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Why Do People Believe Scientifically Untrue Things? Because to do otherwise would be immoral.
Reason ^ | March 15, 2013 | Ronald Bailey

Posted on 03/18/2013 4:06:40 PM PDT by neverdem

You hear a lot about the politicization of science, but the real problem is the moralization of science. The New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt has made a compelling case that moral differences drive partisan debates over scientific issues. Dan Kahan and others at the Yale Cultural Cognition Project have identified cultural differences that bias how people assimilate information. Together, Haidt and Kahan’s research suggests that what you believe about a scientific debate signals to like-minded people that you are on their side and are therefore a good and trustworthy person. Unfortunately, this means that the factual accuracy of beliefs is somewhat incidental to the process of moral signaling.

For an illustration, consider a recent skirmish between Skeptic editor Michael Shermer and Mother Jones writer Chris Mooney. Shermer, whose political views lean toward libertarianism, wrote a column for Scientific American titled “The Liberal War on Science,” noting the left’s tendency to deny human cognitive evolution and the safety of biotech crops and nuclear power. Mooney, author of a book called The Republican War on Science, retorted with a story headlined “There is No Such Thing as a Liberal War on Science.” The right’s denial of evolutionary biology and man-made global warming, Mooney argued, are much more consequential for public policy. While acknowledging that a substantial percentage of Democrats don’t believe in human evolution or man-made global warming either, Mooney took comfort in the fact that “considerably fewer Democrats than Republicans get the science wrong on these issues.”

Kahan identifies the ideological left as people who tend to have egalitarian or communitarian views. Egalitarians want to reduce disparities between people, and communitarians believe that society is obliged to take care of everyone. People holding these cultural values are naturally biased toward collective action to address inequality and the lack of solidarity. When the results of scientific research are perceived to perturb those values, it should be no surprise that left-leaners have a greater tendency to moralize them, to favor government intervention to control them, and to disdain conservatives who resist liberal moralizing.

Haidt’s moral survey data suggests that ideological conservatives have a greater tendency to moralize about purity and sanctity than do liberals. This may be so, but it’s pretty clear that liberals are not immune from concerns about purity and sanctity. While conservatives moralize about the purity and sanctity of sex and reproduction, liberals fret about the moral purity of foods and the sanctity of the natural world.

One particularly powerful moralizing tool that is chiefly deployed by progressives is the precautionary principle(PDF). Mooney blandly writes that this “is not an anti-science view, it is a policy view about how to minimize risk.” Beliefs about how much risk people should allowed to take or to be exposed to are moral views. In fact, as Kahan and his colleagues have shown, the strong urge to avoid scientific and technological risk is far more characteristic of people who have egalitarian and communitarian values. The precautionary principle is not a neutral risk analysis tool; it is an embodiment of left-leaning moral values.

Let’s look at what scientific research says—and does not say—about the moralized issues of climate change, biological evolution, nuclear power, genetically modified crops, exposure to synthetic chemicals, concealed carry of guns, vaccines, video games, fracking, organic foods, and sex education. I chose this list largely because I could find relevant ideological polling data and majority scientific opinions. Applying Mooney’s standard of seeing whether fewer of one ideological tendency gets the science wrong, we find that Democrats are less wrong on four issues, Republicans are less wrong on six, and the parties are tied on one.

Climate change: The majority of climate scientists believe that human activity is causing the earth’s temperatures to increase. A recent Pew Research poll found that two-thirds of Americans also believe that the earth is warming. But a deep partisan divide yawns between conservatives and liberals on the cause of the warming: Only 16 percent of conservative Republicans believe that human activity is responsible, whereas 77 percent of liberal Democrats do. Moderate Republicans and Democrats accept human responsibility by 38 and 51 percent, respectively. Advantage: Democrats.

Evolution: Both Shermer and Mooney cite a 2012 Gallup Poll that found that 46 percent of Americans are young Earth creationists—that is, believe that God created humans beings in their present form within the past 10,000 years. These constitute 41 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans. Adding those partisans of both parties who are intelligent design creationists, i.e., believe that God guided the process of evolution, the poll shows 73 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans holding creationist beliefs. In fact, 78 percent of Americans are either young Earth or intelligent design creationists. A 2009 Pew Research poll produced numbers that were lower but still high, showing that 52 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans can be counted as either intelligent design or young Earth creationists.

The Pew Research poll also reported that 87 percent of scientists believe that humans evolved through entirely natural processes, whereas only 8 percent thought that God guided the process. Advantage: Democrats.

Nuclear power: A 2012 Gallup Poll found that 72 percent of Republican think that nuclear power is generally safe, compared to just 45 percent of Democrats. Given these views, is it not surprising that 64 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats favored expanding this source of carbon-free energy. A 2009 Pew Research poll reported that 70 percent of scientists favored building more nuclear power plants. Although it seems unlikely that scientists would favor nuclear power if they thought it unsafe, perhaps the Pew poll is measuring cost/benefit views rather than safety views. I have not been able to uncover recent surveys of expert opinion with regard to the safety of nuclear power plants, but in a survey done more than a year after the Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown, 90 percent of the scientists surveyed said the nuclear power should proceed. A 1986 poll of radiation health scientists reported that the vast majority believed “the public's fear of radiation is substantially greater than realistic, that TV, newspapers and magazines substantially exaggerate the dangers of radiation.”

In 1993, a study titled “Decidedly Different”(PDF) contrasted the views found in survey data gathered from the public and from members of the American Nuclear Society. The survey asked both groups, “How likely do you think it is that activities at the nation’s nuclear facilities will in the future cause health problems for those who live near such activities?” The responses were measured on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not likely to 10 being extremely likely. Thirty-three percent of the public picked 10; 40 percent of the experts picked 1. Overall, 69 percent of the public thought such future health effects were likely and 80 percent of the experts did not.

Recall Mooney’s claim that there is “no currently pressing issue...where the left is monolithically in denial of basic science, or where this drives mainstream political policy—e.g., drives the stance of most elected Democrats.” It is true that the Obama administration has been pro-nuclear, but looking around the country it’s easy to find elected Democrats who take the opposite position. For example, Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley sued to close down the Pilgrim plant, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is pushing to close the Vermont Yankee plant, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo favors shutting down the two Indian Point reactors in 2013 and 2015. These Democratic politicians seem pretty “mainstream,” and there are no comparable officials from the GOP taking similar stances. Advantage: Republicans.

Biotech crops: Every independent scientific group that has ever evaluated biotech crops has found them to be safe for people and the environment. Sadly, polling data suggests that both Democrats and Republicans have been spooked by anti-biotech disinformation campaigns. The most recent polling on this issue I could find was a 2006 survey(PDF) by the Pew Trusts that reported 48 percent of Republicans believe that biotech foods are safe, compared to 28 percent who did not. Democrats are just slightly less likely to think biotech foods are safe, with 42 percent saying they are and 29 percent saying they aren’t. As far as mainstream impact goes, the California Democratic Party endorsed last year’s Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of all foods made with ingredients from biotech crops. Advantage: Republicans.

Synthetic chemicals: The chief worry about synthetic chemicals, stoked originally by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book Silent Spring, has traditionally been cancer. Yet as the American Cancer Society notes(PDF), “Exposure to carcinogenic agents in occupational, community, and other settings is thought to account for a relatively small percentage of cancer deaths—about 4% from occupational exposures and 2% from environmental pollutants (man-made and naturally occurring).” A recent article the journal Lancet Oncology argued that costly regulatory efforts to reduce exposures to trace amounts of man-made chemicals divert resources from truly effective measures to prevent cancer, such as modifying lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, and sunlight exposure.

What do experts think? Polling data is scarce on the ground, but a 2009 survey of the members of the Society of Toxicology decisively rejected the assertion that exposure to any level of chemicals is unacceptable by 92 percent to 8 percent. In addition, 87 percent the society’s members disagreed with the claim that organic and natural products are safer, and 81 percent disagreed with idea that detecting any level of chemicals in a person’s body shows a health risk.

Democrats are more worried than Republicans about trace exposures to synthetic chemicals. As part of its campaign for the Safer Chemicals Act, the environmental lobbying group, the Natural Resources Defense Council commissioned a 2012 poll that found that 79 percent of Democrats(PDF) wanted “stricter regulation of chemicals produced and used in everyday products,” compared to 58 percent of GOP voters. In another section of that poll, respondents were primed with a choice of regulating chemicals that could cause cancer or other health problems or protecting chemical industry jobs. In this case, 62 percent, not too surprisingly, favored stricter regulation. With regard to “mainstream” impact, every one of the 30 sponsors of the Safer Chemicals Act was a member of Senate’s Democratic caucus.

Back in 2005, a Harris Interactive poll reported, “A majority (58%) of U.S. adults believe that chemicals and pollutants are more of a threat to people like them now than they were 10 years ago.” But as Environmental Protection Agency data show, major air pollutants have been declining in the United States for decades. Carbon monoxide down 82 percent since 1980, ozone down 28 percent, nitrogen oxides down 52 percent, sulfur dioxide down 76 percent. The Harris poll also reported that 65 percent of Americans were very worried or worried about the chemicals or pesticides that are used to grow the foods they eat. Advantage: Republicans.

Guns: In the wake of the Newtown mass murder, the country is once again embroiled in the gun control debate. One contentious question is whether allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons decreases or increases crime. A 2012 poll for Reuters found that 82 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats supported laws allowing law-abiding citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

This is a hotly disputed area, but a 2004 National Research Council report concluded that “There is no credible evidence that ‘right-to-carry’ laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.” In 1994, Congress banned “assault weapons” and large-capacity ammunition magazines. The bans expired in 2004. In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 81 and 77 percent of Democrats want to ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, respectively. On the other hand, 55 and 58 percent Republicans oppose both bans. Did the 1994 bans actually reduce gunshot victimizations? A 2004 study by University of Pennsylvania researchers concluded the if the ban had been renewed, its “effects on gun violence are likely to be small(PDF) at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” Advantage: Republicans (barely).

Vaccines: What about the partisanship over vaccines? Mooney more or less concedes that some prominent figures on the left fanned the flames over the bogus claim that vaccines cause autism. But GOP luminaries such as Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Tim Burton  also promote nutty anti-vaccine theories. The good news is that the 2009 Pew Research poll mentioned above found that 71 percent of both Republicans and Democrats would require childhood vaccinations. Scientists favored mandatory childhood vaccinations by 84 percent.

On the other hand, a fight between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann in the GOP presidential primary broke out over whether or not vaccinating teenage girls against human papilloma virus (HPV) should be mandated. Being infected with HPV substantially boosts the risks of cervical cancer. In 2006, a Christian conservative activist Bridget Maher the Family Research Council warned, “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.” For those worried about promiscuity, a preliminary study reported in 2012 reported that girls vaccinated against HPV are no more sexually active than those who have not been. Frankly, not getting your kids vaccinated against HPV is just plain stupid. In the end, I agree with Mooney that there is no really good data on the ideological breakdown of vaccine denialism. Advantage: It’s a draw.

Video games: In a superb review article(PDF) in the February/March 2013 issue of American Psychologist, Texas A&M researcher Chris Ferguson takes his academic colleagues to task for promoting way beyond their data the claim that playing video games leads to social violence. Ferguson also pointed out in the Washington Post that “Video games have become more popular and more violent, while youth violence has declined.” Yet a February 2013 Harris Interactive survey found that 58 percent of adults(PDF) believe there is link between violent video games and violent teen behavior. A post-Newtown Gallup poll reported that 55 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats thought that decreasing depictions of gun violence on TV, in movies, and in video games would be an effective approach to preventing mass school shootings.

Interestingly, the only two bills currently before Congress aiming at supposed video game violence were introduced by Democrats, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah. In January, President Obama declared that Congress “should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds.” On the other hand, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee also blamed violent video games for fomenting gun violence. And the polls make it clear which party is worse here. Advantage: Democrats. 

Fracking: A March 2012 Pew Research poll reported that, among respondents who had heard of fracking to obtain natural gas from shale, 73 percent of Republicans favored it whereas only 33 percent of Democrats did. Researchers are still investigating whether or not natural gas and other contaminants from fracked wells is seeping into drinking water supplies. The EPA expects to issue a comprehensive report on this issue next year. Howsoever those investigations turn out, technologies exist to reduce the chances that natural gas from drilling will contaminate people’s wells. 

A December 2012 Quinnipiac Poll of New York State residents reported that 61 percent of Democrats thought that fracking will cause environmental damage, compared to only 25 percent of Republicans. On January 3, 2013, the New York Times reported that preliminary report on fracking by the New York State Health Department had looked into “the potential impact of fracking on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, on air emissions and on ‘potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.’” The analysis concluded, according to the Times, that “the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York.”

The chief scientific question is how producing and burning shale gas will effect greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. In 2011, Cornell researchers published a study suggesting that methane escaping from wells could make fracking “dirtier than coal” when it comes to boosting man-made global warming. On the other hand, a 2011 National Energy Technology Laboratory life-cycle analysis finds that the average natural gas baseload electric power generation has a life cycle  global warming potential that is 55 percent lower(PDF) than the average coal baseload power generation, on a 100-year horizon. In other words, burning natural gas produces less than half of the globe warming carbon dioxide that coal does. Most researchers believe that burning natural gas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus lower the risks from future global warming. Last week the New York State Assembly, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, voted to extend the current moratorium on fracking in the state until 2015, by a vote of 95 to 40. Advantage: Republicans.

Organic food: A February 2013 Public Policy Polling survey that asked respondents if they prefer organic food(PDF) when it’s available, or do they not care? Fifty percent of Democrats would prefer to buy organic, but only 35 percent of Republicans would bother. People choose organic foods often in the belief that they are better for the environment(PDF) and more nutritious. A 2012 article in the Journal of Environmental Management reviewing 71 studies on the impact of organic farming on the environment concluded that organic practices do “not necessarily have lower overall environmental impacts than conventional farming.” In September, researchers at Stanford University published a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine of 237 studies detailing the nutritional differences between organic and conventional foods. It too found few significant difference between organic and non-organic foods. Amusingly, a May 2012 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science by a Loyola University psychologist found that organic foods provoked sense of moral superiority in people, making them less altruistic. Advantage: Republicans.

Sex Education: The most even-handed survey of ideological attitudes toward both abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education is a 2006 study published in JAMA Pediatrics. That survey found that 67 percent of liberals opposed abstinence-only sex education, while 40 percent of conservatives did. It should be noted that 92 percent of liberals and 70 percent of conservatives supported abstinence-plus sex education, i.e., includes instruction concerning contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and condom use. Although there are some outliers, most research agrees with a 2011 PLoS One study that reviewed sex education programs from 48 states that concluded that the “data show clearly that abstinence-only education as a state policy is ineffective in preventing teenage pregnancy and may actually be contributing to the high teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S.” For what it’s worth, comprehensive sex education has been endorsed by most relevant medical societies. Advantage: Democrats.

As a libertarian, my cultural bias is toward keeping as many issues and problems out of the realm of collective action as possible. Scientific research may identify some problems that truly require a collective response—perhaps man-made global warming—but for social peace, the default response toward most issues should be social and political tolerance of individual choices. Texas A&M researcher Chris Ferguson gets it right on how scientists should respond to any efforts to moralize scientific findings. “Put simply, it may be best for scientists to remain committed to the production of objective information,” he writes(PDF). He adds, “Deciding how such information ‘should’ be used arguably strays into advocacy and becomes problematic.” Knowing that something is factually true does not necessarily tell us what to do about it.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: brilliant; cato; dankahan; facts; morality; reality; science; scientism; trollalert; truth; yale
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1 posted on 03/18/2013 4:06:40 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

“why do people believe scientifically untrue things?”

Because they are lied to.

Case in point, global warming. Politically-motivated, “hide the decline”, pseudoscience.

There is an element of believing because they want to believe, because it makes them “part of the group”, this is true.

But it all starts with a lie.

Likewise with evolution. The lie in that case being “unproven theory with many counter-indicators is settled science”.


2 posted on 03/18/2013 4:11:24 PM PDT by chuck_the_tv_out
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To: chuck_the_tv_out

““why do people believe scientifically untrue things?”

Because Global Warming makes for a really good hammer.


3 posted on 03/18/2013 4:15:25 PM PDT by Norm Lenhart
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To: neverdem

Maybe because science is always changing what is “true”?


4 posted on 03/18/2013 4:15:31 PM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: neverdem

It’s not just science, it’s everything.

In today’s world, facts are largely irrelevant.


5 posted on 03/18/2013 4:20:32 PM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: chuck_the_tv_out

Only six or eight percent of scientists believed that God did not guide the process of evolution? How do those geniuses know that God does not exist? God is bigger and smarter than Ronald Bailey and a host of Phds.

Also, conservative-promoted abstinence education does not work, therefore Democrats are smarter? Once again, Ronald Bailey is an idiot. Sure if you throw kids into the cesspool of sex that we call public high schools, they will wind up having sex even if a teacher tells them no. But telling them to use condoms causes lots of problems, too. I cannot believe the “science” and “studies” on this. There are too many uncontrollable variables at work — bad parenting, filthy rap music and everything else.

The one thing that does work for sure — and Bailey the libertarian will never, ever admit this — kids who go to good Christian schools with both parents and teachers as dedicated Christians — do far better than public school kids. Even if they don’t toe the politically correct line on evolution.


6 posted on 03/18/2013 4:23:45 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: neverdem
Oh goodness the comments this is going to get from the scientific illiterates will make me scream.

"Unproven theory!" as if that made any scientific sense.
"Just a theory!"
as if that made any scientific sense.
"Because science is always changing!"
as if that was a bad thing.
"It's like a religion!"
as if that weren't stupidly ironic.

Wake me up with the "real conservative" party line stops being so ignorant.
7 posted on 03/18/2013 4:25:28 PM PDT by whattajoke (Let's keep Conservatism real.)
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To: heye2monn
Only six or eight percent of scientists believed that God did not guide the process of evolution? How do those geniuses know that God does not exist?

You mean only six or eight percent of scientists believe that a supernatural deity DID guide the process of evolution.

The very large majority of those geniuses would actually say, "I have never seen evidence for a supernatural god and therefore I have no reason to believe one exists." Perhaps a subtle difference to you, but it's actually a rather large one in the real world. In other words, they wouldn't say, "I know god doesn't exist." They'd say, "I have no evidence to believe god exists."
8 posted on 03/18/2013 4:33:53 PM PDT by whattajoke (Let's keep Conservatism real.)
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To: neverdem

The writer seems to posit that a poll of scientists suffices to determine scientific veracity. I was just in a discussion with theology students and a prof who pointed out that science has been polluted philosophically.

For instance, one student critiqued findings from archeological studies showing that presuppositions many times replace valid proofs. Case in point was a study done of ancient cultures that found animal bone fragments and charcoal within city gates resulting in a conclusion that the society had engaged in animal sacrifice. Apparently no thought had been given to the idea that they had merely stumbled upon an ancient kitchen.

In many cases polled scientists will willingly defend positions outside their area of expertise. I attended a debate pitting young earth creation against evolution many years ago where the evolutionary position was supported by a geology professor and a zoology professor. The geology professor very honestly admitted that he could develop and live with young earth models, but he doesn’t because of his acceptance of conclusions from the biology scientists.

I think a lot of “scientists” who support anthropogenic global warming fit into this camp.

The implication in the article that the earth has been warming is itself subject to interpretation given the recent admission by the U.K. Office of the Met that there has been no discernible warming for the last 16 years.


9 posted on 03/18/2013 4:41:11 PM PDT by the_Watchman
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To: whattajoke

Sorry. Horrible proofing on my part.

But still, how can scientists say that God is not involved in this seemingly rational and organized world? We may even one day discover how random quantum phenomena are controlled by God. How much evidence do these geniuses need? Methinks some wishful thinking is involved here, starting the intense desire of professors to get a moral pass on their desire to sleep with beautiful coeds.

Unlike unthinkingly rigid atheists or uber-knowitall agnostics, Christians take a leap of faith, and for them the world becomes a lot simpler and more purposeful. Far better than the chaos of the alternative.


10 posted on 03/18/2013 4:46:29 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: chuck_the_tv_out

like “transexual” being a fantasy


11 posted on 03/18/2013 4:51:43 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: neverdem

Democrats believe that both supply and demand are not related to price. They also believe that Head Start and high speed rail are viable programs. Democrats are brain-dead, and believing in a 100% materialistic theory of why we are here isn’t going to change that. Most of them that believe in evolution can’t even come close to defining it, or saying one reasonably intelligent thing about it. They just know it’s not what the “Bible Beaters” believe, so they are all for it. Morons.


12 posted on 03/18/2013 4:52:24 PM PDT by cdcdawg
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To: chuck_the_tv_out

In science, there is no such thing as a proven theory. Einstein’s theory of relativity corrected Newton’s Laws of Motion. School still teach circuit theory.


13 posted on 03/18/2013 4:55:01 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: neverdem

I like to get into the fundamentals of both my love for God and my knowledge of math and physics.


14 posted on 03/18/2013 4:57:57 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: heye2monn

I think the idea that science professors get to sleep with beautiful coeds is only a theory.


15 posted on 03/18/2013 4:58:49 PM PDT by cdcdawg
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To: muir_redwoods

Right. Science doesn’t determine truth, it is a way to predict usefulness.

See Thomas Kuhn, “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”.


16 posted on 03/18/2013 4:58:49 PM PDT by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: neverdem

Place marker


17 posted on 03/18/2013 5:03:49 PM PDT by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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To: neverdem

The arrogance of the left is always astonishing. They frame the debate around them holding the truth and any rebuttal is therefore subject to their elitist ridicule and scorn.
This total BS piece does just that...look at how each claim is framed and presented. Its no different than Al the Liar Gore saying “The science is settled” when it is not even close.
You jerks on the left and the right who stick the people of faith in the eye for having faith in God whose creation is not in conflict with known science are some of the most shameful bastards on the planet.


18 posted on 03/18/2013 5:05:15 PM PDT by ICE-FLYER (God bless and keep the United States of America)
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To: whattajoke
Wake me up with the "real conservative" party line stops being so ignorant.

Sittin' over here in the "amen" corner on that one.

19 posted on 03/18/2013 5:07:45 PM PDT by elkfersupper ( Member of the Original Defiant Class)
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To: cdcdawg

LOL. A theory, not a law.


20 posted on 03/18/2013 5:08:37 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: Excellence

srbfl


21 posted on 03/18/2013 5:20:24 PM PDT by Excellence (9/11 was an act of faith.)
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To: heye2monn
Only six or eight percent of scientists believed that God did not guide the process of evolution?

To quote a little known science professor, Cornelius Krasel; "Science is a game we play with God, to find out what his rules are."

22 posted on 03/18/2013 5:24:19 PM PDT by Traveler59 ( Truth is a journey, not a destination.)
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To: neverdem

bump for later


23 posted on 03/18/2013 5:28:30 PM PDT by Fzob (In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Jefferson)
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To: muir_redwoods

That’s an interesting proposition. Is there such thing in science as a dis-proven theory? Is science ultimately capable of giving only a negative answer?


24 posted on 03/18/2013 5:33:09 PM PDT by cdcdawg
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To: neverdem
a May 2012 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science by a Loyola University psychologist found that organic foods provoked [a] sense of moral superiority in people, making them less altruistic.
I suspect that "provoking a sense of moral superiority and making them less altruistic,” far from being limited to the “liberal” position on organic foods, is typical of all liberal positions from gun control to AGW to nuclear power to fracking and evolution.

It would in fact seem likely that the causation is reversed, and that a desire for a feeling of moral superiority, and a concomitant lack of altruism, generally motivate people to take “liberal” positions.


25 posted on 03/18/2013 5:38:58 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: neverdem

The Three Words:
Jungle Rules Rule.


26 posted on 03/18/2013 5:41:05 PM PDT by S.O.S121.500 (Love me or fear me, you will respect me. ENFORCE THE BILL OF RIGHTS--(It is the Law).)
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To: neverdem

Bump to read later.


27 posted on 03/18/2013 5:45:04 PM PDT by Fledermaus (I'm done with the GOP. Let them wither and die. We need to start over.)
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To: whattajoke
Re: “Wake me up with the “real conservative” party line stops being so ignorant.”

Did you mean to write “when” the real conservative party line, etc......?

If not, I don’t know what you’re saying.

28 posted on 03/18/2013 5:59:18 PM PDT by zeestephen
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To: cdcdawg

The geocentric “theory” (really a mere hypothesis since, in part, it was impossible to test) has been disproved. It doesn’t look like phlogiston exists, neither does the ether but if further study could demonstrate with some certainty that they did, good science would have to be open to it.


29 posted on 03/18/2013 6:01:49 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: muir_redwoods

That is probably the first time in 25 years I have heard phlogiston mentioned. Awesome!


30 posted on 03/18/2013 6:14:55 PM PDT by cdcdawg
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To: neverdem

Scientists should not be political activists.

Even if the climate data were true, the solutions climate scientists are pushing are destructive to human life.

For modern science, the funder of the research influences the research outcome and political activism. We lost most medical researchers to drug companies and the Federal government a long time ago and it will get worse under socialized medicine. Our cutting edge in medicane days are over.

Power brokers who fund research that serves their money and power, can create the “science” they need to justify what they want to do or to support what they beleive. The opposition can do that, too. It’s been like this for a long time - since I started my career.


31 posted on 03/18/2013 6:19:53 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: cdcdawg

Yeah, I’m old


32 posted on 03/18/2013 6:20:21 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: neverdem
"The right’s denial of evolutionary biology and man-made global warming, Mooney argued, are much more consequential for public policy. While acknowledging that a substantial percentage of Democrats don’t believe in human evolution or man-made global warming either, Mooney took comfort in the fact that “considerably fewer Democrats than Republicans get the science wrong on these issues.”

This comment gets to the crux of the issue. To the left, science is important ONLY for how it can used to drive public policy. So to make the changes they want in society, they'll use science, or at least the science THEY pay for and accept.

33 posted on 03/18/2013 6:26:04 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: chuck_the_tv_out
Look at the presuppositions (not science) in the question. The presupposition is that what they say is science is and any other is untrue. The presupposition is that only in science can one find truth. The inference is that any other than the cult of science is not to be believed. Science, after all, is the new keeper of the culture.

Science is the the laborious effort to discover an order imposed upon this universe. Truth is absolute, unchanging regardless of location, exclusive, and narrow.

Science is not without its own faith. Science presupposes philosophy and is a slave to it. Science declares it as the arbiter of reason but cannot account for science. The materialist declares a world of matter, energy,time, and space. There is, in their mind, no other. Yet logic, rational thought, and reason must not exist in the materialist world. Neither consciousness, mind, vice, or virtue can exist. Scientific method itself, cannot be accounted for by the scientific materialist because there is no scientific method to prove scientific method. So, objective truth claims cannot be verified as scientific truths. So when scientific materialists claim the truth they must do so without reason or logic to be consistent-because reason itself is impossible in a world goverened by chemical and physical forces.

34 posted on 03/18/2013 6:43:38 PM PDT by Texas Songwriter (')
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To: neverdem
I'm in with the in crowd
I go where the in crowd goes
35 posted on 03/18/2013 6:55:01 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: jjotto

Throw some Karl Popper and Imre Lakatos also into the arena.

Bailey’s article used the polling of scientists (i.e. consensus) as the standard for getting the science “right”.

The gold standard of correctness of science is Demonstration. What can you show me? Consensus is a political standard. Karl Popper is also kinda leery about calling fields like psychology and economics a science because they have a hard time demonstrating causal relationships. Also, any science worth the paper it is written on needs to be falsifiable.

You can tell an advancing research program by its ability to predict outcomes. You can tell a failing research program by its making excuses for its failures. I will leave it to my fellow Freepers to decide which direction the programs outlined in the article are taking.


36 posted on 03/18/2013 6:58:20 PM PDT by Seraphicaviary (St. Michael is gearing up. The angels are on the ready line.)
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To: Texas Songwriter

Science and and the rules for scientific method are designed for answering the question “how”. They are not suited for answering “why”. Science is about process, and how to get from one configuration of matter and energy in space-time to another configuration of matter and energy in space-time, all of which is subject to measurement.

Philosophy is for answering the “why”. It is about purpose, which cannot be derived logically from process. Purpose is not something that can be measured or quantified.

A person needs both science and philosophy. We too often see scientists with doctorates in their fields making moral pronouncements, which is a subject that is totally outside their fields. This is the same pride that makes actors experts in Congressional hearings. It is an effect of pride as old as Socrates.


37 posted on 03/18/2013 7:10:31 PM PDT by Seraphicaviary (St. Michael is gearing up. The angels are on the ready line.)
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To: neverdem

Save for later


38 posted on 03/18/2013 7:23:25 PM PDT by Gay State Conservative ("Progressives" toss the word "racist" around like chimps toss their feces)
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To: Seraphicaviary

The metaphorical palette is quite suitable as it sets forth the fundamental tension. Yes, the “how” and “why” dichotomy trips us up, with the scientific method being wholly suitable only for the former. Nor are “reason” and “faith” at odds, since everyone begins, at some point, with faith in axiomatic immutability as a prerequisite to scientific inquiry.


39 posted on 03/18/2013 7:26:11 PM PDT by Lexinom
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To: chuck_the_tv_out
Likewise with evolution. The lie in that case being “unproven theory with many counter-indicators is settled science”.

In the case of science, "theory" refers to a framework that ties together the known facts and allows for the formulation of testable hypotheses that uncover new facts. It is not, as in ordinary lay language, a wild supposition. The theory of evolution is, like the theory of electromagnetism, the theory of gravity, etc., supported by a boatload of experimental evidence. It affects our lives.

40 posted on 03/18/2013 8:19:18 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: whattajoke

You must think we’re just a bunch of stupid hillbillies, we naysayers. But I don’t need a scientific paper or a condescending lecture from you to know scientists are full of crap.

When it comes to warming, I can just look at my 8 local local weather forecasts. Just today they were off by -8 degrees! And it was off -6 degrees last week every day. Forecast is always off. Can’t get the wind, sunshine, or dewpoint right. Been this way for decades. Apparently weather is too hard to model, but global warming is a dead ringer...

REAL scientists provide repeatable, predictable, and controlled models. REAL scientists know they have to measure not only what’s in the box, but also what’s outside the box and goes through the box. They know their science is sound because they can repeat their model. Like Newton, Kepler, and Bohr.

Are the GW clowns doing the walk? No. They can’t, and they won’t. So they fill in the “facts” with assumptions nobody can ever prove, waving their credentials around in protest. That ain’t science, that’s genuine snake oil. When these salesmen can do better than predict daily temperature within 6 degrees and snowfall within 4”, then maybe I’ll take a look. Until then, they can shove their unempirical, uncontrolled “dart board” global warming racket right up their arrogant little noses.


41 posted on 03/18/2013 8:40:50 PM PDT by Up Yours Marxists
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To: neverdem; SunkenCiv; Ernest_at_the_Beach; thackney; All

The Scientific Method has been rarely used in the last 60 years in high quality, peer reviewed, Scientific Journals.

What is lacking in these Journals, and in the article that you posted here is OBJECTIVE TESTING.

If for example, if one reads peer-reviewed, scientific literature on the very popular Global Warming Speculation, there will no mention of known cause and effect observations, or repeatable laboratory tests to move the GW Speculation up to the level of an Hypothesis, let alone the very high level of a Theory.

Most Professional Scientists use statistical inference to avoid the tedium of searching and re-searching for an objective test of Empirical Data that can be repeated by their peers by observation, and cause and effect experiments.

This lazy, lack of curiosity, slip-shod method has also found it’s way into Politics.

For example, a majority of American Voters polled during last year’s National Election Campaign concluded that Obama would be better able to reduce the US National Debt than Romney.

I leave to the energetic and curious reader the task of designing one or more objective tests for this popular speculation.

BTW, for extra credit, try objective testing other speculations including the ones mentioned in the above article. Enjoy!


42 posted on 03/18/2013 9:22:57 PM PDT by Graewoulf (Traitor John Roberts' Commune-Style Obama'care' violates U.S. Constitution AND Anti-Trust Law.)
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To: SpaceBar
In today’s world, facts are largely irrelevant.

Sadly even here on FreeRepublic. :)

What Difference Does it Make?

43 posted on 03/19/2013 12:25:07 AM PDT by itsahoot (It is not so much that history repeats, but that human nature does not change.)
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To: heye2monn

> How do those geniuses know that God does not exist?

Because modern science, so-called, starts with the assumption that there is no God.


44 posted on 03/19/2013 3:08:49 AM PDT by Westbrook (Children do not divide your love, they multiply it.)
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To: Up Yours Marxists

Your anger won’t help your cause. Neither will confusing localized point-in-time weather events with global climate over large swaths of time.

Was that condescending? I didn’t mean for it to be, but when you confuse really, really simple concepts then yes, people will view you as a “stupid hillbilly.”

If you notice, I haven’t said a thing about climate change on this thread at all. Not sure why you assume I have credentials in that area (I don’t.) I just wish the arguments against AGW were more coherently presented here.


45 posted on 03/19/2013 7:11:37 AM PDT by whattajoke (Let's keep Conservatism real.)
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To: Westbrook

Wrong. And most scientists in the USA are people of faith. Showing how stars can and do form via gravity and nuclear fusion in no way removes God as their creator or diminishes God in any way.


46 posted on 03/19/2013 7:20:21 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: allmendream

> Wrong.

That’s your assertion.

> Showing how stars can and do form via gravity and nuclear
> fusion in no way removes God as their creator or diminishes
> God in any way.

It removes Christ.

Jesus believed in the six-day Creation, believed that God created Adam and Eve from the dust of the Earth “in the beginning”, believed in the Noahic flood, the genealogies, etc.

It casts doubt on the veracity of God’s Word and His ability to communicate His message to us, without pandering to any supposed lack of sophistication.

That diminishes God.


47 posted on 03/19/2013 7:31:47 AM PDT by Westbrook (Children do not divide your love, they multiply it.)
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To: Westbrook

So to you unless God did it a few thousand years ago using miraculous magic then God is removed as unnecessary! Some of us have a grander view of God. We can see stars forming RIGHT NOW! Is God not the creator of such stars in your view? The Bible tells me I was created from dust. I was also created via cellular processes involving DNA. Does this fact remove God as my creator?


48 posted on 03/19/2013 7:44:48 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: allmendream

Apparently, yours is not the God of the Bible, neither can Jesus be divine if He were as mistaken as your worldview holds Him to be.

If you’re interested, see Russel Humphreys’ “Starlight and Time”. Read also his responses to his critics. Some higher mathematics and physics are involved, but from your responses, I’m guessing you should be able to handle that.


49 posted on 03/19/2013 7:48:10 AM PDT by Westbrook (Children do not divide your love, they multiply it.)
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To: Norm Lenhart

It’s a hammer for the ruling class,

and it’s an advocacy-based righteousness issue for the sheeperals.


50 posted on 03/19/2013 7:50:00 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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