccination scares come mostly from the left (mostly). The science behind these issues are inconvenient to certain aspects of liberal ideology, so it's easier to go off the anti-science deep end rather than refine their positions. The problem is that we the media finds nuanced debate and finely articulated positions inconvenient to ratings.

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @10:20AM (#37598668)

      "unscientific scaremongering ("Frankenfoods" and anti-corporatism)"

      Sorry but anti-corporatism is hardly UNSCIENTIFIC. With all the military pork and the endless extension of copyright you pro-market. pro-coporate fuckups are some of the dumbest shits on the planet. Nice way to characterize the left as anti-science with your right wing talking points. If anything the left is vastly much more pro-science then the right. This whole idea that you can easily sweep anti-science under the "left" political rubric is a bunch of bullshit. Vaccine people are just insane/crazy, I have never ever associated anti-vaccine people with the left or liberals. This is mere right-wing propaganda to try to demonize the left as "just as bad in their own way" the stupid fox news 'fair and balanced' bullshit. Human beings have always wanted to deny what they feel is inconvenient and it has little to do with political stripe and everything to do with being STUPID. I know people on the right that are intelligent and I know people on the left that are intelligent, but trying to make a political statement out of human stupidity as an act of insight is rather ludicrous.

      Most of your criticism of the left/liberal ideology is based on right wing talking points and media propaganda and not fact.

      There are numerous mother fucking good reasons anti-corporatism exists... here are some just to name a few.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act [wikipedia.org]

    • by Herkum01 (592704) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @11:03AM (#37599238)

      You had me except for the part about liberals and GMO foods. The idea that somehow these corporations are going to lead to just good things is pure fantasy. GMO foods are about LOCK IN. They are worse than Microsoft.

      Take Monsanto, they developed GM seeds that worked with "Roundup", their weed killer. The plants are not better, they are created so they could sell more herbicide. How do they react to competition?

      • Develop a new seed product to work with Roundup - you get bought out so they don't have to compete
      • Storing seed to carry from season to season(besides being considered illegal) - They try to created a termination gene so it cannot carry more than a season. (F*** the farmers who accidentally get cross-pollination from this.)
      • Cross-pollination of seeds with surrounding farms (wanted or not) - your sued for being a moochers
      • Market your products as non-GMO - your sued because there is no proof that there is a difference between GMO and non-GMO (at least in court).

      So you can color me a little jaded if I ain't all Kumbayah about GMO foods and the companies that produce them.

  • I read, "I'll limit government agencies to only be able to see corporate shell games and call it consumer protection".

  • by wytcld (179112) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:09AM (#37597880) Homepage

    I agree that we should tax the externalities of fossil energy use directly, rather than use cap and trade to the same ends. Cap and trade was originally a Republican idea, since it involves a market mechanism (the "trade" part), rather than being a pure government program (as a tax is). But a carbon tax is favored by James Hansen (the NASA climate scientist much hated by Fox), and it's the most direct route to the result.

    But the representative's claim that not raising the minimum wage is favored by science or the facts is nonsense. It's wishful thinking that keeping wages down results in more jobs. We're in an America now where wages have been broadly suppressed for 30 years - over which median income has been nearly flat while per-capita GDP has doubled, with almost the entire gains going to the super-rich. So where are the jobs? On the scientific side, comparisons of similar regions with different minimum wages, and before-and-after comparisons of places where minimum wages have been raised, find absolutely no support for the claim that there will be higher unemployment where minimum wages are higher. None. The evidence, while not conclusive, leans the other way. It certainly isn't "science" then to be against raising minimum wages. It's just what the people who would rather stiff their workers on wages indulge in as wishful thinking. They want it to be true. And if your logic is simple minded, it will seem as if it should be. It's not.

    For one thing, when more people are paid more, the can spend more, which supports greater employment all around. That logic is perhaps too complex for the Republican mind, because it's a second-order effect - it depends on the whole local economic ecosystem's health, rather than the immediate profit to the firm that just hired a worker at a low minimum wage. But complex systems are like that - you get effects out of them that aren't predicted from studying their parts in isolation. The Republican argument against a higher minimum wage follows exclusively from studying a part in isolation.

    So do the Republican arguments against moving to forms of energy production without such dire "externalities." So yes, price in the cost of the externalities with taxes (even though there's no exact math capable of application in setting those taxes), lower the income tax, and capitalism will find a way. Republicans generally doubt that capitalism is smart enough to find a way unless the current economic landscape is kept in stasis. They call this "lessening uncertainty." The modern "capitalist" Republican is as addicted to stasis as the leaders of the old Soviet Empire. Heaven forfend America should ever again have to embrace progress and change. How could we compete in such a landscape, where oil and coal companies don't rule us forever?

  • Representative Inglis became former representative Inglis when he lost in the GOP primary in 2010 to run for re-election. That is what political parties tend to do to people who think on their own...
  • by genner (694963) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:22AM (#37598018)
    Breeding shall now be restricted to once every seven years. For some of us this will mean less mating. For some of us it will be much much more.
  • by abarrow (117740) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:48AM (#37598328) Homepage

    The scientist Ben Franklin (No, it wasn't Albert Einstein) said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

    We had 8 years of a science-and-fact-loving conservative government, after which we had a doubled national debt, two wars, an economic crisis second only to the Great Depression, the demonizing of evolution, and oh yeah, a new attitude in the country that climate change was questionable and that it was probably the scientists that were to blame. Please excuse me if I remain skeptical that a single former representative is going to change much.

    There is a reason why Mr. Inglis is a "former" Representative - his commie ideas about actually believing the scientists were clearly not well received by his former constituency.

  • So ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @10:37AM (#37598910)

    If we simultaneously eliminated all subsidies, we'd unleash real competition among all fuels. Markets would powerfully deliver solutions.

    .... does this mean the end of the sugar cartel?

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @10:49AM (#37599078) Journal
    America needs a tax on ALL GOODS, imported and local produced. It should be on CO2 emissions from where the final and largest sub-component come from. It should be a % of a total tax. If your item comes from a low or none CO2 emission nation/state, then you have no real tax. If it comes from a high, then you get most of the tax.
    One of the right ways to do this, is to make it be CO2 PER SQ KM of land. Not per capita. Per capita does not take into account a number of issues (economic output, ag, etc). Neither does sq km, but it comes closer.

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