Countless thousands of scientists and their supporters have marched around the world to protest what they say is Donald Trump’s rejection of science.
The president’s savaging of environmental safeguards is a direct attack on reason and research
Mm, it gets hard… I’ve spent several days trying to reconcile the idea that certain people can both admire a leader like Vlad Putin suggesting that Australia needs a leader like him, while arguing that any attempts to persuade people to vaccinate their children is an attempt to impose a dictatorship and we all should…
By Brian Morris Religious institutions will feel a pressing need to regain the initiative following damning revelations from the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. With renewed calls for a parliamentary conscience vote on marriage equality — and foreshadowed legislation on voluntary euthanasia in three states — one may assume the churches will resume their…
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel has said US President Donald Trump’s move to censor environmental data is ‘reminiscent’ of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s control of science in the USSR.
By Keith Antonysen Various contrarian opinions are based on the fundamental premise of anthropogenic climate change in relation to how light interacts with radiated infrared. Seth Miller, a scientist, provides some history; and then, criteria in relation to how science matters can be rationally evaluated (1). Seth Miller uses 9 criteria to show the strength…
Why is the DCCC ignoring a golden opportunity to replace noted science denier– Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith in their quest to “Turn Texas Blue”?
India recently launched a “mini space shuttle” for just $14 million. Many people commented, expressing their unhappiness at India investing in space travel while so many of their people live in poverty. The space industry is worth more than a hundred billion dollars worldwide. Most of this is dominated by just a few countries. If India can break into this industry at a lower cost, it could provide a massive stimulus to their economy.
And let’s take a look at a few of the things that were more expensive than their latest launch, shall we?
Climate scientists have long been pressed to answer the question “did climate change cause this?” in the days following the most recent devastating weather event. A watershed report (pdf) released Thursday helps those scientists to more conclusively answer: “yes.” The report, authored by the Washington, D.C.-based National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), outlines a system to determine which extreme weather events are caused by climate change and to what extent.
The commitments nations have made ahead of the Paris climate talks already have the world on track to face ‘dangerous’ climate change.
The government and their business backers are constantly telling us that we must support and promote entrepreneurs. Both our Prime Minister and his deputy have handed over government funds to very dubious entrepreneurs in their ministerial capacities – Malcolm as Environment Minister with his rain-making scheme and Julie as Science Minister with her magic little…
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (CT&P) -The L.A. Times is reporting that an Army bio-defense facility in Utah may have mistakenly sent live anthrax samples to 51 commercial companies, academic institutions and federal labs without proper safeguards, more than double the total disclosed last week.
The magnitude of the “foul up” came to light during an investigation led by General Buck Turgidson USAF (Ret).
General Turgidson said Wednesday that the facilities are scattered across 17 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, Australia and Korea, suggesting a systemic lapse in the military’s little-known program to study defenses against biological weapons agents, including anthrax.
The anthrax shipments originated at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, a sprawling facility southwest of Salt Lake City where scientists focus on trying to defend the nation from potential biological weapons agents, including anthrax.
“This was apparently part of an exercise called Operation Dropkick,” said Turgidson when interviewed over the phone from his office at the Fuck Hut Motor Lodge in Silver Springs, Maryland.
“It appears that General Jack D. Ripper, the commander in charge over at Dugway, ordered the samples sent out as way to test our readiness in the event of a terrorist attack,” said Turgidson.
Ripper is the former commander of Burpelson Air Force Base in Nevada, but was transferred to Dugway after he sent an entire wing of B-1 bombers to attack Iran after attending a wild hog hunt and barbecue with Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
“I hate to judge before all the facts are in,” said Turgidson, “but it looks like General Ripper has exceeded his authority.”
Meanwhile, officials from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are scrambling to recover the samples and treat anyone who may have been exposed.
The Pentagon and CDC will brief reporters Wednesday afternoon on the investigation into how and why the potentially deadly organisms were repeatedly shipped without appropriate safeguards, and whether safety systems are adequate at the labs.
“The CDC is concerned with understanding just what the fuck happened here and to make sure affected labs have everything they need to protect their workers,” said Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman.
General Ripper has been placed under guard and will be transported to an undisclosed location where he is scheduled to be interviewed using “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
He released a brief statement before he was detained by members of the 101st Airborne Division:
“I can no longer sit back and allow Muslim infiltration, Muslim indoctrination, Muslim subversion, and the international Muslim conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”
NSA code breakers are currently trying to figure out the meaning of Ripper’s statement.
FLORES, INDONESIA – (CT&P) – An American archeological research team working on the Indonesian island of Flores has uncovered evidence that indicates that the “hobbits” of the Soa Basin may have been the first Republicans. The team has presented as evidence stone tablets written in an ancient tongue that bears a striking resemblance to the doublespeak so common among GOP leaders today, and the tablets outline a political philosophy that almost perfectly coincides with the reactionary policies advocated by the right wing in modern America.
The team, led by Professor Toichi Hikita of the Banzai Institute in Holland township New Jersey, is currently working at the Liang Bua site, which made headlines with the discovery of Homo floresiensis, better known to the public as the “hobbits” of human evolution.
The site was originally discovered during the 1950’s and 60’s by Father Theodor Verhoeven, who lived and worked on Flores at a Catholic Seminary. Verhoeven had a keen interest in archeology and had studied it at university. While living on Flores, he identified dozens of archeological sites and conducted excavations at many of these, including the now famous site of Liang Bua.
Verhoeven was the first to report that stone tools were found in association with Stegodon remains in central Flores at several sites within the Soa Basin. At the time, paleoanthropologists took little notice of Verhoeven’s claims or if they did, they discounted them outright.
However, since then, several research teams uncovered evidence that confirmed Verhoeven’s findings regarding the tools and fossils around the various sites on Flores. But it was not until 2003 that the skeletal remains of Homo floresiensis was discovered.
The discovery led to further expeditions, and more remains and artifacts were uncovered, leading to all types of speculation regarding the “hobbits” place in the evolutionary ladder.
Now the discovery of stone tablets that indicate a primitive grasp of language and social policy has thrown the scientific community into an uproar.
“We never expected that such a primitive culture would be able to create a written language, much less a viable political party,” said Professor Hikita. “Despite their diminutive size and small braincase, the “hobbits” seem to have developed their own policies regarding religion, sexual orientation, taxation, and immigration, to name a few.”
“From what we can discern from our examination of these stone tablets, the “hobbits” were a highly reactionary species that reacted violently to change of any kind,” said Hikita. “This translated into a very vanilla society that eschewed new ideas or anything out of the ordinary. Any deviation from the regimented way of life that the “hobbits” championed was greeted with derision, ostracization, or imprisonment on neighboring islands.”
According to Professor Hikita, immigrants to Flores were looked upon with suspicion and treated as second class citizens. “The “hobbits” were terrified of outsiders and generally thought them useful for only doing menial labor around the cave and working in the fields,” said the professor. “It really was a bigoted way of treating their fellow hominids.”
“It’s as if the “hobbits” were stuck in the past and unable to evolve into a more progressive society, and this eventually caused their downfall. However, by comparing the DNA of Homo floresiensis to that of modern humans, we have been able to detect a high percentage of the same genetic material present in some people walking the earth today, so some of them must have survived the collapse and gone on to interbreed with more successful species on the mainland.”
In what is sure to be a controversial finding, Professor Hikita is publishing an article in next month’s Scientific American that details evidence of a link between Homo floresiensis and members of today’s Republican party.
“The similarities are striking,” said Hikita. “We see the same bull-headed intransigence, the same reactionary responses to societal change, and the same desperate clinging to the past in the modern day GOP that we saw in the ancient “hobbits.” The genetic traits of the “hobbits” were apparently so strong that they have been passed down through thousands of years and continue to pop up today. It’s amazing.”
Professor Hikita warned that if the GOP were to retain power for any length of time or for instance gain the White House once again, America could suffer the same fate as Flores.
“We hope that our research will lead to a cure for the self-destructive behavior we now see on the American right,” said Hikita. “Perhaps through some innovative gene splicing we can help these folks so they will be able to look to the future instead of the past. Our country may depend on it.”
Movement’s doubts about climate change, vaccination, and other matters of science are tied to ideas of morality and belief in limited government
Creationism, climate denial and anti-vaccination rage: long before the measles outbreak in the US, a deep mistrust of scientists infected some strands of the American conservative movement.
Conservatives are not alone in their rejection of scientific experts and evidence. But the sentiments this week from potential Republican contenders for president – first New Jersey governor Chris Christie in London, then Kentucky senator Rand Paul wagging his finger during a television interview, then a cavalcade of clarifications – have exposed a number of tendencies in American conservatism.
There is the deep resentment of government. And a fierce concern for family privacy. More and more conservatives have a strong libertarian streak. But the aversion to vaccinating children – and the departure from mainstream thinking on public health and other issues – is not really a question of science, experts on the movement said. It’s about the clash between science and deeply held beliefs.
“As with any kind of science denial, it’s never the science itself. It’s these cultural fears,” said Joshua Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education.
On evolution, conservative mistrust stems from the clash with the very foundations of morality for believers – that humanity was created in its present form by God.
On stem cell research, it’s the idea of destroying human embryos that causes concern.
On climate change, it’s the argument – exploited and propagated by fossil fuel interests – that government has no place telling companies what to do.
And on vaccines, as on home schooling and sex education, anti-science sentiments largely have to do with the idea that parents – and parents alone – are the ones who should make choices for their children.
Medical experts rebuke Republican politicians hyping vaccination concerns
“They don’t want the government telling them what to do,” said Ronnee Schreiber, who teaches gender and politics at San Diego State University. “It’s about being anti-government regulation and ‘preservation of the privacy of the family’.”
Rosenau said some studies suggested that those confronted with evidence that contradicted deeply held beliefs may become more sceptical of unrelated scientific claims.
Creationists can be drawn to climate denial or mistrust of vaccines – even though there is universal acceptance of climate change by the world’s top scientists and the eradication of measles through mass vaccination campaigns is seen as a singular public health achievement.
But there is no firm evidence that Republicans are more distrustful of vaccinations than Democrats – or, leaving aside party identification, that conservatives are less likely than liberals to protect their children from disease.
The Pew Research Center, in a poll released last week, found two-thirds of Americans supported mandatory vaccines. But there was a deep strain of suspicion among those under 30 years old, with 41% thinking vaccines should be a parental choice.
More than one-third of Republicans polled thought vaccines should be left up to parents – compared to 26% in 2009. But the figure was about the same among voters who called themselves independent in the newest poll.
Some 22% of Democrats thought parents should decide on vaccines, compared with 27% in 2009.
A 2013 survey showed 26% of Republicans believe the now-demolished claims that vaccines cause autism – compared to 16% of Democrats.
But other research showed no real political divide among the outliers who fear childhood vaccinations.
Paul, a libertarian Republican, is an eye doctor, but his comments insisting that most vaccines “ought to be voluntary” and citing “many tragic cases” run counter to the guidelines of the American Medical Association, which says physicians have an ethical responsibility to encourage universal childhood immunisation. But the anti-vaccination movement much more typically skews to the left.
The environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr dismayed many colleagues when he refused to let go of the argument that preservatives used in vaccines caused a spike in autism – long after those claims had been discredited.
Religious and social conservatives did object to the HPV vaccine, which some on the right claimed would encourage young girls to have sex.
Fiscal conservatives lashed out when Barack Obama allocated funding under the 2009 stimulus to promoting the H1N1 flu vaccine.
But American conservatives for the most part have had no quarrel with vaccines – unless they are on a collision course with other deeply held beliefs, said John Evans, who teaches bioethics at the University of California at San Diego and is married to Schreiber.
“Religious conservatives are totally whole-hog with applied science, or what we call medicine,” he said. “They are all in favour of inventing new vaccines, but they have these moral lines.”
But it’s hard to discount entirely signs of growing distrust of scientists among some Republicans, even before more than 100 cases of measles were discovered in the US this year, in 14 states and Washington DC.
Climate scientists, in particular, have been accused of pursuing an ideological agenda for urging cuts to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming.
“One strand in all of this is definitely the growth within the Republican right of scepticism about scientists as authority figures,” said Theda Skocpol, professor of government and sociology at Harvard. “They just don’t accept that scientists are public authority figures.”
She also said that scepticism was growing among young people across the political spectrum – people who are not as familiar with the risks of childhood diseases because of the overall effectiveness of vaccination programmes.
Evans agreed: “It’s the Tea Party ideas of ‘don’t tread on me’ and total freedom,” he said.
Even if it carries a toll.