Yes, science is political

Jan 23, 2017

By Elizabeth Lopatto

Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten notes from Verge Science readers wondering why news from the incoming Trump administration has seeped into our science coverage. I wasn’t surprised: it’s tempting to believe that science is apolitical. But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics.

The scientific method consists of generating a hypothesis, attempting to disprove the hypothesis through testing, and accumulating those tests to come up with shared knowledge. And that method also contains ideology: our observed, shared world is the real world. This ideology even has a name: empiricism. An incoming president who clearly picks and chooses facts to suit his own version of the world changes the relationship between science and culture, in potentially destructive ways.


Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

33 comments on “Yes, science is political

  • Yes, science is political

    How come, then, there is only one Scientific method (broadly defined) recognised and used by all scientists around the world?

    How come we don’t see American science bickering with Chinese science and Russian science and German science as to which one is the “real” science?

    I get what the writer is trying to convey, but in my view the message (the title in particular) is a bit simplistic and potentially misleading.



    Report abuse

  • @OP – But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics.

    Science is clearly the enemy of political liars and fabricators of false information.
    The last thing they want widely viewed in the public domain, is the competent debunking of their propagandist deceptions, by irrefutable empirical methods!



    Report abuse

  • There is a party of fear and a party of hope. The party of fear is in charge- end of story. But I’ll continue anyway…

    Let’s wander back to Hollywood 1951. Two very different sci-fi were hits that year- The Thing From Another World and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Both depict aliens landing on Earth. In “The Thing,” the alien is plant-based and thus heartless, feeds on mammalian blood, multiplies by spreading seeds and is out to conquer our planet. In “The Day,” the alien brings an offer of peace.

    Both films feature scientists who want to save and work with their respective aliens. The scientist in “The Thing” is portrayed as the mad variety who openly valued the progress of science over human life while the scientist in “The Day” was out for the betterment of mankind. Fear versus hope.

    So in that era what was the most spectacular achievement of science? Nuclear bombs. The half-full side said it saved Allied lives by shortening the war while others wondered why anyone would research and invent something that made the destruction of the entire planet more than just a theoretical horror.

    You see the same split today. Some of us get edge-of-our-seats excited over what new particle might show its face at Cern; others think the mad scientists risk creating a black hole that will swallow us all.

    And there is some suggestion this dichotomy might be hereditary. Though the sample was too small and the correlation was only 80%, a study in the UK found conservatives had larger amygdalas- that part of the brain that recognizes and reacts to threats before we can reason our way to a decision- fight or flight (or as they say here in Southland, shoot or scoot). The Darwinian explanation might be that my liberal forebears on the Savanna survived by digging deeper into the scruff and eating better while the conservatives survived by not being eaten.

    But either way, it’s hope versus fear and right now fear is in charge- end of story (and this time I mean it).



    Report abuse

  • We as a species have the intelligence to understand how things function. The central problem is the indoctrination every child gets in early childhood education. First by the parents, then by teachers at schools and by religious institutions..

    We cannot, in our present situation, completely achieve critical thinking because of the early indoctrination parents have already received and passed on to their children. But we as a society can affect children by teaching them some fundamental aspect of the world we live in. Without directly challenging the closely held beliefs of the parents, teachers could teach critical thinking more effectively if they were not themselves deeply indoctrinated or made bigoted with respect to science. Here are some of those concepts:

    Question authority is the most basic theme. Keep up a theme of “How do you know?” or “How can you find out?” or How often do you see this (or that)?”

    Question dualistic thinking. Yes there are some things that conveniently fall into a category of dualism in our observable world. Up vs down, night vs day, black vs white (colors not people), stopped vs moving, energy and matter, mind and body, hot vs cold, are some of these. But eventually even these can be challenged as “clearly” separate. To the end of eliminating dualism, the following can be taught:

    Gradients. Night and day gradient are evening and dawn. Black and white gradient is the relative darkness of grey. Fact and falsehood
    depends on the accuracy of evidence, The blending of colors such as
    water soluble dyes or paint pigments.

    Curve distributions. Tall vs short (in people) is questioned by the clearly observable variation the exists among people. Variation
    within a species should be emphasized in all classrooms and that
    would provide evidence for gradients and opposed against dualistic
    thinking. Height among people is an excellent observable example.

    Sample size. Too often some people accept something as a “fact” from a single observation or even a single statement by someone. In basic science, a sample size of 30 observations is required as sufficient evidence. However in medicine especially with respect to the safety and effectiveness of new pharmaceuticals, thousands of tests are needed before wide spread use is allowed.

    Absolute vs relative. Another basic concept is the erroneous belief in absolutes. I have too often heard in news commentary the statement “That is absolutely right”. No one has the absolute “truth” about anything. We must get rid of this truly destructive notion that something or another is “absolutely” correct.

    These are just some of the basic concepts that must be taught in elementary schools in order to teach critical thinking so badly lacking throughout the world. A gradual approach to critical thinking would best be accomplished slowly and deliberately, not precipitously. During my 41 years of teaching biology, i have often referred to some of these basic concepts, however I did not emphasize them as much as I could have as basic to good critical thinking.

    A disclaimer is that the list of concepts above are not necessarily absolute, complete, or final. Timing in todays world is critical as to when in childhood development these concepts could be taught. Perhaps they could be taught gradually rather than precipitously, depending on the situation.



    Report abuse

  • Popper would not have used the terms “empiricism” or “prove” and it is to him that we owe the scientific method outlined above. Incidentally, the very best YouTube explanation of the scientific method is that by Lullie Tullet (I may have misspelt her name). Virtually all the others are 2,400 or 300 years out of date. This demonstrates that Popper’s method isn’t widely known and used by all scientists.

    Popper’s method is more than the scientific method, it is the general method for problem solving and equally applicable to solving political problems. P1, TS, EE, P2, repeat; problem (you start with a problem P1 and not an observation or an idea), you come up with your first tentative solution TS, you test it EE (error elimination) and through testing you come to a better understanding of the problem P1 and its solution. This is how we grow knowledge in every discipline, by trial and error.

    That said we must agree that Trump has been a fantastic problem solver in many fields to build his empire. And please remember that technology dwarfs science and feeds science with its problems for the most part.

    Trump does GREAT, its his key word, and he will be great for science and technology. One way he will do this is with education and his choice of Betsie as education secretary. Come on. If you can make the most watched speech in the world, the inauguration speech, and say you are going to make America great again and throw in that the US education system is flush with money but our children know nothing you are going to boost science and technology by leaps and bounds by giving the next generation a GREAT education. Teach them skills and concepts please and not stuff that they can get with a few clicks on their smart-phone Teach them mega knowledge rather than junk knowledge/stuff. Bottom line, teach them to be problem solvers rather than walking encyclopedias with heads full of stuff that they may forget.



    Report abuse

  • David #6
    Jan 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Trump does GREAT, its his key word, and he will be great for science and technology. One way he will do this is with education and his choice of Betsie as education secretary. Come on.

    All right! You’ve done the TV (un)reality show comedy!

    Now we need to get real and look at the disaster area Trump is propagating for science and education with his collection of pseudo science science denying muppets, with their “alternative facts”, climate change denial, and pseudo- economics!

    Come on. If you can make the most watched speech in the world, the inauguration speech, and say you are going to make America great again

    He is being watched because he is a dangerous idiot, messing with important global issues, on which he is utterly incompetent, not because he is going to make anything “great” apart from a series of disaster areas around whatever he touches!

    He is already trying to gag scientists because science refutes his reckless, clueless, superficial, half-baked ideas, before he even utters them!
    It is laughable to suggest that Trump’s claims could stand up to tests of scrutiny or Popper falsification!



    Report abuse

  • Alan,

    GREAT to get a comment. Unfortunately I have lost my reply but I will try again tomorrow. I have hit a number of vegan YouTube sites with the one and only diet and none have made a comment. All I can conclude is that they don’t do the most important bit of problem solving EE.



    Report abuse

  • We know that the earth is round. We know that we advance our understanding of facts and values by standing on the shoulders of giants and seeing further. We will get it right. The Islamic world, 1.6b folk, one fifth of humanity, has made no contribution to our understanding of facts and values in 900 years. Yet they were responsible for all of man’s advances in the previous 500 years, the Islamic Golden Age.

    Today we know the best way to run a country and the only economic technology that works. The best way to run a country is RULE BY THE BEST ARGUMENT and the best economic technology (its a technology stupid and not a science) is that that came from David Hume’s drinking partner, Adam Smith. Never-mind the soundbites. Trump does best practice in governance and economics and will make America great again.



    Report abuse

  • 10
    fadeordraw says:

    Trump and his advisors have already signaled an unwillingness to hear facts they don’t like.

    So Canada has recently jettisoned a conservation government which was more ideology than fact-based, including stifling government scientists and scientists marching in protests. “Evidenced-based” for government policy decisions and follow-up accountability became one of the rallying calls. Economically, we did well during these times, the problem was the ideology trumping the evidence, which went on for ten years i.e., as the national conversation/narrative for ten years. And I believe that that was a significant reason for the final electoral rejection as soon as a somewhat viable alternative became available. Let us hope or be positive about Mr. Trumps and his cabinets’ business credentials, which must have been evidenced-based for their money success, will embrace scientists and what they have to offer, and that they aren’t faith-based ideologists banking on continuing to seduce a disgruntled electorate with non-evidenced-based bullshit. If the latter, my wish is that USAers won’t take ten years to change course, though appreciating from experience that a somewhat viable alternative needs to be present.



    Report abuse

  • David #9
    Jan 25, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Today we know the best way to run a country and the only economic technology that works.

    . . . and almost all of this technology was created by the science Trump denies, and the scientists he is trying to silence!

    The best way to run a country is RULE BY THE BEST ARGUMENT and the best economic technology (its a technology stupid and not a science) is that that came from David Hume’s drinking partner, Adam Smith.

    You got it most of it right up to to thins point!

    Never-mind the soundbites.

    That’s why those using evidence and science regard Trump’s TV hype type sound-bites, as ridiculous! Trump and Co. have no scientific or evidenced basis and mostly produce “alternative pseudo-facts” or knee-jerk babblings, which contradict the consensus of expert opinion or even objective reports of events! They work on propagandist disinformation from vested interests, and their own ideological nonsense – not scientific, economic, or technical expertise!

    Trump does best practice in governance and economics and will make America great again.

    You would have to be joking!
    He is trying to turn the US into an isolationist, protectionist, backwater, running unregulated, obsolete, technology!

    He has a massive string people suing him him over debts from rogue business deals.
    Four of his casino companies went bankrupt owing many creditors!
    He paid $25million in an out of court settlement to students who paid for fake business courses at the so called “Trump University”, and he proved him self to be utterly incompetent in the energy business and in diplomacy, in an exchange of letters with the Scottish First Minister.

    He has appointed science deniers and Young Earth Creationists to important cabinet posts and is trying to gag expert federal departments!

    He is just a spoilt kid from a rich family, who made money as a rogue trader!
    He has no capability whatever in running public or government services, and proved this by appointing the most unsuitable people he could find to important cabinet posts. It is only a matter of time before they mess-up big-time and degenerate into squabbling among themselves.
    He has denied climate change and the benefits of renewable energy, and is busy expanding polluting obsolete industries, and stranded assets! Then there is his ridiculous wall, and claims that Mexico is going to pay $billions for it!

    The comedians are already having a field day, and Trump is fuming in infantile rages at criticism of fantasy assertions!

    He could well leave office by way of impeachment, for conflicts of interest, legal transgressions due to pig-headed ignorance, and utter incompetence!



    Report abuse

  • David #6
    Jan 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    This demonstrates that Popper’s method isn’t widely known and used by all scientists.

    This is a statement of profound ignorance!
    Popper falsification is an absolute part of scientific methodology, taught in all university science courses.

    Popper’s method is more than the scientific method, it is the general method for problem solving and equally applicable to solving political problems.

    Nope! – Popper’s method IS included as part of the scientific method – which provides reliable information across many fields!

    And please remember that technology dwarfs science and feeds science with its problems for the most part.

    Technology originates in science, and scientific methodology provides the answers to technical questions. Technology certainly does not “dwarf science”
    Anyone who embarks on technical projects without the relevant knowledge of science, is doomed to failure, and probably some sort of disaster!

    Anyone working with technology who does not understand the related science, is just a machine minder or odd-job man, under the supervision of scientists and engineers. – Someone who plods through the handbooks they have provided, on basic servicing and use of the equipment.

    There ARE people who try to deal with technology, without the required scientific training and understanding – as accident reports show!

    (NASA lost Apollo 1 and two space shuttles as a result of the ignoring of science in warnings from engineers.)



    Report abuse

  • Alan4discussion,

    Great comments. Popper gave us the demarcation criteria in 1934. Its a relatively small tool in the epistemological arsenal. He gave us the most important contribution to the biggest problem in philosophy, the epistemological problem, in 1982 with his universal problem solving methodology, P1, TS, EE, P2 repeat.

    I’m no knocking science when I say technology is bigger. Its bigger because science can give us a law of nature like Newton’s third law of motion but millions of engineers will use it. Popper gave scientific knowledge its deserved place as OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE and the title World 3. Descartes gave us dualism, World 1 and 2 and Popper gave us World 3.

    Going further I would call technology World 4.

    But I would go further and say World 1 was prior to the Big Bang, World 2 is the material world, World 3 is life, World 4 is mind, World 5 is objective knowledge and World 6 is technology. And if we can go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 then we can go to 7,8 and n. Gone is the second law of thermodynamics.

    And further again. Expanding Popper’s scientific method to the general theory to solve any problem. And recognising that there are only two problems in philosophy, epistemology and ethics, facts and values, neatly demarcated by Hume’s guillotine. We can go forward recognising that trial and error gives us the best science, technology and morals.



    Report abuse

  • David #13
    Jan 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Popper gave us the demarcation criteria in 1934. Its a relatively small tool in the epistemological arsenal.
    He gave us the most important contribution to the biggest problem in philosophy, the epistemological problem,

    As I indicated in my earlier comments, Natural Philosophy, and Popper Falsification, became absorbed and an integral part in the scientific study of all aspects of the material universe, leaving the refuted aspects of philosophy to the historians.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epistemology

    Definition of epistemology

    the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity

    Investigation of the laws of nature and evaluation of the objectivity, mathematical relationships, probability of validity, and probabilities of accuracy, are the essential nature of science.

    I’m not knocking science when I say technology is bigger. Its bigger because science can give us a law of nature like Newton’s third law of motion but millions of engineers will use it.

    Technology is simply applied science.
    Whether human engineering applications and perceptions of the scale of human applications, “are bigger” than the applications and mechanisms manifested in nature, is open to debate.
    Looking at the biological and planetary sciences, this would seem doubtful – regardless of impressions which may exist in those immersed and focussed on human engineering, and perhaps unaware of the extent of the mechanisms of nature.

    Popper gave scientific knowledge its deserved place as OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE

    Yep!

    Descartes gave us dualism,

    Which is being progressively debunked by neuroscience, and for which assertion, there is no credible evidence which can be confirmed or refuted by Popper falsification.

    But I would go further and say World 1 was prior to the Big Bang,

    Given that the big-bang appears to be the start-up of space-time within our universe, the circular self-contradiction in the term “prior to time”, lacks any coherent definition, let alone any evidence to support claims about it.
    Beyond the theorised period of inflation, and initial formation of subatomic particles and atoms, the mechanisms of the big-bang are unknown, so the postulated “World 1” is fantasy!

    “World 2” is the material world,

    The material “world” of matter and energy, is the only evidence based system for understanding space-time and the universe.

    And recognising that there are only two problems in philosophy, epistemology and ethics, facts and values,

    Popper falsification in scientific methodology, gives us the most accurate view of facts and nature available.
    This provides a basis for anticipating predictable outcomes from actions, and therefore a basis for making informed moral judgements.
    The actual objectives behind those moral judgements, are derived from an evaluation and resolution of the conflicting interests of the individuals and groups of individuals, involved.

    Naturally some individuals and groups, will selfishly see their own interests as a priority over those of others, so politics and laws should be formulated to provide checks and balances.

    We can go forward recognising that trial and error gives us the best science, technology and morals.

    Trial and error is certainly a part of the methodology, but once repeatable experiments have multiple confirmations, scientific predictions of outcomes should be used as far as possible, to inform judgements.



    Report abuse

  • David #13
    Jan 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    One of the problems of politics and a lack of objective knowledge in the modern world, is poor quality journalism being used as source information by the public – even from what should be competent science publications.

    On this site we debunk such misleading poor quality information.

    This earlier discussion shows an example of an article by a journalist who demonstrably lacks the knowledge of science, required to explain an engineering project!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/07/nasa-is-seriously-considering-terraforming-part-of-the-moon-with-robots/



    Report abuse

  • Alan4discussion,
    I am always impressed by your replies. When you make the statement below am I to assume you are speaking for RDF.

    “On this site we debunk such misleading poor quality information.”

    I would be very pleased if the scientific method, or as I refer to P1,TS, EE, P2 repeat, the universal problem solving method, was taught around the globe. But there is very little reference to Popper on Academy.ed.com which is generally full of current philosophers pursuing lots of silly tangents. I introduced Popper to my engineering lecturers and worked as an engineer for twenty five years as a sub-sea engineer and never met anyone familiar with the scientific method and they came from every university in the UK. I see universities granting degrees in psychoanalysis and Marxist professors, ideologies that some have described as being murdered by Popper’s demarcation criteria vintage 1934.

    I am always introducing Newton’s statement “standing on the shoulder’s of giants and seeing further” but never see any post Popper.

    Please visit Lullie Tullet’s YouTube for the best presentation on epistemology which I refer to as the king of enquiries telling every other discipline what they can and cannot do.

    Please may I submit a post for RDF on ethics.



    Report abuse

  • @David

    That said we must agree that Trump has been a fantastic problem solver in many fields to build his empire. And please remember that technology dwarfs science and feeds science with its problems for the most part.

    I think you have this around backwards. Technology is often not made possible for some decades after the fundamental science was conducted. Lasers are a good example the fundamental science was done more than 50 years ago but Blue rays, checkouts, laser range finders and laser cutters came a long way after that. Technologies usually come some time after the basic science is done. Some of technological development can spurn research and provide a feedback but it usually starts with known science. I may want to build a hover car, I’m much more likely to have success if I think along the lines of known science (magnetism, aerodynamics etc) than if I say well it looks like we need to develop an anti-gravity device.

    Trump does GREAT, its his key word, and he will be great for science and technology. One way he will do this is with education and his choice of Betsie as education secretary. Come on. If you can make the most watched speech in the world, the inauguration speech, and say you are going to make America great again and throw in that the US education system is flush with money but our children know nothing you are going to boost science and technology by leaps and bounds by giving the next generation a GREAT education. Teach them skills and concepts please and not stuff that they can get with a few clicks on their smart-phone Teach them mega knowledge rather than junk knowledge/stuff. Bottom line, teach them to be problem solvers rather than walking encyclopedias with heads full of stuff that they may forget.

    Education always seems so obvious to anyone who hasn’t taught. Trouble is we forget how we learned things and assume all sorts of things about the education system that just are either not true or are far more complicated than you can imagine unless you have been confronted with 26 kids from different backgrounds 4 times a day and told to teach them X by this time.

    Yes we want problem solvers but you are not going to be able to solve many problems unless you understand a few fundamentals first. So a grasp of Mathematics and literacy are essential to being able to do anything. This is going to mean you cannot even look up facts let alone analyse the results on your iPhone if you can’t read. You cannot solve an engineering problem if you cannot add. So right there is years of gradually drilling known facts into kids. You are not going to understand say evolution or forces without learning about genetics and Newtonian physics first. So much of the basis of a good education will lie on the foundation of basic skills and knowledge. Problem solving can be taught at the same time of course but it would be absolutely pointless trying to teach just problem solving, doubt everything! Does 2 + 2 really equal 4? No we teach conventions, facts (which where possible such as in maths can be demonstrated with blocks or objects etc.) but much will rely on explicitly stating certain things.

    There are many problems with the education system in the USA (and here in Australia) the appalling pay given to teachers in the USA and the enormous power given to people who know nothing about education are high on the list. My brother in law (an American teacher) has a Masters in education (obtained at some expense) and he gets less than $40 000 a year! You want people to do a job like teaching don’t be such tight-arses. And let them do their bloody jobs stop telling them they have to teach nonsense. The actual reasons for poor education outcomes are many and varied and if you find yourself thinking it’s just a fundamental issue like the system is just trying to fill kids heads with fact then please first familiarise yourself with the curriculum. Then ask a teacher.



    Report abuse

  • David #16
    Jan 27, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    When you make the statement below am I to assume you are speaking for RDF.

    While I am a regular contributor, I can’t speak for RDFS.
    I just present posts like everyone else.

    Please may I submit a post for RDF on ethics.

    According to the terms and conditions, you can present an argument on any topic relevant to the discussion topic in the opening paragraph, providing it is argued rationally, is not just preaching, and is not abusive to other people posting.
    For details see Section 7 Rules and Section 14 Prohibited Behaviors
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/member/terms-and-conditions/



    Report abuse

  • David #16
    Jan 27, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    I am always introducing Newton’s statement “standing on the shoulder’s of giants and seeing further” but never see any post Popper.

    Both of these are mentioned on this site from time to time.
    I commented on Popper last June, but there are other comments from years ago in the RDFS archives

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/06/why-some-evangelicals-changed-their-minds-about-evolution/#li-comment-206307
    Alan4discussion #61 – Jun 28, 2016 at 11:49 am
    That is pretty clear and simple to understand!
    If it uses evidence and logical reasoning, mathematics etc, and is based on scientific methodology, it is science.
    If it is based on ancient mythology, no testable evidence, no Popper falsification, and indoctrinated preconceptions leading to circular thinking and other fallacies, it is not science!

    But there is very little reference to Popper on Academy.ed.com which is generally full of current philosophers pursuing lots of silly tangents.

    Unfortunately – particularly in the US, there are some very dubious colleges and universities passing of stuff as “philosophy” which reputable philosophers and scientists would not accept as such.

    Postmodernism in particular is often debunked on this site!



    Report abuse

  • I hope that one of the four year results of the Trump presidency is that a whole bunch of sciency people and scientists look to run for office. I have been openly critical of “protests” and everyone here is probably sick of my point of view on that. But, a plan that has teeth and actually could induce positive change is that we need better politicians. I hope people are motivated to both run and to support those who run. If you are like me, you do not want the scrutiny, the skeletons (I have way too many!!!) and the general idea of representing people is kind of foreign. But, I hope that there is a subset of people who want to affect change and that they stand up when it comes to their door. MORE SCIENTISTS!!!



    Report abuse

  • Trump does GREAT… he will be great for science…

    Trump understands Science so well that he initially offered the post of Education Secretary to Jerry Falwell, a preacher who runs a “university” that teaches pseudoscientific nonsense…



    Report abuse

  • Cantaz #21
    Jan 30, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Trump understands Science so well that he initially offered the post of Education Secretary to Jerry Falwell, a preacher who runs a “university” that teaches pseudoscientific nonsense…

    . . . and Trump +, also understand administration and diplomacy so well, that they don’t bother consulting the federal experts, and are committed to radically reducing federal budgets and staff numbers!

    Who needs professionals to advise the president and his yes-men? ? ? ? 🙂

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/01/im-a-slacker-muslim-but-donald-trump-has-us-atheists-nervous/#li-comment-217967

    After all, commenting on his executive order about restrictions applying to seven countries – the lord high Trump said his government was “totally prepared.” – “It’s working out very nicely,”!



    Report abuse

  • Everybody approaches the world with belief system bias, but those who are most deceived won’t even recognize their own dependence on belief systems. The more one pretends his belief system is equivalent to fact, the less likely he’ll ever question what he believes and the more likely he’ll push his beliefs on others as if they were fact. He doesn’t ask others to believe like he does, no, he screams, “there is no debate, no belief, only science”. I got news for you, Science as we know it, will never produce moral codes, it’ll never say what is right and what is wrong, it’ll never give you the values or worth of humans or objects. Whenever you see these things, it is all belief systems. Science will never tell you it’s wrong to use a nuclear bomb on a city. It’ll never tell you when the baby becomes a baby or at what gestational point the abortionist is committing murder. It’ll never tell you that a cripple is more or less valuable than a non cripple. It’ll never tell you that a girl is more valuable than a boy or visa versa. It’ll never tell you what will make you happy. That is all belief systems and they are peddled wherever you go, but the evil is in the belief systems that pretend they are not belief systems. Their alluring lies are able to deceive millions and make other true believers that never question their faith because they actually believe they have none. So the next time you hear somebody preaching that a baby isn’t a baby until first breath, and that promiscuity, homosexuality, prostitution, and transgendering are all moral because science told him it was, please recognize he’s delusional and has yet to realized his own dependence on belief systems.



    Report abuse

  • Jeriah Knox #24
    Jan 31, 2017 at 3:13 am

    He doesn’t ask others to believe like he does, no, he screams, “there is no debate, no belief, only science”.

    This I’m afraid is a psychological projection of unevidenced faith-belief on to the scientists who calmly produce and repeatedly confirm what works in reality and what does not.

    I got news for you, Science as we know it, will never produce moral codes, it’ll never say what is right and what is wrong, it’ll never give you the values or worth of humans or objects.

    While moral objectives are based on balancing the conflicting interests of various individuals and groups, without scientific methodology, there is no reliable way of predicting outcomes of actions, and therefore no rational basis for making moral judgements.

    Whenever you see these things, it is all belief systems.

    On the one hand there is confidence in the scientifically predicted outcomes on which effects on humans can be evaluated, and on the other hand there is faith-based unevidenced tradition, based on superstitions, ancient folk-law, and notions falsely assumed to be correct in earlier times, when human societies were ignorant or the information which science now makes available.

    Science will never tell you it’s wrong to use a nuclear bomb on a city.

    Science will tell you of the predicted outcomes, without which you will be left blindly guessing on moral issues about effects on people. Those who care about the outcomes use science.

    It’ll never tell you when the baby becomes a baby

    Actually is does a pretty good job of tracing the continuous embryological process of development from a bunch of cells without a brain to the eventual development of a sentient individual – IF the development is successful in progressing all the way to birth.
    In the course of nature about 70% of human embryos don’t reach birth, but naturally abort.

    or at what gestational point the abortionist is committing murder.

    “Murder” is a legal term for killing which is not sanctioned by local laws.

    It is a DESCRIPTION of an enforced moral code, NOT the basis for one.
    Hence the laws on killing vary according to political jurisdictions.
    For example, in some parts of the world, local “moral codes” and laws, class Christian preaching as blasphemy – legally punishable by death or imprisonment!

    To claim that abortions or miscarriages are “murder” is just a circular argument of the fallacy of begging the question in the absence of an evidence based reasoned view.

    Their alluring lies are able to deceive millions and make other true believers that never question their faith

    That is certainly true of many indoctrinated theists, who never look for the on evidence on which they claim to base their views, and merely unquestioningly accept what they have been told.

    because they actually believe they have none.

    Those who do not use the fallacy of accepting beliefs on unquestioning “faith”, have to actually THINK about real issues, and real effects on people, rather than pandering to imaginary gods and the ancient made-up dogmas promoted by their priests.

    So the next time you hear somebody preaching that a baby isn’t a baby until first breath,

    Are there such people?
    Certainly not scientists or medical specialists make this claim.
    They understand the continuity of development.
    They also usually understand the ignorant black and white thinking, which has no understanding of biological development of nervous systems and brains, causing people to make knee-jerk judgements which damage the lives of other REAL people, based on their blind acceptance preached ignorance, about mythical souls and zygotes or blastocysts being “babies”!

    and that promiscuity, homosexuality, prostitution,

    Notions of these are all based on inflexible indoctrinated fixed ideas of “marriages” regulated by religious busy-bodies who feel entitled to meddle in the sex lives of others!

    and transgendering are all moral because science told him it was,

    Science gives clear evidence that transgender conditions and homosexuality are natural biological conditions which arise during irregular embryonic development in some individuals.
    They are not matters over which the individuals have personal control.
    There are intermediate forms of body between the two sexes, as various objective scientific studies show.

    If an individual has a male genome and has developed a female body (or vice-versa) this should not be a basis for abusive ignorant bigotry dressed up as “morality”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38730291

    Model Hanne Gaby Odiele reveals she is intersex to ‘break taboo’

    Hanne Gaby Odiele, 29, was born with undescended testicles, which were removed when she was 10 after doctors warned that they could cause cancer.

    Intersex people are born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics.

    According to the United Nations, the condition affects up to 1.7% of the world’s population.

    Ms Odiele, originally from Belgium, was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS).

    please recognize he’s delusional and has yet to realized his own dependence on belief systems.

    Please recognise that indoctrinated “faith thinking”, gives delusional confidence in ignorance based dogmas! – Often exhibited as psychological projection.
    The programmed god-delusions in believers brains, also make it difficult for them to understand that there are evidence based rational forms of thinking, which require more effort and education to enable the acquisition of a realistic understanding of the workings of nature, so those indoctrinated individuals project this form of irrational faith-thinking from unevidenced preconceptions, on to those using the evidenced science, they do not understand.

    In cultures where dogmas are blindly enforced, there are many victims whose lives are damaged by the delusional ignorance of others!

    “My preacher has told me, God-did-it-by-magic-so-I-now-understand-everything-and-have-all-the-answers”, is a childish delusion, not a basis for moral judgements!



    Report abuse

  • @ #24

    Whenever you see these things, it is all belief systems…

    Nobody falls for that kind of false equivalence here.

    To suggest that any way of understanding the world is equally valid and effective as any other is naïve at best.

    If one truly thought of Science as just like any other “belief system”, one should be consistent with that thought and be ready to deny oneself all the advantages and progress that science has made possible (modern technology and medicine included) over the few hundred years of its history.



    Report abuse

  • All we have is confidence in ideas. confidence is set up through use of the scientific method, observation, logic, verification, reliability, and reproducibility. I will not speak for anyone here (nor everyone here) but, there are ideas that i have a high confidence in and ideas that i have a low confidence in. All of my confidences rest between 1% probability and 99% probability.

    sometimes I am guilty of being lazy with language and it may seem like I am declaring something a 0% or a 100% probability, but, it is only that, lazy language. I am never 0% nor 100%.

    You, Jeriah, seem 100% convinced that you’ve figured shit out. And, you haven’t. You are declaring McDonald’s the best restaurant without ever having experienced a restaurant that serves food outside the fast food paradigm.

    You are so so far in over your head that I am going to call you Trumpie.

    Now, Trumpie, I have a very very high confidence that oranges exist. I have a much lower confidence in the existence of unicorns. you know how i can say that? That’s right. Use of all of the skills I listed above.

    Trumpie,, simply saying something or having words in your vocabulary to express an idea does not commit any of the rest of us to agreeing, taking you seriously, or spending an ounce of time or effort entertaining your madness. However, you will find many folks here (I am NOT one of them) who will patiently spell stuff out for you. You are, again under no obligation to listen, entertain etc… their posts.

    let’s see just how our methodology compares/contrasts to yours. I have confidence in the idea that exercising raises your heart rate and can lead to weight loss. you may agree or disagree…. then offer me something that you assert and I will do the same.



    Report abuse

  • Jeriah Knox

    Hi I see you are using the is-ought distinction. I thought Sam Harris handily dealt with this in “The Moral Landscape”. Worth a look even if you don’t agree in the end. Basically, provided you accept that the foundation of any morality that matters to anyone is to do with the suffering of creatures capable of suffering then science can indeed tell you a great deal about what is moral.

    Abortion for example – knowing when a fetus is capable of feeling distress or pain is entirely within the realms of science and provided you can agree that it might be bad to cause suffering then science by helping us quantify suffering of all individuals involved is entirely relevant. Once we have a better understanding of the brain we may be able to tell the exact moment when a baby is a baby.

    Same for bombing a city. Let’s consider the morality of bombing a desert compared to a city, science could in this case be used to great effect to make a clear judgment about the comparative effects. You have but to accept the premise that we are interested in the suffering of conscious creatures.

    The whole field of psychology is geared towards helping us understand what makes us happy. As imperfect as our science is in this realm we are certainly pursuing anti-depressants in this very goal.

    As for this being a belief system, well it simply isn’t. Science may be able to answer some of these questions to some degree now, other questions may be beyond us. Other questions may be thought answered, only to find out with more information we develop a better model. None of this relies of faith. I don’t need faith to know these methods work I can see the results all around me. I can fly in an aircraft, get cures to diseases that would have been treated with prayer or exorcism only a couple of hundred years ago. I can measure directly the benefits by comparing life expectancy in countries which still rely on faith for health care. I can put a priest without a pilot license in an a480 and wait for years with no success to take off on prayer alone. Or I can put a pilot in and take off now. If some aspect of science turns out to be wrong it can be overturned and if the evidence is convincing I will throw away my beliefs in a heartbeat. That is the very antithesis of faith.

    And what pray tell is your alternative? Faith in a deity you cannot prove exists? You would base your decisions about morality on what scripture?

    Let’s have a little look-see at what the Bible says about abortion and child murder?

    Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD. — Numbers 3:15-16

    So not a human until 1 month old, so God thinks it okay for a retrospective abortion?

    And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. — Numbers 31:15-17

    Child murder is justified how? Were these children evil?

    Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. — Hosea 9:14

    God is happy to abort.

    Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. — Hosea 9:16

    If you sin God kills your innocent baby?

    Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up. — Hosea 13:16

    Women with child ripped up. Infants dashed to pieces?

    Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. — 2 Samuel 12:14

    Child dies for sins of the parent. Perhaps women wanting an abortion should just commit blasphemy and save the bother and expense of an abortion clinic.

    The priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell. And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. …
    And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed. — Numbers 5:21-21, 27-28

    spell for testing if unfaithful women are in fact unfaithful. If they have conceived through an affair the child must die. After all he paid good money to buy the woman.

    Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. — Genesis 38:24

    Again another confirmation being slutty results not only in your death but the death of the poor child.

    The LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon…. And there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. — Exodus 12:29-30

    (this was after the Pharaoh had tried to release the Jews several times only to have God harden his heart, as he told Moses he would before Moses began his campaign. So God murdered these children unnecessarily to make a point about how powerful he was.)

    And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. — 2 Kings 2:23-24

    Cheeky children deserve to be eaten by bears.

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. — Psalm 137:9

    Of course science will never be able to determine what causes happiness but faith can. Apparently happiness is dashing little ones against rocks.

    What does it say about rape?

    If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. — Deuteronomy 22:23-24

    So if she cannot cry out (perhaps his hand is over her mouth) it’s her fault she was raped

    But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. … For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. — Deuteronomy 22:25-27

    This clarifies the first- definitely her fault in a city she is at least presumed to have screamed her lungs out far from other. This shows the rape victims is also considered a sinner.

    And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. — Numbers 31:15-18

    Child murder, pedophilia and rape.

    So religion and faith gives us what alternative? None that don’t cause more evil. So yes I’d agree the universe does not care if we wreck this planet, kill each other, but you are missing the most simple point possible. I care! I care about my wife, my son, my extended family friends, the students I teach and my society! I have evolved to care – certainly not the only strategy that could have evolved, if I was a crocodile I probably would not care but as a primate I do. I have evolved emotions (not personally evolved them just the recipient of my emotions) and as such I can use science to maximize my chances of survival and interest and fun and love of life. None of this requires faith. Although I remain open to be convinced otherwise (another scientific principle). You’ve made the assertion about science never been able to touch this stuff I’d love to hear some evidence.

    Regards



    Report abuse

  • The science and applications behind psychology and information technology is also “political”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38850907
    Russia is carrying out a sustained campaign of cyber attacks targeting democracy and critical infrastructure in the West, UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has warned.

    Moscow hoped to destabilise governments, expand its influence and weaken Nato by “weaponising misinformation” he said.

    Sir Michael said Russian President Vladimir Putin had chosen to become a “strategic competitor” of the West.

    Moscow said the claims were unfounded.

    It came as UK Prime Minister Theresa May was preparing to press fellow Nato members to spend more on defence at an informal EU summit in Malta.

    Meanwhile MPs have warned that a skills shortage and “chaotic” handling of personal data breaches are undermining confidence in the UK government’s ability to protect its own infrastructure and economy from cyber attacks.

    Sir Michael said Nato needed to do more to tackle a “false reality” being propagated by the Kremlin and said its member states must strengthen their cyber defences.

    The defence secretary pointed to a “persistent pattern of behaviour” by Moscow, highlighting a series of cyber attacks that had been linked to Russia.

    Sir Michael also spoke about the suspected Russian hacking of the two main political parties in the US presidential elections.

    Sir Michael said: “Today, we see a country that in weaponising misinformation has created what we might now see as the post-truth age.

    “Russia is clearly testing Nato and the West. It is seeking to expand its sphere of influence, destabilise countries and weaken the alliance.

    “It is undermining national security for many allies and the international rules-based system.

    Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Trump is also undermining the international (and national) rules-based systems, and promoting “the post-truth-age”!



    Report abuse

  • It seems that large media organisations are fighting back!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38882236

    French journalists are teaming up with Facebook and Google to create a new fact-checking service aimed at tackling the rise of “fake news”.

    Seventeen French newsrooms will be involved in the CrossCheck project, with a focus on the French elections.

    The news agencies involved include French daily Le Monde, BuzzFeed News and Agence France-Presse.

    Germany and the US have already agreed measures with Facebook to help tackle the issue.

    The news organisations operating in France will collaborate with the two technology giants to debunk false information amid an increase in pressure in recent weeks to prevent the spread of fraudulent reports.

    CrossCheck, a collaborative verification project aimed at helping French voters “make sense of what and who to trust online”, will offer users the option to identify and flag news stories as either “real”, “satire” or “fake”.

    The project is supported by both Facebook and Google’s News Lab.

    Facebook has faced criticism for failing to prevent the republishing of false information on its site during last year’s US presidential election campaign.

    Concerns have now been raised that false information may be distributed on Facebook or promoted on Google in the build-up to the French presidential election, which takes place in April and May.

    It will be interesting to see how many of the Trump-team’s “alternative facts” or brexiteer fairy-tales, are flagged as FAKE!

    How will services like CrossCheck work?

    The aim is to allow users to "upload" information that they believe to be false
    The links reported are collected and held within a portal, which news organisations have access to
    The reports can then be fact-checked and the information verified
    If two partner media establish that a report is false, it will appear in feeds with a flag
    If a user then wants to share the content, a window will open with a "fake news" alert




    Report abuse

  • On a further font against fake news, a UKIP MEP (that right-wing-nut party, recently led by science denying mini-Trump-clone and Trump pet – Nigel Farage), has just lost a libel and slander case!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-388847620

    Three Labour MPs have each won £54,000 High Court libel damages from UKIP MEP Jane Collins over remarks she made about Rotherham’s child abuse scandal.

    She claimed Rotherham MPs Sir Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion knew about child exploitation in the town but did not intervene.

    The case was sparked by a speech the Yorkshire and Humber MEP gave at UKIP’s conference in September 2014.

    Her attempt to obtain immunity from prosecution failed in October.

    Ms Collins faces an estimated costs bill of £196,000. She was ordered to make an interim payment of £120,000.

    That sum, plus the total of £162,000 damages, must be paid within 21 days.

    Ms Collins was sued by the MPs for libel and slander after she alleged that each of them knew many of the details of the exploitation yet deliberately chose to do nothing.

    She made the speech at a UKIP conference a month after a report found that about 1,400 children in the area had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

    The High Court heard the MEP also expressed the opinion that the MPs had acted out of political correctness, political cowardice or political selfishness and were guilty of misconduct so grave that it was or should be criminal, as it aided the perpetrators.

    Ms Collins had refused to withdraw her comments throughout the whole of the campaign, had not apologised and had repeatedly tried to delay the litigation.



    Report abuse

  • It seems that not just science, but any competent or honest reporting is “political” under the Trump regime!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39088770

    Media groups have reacted angrily after several, including the BBC, were barred from an informal briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

    The excluded New York Times said the move was “an unmistakable insult to democratic ideals”.

    The bar came hours after President Donald Trump delivered another attack on the media, saying that “fake news” was the “enemy of the people”.

    The BBC has asked the White House to clarify its exclusion.

    BBC bureau chief in Washington, Paul Danahar, said: “We understand that there may be occasions when, due to space or circumstances, the White House restricts press events to the established pool. However, what happened today did not fit into that pattern.”

    He added: “Our reporting will remain fair and impartial, regardless.”

    However, the choice of those attending, including groups seen as friendly to the Trump administration, and the fact that other journalists who asked to attend were refused entry drew condemnation from media groups.

    White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason said it was “protesting strongly”.

    The BBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail and Politico were among those excluded.

    Those allowed into the room included ABC, Fox News, Breitbart News, Reuters and the Washington Times.

    The Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine refused to attend as a protest against the move.

    Both the Washington Post and McClatchy said they were unaware of the exclusions at the time and that had they known, their reporters would not have attended the gaggle.

    Both said they would not participate in future briefings if the exclusions continued.

    An anchor for Fox News, seen as supportive of the Trump presidency, also revealed opposition to the move.

    Bret Baier tweeted: “We joined w/all networks in a complaint to WH about the incident.”

    When asked at the gaggle, Mr Spicer denied CNN and the New York Times had been denied access because the White House was unhappy with their coverage.

    But he said: “We are just not going to sit back and let false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there.”

    CNN anchor Jake Tapper said the exclusion was “not acceptable, in fact it’s petulant. And indicative of a lack of basic understanding of how an adult White House functions”.

    Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron said the White House move was “appalling”.

    In an editorial, the LA Times said: “If the intent was to intimidate reporters into writing fewer things that the administration does not like, and more things that it does, it is doomed to failure.”

    The New York Times editorial said: “That First Amendment can be inconvenient for anyone longing for power without scrutiny. Mr. Trump might want to brush up on what it means, and get used to it.

    The White House kiddies are throwing the toys out of the pram again!



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.