"This Is The Greatest Time There Has Ever Been On This Planet"

From the consistently awesome TED talks:

In a bang-up roundup talk, says New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter and author of a book called Denialism, tears into vaccine-autism claims, "Frankenfood" bans, the herbal cure craze. "All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress."

Specter also opens the talk with the right answer to the question: If you could go back to any time in history, or forward to the future, what would you do?

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  • ||

    I was walkin' to the kitchen for some Golden Grahams
    When I accidentally stepped into an alternate dimension
    And soon I was abducted by some aliens from space
    Who kinda looked like Jamie Farr

    They sucked out my internal organs
    And they took some polaroids
    And said I was a darn good sport
    And as a way of saying thank you
    They offered to transport me back to
    Any point in history that I would care to go

    And so I had them send me back to last Thursday night
    So I could pay my phone bill on time
    Just then the floating disembodied head of
    Colonel Sanders started yelling

    Everything you know is wrong
    Black is white, up is down and short is long
    And everything you thought was just so
    Important doesn't matter

    Everything you know is wrong
    Just forget the words and sing along
    All you need to understand is
    Everything you know is wrong

  • ||

    Specter also opens the talk with the right answer to the question: If you could go back to any time in history, or forward to the future, what would you do?

    That's only the right answer because these time travel wishes are always a trick. In the past, you wind up shooting your great-great-great grandfather and vanishing in a puff of causality. In the future, you get tricked into fucking your great-great-granddaughter and then getting sent to the slammer for life when you come back to the present, for incest and statutory rape of a -112 year old.

  • ||

    Well, it could be worse.

    You could be tricked into getting fucked by your great-great-great grandfather and then he kills you, thus leaving the timeline intact.

    The other scenario is. just. WOW.

  • ||

    Luckily, my great-great-great grandfather was impotent, so I don't have to worry about that.

  • ||

    LOL nice.

  • JSinAZ||

    Not too far off from Time Enough for Dirty Old Men Love

  • Pope Jimbo||

    The trick is to get Steve Jobs to endorse your idea.

    If you called it iShot, people would be lining up for whatever mercury based vaccine you have on hand and would pay 3 times the going rate.

    Ditto with iFood. Splice whatever genes you want into that tomato buddy! The fan boys will snap it up and declare that iFood has completely redefined the cooking experience.

    The same demographic that doubts any statements made by scientists and technologists positively swoons at anything that comes out of Jobs' mouth.

    As for my time shift? The future all the way. Hopefully when Faster Than Light travel is possible.

  • ||

    But, only right wingers are anti-science.

  • ||

    Right wingers are only anti-science against stuff that really does not matter. Teaching Evolution in public school and stem cells.

    Left wingers are anti-science against things that saves lives.

  • MNG||

    JC, stem cells may have a lot to do with saving/improving lives.

    I'm not sure about evolution. Perhaps the more scientifically astute here could comment on the long term ramifications of the creationists ultimately winning and having discussions of evolution banned outright.

    But I grant you that anti-science people on things like modified crops are harming people en masse, as Epi astutely pointed out on another thread.

  • Paul||

    I'm not sure about evolution. Perhaps the more scientifically astute here could comment on the long term ramifications of the creationists ultimately winning and having discussions of evolution banned outright.

    I don't know if it's possible to know what the long-term ramifications of creationists winning the national debate. Whatever the ramifications, they'd be some sort of ancillary thing that you'd probably never see coming-- and might even be tough to prove it was linked to anti-evolutionary thinking-- even when it came.

    However, I'm not concerned because they won't.

  • Paul||

    To wit: Name a prominent creationist who won a Nobel prize for his views.

    Now name an environmentalist nutcase whose dangerous views have been propelled into the mainstream by the winning of a Nobel prize.

    The second list will be much longer.

  • Edwin||

    the ramifications of the creationists "winning the debate" are that nobody is forced to have stuff they don't believe in rammed down their kids' throats

    that's not a bad thing.

  • zoltan||

    LOL go back to your crazy hole.

  • affenkopf||

    No, the ramfications are that kids will have creationism rammed down their throats instead of evolution.

  • robc||

    No, the ramfications are that kids will have creationism rammed down their throats instead of evolution.

    Not in private schools.

  • Al Gore||

    Damn straight, and all the bucks that crazy bad scary science stories can rake off the rubes.

  • Mo||

    Don't you think that's because creationism is far more anti-science than environmentalism? Environmentalists don't deny that GM crops have greater yields or greater protection from different vectors, they make a value judgment* on those crops. However, creationists deny science that is testable and repeatable. That doesn't mean anti-GMU folks aren't dangerous, but it explains why there isn't a cognitive dissonance when they engage in scientific research.

    Also, it will be a cold day in hell before a prominent anti-vaccine person wins a Nobel prize in Medicine unless they find something that's actually dangerous about vaccines (in which case they deserve it).

    * IMO a very incorrect and dangerous one.

  • cynical||

    "I'm not sure about evolution. Perhaps the more scientifically astute here could comment on the long term ramifications of the creationists ultimately winning and having discussions of evolution banned outright."

    Thing is, anti-evolutionists are like "fundamentalists" -- the majority perfectly willing to compromise their position when it's untenable. Thus, the sort of evolution that's observed scientifically and which is of secular importance (say, antibiotic resistance in bacteria) is "microevolution", which is ok and not at all proof that humans came from monkeys instead of being placed on earth by God 6000 years ago.

    Putting "anti stem cell" people in general into that category is apples and oranges. Creation/evolution is a debate about scientific truth, embryonic stem cell research is a debate about scientific ethics. The closest analogy on the left would be the anti-vivisectionist movement.

  • ||

    Opposition to embryonic stem cell research (few if any of them oppose umbilical or adult stem cell research) is no more anti-science than opposition to concentration camp medical experiments using (temporarily) live Jews, Gypsies, Catholic priests, and Soviet POWs was. It is opposition to harming unwilling human beings in scientific research. Now, you may disagree with their belief that an embryo is a human being, but labeling them as "anti science" is intellectually dishonest.

    And, I might add, I still fail to see the libertarian justification for government funding of any scientific research unrelated to military purposes. It strikes me as one of those issues you guys simply take whatever position your fundie adversaries oppose.

  • MNG||

    Well, yes, the crux is that many of us do not see these early stage embryos as equivalent to adult "Jews, Gypsies, Catholic priests, and Soviet POWs." I grant you that.

  • ||

    Good. So shut up with the "anti-science" moniker.

  • MNG||

    tulpa
    I'm not a libertarian, so my justification for such research is easy: it holds great promise for improving the general welfare and one role of government is to spend money to do that. And since I don't see early stage embryos as anything remotely equivalent to a human person I support it.

  • ||

    Of course. Especially since you were fortunate enough to escape the womb.

  • MNG||

    Yes Groovus, I respectfully disagree with you. My personhood, and yours, and our compelled respect for it, occurred at a stage much later than these limbless, brainless, thumbnail sized things.

    I mean can you at least consider that it is much less obvious that such things are human beings as it is that adult Gypsies in Europe circa 1940s are? There are some pretty striking differences you must admit. I would think that would check your haughtiness on this subject, even if perhaps you are ultimately correct.

  • ||

    My "haughtiness" as you describe "stems" from the fact that adult human pluripotent cells are more than sufficient to test for the viability of stem cell replacement as a viable option in humans. Embryonic stem cells are not necessary and have been shown to increase the risk of tumors due to the unknown lack of metastatic inhibition of the little buggers.

    Linky

  • Jeffersonian||

    The push for embryonic stem cells has zero to do with development of therapies and everything to do with providing the pro-abortion crowd a claim to a positive good coming from the practice.

  • MNG||

    That is literally incredible. You are an amazingly paranoid person. The people pushing for stem cell research don't care about the possible benefits of such research, they just want to legitimize abortion. The people pushing AGW don't base their conclusions on data and such, they just want to aggrandize government power for the sake of government power.

    Do you really live in such a world?

  • Jeffersonian||

    See GM's post above on adult stem cells. Further, I am not talking about the doctors and PhDs doing research. I'm talking about the political project, which frankly cannot be denied.

  • MNG||

    "See GM's post above on adult stem cells."

    Yes, and as I note below I can easily cite experts who disagee with this assessment.

    "Further, I am not talking about the doctors and PhDs doing research."

    Then don't impugn their motives. Many of them are quite vocal and sincere that such research will yeild benefits. And you must know that many, such as myself, favor stem cell research for these reasons, not to "legitimize abortion." And yet you make such an overgeneralized comment as this: "The push for embryonic stem cells has zero to do with development of therapies and everything to do with providing the pro-abortion crowd a claim to a positive good coming from the practice."

    What paranoid hyperbole! Even now you admit this doesn't apply to "the doctors and PhDs doing research", at the very least...

  • ||

    You can't harvest stem cells from an aborted embryo. It's probably hard to even recognize the ex-embryo after an abortion, let alone harvest cells intact from it.

  • ||

    Depends on the week of development Tulpa.

    At eight weeks the embryo is about 30 mm and large enough to identify and harvest multipotent cells, particularly neural tissue.

    The "gold standard" embryonic cells are harvested from blastocyst stage of embryonic development in the lab.

  • MNG||

    There are at least some people who disagree with you on that with impressive credentials. Do you deny that? And since our position is that such embryos very probably of insignificant moral weight, can't you charitably assume that we think that the possibility of these experts being right and the corresponding insignificance of the moral dilemma (in our eyes) is what motivates us? Are we to simply believe your experts over the other side? Are we to simply and easily grant the weight you would like to these tiny, strange things? This is why your haughtiness is unwarranted.

  • ||

    Impressive credentials are not in question.

    I reject the notion of "insignificant moral weight". Especially, when viable alternatives have presented themselves that don't involve embryonic tissue, yes, I find the motive of insisting that ESC's are the only viable means of developing therapies very suspect.

    We have a fundamental disagreement; as a DO who has performed an elective D&E, I found the procedure to be morally abhorrent (fetus was 18 weeks; this was during my OB/GYN rotation). I chose another area of practice where I would not find myself with that dilemma, and also why I am such a strong supporter of the Conscience Clause.

    That said, what I object to is disingenuous ethics being masqueraded as de facto dogma.

  • MNG||

    What I mean by "insignificant moral weight" does not have to do with the potential benefits side of the ledger, it has to do with the harm side: people who think like me find early stage embryos to carry virtually no moral weight. Therefore even if the benefits of research with them are contested (you must at least admit it is contested), we have little trouble coming down on the side of allowing such research.

    I respect the effect of your experience re the procedure you performed, but I would submit that what you dealt with is a far cry from an early stage embryo that would easily fit on your pinky finger thumbnail...

    That being said my argument cuts both ways. There are arguments from your side that mean I must think more about the possible moral weight of early stage embryos. I submit that arguments from my side should at least convince you it may be difficult to convince honest persons who disagree with you that early stage embryos have the same moral weight as adults.

  • ||

    And Dr Mengele no doubt thought the subjects of his experiments carried little or no moral weight as well.

  • MNG||

    "And Dr Mengele no doubt thought the subjects of his experiments carried little or no moral weight as well."

    Yes, but why should we be guided by his values? Rather let's ask us now: are embryos which would comfortably fit on our thumbnail different in important ways than adult Gypsies?

  • ||

    The "different in important ways" standard is going to lead you to quite a few horrific conclusions. Infants, retarded people, and people in comas are different in important ways from adult Gypsies too.

  • ||

    It should be noted that all of the groups you listed are dependent upon a caretaker to provide for their survival and well being.

    They just aren't residing in a sac of amnio.

  • ||

    If embryonic stem cell research will prove to not have any real benefit, then why the fuss about making it illegal? If it proves not to be effective, then it seems the scientists will move on, and not waist their time. Problem solved. If on the other hand it proves to be have benefits, then the only question would be its "moral weight." But I would say saving an already grown human being that probably has other human relationships, and perhaps others depending on it would hold more moral weight than an early stage embryo.

  • ||

    It's not quite that clear-cut. The embryo is definitely going to be destroyed by harvesting its stem cells, whereas it's quite possible that no already-grown human is ever going to lose any benefit from failure to pursue ESCR. So even if the embryo's status is lower than the adult human's, it's possible the difference in harm done to the two entities is large enough to make us eschew ESCR.

    Just as the fact that an adult human has a higher moral status than a cat does not, in my mind at least, mean that adult humans who derive orgasmic pleasure from setting cats on fire should be allowed to do so.

  • ||

    We are not harvesting the stem cells for orgasmic pleasure. We are doing it to help other living, breathing humans, which the stem cell is not. Torturing the cat has no scientific/medical benefit, not to mention it is a living, breathing organism that feels pain. But like I said, if there turns out to be no benefit to harvesting embryonic stem cells, which is very possible, then nobody will waist time and the focus will be else where. I guess I just see no harm, or pain to anyone for researching it, but if there is a possibility that it can help, I say try. Although yes, I would be against government funding. But thats probably not surprising I guess.

  • ||

    Agreed there MNG as to the contention. I am not intellectually vacuous, and nor did you imply as such.

    I do think that before using ESC's extensively, i.e. electively aborted fetuses (I have no moral issue with spontaneously aborted embryos and fetuses), using adult pluripotent cells should be exhausted first. To err on the side of caution I do not think is unreasonable. I am not a crusade to convert folks as this is very polarizing issue where minds are rarely changed. I hold the opinion that life begins at conception based on the fact that a zygote has the certainty (barring disease and complications thereof) of being born a human being. No other cells do this, even metastatic carcenogenic and matrix cells.

    I do respect the disagreement, but as I said my beef is more so with science essentially proclaiming a "gold standard" before other areas of research are exhausted.

  • Mo||

    Those adult stem cells came from the research on embryonic stem cells. Without the embryonic stem cell research, we'd never have gotten the adult stem cells. If embryonic stem cells are morally abhorrent, then adult stem cells are fruit from a poisoned tree.

  • x,y||

    And Planned Parenthood had racist root. So I take it you believe that anything related to it is fruit of a poisonous tree, no?

  • ||

    Here's another question, MNG: what types of things are NOT covered by the general welfare clause? If you think something doesn't improve the general welfare, then you probably don't support it to begin with, so even that clause is superfluous.

  • Edwin||

    there is no ban on embryonic stem cell research

    there's a ban on GOVERNMENT FUNDING of embryonic stem cell research. Surely that's more libertarians - fewer people being forced to pay for things they object to.

    Though of course there's no reason to believe politicians would know better how money should be spent on research in general - leave the investments in research to the scientists and scientifically-inclined venture capitalists.

  • ||

    Tulpa, actually on of the reasons I asupport food biotechnology is because it is mostly privately financed, and it supports a huge amount of genetics research without government funding.

    People have to be allowed to commercialize scientific research if it's going to be privately sustained. The whole luddite precautionary fear of technology stifles private research, and turns science into a sterile intellectual exercise divorced from human values.

  • Chad||

    Oh, and global warming.

    Odd how you forgot that, Josh.

    But don't worry about me: I am not anti-GMO, anti-nuke, or any of the other idiocies of the extreme lefty greens.

  • ||

    Oh, and global warming.

    Odd how you forgot that, Josh.

    Being skeptical of AGW is the pro-science stance.

  • ||

    Need i remind you:

    reply to this
    joshua corning|12.4.09 @ 12:39AM|#
    wait a min did you just claim that Greenland will melt in a time frame where terms like Miami and Manhattan even have any meaning?
    I am sorry sir but you are a nut. There is no scenario in any IPCC report in which sea levels will rise 20 feet within 1000 years or less.
    reply to this
    joshua corning|12.4.09 @ 12:40AM|#
    20 meters not 20 feet.
    reply to this
    Chad|12.4.09 @ 7:12AM|#
    And anyone who knows anything knows that the IPCC report left out a lot the ice melt trends due to the uncertainty. Since that time, the certainty has been increased, and the data has gotten far, far worse.

  • ||

    opps here is the full text:

    Old Mexican|12.3.09 @ 6:32PM|#
    Re: Chad,
    If you have no idea why Greenland is melting, I suggest you learn to read anything other than crackpot websites. AGW is by far the strongest in the Arctic, and I am sure that even you can understand the ice-albedo effect.
    Why is the fact that Greenland is "melting" a bad thing? It did melt before, you know...
    reply to this
    Chad|12.3.09 @ 10:52PM|#
    20 meters of water, dipshit. I kinda like Miami and Manhattan (let alone Bangledesh, which I here is nice this time of year).
    reply to this
    joshua corning|12.4.09 @ 12:39AM|#
    wait a min did you just claim that Greenland will melt in a time frame where terms like Miami and Manhattan even have any meaning?
    I am sorry sir but you are a nut. There is no scenario in any IPCC report in which sea levels will rise 20 feet within 1000 years or less.
    reply to this
    joshua corning|12.4.09 @ 12:40AM|#
    20 meters not 20 feet.
    reply to this
    Chad|12.4.09 @ 7:12AM|#
    And anyone who knows anything knows that the IPCC report left out a lot the ice melt trends due to the uncertainty. Since that time, the certainty has been increased, and the data has gotten far, far worse.

  • Old Mexican||

    Michael Specter and author of a book called Denialism, tears into vaccine-autism claims, "Frankenfood" bans, the herbal cure craze. "All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress."

    Look, the warning has merits, but I feel the scent of pedantic elitism from this guy. In my many years as a skeptic, I learned a few things that made me rethink a few of my positions:

    1) People distrusts of science comes from their very-justified distrust of impositions. For instance, the autism-vaccine craze would not have been so ubiquitous if governments were not so fascistic, making people vaccinate their kids. That only opens the door to suspicion the very moment something goes wrong. The same with water fluoridation - people suspect it because it is imposed, it is not a choice.

    2) People distrust of science also comes from disinformation peddled by political activists, like enviromentalists. For instance, the strange affinity for anything "natural" comes mostly from propaganda spewed by anti-industrialists and other leftist groups.

    3) People are weary of ideas that challenge their beliefs. This is inevitable, but government imposition (again) makes things harder. I do not trust schools that make you learn such things as Evolutionary Theory by heart instead of teaching you how to think. Obviously, it is NOT in the best interest of school officials nor our political class to have a thinking population.

    4) The peddling of pseudo-scientific flim-flam such as AGW by governments helps very little the case FOR science.

    I have thus learned to see beyond the obvious mistrust for science and not take the simplistic route of considering skeptics as backward or recalcitrant fools. I have met people that became very dear to me that were also very intelligent, and yet did not see things the same way as I did when it came to such things as medical science or biology. I learned that you cannot convince people by telling them that their most cherished beliefs are bunk. You instead make your case by reconciling belief with knowledge. If people like Michael Specter understood this, then maybe the case FOR science could be easier to sell.

    I also do not agree with him that "human progress is in peril" because people prefer to use (oh, I don't know) cat's wart to cure their sore throats. That's an exaggeration.

  • MNG||

    OM
    On whether AGW is serious science or not, who should define that? People with an ideological axe to grind like you (as you've admitted), or organizations of professionals who make their living studying the relevant fields?

    Granted there are some professionals in that group who agree with you. What are you and I, who do not fall into that group, to do when these people's opinion is outweighed by several factors by others in the relevant professions? I mean as a general rule.

  • juris imprudent||

    ...or organizations of professionals who make their living studying the relevant fields?

    Which would of course exclude YOU.

  • MNG||

    Ah, but I'm the one deferring to such people.

    so, sorry to take your gotcha, but hey...

  • Old Mexican||

    On whether AGW is serious science or not, who should define that? People with an ideological axe to grind like you (as you've admitted)

    Whether I have an ax to grind or not is not important, MNG, as I am not the one wanting to pillage people's property for some might be.

    As for political motives, these are a-plenty among the AGW proponents - it is a great justification for sweeping socialism, whether the theory is supported by facts or not.

  • MNG||

    Wow, you realize your answer simply verifies my post, without even attempting an answer of the general question, don't you? You don't like AGW conclusions because they will lead to "pillaging of property". You've settled the science question on ideological grounds. And you castigate those who disagree for not being "serious" about science...Wow.

  • ||

    Even if global warming is true, it is highly unlikely that government action is going to solve the problem. As long as people prefer full stomachs to empty ones, and warm abodes to cold ones, people are going to consume more carbon than their betters think they should.

  • MNG||

    "Even if global warming is true, it is highly unlikely that government action is going to solve the problem."

    Here I agree with you. I further think it need not be necessary. The market is already doing wonderful things to address this problem (hybrid cars, carbon-neutral beer for God's sake!). I fully support non-coercive measures to address this problem right now.

  • MJ||

    That's nice that you support non-coercive measures. The relevant question is to what extent do you oppose the coercive ones?

  • Jeffersonian||

    It doesn't have to end with the pillaging of property, but it most likely will given that AGW, or rather the solution to same, is a political project of the Left. The vehemence of AGW boosters against suggestions of geo-engineering positively confirms that.

    Only the complete regimentation of society will do for them, a cure that is easily more pernicious than the alleged disease.

  • MNG||

    Again, this strikes me as positively paranoid. Of all the various scientific organizations, made up of thousands of professionals, who have endorsed AGW, you simply think it is an expression of their "Leftism?" Incredible. Think of the conspiracy level thinking involved here!

  • Jeffersonian||

    I'm not talking about the scientists, MNG, I'm talking about the people who are using what some scientists are saying. And those people have been demanding the regimentation of society for far longer than scientists have been theorizing about AGW.

  • MNG||

    Good point. Now I hope you realize that denying the claims of the scientists because of how some people may use them is illogical. Instead, deny how some people are using them!

  • Jeffersonian||

    When the two overlap, as we've seen at UEA and elsewhere, it makes me skeptical. When they cannot produce their data and when their methods are kept opaque, I get, in your terminology, "paranoid." When their predictive models don't resemble the eventual data, I tend to dismiss their models. What do you do?

  • MNG||

    You nor I understand their models or their import. When you say "their" methods are opaque and "they" cannot produce their data you seem to suggest that the only proponents of AGW are Phil Jones and his CRU Crew. Surely you are not this misinformed. More experts in this field support AGW than deny it; surely they are aware, more so than you or I, if all the evidence for it derives from a handful of checky sources. Do you really think that all of those experts have "fallen" for this while you have risen above? Is this not the height of arrogance? I assume they have a better understanding of the relevant data than right wing blogs let on to be frank. The alternative is that all of these people with far more training, experience and access to the relevant tools/data for understanding this issue are either fools en masse or an evil cabal. Do you seriously propose this as the more probable position?

  • Jeffersonian||

    That's an appeal to authority and bandwagon defense...a logical fallacy. Before we found out about EAU, everyone thought they were the bee's knees, too. Now we know different. Their data are shit, and their model a kluged pile of crap. If they had to rig things to get what everyone else did, what is everyone else doing?

    I'm not a statistician by trade, but I've done enough mathematical modeling in my life to know what people are saying and when their arguments are coming off the rails. Unless and until all of these models and data are made public and open to review, I consider them to be suspect.

  • MNG||

    I submit you don't understand the "appeal to authority" fallacy. All it means is that authority in and of itself does not make an argument sound and valid. However informal logic well recognizes the weight of expert opinion in reaching a better conclusion.

    "Unless and until all of these models and data are made public and open to review, I consider them to be suspect."

    Of course this is ideological hyperbole. Since many areas fit this criteria please list other scientific areas of which you are skeptical because the models and data are not widely available? I predict you will supply none, and that speaks volumes doesn't it?

  • ||

    I think a healthy skepticism about AGW is a good thing. Science is not always correct, and a lot of theories get proven wrong frequently, even when they thought they had "over whelming evidence.". No, I don't have any examples for you at this moment, sorry. But when a theory like AGW ignites all the hysteria that this has, all the calls for massive government intervention(never let a good crisis go to waist), it should be questioned. NOT denied, but questioned.

  • Tony||

    AA this is the same nonsense peddled by creationists. Teach the controversy, etc. You don't cure ignorance of scientific reality by appeasing those who deny it with undue deference to their (heavily funded) pseudoscience bullshit.

  • Lawn Gnome||

    You don't cure ignorance of scientific reality by appeasing those who deny it with undue deference to their (heavily funded) pseudoscience bullshit.

    By manufacturing your own psuedo-scientific altar of astroturf? We Lawn Gnomes know astroturf when we see it.

  • ||

    Hmmm, Tony, I'm not really sure how you interpreted what I said. But let me give it a try.

    What heavily funded pseudoscience do you think I'm talking about? When I said science is not always correct, I sure as hell wasn't saying that we should use something other than science. Maybe I should have said man is fallible, so be skeptical when people start demanding huge change(or massive government control). Especially when that change reflects previous views that they have held(anti-capitalist). Who am I appeasing? I think the hysteria over AGW is more like the creationists, not the other way around. Who am I appeasing? I guess this is more me being skeptical of government intentions rather than whether or not AGW is real in some way. But we know how you fell about Libertarianism, Tony.

  • ap||

    dude, all said is that the coin has two sides. there are just as many people with an ideological axe to grind among the AGW hysterics as there are among the skeptics.

  • MNG||

    Sure, but I'm talking strictly of the experts in the relevant fields. Deny the pols using their claims, yes, yes.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    You don't like AGW conclusions because they will lead to "pillaging of property".

    No, I am replying to your question: Who should decide? I am saying: Certainly not the people that want to use the science as justification for wholesale plunder. Who cares if I have an ax to grind? That's irrelevant.

    I personally do not trust supposed scientists that have a clear pecuniary and personal stake on AGW being sponsored by governments in more than mere pedestrian funding.

  • Chad||

    OM, it is not the government pillaging your property: it is the government PROHIBITING you from pillaging everyone elses'.

    Get your CO2 off my land, jackhole!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    OM, it is not the government pillaging your property: it is the government PROHIBITING you from pillaging everyone elses'.

    Sure, Chad. The government is keen on protecting people's property. Right.

  • Tony||

    I suppose we're to believe that without government people's property will be sacrosanct?

  • ||

    organizations of professionals who make their living studying the relevant fields?

    ...a living that is largely funded by governments who stand to gain power for global warming alarmism.

    You want to play the motive-questioning game, MNG? Fine. Let's go.

  • MNG||

    Tulpa
    I think it's paranoid for you to assume that everyone, or even a majority of those involved in government want to aggrandize government power for shits and giggles. Granted they are more ready to use government power to address their concerns than you would be, but they usually are motivated by a desire to address the concerns.

    Also, a great deal of the research professional scientists do is privately funded. As my wife works in that field I'd be glad to school you in this if you want to waste a few dozen posts on it.

  • ||

    MNG-

    No, I dont't buy the Withrow v. Larkin nonsense. In that 1975 case, SCOTUS, in dicta, declared that public officials are presumed to be acting in good faith.

    Although I tend to drink the stronger, undiluted libertarian kool-aid, I believe my take on human nature was shared by many of the framers and is grounded in realism:

    Like hagendaz hugs the hips of Kirstie Alley, evil gravitates to power.

  • MNG||

    I don't deny that power corrupts LM, or that we should not be constantly vigilant of this. Good liberals (think the ACLU) perpetually guard against government injustice and should be naturally skeptical of it.

    I merely propose that government actors are not usually motivated by a desire to aggrandize government power for its own sake, they usually have some idea they are doing some good.

  • MJ||

    They are, however, usually naive, ignorant, or outright stupid if hey are not evil. See the New York legislators who want to ban salt and HFCS as prime examples.

  • ||

    Yeah, I wonder what would happen to that private funding (which in climatology is almost entirely by philanthropic foundations, not industry) if a researcher produced evidence questioning whether global warming is occuring, or even whether it is man-made.

    Actually, I don't wonder. I know.

  • ||

    Tell me, MNG, would your reaction to an Exxon-funded study that said global warming was bunk be similar in its level of skepticism to an Al Gore-funded study that said it was indisputably occurring?

  • ||

    Good question.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    What are you and I, who do not fall into that group, to do when these people's opinion is outweighed by several factors by others in the relevant professions?

    I don't know about you, but I follow the following rules of thumb:

    a) If a certain scientific theory is being used to make extraordinary claims, then I take no heed of the claims and remain skeptical of the theory.

    b) If a government embraces a controversial theory, then I remain skeptical.

    Since governments have not used (so far) Big Bang theory, for instance, as justification to plunder its people, then I have grounds to believe there is merit to the theory.

  • MNG||

    That strikes me as incredible. Do you realize how many scientific theories are right now being funded and supported by governments? You'd be some kind of caveman to disavow them all...

    As to your first point, who should decide if the claims are "extraordinary", you or professionals in the relevant fields? I mean, to the average hippie the idea that "frankenfoods" are not harmful is "extraordinary." But they are wrong because they are not versed in the relevant fields...

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    Do you realize how many scientific theories are right now being funded and supported by governments?

    You're equivocating - funding something is not the same as using it to justify plunder.

  • Sam Grove||

    organizations of professionals who make their living studying the relevant fields?

    Of course, THEY never have ideological bias...or do they?

  • cynical||

    Thing is, some fields are going to be of more interest to people with an ideological axe to grind (take any overtly political social science like Women's Studies, not to mention forensic science), and environmental studies is one of those fields.

    How many climate scientists do you think were drawn to the field because they thought that it was critical to prove how badly humans were fucking earth up in order to avert catastrophe, rather just being neutrally curious about how certain massive, incredibly complex systems function?

  • Steff||

    1) People distrusts of science comes from their very-justified distrust of impositions. For instance, the autism-vaccine craze would not have been so ubiquitous if governments were not so fascistic, making people vaccinate their kids. That only opens the door to suspicion the very moment something goes wrong. The same with water fluoridation - people suspect it because it is imposed, it is not a choice.

    This. I don't buy into the vaccine-causes-autism debate, but I did choose to hold off vaccinating my kids until school age for other reasons. Namely speaking, I researched both sides and decided that the CDC recommendations were absolutely ridiculous when considering my kids, their actual risk factors, where they were, who they were with and etc. So, I made an informed decision about my childrens' healthcare, and to this day, I get hammered because I didn't go with what Big Brother told me to.

    There are many kooks in the anti-vaccination crowd. But there are also many people, like me, who don't want their kids slotted into the government's 'one size fits all even when it doesn't' bullshit, too.

  • Coeus||

    You'd think that on this board, of all places, there'd be some understanding of this, but everyone has a blind spot. Mandatory vaccination seems to be lauded by some of the regulars here as a legitimate exercise of power by the government. I suspect the howls of "herd immunity" will ensue shortly.

  • Steff||

    They can laud it all they want. They can also go fuck themselves if they want to scream at me about making an informed decision to delay vaccination based on the risks and benefits therein for my own children, who I can promise no one -- no one -- loves and treasures as much as I do.

    ::grins:: But so far, everyone's been pretty sweet to me, here. With the exception of Tony. Mostly.

  • Tony||

    I'm immune to female wiles and let's face it this place is a sausagefest.

    I would say that all the potential unintended consequences of mass vaccination aren't known, but any reason anyone gives for not vaccinating isn't usually scientifically tenable.

  • Steff||

    I have a good reason: I'm their mother. No one -- not the government, not society at large, not the doctor, not the scientist -- is in a better position to assess the risks versus benefits of vaccination than I am, as I am the one who would have to live with those potential unintended consequences. So, I chose to do the reasonable thing: I assessed the risk versus benefits and decided to delay vaccination until they were older.

    This is responsible parenting, and something sorely lacking in the modern day.

  • ||

    the autism-vaccine craze would not have been so ubiquitous if governments were not so fascistic, making people vaccinate their kids.

    Crony capitalism at it's finest; someone has to make all those doses of vaccine. Also, OM, the medical establishment has had it's hand in this as well.

    "In the interest of public health..." has been a line that the paternalistic practitioners of medicine have used to force the adoption of preventative health measures. It's a useful rhetorical tool; I daresay even better than "For the childrens." While well meaning at first, when more and more of disease and health falls under the umbrella of "public good", it will eventually be used to overtake personal liberty.

  • Steff||

    They're working on it. My husband's first son, my stepson, couldn't be vaccinated one appointment because he was sick. Doctor had it rescheduled. Then said doctor called a few days later to, get this, threaten my husband by saying he'd call CSB because the kid wasn't vaccinated yet.

    This was a long time ago, but you can bet this nasty shit still happens today.

  • ||

    It does and quite often. This is also one of the reasons why I am so against the current HCR act, as it pretty much requires doctors to be a wing of police enforcement than we already are, a la DEA, CDC, DHHS, etc.

  • Steff||

    Yeah, really. It's a damn mess and only getting worse. Now that the government has a stake in it, I can't even fathom how out-of-control it might get.

  • ||

    I'm in the process of no longer accepting CMH (Medicare/Caid), which is a VERY involved process (bit of a nightmare actually), for that very reason. I have too much invested in my career to just chuck it; however maintaining professional autonomy is I feel in the best interest of my practice and for future patients.

  • ||

    "Professional autonomy?"

    Not if your livelihood hinges on the aquisition and maintenance of a license issued by the state.

  • ||

    Whom I agree to treat and how they pay is not dependent on the maintenance of said license in private practice.

    When I am no longer contractually obligated to treat CMH patients, that will facilitate the freedom to employ treatment options dependent on what private third-party payers and cash paying patients will permit. Which I assure you is a greater spectrum of options than CMH permits. I will also be free to provide charity care at my discretion and not because of government mandate. Reimbursement rates are better and quicker too (though HMO's are still a pain in the ass). That is how I define professional autonomy.

    Now "how" I treat and keeping up with current CME's germane to specialty and in accordance with the law and accepted medical practices to keep my license, different story.

  • Steff||

    Where d'you practice? If it's anywhere remotely within a day's drive, I'll totally pay cash for sensible healthcare by a sensible professional. Because around here, finding one of those is worse than having teeth pulled.

  • ||

    Flyover country, AKA Oklahoma.

  • Steff||

    Damn. I'm in the other flyover O-state Ohio.

  • ||

    Ah. High in the middle and round on both ends?

    Feel lucky. I understand Tony lives in Okie land as well.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    So do I. I sometimes wonder if maybe I actually know Tony and just don't realize it.

  • MNG||

    If I could back in time what would I do? I can't believe someone hasn't beat me to this but here goes:

    Well, ever heard of President Van Buren?

    Well, not if I did what I would plan to do you wouldn't...

  • ||

  • ||

    the dude actually makes sense if you think about it.

    Lou
    www.whos-watching.es.tc

  • dennis||

    do you know Jack Frampton? I think you two would get along.

  • John Daniels||

    the dude actually makes sense if you think about it. LOL

    Jess
    www.whos-watching.es.tc

  • Jose Cuervo||

    the dude actually makes sense if you think about it. ROTFL

    Herb
    www.whos-watching.es.tc

  • Nash||

    I'd go back about 30 years.

    And then I'd buy a bunch of stock, like for example Microsoft and Apple. And I'd sell it in 2007.

  • Fluffy||

    I would go far forward.

    It would be a diceroll. I honestly can't give you the odds on utopia/dystopia.

    I think that the most likely outcome is probably something that seems like a utopia to the people in it, but is a dystopia to "entire" human beings, because the future holds in store perpetual surveillance and the physical/genetic/chemical alteration of man.

    But I'd still have to take the chance, because of the non-zero probability that some sort of immortality will be achieved, and if that happens if you don't like how society is at any moment you have lots of time to wait for it to get better.

    The other choice would be to memorize How Things Work and various chemical formulae and go back to the Bronze Age to fuck some folks up.

  • Fluffy||

    because the future holds in store...the physical/genetic/chemical alteration of man.

    And I guess I should specify that I don't mean this in the "good", pro-liberty transhumanist way. I mean this in the "statists change Man genetically to make him obey and suck bureaucrat cock and like it" sort of way.

  • MNG||

    I dunno fluffy. There is some chance of something like a nuclear war and you'd be transported into hell. At least we know there was a past and it wasn't too shitty...

  • Terry Michael||

    Michael Specter's faith in science is just that: FAITH, not reason. In his TED rant, he quotes the much-quoted Pat Moynihan observation (without attribution) that "you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts." But then, he creates an outrageous "fact"--that President Thabo Mbeki killed 400,000 South Africans with his AIDS "denialism." He bases that on a "study" from Harvard that took an absurd assertion kicking around for at least a half-decade--that a thousand people die a day in South Africa from AIDS--and then proceeds to torture the numbers to claim that 400,000 "untreated" South Africans died as a result of Mbeki's decision not to feed them toxic chemotherapy. Here, Mr. Specter, is a fact: Statistics South Africa, the official SA government keeper of stats, says about 14,700 death certificates were issued citing AIDS as a cause of death in South Africa in 2006, and that number went down to about 13,500 in 2007--less than 5% (five percent!) of the deaths attributed to AIDS by the World Heath Organization-related "UNAIDS"--which simply made up the assertion of deaths in South Africa that the propagandists at Harvard used to produce their "study." Any attempt by those of us who seek facts about the relationship of "HIV" to "AIDS" is put down with the epithet "denialist," a heavy-handed attempt to shut off debate by linking us to Holocaust denialism. The same thing is now happening with those who question man-caused global warming and the dire predictions made by people like Specter. Mr. Specter is a victim of the demagogic gods of science, funded by federal grants and drug companies, which Eisenhower warned us against in his Farewell Address (over-shadowed by his equally prescient observations about a military industrial complex.) If you'd like to read a longer discussion of this, please see this piece I wrote on the subject:
    Climate and AIDS Denialists,
    and Politicized Junk Science.
    at....
    http://www.terrymichael.net/Ht.....cience.htm

    If you'd like to read a LOT more on the anomalies of HIV=AIDS theory, go to these 7,600 words I have written:
    http://www.terrymichael.net/Ht.....eport.html

    Mr. Specter needs to learn the difference between junk science and fact-based research. He selectively chooses his own facts to paint science skeptics with a broad brush. If he knew anything about the academic discipline of the study of science, he would know how wrong "consensus" science has been so many times, when the consensus is enforced by demagogues. Progress in science isn't often made incrementally. It is a result of paradigm shifts that challenge the status quo instead of heavy-handedly enforcing it.

    And his TED presentation was dripping with left liberal politics. Curious why it was given such praise and play at a libertarian web site, which praises the importance of "free minds."

  • zoltan||

    tl;dr

  • Chad||

    Get back to me when your crackpotty crackpotosity gets through peer review.

    Thanks,

    Chad

  • ||

    Here here

  • Jeffersonian||

    I think Specter started very strong, but the needle of my bullshit detector was beginning to come off of zero by the end.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The problem isn't with science, obviously. The idea that when someone puts on a white lab coat they are somehow immune to personal bias or groupthink is ludicrous. The people involved in science are the problem. People just as easily use "science" as a tool for personal gain as they do religion.

    Blindly following bad science can be just as damaging as ignoring good science.

  • ||

    Well, real science is supposed to be falsifiable and reproducible, so it's not as easy to warp as religion is.

  • cynical||

    But it does require a scientific culture committed to falsifying and reproducing results, as opposed to trusting researchers. Science as an ideal process has earned a good deal of trust, but science as "institutions and people, executing that process imperfectly" is more fallible.

  • liberty_equality_solidarity||

    I'm pretty sure there is a 'scientific culture committed to falsifying and reproducing results', overturning an established theory is a singular achievement for any scientist (name a scientist who isn't known for it). I can agree that more reproduction of other people results (generally the results are assumed to be accurate and are built on) would be nice, but there is the problem of funding and careerism there.

  • Paul||

    From the video: Reference to 'alternative medicine' regimens as "Big Placebo". I'm borrowing that.

  • Ace||

    We certainly can understand that Specter is speaking to a progressive, or sympathetic to progressive, audience in his choice of examples. Which is why he is using the AIDs example. We are all well aware of the threat that Fundies pose to the advancement of science, and have for hundreds of years, but the threat that the New Primitivists pose in their willingness to stifle innovation in science in the name of, in essence, the Precautionary Principle, effects them none at all because they have already achieved elite status, but the poor and striving of this world greatly.

  • Jeffersonian||

    It's an article of faith that the "fundies" are an enormous threat to scientific advancement, but their victories have been very few, very far between and very short-lived. You do put your finger on the crux, though, with the PP, and I would add the buzzword of "sustainability." I heard that everywhere when I was getting my MA in the early 1990s, and knew it'd be all the rage in a decade. I wasn't disappointed. It's far more harmful to science than any fundie threat.

  • MNG||

    Fundies lack of success should not make us stand against them if we disagree with them. By that logic since Islamic Terrorists have failed to topple any major regime we should ignore them and let them work their mischief...

  • Jeffersonian||

    Uh, Iran?

    Meanwhile, port-side zealots rail against vaccines, nuclear power, genetically-modified crops, automobiles, oil, coal and pretty much everything that makes modern life possible. And they have the ear of Washington. No one's funding research into finding Jesus's skeleton riding the back of a triceretops.

  • MNG||

    My goodness, one administration ago those people had the "ear" of the administration.

  • Edwin||

    no they didn't

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Yeah, that's why creationism is taught in schools all across the country, stem cell research is totally banned, and abortions are illegal.

  • ||

    I seriously doubt the Greens are a threat to the human race in general's scientific advancement. If the US and Europe fall under the neoluddite spell, other countries will pick up where we left off. Sucks for those of us whose countries are relegated to also-ran status, but the species in general will go on.

  • Edwin||

    I know that that's probably true because it seems like the most depressing outcome for The West.

  • ||

    Meh, it's no worse than happened to the Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, medieval Arabs, etc. Plus, unless Obama & Co do a lot more damage than I think they're going to be able to do, the US will probably still hold a relatively privileged position in the world when the worms eat into my brain a few decades hence. (if the monkeys with knitting hooks don't get it first)

  • ||

    And I'll tell you this much: if and when I have kids they're learning Chinese, Hindi, and Portuguese from an early age.

  • Rabbit Scribe||

    "We are all well aware of the threat that Fundies pose to the advancement of science, and have for hundreds of years, but the threat that the New Primitivists pose in their willingness to stifle innovation in science in the name of, in essence, the Precautionary Principle, effects them none at all because they have already achieved elite status, but the poor and striving of this world greatly."

    I hear Ace is pregnant. He missed three periods.

  • Patriot Henry||

    "All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason."

    Perhaps if science and Reason hadn't abandoned science and reason then we just might possibly have a public less averse to these vital means of cognition.

  • Warty||

    Do we drink now?

  • ||

    Yes. We also have to tell the people at Science Magazine's blog to drink.

  • ||

    Drinks all around! Make a mine a single malt scotch, double, neat.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Yes, very good. I do kind of wonder what exactly Patriot Henry was talking about, but I'm sure I'd be horrified to hear his explanation.

  • Warty||

    I'd go back to a few drunken nights in my past, and steer my past self's attention away from those sweathogs. You can never quite get all the stink off...

  • ||

    Battery acid Warty. A good soothing bath in battery acid. For especially persistant cases, an Aqua Regia bath. Anything that survives that, therapy.

    Keep in mind with singularity, if you upload Warty 5.0, the stink still follows.

  • ||

    As long as bullshit power-grabbing science like Anthropogenic Global Warming (rest in peace), theories of Second and Third-hand smoke are out to scare people everyday to hand over money and power, the skepticism will increase.

  • Random Dude||

    "consistently awesome TED Talks"?

    Puh-leeeze. Those talks are full of the most inane, self-righteous, uber-statism of the left.

  • ||

    The best place to be is here. The best time to be is Now. Party on, dudes, and be excellent to each other.

  • Organic Girl||

    Oh right, cause it's a "denial of science and reason" to oppose the corporate-capitalist takeover of argiculture. in fact there are many scientific societies, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists who oppose these kinds of things. There's plenty of science supporting organic foods and against frankenfoods but the corporate media keeps it supressed. Same with the pharamcological industry and herbal (homeopathic) remedies. The so-called "Western" medical establishment, including the FDA and the AMA colludes with the megacorporations to suppress the evidence. Cause they can't patent it! They can only make money by selling expensive drugs, so they hide the evidence of cheap low-cost alternatives. Why can't you people see this?

  • affenkopf||

    +100
    Best parody of a dumb airhead I've read in a while.

  • Josh Fulton||

    I haven't even gone through this yet, but if this is some thing against the link between autism and vaccination, I'm going to be upset.

    If there's no link, why are there virtually no Amish with autism? At the minimum, there has to be an environmental factor.

    http://www.endowmentmed.org/in.....;task=view

  • Steff||

    I think whatever factor it ends up being, it's going to be on a genetic level, and triggerable by something outside.

  • ||

    ...why are there virtually no Amish with autism?

    I wonder, does the writer of that linked article have any evidence to back up his assertion that there are virtually no Amish with autism?

  • ||

    If you could go back to any time in history, or forward to the future, what would you do?

    I'd go to mid 1920s Berlin and party, party, party. That town was swarming with hot German girls and Russian refugees. Just have to make sure to get my ass out of there by 1932 and head to New York where I'd make a good living betting on college football, horse racing, boxing and baseball. Then in the 1940s move to California, buy a bunch of IBM stock and real estate. I'd probably die of lung cancer at some point in the 1960s, but it was a good ride.

  • ||

    If you could go back to any time in history, or forward to the future, what would you do?

    I dunno about you guys, but I'm going forward to the future every day.

  • GILMORE||

    This guy is awesome. I mentioned him yesterday... and now we have this nice clip. Seriously, buy his book. ("Denialism")... He speaks to a lot of things that I've professionally researched over the years (GMOs, food markets, dietary supplements, nutraceuticals, organic food, etc). And he seems to have the same view I have. Which is maybe why I think he's awesome :) yes, I do love people who agree with me. But he's very good at cornering the opposition, better than I could probably ever be, because he's more or less from the left - meaning, he speaks to a more liberal psychology, whereas I would probably - given the opportunity to give the same speech - berate and insult everyone out of my sheer disbelief that the status quo is what it is... he's a compelling speaker and writer. I hope he gets more press.

  • دردشة||

    thanks

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