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Via Bad Astronomy:

I have this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, one I haven’t had since the Bad Old Days of George W. Bush’s administration, when scientific reports were routinely censored, when appointees with no qualifications and who were blatantly and arrogantly antiscience were put into positions of power in agencies like NASA, when science was essentially being rounded up and locked into a dark cupboard.

I know I focus a lot on these attacks coming from the far right—because that’s where the overwhelming majority originate—but in truth they’re coming from all directions, and it’s up to us to do something about it. Write your representative, write your senator. Tell them, politely, that you support science, you support the NSF’s ability to make its own decisions, you want NASA’s planetary budget to increase, not decrease, and that you support NASA’s own ability to reach out to the public.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Astro Kos.


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Comment Preferences

  •  "Terrorism" is the new Satanic Panic (21+ / 0-)

    Are you a Green who has difficulty telling Democrats and Republicans apart? Well, I have difficulty telling Greens and Maoists apart.

    by Subversive on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:12:18 AM PDT

    •  "a disturbing satanic photo on his Facebook page? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris, rbird

      Oh dear, not this crap again.
      Also on his Facebook page  "an "unusual interest" in the Pixar movie Monsters University".
      It reminds me of the old days, when it was just accepted wisdom all too many local cops were morons, because they worked so hard to prove it every day.
      Of course, I still have fond memories of freaking out the neighbors just by wearing my Baphomet T shirt (in a stylishly fey shade of purple) under my leather jacket. Oh to be young again.

  •  The anti-science attitude is, I think, set in ... (17+ / 0-)

    the American psyche.  If it was a healthy skepticism that could then be used in critically examining every hypothesis based on empirical evidence that would not be so bad. That is how science works.  However, in at least some people it is a stubborn attachment to a certain world view, in part informed by fundamentalist evangelical Christianity and in part by rampent self-interest.  You can't argue with such people because they know it all.  They come in all stripes and I have run into some so-called Progressives who are as willfully ignorant as Conservatives.  However, what passes for Conservatism in this country is working hard to secure a monopoly on ignorance. They don't seem to get it that denying scientific data (the real thing - not the "9 out of 10 doctors" kind) will bite all of us in the end.  Science can't answer all questions (why does the universe exist? for one), but where it is successful it is spectacularly so.  Those who deny it will eventually pay a price.  Of course that will be cold comfort to the rest of us.

    •  re coming in all stripes (5+ / 0-)

      like the folks here in Portland. There's ballot measure this month on whether to fluoridate the water. A whole slew of people are trotting out pseudo science to oppose it.

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:54:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Louisiana is one-up (or more) on Portland. (3+ / 0-)

        In 2008 the LA legislature passed the Louisiana Education Act.  From the Wikipedia entry:

        The Louisiana Science Education Act, Act 473 (SB733) of 2008[1] is a controversial law passed by the Louisiana Legislature on June 11, 2008 and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 25. The act allows public school teachers to use supplemental materials in the science classroom which are critical of established science on such topics as the theory of evolution and global warming.[2][3] Louisiana was the first state to have passed a law of this type.
        Sane people in Louisiana,  national and international groups, scientific journals and 78 Nobel laureates have worked together to repeal the law, which allows the teaching of creationism in public schools, every year since then  On Wednesday the state Senate Education Committee chaired by Sen. Ben Nevers (R-Bogalusa), author of the original 2008 bill, failed once again in this year's attempt to repeal the act.  

        Nevers narrowly won re-election to his senate seat in 2011, defeating his teaparty opponent by 1.2%.

        Read the whole sordid story of the current effort to repeal the act here.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sat May 04, 2013 at 10:03:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm thoroughly disgusted.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        James Allen the anti-science woo and deliberate misuse of scientific terms and studies in the fluoridation referendum.

        They selectively misquoted a meta-analysis showing reduced IQs in areas of China with extremely high levels of fluorides in the water - fluoride levels many times more than that in controlled municipal water fluoridation.

        They do a private study of the fluoridation medium (H2SiF6) and its level of arsenic, then say that that level of arsenic would be in the whole water supply (never mind that the city that uses that chemical has no detectable arsenic in the drinking water).

        They use the term "Chemical" as a pejorative, insinuating (and sometimes directly saying) that the Water Bureau will be putting toxic waste in the water.  

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat May 04, 2013 at 05:13:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's because our "conservatives" are (5+ / 0-)

      actually reactionaries.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Sat May 04, 2013 at 07:23:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It didn't used to be that way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Desert Scientist, foresterbob

      It got that way when the kids who failed science class got power.

  •  Doesn't everybody hibernate? (Yawn) (8+ / 0-)

    See y'all later.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:17:33 AM PDT

  •  And there's an excellent link (8+ / 0-)

    at the end of the tiny robot article to another with a short video of a thermal camera recording the temperature changes in dragonfly and bee wing muscles as they get ready to take flight—fascinating and beautiful.

  •  Thanks, Dark Syde, for the wonderful video! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, RoCali, leema, whaddaya, foresterbob

    Great way to start the weekend.

  •  Exciting uses... (4+ / 0-)

    for those tiny robots.  However, my science fiction imagination can foresee some diabolical applications in the hands of Dr. Evil.  And I'm already certain that insects will dominate the earth when humanity dies off from global climate change.  Robotic like insect machines might compete with mosquitoes and ants in a future dystopia of planet earth.

    Protect children-- not guns.

    by rlharry on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:41:32 AM PDT

  •  From the same Bad Astronomy post: (5+ / 0-)
    Even leaders who support science are making terrible decisions right now that will have long-term consequences for American science. President Obama and the White House put out a budget for NASA that eviscerates planetary exploration. Not only that, it completely zeroes out NASA's mission-specific education and public outreach (EPO) efforts (each mission has a separate budget allocated for EPO)*. The NASA budget and press release at the time were vague on details, but it’s now clear that the proposal will irreversibly damage NASA’s EPO, moving it to other agencies. That’s crazy. And I do mean 100 percent sheer craziness.
    I would be really interested to know which contractors will benefit from this. I used to think that it was thew nutty religious right that had the monopoly on undermining science but over the years I've realized that it is actually more about the money - like just about everything else in the US. In the end very little comes down to straightforward ineptitude.
  •  And to think; (8+ / 0-)

    The rest of the world used to envy our science and technology. Now we have the congress (and other political figures) belittling and mocking research. Remember sister Sarah and her comments about fruit flies. When the powerful are ignorant, progress suffers.

    As far as the suicide rate goes, and I'm in that demographic, there is a sense of panic and hopelessness to be in your 50s and early 60s and realize you may never again have a decent job, and all you worked for is turning to crap. I'm 16 months away from a pension, and working manual labor with a disintegrating disc lacks amusement value. I have no rational choice but to endure. Yet I have to count myself lucky, since I have a job, health insurance, and a (very small) pension to look forward to.

    I hope we recover our national sanity, but I am not optimistic.

    •  The vultures now control the message (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The grouch, ColoTim, foresterbob

      and are driven by short term (quarterly bottom line)  thinking.  They are powrefully one demensional in their vulturism...and are so hubristic to think that the limitations of nature can not apply to them.     Education and science etc are viewed as threats to the accumulation of their wealth or at the very least as inconsequential.  

      If we can't get the vultures out of our old system, we need a new one.    

      “... there is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

      by leema on Sat May 04, 2013 at 08:33:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  US technology was long admired. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, The grouch

      The US only led in science in the 2 generations after WWII.

      The only politician who ever raised a nation from third rank to 1st rank in science in one generation was Adolf Hitler, and the country he raised was the USA.

      Look at the number of US Nobel Prizes in the sciences in the second half of the 20th century. Look at how many of them went to refugees.

  •  Thanks DarkSyde nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Suicide statistics not surprising, indeed! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, foresterbob, wonmug

    The rising suicide rate among the middle-aged has been reported here and there recently, and rightly so, but there's an underlying element that seems not to have received the level of attention it merits.  I'm referring to "passive suicide", meaning the avoidance of medical care in the face of the onset of age and infirmity.  In a comment thread following a recent article on this subject there was a comment to the effect that a person who is unemployed, unemployable and in poor health may well opt to forgo medical attention simply to bring about an end to their intractable frustration and despair.  To paraphrase:  "I can't afford the diagnosis, let alone the cure.  Why go through any of it anyway?".  The suicide statistics, in such a case, would be a bit thin, I think.  Analogous, I guess, to the skewed unemployment statistics that don't take into account those who have given up on finding a job and are therefore no longer "unemployed".  All in all a pathetically sad commentary on the state of our society.

    Well, it sure is a mess, ain’t it, Sheriff….
    Yep, and if it ain’t it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here.

    Liberal = We're all in this together
    Conservative = Every man for himself
    Who you gonna call?

  •  Lamar Smith's legislation to put research under (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, foresterbob, varro

    congressional, as well as scientific review sparked some interesting debate in the comments to the article at Science Insider.

    One reader was critical of government spending on science because:

    "13 yrs ago the government spent $3B (more in today's $) to sequence the human genome... At the same time Craig Venter was sequencing the genome for 1/10th that amount and a few years later machines came out that could do it at 1/100th that amount. Shouldn't more money have been dedicated to innovative instruments than to established biologists (i.e. experts)? Could a non-expert have analyzed the situation and seen another policy choice?"

    The real point of this example is that Venter would not have been able to persuade investors to get on board if the NSF program had not "wastefully" demonstrated proof of concept.

    You do science with the technology you have, not the technology you wish you had.

    Government research is like using an icebreaker to clear a path to a frozen harbor. They're expensive and wasteful of fuel. It would make more sense to wait for the ice to melt in spring, right?

    Not to the ships waiting to use the channel cleared by the icebreaker.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sat May 04, 2013 at 09:45:05 AM PDT

  •  Fantastic! (0+ / 0-)

    This is so humbling. To think this is out there and so beautiful. I don't care how much it cost to get these photos as it was worth every penny.

    "..if you keep the hope alive, then change is still possible." Van Jones

    by shanti2 on Sat May 04, 2013 at 02:16:11 PM PDT

  •  Anti-science can be from the left, as well.... (0+ / 0-)

    ....just look at all the selective misquoting and woo in the referendum on fluoridating Portland, Oregon's water supply.

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Sat May 04, 2013 at 04:49:16 PM PDT

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