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America's Turn From Science, a Danger For Democracy 900

Posted by Soulskill
from the tide-goes-in-tide-goes-out dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Here's a good article about how playing politics with science puts our country at risk — a review of Shawn Otto's book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. Today's policy-makers, Otto shows, are increasingly unwilling to pursue many of the remedies science presents. They take one of two routes: deny the science, or pretend the problems don't exist."
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America's Turn From Science, a Danger For Democracy

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  • by Relyx (52619) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:30PM (#38505774)

    All good points. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to reason someone out of something they didn't reason themselves into.

  • by mseeger (40923) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:34PM (#38505810)

    Hmmm.....

    - about 30% voter turnout
    - Election looser becomes president (2000)
    - You need a billion US$ campaign funds to have a chance
    - Heriditary tendencies for seats in congress/senate
    - ....

    So not much left to endanger IMHO. Sorry!

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:35PM (#38505822) Homepage Journal

    "I think it's a myth Americans aren't interested. It's a myth they don't like science and scientists ... But there's some partisan political affiliation going on, and sometimes science tells them they don't want to hear and they don't like to deal with. Climate change is a great example, because the problem is so enormous and the implications mean restructuring our economy and our energy supply system."

    The problem with this oft-repeated trope is that the pro-AGW forces are inevitably playing politics with the very "science" they claim to rest their arguments on. Over and over, we read of hidden, manipulated, and cherry-picked data, refusals to abide with having outsiders vet their work, and allowing naked advocacy into the IPCC reports on climate change as if they were peer-reviewed science. "Truthout" -- one of the most preposterous names imaginable -- here advances the same political agenda. It is environmentalism wrapped in a lab coat.

    The Canadians walked away from Kyoto; shall we ask if they, too, are anti-science? Or does that only cover the US?

  • by InfiniteZero (587028) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:36PM (#38505840)

    Here is the thing. Science is hard. Thinking is hard. Most people would rather live a comfortable lie than facing the cold, hard truth.

  • by jon42689 (1098973) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:38PM (#38505866) Homepage
    Regardless of right or wrong, believing in something does not make it so.
    While I do indeed believe in a creator God, that does not cause him to exist- while I am completely confident that I am correct, I may not be
    While you do not believe in a creator God, that also does not cause his existence to be a false premise.

    While I totally respect others who don't see things my way, I just find it ironic that most of the people whining about there being folks out there who believe in something are using the same "delusion" -if you will- to convince them that they are correct. No matter what you believe, there's never really a way to prove it by science alone in it's current state of study.
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:40PM (#38505894)
    You are committing the error of stereotyping. Plenty of people call themselves "Christian" who take certain ideas from the Bible and from their religious tradition to be a basis for treating others well, helping others, being honest, hardworking, creative, etc. For that matter, plenty of Jewish and Muslim people do the same thing, even though they consider the writings of their religions to be mix entertaining stories and also to contain some philosophy on how to live.

    Many other countries in the world have heavy religious influence in their founding or building of their culture. name one that doesn't.

    The USA still leads in many areas of science. The exploration of space by probes is one such area, those recent discoveries of earth-sized and habitable zone planets, for example
  • by mc_barron (546164) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:43PM (#38505926) Homepage

    The "liberal elite"... who is that? (Honest question; I hear people who tend toward socially conservative views calling out this mystery group without specifying exactly who they are.)

  • by errhuman (2226852) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:43PM (#38505932)
    You are putting agnostics and atheists into one basket which makes as much sense as putting you in a basket with the fundies (you sound like a reasonable person). Even if you can't prove a negative, the onus is on the religious to provide infallible proof. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
  • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:45PM (#38505954)

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Funny, that's exactly what AGW skeptics keep saying...

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:47PM (#38505978) Homepage
    "Over and over, we read of hidden, manipulated, and cherry-picked data, refusals to abide with having outsiders vet their work, and allowing naked advocacy into the IPCC reports on climate change as if they were peer-reviewed science. "

    No, we don't; you just made those things up.
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:48PM (#38505988) Homepage Journal

    Gaining power is hard, too. Do you think that those who clawed their way to the top of the system have any interest in having their actions dictated by a bunch of nerds, beyond absolute unavoidable necessity?

    Read up on the Manhattan Project and how the best minds in the world were treated by the military and the US Government. It should be instructive in understanding the "anti-science" attitude of the government today. The people changed, the mindset didn't. It isn't anti-science, it's anti ceding power.

    We have a special word - statesman - for politicians who stop feeding at the trough long enough to do something good for mankind, or at least their nation. This word is not used often about politicians for good reason.

  • Re:Climate Change (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:49PM (#38506002)

    The question isn't about Climate Change. It's about whether HUMANS are causing that change. Something I will admit to being skeptical about but am interested in seeing real data not corrupted by oil companies or extreme left wing professors interested more in grants than science.

    The problem occurs when people start making policy based on fear. Our system in the US is designed to be very slow, the thought being that if things are slowed down and debate is forced on policy makers better decisions will be made. In practice our politicians have found ways around this by using fear and sensationalism. Just a year or two ago I recall the UN saying climate change would lead to end of the world scenarios in only 6-9 months. Al Gore has said very similar things about rising water levels, onyl to turn around and buy a multi-million dollar home right on the beach.

    Politicians love fear. Fear will make you vote for them, it will bring you to the edge of reason and beyond to act exactly as they wish you too. Case in point, the adds against Paul Ryan showing him pushing old people in wheelchairs off of cliffs. The add recently by Newt Gingrich equating his political situation in the caucuses to Pearl Harbor. Politicians will say anything they can to make you afraid, or to align themselves as the good guys while their opponents are the bad guys.

    They all do it, left or right. One side claims doing anything about climate change will bankrupt the world and make us all into Zimbabwe where they haul wheel barrows full of money to the store in order to buy bread, while the other side claims we'll all be dead in massive storms like in the movies.

    The only answer to these assholes is to vote third party and stop donating to them. There is no logical reason why we have only two parties in the country with any power. The binary nature of our political system is what makes it so ripe for abuse. Voting MATTERS. Stop buying into either sides bullshit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:50PM (#38506014)

    Here's the one difference, the people concerned about Global Warming are actually quite diligent about providing evidence.

    Of course, the anti-GW people refuse to even give them an iota of credit, and act as if they were proposing something without any shred of thought, logic, or evidence.

    That is not true.

  • by am 2k (217885) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:50PM (#38506018) Homepage

    Not even mentioning that there are no discernible differences between the policies of the only two parties: both are pro-big business, pro-military and pro-police state.

  • by steelfood (895457) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:58PM (#38506114)

    The whole U.S. is established on the idea of God and religion.

    There's a fairly large body of evidence that despite the constant mentions of "God", the founding fathers were all secular.

    The separation of Church and State is one of the founding principles. As well, religious freedom is specifically addressed by the Bill of Rights, and even prior to that when the second constutional congress thought it unnecessary to enumerate what rights the State may not violate because it was so obvious.

    So no, the United States was not founded on religion specifically, though religious freedom was one cause of the breakaway from British--specifically English--rule.

    All of the founding fathers, and other influential people at that time, were highly educated and equally understood and accepted the founding principles of freedom.

    Religion's role in politics is largely an invention of the 20th century going into the 21st century. Prior to that, it was race, which cumulated in the civil rights movement of the 1960's. And before that was the issue of slavery, which resulted in the Civil War. Interesting digression: there never was division in the government about how to treat Native Americans. Anyway, you can say that the civil rights movement was finishing what the Civil War began.

    If anything, this country was founded on extreme duality and compromises. Religion just happens to be the current subject of the duality, though even that could be argued to have grown out of the race and ultimately slavery issue. But once the religion issue is settled (if it ever does), there will be the next fad.

    If you take a close look at U.S. history, the root cause of all the current spate of problems goes back to the slavery issue. Religion wasn't written into the Constitution, but slavery certainly was. And the hostility towards Obama has to do with those very same sentiments (and look at how the GOP treated Herman Cain). But since race is a taboo, the same bigoted elements switched to religion, only, said elements found religion to be a much more effective motivator, and much harder to make taboo.

    The unfortunate side effect of religion being the subject of the duality is that education, specifically higher education subjects including math, science, engineering, and philosophy, gets thrown under the bus. But that's what taking extreme positions on religion does. Look at the Muslim world to see the results. Look at the dark ages for an example a little closer to home (considering that the U.S. started as an extension of Europe).

    There are certainly other problems caused by other deep-rooted sentiments. E.g. current and past foreign policy is largely due to manifest destiny and the way Native Americans were treated. But the extreme duality of the country with regards to religion is not ultimately about religion itself, but about race and slavery.

  • by OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:03PM (#38506174)
    As opposed to to taking a trillion dollars from the "poor" people to pay for the Iraqi oil war, which benefits the "rich" people. Forced wealth distribution in the stupid direction.
  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:08PM (#38506242)

    Actually, the funny thing is no, it wasn't.

    Most if not all of the founding fathers were very leery of religion ("a lighthouse is more useful than a Church"...).It's fascinating how the original, free-thinking US have been turned into such a bigotted a state that politicians have to fill stadiums with prayer meetings. And all the more so since the bible say that worshipping publicly is the devil's work, so not only bigotted, but in a false (the higher-ups) and idiotic (the lower-downs) way.
    And the way out of this ess is not even to argue that logic and reason should win over religion, but that the politicized, public, for-pay version of religion that has evolved is evil per se, and denounced as thus in the bible.

    Don't try to reason with a bigot. Scripture him into shame.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:08PM (#38506252) Journal

    This quote sums up all you need to know about religion:
    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger).
    Back then, the religions he spoke of were different to today's, the cultures of the people were different to today's, and the nature of education was different to today's, but nothing has changed. Not even the hypocrisy of the rulers/politicians.

    BTW, regarding your extraordinarily generous assessment of statesmen:
    "Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen." – Bob Edwards.

  • by atticus9 (1801640) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:09PM (#38506262)
    By the same token how do I know science isn't a farce that's just a conspiracy of academics to get money. Because if I read the studies and do the experiments I can confirm the results. Likewise the "how do you know the Bible isn't written by crazy people" argument sounds good if you don't consider it's contents, history, and evidence.

    But I do agree that science should be science, and not interfered with by external interests, if you claim truth is on your side you shouldn't fear or have to meddle with objective data (for both sides).
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:17PM (#38506364)
    Nonsense, from founding fathers onward the U.S. was into science and applied science (engineering and technology). How about some names: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush, David Rittenhouse, Charles Peale, Thomas Edison

    How about immigrants that continued their work in science here? Joseph Priestly, Alexander Graham Bell, Vladimir Zworykin, Nikola Tesla, Charles Steinmetz, all before WW II.
  • Re:Climate Change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:18PM (#38506382) Homepage
    As opposed to giving the existing, established oil and coal and nuclear companies subsidies (we do - to a HUGE extent).

    Check your budget numbers first, fool. The US government gives huge amounts of cash to oil, coal and nuclear power - far more than we give to solar powers.

    As for 'uncompetitive' solar power plants are only uncompetitive if we let people dump garbage into the air for free. Wind power is now the cheapest power - assuming we enforce existing pollution laws. Water and coal are the cheapest if we don't track pollution. If we charge every company HALF the price to clean up air pollution then Wind, Solar and Nuclear are the only competivie plants.

    The question is not 'which is cheapest', but "how much are we going to charge them for the right to poison our air".

    To make it even more complicated idiots in the midwest like to pollute the air and don't care that their pollution gets blown east by the wind into the East.

    If you want to claim "I can live with the pollution" that's one thing. But to stand and insist "its the cheapest" is just plain STUPID.

  • by thomst (1640045) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:20PM (#38506408) Homepage

    Scareduck asserted:

    "Over and over, we read of hidden, manipulated, and cherry-picked data, refusals to abide with having outsiders vet their work, and allowing naked advocacy into the IPCC reports on climate change as if they were peer-reviewed science. "

    To which nomadic responded:

    No, we don't; you just made those things up.

    Actually, he didn't just make those things up - and he does read of those things "over and over."

    The thing is, you and he read completely different sources: he reads anti-AGW blogs, and you read reasonably objective reports. So somebody else made those things up, and he reads them "over and over", because those fictions are endlessly repeated by the sources he reads.

    It's something like a self-fulfilling prophecy, except it's more of a wingnut trope, instead.

    I hope that clears up that little misunderstanding.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:20PM (#38506410)

    Interesting that the parent post was modded "Troll", when the posts above it were not.

    It makes me wish moderators needed to provide valid defenses of their moderation choices.

  • Lobbyists (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bkmoore (1910118) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:36PM (#38506620)

    It's not about religion vs. science per se. In the U.S. it's all about getting enough money to run a successful election campaign. Either you are independently wealthy, or you need big-time campaign contributors. These big-money donors have agendas that are often at odds with scientific opinion. I am old enough to remember when tobacco officially didn't cause cancer, despite overwhelming scientific evidence otherwise. The same thing can be said about the U.S. position on climate change, health care reform, banking system reform, military spending, etc... In all of these cases, scientific opinion requires making a change in how money is spent, taxes are levied, or on how regulatory burden or liability are allocated.

  • by brian_tanner (1022773) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:36PM (#38506630)
    As a Canadian and a scientist, I will tell you that it seems that our current government is very anti-science.

    It is my understanding that experts and scientists opinions are not respected when making policy decisions. Our scientists are frequently muzzled. The long form census was recently changed. We have new crime policy that is unsupported by experts. Environment Canada has been cut drastically. I believe that our science minister does not believe in evolution. Experts, statisticians, and scientists have spoken out, have resigned, and have protested. Nevertheless, the majority of Canadians do not seem to care.

    Kyoto is only the most recent item. Whether the decision was right or wrong for the environment, the fact is that the decision was political. Canada, today, is anti-science.
  • by tbird81 (946205) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:49PM (#38506782)

    I reasoned myself in to atheism. I grew up as a Catholic.

    Seriously, anyone with half a brain will realise that the religion they once believed in is full of inconsistencies as soon as they develop critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen for everyone.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:50PM (#38506804) Journal

    One side is pouring millions into research, the other side is pouring millions into PR "thinktanks" like the Heartland Institute.

    Let's be very clear here. The oil companies are not doing AGW research. The closest they get to that is finding a few shills with degrees, a small number who may even in fact be experts (or more often, were experts) into fields related to climatology.

    It's precisely the same scam that the Creationist organizations like the Discovery Institute have been pulling for decades.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:50PM (#38506812)

    The reason is simple. Many if not most atheists (and what you really mean by that word, agnostics) do in fact "reason themselves into" that state.

    Religion, specifically the religion of the masses such as major variations of Christianity on the other hand is often the thing you're taught from small age and taught to never question beyond the surface.

    For the record, I do know of ONE person who came to religion himself personally (as well as dosens of "average" religious people of several religions and I'm from Nordic Europe). He's very different even from priests of local churches in his passion about religion and views mainstream religion and all mainstream Christianity (as well as all other religions) as "heretics" openly. He's Christian.

  • by randizzle3000 (1276900) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:52PM (#38506838) Homepage Journal

    If an all-powerful being exists, that being must have the power to prove it's own existence. No such proof exists ...

    Why must the proof exist? I have the power to make a snowman in the front yard. No such snowman exists. My reason for not making one is my own, but my kids will gladly make a poor attempt at one and tell their friends that I built it with one arm or something.

    Am I my kids' imaginary father?

    Blah blah blah milkman blah blah blah roto-rooter blah blah blah hilarious.

    Seriously though, it is not trivial to prove that this "God" character exists. Too much of it (maybe all of it?) is cleverly built to require faith. Too clever for humans, maybe that's the proof? Maybe not, I don't know. I believe. I'm open to be proven wrong.

  • by Urza9814 (883915) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:57PM (#38506908)

    Wrong. The US is founded on science. It's founded on the ideals of the Enlightenment. It's only the current religious whackjobs who constaly insist our nation was founded on religion, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, that have made this into a "fact".

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:07PM (#38507020) Journal

    The fact of the matter is that the Founding Fathers were a mix of religious men, humanists and deists. For them the horrors of the Thirty Years War was just over a century old, and the abuses of the Test Acts and of the whole established Church of England still very much a reality. They realized that the very best way to guarantee a man his religious freedoms was to create a barrier between church and state (Jefferson's "wall of separation"). This idea foisted by some evangelicals that the First Amendment has been misinterpreted or that somehow the government being barred from advocating a particular religion is somehow an attack on religion is in complete defiance of what the Founding Fathers were intent upon, which was to make sure that the state could never persecute a man for his religious beliefs.

  • by AlKaMo (106874) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:10PM (#38507076)

    Science tends to look at the world in terms of numbers, technology and confirmed facts. Religion tends to tell the world has been made by some imaginary person in the sky, tells you to pray towards said imaginary person and completely disregards science in favor of what someone wrote on paper 1500-2000 years ago. They are not compatible.

    Tell that to Galileo, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein (to name only a few). They and countless other scientists, both historical and contemporary, held to religious beliefs while greatly advancing our knowledge of science. Religion and science are not the diametrically opposed forces that self-serving religious leaders and over-zealous atheists make them out to be.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:13PM (#38507116)

    Thats not begging the question.

    That seems to be a profoundly unscientific outlook. Science is making useful, falsifiable predictions about the likely outcome of future experiments and observations using some kind of formalized universal theory. You can do endless science about the orbits of planets, geology, evolution, genetics.

    One example from your unscientific post was "can science explain how the world began?" and you claim no. Horribly wrong. A geologist can gin up some weird model of geological plate tectonics or the temperature of the earth vs depth of crust. Then you run the math, meanwhile a dude digs a hole and drops a thermometer in, and the math and the thermometer seem to match up... "We have not been able to falsify via experiment or observation that the earth congealed out of flying sphagetti or WTF" Furthermore after enough experiments and observations fail to disprove something, you may as well "believe" in it and expect all future experiments to fit the model.

    It doesn't really matter in an abstract sense if "evolution is true" or not. All that matters is every time you apply the magic box of the theory of evolution in the future, it seems that each time, observations and experiments seem to result in experiment matching the magic boxes prediction.

    What science aka falsifiable predictions about future experiments and observations can you do about christian creationism... Well I guess I could dare your god to strike me down with lightning, which certainly hasn't happened yet, or ... um... Seriously, can you run statistically relevant verifiable falsifiable experiments on religion? No.

    Now that fact that religion is not science, doesn't mean its wrong or evil, in fact I'm kind of a distant fan of Christianity, at least in theory although not so much how its practiced by sinful people, and some of my best friends are christians which also predisposes me to like it, but being non-scientific merely means it has no relationship at all WRT.

  • Re:Who died... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:20PM (#38507228) Homepage

    It's not particularly that scientists should make all the decisions, but rather, than we need an informed population and a very informed government in order to deal with modern problems.

    In congress:

    three physicists, one chemist, six engineers including a biomedical engineer, and
    one microbiologist;

    [...]

    17 Representatives and four Senators had a doctoral (PhD) degree, and 197 members of the House and 60 Senators had a law degree. Five members
    of the House and one Senator had a medical degree.

    And quite a few are career politicians who moved up from state legislatures/etc.

    In short, we're a nation run by lawyers and politicians, and have a tiny representation by engineers and scientists - people who have a demonstrated interest and capacity in how things actually work.

    This is problematic because there simply isn't enough knowledge in congress to go around. Quite a few Americans, likewise, are voting from a position of complete ignorance and, instead of selecting a candidate who is very knowledgeable on the assumption that that candidate will make better decisions, quite a few Americans vehemently "vote their ignorance"; that is, they're looking specifically for a candidate who reflects their own biases and uninformed viewpoints.

    As Isaac Asimov said:

    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'

    Politics now seems to be almost entirely about money and religion, which is a shame, since while those things are important, they probably have very little impact on how we live our lives in the long run.

  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:22PM (#38507242)
    The problem is that the christians (ESPECIALLY evangelicals) don't want tolerance, they want to control everything. They have a huge majority in the USA and yet they still claim persecution every time someone stands up to them. The fundies have this bizarre chip on their shoulders where they think the world is evil and everyone else is out to get them because of their faith.

    Full disclosure: I'm an ex-christian so I know how it is on both sides of the issue. There are lots of us out there.
  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:23PM (#38507248)

    This quote sums up all you need to know about religion: "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger). Back then, the religions he spoke of were different to today's, the cultures of the people were different to today's, and the nature of education was different to today's, but nothing has changed. Not even the hypocrisy of the rulers/politicians.

    BTW, regarding your extraordinarily generous assessment of statesmen: "Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen." – Bob Edwards.

    Religion or spiritual belief is fine when it's individual and personal. Like with so many other insanities of mankind, the problem kicks in when it becomes an organized corporate activity. Then it appeals to the need that insecure, weak people have to feel like a member of something greater than themselves because they do not have the courage to be individuals. Or you could say that courageous people satisfy the same need by being in this vast Universe; they can handle the vastness and the unanswered questions and do not need membership in a club of like-minded sycophants to give them self-worth.

    Either way, that weakness and neediness is the exploitable vulnerability that rulers (cloth or crown, and lately media) have always exploited. I know some of you hate the term "sheeple" and for those I say, suck it up and learn to deal with it. Print it out and read it a few times until you desensitize yourself if that's what it takes. When you can handle a simple term, even one you wouldn't use yourself (the horror!) like a calm dispassionate adult, read the rest of this.

    They are sheeple not because they join a group. They are sheeple not because they happen to do what others happen to do. They are sheeple because they need other people to define their reality for them, to give them a framework within which to interpret their own lives. That's how fundamental this is. It's about levels of consciousness arranged by framing of information. The need for this is so strong that almost any framework will do. It may be organized religion, it may be professional prestige, or nationalism, it may be hatred of a rival sports team, or it may be presented in terms like rich and poor, black and white, left and right. It doesn't matter -- they are all interchangeable flavors different prepackaged flavors appeal to different people who share this sick need.

    It takes real strength to actually think for yourself, to not be deceived into falsely believing you know what that means, and to truly know the difference. It takes a certain kind of real purpose to observe all the frameworks and -isms, learn what you can from them, accept the tiny kernel of truth they often contain without hating them for the way they mislead, and move on without ever getting stuck in one.

    The people with that unhealthy need get stuck as soon as they find one they like. The promise of acceptance and affirmation and fellowship lulls them into a slumber. They now have a loyalty and an interpretation to which everything else must be related no matter how much of a forced fit it requires. Almost everyone is so compromised. You could call it Satan or a thousand other names. I personally explain that it is to mind what viruses are to DNA. Either way, it's nothing less than the single principle which is wrong with the entire world.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:27PM (#38507306)

    I'd imagine it was modded troll because it was a complete fallacy, designed to get an emotional response i.e. a troll. Pretty much every atheist I know has at least some logical backing for why they're an atheist, and is more than willing to discuss evidence to the contrary.

  • by Leebert (1694) * on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:35PM (#38507428)

    When it comes to Creationism vs Evolution, it's really a battle of religions, because Evolution is a religion.

    From a fellow Christian, please take this as nicely as possible:

    Please stop trying to defend us; you are making it worse. Spend some time actually understanding your opponent's views (you've mischaracterized both science and the evolutionary process while demonstrating some pretty poor logic.) You sound like you've been reading a Bob Jones University biology textbook as your sole source of understanding of evolutionary process. I know this because I've been there before.

  • by pjabardo (977600) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:51PM (#38507628)
    I should point one thing out to you: debates are not the medium that science uses to advance knowledge. The reason is simple: I can say enough bullshit in one minute that will take you a life time to refute.

    Now, if you are using the word "debate" in a broad sense to mean something like the scientific process used to reach a consensus (or at least to advance the science) then going on the Internet, news or "hiring" a politician is not a "scientific debate". I would like to see published peer-reviewed studies as evidence for their claims. I haven't seen any and I've looked for it.

    Probably you will claim that there are no publications (or very few) because AGW proponents don't let the skeptics publish. Or maybe they don't let the skeptics have access to any funds that will allow them to prove their point (now there is a new problem: if they can't do any research why are the skeptics so sure of their claims?).

    This sounds more and more like a conspiracy theory where any evidence against the conspiracy is another proof of foul play.

    Someone might argue that the system is so skewed that this conspiracy is not only possible but likely. But the idea of AGW grew slowly before any economic interests were important: a possibility in 1960, a few guys working on it in in 1970, small groups doing lots of work in 1980, large percentage of researchers in 1990 and consensus in 2000-2005.

    I'm sorry but the only attribute of a skeptic that these AGW "skeptics" have is using the word "skeptic". They sure sound like 911 truthers or alien conspiracy theorists.
  • by lenski (96498) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @07:33PM (#38508856)

    This demonstrates the problem Science and Religion have communicating with each other - Each is saying to the other "Prove to me I'm wrong"; and then standing there, with their arms folded, ignoring the other one.

    Incorrect.

    People who advocate a scientific approach to life are dedicated to the process: Investigate observed phenomena, formulate explanatory hypotheses, test them, and when those hypotheses match observed phenomena, they tend toward scientific acceptance as explanatory theories. Many theories are observed to be successful for explaining questions that did not even exist when they were originally formulated. Evolution (as a general concept), quantum theory, relativity, etc. are all successful theories.

    The scientific process is hardly "standing there with their arms folded, ignoring the other one". People practicing hard basic science and people applying the lessons learned thereby are engaging in a constant process of observation, discovery, explanation and invention. That's why I wonder what's going in the minds of those who reject science as a way of informing their actions. Science works.

    Contrast the scientific process against Faith, whether it's deeply held and closely attended, or simply the acts of charlatans. Either way, the most common response to a challenge from anywhere outside the faith often boils down to "it's a test of faith! Resist it!" On rare occasions, the faithful actually try to discuss the question, but ultimately such discussions end up with believers standing with their arms folded, demanding proof. Or, more often, writing their demands while sitting in their air-conditioned houses, often having received medical treatments informed by evolutionary biology, typing on computers whose existence results from scientific study of quantum mechanics, information theory, and myriad other principles.

    I am 54 yrs old, been studying electrical engineering and software development for 42+ years (both parents programmers; it was possible though not easy back then). I've had the opportunity to experience directly and first-hand, the many many orders of magnitude of increase in the power of the stuff we use so glibly every day. This is only one small part of the result of "scientific study".

    The phrase "science stands there with arms folded" is diametrically opposed to the truth, which is that those who apply scientific principles to their life's actions are racing to meet an inevitable future as well prepared as possible.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @07:36PM (#38508892) Journal

    their God, Science

    Science isn't a god, it's knowledge combined a method for increasing knowledge. Believers try to claim that it's a god, so that they can oppose it the way they oppose competitors for whatever god they adhere to.

  • by xelah (176252) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @08:29PM (#38509466)
    I think, in part, some of the intolerance towards challenges to faith (and especially towards atheists) comes from how effective social pressure is at passing religious ideas in to new hosts. Treating those who reject your faith as, for example, failing in their social obligations and being a disappointing embarrassment within the community is part of that social pressure. And if it's effective at getting a religion passed on then religious beliefs that do it will outcompete those that don't, at least as far as that particular community's bonds go. Maybe not everyone cares so much about pushing their religion on to others, but some do. Challenging the most evangelicals' ability to exert that pressure, either directly or by creating an environment in which it's easier to resist without feeling cast out, is a direct challenge to their ability to do something they regard as their moral and social duty.
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @08:30PM (#38509480)

    That old canard is idiotic, and embarrassing to even bring up. Of course, it will get modded up by chuckling atheists looking to stroke their own egos.

    Here is the actual thinking on the differences between God and FSM-clones (not that you are likely to care, because odds are you made up your mind years ago, and to hell with critical thinking):

    God is generally accepted as being "simple", meaning no parts, or physical manifestation, or in time and space. More like a cosmological constant than the bearded old white guy in the clouds that gets taught to children. Think like gravity, except that gravity is constrained to the physical universe whereas God wouldn't be. Essentially the Abrahamic God is a force which is responsible for the original creation of the universe and which influences the physical world for the better.

    By contrast, spaghetti monsters or pink unicorns or whatever have physical forms: they're made of spaghetti, or are unicorns, etc. They have locations, too, such as hiding behind the moon. This makes them absurd (which is of course the point), because if they exist nearby in the physical universe, there should be evidence of that existence. If you apply the concept of divine simplicity to them, then they can't be made of spaghetti (for example) because that would be a physical property, and so you just end up with God by another name.

    If you insist on being the loudmouthed variety of atheist, please at least educate yourself on millenia old lines of thought. Discussing the topic of religion without knowing this stuff is like discussing physics without knowing about gravity.

  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @08:52PM (#38509664) Homepage

    Atheists are generally much less arrogant than the religious. Most religious people will tell you their beliefs are the only truth and way. Any evidence to the contrary is ignored. The complete lack of evidence for the existence of any gods is also ignored.

    Atheists on the other hand often are knowledgeable not only about the religion they grew up with, but many others. They generally are willing to admit that they could be wrong, you just have to find some strong evidence and they will change their mind.

  • by ChatHuant (801522) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @10:33PM (#38510734)

    If you post an argument in favor of religion, it does not get discussed. It gets mocked and downmodded

    That's because the argument in question seldom deserves more than mockery. There are no good arguments in favor of the truth of religion (please feel free to provide any, if you can), or there would be no atheists. Even many organized religions are aware of that, which is why they insist so much on faith.

    Philosophers have devised, over the years, a number of relatively complex arguments for the existence of God [wikipedia.org]. None of them is unarguably true, and, unfortunately, the usual pro-religion post on Slashdot seldom rises to that intellectual level. The usual pro-religion post is a rant, or is completely and utterly subjective, or is riddled with obvious logical errors (and often all three). When somebody posts such a thing, they shouldn't be surprised so many respond with mockery.

  • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:41AM (#38511638) Homepage Journal

    Philosophers have devised, over the years, a number of relatively complex arguments for the existence of God. None of them is unarguably true...

    I'd like to really emphasize this point by noting that in contemporary philosophy of religion, the pro-theist side of things isn't even trying to argue that God must exist. They're not even trying to argue that God *could* exist. The strongest point any practicing philosopher attempts to prove these days is that it's not irrational to consider that it might be possible that God exists; that, even though it might actually be false that God exists, even though it might even by physically or even metaphysically impossible that God exists, it is at the least not completely logically impossible that God exists, and so atheists can't win the debate a priori.

    It's the equivalent of saying "Look, I'm not saying that I can prove there's a tea kettle orbiting the Earth one mile above my house; I'm not saying the evidence is in favor of the position that there's a tea kettle orbiting the Earth one mile above my house; I'm not saying I have any evidence at all that there's a tea kettle orbiting the Earth one mile above my house; I'm not saying that there *is* a tea kettle orbiting the Earth one mile above my house; I'm not even saying that there physically could be a tea kettle orbiting the Earth a mile above my house; but you can't prove with logic alone that there isn't one there, so it's not completely crazy to believe there is."

    The debate is no longer between "God exists" vs "God does not exist"; it's between "We can conclusively prove that God as you construe him does not exist", and "N-not *conclusively*!"

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