Category: Science vs Ideology

Budget 2022: Time to ‘double down’ on our science investment – » The Australian Independent Media Network

A submission to the current anti-science Government of the past 8 years.

Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson urged the Government to use the 2022 Budget to safeguard the future of our science talent, institutions, and infrastructure. “The lessons of the past few years are clear. We must invest deeply in science and scientists. The success of science is crucial to our safety.”

Source: Budget 2022: Time to ‘double down’ on our science investment – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Australians back science and scientists to lead recovery – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Australians strongly trust science and scientists, think science strengthens the country, and want more investment in science to speed our post-pandemic recovery.

Source: Australians back science and scientists to lead recovery – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Scientists have created embryos. What does that mean? And what comes next?

Professor Jose Polo in front of images of his model embryos.

Every cell in your body comes from a single cell: an egg, fertilised by a sperm. Each contains the exact same genetic blueprint for your life: your DNA. Yet cells in your brain look and behave nothing like those in your muscle or skin.

Scientists have created embryos. What does that mean? And what comes next?

5 ways to spot if someone is trying to mislead you when it comes to science

People who are trying either to make you believe something that isn’t true, or to doubt something that is true, use a variety of strategies that can manipulate you very effectively. Here are five to look out for.

5 ways to spot if someone is trying to mislead you when it comes to science

The growth of knowledge is getting away from us – » The Australian Independent Media Network

I am not very optimistic that the world’s major powers will wake up in time from their wars and bickerings and genocide, to take sufficient action for us to avoid any but the most serious outcomes of the climate catastrophe which we are facing.

Asking the cost of taking the suggested measures is a futile exercise. More futile then ignoring the cost of not taking them!

It has long been established that mankind is the world’s most dangerous predator. It would be an enormous pity if our stupidity were to lead to the demise of all life on earth!

There is no Planet B, and, even if there were, we have not earned the right to live on it.

If you believe in a life after death – good luck to you! No one has yet come back to establish its existence!

via The growth of knowledge is getting away from us – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Faith and rational thought – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Believe in yourself all you need is the information and a method to process it. (ODT)

We are all capable of thinking for ourselves – even our children, who are fighting a battle to force our recalcitrant government to accept the reality of the Climate Emergency and take action before it is too late to prevent the worst outcomes – and which will cause more harm to our children with their whole lives ahead of them!

BELIEVE THE SCIENTISTS, NOT THE RELIGIOUS NUTS!

via Faith and rational thought – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight Than at Any Time Since 1953 | Democracy Now!

The planet is closer to a catastrophic disaster than at any time since 1953. That’s according to the scientists behind the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic timekeeper that tracks the likelihood of nuclear war and other existential threats. On Thursday, the scientists moved the clock’s minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight. The hour now sits at two-and-a-half minutes before doomsday. This is Rachel Bronson of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.Rachel Bronson: “But perhaps most troubling has been two concerns that are adding to an already challenging global landscape. The first: the first has been the cavalier and reckless language used across the globe, especially in the United States during the presidential election and after, around nuclear weapons and nuclear threats. And the second is a growing disregard of scientific expertise, expertise that is needed when it comes to responding to pressing global challenges, including climate change. There is a troubling propensity to discount, or outright reject, expert advice related to international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts.”Scientists are planning for a major march on Washington, called the “March for Science on DC.” The idea came after millions of people rallied in D.C. and in cities across the world last Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Source: Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight Than at Any Time Since 1953 | Democracy Now!

Why we need to listen to the real experts in science If we want to use scientific thinking to solve problems, we need people to appreciate evidence and heed expert advice. But the Australian suspicion of authority extends to experts, and this public cynicism…Murdoch’s commentators are neither experts nor ethicists but merely corporate and rightwing idealogues. idealogues

If we want to use scientific thinking to solve problems, we need people to appreciate evidence and heed expert advice.

But the Australian suspicion of authority extends to experts, and this public cynicism can be manipulated to shift the tone and direction of debates. We have seen this happen in arguments about climate change.

This goes beyond the tall poppy syndrome. Disregard for experts who have spent years studying critical issues is a dangerous default position. The ability of our society to make decisions in the public interest is handicapped when evidence and thoughtfully presented arguments are ignored.

So why is science not used more effectively to address critical questions? We think there are several contributing factors including the rise of Google experts and the limited skills set of scientists themselves. We think we need non-scientists to help us communicate with and serve the public better.

At a public meeting recently, when a well-informed and feisty elderly participant asked a question that referred to some research, a senior public servant replied: “Oh, everyone has a scientific study to justify their position, there is no end to the studies you could cite, I am sure, to support your point of view.”

This is a cynical statement, where there are no absolute truths and everyone’s opinion must be treated as equally valid. In this intellectual framework, the findings of science can be easily dismissed as one of many conflicting views of reality.

Such a viewpoint is dangerous from our point of view.

When scientists disagree with one another, as they must to ensure progress in their field, it is easy to argue that it is not possible to distinguish between conflicting hypotheses. But scientists always agree that critical thinking done well eventually leads to a better understanding and superior solutions. All opinions are not equal.

If you are flying in an airplane at 30,000 feet, you will not be content with just any scientific study about whether the wing will stay on the plane. Most people will want to put their trust in the calculations of an expert aeronautical engineer who understands the physics of stresses on the wing.

So why do we not want to trust experts in bushfire management, or climate change? Because most people are happier with experts whose conclusions fit their own ideas.

This encourages people to express their opinions, and the internet allows those opinions to get a wide viewing. This makes for interesting times, but not always effective solutions.

Google experts

The internet is filled with information and ideas. Everyone can quickly find “answers”, and this means that everyone is an “expert”.

But using Google to find the answer to Trivial Pursuit questions is not the same as researching a complex question. Experts do have skills and one of those is the ability to use high quality sources, up to date theoretical frameworks, and critical thinking based on their experience in a particular field. This is why an expert’s answers are going to be more accurate and more nuanced than a novice.

For example, people who use Dr Google to diagnose their symptoms before visiting an actual doctor, sometimes ask to be tested for diseases they do not have, or waste time seeking a second opinion because they are convinced that their “research” has led them to a correct diagnosis. If it were really that easy, would doctors have to spend all those years in medical school?

There is another problem called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that “people who lack the knowledge or wisdom to perform well are often unaware of this fact”.

In other words, people who think all answers can be found on Google are likely to be unaware of the effort involved in solving complex problems, or why years of specialist training might help.

This is almost more dangerous than complete ignorance, because unlike Donald Rumsfeld, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Easy access to huge volumes of confusing information sits very comfortably in a post-modern world. Unfortunately, the outcome is that most people are reluctant to do the intellectual hard work of sifting through competing hypotheses. So how are we to engage in robust scientific debates in such a public arena?

Science is not enough

It has been said many times that scientists need to communicate their research more broadly. The challenges are well known – peer reviewed scientific publications are necessary for our careers and time spent engaging with the public is time away from the field, our computers and laboratory benches.

Nevertheless, if we hope to influence government policy we cannot assume that the implications of our research will be understood by those who most need to know what we are doing.

Reaching out to busy bureaucrats and politicians is not something that comes naturally to scientists. To turn science into policy we need a diverse team of people with different but complementary skills who share a commitment to the task.

Skills that are not commonly found in scientists may be found in political scientists, lawyers, sociologists, public relations companies, the arts community and the media.

Forming relationships with people who can translate our findings into something that cannot be ignored may be critical to success.

Consider what we are up against, lobby groups with deep pockets have come up with brilliant assaults on the thoughtful management of our environment.

“Cutting Green Tape” or “No fuels, no fire” – these clever bits of spin threaten decades of rigorous research and policy development. This is not a failure of science, but a triumph of imagination. We have been dramatically out-manoeuvred, shown to be amateurs, in the world of presenting competing ideas.

At a recent fire forum we learned that current policy is: “Based on science, but driven by values.” This means that despite the best evidence, the values of our current society will decide when to act. This introduces another definition of truth seeking, based on who made the best argument in a political or legal process.

Science is meant to be done dispassionately and objectively, so scientists are not well equipped to participate in debates about values. This is the realm of ethicists, philosophers, artists and theologians.

But if we are passionate about applying the lessons learned from our research, we will need marketers, lobbyists, communication experts, accountants and economists. A multi-disciplinary team is required to convince society to change.

Perhaps the people with these complementary skills will be able to help break down the anti-intellectualism we face, for the benefit of all.