Blissful Ignorance & the Bastardisation of Science for Fun & Profit

I’m a Scientist. So I frankly find it offensive when industrialists such as the Koch brothers in America, our own mining billionaires such as Gina Rinehart, public relations specialists such as ‘Lord’ Chris Monckton from the UK, and other Right Wing types, try and convince me they know more about a scientific subject than I do.

I’m speaking about the attack on science by the Right, which is spreading like a virus through the corridors of power in our parliaments to the point of a capitulation to, if not an outright endorsement of, conspiracy theories and anti-science propaganda.

It is being done so as to serve the interests of the vested interests and not the interests of the people. It is leading to a degradation of open democracy.

Not only that, but their almost limitless supply of funds has seen them buy a variety of spruikers for their cause. Some even formerly respectable individuals and scientists, willing to sell their integrity to the highest bidder.

A major part of the problem is the fact that the media is failing to give an accurate reflection of what is overwhelming scientific consensus on subjects, most especially climate change, because it has been bought and paid for by a single powerful industry focused on its bottom line at the expense of rational debate, forcing a media increasingly dependent on that industry for its survival to give as much weight to its self-interested agenda as it does to non-partisan scientists and their evidence-based conclusions.

They are also targeting our schools. For example, the Right Wing, Koch brothers-funded think tank, The Heartland Institute, actually developed a curriculum teaching children that climate science is a controversial matter. On the other hand, facts demonstrate only 24 peer-reviewed articles reject global warming, compared to an overwhelming 13,926 scientific articles that reinforce the science behind it.

However, this is where the Right insinuate themselves in order to launch their attacks on the science from, by zeroing in on the contents of the 24 articles that reject global warming, giving them the same, or more, weight in their arguments attacking the AGW science; at the same time as ignoring the 13,926 that support the theory of climate change.

In fact, it has become a gravy train for formerly moderately-remunerated Questacon roadshow presenters, such as Jo Nova (real name Jo Codling, but it doesn’t quite have that pizzazz that Right Wing warriors need in a name, so ‘Jo Nova’ she became), to jump aboard as the best vehicle they could identify that would take them to a better life. So she sold her scientific soul to the highest bidder so that she could provide the surface sheen of scientific credibility to the credulous that populate the anti carbon tax rallies she speaks at and who frequent the blog she writes on behalf of the vested interests in the fossil fuel & mining industries, whose agenda she furthers and who are the ones who sign her pay cheques.

And so invested has Jo Nova, molecular biologist, become in their cause that she sounds as if she even believes it herself. Ditto Bob Carter, geologist.

It must be admitted, however, that there are anti-science views perpetuated on the Left too. Such as those about nuclear power production via the latest, infinitely-safer technology than that of decades ago, when the major accidents happened (except when it comes to building nuclear power plants in areas prone to earthquakes, which is just silly and has nothing to do with science). Or the anti vaccine movement, that originated on the counter-cultural lunar Left, but the Left nonetheless.

However, the difference between Left & Right anti science can best be expressed this way:

On the Left you fail to see a mainstreaming of anti-science views. Indeed, the Gillard government has overruled the anti nuclear power forces in the Labor Party, by agreeing to expand the mining of uranium and the sale of it to power nuclear reactors in other countries. Plus, kept an open mind on the subject of nuclear power for Australia, but mainly as fuelled by thorium, even in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown disaster.

And that’s typical.

What you get on the Left is a large amount of dissension and discussion and pushback against those who make scientifically-questionable claims, and, as has ultimately occurred in the anti vaccine situation, the ultimate banishment of these ideas from serious consideration.

And what that means is that Anti Science doesn’t shape policy in the same way on the Left, as it increasingly is doing on the Right.

Yes, you will find extremes, as I said-islands of ideology where, basically, Monsanto and its GM crops is the Great Satan, and vaccines are causing autism. But there is no currently pressing issue that I can think of, to equal anthropogenic global warming denial/scepticism on the Right, where the Left is monolithically in denial of basic science, or where this drives mainstream political policy, for example, drives the stance of many elected Liberal, National, DLP & Family First politicians.

Which points to the fact, observed increasingly, that unlike small ‘l’ Liberal moderates, many big ‘C’ Conservatives, who now populate the Liberal and other parties, openly wear their distrust of science as a badge of honour, and devote their energies to bringing to governments around the world, policies which sideline science. Also to denigrating the serious scientific endeavours the majority of selfless members of the scientific community engage in on behalf of society, and replace it with pseudo science, which serves the agendas of the vested interests who back them.

Fronting it to the community will be the pseuds like Jo Nova and Bob Carter, scientists by name but not by nature.

By nature they are more like this:

and should be treated as such.

They can use all the fine-sounding scientific words they like, as this blog shows by deconstructing a Jo Nova speech to an anti carbon tax rally:

http://itsnotnova.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/joanne-nova-speaks-well-what-about-her-science/

Which shows they can have their own scientific opinions, but they can’t have their own scientific facts.

However, it doesn’t make them right simply because they sound reasonable to the casual, unscientifically-trained observer.

So, Don’t Believe the Hype!

Real scientists, doing real work in their field of expertise, climate science, show that the effects of CO2 on climate are real.

To sum up, debate and dissension around science is a good thing. Attacking the scientific method & the results it provides, is not.

Very simply, while most people continue to hold science and scientists in high regard, an increasingly large share of the Conservative political elite, office holders, candidates, and mouth pieces are taking seriously anti-science positions.

While the scientific community see the theory of global warming to be as strongly based as the theory of gravity, those dominating large sections of our own Liberal & National parties, attack climate scientists, and accuse them of being engaged in a global cabal to falsify scientific facts-the IPCC.

Or they create pseudo-scientific & medical data to support faux maladies such as ‘wind turbine syndrome’, to justify their attacks on the nascent renewable energy industry:

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/life/health/anti-wind-farm-lobby-claims-break-all-laws-of-physics/

Many senior people in the Liberal Party, such as Tony Abbott & Cory Bernardi, denigrate the theory of evolution, with their support for introducing creationism into science classrooms.

When it comes to environmental regulatory actions, they adopt the catch-cry of ‘Too much regulation and red tape gets in the way of business just trying to survive & prosper’, in order to sanction practices which scientists have warned against. For example, the health risks and impacts on the environment of mining by-products.

Also, hiding under the guise of ‘sound science’, or ‘common sense science’, Conservative politicians promote polluter-driven, or vested interests-benefiting, pseudo-science to skew policy away from honest, science-based discussion. For example, Nick Minchin’s continued intransigence with respect to the effects of second-hand smoke on health.

Next to a chilling quote by one of the foremost polemicists of the Right’s ‘anti science brigade’, Rush Limbaugh:

“The four corners of deceit: government, academia, science, and media. That’s how they promulgate themselves, it is how they prosper.”

It is this position that is increasingly taken up by too many ‘small government’ Libertarian politicians. Expertise and knowledge and institutions that value these are the enemy.

Sadly, people of this ilk are making understanding and support of science an ideological litmus test.

While climate change denial/scepticism is central to that litmus test, it is far from the only element, as I have already outlined. Though ‘denialism’ over global warming has become a cause célèbre within the Conservative movement.

Limbaugh again:

“Science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”

Plus, he has called climate change science “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Why should we care?

Because his words and the following they have, are bullets to the heart of the scientific community. They are influential and his arguments percolate through Conservative politics and into legislative action, or inaction, on the part of governments as electorates adopt those principles he espouses and vote accordingly to elect representatives who espouse them.

The movement is also averse to science-based regulation, which it sees as an excuse for intrusive government.

It is not hard to understand the damage that anti-science syndrome suffering ideologues create.

The achievements of science are core to our existence, from medicine that saves our lives, to analytical tools that enable speed-of-light communications (NBN!), to …..

Demonisation of science fosters, in the near and long-term, a weakened economic competitiveness for the nation, for all nations. And, it will lead to a much weaker nation in the decades to come, due to loss of competitive advantage that a belief in science at its core and a fostering of love and respect for science in the community and the classroom can lead to. Not to mention a much-weakened nation and globe due to the catastrophic effects of climate chaos, which will make the droughts longer, the floods bigger, and the cyclones more intense and frequent.

And the self-interest of a few should never be allowed to get in the way of doing what true ‘common sense science’ dictates is the right path to follow. We just can’t afford to be led up the garden path by these people any longer.

1,769 thoughts on “Blissful Ignorance & the Bastardisation of Science for Fun & Profit

  1. Cross-post from “over there”..for those with their nose elevated just that little bit too uppity!

    What is it with all this confected ; “Pardon me..excuse me..oh!, I do beg to differ…WHell! I say!..”…Let me just enlighten some of the more sensitive here to a few home truths…We had a Howard gov’t for ten years…He decimated most of the social service networks incl’ education..he launched us into two terrible, bloody wars..those wars cost hundreds of thousands of lives…men, women and children…they cost, are STILL COSTING billions of dollars..we now have one of his more right-wing radical ministers trying to gain control of this nation…he is about as close to a Mussolini Fascist as you could get…don’t deny it, he’s crazy..his supporters are fanatics…his backers are industrialists wanting cheap labour…that’s US!…
    There is more, but you should get the picture…we are not just fighting for a good outcome on the price of SUV’s here, nor the retail price on avocados. We are fighting for ALL our social policy requirements!…Just consult the IPA’s wish-list to get an idea of Tabbott/ right-wing policy….we are, in reality and for some, in certainty, fighting for our lives.
    You may not think that is worth taking down a few right-wing stooges with mindless vulgarity, but in truth, that is all such fascists are worth!…don’t take my word for it, go visit history!

  2. c@tmomma

    Dont rely on me to remind you. I have a habit of alerting people to events, and forgetting all about it myself!!

  3. It’s the misogyny speech all over again. All want to put it down as a Gillard loss, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    And Montgomery didn’t win the Battle of el Alamein. He just didn’t lose it, and then accidentally stumbled on a way of rolling up the Afrika Corps right across… Africa.

    Spruance didn’t win Midway either. He was too quiet, too calm and too inexperienced. He should have pursued the Japanese across the Pacific, but didn’t. But they went back home and didn’t come back just the same.

    Gillard lost this week. Of that there is no doubt. It was just a happy piece of luck that she got an unpopular levy off the election agenda, achieved funding for the NDIS, got Abbott to back-flip 180 degrees, and caused a shit-fight in the Coalition Shadow Cabinet.

  4. jaycee,
    SUV = Sports Utility Vehicle, or Baby 4WD 🙂
    Great for putting the bicycle into or the kayak on top of. 🙂

  5. Now that is a scary image

    Abbott most likely using his #broadband to deliver a press release, and failing.

  6. C@T…thank you so much!…You just couldn’t guess the absurd verbal dynamic structures I was torturing myself with on that one!

  7. Now there!…shows I am still not saavy with this internet thingo..I should have just looked it up on google!…………………THICK!

  8. gorgeousdunny1, thanks! I’ve been able to insert that photo into my mamil pome, originally written in the days before I was across illustrating my verses, let alone storing them which I eventually did retrospectively. Apologies for this late acknowledgement which I thought I had posted earlier.

    gravel, I think we must have like minds. I always go for BK’s cartoon links first up on his post. A good laugh sets me up to cope better with any bad news that follows.

  9. Rudd was doing very well explaining the GFC and what the govt did. The ABC cut him off

  10. C@tmomma

    In a break with convention, when I die I’m going to come back as Jimi Hendrix.

  11. In a break with convention, when I die I’m going to come back as Jimi Hendrix.

    Then you can be a heroin addict, die all over again, and get Bob Brown to declare you as “Deceased”.

  12. Rudd was doing very well explaining the GFC and what the govt did. The ABC cut him off

    They’re only interested in Rudd if he’s sniping at Gillard.

    We are watching the second draft of history, the first draft having been heavily re-written and corrected.

  13. BB

    I thought BBrown declared Jimmy Morrison deceased?

    And JFK, if my memory serves me correctly.

  14. BB, can you email me off list please. I’ve got a photo I think you’ll like / might be able to use. Cheers

  15. So let me get this straight. By capitulating entirely on the NDIS Abbott has somehow had a political win? So… being forced on the defensive and eventually backed right into the corner is good politics because, um, that corner was where you intended to be? Just stand and wait until the press gallery build you a trap-door, she’ll be right.

    Of course, having a political win has been a bit devalued lately. When you can make a confident prediction that no state will sign up for Gonski, and then two days later say, “I always knew some states would sign up” – and the response from the media is, “Oh, well, that’s what he’s telling us so there’s no point checking it up” – you can see how low the bar is set for him.

    And I don’t think Hockey will be tearing his hair out about anything. He sees his job as Shadow Treasurer as getting up in the morning and finding something to complain about. Every day is a new day, wipe the slate clean on all previous statements and just complain about something. And I suppose he sees his prospective job as Treasurer as a bit more demanding – find something to blame on the previous government OR tell people to stop complaining. World-weary face or angry face? Hopefully the choice will be made for him, as he’s not the cluiest guy going around. Economics is this thing for Hockey, one of life’s great mysteries. He’s just PR; sell the message.

  16. It was Jimi Hendrix that Dr Bob Brown certified as deceased because Jim Morrison died in his bathtub in France.

  17. Aguirre,
    Yes, Hockey was a general dogsbody for Howard. A happy face on bad news. Now he’s an unhappy face on good news.

  18. It’s not important but …

    FORMER Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has sought to clarify, once and for all, his role in the death of rock legend Jimi Hendrix in London in September 1970.
    He was then a resident doctor at St Mary Abbot’s hospital when Hendrix’s body was brought in, he told the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday.
    “He had been dead for some hours,” Senator Brown said.
    “He’d had a bit too much to drink and whatever else and had inhaled vomitus.”
    He said another Australian doctor signed the musician’s death certificate ….

    http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/music/about-that-jimi-hendrix-death-business/story-e6frfn09-1226385575798#ixzz2SCM8v2GA

  19. BBrown will more likely than not get to certify the Greens as deceased soon.

  20. Did someone say Jim Morrison

    Going out soon back for raffle between 5- 5:30.

  21. after mr rudd spoke.. the cut off went to JUlia so my oh said
    who has spent the morning home alone, with the dogs lol

    so windy here.

    any way,, he was very surprised how great mr rudd, was , so I said they cut him off I just read that here,
    he yes but ,
    and they went to the pm,

    vicy,,, I wish you would nt post, for example wtte

    have abbott well on the way to winning ect.re the media

    is very off putting and depressing and if people who are lukers read that
    they may feel,, o well that’s it then

    best not to acknowledge anything negative the om say

    well that how I feel

    ==========================================================ttwo places this morning the
    the pathologist ,, blood tests\
    s
    and the second backery shop ( things baked that have crack ext in the wrong place half price cakes lamingtons ect}

    there I said the young girl may be 20 , gee us on pension will be here all the time if abbott gets in….
    NO she said don’t let that happen.

    the pathologist mention something, said NO way I would never vote for him

    this is what I hear a lot from this generation

    not polled have mobile phones, live with friends.

    both thought the levy was ok

    even thought the lady at the pathologist said she never thought about

    politics

    she would neve vot e fo him.

  22. denese

    There is no need to get depressed. The reality is Labor is far behind. A lot has to go right for them. As it stands now, the coalition are on course to win. If and when the landscape changes, i will say otherwise. Sorry if it upsets you

  23. so the Australian is reporting all this stuff

    sk ask us to twitter it all

    also.

    ================================

  24. gigilene

    I did invite Meguire Bob over to spruik his optimism

    Catch you all later

  25. victoira

    we know what the[ polls are saying this day this minute ( if you believe them}

    we don’t have to be reminded

    its what the intentions are now at this minute

    and how can morgan go from what they where
    last week to this week

    makes no sence, at all.

    nothing changed in the last week

  26. well vic. you can yourslelf

    I love mequire bob,

    he does it for lurkers sends out positive vibes

    that’s how it should be

    we should not be acknowledging any thing old media
    say unless it positive.

    which is hard to find I know

    but how would he know how to find the place,

    its realy like looking for a needle in haystack

  27. I find Meguire Bob’s posts on PB pretty embarrassing, its like someone was delegated to write really weak optimistic comments (sometimes seemingly blind to anything going on) so that the Lib posters would have an easy target. I much prefer someone who argues what the ALP can do in order to well (e.g. BB, Zoomster, Aguirre) to that sort of thing.

  28. Well, I like Meguire Bob. I found him amusing and refreshing. He constantly attacks the media for being biased, and I agree with him.

  29. Janice,

    … the abbott caught a red hot ball as it whizzed past his jug ears and realised he was burnt if he dropped it or blown up if he tried to toss it back

    An exquisite analogy, ma’am!

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