Respectful Insolence

Crank magnetism strikes again

Since I happen to have fallen into the topic of anthropogenic global warming, before I move back to medical topics I might as well have a little fun. Certainly, I could use some, given that I just wrote two posts in which I felt forced to criticize someone whom I admire greatly. Besides, it’s been over a week since I last blogged about vaccines on this blog. that has to be some sort of record. Why wreck it now? It feels good to take a break from the topic, and there’s always next week. I have no doubt that the anti-vaccine movement will produce something begging for some not-so-Respectful Insolence before Christmas, and I don’t want to be burned out by dealing with anti-vaccine nonsense when it does.

You may remember that not too long ago, I postulated the corollary to the concept of crank magnetism known as the “vindication of all kooks.” Basically, this corollary states that, as a consequence of crank magnetism, when one kook or group of kooks are perceived as having been “vindicated,” then all kooks will view it as vindication. Most recently, I discussed this idea in relation to “climategate,” where cranks of all stripes are jumping upon the perceived “vindication” of AGW “skeptics” as “proof” that all science is corrupt and therefore their views must have merit.

What better way to finish the week than yet another example of crank magnetism. Even better, it’s by Rick Santorum in the form of an article entitled The Elephant in the Room: Challenging science dogma. Talk about a hunk o’ burnin’ burnin’ stupid! It’s also excellent source material for “spot that logical fallacy.” Let’s begin.

Santorum begins:

Questioning the scientific consensus in pursuit of the truth is an important part of how science has advanced through the centuries. But what happens when the scientific consensus becomes an ideology that trumps the pursuit of truth? Answer: Those making legitimate inquiries are ostracized, the careers of dissenters are destroyed, and debate is stifled.

Unfortunately, I am referring not only to the current proponents of the theory of man-made global warming. In 2001, I offered a legislative amendment about teaching the subject of evolution. I caught more flak for this simple amendment than for almost anything else I championed in the Senate.

The amendment Santorum added stated:

Good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.

Ah, yes, teach the controversy! Except that there is no scientific controversy in this particular area, at least not with respect to the theory of evolution. Notice how Santorum paints himself as the skeptic, the one defending children against dogma. of course, it becomes manifestly clear that he is not if you just ask yourself one simple question: Why does Santorum doubt evolution? Obviously, it’s not because of a sober assessment of the science, in which he examined the issue, the evidence for evolution, and found it lacking based on science, reason, and logic. With very few exceptions, creationists “doubt” evolution not because of the science, but because science conflicts with their religion. Indeed, although Santorum was very careful not to mention God as a reason for his wanting to teach the “weaknesses” of evolution along with the evidence for it, he did slip up here:

A recent Gallup poll found that only 14 percent of Americans agreed that “humans developed over millions of years” and “God had no part.” A Zogby poll this year found that 78 percent of Americans agreed that schoolteachers “should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.” The same poll also found that 86 percent of self-identified liberals agreed that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.” But the scientific “community” claims there is no controversy, and that debate should be banned.

This is nothing more than a classic appeal to popularity. So what if most Americans don’t “believe” in evolution? It’s not an issue of belief or lack of belief. Moreover, why would it matter in the least whether a majority of Americans disagree with the contention that “God had no part” in how humans developed. I thought this was supposed to be about the science! Oops! Actually, it is all about religion, Santorum’s denials notwithstanding. His amendment was nothing more than a clever attempt to provide an opening to teachers to present various flavors of creationism as “alternatives” to evolution under the guise of teaching weaknesses in the theory.

Having established himself as an evolution crank, Santorum then demonstrates his most excellent crank magnetism:

It is one thing for ideologically driven science to indoctrinate children in classrooms. It is another for politicians to use science to destroy national economies and redistribute global wealth. I refer, of course, to the latest scientific non-controversy, man-made global warming.

Climate change’s Pharisees reassure us that the global-warming science is still settled. Never mind recent revelations of gross misconduct on the part of Britain’s Climatic Research Unit. Never mind its repeated refusal to release vital climate data. And never mind the legitimate questions that climate-change skeptics have been asking for some time. There’s nothing to see here; move along.

Ding ding ding ding ding! We have the vindication of all kooks corollary to crank magnetism! And if you don’t believe me, Santorum makes it explicit here:

Given this uncertainty, I think most Americans find the experts’ cocksureness unsettling. Despite the bravado and billions of dollars in media hype supporting the climate alarmists, only 37 percent of respondents agreed that man is causing global warming in a recent Rasmussen poll.

Why? Well, maybe because Americans don’t like being told what to believe. Maybe because we have learned to be skeptical of “scientific” claims, particularly those at war with our common sense – like the Darwinists’ telling us for decades that we are just a slightly higher form of life than a bacterium that is here purely by chance, or the Environmental Protection Agency’s informing us last week that man-made carbon dioxide – a gas that humans exhale and plants need to live, a gas that represents less than 0.1 percent of the atmosphere – is a dangerous pollutant threatening to overheat the world.

Let’s see. Here we have crank magnetism plus some logical fallacies, such as another appeal to popularity (argumentum ad populum), as if what the public believes has any bearing on the strength of the science supporting AGW and evolution. Then there’s one that I like to call the “appeal to common sense,” which is basically a subset of argumentum ad populum, in essence arguing that “everybody knows” something to be true. Of course, “everybody knows” ghosts exist, too, but that doesn’t make it correct. Just because the public believes it doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Rick Santorum is a most excellent example of crank magnetism. Science is the enemy because it conflicts with his predetermined views. Of course, it never ceases to amaze me how supporters of religion-based pseudoscience such as creationism often fall back on the tactic of trying to represent science as just another religion but not the One True Religion. Don’t they know that in doing so they’re reducing their own religious beliefs to the same level they perceive the science they detest to be at?

Probably not.

Comments

  1. #1 James Sweet
    December 18, 2009

    A recent Gallup poll found that only 14 percent of Americans agreed that “humans developed over millions of years” and “God had no part.”

    I dunno, I think Santorum has a point. If we started letting people vote on reality, we could solve all sorts of problems!

    World hunger? No, 98% of Americans have voted for world hunger to stop existing. Problem solved!

    Crime and poverty? How could the majority support that?! Let’s get it voted right out of existence!

    Hell, Orac, you oncologists could be put right out of business by this. All we need is to get 51% of American voters to agree that cancer can be instantly healed by simple herbs and prayer, and we’re golden.

    I really don’t see how you could be opposed to this!

  2. #2 Berner
    December 18, 2009

    I love the appeal to statistics ie “only 14% believe in evolution!” as if that has some effect on the truth of the matter. 100% of people used to know that the Earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the Earth.

  3. #3 Jason
    December 18, 2009

    Berner, just to clarify, his quote

    14 percent of Americans agreed that “humans developed over millions of years” and “God had no part.”

    also contains a fallacy. Most of those people do believe that humans developed over millions of years, but have some wishy-washy undetermined role for god somewhere.

    Kind of like claiming all Americans are atheists because “only 2% of Americans agreed that God exists and that they rape children.”

  4. #4 Gus Snarp
    December 18, 2009

    A Zogby poll this year found that 78 percent of Americans agreed that schoolteachers “should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.”

    I couldn’t agree more. If anyone ever does actually find any scientific evidence against the theory of evolution, then it should be taught. But since, at present, there is no scientific evidence against the theory of evolution, there is no need to alter any curriculum.

  5. #5 Calli Arcale
    December 18, 2009

    Excellently put, Jason. To extend on it, the “God had no part” bit is pretty vague. To answer “no” to that question, one could believe any of these things:

    * God zapped us into existence 6,000 years ago
    * God caused creatures to evolve exactly the way He wanted them to
    * God nudged evolution occasionally to guide it along a desired path
    * God set it all in motion from the beginning, knowing it would work out, and then stood back
    * God didn’t guide it at all, but has been very interested in the entire process, and likes to talk to us

    That’s a pretty huge range. The last couple of items wouldn’t even qualify as intelligent design; they’re pretty much compatible with mainstream evolutionary thinking.

  6. #6 Screechy Monkey
    December 18, 2009

    And once again Santorum works himself up into a froth.

  7. #7 Liz
    December 18, 2009

    “A recent Gallup poll found that only 14 percent of Americans agreed that “humans developed over millions of years” AND “God had no part.”

    I agree with #3. This poll puts two different concepts together so that it is impossible to answer “Gee, I know the scientists are right about evolution, but the jury’s still out on this god thing.” (For although religious mythologies has been disproved, “God” hasn’t) So how is an agnostic supposed to answer that question truthfully?

    Talk about skewed, cherry-picked surveys.

  8. #8 Sastra
    December 18, 2009

    Of course, it never ceases to amaze me how supporters of religion-based pseudoscience such as creationism often fall back on the tactic of trying to represent science as just another religion but not the One True Religion. Don’t they know that in doing so they’re reducing their own religious beliefs to the same level they perceive the science they detest to be at?

    Pseudoscientists and religionists think such leveling gains their theories credibility, through a back door.

    Those who try to portray all beliefs as having been arrived at by preference and choice seldom end up concluding that all fact claims are then a matter of arbitrary taste, and therefore equal. No, they shift the discovery of truth away from examining the empirical evidence for a belief, and towards examining the heart and worthiness of the believer. Your conclusions are going to reflect the kind of person you are. There are good people, and bad people. Nice people are attracted to truth, by a sort of instinct.

    The bad people are involved in the necessary conspiracy against the nice people, out of sheer cussed ornery-ness, presumably. Or maybe it’s sin.

  9. #9 Berner
    December 18, 2009

    @#3

    Yeah I knew that part, my sloppy quoting was just to prove a point that the numbers of people who believe in something don’t get at it’s truth factor.

  10. #10 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 18, 2009

    Never mind its repeated refusal to release vital climate data.

    hahahahahahahahahhaaahhaaha! Data! Public access data! Been there for a long time! Processed data. Raw data. Paleodata. In-between data. Models. Now centrally located for convenient one stop shopping at realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

    Oh, sure, there’s 5% of the data they haven’t released because it was purchased from other nations and there are signed agreements not to give it away. But it is also still accessible to any company with some money to purchase it from the original sources.

    Once the CRU explained that it can’t release purchased data skeptics of course quit bothering them and went and talked to the original owners of the data. Not. The ‘skeptics’ flooded CRU with many more FOIA requests, and became irate when they received the same answer: We can’t give you purchased data. Go purchase it yourself.

    So another lie (refusal to release data) comes to life and refuses to die.

  11. #11 Jojo
    December 18, 2009

    I took great pleasure in voting against Santorum in 2006. I’m surprised that he received the most flak for his beliefs on evolution. I was equally critical of his stance on evolution as I was his stance on homosexuals and abortion. And don’t even get me started on his hypocrisy in regards to politician’s residency.

  12. #12 Prometheus
    December 18, 2009

    Without getting into the issue of AGW, I think that the actions that led to “Climate-gate” should be seen as a cautionary tale for everyone in science – especially those in politically-charged fields (e.g. climate research, vaccine research).

    What the hacked e-mails show is that these scientists were so convinced about the importance of their message (“Human activity is causing global warming.”) that they crossed the line separating research from activism.

    As much as I can understand why they wanted to blacklist certain researchers and boycott journals that published research they disagreed with, that isn’t how science is done. If we start trying to “hush up” dissent in science, we might as well give up any claim of objectivity right now.

    Unfortunately, all of science is having to pay for their transgressions, as this post shows all too clearly. The forces of superstition and unreason are waiting to pounce on any indication that science works the way they claim it does – namely by imposing a monolithic dogma and suppressing dissent. They desperately want to show that science is no better than their own dogmatic, faith-based belief systems (e.g. creationism).

    I’ve done a great deal of soul-searching lately, asking myself if I’ve ever done what these climate scientists have been caught doing. Have I ever refused to send an article to a journal because they published researchers that disagree with my work? Have I ever “trashed” an article in peer review because I disagreed with its results? I hope not, but I will re-double my vigilance against that sort of behavior in the future.

    However, it is one thing to do these things sub-consciously or as an isolated act; it is quite another to not only do them but encourage others to do the same. There’s a word for that: conspiracy. I don’t like that word much, but there doesn’t seem to be any other that fits.

    It may be (and I sincerely hope it is) that the scientists involved never consciously thought that they were conspiring to suppress research that conflicted with theirs. I strongly suspect that they were just so convinced that their view was right and all others were wrong that they were – in their own eyes – trying to “maintain the purity of the literature” (a phrase I’ve heard before in my own field).

    Good intentions – the paving material of choice on the road to Hell.

    As tempting as it is to “circle the wagons” and claim that the e-mails were “cherry-picked” (they were) and “taken out of context” (probably so), I feel we have to acknowledge that the actions described in the e-mails are wrong. I can imagine no “context” in which blacklisting researchers, destruction of evidence or supressing research could be acceptable.

    If we claim that the “message” is so important that the ends justify the means, then we have already lost.

    Prometheus

  13. #13 Orac
    December 18, 2009

    I’ve done a great deal of soul-searching lately, asking myself if I’ve ever done what these climate scientists have been caught doing. Have I ever refused to send an article to a journal because they published researchers that disagree with my work?

    If I see papers that I disagree with because I consider them to be bad science showing up in a journal, then I see no problem with my deciding not to send any more of my manuscripts to that journal until it cleans up its act. Why would I want to associate my work with a journal that’s publishing what is in my opinion bad science? Similarly, I would see no problem with telling my colleagues, “Hey, I think this journal has been publishing some crappy manuscripts lately; you might want to rethink whether you want to submit your work there.” I don’t consider such acts to be “conspiracy,” “suppressing research I don’t agree with,” or even morally or scientifically wrong.

    Although I agree with much of what you’ve written, the above part of your post is off-base and strikes me as excessive hand-wringing. So does the part about supposedly “suppressing’ or “destroying” evidence. I think Steve Novella had a far more reasonable take on the issue:

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1336

    This Nature editorial also describes the issue well:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/full/462545a.html

  14. #14 muteKi
    December 18, 2009

    Well, my thoughts, regarding the poll results, was that most people just thought the Emperor WAS really well-clothed. Didn’t mean he was.

    Also, this line in Santorum’s article cracked me up”
    “Well, maybe because Americans don’t like being told what to believe.”
    HMMMM I WONDER IF THAT’S TRUE OF SCIENTISTS TOO

  15. #15 muteKi
    December 18, 2009

    This line in Santorum’s article cracked me up:
    “Well, maybe because Americans don’t like being told what to believe.”
    HMMMM I WONDER IF THAT’S TRUE OF SCIENTISTS TOO

  16. #16 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 18, 2009

    Prometheus…I see Orac has responded already (the Nature article is good, and it deals with the blacklisting note), but I also wanted to mention a couple of things in regards to this quote.

    As much as I can understand why they wanted to blacklist certain researchers and boycott journals that published research they disagreed with, that isn’t how science is done.

    What they actually decided to do though was to marshall the evidence, do some more research, and then publish a journal article that soundly demolished one of the shoddy pieces of work that made it into the journal.

    Essentially we have scientists expressing frustration, talking tough, making some probably ill-advised statements, but in the end deciding to do battle in the journals just as is expected of good scientists. As the Nature article states

    Whatever the e-mail authors may have said to one another in (supposed) privacy, however, what matters is how they acted. And the fact is that, in the end, neither they nor the IPCC suppressed anything: when the assessment report was published in 2007 it referenced and discussed both papers.

  17. #17 Kermit
    December 18, 2009

    “…trying to represent science as just another religion but not the One True Religion. Don’t they know that in doing so they’re reducing their own religious beliefs to the same level they perceive the science they detest to be at?”

    No, they don’t know that, although they are. I was raised Creationist. The denialist mind set (especially when religious, such as anti-science Creationists) will *say that there is an external reality, but they don’t act like it. They act as though reality is a social construct, an agreement such as the boundaries of a country. We all have filters through which we view our experiences, and make sense of the world. But theirs is so at odds with reality that they have to work full time ignoring information, and seeking reassurances from the rest of their tribe.

    They don’t lie, they bravely forge ahead against the infidels and do what they have to, to protect the Kingdom of God, or the Free Market, or the superiority of the White Race, or to save our children from the Big Pharm Vaccine Conspiracy.

    They are not trying to determine what reality is, but rather convince you of the right and righteous reality that should be. The Creationists, especially, have practiced this since childhood, and (believe that) their eternal life is at stake. So yes, from where they are coming, science is just another religion. Since all world views are, they do not see it as trying to drag science down to their level. They are very good at not seeing what they are doing; good luck pointing it out to them. Climate change denialists are somewhat less committed than Creationists, but of course the mind set is largely the same.

  18. #18 Terrie
    December 18, 2009

    I don’t want them teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in classes. Because it doesn’t exist. Darwin came up with the idea of natural selection. It is no more the entire sum of evolution than Newton’s Laws of Motion are the entirety of physics.

  19. #19 Interrobang
    December 18, 2009

    I’m getting really tired of the canard that AGW is all some kind of elaborate ruse to enact some form of communism at a global scale — you can see this in Santorum’s assertion that “It is another for politicians to use science to destroy national economies and redistribute global wealth.” Somehow in their minds, physics (pumping excess CO2 into a system) has become economics — who knew they were at base a group of doctrinaire Marxists?

    In my opinion, this is the most damaging claim made by the denialists — anything those tree-hugging hippie Commies want to do about this fakey thing called “global warming” will ruin your standard of living forever ZOMG and usher in World Communism et cetera ad nauseam. I think even people who might otherwise be inclined to listen to the experts can be swayed by this tactic. People who’ve grown up expecting superficiency aren’t going to be pleased with even the idea of sufficiency, let alone perhaps having to genuinely go without, and there’s certainly enough tribalism in a lot of people for arguments along the lines of “those people [read: "undeserving"] are getting something of ours.” That latter line of suasion is already used successfully in a number of political contexts, primarily anti-social-benefits and anti-public-transit, but also to a certain extent in anti-abortion rhetoric too (where the “good, virtuous woman” is allowed to have an abortion, but the “nasty, nasty slut” has to “suffer the consequenses” by having an unwanted baby).

    My question would be — how does one counteract that kind of rhetoric? A basic appeal to fairness doesn’t work for a lot of people; they either believe they or their culture is superior (and therefore deserving of whatever it can get its claws on), and some of the rest don’t seem to believe in fairness as a concept. (It would be nearly worthless to point out to those people, for instance, that much of what is now the developed world derived its vast wealth by plundering much of what is now the developing world, but for people for whom fairness is a resonant term, that might work.)

  20. #20 Ahistoricality
    December 18, 2009

    where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy

    It’s a short unit: there are religions, see, and they have teachings which their followers believe are handed down from God. Unfortunately, these texts — which were rarely considered literal descriptions of events before the Early Modern age — do not match the description of the world we have achieved through observation and the scientific process. “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” — John Kenneth Gailbraith

  21. #21 llewelly
    December 18, 2009

    Prometheus | December 18, 2009 1:42 PM:

    I can imagine no “context” in which blacklisting researchers, destruction of evidence or supressing research could be acceptable.

    And that’s why I was initially concerned when I read about the emails. But then, I tracked down the emails, and read the emails at great length. I also read what climate experts had to say about the emails. And they do not contain any evidence that researchers were blacklisted, or that scientific evidence was destroyed, or that research was suppressed. They have been distorted, taken out of context, and made to appear to support the notion that these bad things happened, by a very well-funded, and well-timed PR campaign. It is not a coincidence that that these claims emerged so close to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

  22. #22 debaser
    December 18, 2009

    “Santorum” — LOL. The real elephant is the room is that Ole’ Rick has just added yet ANOTHER notch to his crank belt. Climate change and evolution sure, but it was his views on homosexuality which tarred (ehehe) his name for ever.

    The Internet is a great forum;
    We can mock people when we abhor ‘em.
    And if you don’t believe
    What the web can achieve,
    Then just Google our dear friend Santorum.
    (poem by Seth Brown)

  23. #23 eyesoars
    December 18, 2009

    That fountain of woo, the Huffington Post, is at it again. Now with a decidedly dodgy-sounding MS cure:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erika-milvy/possible-ms-breakthrough_b_396448.html

    MS is now a circulatory insufficiency issue, and there’s surgery to fix it!

    Buy that ticket to Italy, quick!

  24. #24 trrll
    December 18, 2009

    I’ve done a great deal of soul-searching lately, asking myself if I’ve ever done what these climate scientists have been caught doing. Have I ever refused to send an article to a journal because they published researchers that disagree with my work

    I certainly take the publication history of a journal into account in deciding whether to submit my own work. If a journal has published lousy papers, it suggests that they are not recruiting good reviewers. If other scientists have the same impression, that means that they may have a less positive reaction to my own work if I published there than they would have if I published in a journal with a strong reputation for critical reviewing.

    So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that anybody has done anything more improper than getting pissed off and venting to colleagues in what they naively imagined to be a private communication. Nobody has produced any papers that were kept for publication, or even omitted from the IPCC report.

  25. #25 Dangerous Bacon
    December 18, 2009

    Santorum: “…Americans don’t like being told what to believe.”

    Yuh! Them intellecturals are telling us what to think! The only thing worse is having to think for ourselves!!!

  26. #26 Mark P
    December 18, 2009

    But why pick on just Santorum style cranks?

    The world is full of really choice cranks that the AGW crowd really doesn’t like to mention. All those vegetarian types are hugely into the CO2 thing. You know, the ones who believe in crystals having powers and aromatherapy. There is no shortage of liberal, left-leaning, save-the-earth looniness around.

    You might note it is the pro-AGW side who are rioting, not the anti-AGW. Yet they get basically no sanction in the press. The anti-AGW manage to combine crank magnetism with illegality, yet we get all your stick Orac! How does that work?

    While it is no fun having Santorum on “my” side, you are welcome to having the sort of people who make PETA look normal.

  27. #27 Joseph
    December 18, 2009

    I can imagine no “context” in which blacklisting researchers, destruction of evidence or supressing research could be acceptable.

    Actually, there was no destruction of evidence. There was a suggestion by Phil Jones that certain emails regarding the 4th IPCC report be deleted. This was apparently never carried out, though. It was presumably done to hinder FOIA efforts, which is probably wrong, but then it’s known that those FOIA requests are essentially a form of harassment. (We’ve seen that in the autism world, too.)

  28. #28 Mark P
    December 18, 2009

    Sorry, a bit late because you have no edit function.

    For your Rick Santorum, I will advance Arianna Huffington as counter-evidence.

  29. #29 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 18, 2009

    Michael Mann’s article in the Washington Post, written in response to Sarah Palin’s foray into climate science, also deals with some of Prometheus’ concerns (e.g. blacklisting scientists, articles).

    washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/17/AR2009121703682.html

  30. #30 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2009

    More crank magnetism: I got home really early and was *rewarded*(?)with hearing Pat Buchanan’s AGW denialism plus some of his old-time anti-evolutionism.He was thoroughly castigated by host Chris Matthews and another guest,Dem Bob Schrum.Matthews was pretty wild,even for him.

  31. #31 James
    December 18, 2009

    The world is full of really choice cranks that the AGW crowd really doesn’t like to mention. All those vegetarian types…

    Damn. Being vegetarian makes me an aromatherapy-loving crank? I suspect you’re the type who isn’t bothered by the goings-on of a factory farm. So, how about the CO2 output?

    (Ah, forget it. You’ve already pigeonholed me into camp PETA.)

  32. #32 Uncle Glenny
    December 19, 2009

    For your Rick Santorum, I will advance Arianna Huffington as counter-evidence.

    I’m sure if we complain enough Orac will get right on it, although it might be difficult to convince him, godless radical-left liberal that he is, to criticize the goddess Arianna or the Huffington Post. Nah, on second thought, Orac would never do that.

  33. #33 Dangerous Bacon
    December 19, 2009

    In the realm of High Priestesses of crank magnetism (or in this case, crank electricity), I feel obliged to mention that Hulda Clark is being featured in this week’s News Of The Weird:

    “Dr. Hulda Clark, 80, passed away in September of multiple myeloma, an advanced cancer of the plasma cells. Before she was stricken, she had authored three books touting her eccentric remedies as cures, first, for “all diseases,” and then, especially, cancer. In her books “The Cure for All Cancers” and “The Cure for All Advanced Cancers,” she urged those diagnosed to immediately stop chemotherapy and embrace her quixotic regimens, to subdue the “parasites” that cause cancer.”

    Posthumous recognition for Hulda! It’s too bad she wasn’t honored until after her untimely, um, zapping.

  34. #34 ChicagoMolly
    December 19, 2009

    Underlying everything in Santorum’s piece is the notion that science is basically a political process in which the majority rules. If that were the case we could have saved barrels full of money on the space program by letting the Senate vote to repeal the law of gravity.

  35. #35 Orac
    December 19, 2009

    I’m sure if we complain enough Orac will get right on it, although it might be difficult to convince him, godless radical-left liberal that he is, to criticize the goddess Arianna or the Huffington Post. Nah, on second thought, Orac would never do that.

    Of course not. Clearly, I love Arianna Huffington and The Huffington Post, particularly the fine material they publish about vaccines, medicine, and skepticism.

  36. #36 Jake Crosby
    December 19, 2009

    Just like how I love “Science”Blogs!

  37. #37 trrll
    December 19, 2009

    Actually, there was no destruction of evidence. There was a suggestion by Phil Jones that certain emails regarding the 4th IPCC report be deleted. This was apparently never carried out, though. It was presumably done to hinder FOIA efforts, which is probably wrong, but then it’s known that those FOIA requests are essentially a form of harassment. (We’ve seen that in the autism world, too.)

    While some laws require public officials to preserve all communications, this does not apply to research scientists. So while it would probably be a violation of law to delete information that had been demanded by a Freedom of Information demand, it would not be wrong to delete private communications that one would prefer not to have divulged due to a future FoI demand. When people are communicating informally, they are liable to say things that could be misinterpreted out of context in a damaging way. It is certainly clear that this is happening with the stolen emails–for example, a discussion of how to graph temperature in order to “hide” temperature estimates that had been proved to be erroneous (all of which had been reported and extensively discussed in publications) is now being misrepresented to the public as evidence of contradictory temperature data being concealed.

  38. #38 Joseph C.
    December 19, 2009

    I’m sure if we complain enough Orac will get right on it, although it might be difficult to convince him, godless radical-left liberal that he is, to criticize the goddess Arianna or the Huffington Post.

    Are you actually conflating Arianna with atheism? Talk about a fail. What’s next? Oprah is atheist?

  39. #39 Chris
    December 19, 2009

    Uncle Glenny:

    I’m sure if we complain enough Orac will get right on it, although it might be difficult to convince him, godless radical-left liberal that he is, to criticize the goddess Arianna or the Huffington Post. Nah, on second thought, Orac would never do that.

    Uncle Glenny, either use sarcasm tags or:

    Look up at the left hand side of this webpage, just above the “Recent Posts” list. What do you see? Does it look like a box that you can type words into, followed by a button that says “Search”? Put the words “huffington post” in the box and click on the search button. What do you see?

    To avoid future embarrassment, before you make sweeping pronouncements on what a blog author has written, or should write, do check on what he has written.

  40. #40 Antiquated Tory
    December 19, 2009

    @Interrobang 12.18.1617:
    One thing that is clear to me is that if the IPCC’s worst case scenarios come to pass, it will be the end of the market economy and political freedom for generations in the wealthy countries. Food and water scarcity, millions of displaced persons, the need for massive labor intensive public works projects: what do you think EVERY government will do? Rationing, government control of industrial and agricultural policy, a state of emergency in which civil unrest will be suppressed by any means necessary, an immigration policy that would make even the Daily Mail’s readership cringe. To me, people worried about the government taking over our lives ought to damn well worry about that. Oh, unless they only care about their own right to drive an SUV, not their grandkid’s rights to… well, have any rights at all, actually.

  41. #41 abb3w
    December 19, 2009

    Orac: Ah, yes, teach the controversy! Except that there is no scientific controversy in this particular area, at least not with respect to the theory of evolution

    So, perhaps instead:

    Good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or tested theories of science about what is, from political, philosophical or religious claims about what should be or about what should be done that are made in the name of science; and where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing political controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.

    Not that I think Santorum would support that….

  42. #42 Dr. P
    December 19, 2009

    Mark P

    You know, the ones who believe in crystals having powers and aromatherapy.

    Where the hell have you been? These types are skewered here mercilessly on a regular basis, which is part of the reason why I’m still here at all. And if Rick Santorum WERE on my side I’d seriously reconsider my opinion based on that little fact alone.

  43. #43 Antiquated Tory
    December 19, 2009

    Along with crank magnetism, I’ve noticed a certain amount of belief-as-tribal-identity-marker among some of my friends.
    Among my more leftish friends, who have no trouble believing that science confirms AGW, one is a Reiki practitioner, and another was explaining to me how lemons are an alkalizing food according to her homeopath. This same woman, after poisoning herself with what she thought were wild oyster mushrooms (not native to this country), took something to detoxify herself that made her smell like a swimming pool. Now her liver is a bit buggered.
    None of my rightie friends have any time for alt-med or anti-vax nonsense. However, one of them is a walking repository of every fallacious AGW denial talking point documented on the How to Talk to a Climate Denialist webpage and believes that Obama is a radical Communist dedicated to the overthrow of Capitalism. Another says things like “But how can CO2 be a problem, it’s good for plants”–call the IPCC, I bet they never thought of that!
    None of the four people I’ve mentioned are stupid (even the one who ate the mushrooms). But they’re all proudly contrarian and rubbish at science. So the things they believe are determined by consistency with their world views instead of evidence.

  44. #44 perturbed
    December 19, 2009

    Orac

    The reasonable AGW skeptics hold that the phrase…

    “Climate change is overwhelmingly or exclusively driven by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide”

    …is not a statement of fact; and that as a corollary it is a piece of political dogma as perverse, sick and wrong as any religious dogma; and furthermore that any political or economic policy crafted in its name (particularly cap-and-trade schemes, or nebulous plans for large funds transfers to third-world nations of dubious political and financial honesty) is dubious at best and hideously destructive at worst.

    This is especially the case here in Australia, where the entire economy (and hence the nation’s standard of living) is strongly coal-dependent and where the major non-fossil source of power that has been available to humanity for at least forty years (i.e. nuclear power) is regarded as political anathema by the government (though not by the current Opposition).

    Many of us “skeptics” are well aware of the much less controversial matter of the limit on fossil fuel reserves, and we argue that it matters not whether we deny “AGW” utterly – if the fossil fuel crunch is dealt with, the “AGW” problem is automatically dealt with at the same time, and therefore it (along with all the doomsayers, grifters, con-artists, madmen and posturing failed Presidential candidates who drive it) can safely be ignored. As FWIW can the misogynistic, homophobic cradle of filth from which we are currently forced to buy much of the oil.

    This is the voice of science, technology and vision talking here – not the voice of closed-minded “denialism” – and it doesn’t equate with woo, creationism or anything else you profess to despise.

  45. #45 Kristen
    December 19, 2009

    I don’t think evolution and creation have to conflict if looked at reasonably.

    The Bible says the universe was created in six days. Obviously we are not talking about 24 hour days. How often do we hear older people say ‘in my day’? They are not speaking of a specific 24 hour period or even an amount of time, it is an era.

    The ‘days’ of the Bible are obviously billions of years long, but they were not necessarily the same length. Each of the ‘days’ were a period of time in which a specific process occurred.

    I don’t know exactly the time frame, but it is FACT that creatures change over time, and have brought us where we are today. Evolution has been thoroughly established, but in my mind there is proof of intelligent design. They are not mutually exclusive, nor do they have to conflict.

    I am just making the point that not all people who believe in a creator are completely unreasonable. The truth is these “creationists” don’t even take the time to reason on the book they claim to revere. They think that faith is to follow what their religion teaches without questioning which is a mistake in my mind. I believe God wants us to question, he gave us curiosity for a reason. :)

    These are my personal views and I believe they are based on reason and scientific evidence, not blind faith and hardheadedness.

    I hope that sounds reasonable. I just had to say that because I don’t like being put in the same category as the zealots.

  46. #46 Kristen
    December 19, 2009

    Just wanted to add, I don’t think creation should be taught in public schools.

  47. #47 MartinM
    December 19, 2009

    reasonable AGW skeptics

    Heh.

  48. #48 Kristen
    December 19, 2009

    @47
    Well I’ve never seen one of those.

  49. #49 trrll
    December 20, 2009

    The reasonable AGW skeptics hold that the phrase…

    “Climate change is overwhelmingly or exclusively driven by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide”

    …is not a statement of fact

    Nobody but a denialist ever thinks that it is meaningful to insist that a scientific conclusion “is not a statement of fact.” It is virtually the hallmark of denialism. Of course, no scientific conclusion is a statement of fact; all scientific generalizations and explanations (“theories” in scientific parlance) are inferences, and are subject to revision in the face of additional data (although some of those inferences, such as the existence of a force of gravity, or the ability of CO2 to warm climate, are so strongly founded that it is difficult to imagine what kind of data would be compelling enough to overturn them). Facts, of course, are the data one which those inferences are founded. The facts of climate science are the myriad of temperature measurements showing increased temperature, the atmospheric measurements showing the historically increase in CO2, the isotopic measurements showing that the excess CO2 is of human origin, etc., etc.

  50. #50 FPJerome
    December 20, 2009

    The three things that never fail to bugger and clog my blog are 1: Vaccines. 2: Holocaust denial. and 3: Global warming.

    1 and 2 have always caused internet flame-fests. #3 is somewhat newer.

    Remember when PR firms got into the medical field by muddling the public facts on cancer and smoking? And when the PR masters knocked back the CFC problem 20 years by muddling the science (in the public mind, I should say).

    Manufactured doubt is a serious business done for people who can afford it. I’ve yet to see how regulating CO2 emissions creates a global communist government, or how anyone could be “in it for the money.” Big windmill?

    @43, I have to say that my experiences confirm your hypothesis, but the examples I run into are somewhat different. Many of the woo-happy people I know are so off the woo-scale that talking to them is more like talking past them. They’ve gotten to the point where you can believe in a stack of “one true cause of all problems”

  51. #51 redrabbitslife
    December 20, 2009

    @ Chris: Even without the sarcasm tags, you should be able to spot something that’s positively SCREAMING sarcasm. I think Orac did, for example, if you check out #35.

    @perturbed #44: Poor baby. You have no wind or solar resources in Australia? Shame, that. For how many of us see Copenhagen, and movement away fossil fuels, there’s a sweet comic here. To paraphrase: what if AGW is wrong and we create a better world for no reason?

    And @Kristen. It’s not really reasonable, but you’re getting there. We’re all familiar with the day-age proponents. It’s a start, but you’re telling me the holy book is not accurate in the details.

  52. #52 Militant Agnostic
    December 20, 2009

    (along with all the doomsayers, grifters, con-artists, madmen and posturing failed Presidential candidates who drive it)

    No dogma here in the denier camp?

    Markp @26 I guess now that is unacceptable to call people who disagree with you gay, Vegetarian will have to do.

  53. #53 Mark P
    December 20, 2009

    I generally don’t call people who disagree with me anything in particular. I do think vegetarianism goes with a certain sort of cranky, but it’s only an association, not a direct cause and effect thing. I was using the term just to short-cut to a particular mind-set, not as anything more.

    At least vegetarians are vegetarians, which makes them different from “AGW deniers”. Most people called “global warming deniers” don’t deny global warming is taking place. They disagree about rates, causes and solutions in a variety of ways, but there is little outright denial. Nor do they form one homogenous group. There is a large cranky “it’s a Marxist conspiracy” end all the way through to perfectly argued science by well qualified scientists.

    They might better be collectively called “CO2 warming refuters”, but that would be accurate, so not as good a brush to tar them with.

    I find it disappointing that Orac chooses not to see the range of opinions and seems to lump all those that disagree with him together using a term he knows has nasty connotations.

  54. #54 Richard Eis
    December 21, 2009

    I don’t think evolution and creation have to conflict if looked at reasonably.

    Creation is mind boggling nonsense. It quite happily fails just on its own merits. Attaching it to evolution is the equivelent of praying while taking medicine. It won’t do any harm to the medicine and it might, might, might just have helped…but…it is rather unnecessary once you realise whats doing all the work really.

  55. #55 Shawn Smith
    December 21, 2009

    @Kristen #45,

    I don’t think evolution and creation have to conflict if looked at reasonably.

    And I don’t think the world described in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the actual world have to conflict if looked at reasonably. After all, one is pure fiction, and the other continues to exist even if people stop believing it exists. And look–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows references London and King’s Cross Station and Surrey and a whole bunch of other places that actually exist in our Muggle world! It must be right!

    The Bible says the universe was created in six days. Obviously we are not talking about 24 hour days.

    And why do you reference the Bible as an authoritative source? Why not the Bhaghavad Vita [sic]? Why not the Quran? Oh yeah, it’s because your holy book is better than the others. Puuuuhhleeeze. And are you not familiar with the rather large contingent of Creationists who say that it was six twenty-four hour days? The only reason you say it’s obvious that it wasn’t six twenty-four hour days is evidence that has been produced by science. If it were obvious, it would probably have not have held sway for many centuries.

    How often do we hear older people say ‘in my day’? They are not speaking of a specific 24 hour period or even an amount of time, it is an era.

    I don’t hear that very often at all, actually. I sometimes hear “good old days.” And somehow, I don’t think even they mean thousands (or more) years when they say, “in my day.” It might mean a few decades, at most.

    The ‘days’ of the Bible are obviously billions of years long, but they were not necessarily the same length. Each of the ‘days’ were a period of time in which a specific process occurred.

    So tell me, how long exactly did a separation of day and night exist before the Sun was “created?” Did humans get “created” before or after other animals? Check the differences between Gen 1 and Gen 2. That is just one example of self contradiction. There are many others.

    I am just making the point that not all people who believe in a creator are completely unreasonable.

    Yes, we know that most people, whether they “believe in a creator” or not are not completely unreasonable. The completely unreasonable people tend to wind up in trouble with their society and get rubbed out in one way or another.

    The truth is these “creationists” don’t even take the time to reason on the book they claim to revere. They think that faith is to follow what their religion teaches without questioning which is a mistake in my mind. I believe God wants us to question, he gave us curiosity for a reason. :)

    So you believe God wants you to question and be curious. And what do you base that belief on? Your personal desires? What your friends have told you? What your parents have told you? What your pastors have told you? What if your curiosity leads you, like Julia Sweeney, to something that disagrees with what is explicitly stated by your holy books? Tell me, does God like all the things you like? Does God disapprove of all the things you disapprove of? If so, how “fascinating.” If not, then don’t you think you better get on the ball and start agreeing with God?

    These are my personal views and I believe they are based on reason and scientific evidence, not blind faith and hardheadedness.

    Then your definitions of “reason” and “scientific evidence” are quite different than mine. To me, they look like “rationalization” and “stories that make me feel good.” It’s nice to know that you think of yourself as not being “hardheaded,” but if you want to convince someone else that that is really the case, you’re going to have to produce more evidence than you’ve mustered so far.

    I just had to say that because I don’t like being put in the same category as the zealots.

    I’ll say the same thing I would say to the people who think marriage should be only between a man and a woman: If you don’t want to be thought of as a bigot, then don’t express bigoted views. In your case, it seems like it’s more of, “if you don’t want to be thought of as a creationist or IDiot, then don’t hold antiscience views.”

  56. #56 Calli Arcale
    December 22, 2009

    Kristen:

    I’m sorry you got tarred so quickly as a closet creationist. I understand what you’re saying, and I’m inclined to a similar view. I am a Christian, so it goes without saying that I believe in a Creator. I believe He was hands-off as far as evolution goes; that is what the science shows, quite clearly.

    I think what got people leaping all over you was your use of the “it doesn’t say how long a day is” thing. You may not be very well versed in Creationist talking points, but although you didn’t mean it, you ended up sounding very like one of those. There are many Creationists who believe that Genesis should be taken literally (as opposed to metaphorically) *and* that “day” doesn’t mean “24 hours” in the text. Mostly, they think a day in that first week lasted a thousand of our days. Obviously, this still leaves them vastly short of what the geological evidence shows, but they have ways of casually dismissing all of that.

    So, folks are thinking you’re espousing that sort of a belief, or that you’re talking Intelligent Design. I don’t think you are. I think your beliefs are similar to mine, and I am a huge proponent of asking questions of one’s religion, just as you said in your post. God, I’ve always said, wants true faith — not blind faith. And asking questions is the only way to tell if we are being deceived, including deceived by ourselves. To date, the most methodical system for avoiding self-deceit that I’ve found is science. Problems occur when it isn’t ruthlessly adhered to, though — human nature makes us biased and lazy and sloppy, and so we make mistakes and don’t always acknowledge them.

    I can’t prove that God created the Universe. I believe He did, just as I believe that He wants to be friends with us. But that’s immaterial as far as evolution goes. When I follow the science, my religious beliefs are irrelevant, and that is as it should be.

  57. #57 Steven Sullivan
    December 28, 2009

    perturbed wrote:
    “The reasonable AGW skeptics hold that the phrase…

    “Climate change is overwhelmingly or exclusively driven by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide”

    …is not a statement of fact;”

    Gee, what about: “While there are many drivers of climate, CO2 is the most dominant radiative forcing and is increasing faster than any other forcing.”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/CO2-is-not-the-only-driver-of-climate.htm

    You can see on that page that the *other* greenhouse gases — methane, NO2 and halocarbons — come in second. These have also increased in atmospheric ppm with human-related production.

    The others forcings — natural and anthropogenic — in the ‘cooling’ direction aren’t enough to overcome these ‘warming’ forcings.

    In sum, let me quote you the relevant part from the AR4 (Chapter 2, Executive Summary):

    “For the first time, the combined R[adiative] F[orcings] for all anthropogenic agents is derived. Estimates are also made for the first time of the separate RF components associated with the emissions of each agent.

    The combined anthropogenic RF is estimated to be +1.6
    [–1.0, +0.8]2 W m–2, indicating that, since 1750, it is *extremely
    likely* that humans have exerted a substantial warming
    influence on climate. This RF estimate is likely to be at least
    five times greater than that due to solar irradiance changes. For
    the period 1950 to 2005, it is *exceptionally unlikely* that the
    combined natural RF (solar irradiance plus volcanic aerosol)
    has had a warming influence comparable to that of the combined
    anthropogenic RF.

    Increasing concentrations of the long-lived greenhouse
    gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide
    (N2O), halocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6); hereinafter
    LLGHGs) have led to a combined RF of +2.63 [±0.26] W m–2.
    Their RF has a high level of scientifi c understanding.4 The 9%
    increase in this RF since the TAR is the result of concentration
    changes since 1998.”

    So, if this isn’t a statement of fact, what are the real *FACTS*, perturbed? Where is global warming *really* coming from?

  58. #58 Steven Sullivan
    December 28, 2009

    perturbed wrote:
    “The reasonable AGW skeptics hold that the phrase…

    “Climate change is overwhelmingly or exclusively driven by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide”

    …is not a statement of fact;”

    Gee, what about: “While there are many drivers of climate, CO2 is the most dominant radiative forcing and is increasing faster than any other forcing.”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/CO2-is-not-the-only-driver-of-climate.htm

    You can see on that page that the *other* greenhouse gases — methane, NO2 and halocarbons — come in second. These have also increased in atmospheric ppm with human-related production. And the other forcings — natural and anthropogenic — in the ‘cooling’ direction aren’t enough to overcome these ‘warming’ forcings.

    In sum, let me quote you the relevant part from the AR4 (Chapter 2, Executive Summary):

    “For the first time, the combined R[adiative] F[orcings] for all anthropogenic agents is derived. Estimates are also made for the first time of the separate RF components associated with the emissions of each agent.

    The combined anthropogenic RF is estimated to be +1.6 [–1.0, +0.8]2 W m–2, indicating that, since 1750, it is *extremely likely* that humans have exerted a substantial warming influence on climate. This RF estimate is likely to be at least five times greater than that due to solar irradiance changes. For the period 1950 to 2005, it is *exceptionally unlikely* that the combined natural RF (solar irradiance plus volcanic aerosol) has had a warming influence comparable to that of the combined anthropogenic RF.

    Increasing concentrations of the long-lived greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6); hereinafter LLGHGs) have led to a combined RF of +2.63 [±0.26] W m–2. Their RF has a high level of scientifi c understanding. The 9% increase in this RF since the TAR is the result of concentration changes since 1998.”

    So, if this isn’t a statement of fact, what are the *real* facts, perturbed? Where is global warming *really* coming from?

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