Tagged: anti-science

GOP Masters of Sophistry

I make no case for Hillary other than she’s a decent alternative to the cowards, ideologues and bigots staffing and leading today’s Republican Party. That description of that political entity isn’t especially radical. I know too many Recovering Republicans who feel the same.

Who will I vote for in Democrat primaries – after I make my usual every-other-year-registration as someone other than Independent? Bernie, of course. He comes closer to a model of truth and service, sound knowledge and integrity of anyone I’ve had a chance to vote for in decades.

Yes, I still would rather be voting for someone in a 3rd Party independent of ownership by the usual corporate lobbyists. Even that class representation needn’t be restricted to the two old parties. Essentially useless, an impedance to progress.

And, still, Hillary is lightyears ahead of the thugs in the Republican Party. The choice in November 2016 will be easy-peasy.

Dismantling higher education in America

While researching a recent column for Al Jazeera America on the “killing of tenure” and what it means for the future of higher education, it became clear that the attempts by conservatives to dismantle the institution of tenure, highlighted by the Wisconsin legislature’s removal of previously statutory tenure protections, are only one component of a much wider array of threats to the profession of teaching and research.

For academics lucky enough to have tenure at an “R-1 research university” — one with “extensive” doctoral level graduate programs and support for faculty research as well as teaching — the erosion of traditional tenure protections is damaging because it threatens not only academic freedom but research and teaching that contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to U.S. GDP. The continued downtrend in funding for university research has paralleled and is tied to the erosion of tenure, academic freedom and shared governance more broadly. All these trends are tied to the corporatization of the university; that is, the increasingly privatized model of higher education which does away with shared governance and tenure in favor of centralized administration and contingent labor, puts profits and the bottom line ahead of the public good, and efficiency and “customer service” ahead of a well-rounded education that encourages critical inquiry and independent thought.

Today upwards of three-quarters of faculty members nationwide are working outside of the tenure system. This reorientation of the profession away from tenure, shared governance and academic freedom, which together formed the bedrock of the great American university system, has left contingent and tenure-line faculty alike to face an unprecedented array of obstacles to their economic, let alone professional, survival.

Indeed, upwards of a quarter of faculty with doctorates live below the poverty line — eight percentage points higher than the national average for all Americans. Think of this in the context of the American dream, where dedication and education are supposed to ensure a piece, however modest, of the American dream. If 10 years of intensive college and graduate study can’t even get a person a better salary than the average Walmart cashier, there is something profoundly wrong.

The average American voter still sits back, accepting every ideological lie from the political economy of wealth and power. The working people who built the wealth of the nation on their backs are relegated more often to leftover jobs, ignorant of the qualities needed nowadays for advancement. The best-educated segment of our populace is considered advanced meat robots by conservative politicians, nothing more than articulate proletarians – interesting, but, unproductive by the liberal side of American politics more concerned with the workings of Wall Street than the potential of academia.

The best-educated of our political elites sit back and prate about the young tigers of the whole world still coming to the United States for their education – even though that phenomenon, premised upon the worldwide myth of an educational system that began to crumble over a half-century ago, already shows the cracks of diminishing returns. Other nations now better educate their young. Other nations are well along at building networks of new and powerful research and thought.

Congress only debates who should rule: Caeser or Mammon?

This past winter set a global heat record

This map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows vast areas around the world where temperatures from December through February were above average this winter. Only the Northeast U.S. was in a big chill…

Last week, the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service reported that La Plata County’s average temperature for the meteorological winter – from December through February – was 5 degrees above average…

But Southwest Colorado was just part of a bigger global trend.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, with data from NASA, announced this week that this winter and the first two months of 2015 were the hottest on record globally, with the chilly Northeast U.S. sticking out like a cold thumb in a toastier world.

At nearly 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, last month was the second-warmest February on record globally, slightly behind 1998.

But the combined January and February temperature beat the old record for the first two months set in 2002.

December through February broke the meteorological winter record set in 2007.

NOAA records go back 135 years to 1880. But, that’s OK. You probably can find a guy who trained as a weatherman for some local radio station, or a conservative investor who made money in the “weather business” – to dispute the sum of global scientific record-keeping and analysis.

And with slightly over 6% of the land area of planet Earth, you know the opinion of Americans about the weather is the only one that counts.

We need a baloney detection kit

Test all the crap stuck into the brains of fear-driven culture — about sex, GMO food, climate change, sex, vaccination, sex, mandatory education. Everything loonies on the Left or Right want to runaway and hide from – and stop anyone else from examining or using.

All anti-science. Even though science enabled our species getting to where we are – from our cave-dwelling days and nights.

Well, from primitive agriculture forward. I can imagine the Shaman’s Association condemning the wheel as endangering future generations.

The most bogus health claims of 2014

Every day seems to turn up opportunities to abuse science in new and perverse ways, especially when it comes to health. You open a newspaper or news site, and you read about a health claim making the rounds: a diet that will give you the energy of a teenager, an exercise routine that will elongate your legs, a policy that will protect Americans from scary viruses…

In the interest of the correcting the record, we rounded up the most egregious abuses of health science in 2014…

1) We can stop Ebola by cutting off West Africa and locking up health workers


Kaci Hickox at her home in MaineSpencer Platt/Getty Images

The Ebola epidemic was the biggest health story of the year and arguably one of the most important global news stories. But almost as soon as the virus turned up on American soil — in a Liberian man who has since died — dubious claims about travel restrictions started to go around. In particular, there were politicians who argued that travel bans and quarantines were needed to protect Americans from Ebola…

Governors in a number of states, including, New York and New Jersey, called for 21-day quarantines of health workers…

The trouble with trying to muzzle the virus through travel bans and quarantines is — as every single public health researcher and official noted — we have seen time and again that they don’t work. That’s why science-minded men and women were monolithically opposed to these measures.

Luckily, the great travel ban and quarantine caper coincided with a mid-term election in November and then quickly disappeared as soon as the ballots were cast.

4) Gwyneth Paltrow: water has feelings and you can add length to your legs

Gwyneth Paltrow is also not exactly known for doling out evidence-based wisdom. But she brought her ignominiously bad science to a new level in a May 2014 edition of her newsletter goop:

I am fascinated by the growing science behind the energy of consciousness and its effects on matter. I have long had Dr. Emoto’s coffee table book on how negativity changes the structure of water, how the molecules behave differently depending on the words or music being expressed around it.

In the newsletter, a supposed health guru named Habib Sadeghi also wrote:

Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto performed some of the most fascinating experiments on the effect that words have on energy in the 1990’s…In his experiments, Emoto poured pure water into vials labeled with negative phrases like “I hate you” or “fear.” After 24 hours, the water was frozen, and no longer crystallized under the microscope: It yielded gray, misshapen clumps instead of beautiful lace-like crystals. In contrast, Emoto placed labels that said things like “I Love You,” or “Peace” on vials of polluted water, and after 24 hours, they produced gleaming, perfectly hexagonal crystals.

You don’t need me to explain why this is total crap. It’s flat out ridiculous, and one of the worst assaults on science from a public figure who should know better.

RTFA for more details about each of these – and several more.

Dr.Oz, Congress, vaccines causing promiscuity, gluten, e-cigarettes are characteristic of Americans believing crap, inventing crap to believe, believing crap that crap sellers produce to get people most of all to buy their crap – and on and on.

I don’t know how Julia Belluz held the article down to anything less than book length.

FDA tells gay and bi men — “Stop having sex and you can donate blood!”

The Food and Drug Administration is relaxing a decades-long ban on blood donations from gay and bi men…The current policy, meant to protect against HIV transmission, bars any man who’s had sex with a man since 1977 from donating blood.

But the FDA is still requiring men to abstain from sex with other men for at least a year before donating.

That effectively bars men in monogamous same-sex relationships from donating.

We have good blood tests for HIV, which LGBT health advocates argue make any deferral or ban unnecessary…

When Australia dropped its ban, donations grew substantially and HIV infections did not.

So, why can’t the United States comprehend up-to-date science and manage regulations about donating blood in a sensible, useful and fair manner? The usual answer is that the politicians with oversight on such matters are bigoted cowards who would rather follow the moralizing of the lowest common denominator of ignorance – instead of providing the least bit of leadership.

And nothing has changed. Public pressure has forced the FDA into a practically valueless reiteration of the same crap rules they’ve had in place for years.

They just want to look a little bit enlightened.

When do we get back to the Constitution affirming separation of church and state?

Cartoon-Shan-Durango-News

A federal judge Thursday granted a Minnesota auto dealer the right to exclude emergency contraceptives and I.U.D.’s from his company’s employee health plan.

U.S. District Judge Frank Magnuson issued an injunction against the federal government, enabling Hastings Automotive’s primary owner Doug Erickson to remove contraceptives from his company’s plan without facing penalties.

“It’s long been by conviction to run these businesses according to my faith, and I really believe I’m stewarding these businesses and operating them as God would have me operate them,” Erickson told KARE…

Birth control is treated as basic preventive care by the Affordable Care Act, meaning that it must be included without co-insurance in all health plans. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case carved out an exception for faith based organizations and private for-profit companies, accommodating the religious beliefs of company owners.

“The very bottom line here is that we believe that the decision to use birth control is between a woman and her doctor, not her boss,” Jennifer Aulwes of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and South Dakota, told KARE.

Birth control is basic health care for women and 99 percent of women have used it at some point in their lives, so today’s ruling is very troubling for us.”

Jeremy Dys – a lawyer who specializes in representing idjits – contends that emergency contraceptives prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to lining of the uterus, causing what he termed a “chemical abortion.”

The makers of the drugs, on the other had, cite research that shows the drugs prevent ovulation and fertilization, essentially keeping a pregnancy from starting…”if a pregnancy is already established emergency contraception will not affect that pregnancy”.

The idjit judge – relying on the conservative idjits in the Supreme Court – said he wasn’t interested in science or the medical findings on contraception. He was just worried about the religious rights of the car dealer.

About right for law and order in America, today. Any religion receiving any level of recognition can impose their precepts over the rights of their employees – according to the distorted views of law currently supreme over our constitution.

Christian sharia being the accepted standard, of course.

George Shultz hasn’t gone anti-science with the rest of the Stupid Party


What a rational conservative like Shultz now drives, BTW

As Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz faced off against Muammar Qaddafi, the Soviet Union and Chinese communists.

His latest cause, though, is one few fellow Republicans support: fighting climate change.

Two years ago, Shultz was alarmed when a retired Navy admiral showed him a video of vanishing Arctic sea ice and explained the implications for global stability. Now, the former Cold Warrior drives an electric car, sports solar panels on his California roof and argues for government action against global warming at clean-energy conferences.

Living a life powered “on sunshine,” Shultz, at 93, has a message for the doubters who dominate his own party: “The potential results are catastrophic,” he said in an interview. “So let’s take out an insurance policy…”

When Obama announced an agreement on carbon controls with Chinese President Xi Jinping three weeks ago, incoming Senate leader Mitch McConnell dismissed it as an “unrealistic plan” that would boost electric rates and kill jobs.

Shultz, now a distinguished fellow at Stanford University, said the reality was driven home for him during a visit to the California campus by Gary Roughead, the U.S. Navy’s retired chief of naval operations. Roughead shared a time-lapse video of the Arctic ice cap shrinking over the last quarter-century.

That certainly was an eye-opener,” Shultz said in an interview last week in San Francisco, where he spoke at an energy conference. The video showed what Shultz called “new oceans” being unlocked from the ice.

It’s a long article and not much from Bloomberg is going to choose policies considered overtly anti-business by the most reactionary elements in American capitalism. They aren’t dumb enough to tell folks to ignore science either – just say the jury is out and people should try to be open-minded.

Try that on the Flat-Earthers and Know-Nothings.

There is a fair amount of interesting anecdotal stuff from and about Shultz. He is an old-fashioned American conservative; so, he’s willing to examine facts and draw real conclusions – unlike the cloud-cuckoo-land tea party-types like Palin and Cruz.

Thanks, Mike