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The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates 509

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Brian Merchant at Motherboard examines the March 26th House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's 2015 budget request hearing. White House adviser Dr. John Holdren addressed the committee to defend funding for science programs. Video clips show comments that are difficult to believe, when you hear them. From the article: '"So, when you guys do your research, you start with a scientific—what do they call it—postulate or theory, and you work from that direction forward, is that right?" Representative Randy Weber (R-TX) said. "So, I'm just wondering how that related, for example, to global warming and eventual global cooling." He paused to make a joke about getting the scientists' cell phone number so he could call to ask when to buy a coat, before concluding that science just isn't up to the task.'"
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The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:43PM (#46655989)

    They do this because the buy the lie that to vote for anyone other than Imbecile #1 or Imbecile #2 is to throw away their vote.

    Captcha: disobey

  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:43PM (#46655995)
    If you look at the latest IPCC report, I don't think you'll see a single instance of "we're all gonna die!" So nice strawman. You can see some of the highlights of the report here: []
  • Re:Cosmos (Score:5, Informative)

    by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:37PM (#46657759) Homepage

    There is more faith in science's belief than there ever will be in religion.

    The very same science that's responsible for the technology you're using right now to communicate with others? The very same science that's responsible for just about everything in the modern world that improves people's qualify of life? Betting on something with that kind of track record is nowhere near the same as the kind of "faith" you're talking about.

    And that's putting aside your ignorance of the actual science and what the actual scientific theories are about. You go on to talk about how science says that "Nothing created something." as if cretins like you haven't said that same sort of nonsense millions of times already, to no effect.

    Which is easier to believe: Nothing created something. Truly absolutely vast quantities of nothingness. No atoms, no quarks, no foam. Just emptiness. And that created something. OR A immortal being who existing in a different reality created this one and because he created it, he is omniscient and omnipotent in it.

    Which is easier to believe? Any explanation that doesn't involve all-powerful, infinitely complex magical beings creating entire universes.

    There are gaps in our knowledge, yes, but that doesn't mean you can make up bullshit about all-powerful sky daddies, claim it's the real answer simply because we lack knowledge at this point in time, and expect to not get laughed at by anyone who is even remotely intelligent. You will get laughed at, and rightfully so. You are the problem.

    Until that day, they must be able to have open, frank and honest discourse without arrogance.

    So, you're saying that you expect intelligent people to take whatever nonsensical garbage you can make up seriously? Good luck with that.

  • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:56PM (#46657865)

    "Somehow we need to find a way to promote science as a way of thinking and do so without hurting the feelings of the religious right."

    The religious right are NEVER going to accept science, since science inconveniently exposes the inconsistency and irrelevancy of religion to understanding the natural world and hence this makes the scientific method a threat to the religious right.

    The outcome is pretty clear, either science wins or humanity looses. The reality is that there is only one of these two outcomes to choose from. Take your pick and take your stand. One can either be for science and survival or against science and for human-sustaining ecosystem collapse. One cannot stand on a fence made of razor wire as there is no middle ground.

  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:08AM (#46657903)

    Holy shit. Oh yes, let's not argue with Science Guy here who shows REAL EVIDENCE that because heating in a box appropriate for a fucking real greenhouse, you know, with plants and shit, seems to be dominated by convective heat transfer, that this THOROUGHLY DISCREDITS the whole fucking fields of observational and theoretical chemistry, and THOROUGHLY DISCREDITS real fucking measurements of in-welling and out-welling radiation measurements. Oh my fucking God, are you that fucking stupid, or that fucking arrogant that you actually believe that you understand this shit? You know (well, YOU probably don't know) that we've sent stuff up into space, measured the amount of radiation coming down onto the earth, measured the radiation that makes it to the earth's surface, and measured the radiation that leaves the earth, and you know what?? It all can't be explained by some fucking air-filled cardboard boxes with plastic film stretched on them. Imagine that!

    There is nothing wrong with not understanding something, but do yourself a favor and don't try to sound like you understand something when it is clear you have no fucking clue what you're talking about. Parroting technical shit to browbeat someone who doesn't understand something is bad enough, but don't try it on someone who actually understands basic physics and chemistry and expect to not be held in ridicule. The link you provide looks like a nice experiment that seems to have been well thought out and executed. I could even offer some opinions on the way it was done, how it could be improved, and the conclusions drawn (exercise for the student: look up the transmission spectra of CO2 and silica windows and polyethylene, and look up the emission spectrum of CO2 and see if you can find one issue to be addressed). But then to take that and run with it because it THOROUGLY DISCREDITS the whole concept of what is referred to colloquially as "greenhouse gases" makes you sound like a complete fucking tool who can parrot all that great "science" and "facts" and shit from other dumbasses with blogs.

    And another thing, your list of refereed papers is pathetic. What is the point, besides AGAIN trying to overwhelm the unaware with a long list of references. Big fucking deal. I read papers like that, so I looked a bit through your papers. First off, a list of random references is completely meaningless if you don't provide context. What is the fucking context here? Why were any of these papers put on this list, because most of them you can't tell from their titles. So let's look at a few of these papers: The Knorr paper, where he says "I expect atmospheric concentrations to have increased, but my modeling suggests it has been relatively flat. We need to understand this better." HOLY SHIT! Tear down the walls! What is the point of this paper on your list? This sounds like a real science paper, not some shocking expose that the emperor has no clothes. Oh, here is one from Iron and Steel Technology. As fine a journal I'm sure that is, I'll think I'll look to another source for climate science related issues rather than one that uses the term "alarmist" so frequently. How about the 2009 Essenhigh paper? Oh, look, as I was googling for it, one of my first links came up with a paper that points out that Essenhigh is repeating a common misconception (and the author thanks Essenhigh for useful comments on his paper to boot). Or how about that 2001 Essenhigh editorial, yes, editorial (even in peer-reviewed papers, editorials don't follow the peer review process).

    Look, learn some basic science, look at the research going on, get involved (intelligently) in the discussions, and leave your pathetic armchair science distortions with the bozos on the radio where you get your other opinions.

  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @03:39AM (#46658737)

    > Has happened at least 12 times in the last 100000 yrs?

    Nope, global CO2 has never been as high as 400 ppm in the past 800,000 years at least, and it's only been this high a few times in the past 20,000,000 years.

  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:4, Informative)

    by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @08:53AM (#46659939) Homepage

    One of the huge problems in the geek community is the propensity to assume other people are stupid. Despite it's being true in many cases.

    I am not assuming anything. I have observed the world we live in and came to a conclusion that is almost certainly true.

    That is, if you assume everyone around you is an idiot, then you feel better about yourself.

    Not necessarily. Even if you think everyone around you is unintelligent, that doesn't mean you think you're particularly intelligent. If you think your level of intelligence is underwhelming, it may not make you feel better to think that most other people are idiots, although it might.

    It becomes a problem when it causes you to become blind to your own ignorance.

    I am by no means blind to my own ignorance.

    How many of us bemoan our lack of dates? How many of us have issues with social interaction?

    I bemoan neither of those things, and am not interested in them.

    The point is, think carefully before pointing your finger at someone and crying, "Stupid!"

    Ignorance is not the same as lacking intelligence. You can cure ignorance.

    And I do think carefully. When I see people supporting the TSA, the NSA surveillance, DUI checkpoints, and other such things that violate our freedoms, they are almost certainly unprincipled and unintelligent. There are many people like that, but those are by no means the only sign that someone is unintelligent.

Many aligators will be slain, but the swamp will remain.