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

    by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:27PM (#46655809)

    All you can do with somebody like that is just look them over, wince, be perplexed for a moment, and then move on. They aren't interested, nor would they listen to any attempt to aid their understanding.

    It's not a winnable battle, so don't start the fight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:28PM (#46655821)
    The problem is AMERICA's scientific illiterates. How do you think the idiots get to congress? I'll never vote for anyone that speaks out against evolution.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:29PM (#46655833) Journal
    It's that the Congressman is so sure his remarks will be lauded widely within his District that he doesn't care whether they're accurate or not.

    Typical politician... say what you think they want to hear.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:33PM (#46655879) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. I shouldn't be, but am quite amazed with how people abuse their votes, and WILLFULLY put ignorant imbeciles in congress. And then don't even have enough shame to rectify the mistake.
    Congress should have our very best people, not dregs.

  • what stuns me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:46PM (#46656023)
    What stuns me is that someone that ignorant of the process and so critical of science in the first place, can get themselves put on the Science Space and Technology committee in the first place. You couldn't have picked a worse group of persons to make budgetary decisions about our countries science future. They might as well just go ahead and deny all science spending, kill NASA, DOE, NSF and NIH, and call it a day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:49PM (#46656049)

    If you're going to eat a dog shit sandwich and the only difference is the breed of dog, does it really make a difference?

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

    by Berkyjay ( 1225604 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:53PM (#46656085)
    And this is why we fail. We get so defeated by ignorant politicians and just throw up our hands and say "what can you do?" But we get the government we deserve and most of this country is horribly undereducated and ignorant of how the world actually works.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:55PM (#46656109)

    look, he may be an idiot, but he's not that idiotic. he's trolling. same
    as what bush jr did. classic bullying, pretending to be so unbelievably
    stupid just to get a rise out of your target

    the problem isn't the the electorate is putting idiots into office,
    its that they've decided that the entertainment value of
    putting a bully into office is more important than governance

  • economics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:57PM (#46656133) Homepage

    These guys have no problem accepting the validity of an economic theory based on an "Invisible Hand" - yet when it comes to actual solid science based on actual method and process (as opposed to expensive silk suits), they start looking for conspiracy theories to explain the results.

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

    by JohnVanVliet ( 945577 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:01PM (#46656163) Homepage

    "All you can do with somebody like that is"
    is to do EVERYTHING possible to have them removed from office ASAP!!!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:01PM (#46656167)

    Congress should have our very best people, not dregs.

    It does. It has our people who are the very best at lying through their teeth to accumulate more power and wealth for themselves.

    Yeah, we should probably be aiming for those who are the very best at other things, but unfortunately the voters don't seem to agree with me.

  • by Ogre332 ( 145645 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:06PM (#46656231) Homepage
    It's only a matter of time before we collapse.
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:18PM (#46656327) Homepage Journal

    If you're going to eat a dog shit sandwich and the only difference is the breed of dog, does it really make a difference?

    If given a choice between a Teacup Yorkie sandwich and an Irish Wolfhound sandwich, I think you would be able to state a preference.

    I think voters who live in an area where all they have is a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee might want to consider moving when the first good opportunity comes along. I sure wouldn't want my children to grow up in a place where science is considered a swear word and obvious fairy tales are considered truth.

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

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:19PM (#46656343) Homepage Journal

    I think you're maybe half right.

    We have a little less than half of the people that throw up their hands and give up because it is just so dumb.

    We have another group at a little less than half that are so worn out with work, the 3 kids society said they should have, the junk they spend their money on, etc.. etc.. that they don't have the time to pay attention.

    So you have 2% that are pissed off that our leadership is dumb as hell and are willing to fight the idiocy. And that's not enough.

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

    by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:27PM (#46656407) Homepage

    It's not even that they're tired, or that they give up. It's that most people are apathetic and unintelligent, all in one convenient package.

  • by Gavrielkay ( 1819320 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:33PM (#46656473)
    While I agree the left isn't doing a good job, the right is no more interested in a scientifically literate populace. Our two party system has nicely carved up the population and will continue to trade power back and forth while nothing really changes. And people like you spouting partisan nonsense are part of the reason they get away with it.
  • Re:what stuns me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:33PM (#46656475) Homepage Journal

    It's because these people speak Party orthodoxy and can be relied upon to keep politically-inconvenient science tied up.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:55PM (#46656623) Journal

    I'm sure with 438 men and women in Congress, stupid things get said everyday.

    And most of them are 60 or 70 years old and don't understand things like the internet, cell phones and haven't been in college or highschool in 50 some years to know what science is.

    These particular idiots are members of Senate/House Committees responsible for Science.
    Of all the people in the Congress, they should have some basic understanding of how science works.

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

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:55PM (#46656625) Homepage

    The problem is that these people aren't just ignorant. People who are ignorant can be educated and then they're fine. These people are willfully ignorant. They are purposefully ignorant. They take pride in their ignorance and will do everything in their power to stay ignorant. Trying to educate these people is a losing proposition because they won't listen no matter what you say or how much proof you show them.

    It would be tolerable if these people were just conspiracy nuts ala the "moon landing were faked" folks. We could laugh at them and move on with our lives. These people, however, are in seats of power in the government and are making big decisions about scientific funding. Again, perhaps we could laugh at them if we knew that the educated populace would toss the ignorant politicians when the next election rolled around. Unfortunately, the purposefully ignorant politicians are representing purposefully ignorant people who keep voting them in and who actively oppose educated politicians. To make matters worse, the willfully ignorant politicians gerrymander their districts so that it is nearly impossible to get them voted out of office. They might be purposefully ignorant about science but they are very intelligent about how politics works - a very dangerous combination.

    You can't reason with these people. You can oppose them, but it can be very frustrating when you are derided for wanting someone who is educated to make these decisions instead of someone who thinks God *poofed* everything into existence 10,000 years ago as proved incontrovertibly by a book that they take literally. In the end, I can understand why some people throw their arms up in frustration.

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:55PM (#46656631) Journal

    I object to the false dichotomy presented by TFA and general media...

    Sure, **absolutely** Congress does things that are anti-science...but that's not the end...**who votes for these anti-science policies**???


    climate change denial? Republicans
    creationism in schools? Republicans
    defunding research? Republicans

    there is a solution to this...don't vote for Republicans & call out their BS every time

  • always Republicans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:01PM (#46656673) Journal

    look at the actual votes on's always Republicans doing anti-science policy

    creationism in schools? Republicans
    climate change denial? Republicans
    defunding research? Republicans

    Congress isn't "all idiots"...for every bullshit anti-science law Congress passes there are Democrats/Progressives who vote against it

    Any discussion that does not take these facts into account is pointless and will continue infinitely

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

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:02PM (#46656675) Homepage

    There's also the group that see idiocy all around and, knowing they can't fight it all, fight some battles and toss their arms up on others.

    For example, my wife and I are fighting against EngageNY, Common Core, and the high-stakes testing that New York State has implemented. Without going too much into it (since it is off-topic), let's just summarize to say that New York's Board of Education is highly corrupt and this was rushed into to benefit politicians and funnel money to corporations, not students or teachers. In fact, it is actively hurting students. So we're fighting this fight.

    Unfortunately, we can't fight every fight. I doubt anyone could. Even if you were single, with no kids, and were able to fight these fights every day, I doubt you would be able to battle all of them. At some point, you need to pick and choose and people are more likely to pick the battles that affect them immediately (schools) and less likely to pick battles that might affect them later on (science funding). This isn't to say that science isn't important - I definitely think it is, but you can't fight all the fights all the time.

    Before you judge someone for throwing up their arms in frustration at this instead of fighting, take a closer look and see what other battles they're fighting.

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

    by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:08PM (#46656715) Journal

    This is about science in general, not AGW in particular.

    But if you want to make it about AGW, the science is not based on surveys, nor is it based on computer models.

    It is based on old school physics that's been developing over centuries.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Not the most potent, but the primary driver.

    Since the industrial revolution began,
    a) Atmospheric CO2 has gone from 280 ppm to 400 ppm (40% increase)
    b) ocean pH has gone down 0.1 (30% increase in acidity).

    What each upcoming season's weather will be we aren't sure.

    But we are sure our changes to the atmosphere are warming the planet, acidifying and enlarging the oceans, and displacing and killing living things.

    All your denialist microquibbles, character assassinations, and FUD are red herrings.

    The core science is not in dispute. It is accepted by every established scientific association on the planet, for every branch of science.

    It's basically accepted by everyone except one political faction in one scientifically illiterate country.

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

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:10PM (#46656735)
    Considering the positions of power and influence those fools hold, your statement is pretty much the equivalent of being somewhere lost at sea with a navigator that won't let anyone else navigate despite the fact that he has no idea how to do it, and thinks the compass is some kind of fancy combination lock on a secret stash of fairy dust. The idiots are going to sink the F-N ship and there are NO LIFEBOATS !

    It's generally considered unwise to ignore the creep with the gun to your head, no matter how stupid and irrational he is.
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:46PM (#46657045)

    I wish it was always Republicans. It isn't. We have plenty of liberals running around contesting mature science in things like vaccine effectiveness and GMOs.

    Ignorance and stupidity is bi-partisan.

  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thunderclap ( 972782 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @10:03PM (#46657175)
    e planet, for every branch of science.

    It's basically accepted by everyone except one political faction in one scientifically illiterate country.

    You do realize that this

    \a) Atmospheric CO2 has gone from 280 ppm to 400 ppm (40% increase) b) ocean pH has gone down 0.1 (30% increase in acidity).

    Has happened at least 12 times in the last 100000 yrs? Thats from the core samples pulled from Antarctica. So how many of them involved humans? Hmm.. this one. People who believe that global climate change will lead to floods and lost land and changing weather are right. It will. Its called a living planet. While we might have accelerated the process, the problem is the fact people want to stop it. That's scary. No, you get the right to alter planetary weather because you put a city on a coast. You move the city. (or protect it). The planet won't have runaway greenhouse because its doesnt have the trigger that Venus has. Also we have to accept that 98% of all species of animals have died and we have nothing to do it. Its part of a living planet. Seriously, though we need to stop electing people who are clueless about certain fields. (like science)

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

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @10:03PM (#46657177) Homepage Journal

    Possibly because, given the nature of the committee, and the presumption that people appointed to it would have at least some vague idea about the subject matter, the politician's questions was akin to your mechanic asking you where to put the key in your car. :P

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

    by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @10:36PM (#46657407)

    The real question here is why a politician is actually asking perfectly legitimate questions, but is being labeled stupid on Slashdot for doing so.

    It's so fitting that your username is Jane Q. Public. You are an excellent representative of the general public and their ignorance on all things scientific.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:13PM (#46657653)

    How was this list generated? I took a quick look at a couple of the more recent papers toward the end. This paper, "The Pacic sea surface temperature,
    Physics Letters A, Volume 376, Issue 2, pp. 128-135, December 2011, doesn't mention AGW at all. And this one, "Hydroclimate of the northeastern United States is highly sensitive to solar forcing, Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 39, February 2012, has an implicit acceptance of "anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing" in the final sentence.

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

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:37PM (#46657763) Journal
    Are all the childless people really making more of a difference? I didn't know that clubbing, going to the movies, and trying to get laid really was that effective at motivating political reform!

    We also vote, and have the disposable income (that in your case goes to crap like paying for all those antibiotics you keep ruining as placebos to treat viral ear infections) to contribute to our preferred candidates. And hey, the USSC actually just raised we mere humans to the level of corporations as far as "money as free speech" goes!

    That said, let's not get sidetracked by the breeder-vs-DINK arguments. We have one very simple, fundamental problem with getting scientifically-literate people in office:

    None run.

    We have, as a nearly unanimous pool of candidates, complete fucking morons (with nice hair, oh and "ironically" enough, a median net worth in the eight digits). So whether we vote for Tweedle-dee (D) or Tweedle-dum (R), we still all lose.
  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperTechnoNerd ( 964528 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:55PM (#46657855)
    People think that politicians on committees are by default, advocates of what that committee represents, in this case science. However in government, it is a powerful tactic to form a committee with the sole purpose to subvert, control, or even destroy that which it supposed to support and represent. What better way to change something that you don't like than to be in a position of making important decisions about that thing. There is a calculated reason why there are no scientists on such committees. That explains why they make no attempt to even have a high school level of understanding about science and it's methods. Because it's not about the science to them - it's about control. They already have their opinions formed and the rest is just window dressing. As you said they are very intelligent about how politics works. Why else would people so out of touch with science, who even hate it, want to be on a science committee if not to throw a wrench into the works and control it, and to use it to support their political (and religious) agenda.
  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:14AM (#46657929)

    It won't go down like that.... It'll be more like


    scientist: Oh no! there's a 5 km asteroid going to hit us in 150 days."

    Politician: How do I know you're right? You've been wrong in the past. Earth has never been hit by an asteroid, not in my lifetime or the lifetime of my father's father's father. I don't believe you."

    one week later

    Scientist: We've projected the orbit and can confirm with 99.99% certainty the asteroid will strike the Earth on the west coast of Africa in 139 days at exactly 10:43pm EST. It's 4.2 km and when it strikes it will be a civilization ending event, killing a projected 83% of the human population unless you fund the rocket we need to stop it.

    Politician: So, you're not 100% certain? And you're saying it might strike Africa. And I thought you said it was only 5 km. Now you're saying it's 4.2km. You all don't even know how big this thing is... How much is the rocket going to cost? Do you have any idea what percentage of the U.S. GDP that is!? That's U.S. taxpayer money you're talking about. I think you might be wrong about the collision. You all were wrong about that asteroid... Apo something, right? Why should we agree to spend American taxpayer's money to stop a rock that may strike Africa. That's on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, half a world away. You scientists just don't know what you're talking about with your heads in the clouds looking at your stars all the time. You need to get down to Earth with the rest of us regular folks and do something useful.

  • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:33AM (#46658027)

    "Congress isn't "all idiots"...for every bullshit anti-science law Congress passes there are Democrats/Progressives who vote against it"

    True, but not enough of them. Therein lies the crux of the problem. Science and consequently humanity desperately needs more democrats and less republicans in office. Just like difference between chimps and humans in DNA, that 1% difference results in a very big difference in consequences.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:34AM (#46658037)

    Except for water vapor. That's why it's so important to get the cloud response models right

    Which is why the students of the guy that said 30 years ago one thing about clouds that the deniers keep rolling out are saying that the refined model says no such thing.

    What I find immensely funny is from one end there are idiots saying it's not science because the models "don't change" and from the other there are people saying it's not established science because the models are changing. It all comes down to the equivalent of professional ditch diggers arguing about how best way to do an oil painting.
    You don't know shit about the subject and I only know enough to recognise that, so we are both better off letting the experts discuss it instead of pretending that experts are in some way worthless. There's no point moving goalposts to esoteric fields that are minor contributors to a larger system.

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

    by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:39AM (#46658055)

    Pro-tip: to someone else, so are you.

    The reality is people are really stupid when they go outside their field of expertise. Some people have a lot fewer of these then others.

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

    by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:50AM (#46658089) Homepage

    Pro-tip: to someone else, so are you.

    And? To some ignorant person, Einstein might seem stupid. Someone's going to be wrong. The mere fact that someone else might deem me unintelligent is not something that makes my observations incorrect.

    The reality is people are really stupid when they go outside their field of expertise.

    It's not just that they're ignorant; they're unintelligent and have almost zero critical thinking skills. Examples of this are people who buy into the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" nonsense, accept the TSA or NSA surveillance, keep voting for 'the lesser of two evils', or do any other such thing, and (this is the important part) continue to support these things even after it's explained why it's a bad idea.

    That and most people don't even seem to have the ability to truly understand (not just memorize) even trivial math makes it seem extremely likely that most people are unintelligent.

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

    by BoberFett ( 127537 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:51AM (#46658097)

    Ah yes, it's a right wing conspiracy. Nothing the left wing could be doing might be even remotely possible for damaging education in science.

    "Little Bobby and Suzy are special snowflakes, they don't need to answer the questions correctly, as long as they tried we'll give them gold stars and boost their self confidence."

    Pretty sure that's not a right wing attitude.

  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:51AM (#46658101)

    For instance, not voting for either of the two main parties, joining protests, getting more involved in local politics, etc. A few people can't do it alone. Once most people realize that the two main parties are full of shit and stop supporting them, then things can start to change.


    So, to be clear: literally never.

    See, when people complain that nothing ever changes, it would help if they then suggested ideas which didn't show that they have a complete inability to understand how or why things are the way they are in the first place.

    For one thing, voting third party on the presidential/congressional level is completely worthless if you can't win local or state elections. But of course, if you could do that, then you'd have a largish party which would have internal politics and negotiations of its own, at which point it would be functionally a lot easier to simply run under an existing banner and negotiate for your ideas from within. But all of this would involve actually demonstrating some social and political acumen.

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

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:19AM (#46658395) Homepage Journal

    It's called learned helplessness. Put a rat in a cage and shock his feet. Provide different colored areas on the floor, lights, buzzers and levers. No matter what he does, shock his feet.

    American voters are that rat.

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

    by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:33AM (#46658443) Journal

    You seem to have the impression I conceded defeat, and that I was challenging you to next beat someone else.

    My point was only that I am an anonymous layman, and if you managed to defeat me in a debate it would prove nothing. This isn't a frivolous political argument at a donut shop.

    If the science is wrong prove it on scientific turf. Show NASA where they got their physics wrong, teach NOAA how the climate really works, show the field biologists where all the specimens they couldn't find are hiding.

    You haven't disproven a thing. All you've discredited with your lie ("Greenhouse gas theory... has been thoroughly discredited"), esoteric microquibble (" the experimental apparatus..."), and innuendo of bias ("Fourier's conclusions about his friend's experiments") is yourself.

  • Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:35AM (#46658453) Homepage Journal

    Video clips show comments that are difficult to believe, when you hear them.

    No. This is just what I expect; all the evidence points this way on every other subject, why not on science as well?

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

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:40AM (#46658477) Homepage Journal

    No. The way to tell if someone is fighting is to check and see if the system has invested the effort to squash them. If not, they're having no effect, even if they *think* they're fighting.

    You will not beat the establishment. Ever. It may beat itself out of sheer lumbering stupidity, with which it is copiously oversupplied, but you won't have had any hand in it. Not in the USA, in any case.

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

    by DamnOregonian ( 963763 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:53AM (#46658531)
    I think you are very confused about Fourier's theories on the greenhouse effect...
    Fourier always knew that his friend's experiment formed a real greenhouse. His postulation was that the atmosphere, and "greenhouse gasses" within it could function to similar end, with various gasses of various levels of opaqueness to light wavelengths forming the stable barriers that the glass did.

    That theory is in fact not discredited one bit. Space is the glass. It very efficiently prevents the convection of the atmosphere with the non-heat conducting void beyond. What you cited as being discredited is the theory that physical greenhouses retain their temperature because glass blocks long-wave radiation. I'm not really familiar with this theory, but it's pretty ridiculous on its face. Anyone with elementary understanding of thermodynamics can tell you that the lack of air exchange will greatly outweigh the radiative energy. But the best part is- that has *nothing* to do with the greenhouse effect. It's some kind of weird red herring straw man to distract someone from looking up what the greenhouse effect really is, and to see that you have absolutely no clue what the hell you are talking about.

    The basic physics behind the greenhouse effect are so damn settled, that you have to undo our entire knowledge of the universe, relativistically, and quantum mechanically to alter them. The spectral absorption lines of various molecular gasses are *known*. Some simple thought experiments will lead you to the correct conclusion. Short-wave solar radiation hits something, say the ground. The ground absorbs it, heats up, and emits appropriate black-body radiation (long-wave). In a happy, greenhouse effect-less world, that emitted black-body radiation goes back out to space, and the Earth is a very fucking cold place. In our (thankfully obeying the laws of physics) world, a percentage of those long-wave photons hit something that is opaque to long-wave radiation on its way back out to space. Let's call this substance a greenhouse gas, since its existence will make the Earth retain heat- like a greenhouse retains heat. It is then refracted, with some of the incident photons going back to space, and some going back to the ground for re-absorption. The Earth just netted some thermal energy. It's a good deal for us, and it's entirely necessary in order for this planet not to be a spherical skating rink.

    To call the "greenhouse effect" discredited is to claim that thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics are all wrong, and everything we know about heat transfer, photon absorption and emission and energy are all wrong. You must be some kind of fucking genius. I can see why you don't appeal to authority- you *are* the fucking authority.
  • by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @03:21AM (#46658673)

    Real Christianity has always been about choice. Its the other religions (including greed and self worship) that are the ones indoctrinating.

    I can't tell if this is a genius wry, sarcastic comment. I hope so.

    On the off chance it isn't I suggest a quick glance at years 100-2000 or so and see just how much 'real choice' was offered by the Church..! I suspect 'recant or burn' was a common one.

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

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @04:02AM (#46658819) Homepage

    The reality is people are really stupid when they go outside their field of expertise.

    No. People are uninformed about things outside their expertise. They are only stupid when they try and comment on other fields. I'm not stupid when it comes to combustion engines. If someone asked me if a V8 or V10 were better I'd say I had no clue, stupid would be going V10 on the basis that 10 sounds better and I heard of a good V10 car once. In a way it's our own fault that our representatives express uninformed opinions: the politician who regularily says "I don't know" would be judged as ignorant or stupid.

  • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @04:29AM (#46658911)

    The religious right are NEVER going to accept science

    I'm in the UK and we don't really have a "religious right" here. I don't think we have as bad a problem as the US but the impression I get is that scientific illiteracy is something that people in the UK are less ashamed of than say people in Germany.

    But the fundamental problem isn't the "religious right" it's that people are very emotionally tied to opinions they hold and it's very hard to accept that you are wrong.

    (Good) scientists fight this natural human tendency all the time. I'm sure everyone who has ever done any sort of statistical analysis has got a result they didn't like (expect) and then pored over the calculations for hours looking for the mistake. Ditto, they've got the result they expected and then had to eat humble pie when someone else points out that they've slipped a decimal point somewhere.

    Scientists, with all their training to look at things objectively and derive conclusions from the data, find this hard to do. How much harder must it be for people who can't repeat the calculations and just have to accept it when a scientist says "you're wrong".

    Because science (nature) is brutal. It doesn't care what your opinions, hopes, beliefs are. It will trample over them as effortlessly as it will support them and with as little feeling.

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

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @05:55AM (#46659237) Journal
    More depressing clips: A guy called ClimateBrad has a large collection of clips [] from US politicians doing their very best to make up their own facts and rules of logic.

    Up until I reached my 40's I thought people like Senator Inhofe in the US and Tony Abbot here in Oz were uneducated, stupid, or more likely both. They are none of those things, they're just plain immoral by normal western standards when it comes to honesty (even the good ones). To paraphrase Shaun Micallef - "The media is called the fourth estate but behaves like a fifth wheel", like the political system it revels in conflict and is trained in the (in)humanities. If it can't find controversy in a story then it invents some (say) by equating a "one jump away" lobbyist's press release from one of their major sponsors to a meticulous scientific report. The Iraq war and "Climategate" are both prime examples of commercial media being worse than useless in clarifying a complex issue, particularly in the US.

    The honest self-skepticisim required to be successful in the scientific and engineering world is a career killer in the political world. They have a different worldview that says everything boils down to an opinion, and all opinions are equal. Therefore social skills are more important than evidence and manipulation is more useful than reason. OTOH we have way too many Phd's in the hard sciences who have never stepped foot in a "Ph" class in their life and would not know Popper from Popoff.

    Thing is, the political worldview is our natural behaviour, it's instinctual and we all do it to some degree almost works []. Critical thinking is a learned behaviour that basically refines "common-sense" using agreed rules of evidence and logic, it is the foundation of The Enlightenment [], a radical shift in human behaviour barely 500yrs old. It's unsurprising that it hasn't permeated to everyone in the modern world that the "age of reason" created with extraordinary speed over the last 50-100yrs.

    "I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the 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..." - Sagan, Demon Haunted World (Science as a candle in the dark)
  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doggo ( 34827 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @08:18AM (#46659731) 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.

    This is, typically, a coping method for self-esteem. That is, if you assume everyone around you is an idiot, then you feel better about yourself. Which is fine, as far as it goes.

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

    Technological and scientific expertise does not make one a whole person. How many of us bemoan our lack of dates? How many of us have issues with social interaction?

    Elite coders often are completely ignorant of law (and vice-versa). A psychologists may not know his browser from his OS, but he, or she, may know how to help you cope with the loss of a loved-one. Etc.

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

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @09:16AM (#46660103) Homepage

    There are plenty of people who are religious but don't take the bible literally. I actually happen to be one of them. My personal belief* is that the bible is an allegorical text meant to teach moral lessons, not to teach history. If God wanted to teach us history, Genesis 1:1 would have started "In the beginning, there was a Big Bang...." (It would also be a LOT longer to read ala "How It Happened" by Isaac Asimov [].) If anything, I think religion is enhanced by science. Sure, you need to give up the "God magically poofed the world into existence 10,000 years ago" belief (then again, that should have gone away over a hundred years ago), but the "God of old" ruled over Earth and a sphere that essentially had stars painted on it. The "God of people who embrace science" rules over an unimaginably vast Universe.

    * I think that all religion should stay as personal beliefs and I wouldn't think of trying to force someone else to follow my religious beliefs. So long as your religious beliefs don't hurt anyone else, I say go for it. I happen to be Jewish, but if you think Christ is the savior that's fine by me. If you follow Budda or Islam or Wicca or any other religion, I'm ok with it. I only take issue when some people - e.g. the Religious Right - think it is their religious duty to force me to follow their religious rules (to "save me").

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.