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The latest issue (November 2012) of Scientific American has an excellent and very timely article by Shawn Lawrence Otto called "America's Science Problem" in the print version, and renamed as "Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy" in the online version.

Mr. Otto's article cogently discusses the the origins of the science denial movement in the United States beginning a century ago with Democrat William Jennings Bryan (of Scopes Monkey Trial fame) who ran a fundamentalist campaign against the theory of evolution. It then goes on to discuss anti-science's persistent endurance up to today including both those Democrats who believe vaccines cause autism, and those Republicans who deny anthropogenic climate change, evolutionary biology, the meaning of the fossil record over geologic time, and big bang cosmology as well as fundamentalist concerns over control of a woman's reproductive rights and an anti-regulatory zeal against environmental protections.

It is a very good article worthy of Scientific American that is accessible to any level of reader. If you are not a Scientific American subscriber or don't have the print version already, please click the above link to read this article in full (and if you are so inclined, please consider becoming a Scientific American subscriber).

Below the orange what-not, I list the standard maximum three paragraphs from the article particularly emphasizing the conclusions of the article.

First Mr. Otto summarizes what is knowledge and why knowledge is the basis for a functioning democracy:

Locke watched the arguing factions of Protestantism, each claiming to be the one true religion, and asked: How do we know something to be true? What is the basis of knowledge? In 1689 he defined what knowledge is and how it is grounded in observations of the physical world in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Any claim that fails this test is “but faith, or opinion, but not knowledge.” It was this idea—that the world is knowable and that objective, empirical knowledge is the most equitable basis for public policy—that stood as Jefferson's foundational argument for democracy.
Next Mr. Otto summarizes how this reliance on knowledge has changed since Jefferson's time, with knowledge now being falsely equated with mere opinion:
By falsely equating knowledge with opinion, postmodernists and antiscience conservatives alike collapse our thinking back to a pre-Enlightenment era, leaving no common basis for public policy. Public discourse is reduced to endless warring opinions, none seen as more valid than another. Policy is determined by the loudest voices, reducing us to a world in which might makes right—the classic definition of authoritarianism.
And finally, Mr. Otto clearly summarizes the consequences when facts are superseded by opinions (the second and third sentences are the real kickers):
“Facts,” John Adams argued, “are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” When facts become opinions, the collective policymaking process of democracy begins to break down. Gone is the common denominator—knowledge—that can bring opposing sides together. Government becomes reactive, expensive and late at solving problems, and the national dialogue becomes mired in warring opinions.
If you are further intrigued, please read the whole article. If facts, evidence, and reason become lost, then this nation will be on (if it isn't already) the brink of calamity. I believe Mr. Otto clearly lays out the case and the dangers.

Originally posted to dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 02:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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  •  Tip Jar (216+ / 0-)
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    These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

    by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 02:50:53 PM PDT

  •  And there ain't a damn thing we can do about it (28+ / 0-)

    Even as these older generations die out, the younger ones have been just as indoctrinated. And the new minorities have poor public education thanks to budget cuts, lack of teachers, and lack of support, which directly translates to lack of information about the world around us.

    The reason the US is declining, is simply because the populace has disengaged from the hard truths, and accepts everything as true, without ever questioning it themselves.

    We are all so screwed!

    •  It's Not Reasonable to Expect Most People to (37+ / 0-)

      believe that their entire institutional society is lying to them. When they get the same basic picture from news, work, recreation, peers and church, only the small fraction who are active current events enthusiasts and naturally skeptical --and have enough time to set aside all mainstream sources to find niche domestic and foreign sources-- are going to have a very realistic picture.

      This problem was created by our founders who convinced us that one of our most fundamental human rights consisted of handing over the public square to corporations freed of check or responsibility. As corporations rise in importance, the free press becomes the corporate press, and the corporate press becomes the same as a state press.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 03:32:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whatchootalinbout? (7+ / 0-)

        Founders in the tank for corporations?  Huh?

        I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
        Thomas Jefferson

        The day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few
        James Madison

        We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

        by Mosquito Pilot on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:22:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Jeffefson quote is likely fabricated. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OhioNatureMom

          I'm not as sure about the Madison. But I am pretty sure that the founders weren't in the pockets of corporations. Moneyed classes, yes, but corporations as they exist today were pretty rare back then.

          Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

          by Nowhere Man on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:38:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  No pre-emptive defeatism! (44+ / 0-)

      There's a hell of a lot we can do about it.

      Start with re-electing Obama and taking back the House.

      Next, more funding for science education.

      Tighter control over home-schooling curricula and the range of circumstances under which home-schooling is acceptable.

      More science programs on TV, more science-themed films in the theatres (science fiction is worth a lot because it encourages interest).  

      More visibility on the part of NASA: what they're doing right now with the Mars mission is excellent, we need more of this.

      We all know the whole laundry list.  

      And also, religious progressives coming out strongly with the statement that one can hold both faith and reason without any fundamental contradictions (atheists will differ with this, but the target audience for it is people who are already religious and grappling with issues related to science).

      This battle is far from over.  

      In the end, rigid religious extremists and obscurantists will lose because reality will catch up with them sooner or later, or they will just die off and their offspring will be living in a world where science is relevant to life-and-death issues on a daily basis.  As with racism, this problem will decline over time, plus or minus occasional ugly flare-ups.  Two steps forward, one step back, and you still make progress.  

      So don't give up: roll up your sleeves and FIGHT.

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:50:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. (7+ / 0-)

        We have to try to do something about it.  I think it's important to remember that there have been many Christian scientists who contributed to our knowledge of the world and didn't feel that their faith was in any way in conflict with science.

        It's easy to get frustrated with the religious, but if you turn it into some sort of atheism versus religion thing, then you've diluted the argument.  We need to protect how science is taught in schools, and we need to make certain that people understand that this is about critical reasoning, and the national dialogue.

        Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

        by martianexpatriate on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 10:31:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Return to the Fairness Doctrine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, orlbucfan

        and stop the propagandizing of Americans on our home turf. Lies and hateful rhetoric should not be treated as viable commodities anywhere, but especially not in a democratic republic

        •  Propoganda is indeed the key (4+ / 0-)

          As a scientist I am intrigued by the thoughts of a fellow scientists as to how just a few industries have closed ranks and formed a nearly bullet proof unified message that seeks to ridicule any other "opinions" regardless of how much evidence supports them.

          Specifically this deals with oil supplies in the world and how the planet is in the midst of a supply crisis that will not and cannot be solved by the business as usual "drill baby drill" same old tired "solutions".

          Still - the message from the select industries is "Party On !" - as my colleague describes it - put forth by an "Iron Triangle" of corporate America.  The triangle consisting of:  oil companies ("there's plenty of oil !  it won't run out for thousands of years !"), the auto/housing/finance industries ("sure buy that huge house in the exurbs, commute in that giant SUV and do it all with some funny business loan from our bank - don't worry the oil companies say there's plenty of oil !"), and the corporate media ("the oil CEOs and finance industry CEOs are OBVIOUSLY the smartest men in the room - trust them - there's plenty of oil to keep growing and growing and growing the economy !  After all would they be spending on all this advertising through us if it wasn't true ?").

          The problem is that the SCIENCE tells a much different story - a story that cannot get any traction due to obfuscation by the Iron Triangle.

          http://www.theoildrum.com/...

          My often exasperated fellow scientist (petroleum geologist) points out the madness of the whole situation in the following way:  it is very illustrative of the mess in which we find ourselves in that those who have done rational analysis and science on the subject are labeled as "crazy" and continuously marginalized while those (the Iron Triangle) who constantly parrot a message of "of course it is possible to have infinite growth and infinite oil supplies on a finite planet" are seen as the "voice of reason".

          Insanity.

      •  And given that our Public Schools are doing so (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, divineorder, orlbucfan

        Super-Awesome! What would you propose to improve home school curricula?

        Just out of curiosity?

        Because you seem to know a lot about it.

    •  In Texas, vote in SBOE race (6+ / 0-)

      The Texas State Board of Education is one elected organization that is leading the march away from science.  

      If you live in Texas, be sure to vote in the down ballot race.

      I wanted to link this, but the controls to do so aren't showing up on my tablet this morning....
      http://www.tfn.org/...

      We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

      by Mosquito Pilot on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:36:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is not entirely true. But the ones that scare (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx, divineorder, orlbucfan

      you have the mic right now.

      There are plenty of us, religious and non--minority and other, who do not buy into this at all. And quietly work behind the scenes to bring some sanity back into the world and the discussion.

      So if you give up on everyone now, you have essentially given up on the people in the trenches who are working so hard to turn things around.

  •  Propaganda's aim is to make facts opinions. (30+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, we are dealing with a group that uses propaganda, not democratic principles.

    Rules and common starting points are useless to those who want to change the facts to suit their whims.

    Or their presuppositions.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 02:56:46 PM PDT

    •  therefore guerrilla warfare. (6+ / 0-)

      If rules and common starting points are useless in dealing with propagandists, then what we do is (nonviolent) guerrilla warfare.

      See also: the Yes Men, whose gray ops & political theatre have been absolutely brilliant at exposing all manner of corporate bullshit and propaganda.  For example their press release as "Dow Chemical" apologizing for the deadly Bhopal India toxic chemical leak, forced Dow to issue a statement saying they were not apologizing!

      One example of a possible tactic:

      For anti-evolution bullshit:

      There's a deep underlying reason why religious righties absolutely hate the idea that humans are related to monkeys and apes.   Know what it is?  Have you ever gone to the zoo and watched the monkeys for any length of time?  

      If so, you know what monkeys do.  They are flagrant masturbators.  Yes, and if you want to see some examples, go on YouTube and keyword search "monkeys masturbating" and similar language, and prepare to get a proverbial eyeful.

      So!  Make the point!  Rub the anti-evolutionists' noses in it:  "You just hate the idea that we're related to monkeys because you can't deal with the sight of monkeys masturbating in the zoo!"  Make them deny it!  Push as many of their weirdo sex-obsession buttons at the same time as you can!  Gay monkeys!  Lesbian monkeys!  See, that stuff does exist in nature after all, and we inherited a whole bunch of it, straight from the "monkeys" (technically "great apes" but who's keeping track?).

      This can also be done in the "positive variant," where you make effectively the same arguement while appearing to be on the rightie-wingers' side.  For example going on about all those dirty, sinful monkeys who defile themselves in front of the innocent patrons of zoos and so on.  And say "there is no way that humans, who are made in God's image, could be related to these filthy sinful creatures that have no more self-control than 14-year-old boys!"  Etc. etc.  From there you can get into the paranoid CT to the effect that zoos are a subversive left-wing plot to expose God-fearing Americans to the filthy habits of monkeys in the attempt to peddle evolution by making 14-year-old boys think it's OK to whack off!  Add some word-salad for good measure.  

      Another term for this is "polluting the meme-pool," by proliferating wild crazy shit that becomes attributed to the extreme right.  (And another example is the "Obama is a space alien" meme, which can get picked up by paranoid right-wingers to make the birther meme seem that much more crazy to undecideds.)  

      You see the structure of this, right?  The goal is to engage in the most flagrant and crass type of reductionism of the anti-science nuts' motives, to the level of pure psychobiology, deterministic neurochemistry, Freudian mechanisms, and so on.  The purpose of this is to create aversive or psychologically conflictual associations to various elements of anti-science ideology.  What we want is, every time some rightie-winger even thinks of creationism, the image they see in their mind's eye is of masturbating monkeys, so in the end they would rather not talk about it.  

      Now apply that thinking to climate change and a few other items, and see what you can come up with.

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:58:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are not going to talk a religious person into (0+ / 0-)

        openly looking at Masterbation on youtube.

        And seeing how sexual self gratification is often, strongly perceived as a "gateway" to evil in most Christian Sects, you will only increase their feelings that man is innately flawed, and prone to evil and in dire need of their god's guidance via religious adherence.

        Monkey's also fling poo. But I wouldn't recommend sending them to Shit-Fetish videos either. For exactly the same reason.

        You are not going to change their minds. They will simply entrench themselves and circle the wagons. The best you can do is offer them acceptance, and simply move along, reinstating the rules for Science, while unwinding their religious tenets from the talking points.

        Nothing you do at this point will make them happy or genuinely comfort them or win them over. So just do what you need to do, and be as civil and possible and let the chips fall where they may.

        •  The point is to make them seem ridiculous (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          I don't think he is proposing that you convince fundies to watch youtube videos.

          It's enough to tell them about it.


          The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

          by No one gets out alive on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 09:08:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In reality they need no convincing . . . (3+ / 0-)

            e.g., hotel porn consumption is at all time highs when the Southern Baptists are holding a convention at the aforementioned Hotel and Utah leads the nation in internet porn . . . .  go figure.

            •  There is no doubt there is a load of hypocrisy. (0+ / 0-)

              But even catching them red handed will not get your the results you desire.

              Sometimes energy is best spent elsewhere.

              Right now, somewhere[s] on the net, *they are having the same exact conversation about "us" and our woeful inability to see the light, and become their version of rational, and embrace their truth.

              It's a waste of time.

              There are better places to spend one's energy as an agent of change.

          •  Ridiculousness will end predictably. (0+ / 0-)

            You can read about it in the social sciences. When identity is threatened, the individual shores it up with group cohesion.

            Hence Circling the wagons.

            Don't get me wrong I understand what you want to accomplish, I am just pointing out that you are going at it the wrong way.

            •  and when the circle the wagons... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              No one gets out alive

              .... what they'll get is a positive-feedback spiral of unchecked paranoia to the point where they start saying things that totally marginalize them.

              Plus a few more defeats from there, and they will go back into "quietist" mode, withdrawing from politics altogether and focusing their attention on "the next world," as they did before they received infusions of plutocrat money in the 80s.  

              "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

              by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:10:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I understand your point (0+ / 0-)

              I agree with you about their likely reaction.

              I'm not hoping to change their minds, or 'save' them.

              It's more a method to quarantine them, and prevent the virus from spreading.


              The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

              by No one gets out alive on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 04:44:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  exactly. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            No one gets out alive

            Make them seem ridiculous.  And make them react in some manner that discredits them completely.

            Goad them, lure them into traps, etc. etc.

            "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

            by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:18:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  the goal isn't to talk them into... (0+ / 0-)

          .... becoming religious progressives or rationalists.  The goal is to offbalance them to the point where they spin out of control.

          Think of it as the psychological equivalent of Stuxnet.

          Then they will simply implode, and that will be that.

          One tactical move about monkeys won't be sufficient by itself.  But many over time, on a wide range of subject matter, will have the desired effect.  

          As for offering them acceptance, that's like being nice to poisonous snakes: sooner or later you get bitten.  

          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

          by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:17:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Being fair (15+ / 0-)

    The "link" between vaccines and autism had a pseudo-scientific basis in the self serving fake research published by a British (now ex-)doctor who wished to sell single vaccines to those parents he scammed into believing the free NHS MMR vaccine was dangerous.

    Hopefully, when the full story is explained to them, and presented with the contrary evidence disproving the "mercury based preservative" theory; they should come round.

    Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 02:57:31 PM PDT

  •  well, we better get our act together then. (8+ / 0-)

    "who controls the past controls the future; who controls the narrative controls both"

  •  Thanks for helping bring attention to this article (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, judyms9, dennis1958, OhioNatureMom

    Tho I don't expect we'll see it mentioned on any talking head show.

    •  Maybe Rachel Maddow, but I doubt she has the time. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mtnlvr1946, OhioNatureMom

      She certainly has the inclination (on her "Moment of Geek"). But she (and others) has her plate full with the debates and the last weeks of this important Presidential campaign. But you're right, I don't see any talking heads even thinking of mentioning this, with the possible long shot exception of Rachel.

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 03:29:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  then what we do is: (4+ / 0-)

        1)  Write to her to try to get this on the agenda for election coverage.  It's as relevant as any other area of policy, and it will motivate progressive voters.

        2)  Keep writing to her to keep this on her radar after the election.  

        In the unlikely event Romney gets in, we're going to have a culture war on our hands unlike any other to date, and going much further than any other to date.

        With Obama in for a second term, we can rest assured that he's not going to give in to the worst sorts of antiscience bullshit, and that his administration is going to do what it can to improve science education.  But none the less we have to keep this on his radar constantly, so he knows there's a strong constituency for it.

        In any case, there is no giving up.  

        "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

        by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:44:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not Just Antiscience (27+ / 0-)

    The movement described in the article is more an anti-logic, anti-thought, anti-intellectual development which started when the baby boomers entered the school system in the fifties.  As a "war baby," I had a chance to observe the cohort following me and the reaction of the teachers to them.  "They don't want to learn" was the kindest I heard.  Coupled with the fact that class size nearly doubled within one year, a lot of them got lost in the cracks, and grousing around for a world view which would justify their ignorance, they came to the conclusion that they were just as good as the eggheads who got all the good grades.  Smart was dumb, and dumb was smart.  If they believed something was true, who needed proof or facts?  They have not expanded their consciousness since.  Perhaps in fifty years we will have witnessed a return to more rational perspectives, but not now.

    Bene Scriptum, Bene Intellectum.

    by T C Gibian on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 03:29:34 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, anti-science may be the visible symptom, (20+ / 0-)

      but at its core it's an anti-reason, anti-evidence, anti-enlightenment mentality. Welcome to the Dark Ages, with many Republicans auditioning for the role of Torquemada or Savonarola and looking with enthusiasm for the ensuing Auto-da-fé's.

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 03:41:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A return to "anti reason" and "anti enlightenment" (13+ / 0-)

        Is necessary.  IF one is inclined toward a return to the fuedal society with 1% ownership and 99% serfs.

        If education is spent on uppity poor people they will object to the unenlightened idea that all people have value and are entitled to basic human rights including education, health care and a chance to succeed in a career.

        Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick. Message to Repug Fundies: "DO you really wonder "what would Jesus do?" I didn't think so.

        by 4CasandChlo on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:39:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, heaven help us if people believe they are (12+ / 0-)

          entitled to food, housing, and health care.  Pretty radical ideas for a plantation model economy.

          “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

          by ahumbleopinion on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 05:21:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It isn't corporations that are driving this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          Most corporations if they mislead at all are going to do it about their product only or about things directly relevant to their bottom line.

          "Corporations are anti-science" is crap. Nearly all corporations have science and engineering as core parts of their business, especially big companies.

          Anti-science people tend to be religious crazies or (as some here have noted) earthy-crunchy anti-vax types. Corporations are just trying to make a buck. Evil conspiracies are too expensive.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:45:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not true. (4+ / 0-)

            Corporations mislead us regularly about the safety of their products.

            Drugs,
            Pesticides,
            Herbicides,
            Fungicides,
            Petroleum Products
            Dispersing agents,
            Flame Retardants,
            Food Additives

            And as more and more of these corporations became large multinational conglomerates that own not just items that create usable goods, but also news-media, their natural tendency to bundle all their desires together took over.

            Why else do we have such a problem with Revolving Door Politics? Why do industry leaders hope back and forth regulating the industries they benefit from?

            Why would companies and distributors fight GMO labeling?  

            Why else do have such issues with pollution right now?

            Why else do big Energy Companies get caught, constantly in an organized attempt to down play Global Climate Change?

            Why else did huge lobbys like Big Pharma derail the single payer health plan, using the GOP as their cat's paw?

            Why are our Police Departments in major metropolitan areas so brutal to OWs, when that same group protests financial discrepancies that would and do affect police officers too?

            Come out of your cave, open up your eyes and take a look.

            This is indeed, part of what has undermined the good name of Science.

            Until "Science" deals with that, there will be too many opportunities for hucksters to take advantage of well earned suspicions, hurt and anger--to undermine the concept of Science.

      •  Also known as ... (6+ / 0-)
        at its core it's an anti-reason, anti-evidence, anti-enlightenment mentality
        .
        This toxic force has been around forever; it's known as religion.  
        •  tell it to the Catholic priest who... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx

          ... was also a reputable astronomer and came up with the Big Bang theory.

          Really.  

          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

          by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:46:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True, Georges Lemaître was one of the first to... (3+ / 0-)

            propound the scientific concept of an expanding universe, along with the sometimes overlooked Russian scientist Alexander Friedmann. And the American astronomer Edwin Hubble actually performed the astronomical observations that lead to his discovery of our expanding universe--discoveries which convinced an initially skeptical Albert Einstein.

            The modern Roman Catholic Church has certainly come around from the time of Galileo and now readily accepts evolution and big bang cosmology (indeed with the significant help of the Catholic priest Lamaître). But it sure took them a long damn time--it was Pope John Paul II who formally vindicated Galileo in 1992, and again in 2000 Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for all the mistakes committed by some Catholics during the 2000-year history of the church, including the trial of Galileo. That's good! But unfortunately there are still many fundamentalist religions with attitudes toward science and scientific evidence similar to that of the Catholic church during the time of Galileo in the early 17th Century--if it agrees with the Bible or their religious dogma, good; if not, then reject the scientific evidence (even if it happens to be correct).

            These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

            by dewtx on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:05:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yup, and that generation's most penetrating (12+ / 0-)

      question was "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich."  That is their litmus test.  It's why the shift to Bus.Ad., pro sports, and rock bands.  It's why we have reality shows.  Chase fame.  Get money.  You're smart.  Simple.

      Soon sending ones children to what are considered enlightened private schools will not be enough.  The schools will have to be in Finland.

      On the bright side, those who bother to read this article are part of the solution to this dismal state of affairs.

      Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

      by judyms9 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 03:41:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, I saw the whole "it's cool to be stupid" (7+ / 0-)

      bullshit where F grades were a badge of pride start to kick up around 15-20 years ago and from the looks of things it has only gotten much worse since I was in high school.  Someone stop the planet, I want off.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 06:16:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  anti-enlightenment is what it is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx, OhioNatureMom

      or, more specifically, "anti-enlightenment in specific areas where someone has a political stake." Otherwise they don't care.

      I always wondered about that. We know climate and evolution are politicized. So some people in polls will say they don't accept the science for political reasons.

      But what about apolitical science? Do fundamentalists reject the laws of motion? Do they accept plate tectonics?

      Is the rejection of science across the board, or is it only in specific areas where they've been carefully taught?

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:33:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Reagan Campaign and Admin Led the Push to (11+ / 0-)

    reframe fact as opinion. It was 30+ years ago that they were pressuring media to stop injecting "personal opinion" into reporting and interviews & moderation. Personal opinion meant fact-checking.

    A lot of us seemed to have missed how thoroughly propagandistic the Reagan machine was, we seem to remember more the rewriting of history after he left. But they rewrote a jaw dropping amount of the present as they went along and to a large extent they got the media to go along.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 03:34:53 PM PDT

  •  I highly recommend (13+ / 0-)

    Shawn Otto's book Fool Me Twice which provides more background on the material he covers in the article. I'll be using this book as a basic textbook for a new Scholars Seminar on Science and Citizenship.

    •  Thanks for pointing this out. (6+ / 0-)

      This book is mentioned in the short author bio in the print version as well as in the author bio at the end of page 6 in the online version. I haven't read the book (yet), but the article in SA was excellent, so I'm glad to hear that the book follows suit.

      Based on the title of your seminar, it sounds like it will be very timely and interesting given the wide range of opinion about the role of science and fact in today's American society and politics. You're going to have some well-informed students at the end of this, Ojibwa. Good for you, and them!

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hypocrites (6+ / 0-)

    Republicans hate science, but they love profiting from it (bio-tech, high-tech, oil/gas extraction, etc.)

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:49:47 PM PDT

    •  2+2=5 except when calculating missile targets. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx, OhioNatureMom, orlbucfan

      You know the routine.

      In any case what they're after is an oligarchy with an overpopulation of ignorant serfs to exploit mercilessly.

      See also the physics definition of "work" as "conversion of energy from one form to another," and apply that to "workers."   Yes, we are "energy-converters."  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:50:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anti-science and fear of thought - (9+ / 0-)

    This has been going on for twenty years, and it goes a long way toward explaining why Republicans don't understand how a woman's body parts work.  Or why climate change is really happening, and isn't just opinion.  They've been waging an anti-intellectual campaign for a long time.  Those children who are unlucky enough to grow up in a school affected by that mindset are going to have a lot of work to do, if they're lucky enough to go to college.

    Perhaps it's the Republicans trying to breed a new kind of voter - one who doesn't question authority, who doesn't understand how the body works, and thinks that any sort of science is going to threaten religion.  If so, they've done it wrong!

    I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love / And I'm like / Please proceed, Governor. - Dave Itzkoff

    by Jensequitur on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 05:23:07 PM PDT

    •  BINGO! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx
      Perhaps it's the Republicans trying to breed a new kind of voter - one who doesn't question authority,
      But you should add some words:

      Perhaps it's the Corporate backers of Republicans trying to breed a new kind of voter--one who doesn't question authority.

  •  Two nits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx

    Your sentence, "If you are not a Scientific American subscriber and have the print version already, please click the above link to read this article in full ...."  Should there be a "don't" before the "have the print version"?

    Otto says,

    When facts become opinions, the collective policymaking process of democracy begins to break down.
    This doesn't make sense to me in this context. If "facts" and "opinion" were reversed in the sentence, I would have no problem, even though it would be best if facts were facts and opinions were opinions. Can somebody please let me know where I've gone wrong here?
    •  Good point. I'll add it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tapestry

      Funny how you can read something several times and still see words that you think are there but really aren't. Just got to slow down.

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 06:45:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The way I read it is... (6+ / 0-)

      if facts lose the nature of their existence independent of the human mind and become simply whims of each individual mind (i.e., opinions) then democracy has lost an incontrovertible basis on which to make many of its collective policymaking decisions. For example, if the fact that there are germs that cause disease is merely opinion (i.e., I believe there are such germs and you don't, and our conflicting opinions have equal merit being opinions), then how can you set public policy on food safety that results in fewer people getting sick from, or even dying from, food poisoning or contamination. (Of course, that raises the question of whether death itself is a fact or an opinion, and that makes my mind begin to spin--we're getting into Jorge Luis Borges territory like "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" or "Death and the Compass".)

      The reverse of opinions becoming facts, i.e., opinions having an existence independent of the human mind, is of a different nature. However, if every opinion were a fact (including the opinion that there are no facts), then we suffer from the problem a surfeit of inconsistent facts and end up in a similar situation, but by a different route.

      The original statement of the author makes sense to me, but you do have a point and after thinking about all of the above possible contradictions mentioned above I think I'm getting more confused than ever, but that's just an opinion.

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 07:29:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very interesting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, G2geek

        I started out assuming that Otto said what he meant and meant what he said. That led me to the same sort of bouncy-bouncy thinking you were forced into to explain his statement. It made my brain hurt.

        And the debate was soon to start.

        Then I decided he didn't say what he meant. It was that word "become" that was the problem. What does that mean, anyway? What if he'd said something like, "When facts are dismissed as mere opinions ...."? Or, "When opinions are given the same weight as facts ...."

        My head stopped hurting.

        Thanks very much for your thoughtful response and for bringing the article to our attention. I'm going to read the article again (actually, I just skimmed it tonight) tomorrow when I'm not distracted by the debate. Thanks again!

        •  My interpretation of "become" was "are treated as" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, tapestry

          i.e., "When facts are treated as opinions ...." At least, that works for me. Perhaps a longer verb phrase like yours or mine would have made it clearer--it's the usual conflict between brevity and clarity. Both have their place, but sometimes it's tricky to achieve the right balance.

          These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

          by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 09:06:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great article! pss the word is "superseded." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, Dbug, G2geek

    I thought it would be okay to mention that, because we're talking about knowledge.

    Thanks for this link. It was a really good article, one I wouldn't have seen otherwise.

    •  Thanks. I'll correct it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      I used to be a gud speler.

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 06:40:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not impressed. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ice Blue

    In fact, the author lost me when he asserts that "[t]he coverage of the resulting Scopes “monkey trial” in 1925 turned the American public against religious fundamentalism for a generation."  

    Anti-intellectualism is a paper tiger compared to the general public's pathetic scientific and technical literacy.  Fundamentalists didn't propose wasting most of grammar school on the rote memorization of disparate facts while students are exposed to the necessary math prereqs drop by drop.  Fundamentalists didn't call for the end of shop and home economics in order to pretend that more than a quarter of students were going to college.  They sure as hell didn't argue that shop and home economics were irrelevant to STEM.  And last I checked, fundamentalists didn't keep Otto out of K-12 education.

    You want to convince the public of the seriousness of climate change?  Then let's cut this "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" bull and give them the tools to work out the information themselves.  

    •  Good points, but still... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pete Cortez, G2geek, orlbucfan

      We are not exactly pumping out a brain trust in America. We may have to suffer through a generation or two of domestic dopes.


      A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

      by Pluto on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 08:46:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't Worry, All those home schooled people will (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, G2geek, OhioNatureMom

        be challenging those science and engineering goals before you know it.

        And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

        by MrJersey on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 09:19:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes all of us Home schoolers are out to get you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx, orlbucfan, Pluto

          Because we are all alike and operate in the equivalent of a hive mind.  

          •  Wait a minute here!! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pluto, dewtx

            Not all home-schooling is idiotic, religious-based crap. My sister home-schooled my niece for several years. The reason? 60+kids in her middle school classes in Southern CA. Sis used the home-schooling program put out by Johns-Hopkins University. You read that one right.

            My niece is now graduating on time from FSU in Tallahassee w/a double major in multiple languages and linguistics. She is getting set to intern in Naples, Italy for the State Dept. early next year. Sis has gone back to her first love: teaching kids math. She's a genius who has already been nominated for Teacher of the Year.

            We are highly educated and highly skilled in my family. That was the First Commandment from both our parents.

            Very good diary. I read SA as a kid. T and R!!

            Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

            by orlbucfan on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 09:31:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  But let's say we pumped out a whole lot more (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        milkbone, dewtx

        science and engineering graduates.

        I'm interested in exactly what you propose they do after graduation?   Just saying, salaries for these jobs- when available - have been on a decades-long slide.

        •  Very true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx, Roadbed Guy

          And in a lot of fields, particularly software engineering, you're only going to have a real job until you're 40 or so, and then you'll spend the rest of your life scrambling for temp jobs and contractor positions.

          Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

          by milkbone on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 08:06:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Post (4+ / 0-)

    But I think one must also consider the possibility that the efforts to distort and misrepresent science, to drive mistrust of science and to relegate all scientific discussion to relativism may not be due to just the ignorance of the populace, or their willingness to trust in the comforting.  I suggest that it may be due to a real concerted and orchestrated effort on the part of powerful and monied interests.  I know, I know... conspiracy!  Well, yes in a way.  I mean to suggest that the marketing tools, media tools, approaches, in roads into religious establishments, are all very expertly coordinated using the best psychological data on human behavior.  The intention is clear, to keep us all buying the right toothpaste, to make sure we take out loans for things we cant afford, to pique our interest in new gadgets new toys, new whatsits to buy.  Literally to distract us from the things that rule us, steal our lives from us, and keep us in check.  To maintain the status quo. Society is controlled, no matter how much the Tbaggers think they are not.  And while government might be a willing partner in this, the culprits are huge corporations that depend on us KNOWING that life is not worth living without an ipad.  

    So what does this have to do with anti-science? Loads.  The diversion it provides, the voting blocks it assures, the power centers it supports as a philosophy, are all part and parcel of the game.  The more you know, the more careful you are going to be about your buying habits, and this is dangerous, both to power and to profits.

    Nope, I personally believe in the big conspiracy, whether it is fully intellectualized or not, whether it is planned or not, I am sure it is there.  And science is NOT its friend.

    •  Oh and one more thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, orlbucfan

      To cut off the responses before they hit... How do I know that there is a great evil at the center of all of this?  Just look at its complexity, the patterns and beauty of it. Ample evidence of a guiding intelligence wouldnt you say? Almost as if that intelligence designed it this way...

  •  Pre-Enlightenment (9+ / 0-)

    Religious right / GOP approach vs progressives reminds me of Spain and England jockeying for who would be the dominant power in Europe in the late 1500s. England allowed its scientists, philosophers etc to go where facts and reason led them. Spain insisted knowledge fit the dictates of the Church. We know how that worked out.
    Sure the defeat of the Armada didn't hurt but the end result was inevitable.

    Blue is blue and must be that. But yellow is none the worse for it - Edith Sidebottom

    by kenwards on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 06:50:28 PM PDT

    •  Excellent analogy. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, OhioNatureMom

      It's a pleasure to have so many smart people here at DailyKos helping to make such perspicacious points.

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 07:59:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something that should be on the reading list (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, Pluto, G2geek, orlbucfan

    Shawn's book:  Fool me twice. Really worthwhile.

    And, Shawn is a key player in Science Debate.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 07:16:05 PM PDT

  •  IMO pushing "theistic evolution" is nearly as bad (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, Sparhawk, OhioNatureMom

    as going full-on creationist. It's friendlier to scientific consensus in the short term, but it's not a pro-science position by any means. I throw this out there as, acknowledgedly, a contentious topic in this forum. I'm +3 or so post-debate (a fair number for me).

    "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

    by McWaffle on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 08:10:15 PM PDT

    •  in public schools? (4+ / 0-)

      I'll take a wild guess and assume that by "theistic evolution" you mean basically natural selection with a bit of input from a deity from time to time.

      No, it doesn't belong in public schools, because it's not science: there is no empirical test for the existence of a deity, so that issue will forever remain in the realm of freedom of individual conscience.  

      But yes, I can accept it being taught in churches: because at least it gets evolution on the table, and if people choose to add faith to it, that's hardly as harmful as promoting disbelief in science.   IMHO it's harmless.  Understanding the science is what counts.  The personal desire to add a deity to the mechanism does not make for extremism or obscurantism.

      Like this:  You want your kid to read a certain book.  Do you really give a hoot if he takes his copy and adorns the covers with stickers for bands?  If adding those stickers gives your kid the feeling of "personalizing" his copy of a book, that's OK as long as he reads the book.  What's not-OK is if he shreds the book or burns it.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:09:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  to bad republicans stopped subscribing to SciAm (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, Pluto, G2geek

    years ago.

    though a few may beat off to it in the bathroom because their ethos considers 'demonstrable fact' obscene...

  •  Great article. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 09:18:50 PM PDT

  •  Beyond reason. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, G2geek, OhioNatureMom, orlbucfan

    I can barely bring myself to address the multiple layers of ignorance, some of it self-contradictory, among the anti-science crowd.

    I'll just note that any of that class which has a problem with the Big Bang theory (unless on scientific grounds) should note that this was the FIRST scientific theory that agreed with the premise that the universe had a beginning. Which, I will point out, was a posit of Western religion for many thousands of years.

    You have to pick your fights, and if I were advising the anti-science crowd, I'd tell them to back away on attacking a core tenet of their own faith. But what do I know?

  •  It's inevitable (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, OhioNatureMom, orlbucfan

    as we move back away from linear, text-based knowledge, to a new era of image-based and thus intuitive ways of perceiving and understanding and interacting with the world.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 10:18:34 PM PDT

    •  Majorly important point, everyone take note! (4+ / 0-)

      What ActivistGuy said:  Read this and think about it, and think about it some more:

      "It's inevitable... as we move back away from linear, text-based knowledge, to a new era of image-based and thus intuitive ways of perceiving and understanding and interacting with the world."

      Now I don't particularly agree that it's "inevitable."  But yes I do believe that the culture is shifting to some extent (though not entirely) from text to image, from rationality to intuition & emotion.  This is not a lost cause, all it is, is the appearance of a competing mode of access to information.

      So the question we face is, how to present scientific knowledge in a manner that is accessible to people who are primarily engaged with image-based intuitive media?  

      And I do believe we're going to succeed at this: it's just going to take the efforts of people who were raised in a more media-saturated environment, to figure out how best to do it.

      For one example, there's a series of animated videos titled "one-minute physics" or something along those lines, that present concepts in physics by using hand-drawn animation to illustrate them.  Those videos are excellent, but they are only the first step toward the clever uses of media to convey scientific concepts.

      It's up to us to find ways to do this better, to the point where we can compete on equal ground with those who use the new media to promote irrationalism and escapism from reality.

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:18:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting framing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, GreenMother

    'antiscience'

    religious fundamentalism might do as well

    for course the Enlightenment and empiricism are problematic in their own rights (esp. re: universalization and false equivalency of binary rationality)

    "a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes a form of madness" -Debord

    by grollen on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 11:30:10 PM PDT

  •  Examples of Anti-Science (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico, armd, dewtx, G2geek, OhioNatureMom, orlbucfan

    Evolution and Big Bang Cosmology are “just theories” and the Bible stories are “another theory” – so let’s teach both of them to kids so they can decide. Maybe Jesus had a pet dinosaur.

    Climate Change is controversial. We’re spewing carbon into the sky and the climate is warming. But let’s do nothing and just study it some more, even though 99% of climate scientists agree about the science (and the other 1% is taking money from oil companies).

    Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). If we give the vaccine to our daughters before they are sexually active, we’ll prevent HPV infections, but... But it’s sex. We don’t want our daughters to have sex. So let’s not protect them from the virus.

    Vaccines might cause autism (according to anecdotal pseudo-science, but not according to scientists). Let’s expose our kids to horrible diseases instead of vaccinating them. Whooping cough, anyone?

    Genetically-modified organisms are frankenfoods. We should allow no GMOs anywhere. Even though selective breeding of plants and animals has been standard practice for farmers for millenia.

    Stem cells might provide cures for diseases, but some stem cells come from placentas or from aborted fetuses or whatever. Let’s ban all research related to stem cells.

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 11:41:44 PM PDT

    •  and let's not forget that the root of all this BS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx, orlbucfan

      .... is ultimately the detestable exercise known as postmodernism, the idea that all opinions are equally valid, and that there is no objective reality, and all the rest of that.  

      Unfortunately, that plague started on the left, so it's up to us to clean it up.  

      It's high time for the left to explicitly refute postmodernism and consign it to the dustbin of pseudoscience and overt bullshit, along with flat-Earthism, phlogiston, and quack medicine.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:25:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It started because Women and Gays and other (4+ / 0-)

        Minorities were locked out of the Discussion, out of holding power in society and locked out of transmitting wisdom.

        What you propose would be no better, just another version of intellectual totalitarianism.

        Allowing people the freedom to express themselves without fear isn't the same as allowing unverifiable paranormal experiences to dictate legislation.

        The latter is simply a form of manipulation by a huckster.

        •  Don't you remember? When being Gay was (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx

          Scientifically proven to be a mental illness? When being brown was Scientifically proven to be less intelligent? When being a woman was Scientifically proven to be hysterical?

          Good Gods!
          I have no intention of going back to that either!

          Science is great, but it doesn't have all the answers. And sometimes, those answers are skewed for various agendas. It sucks but there it is.

          Part of the push back on this isn't about evolution or religion, it's simply not allowing Science to replace Religious Totalitarian Fantasies.

          Science is Dynamic and it changes because the results and the processes are refined over time. So questioning Science is --dare I say it? Sacred. Otherwise you loose that process of refinement and simply replace one bad god with another.

          •  You're right. We're always learning more. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GreenMother, orlbucfan, G2geek

            If done honestly, science has a built-in mechanism that allows (nay demands) that scientific understanding be modified, updated, revised, or even rewritten when new (and confirmed) discoveries require that. Look at the recent discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe which no one expected until observational astronomers made that discovery (with independent confirmation). We're still trying to get our heads around that one, but we will get there eventually. Science doesn't get there overnight--some things take more time than others.

            That what's so much fun about science--looking for that new undiscovered nugget of scientific gold and seeing where it may lead. But science is simply the best tool we have to discover how the universe and nature actually work. It should be used as a very important tool when the situation demands (and then used ruthlessly), but science is amoral and should never be placed all by itself as the apotheosis of society. It can never replace human thought, human love, and human caring which should be the basis of a humane society. Science itself is neither good nor bad. It's the people and the institutions established among men that use science that will determine that.

            These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

            by dewtx on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 07:34:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I believe part of what we are seeing right now is (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewtx, G2geek

              turf war between corporatists and scientists over the "soul"of Science and it's place in society.

              The attack on Science by religion is simply opportunism, very successful acts of opportunism.

              •  well said, and about that we agree. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dewtx, GreenMother

                "... what we are seeing right now is a turf war between corporatists and scientists over the soul of science and its place in society."

                Exactly.  

                "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:26:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Disagreement doesn't have to be bad. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek, dewtx

                  It can just mean that individuals pursue different paths to alleviating certain problems.

                  Otherwise how much better would 2 heads be--than just one head, or 3 or 100, if they all insisted on pursuing all knowledge exactly the same way?

            •  well said: you speak for me with that one. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewtx

              We still need sources of ethical and moral guidance as to how science should be conducted and how it should be applied.  

              "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

              by G2geek on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:23:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Yea, um, Dbug, people are still allowed to (0+ / 0-)

      Question.

      Those of us with a family history of Adverse reactions are rightfully cautious about vaccinations. Not because we don't "Believe" in them, but because we have other factors to consider.

      Those people who have children who have certain mitochondrial conditions--the same.

      And I have every freaken right in the world to have my food labeled so that I can choose whether or not I want to consume a GMO or grow it in my garden.

      Humanity has every right to natural Genetic Diversity without having to deal with lethal gene codes that prevent seed saving, or gene spliced versions of plants that cause health problems.

      You don't get to tell me or anyone else to STOP QUESTIONING.

      If this were only about pure Science, then there wouldn't be a problem.

      What you and others have failed to deal with is the way that Corporate Machinations have hidden under the dress of Science to manipulate and sometimes hurt US [the guineapig public] for Profit.

      Deal with that, and most of this problem you view right now will go away.

      Religious nutters simply stepped in and to take advantage of an opportunity presented by people who lack long term thinking skills.

      You are clearly advocating treating the symptoms, but not the root of the problem itself.

  •  Witnessing the demise of the Enlightenment. (4+ / 0-)

    And to think as a child in the 1960s I still believed that humanity was progressing.

  •  Education is not a magic bullet... (6+ / 0-)

    Education helps, but even well educated people promote and dwell in ignorance.  

    I recently wrote an essay here about U.S. House Representative Paul Broun, a doctor, who said he “believes” the earth is 9,000 years old. He said he does not believe in evolution or the Big Bang theory, saying they are "lies straight from the pit of hell."  Granted, M.D.'s are not necessarily scientists but they obviously receive extensive science-based training.

    I don't think Broun is insincere or merely cynical. He certainly receives a benefit from his religious constituency, but that doesn't prove conspiracy. I believe that he and a lot of other college graduates are willfully ignorant.  They make a strenuous effort to ignore scientific fact whenever it interferes with their religious zealotry. They "turn off."

    I'm not sure what the antidote is, but I feel threatened by this powerful group of fundamentalists. I fear for my country. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to train our children to be curious and to question, even challenge, what they are taught. Everything. Science is not threatened by questions--it is supported and strengthened.  Quasi-science and superstition, on the other hand, cannot withstand rigorous examination.

     If we help our children exercise critical thought, they will discover and own truth.

    Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, 1911

    by Joe Hills Ghost on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:35:02 AM PDT

    •  Even authentic religion is not threatened by (4+ / 0-)

      questions, but a cult on the other hand, "cannot withstant rigorous examination."

      That being said, I am with you. Moderate members of religion have let this insanity go on for so long, that it appears they have lost their voice to the nutcases.

      Science is it's own, stand alone academic discipline.
      As is Religion.

      And unless one is writing about Historical occurrences like this, or examining the occult or alchemy--there is no reason at all to mix the two up.

      Christians like that doctor don't want to end Science, they simply want to control the message. If they got rid of it all, they would loose too  much money. And we all know how they feel about their god of money.

      •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMother, dewtx, orlbucfan

        Which is why I target "religious zealotry," "fundamentalism," "quasi-science and superstition."

        For me, both science and religion are methods we humans use to give meaning and context to life (or, to be more accurate about the former, the meaning of specific scientific findings). I would add philosophy, also, as a discipline or field that helps me understand who we are, where we came from and where we are going.  I don't think any of these subjects should be static. Our quality of life is enhanced by knowledge and the quest for understanding.

        Religious extremism is the opposite--it does not tolerate questions or critical thought.

        Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, 1911

        by Joe Hills Ghost on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:52:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Perfect Timing! For the story and your diary (4+ / 0-)

    Right now we are doing a small unit study on Inherit the Wind, the classic movie about the Scope's Monkey Trial. I highly recommend it to parents, for them to watch it with their children.

    And another pertinent piece comes from PBS [NOVA], a documentary on the Intelligent Design Movement:
    Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.
    We checked it out from our local library, but you can watch it online free too.

    The most fun was, "What Darwin Never Knew"

    If memory serves me correctly, What Darwin Never Knew, had the segment on about using the evolution of headlice to determine when early human ancestors lost their fur.

    I would also point out to interested teachers and parents, that you can buy a cheap paperback version of Darwin's Origin of the Species, and his HMS Beagle Diary at used book stores.

  •  our universities are directly responsible for much (4+ / 0-)

    of it

    those Republicans who deny anthropogenic climate change, evolutionary biology, the meaning of the fossil record over geologic time, and big bang cosmology as well as fundamentalist concerns over control of a woman's reproductive rights and an anti-regulatory zeal against environmental protections.
    we'll always have a segment of fucking idiots but that segment has been magnified and enabled  as  the  direct result of years of coordinated repetition from the  right wing radio empire creating and managing pro-corporate made-to-order constituencies.

    and many of the loudest of those stations in every state depend on their associations with university athletics for community standing and local advertising revenue.

    the talk radio empire would crumble if our universities started paying attention to their own mission statements and started looking for alternatives.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:13:51 AM PDT

  •  Cultural Relativism and Deconstructionism (4+ / 0-)

    Let's not hang this whole problem on religion please.

    The above mentioned, often confused and confusing philosophical activities have a wide following among "intellectuals".  They both have posited that ALL statements of truth, including the most fundamental concepts of science are always conditional on linguistic and cultural contexts; that scientific facts are merely constructs, and nothing more than cultural opinions.

    Quoting "French philosopher Jacques Derrida"

    "the gram is neither a signifier nor a signified, neither a sign nor a thing, neither presence nor an absence, neither a position nor a negation, etc..."

    Yikes!  A gram is a gram, defined with great precision and universal agreement.  Saying it is merely a construct is nonsense, which completely ignores the fundamental truth that universally agreed upon weights and measures pass every empirical test and are of course extremely USEFUL in discovering what is real.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:18:59 AM PDT

    •  True. We in the physics community called it... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ocschwar, orlbucfan

      "physics envy". But it's not a joking matter, and now we are beginning to see the repercussions of those who believe that everything is relative or everything is equal to everything else.

      That reminds of the famous refutation by Samuel Johnson in the mid-18th Century of Bishop Berkeley's idea that matter does not actually exist but only seems to exist:

      After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, "I refute it thus!"

      James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

      These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

      by dewtx on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:42:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i lay the blame for this on the MSM. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, orlbucfan

    yes, FOX "News" promulgates this bullshit, but no one forces the mainstream media to also buy into it, they do so because it creates "controversy", thus generating ratings and ad revenues. the same is true of the "but both sides do it" meme, also promulgated by the rightwing. it is false, of course, but you wouldn't know that by listening/watching the MSM, who give it legitimacy, when they should be laughing at it, if it's mentioned at all. again, it generates controversy/ratings/ad revenues.

    the destruction of the national respect for knowledge is driven solely by a desire for profits. the only stick we hold, which will never, ever, ever be used, is to not re-license those networks that promote lies, in the guise of "News", because those lies are not in the public interest.

    •  This is called greed: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx

      the destruction of the national respect for knowledge is driven solely by a desire for profits.

      Well said. Hear. Hear.

      Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

      by orlbucfan on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 09:51:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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