Posts Tagged ‘anti-science’
The American government’s goal of vaccinating young girls against the human papillomavirus has been disappointing, with less than a third of teenagers having completed a full course of HPV vaccine. But now the United States can look to Australia, which six years into a successful nationwide HPV vaccination campaign has experienced a sharp decline in the number of new cases of genital warts among young men and women.
The country, one of the first to establish a nationally financed HPV vaccination program for girls and young women, has also seen a decrease in the number of cases of cervical abnormalities, a precursor to cervical cancer.
Australia’s program, which started in 2007, offers free HPV vaccination to girls who are 12 and 13 years old, and catch-up programs for girls and women under 26. The vaccine protects against genital warts as well as cancers of the cervix, head and neck…
The findings suggest that Australia’s program, which has experienced little of the resistance that has stymied vaccination efforts in the United States, has been an overwhelming success, said Basil Donovan, an author of the study and a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney…
Australia’s vaccination campaign sharply contrasts with the program in the United States where, studies show, parents often opt out of HPV vaccination for their children, calling the vaccine unnecessary, citing concerns about its safety or saying they have difficulty explaining to their teenagers what the shots are for. Some parents have also hesitated over fears that HPV vaccination might give their teenagers license to have sex, even though studies have countered the notion that the vaccine alters sexual behavior.
“There was little resistance to the HPV vaccine in Australia, just the usual anti-vaccination people and a few religious groups,” Dr. Donovan said. “But even the religious groups have gone quiet, and I suspect that many of them are quietly getting their children vaccinated.”
Will anyone ever come up with a vaccine against the ignorance and bigotry that fuels the anti-science crusade in the American Right?
Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age.
Previous research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. The new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.
Even if the temperature increase from human activity that is projected for later this century comes out on the low end of estimates, scientists said, the planet will be at least as warm as it was during the warmest periods of the modern geological era, known as the Holocene, and probably warmer than that…
In the new research…Shaun Marcott, an earth scientist at Oregon State University, and his colleagues compiled the most meticulous reconstruction yet of global temperatures over the past 11,300 years, virtually the entire Holocene. They used indicators like the distribution of microscopic, temperature-sensitive ocean creatures to determine past climate…
Though the paper is the most complete reconstruction of global temperature, it is roughly consistent with previous work on a regional scale…
Scientists say that if natural factors were still governing the climate, the Northern Hemisphere would probably be destined to freeze over again in several thousand years. “We were on this downward slope, presumably going back toward another ice age,” Dr. Marcott said.
Instead, scientists believe the enormous increase in greenhouse gases caused by industrialization will almost certainly prevent that…
The modern rise that has recreated the temperatures of 5,000 years ago is occurring at an exceedingly rapid clip on a geological time scale, appearing in graphs in the new paper as a sharp vertical spike. If the rise continues apace, early Holocene temperatures are likely to be surpassed within this century, Dr. Marcott said.
Dr. Michael Mann pointed out that the early Holocene temperature increase was almost certainly slow, giving plants and creatures time to adjust. But he said the modern spike would probably threaten the survival of many species, in addition to putting severe stresses on human civilization.
“We and other living things can adapt to slower changes,” Dr. Mann said. “It’s the unprecedented speed with which we’re changing the climate that is so worrisome.”
The science is clear. It has been for a while, now. I first engaged in this debate over a decade ago and it only took me a couple of years of examining research – mostly from the Max Planck Institute – to come to conclusions requiring a commitment to action.
The opposition which fraudulently abuses the term of skeptic is well-funded by enterprise profiting from exploiting fossil fuels, populated by opportunists who hope for a pimp’s share of the action – and by the superstitious and ignorant who fear science as much as they cringe from progress.
Responsibility still accrues to those who recognize the need to act.
Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.
To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed — and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
And such is the influence of what we might call the ignorance caucus that even when giving a speech intended to demonstrate his openness to new ideas, Mr. Cantor felt obliged to give that caucus a shout-out, calling for a complete end to federal funding of social science research. Because it’s surely a waste of money seeking to understand the society we’re trying to change.
Want other examples of the ignorance caucus at work? Start with health care, an area in which Mr. Cantor tried not to sound anti-intellectual; he lavished praise on medical research just before attacking federal support for social science. How much money are we talking about? Well, the entire National Science Foundation budget for social and economic sciences amounts to a whopping 0.01 percent of the budget deficit…
The desire to perpetuate ignorance on matters medical is nothing compared with the desire to kill climate research, where Mr. Cantor’s colleagues — particularly, as it happens, in his home state of Virginia — have engaged in furious witch hunts against scientists who find evidence they don’t like…Republicans in the State Legislature have specifically prohibited the use of the words “sea-level rise…”
O.K., at this point the conventions of punditry call for saying something to demonstrate my evenhandedness, something along the lines of “Democrats do it too.” But while Democrats, being human, often read evidence selectively and choose to believe things that make them comfortable, there really isn’t anything equivalent to Republicans’ active hostility to collecting evidence in the first place.
The truth is that America’s partisan divide runs much deeper than even pessimists are usually willing to admit; the parties aren’t just divided on values and policy views, they’re divided over epistemology. One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.
In her parting shot on leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton said of her Republican critics, “They just will not live in an evidence-based world.” She was referring specifically to the Benghazi controversy, but her point applies much more generally. And for all the talk of reforming and reinventing the G.O.P., the ignorance caucus retains a firm grip on the party’s heart and mind.
Paul Krugman is too polite to use a word more commonly found on the Web – “ignoranus”. It more thoroughly describes Republican philosophy and practice. Ignorance pursued as an end unto itself – which only provides satisfaction to dimwits whose mental processes are confined to the southern end of the alimentary canal.
Earlier this week, GQ magazine published an interview with Senator Marco Rubio, whom many consider a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, in which Mr. Rubio was asked how old the earth is. After declaring “I’m not a scientist, man,” the senator went into desperate evasive action, ending with the declaration that “it’s one of the great mysteries.”
It’s funny stuff, and conservatives would like us to forget about it as soon as possible. Hey, they say, he was just pandering to likely voters in the 2016 Republican primaries — a claim that for some reason is supposed to comfort us.
But we shouldn’t let go that easily. Reading Mr. Rubio’s interview is like driving through a deeply eroded canyon; all at once, you can clearly see what lies below the superficial landscape. Like striated rock beds that speak of deep time, his inability to acknowledge scientific evidence speaks of the anti-rational mind-set that has taken over his political party.
By the way, that question didn’t come out of the blue. As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Rubio provided powerful aid to creationists trying to water down science education. In one interview, he compared the teaching of evolution to Communist indoctrination tactics — although he graciously added that “I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Gee, thanks…
What accounts for this pattern of denial? Earlier this year, the science writer Chris Mooney published “The Republican Brain,” which was not, as you might think, a partisan screed. It was, instead, a survey of the now-extensive research linking political views to personality types. As Mr. Mooney showed, modern American conservatism is highly correlated with authoritarian inclinations — and authoritarians are strongly inclined to reject any evidence contradicting their prior beliefs. Today’s Republicans cocoon themselves in an alternate reality defined by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and only on rare occasions — like on election night — encounter any hint that what they believe might not be true.
And, no, it’s not symmetric. Liberals, being human, often give in to wishful thinking — but not in the same systematic, all-encompassing way.
Coming back to the age of the earth: Does it matter? No, says Mr. Rubio, pronouncing it “a dispute amongst theologians” — what about the geologists? — that has “has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.” But he couldn’t be more wrong.
We are, after all, living in an era when science plays a crucial economic role. How are we going to search effectively for natural resources if schools trying to teach modern geology must give equal time to claims that the world is only 6.000 years old? How are we going to stay competitive in biotechnology if biology classes avoid any material that might offend creationists?
So, if hard, predictive, verifiable evidence produces a set of conclusions contradictory to Republican ideology – obviously the evidence is false, the methods of measuring data and results are incorrect.
The sun must rise in the West the next time Republicans control both Congress and the White House – and we will continue along the same unchanging path that guided the Roman Empire into the back pages of history books. Interesting to read about; but, failed nonetheless.
Somebody hand me a snake!
The focus of a fierce suburban congressional battle turned from the economy to abortion literally overnight following Republican Rep. Joe Walsh’s controversial declaration that there’s no medical necessity to use the procedure to save a woman’s life.
“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” Walsh declared in comments to reporters after a televised debate Thursday night against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the northwest suburban 8th District race…
The man’s an ignoranus. He cares nothing for a woman’s life.
…The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said 600 women die annually in the U.S. from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. Comments like those from Walsh, the group said in a statement, were ample reason why politicians need to “get out of our exam rooms.”
“Walsh’s comments have no grounding in science and are completely inaccurate,” said Dr. Cassing Hammond, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine…
Dr. David Grimes took issue with anti-abortion politicians who view “women as some kind of Tupperware container that holds the fetus for nine months.”
The unfolding controversy stepped on Walsh’s key political message about slashing government. It also spurred critics to compare him with Republican Rep. Todd Akin, another staunch abortion foe who famously damaged his once front-running Missouri U.S. Senate campaign by proclaiming that a rape victim’s body would not allow her to become pregnant.
Duckworth, who supports abortion rights, also took aim at Walsh. “I am flabbergasted that he is that out of touch with science,” she said.
Duckworth is being polite. Like most of his peers, Walsh is as anti-science as he is anti-women. He doesn’t care in the least for informed analysis and opinions. His brain is stuck into 19th Century ideology.
No one really expects the Kool Aid Party to give up on a good thing. They’re raking in money and power that might challenge the take that right-wing fundamentalist sects suck from their followers. And it’s an opportunity for bottom feeders who never would have achieved power and position in, say, the Republican Party of Eisenhower or Bob Dole – or George Romney.
Diageo, one of the world’s largest drinks companies, has announced it will no longer fund the Heartland Institute, a rightwing US thinktank which briefly ran a billboard campaign this week comparing people concerned about climate change to mass murderers and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski…
The London-based drinks giant, which owns brands such as Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Moët & Chandon, said this year that it was “reviewing any further association with Heartland” following the release online of internal Heartland documents which revealed its corporate donors as well as a plan to promote an alternative climate change curriculum in US schools. Following the widespread outcry triggered by Heartland’s billboards, a Diageo spokeswoman told the Guardian: “Diageo vigorously opposes climate scepticism and our actions are proof of this. Diageo’s only association with the Heartland Institute was limited to a small contribution made two years ago specifically related to an excise tax issue. Diageo has no plans to work with the Heartland Institute in the future.”
In February, a US scientist, Peter Gleick, admitted obtaining and publishing internal Heartland documents which showed that Diageo had given the thinktank $10,000 in 2010. The documents, one of which Heartland later claimed was a fake, said the thinktank was expecting another $10,000 from Diageo this year.
On Friday, Heartland, which is trying to promote its annual conference for climate
sceptics phonies, to be held in Chicago this month, said it was withdrawing the billboard campaign. However, it refused to apologise, claiming the campaign was an “experiment”. Its website is still hosting the original press release, which includes the claim that the “most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
Microsoft, which has a policy of supplying free software to all non-profit organisations in the US, posted a blog on its website on Saturday distancing itself from Heartland. The thinktank received software from Microsoft worth $59,908 in 2011. The blog said: “Microsoft believes climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly … The Heartland Institute does not speak for Microsoft on climate change. In fact, the Heartland Institute’s position on climate change is diametrically opposed to Microsoft’s position. And we completely disagree with the group’s inflammatory and distasteful advertising campaign.”
In March, General Motors, the world’s largest carmaker, said it was ending its funding of Heartland after 20 years owing to the thinktank’s hardline climate scepticism.
The boycott is one of those traditional democratic means of expressing your contempt for corruption. Voting with your wallet, expressing disagreement with miserable low-life political fronts like Heartland by letting corporate sponsors know they will get to share the guilt.
Add this one in on top of the boycott of Rush Limbaugh sponsors for his misogynist bigotry — as another worthwhile action.
US health authorities on Friday urged all boys age 11-12 to get a routine vaccination against the most common sexually transmitted disease, human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Other changes as part of an annual update to US immunization schedules included a recommended hepatitis B vaccine to the protect the livers of adults up to age 60 who have diabetes and a vaccine against whooping cough for pregnant women…
The HPV vaccine has been approved for girls since 2006 but the CDC had not expressly urged it for boys, though boys were included among those who could receive it to prevent certain cancers and genital warts. Health experts have expressed hope that if pre-teen boys and girls are both encouraged to get the vaccine, the rate of infection will decrease in the general population.
About half of all sexually active adults will get HPV in their lifetime. There are more than 100 types of HPV, and most clear the body on their own, but some strains can linger and lead to cervical, anal or oral cancer…
The vaccine, currently recommended for girls age 11-26, has faced resistance from some parents over fears that immunizing young girls would encourage them to be promiscuous…
Which is about the dumbest piece of reasoning this side of legislation that says the Earth is flat.
I have another post in the hopper about the spooky drivel America’s latest clot of right-wing populists believe as biblical rote – along with tales about babies, storks and cabbages.
I haven’t scoured it for details, yet – but, I imagine crap beliefs like this one is there in all its glory.
More Americans than last year believe the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Thursday.
The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept 8-12. Republican presidential candidates, aside from Jon Huntsman, have mostly blasted the idea that emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human actions are warming the planet.
The current front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has accused scientists of manipulating climate data while Michele Bachmann has said climate change is a hoax.
As Americans watch Republicans debate the issue, they are forced to mull over what they think about global warming, said Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University. And what they think is also influenced by reports this year that global temperatures in 2010 were tied with 2005 to be the warmest year since the 1880s.
“That is exactly the kind of situation that will provoke the public to think about the issue in a way that they haven’t before,” Krosnick said about news reports on the Republicans denying climate change science…
While more Americans believe in global warming, the skeptics are becoming more entrenched in their belief that it is not happening. In 2010 the certainty of skeptics was 35 percent, while it was 53 percent in 2011. Again, the Republican climate skeptics are influencing that, Krosnick said.
Ask someone a serious question, someone with a modicum of education and willingness to learn and evaluate information gained by scientific means – and rejected by opportunist looneybirds – and they begin to walk away from conservative political correctness that says human beings should ignore responsibility.
On the other hand…
The National Hurricane Center says it successfully predicted Hurricane Irene’s North Carolina landfall over the weekend and its destructive route up the U.S. East Coast.
But if members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives wielding the budget ax in Washington have their way, future accurate forecasting may not be guaranteed and even curtailed, critics including hurricane experts say. Proposed cuts in the budget of the U.S. weather agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and in funding for new satellites to help improve severe storm warnings, could undermine the NHC’s forecasting ability.
“There are certain people that think all we have to do is cut spending,” Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, told reporters in a visit to NHC headquarters in Miami on Thursday.
Nelson said that defunding NOAA programs that provide “hurricane hunter” aircraft for researching the intensity and track of hurricanes was “like cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Well in advance, the Miami-based hurricane center came within about 10 miles of pinpointing the location where the center of Irene came barreling across North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Saturday in its first U.S. landfall.
This remarkable precision, especially given the massive size of the storm, has been credited with reducing costs by preventing unnecessary evacuations and other preparations, and probably saving lives…
Cuts proposed by a committee of the Republican-controlled House include a 42 percent reduction in funding for NOAA’s “hurricane hunter” planes, Nelson said.
Bill Read, the National Hurricane Center director, called the instrument-packed aircraft the “backbone” of storm surveillance and one of the big reasons the United States consistently does a much better job forecasting the track of a storm than any other country around the globe…
“It is our only real tool to know exactly what’s going on at the time we put out our advisory on the structure and the intensity of the storm,” Read added, referring to the closely watched hurricane forecast updates issued by the Miami center.
I can’t think of anything polite to say about Know-Nothing Congress-Creeps who would cut science budgets that provide specific life-supporting services as an immediate result of their research. The economic benefits alone are significant and should be – even to dimwits whose idea of weather forecasting is wetting one finger and sticking it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.
Young parents in America are holy and not to be messed with. If they say something is correct, we all acquiesce. And is there any man, woman or canine who doesn’t leap out of the way when one of those giant, all-terrain Bugaboo strollers comes barreling down the sidewalk..?
Yet there’s one smug subgroup whose sense of entitlement endangers the rest. No, not poor Medicaid moms or Social Security grannies. The treacherous group is those parents, predominately those of some financial means, who refuse to vaccinate their children…
General worry became specific controversy in 1998, when the Lancet, a respected medical journal, published a paper by U.K. physician Andrew Wakefield and others saying that the standard vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella might cause autism. Later studies couldn’t confirm Wakefield’s findings, and the Lancet retracted the paper in 2010.
More recently, Wakefield has been barred from practice because of his phonied study.
Yet many parents still won’t vaccinate their kids. Some people in the U.S. have made an avocation of trying to secure a so-called personal belief waiver to allow their children to attend school without vaccines. Parents of autistic youngsters turned to the courts to blame drugmakers…
An unvaccinated boy from New York contracted mumps while in the U.K., then traveled home and attended summer camp. Within six months, hundreds of cases of mumps were counted, including some that led to pancreatitis, deafness and meningitis, Dr. Paul Offit wrote. A child in Minnesota died of Haemophilus B influenza after his parents opposed vaccinations. In January 2008, an unvaccinated child flew home to San Diego following a trip to Switzerland, and gave the gift of measles to dozens of others, including three children in a doctor’s waiting room.
Marin County, known for the fitness of its citizens, endured 15 percent of California’s whooping cough cases in 2010, even though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the state’s population. Ten children died, none of whom had been vaccinated…
Crowdsourcing medical care is about the dumbest thing parents can do. Relying on word-of-mouth myth and conspiracy theories is worse. People who endanger their kids – end up endangering everyone else.
The Web is an amazing tool for accumulating information. Try to remember that some of that information is crap. Science rarely has overnight revelations. It takes years of peer-reviewed publication and – more important – debate and more testing within those peer circles to move discovery forward.