Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oh no! The politicization of science!

Nothing frosts my pumpkin like these doofi (doofuses? I always have trouble with the Latin plurals) who decry the Scientists' March on Washington because it will "politicize science." Purportedly science needs to remain aloof from politics lest scientists be accused of partisanship and lose the trust of the public.

Wow folks, you are growing with your heads in the ground and talking out of your nether orifices. Science has already been "politicized" and accused of partisanship. EPA scientists are forbidden to release any studies or data to the public without review by political appointees. The CDC abruptly cancelled a long-planned conference on climate change. Cabinet appointees in general deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change, as does the "president." The administration wants the FDA to approve drugs that don't actually work, while the "president" believes that vaccines cause autism. We could go on with this but you get the idea.

It is true that scientists make a claim of epistemological preeminence. We are committed to using a particular toolkit to discover truth. We -- or at least most of us -- agree that there are what Habermas calls different classes of "criticizable validity claims," and that science concerns only one of them. Harking back to Plato, Habermas calls these the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. You can decide for yourself what you think is right or wrong, and what gives you pleasure. But the Truth is out there, to be discovered. It is what it is whether you like it or not. And yes, scientists, through long training and disciplined application, develop expertise that most people -- including most other scientists -- do not have to make truth claims about specific questions.

This doesn't mean we think we're better than you. If you are a skilled plumber, auto mechanic, carpenter or bassoon player, scientists will pay you to do what they cannot. Auto mechanics don't think that chemists or climatologists know as much about automobile repair as they do, but scientists don't resent them for that.

It is a basic value of science to try to keep an open mind and to be extremely reluctant to call conclusions absolutely definitive and not subject to legitimate question. But as evidence builds for theories, and they integrate seamlessly with broader theories, as multiple lines of evidence converge, some conclusions become unworthy of question. Vaccines do not cause autism. Humans burning fossil fuels add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere which is causing the climate to change with unprecedented rapidity. Particulate matter from motor vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants, among other sources, causes serious adverse health consequences. And so on. These are truths. Denying them is political; asserting them is science.

What we are asking is that you base your policies on the truth, in light of your values and preferences. If you believe that it is right and beautiful to destroy civilization in order to further enrich the Koch brothers, then by all means say so. But don't lie and say it isn't happening.

That's what the march is about.


JenBob said...

Mr. Cervantes,

Each of your examples such as the EPA, CDC and FDA are government agencies and it seems totally unrealistic to expect them not to be part of the government subject to the politics du jour. That's what happened with the last administration, too.

A good example is when the Obama administration was in charge, NASA veered off it's critical mission of aeronautics and space issues into Muslim outreach (WTF), the EPA went into climate issues instead of sticking with it's original mission of clean water and air and CDC was concerned with something other than disease control.

It's should not be too surprising that a new administration with a new vision might realign these government agencies from what they were under the last administration, just as the last administration did.

Cervantes said...

Apparently you didn't read my post. Policy is shaped by values, but needs to be based on truth.

And what the fuck are you talking about with NASA, BTW? That's nuts. Also too, CDC. What are you talking about?

JenBob said...

Mr. Cervantes,

Yes, I read your posts. I simply disagree that you can take the money and not be influenced by the politics.

If you only read liberal outlets, you will only hear what that side wants you to hear. One of the reasons I read your posts is to get another viewpoint. Anyway, here's the issues I was talking about. Hope this helps...

Yes, it's nutz.
NYT and HuffPo failed to report the interview that is up on Youtube, but it's there.

More on this...


The White House is disavowing a plan to have NASA conduct outreach to Muslim countries, but a congressman who talked to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about that plan last month said the initiative was very real until somebody slammed the brakes on it.

Rep. Pete Olson, ranking Republican on the Space and Aeronautics House Subcommittee, told that Bolden described the outreach program as part of the administration's space plan during a conversation they had in June.

"He confirmed it to me," Olson said. The Texas Republican said he thinks the program existed until the "uproar" compelled the administration to rethink it.


Re: CDC - Climate Change is not a disease.

Yet, CDC was also pulled off their core mission for political to promote an agenda. This was planned under the last administration. They have since cancelled their participation under this new administration.

Anonymous said...

Fox "News" is not a news is a propaganda network, JB. There is a good reason NOT to read or listen to or watch so-called conservative networks. They are no longer conservative; they are fringe, and obfuscate to create untruth and straight-out lies. These networks are a big reason we're in the mess we're in. Suddenly, truth seems to be a matter of opinion. Well, saying the earth is an isosceles trapezoid don't make it so. There are not "two sides"...there is journalism and greed- and racist-fueled bullshit.

But you don't want to see it that way. Well, your loss.

I've read The Nation for years, and it turns out over time that they're reporting on truth. Verified. Meanwhile, Fox Propaganda Network reams Affordable Care for years and reports on "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Iraq, and it turns out it was all...bullshit. And continues to be bullshit.

Stop listening to the bullshit and you'll be a lot less confused than you are.

JenBob said...

It's simply lazy to dismiss those who don't give you a 'safe space' like TheNation or Vice News.

Here's something a little more objective than your feelings.

When asked, "Do you trust the journalistic coverage provided by FOX News," 20 percent of U.S. voters say "a great deal" and 35 percent say "somewhat." Scores for other networks are:
NBC News - 14 percent "a great deal" and 46 percent "somewhat;"
ABC News - 14 percent "a great deal" and 50 percent "somewhat;"
CBS News - 14 percent "a great deal" and 50 percent "somewhat;"
MSNBC - 11 percent "a great deal" and 41 percent "somewhat;"
CNN - 18 percent "a great deal" and 43 percent "somewhat."

Perhaps you would also care to comment on the video about the head of NASA offered up above?

Who do you believe, *TheNation* or your lyin' eyes?

Anonymous said...

I believe The Nation because it has proven, over and over again, to be correct in its reporting.

Polls are a waste of time, if you haven't noticed.

But keep coming back!

JenBob said...

While I don't often agree with Mr. Cervantes, at least he makes good, rational arguments.

It'd be really great if you could offer up back up your assertions.

Anonymous said...

Here's your article, JB (see below)--a well-researched, thoughtful, prescient article. Now watch as the weeks and months unfold, and it turns out that Sessions and Bannon really are bigots and racists and the article's assertions turn out to be correct. Only time will tell.

JenBob said...

Hey, I appreciate the effort (I really do)!

As much as Fox has a conservative slant, NYT has a liberal slant and the liberal narrative is that if you don't want more unlimited immigration, legal or othewise, or you believe that immigration should actually be for the benefit of US citizens, well, you must be a bad person. Anyone that disagrees with that narrative is just horrible (or use any epithet you wish).

Let's all remember that when you engage in this rhetoric, you're indicting about half of the population of the US. And when that happens, you don't appear to be credible.

One of the big reasons Trump won is he promised to do something about the out-of-control immigration problem.

So, your argument actually lost you the election. People feel there is nothing wrong with putting American citizens first when discussing immigration.

And let me also thank you for your copy and paste argument from someone else (NYT). It was a step-up for you.