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Atlantic: March for Science misunderstands politics

From Harvard sociologist Andrew Jowett at the Atlantic:

The movement’s rhetoric suggests that if governments simply fund and heed scientific research, the world will march steadily toward peace and prosperity. Applying science to politics will create “an unbroken chain of inquiry, knowledge, and public benefit for all.” This is, dare I say, an unscientific conception of human action. A huge body of social-scientific literature—or just a good, hard look at the political scene—shows that conflict, uncertainty, and collective self-interest would remain central features of democratic politics even if all of the disputants took scientific findings as their starting point for policy recommendations.

In a 2004 essay, Daniel Sarewitz, a professor at Arizona State University, challenged the longstanding expectation that bringing science to bear on political questions will reduce or eliminate disputation. In fact, he noted that “scientized” political issues—most notably, the climate debate—generate particularly sharp controversies precisely because the participants can focus exclusively on questions of scientific validity while obscuring the values and interests that shape their positions. Coal producers seeking to throw off environmental regulations, for example, will tend to highlight uncertainties in the scientific understanding of carbon dioxide’s atmospheric effects, rather than making an explicit case for choosing policies that benefit their industry over policies aimed at climate remediation. More.

This sounds like just another riff on: The public can’t make good decisions. One expects to hear that often now.

Again one wonders, would Dr. Jowett like to comment on recent trends in which post-normal,“post-truth,” and post-fact science seem normal now and objectivity is seen as sexist or worse?

See also: Jonathan Wells offers some context for the March for Science. Money walks. Notes: Science journalist Paul Voosen wrote in 2015 that “science today is riven with perverse incentives,” most of them financial.

March for Science: Neil DeGrasse Tyson thinks science denial dismantles democracy Poseur. Democracy gets dismantled mainly when not believing the government of the day becomes a crime.


New Scientist: We need more censorship because free speech is censorship

Please, God, stop Chelsea Clinton from whatever she is doing

…maybe superstition explains it. Like tribesmen laying out a sacrifice to placate King Kong, news outlets continue to make offerings to the Clinton gods. In The New York Times alone, Chelsea has starred in multiple features over the past few months: for her tweeting (it’s become “feisty”), for her upcoming book (to be titled She Persisted), and her reading habits (she says she has an “embarrassingly large” collection of books on her Kindle). With Chelsea’s 2015 book, It’s Your World, now out in paperback, the puff pieces in other outlets—Elle, People, etc.—are too numerous to count.

One wishes to calm these publications: You can stop this now. Haven’t you heard that the great Kong is no more? Nevertheless, they’ve persisted. At great cost: increased Chelsea exposure is tied closely to political despair and, in especially intense cases, the bulk purchasing of MAGA hats. So let’s review: How did Chelsea become such a threat?

…Chelsea, people were quietly starting to observe, had a tendency to talk a lot, and at length, not least about Chelsea. But you couldn’t interrupt, not even if you’re on TV at NBC, where she was earning $600,000 a year at the time. “When you are with Chelsea, you really need to allow her to finish,” Jay Kernis, one of Clinton’s segment producers at NBC, told Vogue. “She’s not used to being interrupted that way.”

Sounds perfect for a dating profile: I speak at length, and you really need to let me finish. I’m not used to interruptions.

Breaking: National Academy of Sciences notices research integrity problem

From William Thomas at Physics Today:

A major study on scientific integrity in the US advocates stricter policies for scientific authorship attribution, increased openness in scientific work, the reporting of negative findings, and establishment of an independent, nonprofit Research Integrity Advisory Board.

“Fostering Integrity in Research,” released 11 April by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, is an update to their landmark 1992 study, “Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process.” In the intervening 25 years, the scientific research enterprise has become larger, more globalized, and increasingly driven by information technology, which has led to major changes in how the integrity of research can be eroded or protected. More.

Unfortunately, I (O’Leary for News) have been covering these “sweeping reviews” for probably fifteen years. Mostly, they amount to clucking noises followed by sweeping the problems under the carpet when all is quiet.

The kinds of conversations people would need to have, in order to make a real difference, are conversations few are ready for.

The rest of us will just have to protect ourselves, especially from health-related flimflam. Fortunately, the internet makes it easier than ever before to find out what is going on.

Also, keep up to date with Retraction Watch

See also: Marchin’, marchin’ for Science (Hint: the problems are back at your desk, not out in the streets)


Maybe we should all “hate” science? Should a new science prize be awarded for wake-the-dead shouting?

Maine Democrats Laugh About Rising Suicide Rates Among White Males

‘Former Maine senatorial candidate Richard Fochtmann was filmed joking about rising suicide rates among white males at a recent event hosted by the Maine Democratic Party.

Mr. Fochtmann told the Daily Caller on Friday that his comments were in jest.

“A joke’s a joke, isn’t it?” he said. “I thought the point of the joke is that it won’t be long, and that this won’t be a majority white nation, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Nature advises scientists concerned about March for Science’s “special interests”: Shout louder

From the editors of Nature:

Nature is delighted to offer its own endorsement of the march and, more importantly, of the movement that the marchers will represent. We encourage readers to get involved, to show solidarity and to speak out about the importance of research and evidence — not just next weekend, but more often and more forcefully.

Some serious and important criticisms have been made of the science march, its methods and its possible implications. But a sense of the bigger picture is essential here.

Yes, there is a risk, as critics claim, that the march and the wider protest it hopes to symbolize could be diluted or even sidetracked by any number of special interests. Yet there is a straightforward solution for scientists who are concerned about this: turn up and shout louder about what you think matters more. More.

Shout louder? Unfortunately, campus fascists have cornered the market on shouting louder. A small library could be assembled featuring profs whose legitimate research has been silenced as a consequence.

In any event, it’s worth reflecting that, at one time, shouting louder than a pressure group was not the job of a scientist. Nature’s advice underlines the problem.

The really spooky part is that the organizers honestly believe that their problems are with outsiders and not within their own disciplines. One concern is that, when they fail to achieve much, they will become yet another clutch of victims of conspiracy thinking (we have enemies!), instead of reviewing their recent history and strategies in relation to what works.

See also: But PNAS: You are in the Marchers’ gunsights too…

Ten tips for spotting a fake science news story

How did “populism” become such a dirty word? A left-wing journalist offers some thoughts


Blinkers Award goes to… Tom Nichols at Scientific American! On why Americans “hate science”


March for Science defends ISIS?

As ‘Marginalized People’ From Alex Berezow at American Council for Science and Health:

Today, the official March for Science Twitter account criticized the Trump Administration for bombing ISIS, claiming that the gigantic bomb we dropped on the terrorists is an “example of how science is weaponized against marginalized people.”

After being mocked on Twitter, they deleted it. Unfortunately for them, Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center screen capped it. And just like a latent herpes infection, screen caps live forever.

ISIS terrorists brutally murder anyone, including other Muslims, who do not share their perverted worldview. They behead “infidels” and oppress women. Actually, “oppression” isn’t even close to the right word for it. According to The Independent, ISIS extremists rape little girls and burn women alive. They whip and stone disobedient women. The women who submit to this horrifying reality aren’t even allowed to leave the house without a male relative. Life under the Islamic State is literally a living hell for women. More.

The bomb may be a terrible policy idea; debate rages about Hiroshima (1945) today. But is defending ISIS, widely associated with executing gays and women who have sex outside marriage, a good way to convince people to think about the problems of science?

The March is  shaping up to be quite an event: Acting out against the real world settling in.

See also: Nature advises scientists concerned about March for Science’s “special interests”: Shout louder. Unfortunately, campus fascists have cornered the market on shouting louder.


Marchin’, marchin’ for Science (Hint: the problems are back at your desk, not out in the streets)

What To Do About American Judicial Overreach?

American conservatives have been bemoaning judicial activism since at least the 1950s, but the problem is getting worse. Today, courts mandate the release of criminal aliens into our communities even as they jail peaceful Christians for refusing to play along with “gay marriage.” Yet cowardly Conservatism Inc. apparatchiks still refuse to confront judicial tyranny, fearing negative consequences that might flow from “extreme measures,” and content themselves by vainly hoping future Republicans will appoint more strict constitutionalists. In his new book Stolen Sovereignty: How to Stop Unelected Judges from Transforming America, Conservative Review’s Daniel E. Horowitz, a long-time favorite, urges his fellow conservatives to abandon such vain hopes and gird up their loins for a death struggle against the out-of-control judiciary.

Horowitz points out that recent court decisions represent a new level of judicial imperialism that would have made Earl Warren blush. In its gay marriage decree, the Supreme Court mandated a social revolution in the name of a concept not only utterly absent from the Constitution, but non-existent until a generation ago.

Can medical research be brought back from rigor mortis?

A review of Richard F. Harris Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions by Marcus Munafò at Nature:

Harris introduces us to the growing field of metascience — the scientific study of science itself — and some of those working in it. These reproducibility firefighters are providing answers to such empirical questions, and identifying interventions. Robert Kaplan and Veronica Irvin at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that when the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute required preregistration of primary outcomes (the main outcome against which success should be judged) in clinical trials, the proportion of studies reporting a benefit fell from 57% to 8%.

That’s the good news. The bad news would have been perpetuating the errors.

Failure is a normal part of science, but dressing it up as success (for example, by presenting a secondary outcome as the primary outcome) is misleading. So is packaging exploratory, hypothesis-generating work as confirmatory, hypothesis-testing work. Unfortunately, with few ways to publish negative results, such practices are encouraged by incentives to present clean results with a compelling narrative, and be the first to do so. More.

Wouldn’t be nice if the Marches and teach-ins were about issues like replication failure?

How many of those people stop and think what it would be like to be fighting cancer and to discover that billions of our tax dollars have been wasted on ineffectual research? Oh and, if we complain, we “hate science.”

Keep up to date with Retraction Watch.

See also: For better science, let’s dismiss the rubbish that “science is self-correcting” in principle Self-correction is a rational human choice; it is not inherent in any enterprise whatsoever.

Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

Crisis in replication


Marchin’, marchin’ for Science (Hint: the problems are back at your desk, not out in the streets)


Time Magazine on “truth”: Today and in 2004

From John Hinderaker at Powerline:

Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about truth. It started with hysteria over “fake news” during the last election season. The “truth” narrative went into overdrive with President Trump’s unexpected (by most) victory.

This isn’t the first time the liberal media have experienced a crisis of confidence over “truth.” When most people look at Time’s [recent] “Is Truth Dead?” cover, they are reminded of the 1960s-era Time cover that it self-consciously copied, “Is God Dead?” But I was reminded of something else–another Time cover story about truth, dating from late 2004:

“Who owns the truth?” was about the Rathergate episode: how we and others exposed 60 Minutes’ attempt to swing the 2004 presidential election to Democrat John Kerry by publishing lies–fake news, one could say–about President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

I remember the Time cover collage very well, because I am in it. The photo in the lower left was taken in the loft of my house. That is Scott Johnson sitting with his back to the camera, and my left foot is barely visible next to the chair to his right.

The liberal media’s current hysteria about “truth” is eerily reminiscent of what we went through in 2004. We even have Scott Pelley, a thoroughly dishonest journalist, extolling the virtues of liberal editors who supposedly keep watch on liberal journalists:More.

Reality check: Let me make it easy for new readers: No progressive believes that there is any such thing as objective truth in principle. There is power, and they will not be in a good mood when they regain it.

See also: Another fake hate flyer hoax?: Quit playing their game

Melania’s designer tells critics to go to hell

From Umberto Gonzalez at The Wrap:

The White House released Melania Trump’s first official portrait on Monday, and Italian designer Stefano Gabbana is cool with the fact that she is rocking a Dolce & Gabbana blazer — on top of the fact that she wore a massive diamond ring reportedly worth $3 million. The designer defended FLOTUS and told Instagram trolls who chided him for working with her to “go to hell.”

To judge from the noise, they have box seats there.

Although other designers have balked and outright refused to dress Trump, including Tom Ford, Zac Posen and Christian Siriano, Gabbana seems to have no problem putting the first lady in D&G designs.

The first lady, a former fashion model, is shown from the waist up wearing a black ensemble. Looking directly into the camera, FLOTUS is sporting what appears to be a smile, though we can’t say for sure. More.

Reality check: It’s not a crime to do business with her yet. When it is, how will the virtuous punish the criminals?

See also: Ivankawear doing fine? Then Big Fashion is going the way of Big Hollywood

Has everyone forgotten that the Obama campaign decided to desert white working class voters in 2012?

Why are progressive basement dwellers still flooding the internet with nonsense about the alt right, fake news, and the Russians in US politics?

It is easy to explain the whole story, conspiracy-free, from USA Today, September 2012:

Part of the explanation is in the socially conservative views that many of these voters have on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and gun control. And a small, but hard to measure, part in this election is lingering racist attitudes toward the first black president.

But much has to be attributed to how the Democrats have taken these voters for granted. Eager to win the growing immigrant vote and to push liberal causes that many workers view with indifference or hostility, many Democrats have come up short in addressing the declining standards of living that have hit the working class through decades of losses in manufacturing jobs. More.

Reality check: From what one can see, progressives do not live in a world where ordinary facts matter.

We can expect many more overripe and rotten theories for a long time before they come to terms with simple error. They will then abolish independent analysis.

See also: Is Trump derangement syndrome about something bigger?A sense that the world isn’t just tipping over indefinitely into mindless and violent progressivism?