Thursday, May 04, 2006

Science has been so abused!

` I have dredged up, from the depths, a draft I had composed at the beginning of March. Perhaps, now that I am gaining henchmen (=people who understand skepticism better than most), it will make more sense to them than if I had posted it earlier.
` Enjoy:
But that the enthusiasm which characterizes youth should lift its parricide hands against freedom and science would be such a monstrous phenomenon as I cannot place among possible things in this age and country.

` Thomas Jefferson

` It is obvious that over 90% of non-scientists haven't a clue as to what science is. This allows those in charge to take advantage of that. Simply blurring the understanding of science allows business representatives, quacks and extremists of faiths to have equal footing with mainstream research.
` A lot of the government today is made up of people who don't understand what science is! And even some of those who do may yet have other interests!
` Unfortunately, George W. Bush is about the worst of all of them. He has abused his power as President of the United States by strategically putting people of the religious Right as well as industry representatives in a lot of advisory committees.
` He's ignored what all the scientists and the EPA had to say about global warming, plus, he gave the okay for a missile defense system of which there is no evidence that it could work.
` There is also no evidence that abortion causes breast cancer, yet he forced the National Cancer Institute to say so anyway. Evidently, abortions are something he personally does not agree that women should be allowed to have.
` Therefore, you'd think that he wouldn't mind so much the utter avoidance of accidental pregnancy, and therefore possibly facing abortion. And yet, he ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove anything about using condoms from its website!
` What the...?
` Bush also banned funding for stem cell research except for the small number of lines that already exist - which are not even close to the sixty he claimed there were.
` And now Intelligent Design? I don't even want to get into that. (Perhaps another time!)

` He - and other Republican leaders - have called mainstream science 'junk science' in whichever place they prefer to call their extremist viewpoints as 'sound science'. In fact, the Data Quality Act of 2000 is used for preventing government reports unfavorable to industrial and right-wing interests by making the 'they're not sure, so it's not sound science' claim.
` See, since almost nobody in this country understands science, except scientists, you couldn't count on everyone to understand that uncertainty is ubiquitous in all good science. Definites and absolutes do not even technically exist - they're uncommon anyway - that's what allows changes.
` And since most Americans do not understand this, it lets anyone say 'See, they're not sure of something! Therefore, it's junk science!' That gives extremists an amazing amount of credibility right there.
` Of course, it's important to understand that uncertainty is how science avoids dogma. It's what the scientific method is based on! In other words, it's normal!

` Addendum: Please do not destroy me for the resemblance of this post to a Scientific American article. I am merely a humble servant of scientific awareness while at the same time unable to write much that is clever and original.

` And, as a bonus, now that I think most of you will be able to understand after reading so many skeptic-oriented posts:

` Quotes about science and skepticism!

` 'Science is a self-correcting institution. The data change so of course you change your position. Otherwise, you would be dishonest.’ - Stephen Schneider.

` You see how that works? This way, one can avoid dogma. Or as Karl Popper put it: ‘The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement.’

` The debate is love! ...Sorta.

` 'The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.' – Socrates.

` Why, of course! It’s the only way you can reason. If you think that you know the answer to something, then what would be the point of learning?

` ...Yes, that was all! Just taking advantage of a post I'd already written months ago. Hope you enjoyed.


Point of Goodness said...

Personally, I don't trust an institution that can't stick to its guns.

Galtron said...

I get the point, Point... you are a lover of dogma!! Every time I come here, it seems like I see a post by you and I think to myself; "What the @(*$#!?!?" Did you not understand what I said last time?

Point of Goodness said...

Did you?

S E E Quine said...

` Uh... this a joke of some sort?

Aaron said...

Spoony, I'm going to have to disagree with you on a couple of your points.

First of all, nobody seriously proposes that global warming doesn't exist. Scientists are divided, however, on the cause. From my understanding, you'll find just as many scientists who say that the actions of mankind are creating global warming as you will find that say the contrary. The fact is that Earth has been warming and cooling in cycles since it became a planet. Water vapor is still by far the most plentiful 'greenhouse gas'.

I don't believe that GWB has abused his power by putting people of faith on advisory committees. Another fact is that this country has a vast majority of people who are religious, to one degree or another. GWB is just speaking for the majority. I'm not saying that I agree, I just don't think it's an abuse of power.

There is one sure-fire way to not get pregnant and not get any STD's. It's not condoms, or any other birth control device. It is to abstain from sexual activity. That's what GWB is promoting.

Bush did want to cut off GOVERNMENT funding for new EMBRYONIC stem cell research because the whole process can be construed to be creating and destroying human life for the purpose of research. In my understanding, nothing has ever come from EMBRYONIC stem cell research whereas much has been gained from adult stem cell research - for which there are very few restrictions. It is also my understanding that researchers can acquire embryonic stem cells from discarded umbilical cords without having to create new 'lines' (which means another embryo - or another human life to the religious zealots)

You're right about GWB not exactly being a 'friend' to scientists, but I don't believe his actions constitute an abuse of power.

S E E Quine said...

` I don't have much time to answer, so I shall have to make this quick and not entirely coherent:

` a) Whether we're exacerbating global warming very much or not, it's still a good idea to be cautious about pollution!

` b) That's fine, as long as they keep their own beliefs out of our secular government. Which isn't always the case.

` c) Abstinance isn't something that young, horny people are likely to practice. Furthermore, scaring kids by telling them about all the horrible bad things about sex does not usually have any effect whatsoever.
` As a result of not being encouraged to practice safe sex and instead abstain, you'll find that kids tend to not carry around condoms.
` Oftentimes, they have sex anyway with someone else who also does not have any condoms. Bad things have happened.

` d) As for embryonic stem cell research, it is a new field which involves embryos that were originally created for reproductive purposes but went unused and were destined for the incinerator. Instead of being burned, they are used by scientists. They are not created for lab work!
` Adult stem research is a field of research about fifty years old now, though it is quite limited. Stem cells from embryos only a few days old show much more amazing potential than adult stem cells. The problem is, this field just hasn't had enough time to be developed into anything particularly useful.
` The stem cells found in umbilical cords, however, don't seem to have near the potential use as embryonic stem cells, so they aren't exactly equal.

Galtron said...

Hee hee. Yes, I never knew many young people who could stick to abstinence. Actually, there's another problem with this: A lot of teenage girls have sex with guys just because of peer pressure, without first deciding what it is the they really want. It delays development and inhibits self-esteem and all that.
Really! Most younger teenage girls who have sex do it because they don't talk to adults about it, though, by peers they might be made to feel as if it's an obligation!
In that way, abstinence is good. However, I think that kids should be counseled about whether or not they really want to.
That way, such a pressured girl (or maybe guy) can be encouraged to be strong-willed. If the kid does want to have sex, then a counsellor can tell them more about everything they need to know!

Really, I think mass-plans for everyone won't work.

Aaron said...

You're right Spoony. I think that in our times, the abstinence argument is not really valid and not easily accepted.

I don't agree with lots of his ideas, but I will defend GWB against charges of being a fanatic or zealot.

S E E Quine said...

` Ah, yes, Galtron. It is well-known that kids - especially girls - whose parents discourage them from talking about sex tend to be uncomfortable about their bodies.
` This results in low self-esteem and so they may not think their bodies are worth 'saving for someone'.

` And Aaron, perhaps GWB is not truly a fanatic, though as a layman (and not one to necessarily further his understanding by getting the facts straight), he does not have the intellectual authority to impose this kind of scientific discouragement on the public.
` I'd say that putting one's own non-realistic and non-objective interests before those of millions of other people is a pretty underhanded usage of power, and he does this fairly extensively.