Taking advantage of the natural skepticism and integrity of scientists and their co-workers, and their commitment to scientific process

I’ve seen this. One can seldom discuss or debate a science denier, whether at (my) presentations at UUAC Sherborn or in many places online, without their employing moving the goalposts or, when they fail to response to an explanation, trotting out another objection. They also do it only in very public fora, whether major media outlets, like the New York Times or the Washington Post or on Ars Technica, not well known publicly, but where many skilled people in computing and information technology hang out. They never do it here, at my blog, possibly because of my track record in dealing with comments like that, and possibly because I just don’t get the traffic.

I think the same is true of publications in peer-reviewed science, touching upon climate. Groups are funded to advance various climate zombies in new guises, and this depletes and distracts efforts by climate scientists and their students who need to respond. It’s very interesting when, if one can, follow the funding sources for these efforts. The publications are seldom in major journals.

Of course now, with the new anti-scholar administration, the attack on funding sources is direct. I’m sure that not only will divisions and organizations having to do with Earth-based sciences within agencies be shut down, but grants for science pertaining to these fields will be forcibly cut.

But I never thought it would be otherwise,, and that’s why in part I have been so focussed on doing what’s needed.

Of course, now it’s necessary to turn attention, once more, away from the activities which are not likely to pay off in the near future, and back to doing sound science, despite what the Champions of Ignorance decide and achieve. I don’t need a grant to do what I do. I am not beholden to anyone for tenure. I work for industry, and they like me.

In your ear, West Wing, Pruitt, and Perry.

Sure, it’s their fault, primarily. But, too, I continue to blame each and every American who voted for them, and their pathological addiction to magical thinking. Quoting Dr Stenger from there:

You cannot use scare tactics with people, who won’t listen. Americans are narcissistic; to make changes, they have to see the advantages individually.

And I quote my personal assessment:

… Individualism in the United States has … triumphed over most other cultural values, at least since the 1980s. The icon of modern individualism is the so-called “smart phone”, and the iconic smart phone is the chic, sleek iPhone. It has extended to the point that some Americans feel if they cannot understand something technical immediately, it is the explainer’s fault or the fault of the material, and, so, they should not invest the effort trying to understand it. I personally trace this idea to a form of “magical thinking” where, since the theology of the Great Awakenings, “all that matters” is the relationship of the individual with a Personal, Divine Savior, and all understanding is unimportant except that relationship. I don’t want to pick on Personal Divine Saviors. People who place New Age crystals or Wicca preeminent are just as misguided. No doubt this practice by individuals distorts original meaning, but the effect is to bless the “gut feel” as being the paramount means of decision, whether in personal lives or polity, or choice of television program. The idea of extended preparation, the long study, the careful training is relegated to the Old Way, or extremely exceptional, or to unimportance in the “real world”. In this world, TV series and sports rule.

The notion extends to business as well, even technical fields, such as in many Web-based businesses where the ideal product is one which demands but an incremental change and brings large profits. Sure, it is sensible to pursue these when they arrive. But it is foolish and unrealistic to think most products will be of this kind, in the same manner that Garrison Keillor’s residents of Lake Wobegon believe “… all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Most products demand cultivation. Most technical products have, historically, demanded investment, development in proprietary circles, and ultimately release. Financial products may be an exception, but I won’t speculate upon the relationship between those and the movement to demand the same of technical companies.

Whether Americans believe it or not, this tendency to magical thinking or “wishful thinking” or “the triumph of hope over evidence” (*) puts them at a big disadvantage compared to people and countries that do not indulge in this. They think, for instance, that their military is better than anyone’s. Perhaps it is, but to the degree it relies upon technological prowess, that is a standard and a capability which is time-wasting. As the United States painfully learned in the 1950s, without a deep commitment to unfettered scientific research (**), such a lead leaves. And if another country captures it, they can counter us with less. We, as a country, used to believe in “military force multipliers.” I’m sure many professional military still do. But as the Ignorant New Champions of the country get to play out their wet dreams, these are very much at risk.

(*) Indeed, as you’ll from this blog’s description, opposing this is the primary purpose of my blog here.

(**) The sciences are both mutually interdependent and simply do not work well if they are directed. Findings in seemingly unrelated fields support and advance findings in others. I work on Internet data professionally, yet I find the biggest source of results and software and helpful work comes from biostatistics and ecology. Science is pretty much fumbling around in the dark, not so much to pursue things which will produce new products, or new drugs, or new technologies — although there’s more of the latter than the former two — as it is doing things to get a maximal return of insight and knowledge from as little investment as possible. This is not easy, and I daresay it doesn’t always work out as expected. Sometimes that’s a great thing.

About ecoquant

See https://wordpress.com/view/667-per-cm.net/ Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Meteorological Association, American Statistical Association, bridge to nowhere, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, climate disruption, climate economics, climate zombies, Daniel Kahneman, destructive economic development, engineering, ethics, evidence, force multiplier, George Sughihara, Humans have a lot to answer for, Hyper Anthropocene, ignorance, military inferiority, Minsky moment, organizational failures, Our Children's Trust, rationality, reasonableness, science, science denier, selfishness, the right to be and act stupid, the right to know, the stack of lies, the tragedy of our present civilization, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

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