Scientists Are From Terra—Citizens Are From Eden

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The Pew Center for the People and the Press has just released the results from a new poll of scientists and average citizens. Actually the two groups agree on much, although it is clear that scientists do think rather well of themselves and their activities. See the complete poll results here. Below are the chief areas of disagreement between public and researchers:

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  1. In regards towards how I agree/disagree with the scientists:

    1. I’m with ya’.
    2. Don’t know. Way too politicized and uncertain for me right now.
    3. I’m down with it.
    4. If I’m gonna be taxed, I’d like to see the money go towards this.
    5. Not only no but Fuck No. All the science that backs this up doesn’t mean that the choice should be taken away.

  2. I cant figure out what I find momre puzzling – that Scientists are as sure about AGW as they are evolution, or that there is a 14% gap between those that are conerned about AGW and those that favor nuclear power.

    Apparently, scientists have their own blind spots, they are just different than a soccer mom’s.

  3. Kyle – i counted six in the article, and five on your list – where did we go wrong?

  4. You’re right domo. I skipped the Nuclear Power one accidentally. Thanks for the heads up.

    My corrected list…

    1. I’m with ya’.
    2. Don’t know. Way too politicized and uncertain for me right now.
    3. I’m down with it.
    4. If I’m gonna be taxed, I’d like to see the money go towards this.
    5. I’m all for Nukes. Power and Weapons!
    6. Not only no but Fuck No. All the science that backs this up doesn’t mean that the choice should be taken away.

  5. Think Sarah Palin is a genius: Public % 42…Scientists % 0

  6. I’m a scientist. Nothing shocks me.

  7. My brother is a scientist and nothing shocks me. Especially the whole high-class welfare queen bit they tend to do. Hell. He has a PhD in artificial intelligence and all he needs is some grad student to punch up some code for him to do research. Somehow, he thinks he needs tens of thousands of government dollars to do this. I’m guessing they drink lots of fancy $10 coffees from Starbucks while doing this.

  8. Shocking that scientists favor more funding for embryonic stem cell research. I bet the vast majority supports more federal funding for anything research-related.

  9. The problem with leaving vaccines as a choice is that the unvaccinated become incubators for deadly diseases which kill even the children of parents with brains.

    If you to take an unvaccinated child out in public, you are assaulting everyone around you with a deadly weapon. If you want to leave the vaccine as a choice, fine. But don’t allow the kids to leave the house, ever. The purpose of government is to protect life and liberty. Not allowing someone to walk around spreading deadly diseases clearly falls under the purview of even properly limited government.

    As far as embryonic stem cells, I’ve always wondered about people who know that an embryo is a life form which is genetically human and genetically unique, but then argue that it’s not a human life. Nobody knows when sentience occurs, but for a scientist to not call an embryo a human life is just plain willful dishonesty. This is even leaving aside the fact that this research has nothing to do with any constitutionally authorized federal authority whatsoever.

  10. There’s a huge choice problem with #6, but we also have a problem in that we lack a legal mechanism to impose liability costs for the spread of infectious disease. Then again, as long as people who get vaccinated aren’t suffering, I guess that’s a problem with its own solution.

  11. “Apparently, scientists have their own blind spots, they are just different than a soccer mom’s.”

    They’re people. Big surprise.

  12. The problem with leaving vaccines as a choice is that the unvaccinated become incubators for deadly diseases which kill even the children of parents with brains.

    But aren’t the vaccinated kids safe because they’re the vaccinated kids?

  13. I find it odd that 87% of scientists “believe” in evolution. I would have put the number north of 95%. I wonder what their definition of “scientist” is…

    Disclaimer: PhD in Microbiology, so extremely biased towards godlessness

  14. Nobody knows when sentience occurs, but for a scientist to not call an embryo a human life is just plain willful dishonesty.

    Is a frozen dead body a human life? It’s genetically human and genetically unique.

    Are the skin cells under your fingernails human lives? What if we come up with a way to turn them into embryos – are they human lives then?

    The problem of classification is a much bigger one philosophically than you’re allowing here.

  15. Had a rebuttal in mind then refreshed the thread. Fluffy’s pretty much covered what I was going to say.

    Thanks Fluf!

  16. Here’s another difference between the public and scientists:

    Ideological self-rating: Public, Scientists

    Liberal: 20, 52
    Moderate: 38, 35
    Conservative: 37, 9

    Skepticism of private enterprise and faith in government are also evident.

    I wonder how engineers as opposed to scientists would fare…

  17. But aren’t the vaccinated kids safe because they’re the vaccinated kids?

    They are safER, but no vaccine is 100% effective, in fact most are around 90-95%. A vaccine program works to prevent outbreak by lowering the chance that a non-immune (not necessarily non-vaccinated) person will catch the disease.

  18. FTA, “Americans like science” yet most scientists think the public does not know much about science. It would seem the public likes the cool things that science leads to, but not enough to participate in actually developing them.

  19. Libertarians’ contempt for self-restraint reflects a deeper philosophical problem. They assume that the only thing that matters in life is the capacity to choose, regardless of the nature of the choices actually made. Thus, indulging in pornography, gluttony, sado-masochism is deemed to have the same moral and social value as any other activity. All choices are equal because there is no value higher than personal freedom. Libertarianism requires moral and cultural relativism.

    SMACK!!!

  20. RE: #6

    I don’t think too many people can argue with, say a Polio vaccine. The problem I have, is when a state (NJ) mandates that all incoming college students be vaccinated for Hep B and measles. Particularly, when the company that manufactures the vaccine is located in the district of the Assemblyman that proposed the mandate.

    Plus, I’m 43 years old. My pediatrician is dead. How can I prove I was vaccinated for measles? I can’t take any classes in the state of NJ without that proof. So what do I do? Get vaccinated again? They won’t accept a letter from my Mother.

  21. They are safER, but no vaccine is 100% effective, in fact most are around 90-95%. A vaccine program works to prevent outbreak by lowering the chance that a non-immune (not necessarily non-vaccinated) person will catch the disease.

    Thanks.

    This helps illuminate the liability question I raised before.

    If you fail to get vaccinated, get the disease, and then I catch the disease from you even though I’m vaccinated, our current law lacks a mechanism for me to seek redress from you. Probably because historically the difficulty in establishing who you got the disease from was insuperable, and also because diseases were seen as “acts of God”.

    So sure, I absolutely agree that individual and parental choice should prevail here, but we need a mechanism to provide redress if the choices you make create hazards for others. I think it should be your choice to let your kid skydive too – but if he lands on me I should get to sue you.

  22. They assume that the only thing that matters in life is the capacity to choose, regardless of the nature of the choices actually made. Thus, indulging in pornography, gluttony, sado-masochism is deemed to have the same moral and social value as any other activity.

    Since there’s no such thing as “social value”, it’s real easy for all these activities to have identical “social value”. All zeroes are equal.

    All choices are equal because there is no value higher than personal freedom. Libertarianism requires moral and cultural relativism.

    This is false. It is certainly possible to construct a moral code such that the only immoral activities are ones that directly harm others or violate their consent. This would not be a “relativistic” moral schema in the least, but would be commensurate with libertarianism. It just wouldn’t be a Christian non-relative moral system, but that’s fine because Christianity is bunk.

    Alternatively, you could subscribe to a rigid moral code with a moral answer to every question, including what music you should like or whether tap dancing is an art form, but simply include as part of that moral code strict rules about which moral preferences can and cannot be imposed on others using violence. This would be at least reconcilable with libertarianism, even though it would not be relativistic. Objectivism is certainly morally rigid to the point of being brittle.

  23. “Batman’s a scientist.”

  24. So sure, I absolutely agree that individual and parental choice should prevail here, but we need a mechanism to provide redress if the choices you make create hazards for others.

    It’s an interesting philosophical question, I the problem of determining who infected whom, is still intractible. I think strict liability might not be up to the task.

  25. But, Ron, aren’t you a skeptic re anthropo-genetic global warming? At least you publicize the skeptics pretty consistently. Which means that science beats seat of the pants five out of six? Not that impressive.

  26. Fluffy,

    I was going to bring up the “act of God” idea, but you beat me to it. Only difference is, Im still going with it. 🙂

    Vaccines protect you, they lower your chance of getting the disease. They arent perfect, you go out in public, you take your chances.

    Now, if someone goes out in public AFTER they know they have an infectious disease, that is a different story.

    But, if they have it and spread it without knowing it, tough shit.

  27. Did Rand ever come down on either side of the tap question?

  28. I love thinking of scientists as welfare queens with phds.

  29. Fluffy,


    It is certainly possible to construct a moral code such that the only immoral activities are ones that directly harm others or violate their consent. This would not be a “relativistic” moral schema in the least, but would be commensurate with libertarianism. It just wouldn’t be a Christian non-relative moral system, but that’s fine because Christianity is bunk.

    I would approach this differently. There is a big differnce between a moral system and a legal system. Im as non-relativist as they come and try to live by a “christian non-relative moral system”. The fact that for our legal system I prefer a “code such that the only immoral illegal activities are ones that directly harm others or violate their consent, in no way means I suuport relativism.

    So, we are in agreement, but for different reasons.

  30. What percentages of these scientists are making their living at the public university teet? Don’t expect to find large numbers of scientists that welcome ideas like liberty and private markets.

  31. My “christian non-relative moral system” prevents my from using the Preview button. Apparently.

  32. Now, if someone goes out in public AFTER they know they have an infectious disease, that is a different story.

    But, if they have it and spread it without knowing it, tough shit.

    Right, I can see that the state of mind of the person spreading the disease, and their knowledge about whether they have the disease, is important.

    But they do know that they aren’t vaccinated, and that this makes it much more likely that they could be unknowingly spreading infectious disease than if they were vaccinated. At what point does obstinacy become recklessness?

  33. At what point does obstinacy become recklessness?

    Never?

  34. Scientists that support bleeding patients to cure ills:
    96% Yes; 4% No

    *Poll took sample size of 200 scientists between 7/26/1789-7/30/1789

  35. More seriously, maybe at the point of a declared epidemic, the unvaccinated could be required to quarantine themselves.

    Before that, they are just being obstinate.

  36. Lets take a more minor example:

    1. The flu kills a bunch of people every year, especially the elderly

    2. Flu shots are available

    3. I never get one.

    Am I a murderer if I get the flu, spread it on and some one dies?

  37. Am I a murderer if I get the flu, spread it on and some one dies?

    That’s a good point.

  38. > All choices are equal because there is no value higher than personal freedom.

    I realize you’re raging against “Libertarians’ contempt for self-restraint”, but don’t you think most people (even libertarians; even gangbangers; even politicians) make choices based on personal freedom *and* other considerations? Hence, discussions about reasonableness, as opposed to everyone “just doing it”.

  39. “Below are the chief areas of disagreement between public and researchers:”

    according to the article this should read:

    “Below are the chief areas of disagreement between the public and teachers, administrators and others involved in science as well as researchers.”

    This is always the case ain’t it? All those scientists, I mean graduate student teachers aids, that believe my car is killing the planet?

  40. Where are the 51% of the public that doesn’t believe humans are boiling the oceans? And where the fuck were they when we started burning food for fuel and subsidizing wind and solar?

  41. “I’m guessing they drink lots of fancy $10 coffees from Starbucks while doing this.”

    Could I be notified when the Politburo defines which foods “real” Americans eat & drink? Thanks.

  42. I find it odd that 87% of scientists “believe” in evolution. I would have put the number north of 95%. I wonder what their definition of “scientist” is…

    Disclaimer: PhD in Microbiology, so extremely biased towards godlessness

    Same here. Well, not the PhD in microbiology…

    I’d like to know the number of scientist vs. plebes who believe in the afterlife, Jebus, the great flood, ghosts/sprits, the easter bunny, Al Gore, etc.

  43. My “christian non-relative moral system” prevents my from using the Preview button.

    A lot of folks around here subscribe to your belief system, then.

    Keep in mind, y’all, when scientists get to decide what choices everybody else will be allowed to make, based on the the evidence available at the time, utopia will be right around the corner! Like all those forced sterilizations back in the ’30s. We were so close.

  44. the easter bunny, Al Gore, etc.

    Nice work, I nearly spit my coffee out imagining Al Gore in a pink bunny suit…

  45. I wonder how engineers as opposed to scientists would fare…

    1) Evolution — Yes

    2) AGW — Yes, but . . . magnitude and impact are still far from settled in my mind, which means that calls for dramatic changes in public policy are bogus

    3) Not opposed to use of animals per se, but thinks standards and practices should be put in place to assure humane treatment of animals where ever pratical . . . yes my balls hurt from straddling a tall fence

    4) Not opposed to the use of embryos, however advances in other means of acquiring stem cells should render the question moot in our life times.

    5)Bring on the nukes baby!

    6)Unalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness pretty much forbids the government from forcing anyone to inject any type of substance for any reason.

  46. I would approach this differently. There is a big differnce between a moral system and a legal system. Im as non-relativist as they come and try to live by a “christian non-relative moral system”. The fact that for our legal system I prefer a “code such that the only immoral illegal activities are ones that directly harm others or violate their consent, in no way means I suuport relativism.

    Sure, that’s another way.

    The quote I was responding to was claiming that to be a libertarian you had to be a relativist, and I was just listing some ways to be a libertarian and NOT be a relativist. You’ve added another one here.

    So far, we have:

    1. have a moral code which only finds things that directly harm another person or violate their consent to be immoral.

    2. have a moral code that has rules for just about everything, but has as one of those rules that you can only employ violence to enforce that subset of your moral preferences that deals with actions that directly harm another person or violate their consent.

    3. [yours] draw a distinction between moral and political value judgments. [This one in some ways overlaps #2, but not entirely so it gets its own number.]

  47. “6)Unalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness pretty much forbids the government from forcing anyone to inject any type of substance for any reason.”

    That include capital punishment?

  48. #3 can be “blamed” entirely on my mother. She so ingrained me with her damn “just because other people are allowed to do it, doesnt mean you can do it” that I both applied it and reversed it and applied it.

    Oh, and I should add, I draw a distinction between ethical, moral and legal. 3 distinct things.

  49. “6)Unalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness pretty much forbids the government from forcing anyone to inject any type of substance for any reason.”

    That include capital punishment?

    Not relevant.

    The question is whether or not the state can force an free individual to take a vaccine (or other compound) to enhance the public good.

    Whether or not the state can kill someone after a legal finding of guilt is an entirely different issue.

  50. I AM AN ENGINEER TOO!
    (1)YES
    (2)I BURN COAL FOR PLEASURE
    (3)ONLY IF THEY AREN’T CUTE AND CAN’T DO TRICKS
    (4)IT’S NO SKIN OFF MY NOSE
    (5)AN EXCITING FUTURE IN NUCLEAR POWER!
    (6)NO, BUT WACKO LIBERAL PARENTS SHOULD STOP SAYING VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM, I CAUSE AUTISM!

  51. I think I’ve stumbled on to something. I did a quick google image search for photos of Al Gore and the Easter bunny. I couldn’t find a single one. There are plenty around of the bunny and Obama and Bush. But none of Gore, and also none of Clinton. There’s something going on here.

  52. The problem with polling “scientist” is that there is a wide divergence in the predictive power of different fields of study that we lump together as “science”. For example, physics has tremendous predictive power but sociology has almost none. Worse, scientist in highly predictive fields tend to project their own fields predictive power onto less predictive fields.

    Non-predictive sciences are highly vulnerable to social and political fads and scientist often get swept up in them. For example, a hundred years ago, you would have found as wide agreement on the validity of eugenics as we see today on global warming. Even scientist who strongly opposed the implementation of eugenics by government force, nevertheless believed in its scientific validity. Likewise, most scientist of the era thought it obvious that races differed in their behavioral attributes on a biological level.

    Science goes awry when people project the predictive power of the entire institution onto one limited area. Scientific racism arose because (simplifying here) people projected the predictive power of evolutionary theory to explain the fossil record and the distribution of species onto the complexity of the entirety of human history and culture.

    Climatology has a zero track record in predicating climate either in the short or long term. The computer models cannot be tested by any observation in the here and now. Yet climatology is according he same respect as meteorology or physics even though climatologist have never proven they can predict any natural phenomena in the least. There is no observation we could make today that prove without a doubt, that the models are wrong.

    Contrast this with nuclear power, a technology (not a science) which we’ve had 70+ years experience using safely. No better evidence exist that a modern, liberal-democracy can safely employ nuclear power than numerous modern liberal-democracies safely using the technology decade after decade after decade.

    To global warming we could add the “scientific” consensus of the population bomb, resource depletion, the energy crisis etc. In all these cases, scientist and non-scientist confused untested models with no predictive power with higly predictive models.

    I blame the overstatement of sciences predictive by scientist for the publics refusal to accept such theories as evolution. In the case of evolutionary theory, science went on a 60 year detour in which it rejected natural selection as the primary mechanism of evolution and instead concentrated on a now wholly discredited idea called orthogenesis. Imperial German militarism, Marxism, communism, fascism, eugenics etc were all based on this completely flawed model of evolution which the vast majority of scientist of the era nevertheless pushed onto the public as settled science. Had the scientist of the era not oversold the predictive power of their models a lot of evil might have been avoided and more people today would trust modern evolutionary theories.

    I suspect that global warming will follow the same pattern with the same dark results. The hysterical overselling of the predictive power of climate models could lead to a backlash if the models fail to predict a cold snap such as the one currently underway. If we have a decade of unusual cold caused by solar activity or unusual ocean currents, then the general public will conclude that greenhouse gasses are not a problem. Then, when the cold snap ends, we could get a greenhouse gas amplified warm period.

    We lack a social mechanism that communicates the relative predictive power of different scientific models to the general public. Instead, all models produced by scientist are accredited the same predictive power. Worse, scientist with less predictive models have an incentive to foster this confusion. As a result, we end up with many political policies based on weak, non-predictive science.

  53. Think the earth is getting warmer because of human activity.

    The difference between scientists and the public could be magnified due to poor wording of the question. My guess is that the general public hears this and thinks the question is “Is man warming the globe significantly?” Since the news is full of conflicting statements, they choose based on the news source of their choice, or the latest report they’ve heard, or whatever.

    Scientists are more careful, and may hear “Is man warming the globe at all?” Most scientists understand that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause some warming, however small. The magnitude is the unknown (and unasked) question.

  54. I see your point. Question retracted.

  55. Three things:

    1.) The bottom four questions are normative statements, therefore no scientist is being a scientist while he or she is uttering them.

    and,

    2.) Thanks to douchebags like Richard Dawkins, the phrase “believe in evolution” has become a codeword for being an atheist. If the question had read, “evolution occurred, either with or without God’s supervision, I’d be surprised if most people didn’t agree.

    3.) I would like someone to show me the experiment where any disease-causing virus has ever been isolated, subjected to the Koch Postulates, and/or a study that proves that vaccines cure or have ever cured a disease.

  56. The magnitude is the unknown (and unasked) question.

    you forgot “only relevant”

  57. Libertarianism requires moral and cultural relativism.

    Not at all. Libertarianism is actually predicated on a very strict moral code (summarized as the principle of non-aggression), and bitterly condemns cultures that offend against that code.

    Libertarianism is also largely concerned with legal systems. WRT morality, privileging individual choice within the confines of the nonaggression principle is, itself, a moral decision.

    Finally, “deep” libertarianism posits a vigorous civil society, one in which moral choices are subject to debate and criticism, rather than subjected to coercive limitation. That is not “moral relativism”, but rather its opposite.

  58. R C Dean – well said.

  59. 3.) I would like someone to show me the experiment where any disease-causing virus has ever been isolated, subjected to the Koch Postulates, and/or a study that proves that vaccines cure or have ever cured a disease.

    Since the Koch postulates require you to be able to grow the disease in a culture, aren’t they only appropriate for bacterial infections?

    As far as I understand how viruses work, they need to be in a host to reproduce, because they piggyback on cell genetic code. Is my understanding correct? And if so, wouldn’t this make it impossible to grow it in a culture?

  60. I would like someone to show me the experiment where any disease-causing virus has ever been isolated, subjected to the Koch Postulates, and/or a study that proves that vaccines cure or have ever cured a disease.

    Whoa, are you saying that you don’t think viruses cause disease?

    Maybe that should’ve been question number 7…

  61. Since the Koch postulates require you to be able to grow the disease in a culture, aren’t they only appropriate for bacterial infections?

    No, they are meant to be the standard of proof for any disease causing agent.

    For a virus, you would have to,

    1.) isolate it (which has never really even been done with any virus) then,

    2.) you would have to introduce it to a subject, who then would have to get the specific disease in question, then

    3.) you would have to be able to isolate the virus out of the body of the sick person, then

    4.) compare it to the original virus, demonstrating that they match.

  62. 3.) I would like someone to show me the experiment where any disease-causing virus has ever been isolated, subjected to the Koch Postulates, and/or a study that proves that vaccines cure or have ever cured a disease.

    It is my understanding that vaccines do not “cure” disease. The purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate the bodies defense mechanisms to “prevent” an infectious virus from taking hold of the host (i.e., preventing disease).

  63. Whoa, are you saying that you don’t think viruses cause disease?

    I know it sounds crazy, but there is no good reason to.

    Go look at a supposed photo of a “virus” on Wikipedia. It will be an artistically colored picture of cell fragments that obvious do not represent a homogenous sample of anything isolated from anything.

    The purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate the bodies defense

    Instead of “cured” I should have said, “prevented”, or “reduced the incidence of”.

  64. Whoa, are you saying that you don’t think viruses cause disease?

    I know it sounds crazy, but there is no good reason to.

    Did you suffer some form of brain trauma as a child?

  65. Did you suffer some form of brain trauma as a child?

    No, he’s got autism from childhood vaccinations, maaan.

  66. I know it sounds crazy, but there is no good reason to.

    It does sound crazy, and the studies for Polio were done in the 50’s.

    There is also other empirical evidence

    Your statement that there is no good reason to believe in viruses seems like it’s pretty ill-founded…

  67. The magnitude is the unknown (and unasked) question.

    you forgot “only relevant”

    I disagree. Even without the politics, the whole global climate system is interesting in and of itself.

  68. In all the posts above, I saw nothing about child’s rights. I would like to believe that if I had a fatal disease and my parents because of their religion refused to get me help, that the government would intervene to come to my rescue. You could call my parents’ refusal to get me help as a form of child abuse.

  69. “Thanks to douchebags like Richard Dawkins”

    So in this conversation:

    C – “Here are my beliefs. If you disagree with me not only are you wrong, but you will be punished for eternity by real, live demons while I am rewarded.”

    Dawkins – “That is pretty dumb.”

    Dawkins is the “douchebag”? (Boy, I can’t wait until that word loses it’s favor in today’s lexicon.)

  70. stuartl – fair enough, I’d settle for “most relevant”

  71. “Your statement that there is no good reason to believe in viruses”

    that sounds like a pretty masochistic religion… I prefer Islam…

  72. “In all the posts above, I saw nothing about child’s rights. I would like to believe that if I had a fatal disease and my parents because of their religion refused to get me help, that the government would intervene to come to my rescue.”

    why the government? why not the granny? or the neighbours?
    and if it has to be govt… does it have to be the Feds? ‘coz you know, they might shoot puppies in the process…

  73. in fact, I might prefer somali pirates coming to the rescue with medical aid than those guys that went house to house during Katrina “helping” people…

  74. I like Dawkins, mantooth. Shannon Love had a good essay above in which I agreed with almost everything he said, but the one thing I question is people’s reason for rejecting evolution. People tend to reject evolution because of their fundamentalist religious views. Nothing can disagree with Exodus. If Exodus is not the truth, then maybe all talk of heaven is also not the truth. How can they believe anything in the Bible is true is Exodus is not true?

  75. How can they believe anything in the Bible is true is Exodus is not true?

    Bingo. Fear of our own death (and lack of afterlife) worms it’s way in everything we think. I’d rather folks feared not living – we’d all be better off, more interesting people.

  76. Except for “Favor federal funding for embrionic stem cell reaearch”, I’m with the majority of scientists.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    13% of scientists don’t “Think that humans, other living things have evolved due to natural processes”.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Over.

  77. A person shouldn’t live in fear of life or death or the afterlife whether they adhere to a particular religion or not. If one adheres to the precepts of christianity out of fear, they are mistaken in their understanding of the Bible.

  78. Scientists have been turned into grant hacks. A living based on money coerced from me. That alone will probably account for a large percentage of the differences. A break down of what scientists receive what percentage of their income and funding through federal money would be nice to see.

    I know the scientific grant process for most or all areas was just shortened and stream lined. A few people I know were scared and upset since they lost a lot of space to explain and defend their work. Of course they didn’t realize the money was coming their way anyway. Someone just didn’t want to have all that paper on their desk.

  79. bookworm, should parents who opted for allopathic remedies for their deceased child be prosecuted for failing to invoke prayer healing?

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears your post assumes that western medical science, particularly the allopathic model, is somehow the sin qua non of how healing should be approached. Given the reality that hundreds of thousands in the US die due to physician/nurse/hospital/pharmaceutical fuck-ups, why shouldn’t we permit third parties to legally speak in behalf of children who are being subjected to allopathy by their ignorant parents?

  80. If one adheres to the precepts of christianity out of fear, they are mistaken in their understanding of the Bible.

    Exactly my point. Christianity, like all religions that posit an afterlife – are a psychological coping tool we use to ward off fear of death (an evolutionarily useful, but unpleasant component of our makeup).

    It’s so important to us, that we are willing to accomodate massive cognitive dissonance to protect this belief. Call it faith!

  81. Lets take a more minor example:

    1. The flu kills a bunch of people every year, especially the elderly

    2. Flu shots are available

    3. I never get one.

    Am I a murderer if I get the flu, spread it on and some one dies?

    No. You are either an ignorant buffoon who doesn’t understand the concept of herd immunity or a fucking jerk.

    Take your pick.

  82. JsubD,

    That is an easy one, Im a fucking jerk.

  83. bookworm,

    Im assuming you meant Genesis, not Exodus.

  84. re: domoarrigato @ 10:44am

    Thank you for being the only one to respond to my challenge to produce evidence that viruses exist and/or cause disease with actually evidence, instead of hysterics.

    If this is such a well-founded belief why does questioning it illicit scorn instead of argument? Who’s being a religious fundamentalist there?

    To react to the evidence provided, there was a study that showed that children in Africa did better when vaccinated, to which I would respond, unless they were delivering the vaccines with a blow dart from the bushes, I assume the vaccinated kids were also provided with some nutrition and care.

    The other evidence was a study from the 50s that showed that in a population of 400,000 children, there were 41 more cases of polio, per 100,000 in the group that wasn’t vaccinated. I know hardly anything about statistics, but is 41 per 100,000 a statistically significant difference? And even if it is, the study would have had to controlled for parental income within each school, to convince me.

  85. robc –

    I’ll defend your right to be a fucking jerk. 😉

  86. And Dawkins is a douche bag, because he behaves in the following manner:

    DAWKINS
    (putting on scientist hat)

    (says lots of well supported things, descriptive of how evolution has worked over the eons, based on the physical evidence.)

    (putting on philosopher hat)

    (says lots of dismissive things about metaphysics that he disapproves of, creating the impression that biology can solve the problems of philosophy and physics.)

  87. If this is such a well-founded belief why does questioning it illicit scorn instead of argument? Who’s being a religious fundamentalist there?

    To be fair, questioning settled issues often illicits that reaction. I’m in a charitable mood because I turn 33 today 😉

    The one study noted a massive outbreak of polio when vaccination programs were halted for a year – that is perhaps anecdotal, but to me, convincing.

    The studies done in the 50’s were blind studies, controlled effectively, and there is no reason to believe that one group was treated differently than the other with respect to nutrition, parenting or anything else. Statistically speaking, this is the only way to do this sort of thing. The sample size was large for the exact reason that incidence is very low. I read the results as saying non-vaccinated kids were more than twice as likely to develop the disease. I don’t have the raw data, or the capacity to analyze it in a vacuum, but based on my fairly robust experience with statistics, i’d be shocked if it was not significant given the proportional disparity and the large sample size.

  88. says lots of dismissive things about metaphysics that he disapproves of

    So? That wasn’t the question.

    The question is why, if it makes you a douchebag to think that holding certain beliefs makes you an idiot, it doesn’t also make you a douchebag to think that holding certain beliefs makes you an immoral person worthy of suffering horrific tortures for all eternity.

  89. doesn’t also make you a impotent deluded douchebag to think that holding certain beliefs makes you an immoral person worthy of suffering horrific tortures for all eternity.

    FTFY

  90. Re:Guy_Smiley

    What about the original vaccination, from which the word derives its name–that of deliberately introducing viable cowpox effluvia into a healthy individual to drastically reduce that individual’s chances of contracting small pox?

    Technology took time to catch up to that process in terms of explanations, but as far as I know, it HAS eliminated small pox from the wild.

    I also worked (many long, long years ago, now) for the man who successfully sequenced poliovirus RNA, and then grew it in vitro, then more recently assembled it from commercially available ingredients in a cook-book process. He published that last result to great outrage that he was making it available to bad guys, and will not make THAT mistake again!

    I am not up to speed on virology’s current state, but I believe poliovirus is not the only one which has been synthesized in vitro, or shown to be infectious in either tissue culture (certainly those are live cells) or appropriate animal subjects.

    So, yeah, there IS evidence that viruses cause disease, and that vaccinations protect individuals from those diseases. They just aren’t all that easy to see because of their extremely small dimensions; they are fairly easy to explain.

    What is really interesting is prions–them’s some strange little beasties, and I entertain the idea that they might some sort of vaporware-agent-of-disease, but there does seem to be something difficult to explain going on with that set of diseases posited (sp?) to be caused by them.

    (Sorry that I don’t have time to try to make cool italics and stuff where appropriate–I’m at work, and this counts as serious goofing off, durnitallanyways.)

  91. I’ve never gotten a flu shot. A short stint in EMS and an already robust immune system and I have an immune system that will take out small mammals that get too close.

    I’d rather just build my immunities the old way. Exposure through natural causes.

  92. Plus they put tracking chips in the flu shot and I can’t walk around in a tin foil hat all day to stop them from tracking me.

  93. fluffy, my holding beliefs that suggest what another’s eternity might be is unimportant. When I attempt to force you into a certain lifestyle, out of alledged concern for your soul, via the power of the government, that is when it becomes important.

  94. Fluffy,

    Whether or not Hell exists is a factual disagreement between Dawkins and the Christians. If Hell does exist, then it isn’t pompous to believe in it.

    Dawkins on the other hand, instead of seeing it as a factual dispute, is the one who is always accusing his opponents of not actually even using “reason”.

    Reason and thinking, according to the New Atheists, is something that only they are really doing, by definition.

    Hence their douchebaggery.

    Also he likes to fill his mouth with water, and spray it up women’s vaginas.

  95. The only two things I disagree with the ‘science’ aspect. Animal testing for BS reasons (cosmetics and shampoos)

    And the vaccination of children.

    The reason Polio and other communicable disease have gone down, is not through vaccine programs (And numerous studies have shown) is through better education, diet, health care ( non invasive) and sanitation.

    India as nearly eradicated 95% of its leprosy . Not with a magic ” shot” but by bringing education, better health care and clean water to their people.

    You can poison yourselves and your children.

    My fruit will remain organic.

    medic001

  96. I think the bottom line wrt to koch criteria and a modern understanding of disease is that the koch criteria are more appropriate for bacterial infections.

  97. To Hmm

    Check out naturalhealth.org

    There is a great article on the Flu shot and how it is a self fulfilling prophecy because…
    People get vaccinated early ( sept-oct) and they get sick, shed the cells and infect other people. SPREADING the FLU!

    I have had NO vaccines in the last 13 years. And I work int he Medical field. I have been sick twice in ten years. and both times for less than 24 hrs.

    Its diet, care, rest, rest, rest….and did I mention rest?!!! That keeps you healthy.

    Right on Hmm.

    You are welcome to visit our tribe and tin hat wearing tribe of NW Hippies who like organic weed and veggies!

  98. Guy_Smiley,

    Your contention that no one has ever isolated an virus or proved that a virus causes disease is absolutely wrong with no room for debate.

    All major disease viruses in humans have not only been isolated but completely gene sequenced. A couple of years ago, researchers transmitted the complete genetic sequence for murine polio over the internet to a distant lab that then synthesized the genes based on the information. The fabricated virus was injected into mice who then developed murine polio.

    Even if you were so uneducated to actually believe that no other proof existed that particular viruses caused particular diseases, that experiment would prove it beyond all doubt.

    I was educated as a biologist so if you want to argue with me about this you had better be well versed in the details of the actual science and not just regurgitating something you read on an anti-vaccine nuts web site.

  99. researchers transmitted the complete genetic sequence for murine polio over the internet to a distant lab that then synthesized the genes based on the information. The fabricated virus was injected into mice who then developed murine polio.

    That’s seriously awesome – I’d love to read about that, got a link?

  100. Commenters like “Guy Smiley” illustrate the limits of the public to make rational choices. The negative externalities (jeopardizing heard immunity) are too high to grant people the freedom to refuse to immunize in many cases. Perhaps they could choose to be prohibited from public space instead …

  101. Uggh, “herd immunity.”

  102. That wasn’t the part that made me go “uggh”.

  103. fluffy, my holding beliefs that suggest what another’s eternity might be is unimportant. When I attempt to force you into a certain lifestyle, out of alledged concern for your soul, via the power of the government, that is when it becomes important.

    Again, that wasn’t the question. The question is what behavior constitutes being a douchebag.

    If some guy walked up to people saying, “You suck dog dick!” all day, this would not be important in any real way, but that person would demonstrably be a douchebag.

    In this discussion the observation was offered that because Dawkins thinks Christians are irrational for holding their beliefs, that makes him a douchebag.

    I asked for a distinction between these two statements:

    “You don’t think as I do, therefore you are irrational.”

    -and-

    “You don’t think as I do, therefore you are immoral and should be tortured for all eternity.”

    – and for some justification as to why the first statement made you a douchebag but not the second. After all, they are in their formula essentially the same.

    Guy Smiley offered a response:

    Whether or not Hell exists is a factual disagreement between Dawkins and the Christians. If Hell does exist, then it isn’t pompous to believe in it.

    Dawkins on the other hand, instead of seeing it as a factual dispute, is the one who is always accusing his opponents of not actually even using “reason”.

    If you’re arguing, “If Hell does exist, then it isn’t douchebaggery to think that people who don’t believe in it are immoral beings who deserve to suffer,” then the obvious counterargument to that is, “If Dawkins is right, then it isn’t douchebaggery to think that the people who don’t agree with him are irrational or stupid.”

    Basically you’re trying to say that what Dawkins does is worse, because the proof of the Christian belief system is not available to us directly. But to me this is like saying, “Since we admit up front that we’re douchebags, we aren’t really douchebags.”

  104. If you look at the trends for all those old diseases, what you see is, they were all trending downward and nearly eradicated, when their vaccines were introduced, and, surprise, surprise, they continued to trend downwards.

    Shannon Love,

    As I understand it, polymerase chain reaction is the way to replicate nucleotides, but the process can be manipulated to grow the thing one way or another.

    So, if no original virus has been isolated (which I continue to deny) then there is no “virus” to compare the manufactured one to! So it’s as good as a random sequence of DNA.

    Then the Frankenstein DNA (along with whatever else was in the injection) is introduced into mice, and they have an adverse reaction, which is assumed to be polio.

    To satisfy the Koch Postulates, they then should have attempted to isolate another virus out of the sick mouse and compare it to the original. Did they?

    I doubt it. Because the virus was never isolated in the first place! Is was synthesized out of un-isolated genetic material taken from a sick person, with no template to compare it to.

  105. If you’re arguing, “If Hell does exist, then it isn’t douchebaggery…”

    Fluffy,

    No, I’m saying that it’s apples and oranges. The Christians are making a claim about the world, and Dawkins is making a claim about the mental abilities of Christians.

    It’s not ad hominem to argue that someone’s beliefs are going to lead to bad consequences. It is ad hominem to argue that someone’s beliefs are irrational.

  106. It is ad hominem to argue that someone’s beliefs are irrational.

    Nope. It’s ad hominem to argue that someones beliefs mean they are stupid or bad. Areguing that the beliefs are irrational is an argument against the beliefs – not the person.

  107. Right brain thinkers go a lot of places, the more liberal ones tend towards idealistic applications of an analytical mind, say in hard public service or pure science.

    The more conservative ones gravitate towards the markets and war, I would hope more to the former.

  108. It’s not ad hominem to argue that someone’s beliefs are going to lead to bad consequences. It is ad hominem to argue that someone’s beliefs are irrational.

    Neither of them are ad hominem.

    An ad hominem argument proceeds: “Mr. X is a bad person, therefore we can assume that his argument is false.”

    You are misusing the term ad hominem in a colloquial way, whereby any insult based on someone’s personal thoughts or beliefs is an ad hominem attack.

    An irrational person is one who hold beliefs or makes decisions based on criteria that are not subject to reason. Everyone indulges in irrationality from time to time. But whether you like it or not, constructing a world view based on claims that you yourself concede cannot be verified rationally makes you irrational, to that extent.

  109. Fluffy – your right, i got it backwards sort of…

    I thought right brain was the creative side, analytics were left brain functions…

  110. If I suggest that my beliefs are verified through God speaking to me, I suppose that won’t fall within your reasoning and I will still be seen as irrational.

  111. If I suggest that my beliefs are verified through God speaking to me, I suppose that won’t fall within your reasoning and I will still be seen as irrational.

    Depends on how he speaks. If he’s sending you text messages or speaking over your TV set, I’d be willing to talk about it.

  112. I was saying above, that Dawkins and the christian are both free to believe what they choose. They are also free to speak their opinions on the beliefs of others. Their delivery may earn them the title “douchebag,” but their opinion does not. The douchebaggery comes in when either side tries to squelch another’s opinion by force of law.

  113. Great. Now, “The girl with the faraway eyes” is drifting through my head.

  114. An ad hominem argument proceeds: “Mr. X is a bad person, therefore we can assume that his argument is false.”

    I concede that to you. That’s true.

    constructing a world view based on claims that you yourself concede cannot be verified rationally makes you irrational

    The Bible and the Christian tradition agree with you about that. (By the way, Happy 500th, John Calvin!)

    Perhaps douchebaggery is in the eye of the beholder, but to my taste, it’s less douchebaggy to say,

    “I believe in Hell because of A, B, and C…,”

    than it is to say,

    “Really? Well… here’s what you would have said if you have been using reason

  115. It’s ad hominem to argue that someones beliefs mean they are stupid or bad.

    Communists are stupid and bad.

    I might be a douchebag, but that wasnt an ad hominem

  116. I find the dogmatic atheist to be significantly more annoying than the religious fundamentalist.

    The religious fundamentalist says, “I can’t prove to you what I believe,” and he is correct.

    The dogmatic atheist says, “I can prove to you what I believe,” and he is incorrect.

  117. “If Hell does exist, then it isn’t pompous to believe in it.”

    Yes it is because it depends on how you arrived at that belief. If I say there are invisible elves on my desk, even if there are, it is irrational for me to take that position when I have no evidence to make such a claim. People who say there is a hell only say so because they’ve been brought up to believe there is one without having evidence for it which makes it an irrational belief.

  118. “The dogmatic atheist says, “I can prove to you what I believe,” and he is incorrect.”

    No, he doesn’t say that. He only says that it’s foolish to make a claim that something exists when you don’t have the evidence for its existence.

  119. “bookworm,

    Im assuming you meant Genesis, not Exodus.”

    My bad, robc.

  120. No, he doesn’t say that. He only says that it’s foolish to make a claim that something exists when you don’t have the evidence for its existence.

    Actually the dogmatic atheist says that it’s foolish not to believe that something does not exist when you don’t have the evidence for its existence.

    The dogmatic atheist is irritating because, on absolutely no evidence but his own faith, he excludes the middle.

  121. “The dogmatic atheist is irritating because, on absolutely no evidence but his own faith, he excludes the middle.”

    My position is based on materialism. How can a spirit world exist? How can a spirit experience without senses? How can a spirit think without neurons? How can a spirit have an identity without having a brain with a memory? How can the nonmaterial act on the material? How can a spirit entity create anything if it doesn’t have hands or a physical brain? So you see, my position is based on more than faith, it’s based on a certain logic.

  122. A certain logic based on a faith in materialism.

  123. “If one adheres to the precepts of christianity out of fear, they are mistaken in their understanding of the Bible.”

    There are places in the Bible where it says just that, that we should fear Him who has the power to send us to Hell.

  124. I prefer clear, neutral spirits over brown spirits.

  125. “A certain logic based on a faith in materialism.”

    Is there more logic in materialism or dualism? I see no logic at all in dualism. I prefer to base my beliefs on the basis of which is the soundest from a standpoint of sound logic.

  126. Lets take a more minor example:

    1. The flu kills a bunch of people every year, especially the elderly

    2. Flu shots are available

    3. I never get one.

    Am I a murderer if I get the flu, spread it on and some one dies?

    On balance, you helped to build up resistance and tolerance in the immune systems of far more people than you killed off, so you deserve a medal, not condemnation.

  127. I got my first flu shot ever last fall. I also experienced true cold/flu symptoms for the first time in at least ten years, if not longer. They only lasted about a day. I dunno, am I better off because of it? Am I more or less of a risk to others if I get flu symptoms related to the vaccine?

  128. Guy_Smiley,

    As I understand it, polymerase chain reaction is the way to replicate nucleotides, but the process can be manipulated to grow the thing one way or another.

    So, if no original virus has been isolated (which I continue to deny) then there is no “virus” to compare the manufactured one to! So it’s as good as a random sequence of DNA.

    Then the Frankenstein DNA (along with whatever else was in the injection) is introduced into mice, and they have an adverse reaction, which is assumed to be polio.

    You have everything wrong. PCR is only one of nearly a dozen methods used to amplify DNA. It is not used to reconstitute viruses. There is no evidence that injecting random bits of DNA into mice produces the highly specific symptoms of murine polio or the specific symptoms associate with any other disease. You just made that up out of thin air.

    To satisfy the Koch Postulates, they then should have attempted to isolate another virus out of the sick mouse and compare it to the original. Did they?

    Yes they did but of course you don’t believe that is possible because you don’t believe it is possible to isolate a virus in the first place because they don’t exist and you know that because no one has isolated a virus because they can’t isolate what doesn’t exist…and so on.

    I can always tell when someone gets all their knowledge of microbiology form whackjob sources when they cough out the Koch Protocol. The Koch Protocol was cutting edge science widely accepted science… in 1888. Our understanding has improved in the intervening 130 years. Koch himself refuted the protocol when he demonstrated that no all proven bacterial diseases progressed as the protocol dictated.

    But none of my arguments matter do they? They don’t matter because you hold these beliefs out of faith not because of empirical evidence. You cannot tell me what experimental evidence I could offer that you accept as proving you wrong. When you have no means of proving yourself wrong, you have no means of testing you idea. You must cling to it out sheer faith.

  129. “There are places in the Bible where it says just that, that we should fear Him who has the power to send us to Hell.”

    bookworm, so you believe what the Bible says? Or are you quoting a source you believe to be inaccurate for lack of a better argument?

  130. I prefer clear, neutral spirits over brown spirits.

    racist

  131. I prefer to base my beliefs on the basis of which is the soundest from a standpoint of sound logic.

    A certain inductive logic based on a faith in believing that the uninduced must not exist.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that. There is only something wrong with calling people who don’t have an unshakable faith in the completeness of inductive logic silly.

    Furthermore, why is the alternative to materialism dualism? Why do you completely discount aspects of the material universe we have yet to induce?

  132. Is there more logic in materialism or dualism? I see no logic at all in dualism. I prefer to base my beliefs on the basis of which is the soundest from a standpoint of sound logic.

    You might want to keep more of an open mind considering the current limited knowledge of subatomic particles and quantum mechanics. ‘Material’ is getting harder and harder to define.

  133. I prefer to base my beliefs on the basis of which is the soundest from a standpoint of sound logic.

    How is this for logic:

    The universe started from nothing exploding into everything.

    I am surprised that the Big Bang is taken so seriously.

  134. joshua corning:

    big bang theory makes specific predictions, which have been observed. your strawman version of the theory is…well, strawman says all that needs be said.

  135. It would seem the public likes the cool things that science leads to, but not enough to participate in actually developing them.

    What part of funding all science, both public (though taxes) and private (through investments and commerce), does not equal participating?

  136. Based on my observations, engineers tend to be a far more conservative lot …. perhaps because we have to make money and turn a profit to remain employed. Perhaps because we see real time what happens when we are wrong.

    I wonder how the numbers would have broken down if engineers would have been included? Many scientists I know look down on engineers as kind of the oompaloompas of the world, seeing the work we do as “easy compared with their studies.

  137. big bang theory makes specific predictions, which have been observed. your strawman version of the theory is…well, strawman says all that needs be said.

    Name one specific prediction that has been observed that does not equally resemble a collision.

  138. Mike H, what does driving a frickin train have to do with anything?

    just kidding.

  139. Why do you completely discount aspects of the material universe we have yet to induce?

    Well, that amounts to endorsing the primacy of reason too. So it’s a heads I win tails you lose kind of argument at that point.

    If God is part of the material world, then eventually reason will find him and faith, revelation, Biblical authority, etc. aren’t needed. In order for there to be a supernatural or spiritual world at all, it has to be utterly removed from the natural world. Because if it’s not, it’s just part of the natural world.

    why is the alternative to materialism dualism? Why do you completely discount aspects of the material universe we have yet to induce?

    You can restate this question this way:

    why is the alternative to materialism dualism? Why do you completely discount (more materialism)?

    More materialism can’t be an alternative to materialism. Because it’s the same thing as materialism.

  140. I know I’m late to this party, and this is a totally irrelevant and admittedly weak threadjack, but for all the talk of people’s birthdays today.

    Levar Burton’s twitter just informed me that it’s Jean-Luc Picard’s today as well.

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