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Education United States Politics Science

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

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 InterestingFella ( 2537066 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:27PM (#38505738)
    The whole U.S. is established on the idea of God and religion. It's everywhere in the U.S. culture. That fact alone tells that U.S. has never been about, or seek to know, science. 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.

    Now here's a crazy question to those of you believe in god. The whole world is full of lunatics, alcoholics, drug users and pathological liars, and has always been. Hell, it doesn't even have to be a "bad" thing. Many people have great amount of imagination. What makes you think those stories weren't made up by either drunk persons, someone who wanted to tell a story or someone who just wanted to play with people?

    On that matter, stories always change when they are passed from people to people. This is like 1-2th grade stuff. I still remember when my first grade teacher demonstrated this by whispering something to a student, who then whispered it to next person and so on. After all of us in the class had passed it forward, the meaning was completely different with added "fun stuff" and things that didn't even make sense.

    Why do you think the bible is a good representation of how things actually went? Why do you think it's even true at all? It could just as well be based on some old stories that have changed when going from people to people, or better yet, some drunk or drug using guy just wrote it 2000 years ago. Just think about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Relyx ( 52619 )

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

      • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:05PM (#38506200)

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

        Agreed. Atheists can be very stubborn in their beliefs.

        Oh, wait, did you mean...

        • 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 Creepy ( 93888 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:07PM (#38507810) Journal

            Ah Catholics... I never quite understood why adulterers (a man that remarries when his first wife still lives is adultery under ancient Jewish law and biblical law, which share the same source, but the modern meaning of the word adultery has changed) are excommunicated, but thieves and murderers are not. Murderers are even blessed by a priest and have their final rites read to them before they get executed.

            I realize "classical" adultery was one of the worst sins in biblical times, punishable by stoning to death (I remember it by "marriage or stoning... it's a death sentence either way," which was a Bible school joke).

    • 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 HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:48PM (#38505988) 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.

        • To cite a quote whose origins are muddy at best (and at any rate, I've forgotten them):
          "A statesman is a dead politician. Heaven knows we need more statesmen."

        • 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 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.

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

        Sadly I agree that the first two apply to an awfully large portion of the population, in the U.S. and elsewhere. Your third point is often true but that isn't what is always at work. Often what is going on is that people become exhausted with argument and just want an answer - any answer. I watched a small group of people who thought they had a problem argue for years abou

      • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:43PM (#38507520) Homepage Journal

        Bullshit. I have Ph.D in physics and I am observing Muslim. The dichotomy is false and its enough that your Christian right-wing crazies are perpetuating it. Don't join the bandwagon from the science side.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jon42689 ( 1098973 )
      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 t
      • 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 cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:56PM (#38506098)

          the onus is on the religious to provide infallible proof.

          I believe the onus is on whoever states something as a fact. That, to me, implies that you somehow know something, and if you know something to be true, then you probably should have evidence to prove it. Otherwise, how could you know?

      • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:31PM (#38506576) Journal
        "While you do not believe in a creator God, that also does not cause his existence to be a false premise."

        I do not believe in pink dragons that fart nerve gas, although this does not cause their existence to be a false premise. The testable evidence for both god and pink dragons that fart nerve gas is identical.

        Nice one on the rational acceptance of the difference between your religious belief and whether or not your religious belief is factually correct. If the world is going to have religious people then it needs a higher percentage who think like you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 )
      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 worl
      • by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:54PM (#38506074) Homepage

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

        Australia. We were founded on sending prisoners as far away from Britan as possible. While the US is similar, you guys had a revolution to install god as your mascot.

        • I thought most of the founding fathers were deists. With respect to religion, people remember that the purpose of the law was to keep one particular brand of christianity from becoming the offical national religon, but seem to forget that some various states had various versions of christianity as their offical state religion, even until the early/mid 1800's.

    • by Riceballsan ( 816702 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:42PM (#38505908)
      Actually this is a misnomer. The US was established on freedom of and from oppressive religion. Many of our founding fathers were atheists/Deists (For the pre-darwin time I would consider deism pretty close to atheism, considering they more or less believed that god takes no active part in the world today). In god we trust was added to our money, and "under god" was added to our pledge in the 1950's. Both spit in the face of what the founding fathers had intended with separation of church and state.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:45PM (#38505944) Journal

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

      Sorry, this is just a myth. The founding fathers were deists, as secular as you could be in their day. The Constitution contains one reference to deity, in "the year of our lord". The Federalist Papers have equally few mentions of any sort of god.

      You are falling for the revisionist history perpetuated by the very people you are afraid of. "Under God" wasn't even added to the pledge of allegiance until 1948. The real philosophical basis of the United States are the ideals of the Enlightenment, which we have progressively lost as we slip into a modern dark ages.

      • .. which we have progressively lost as we slip into a modern dark ages.

        I sadly must agree this is what seems to be happening. Everyone wants to be a "big picture" person. No one wants to be concerned with details or actually doing anything.

        Any blame on religion is rubbish anyhow. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive. There are some religious people who think that is the case, but that's just ignorance. The real issue is putting ignorant people in positions of power. Of course in a democracy that says something about the voting population (or at least the ones tha

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hatta ( 162192 )

          You are correct that the problem fundamentally is ignorance. However, religion promotes ignorance by encouraging people to believe without proof.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:51PM (#38506044) Homepage

      I don't think that the US is established on the idea of God and religion. The Religious Right wants to rewrite history and make the US a Christian nation, but we were founded on religious freedom. On the principle that the government shouldn't dictate to you which religion you practice (if any) and how you practice it (again, if any). A Catholic can go to Church at the same time as a Jew can go to Temple and a Muslim can attend services in a Mosque. Please don't confuse the Religious Right's agenda of turning the US into a theocracy with the normal religious person's agenda of practicing their religion without someone telling them that they can't because the government outlawed it.

      For the record: Yes, I am religious. No, I don't want to push my religious views on anyone else and I just ask that others don't try to force their religious views - or lack thereof - on me. I'm fine with a friendly conversation on the merits and/or pitfalls of religion, but name-calling, insults or threats have no place there. (This goes both ways. I'd expect that religious folks talking with atheists refrain from any "You're going to burn in hell, heathen" talk. Not that the atheist would be scared, but it's just not polite.)

      • 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 OFnow ( 1098151 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:55PM (#38506088)
      The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. -- Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11. Signed by John Adams.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steelfood ( 895457 )

      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 religiou

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


    - 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 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 gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:02PM (#38506156) Homepage
      You left out the heriditary tendencies for President.

      Every single elected president - INCLUDING Barack Obama, has a genealogy related to President George Washington.

      Note I did say Elected President. Gerald Ford is (as of yet), not known to be related to George Washington.

      Barck Obama is George Washington's 9th cousin, 6 times removed. Yes, this is through his white mother.

      From what I can tell, the least connected elected President was Martin Van Buren - 17th cousin thrice removed.

      Also, President William Henry Harrison was related by marraige, not by blood.

      my source [geni.com]

      • by joggle ( 594025 )

        If you go back enough generations, everyone is related to everyone else. The claim I found (but couldn't confirm) is that Obama is George Washington's 2nd cousin, 9 times removed. Their common ancestor is 12 generations back, George Washington's great grandparents. Do you know how many 2nd cousins, 9 times removed you have? I estimated it to be nearly 300,000. The population of the US around the time George Washington was born was less than 3 million, giving Obama a 10% chance of being related to him.


    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      - about 30% voter turnout

      In presidential election years it is more like 58%, twice your claim. And better yet the turnout numbers have been trending up.

      - Election looser becomes president (2000)

      The 2000 results have been the most studied in US history, and guess what the studies have shown Bush really did win.

      Here's one:

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/media_watch/jan-june01/recount_4-3.html [pbs.org]

      - You need a billion US$ campaign funds to have a chance

      So? The US is a big country. It takes a lot to get your messa

  • by ZouPrime ( 460611 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:35PM (#38505826)

    "They take one of two routes: deny the science, or pretend the problems don't exist."

    First, the analysis presented by the author is fraudulent, nonsensical, and just a creation of the liberal elite. Second, there's simply no issue with how politicians deal with scientific facts, I don't know why anyone would say something like that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mc_barron ( 546164 )

      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.)

      • *BLAH* *BLAH* Liberal, is the boogey man of all radical conservatives. It can be used to just any decision in an argument regardless of which side they start. The fact of the matter, they do not exists, yet they are there to scare people so they can win an argument without logic or reason.

        I should be able to do whatever I want, but *BLAH* *BLAH* liberals want to government to regulate society.

        The *BLAH* *BLAH* liberals want to legalize gay marriage which is affront against god and we need to make laws to

  • nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @03:45PM (#38505960) Homepage Journal
    In the early to mid 1900's, science and math were basically dead in America. Much of the work done on some significant inventions of that time, such as the TV, was not done in the US and was completed in the late 19th century, with only some additional work done in the US, and completed by the 1920's.

    It was sputnik that that put science and math back in vogue in the US, and even then it has been touch and go. I don't imagine that many who read this can imagine how hard it is to actually set up an advance math of physics class is school that are controlled by ex cheerleaders and english majors. They cannot understand the importance or the complexity. They think that the computers just magically appeared one day. They don't know the physics and engineering that was required.

    Some of this comes from the religious fanatics, and some of these believe that the US is a christian state. While it is somewhat true, the beliefs of our founding fathers were not necessarily the beliefs of the christian fundamentalists and terrorists that want to divert tax a money from the public good to funding their mansions and sports complexes and terrorists cells. One example of this difference is the Jefferson bible. This bible is used by many christians as it focuses on the teaching of Jesus for those who follows his ways and habits, rather than the mysticism which is often used to tell poor people that they are poor simply because they have no faith.

    Our founding fathers understood that religion was used to oppress them, which is why the fought against the aristocracy of England. It was understood that the aristocracy was no more chosen by god than a CEO is chosen by god. It was understood that the work of a person, not the lineage, should determine if a person was successful. Just because one was born into a place or a family should not determine if one was blesse by god. The blessed were the ones who would have faith and work. So the US was built on faith, but not the idea that we in the US were more blessed than other simply because we were born in the US. We had to work for the blessing.

    This then is problem with math and science. If we are simply blessed because we are born in the US, then we can simply stay on our sofas and watch TV. But if god demands that we act, that we honor the creation, the Math and physics takes on a much greater importance, and one is not blessed simply because one watches Joel Olsteen on a 42" tv in a mansion. It is then required that we take an active role in exploring and expanding the good that the creation can do, which means that we have to get our lazy asses off the sofa and produce something useful, the antithesis to what is taught in too many churches.

  • by brainzach ( 2032950 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:01PM (#38506140)

    Even if we accept the science of climate change, the problem is too hard to fix.

    No politician is going to tell its people to stop driving cars. It is much easier to deny the problem than to deal with the reality. Even the pro science politicians are only proposing ideas that are mostly for show.

    If someone comes up with a solution to fix climate change without requiring major sacrifices from its citizens, then all the politicians will be conveniently pro science again.

  • by sarkeizen ( 106737 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:10PM (#38506270) Journal
    Given that the article is somewhat focused on the ScienceDebate questions and with the notable exception of the one about climate change. The third option I'd see is that those questions are pretty unfocused and in one case - education a little deceptive.

    For example are they referring to the OECD exam results? I downloaded and wrote that math exam and I found it to be weird. In some cases I'm not sure the questions were even about math and very often not the kind of math you use in science (there were huge numbers of graph reading questions). Not to mention that the purveyors of the exam themselves only recognized three statistically significant groups (those working at, beneath and above the median). Not to mention when people start throwing ordinal values around it often makes me wonder how much they actually know about science or math. Ordinals provide zero information about the distance between ranks which is far more important than being 1st or 17th.
  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:26PM (#38506500)

    At the core of the religious and science differences is a very humanistic (and fallible) trait of 'we' vs. 'them'. It's what drives the whole diatribe of debate on both sides of the fence and what makes the problem irrational and unsolvable.

    Neither science nor religion are based on 100% total fact. A scientific theory, (as is much religion), is based on what appears to be known about something from a given set of data. Can you explain Dark Matter with 100% certainty? No. Can you explain Intelligent Design with 100% certainty? No. You can make a lot of guesses but in the end those guesses are subjective.

    Seems to me one set of weakly glued hypothesis and conjecture should not be insisted upon over another set of weakly glued hypothesis and conjecture. We are on one planet of zillions of galaxies. We have not seen all there is to see and cannot explain much of what we have.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:30PM (#38506554)

    "I don't blame corporations because they are stuck in a system we have created and they can't solve it all themselves," he said in an interview. "I don't blame the Republican Party for going anti-science because there are a lot of factors that led to that socially, and I don't think it's a decision of Republican Party leadership to one day say, 'oh, we're not going to accept science anymore.' And it's not just because evangelicals got involved in politics. There's a lot of complex reasons."

    I notice he doesn't blame the Democrat Party, progressives, labor unions, etc either for their "anti-science" positions. But in those cases, he doesn't mention them by name either. I don't know who did this, whether it was the author, Otto, or a bias of the reporter of that particular interview, but any discussion of "anti-science" shouldn't be taking sides else it falls into the trap it purports to study.

    For example, perhaps the number one, serial abuse of science is in the field of economics. Everyone with enough money to hire a pet economist (the modern version of the chicken entrails-equipped soothsayer) can find a credentialed someone who can economically rationalize the wants of the client. Medicine is a close number two. Their saving grace is that they're a bit result driven. Past that, it depends on the stakes. Nobody is going to throw string theory, because nobody gains or loses (whether money, power, or some vaguer notion like firmness of conviction) no matter what happens. Climatology and ecology are different stories since someone stands to lose and gain by what conclusions are drawn.

    When you get to the weird religion based anti-science arguments against the sciences having to do with Earth's and the universe's past, these tend to be high profile and low impact. For example, I know of no case where some US school board passed an anti-evolution curriculum which didn't result in the overturning of the school board.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      I notice he doesn't blame the Democrat Party, progressives, labor unions, etc either for their "anti-science" positions. ... For example, perhaps the number one, serial abuse of science is in the field of economics.

      An example of this is the recent stimuli, which weren't awarded on the basis of a cost-benefits analysis. As such, they are barely any better than hiring a bunch of people to dig holes and fill them back in again.

      Now that we've established that both the Republicans and the Democrats discard scien

  • 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 ideonexus ( 1257332 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @04:49PM (#38506794) Homepage Journal

    I am bothered by one part of this article, the idea that Science Debate 2008 was only moderately successful. True, they were unable to get the candidates to debate science topics live on television, but the organization DID succeed in getting the candidates to debate science. The organization gave the candidates a list of questions and then posted their answers online side by side [sciencedebate.org] for comparison (I wrote up a score card on who I thought gave the best answer to each question [ideonexus.com]).

    This was more than the Federation of American Scientists [fas.org] or Union of Concerned Scientists [ucsusa.org] have accomplished in their decades of activism. This was HUGE for an organization that had just come into existence. This success is why I abandoned my memberships to these other organizations and committed my donations to Science Debate [sciencedebate.org].

    (Side Note: Newt Gingrich is a scumbag, but if he gets the nomination I can't wait to see him and Obama throw-down on Science... I've seen Newt destroy John Kerry on how to tackle Climate Change [factcheck.org] and I believe his nomination would bring scientific issues into the spotlight since Obama is something of a science geek himself.)

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