Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

The "Scientization" of Yucca Mountain 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-block-for-science dept.
Harperdog writes "This is a nice piece by Dawn Stover on how science has had little to do with the choice, and blockage of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository. This article doesn't go where you think it will; it isn't too long but is a thorough exploration of the process. Here's a quote: 'Government officials are often guilty of politicizing science. Egged on by business or religious interests, they cast doubt on the scientific evidence for a connection between tobacco and lung cancer, or between fossil fuels and climate change, or even between humans and our primate ancestors. Some scientific findings are suppressed, while others are manipulated or distorted beyond recognition. But in the case of Yucca Mountain, the reverse happened: Government officials "scientized" politics. They made decisions that were largely political but cloaked them in the garb of science.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The "Scientization" of Yucca Mountain

Comments Filter:
  • Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @04:52PM (#37695338) Homepage
    How is that not exactly the same thing? In either case, you're manipulating or misrepresenting scientific data in order to achieve political goals.
  • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:00PM (#37695428) Homepage Journal

    Yep, you are exactly correct. Making up fake science, or using it selectively is politicization in true form. Scientization would be taking a politically contentious topic and limiting its policy to what is determined to be most effective by the scientific method. Luckily we already have that to some extent in the field of medicine, but we could do with more.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:02PM (#37695440) Homepage Journal

    is that people have no clue what nuclear waste is, what it looks like, or how it's stored. Yucca Mtn. is a fine place for nuclear waste. Nuclear waste that should be used in modern nuclear plants as fuel, BTW,

  • by Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:07PM (#37695472)
    Exactly. Just like if you mention you are "seriously investigating" the possiblity that 2 + 2 = 5, you probably won't get tenure either. They will think you are a crackpot. And justifiably so. Intelligent Design is similar.
  • by Misanthrope (49269) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:09PM (#37695500)

    You can't seriously investigate intelligent design, it's not science. Any sane university should run anyone who thinks it is out on a rail.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:11PM (#37695508)

    Never mention the words "intelligent design" if you ever plan on getting tenure at a public university

    Funny, people get all sorts of grants to hit amino acids with lightning and to make artificial life forms.

    Oh wait, that's not what you were talking about, huh?

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:16PM (#37695572)
    From an academic's perspective, UFO investigation is more reputable than ID masturbation. There has never even been a single argument for ID that wasn't circular. "Irreducibly complex" is a red herring invented by ID to mean "we don't understand it, which is proof we can never understand it" which is provably false, as our understanding continually expands.

    ID *should* be a kiss of death to university tenure because it is inherently anti-academic.
  • Re:this is new? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:28PM (#37695700) Homepage

    Obama's looking worse and worse with every day that passes.

  • Re:Wha? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @05:48PM (#37695914) Journal

    Yep, you are exactly correct. Making up fake science, or using it selectively is politicization in true form. Scientization would be taking a politically contentious topic and limiting its policy to what is determined to be most effective by the scientific method. Luckily we already have that to some extent in the field of medicine, but we could do with more.

    The problem with science is that it rarely gives black and white answers to complicated questions, so your results often depend a lot more on what you ask than the actual science behind the answer. Yucca Mountain has been extensively studied, and there is ample scientific evidence to argue both for and against a nuclear waste repository there - the answer depends entirely on how much risk you are willing to accept. Choosing an acceptable risk level is almost purely political in nature, and can change with the political tide. Looking at the acceptable risk when the project started, the scientific investigations conducted since then suggest that Yucca is probably an appropriate place to store waste. Looking at the acceptable risk now, with a more politically powerful Nevada that fought to decrease the acceptable risk level, the scientific evidence suggests that Yucca is not feasible. The science hasn't changed (well, actually it has quite a bit since the beginning of the project, but that isn't really relevant here), it isn't being used selectively, the thing that has changed is the politically-determined acceptable risk. It is quite valid to say that the science doesn't support building a waste repository at Yucca - the science doesn't support it (at a given acceptable risk level).

    The thing that is problematic about this is that the politicians increasingly use this to hide the political decision. They focus on saying that the science doesn't (or does) support X or Y, when really they should be saying that the science doesn't support it at our chosen risk criteria. They do their best to avoid discussion of the risk criteria, which is what the political discussion should be about.

  • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @06:32PM (#37696344) Journal

    You don't have to enforce scientific results; they have a tendency to do that by themselves.

    No, they don't.

    You have to keep testing them and showing the results. Because the people on the other side will keep repeating the same lie over and over, and inventing new lies, and putting them out in every new medium, making them look like the current state of human knowledge, while the facts you thought were enforcing themselves are gathering dust in a journal on the back shelf of a library nobody visits any more.

    Science isn't animate. People have to sell the truth at least as hard as other people sell the lies.

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

Working...