“For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.” -Jean Dubuffet

It’s been a week unlike any other I’ve seen since I started Starts With A Bang! all those years ago. There are a lot of people looking for a lot of explanations — some are excited, many are terrified, most are disappointed — about the direction the USA and the world are headed. I might not have the answers, but perhaps taking a look at the Universe will help put some things in perspective. Have a look back at what we’ve discussed and thought about this past week:

And keep in mind some of the things we’re looking forward to. There’s a new Starts With A Bang podcast coming out later this month; at the end of this week I’ll be at Orycon 38 (come see me there!); it’s crunch time as I’m working hard to finish my new book, Treknology; and I’m looking forward to the big, bright full perigee Moon that’s imminent. The world is still here, and we’re still lucky enough to be a part of it. Now, let’s jump on into our comments of the week!

Happy Halloween 2016, from Ethan to the world!

Happy Halloween 2016, from Ethan to the world!

From eric on Halloween costumes: “Though I bow to your dedication in signing autographs for fans, and if I was in the northwest, I would be one of them. I must also say I admire your dedication to a costume theme. Frankly, I always either choose – or modify – costumes so as to allow easy movement and beer holding.”

Wearing this year’s costume meant that I was unable to walk as normal: no using my hip joints or moving my thighs. Sometimes, you have to suffer for your art. It takes a very unique type of vanity to do what I do, I suppose.

The X-ray (pink) and overall matter (blue) maps of various colliding galaxy clusters show a clear separation between normal matter and dark matter. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland/D.Harvey & NASA/CXC/Durham Univ/R.Massey; Optical & Lensing Map: NASA, ESA, D. Harvey (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland) and R. Massey (Durham University, UK).

The X-ray (pink) and overall matter (blue) maps of various colliding galaxy clusters show a clear separation between normal matter and dark matter. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland/D.Harvey & NASA/CXC/Durham Univ/R.Massey; Optical & Lensing Map: NASA, ESA, D. Harvey (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland) and R. Massey (Durham University, UK).

From Anonymous Coward on dark matter vs. MOND: “Supporters of modified gravity frequently accuse supporters of dark matter metaphorically “adding more epicycles” to make their theories work. But then I take a look at the TeVeS version of the Einstein field equation and their tortured explanations of the Bullet Cluster and other phenomena that are touted as strong evidence for dark matter and have to wonder who has added more epicycles to make their theory work.”

There’s nothing wrong with the idea of modifying gravity. The problem is that by modifying the laws of gravity, you have to make a consistent modification that works on all scales: terrestrial, planetary, stellar, galactic, cluster and cosmological scales. That’s why dark matter is so successful:

  • It’s too diffuse to affect stellar scales and below.
  • It’s appropriately dense to affect cluster and cosmological scales in line with what we observe.
  • And the right amount of matter is there to affect galactic scales as we observe them, but arguments over the distribution persist.

For modified gravity, the story is different.

Xkcd's comic on Astrophysics. Image credit: Randall Munro of xkcd, via http://www.xkcd.com/1758/.

Xkcd’s comic on Astrophysics. Image credit: Randall Munro of xkcd, via http://www.xkcd.com/1758/.

You can make a simple modification to explain galactic rotation curves without screwing up the Solar System, but you can’t get the large scales without adding something that looks very much like dark matter on top of that. Everyone who’s tried has failed, and there have been hundreds of attempts over many decades. The problem with epicycles — and why the Copernican revolution took so long — is that they worked. On larger-than-galaxy-scales, modifying gravity doesn’t.

Screenshot from my Forbes page, showing the source of my incredulity.

Screenshot from my Forbes page, showing the source of my incredulity.

From Sinisa Lazarek on Forbes’ new html5 player: “sadly the side-effect of having a more solid player is that you can set auto-play within it and the end user has no choice.”

That is correct. And I disapprove, on my own website, nonetheless.

Artist’s logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe. Image credit: Wikipedia user Pablo Carlos Budassi.

Artist’s logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe. Image credit: Wikipedia user Pablo Carlos Budassi.

From Naked Bunny with a Whip on the end of inflation: “If eternal inflation is true, then is there any vantage point in our spacetime where we could see the inflation continuing to happen around it?”

If inflation didn’t end everywhere at once, but only everywhere within a certain pocket at once, there would be a tiny chance that we would have been “born” within a region of space that was causally connected to the edge of where inflation didn’t end. Let’s assume that inflation went on for just 1 femtosecond: 10^-15 seconds. The size of the “inflated” Universe, assuming it started from a Planck-sized region, would today be ~e^100000000000000000000 times the size of what our observable Universe is today. So there’s approximately a 1-in-e^(10^20) chance that we’d exist at such a vantage point.

We didn’t win that lottery.

The fluctuations in the CMB give rise to the Universe's structure as it exists today. Image credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team.

The fluctuations in the CMB give rise to the Universe’s structure as it exists today. Image credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team.

From Tom T. on the size and age of the Universe: “Pardon my simple-minded comprehension, but: in the Forbes version of this post, you say “The nearest galaxy, some 2.5 million light years away, appears to us as it was 2.5 million years ago, because the light requires that much time to journey to our eyes from when it was emitted.” That would seem to mean that when we observe the far reaches of the observable universe, 46 billion light years away, we are observing it as it existed 46 billion years ago. Yet the Big Bang is said to have occurred only 13.8 billion years ago.”

I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to write an article where I say anything about distances and ages of the Universe without having to explain how this is possible. I write a piece explaining exactly this every six months or so, but no one ever googles it. But I can’t be mad that new people are reading my articles and asking this legitimate question for the first time, so let’s help you out!

An illustration of how redshifts work in the expanding Universe. Image credit: Larry McNish of RASC Calgary Center, via http://calgary.rasc.ca/redshift.htm.

An illustration of how redshifts work in the expanding Universe. Image credit: Larry McNish of RASC Calgary Center, via http://calgary.rasc.ca/redshift.htm.

There are a number of effects all happening at once: stuff is everywhere, light goes at c, stars and galaxies move, and the Universe is expanding. You can read my latest explanation, which ought to satisfy you, here.

Where the red Xs are, inflation comes to an end and we get a Big Bang, but there are more regions where inflation continues onwards (no X) than where it ends, and hence we get ongoing, unrelated Big Bangs. Image credit: E. Siegel.

Where the red Xs are, inflation comes to an end and we get a Big Bang, but there are more regions where inflation continues onwards (no X) than where it ends, and hence we get ongoing, unrelated Big Bangs. Image credit: E. Siegel.

From Omega Centauri on eternal inflation and infinity: “If we accept eternal inflation, even if the grand-universe (as opposed to our puny big bang universe) started a finite period of time ago, isn’t it effectively infinite, as its going to keep growing at an almost inconceivable exponential rate forever?”

It goes to infinity as time goes to infinity. But that is not the same as saying it is infinite. Indeed, many things go to infinity as time goes to infinity. Some, even, go to infinity more quickly than an inflating Universe does. And if you can’t conceive of it, try comparing a factorial to an exponential! By time you get to a few dozen (or a few hundred, or thousand) e-foldings, you’ll see what I mean.

Image credit: E. Siegel, of the GUT baryogenesis scenario.

Image credit: E. Siegel, of the GUT baryogenesis scenario.

From Michael Kelsey on inflation, baryogenesis and CP-violation: “Inflation (the expansion of quantum fluctuations to cosmological sizes) happens at energies comparable to the Planck scale (~10^19 GeV).
Baryogenesis and CP violation are processes that happen way down at Standard Model -ish energies, long after inflation, ~1000 GeV or so down below 1 GeV.
Above those energies, even if CP violating processes occur, the particles and photons are still in chemical equilibrium, so you can’t sustain an asymmetry.”

I’d like to clarify this a little bit, because I think it could get dangerous otherwise. We have some information about inflation and the scale at which it occurs, thanks to the fluctuations in the CMB. We know there’s an upper limit to the reheating temperature, which can be used as a proxy for the inflationary scale (although the reheating temperature could be lower). That limit is ~ 5 x 10^16 GeV, or more than a factor of 100 below the Planck energy.

We know of some CP-violation, but not enough to explain the baryogenesis we get in the Universe. There must be more than what the Standard Model alone gives us.

So how do we get baryogenesis in sufficient amounts? There are some scenarios that occur at electroweak scales, where the Higgs symmetry breaks, or right around there. These include electroweak baryogenesis and the Affleck-Dine scenario. But there are also GUT-baryogenesis and leptogenesis scenarios, which occur at energies of ~10^14 GeV and up. (Leptogenesis then converts the initial lepton asymmetry to a baryon asymmetry through sphaleron interactions, which occur in the Standard Model.) What Michael said is true in the most commonly explored scenarios, but there are others that are just as viable.

The numbers of planets discovered by Kepler sorted by their size distribution, as of May 2016, when the largest haul of new exoplanets was released. Super-Earth/mini-Neptune worlds are by far the most common. Image credit: NASA Ames / W. Stenzel.

The numbers of planets discovered by Kepler sorted by their size distribution, as of May 2016, when the largest haul of new exoplanets was released. Super-Earth/mini-Neptune worlds are by far the most common. Image credit: NASA Ames / W. Stenzel.

From Omega Centauri on planetary types and masses: “So somewhere around two earth masses, a rocky planet becomes a magnet for gases, instead of just condensed matter (dust through planetoids). Now I presume this a largely a sequential process -accumulate rocky material, and then start accumulating large amounts of Hydrogen and Helium as well. Is there much scope for a rocky planet above roughly M=2, to be able to keep accumulating rocky material and rejecting gas? What if it were really hot? Could a large late impact cause the gas envelope to be lost? Could the accretion disk lose the gas, but still retain for an interesting length of time the rock and dust?”

First off, the “two Earth mass” threshold is an average. There will be some planets of slightly lower mass that are gassy, and others with slightly higher masses that are rocky. But that’s where the threshold occurs, with a ± 0.6 Earth masses thrown in there.

But the sequential assumption isn’t necessarily a good one. Earth itself likely had a H/He envelope early on, but just couldn’t hold onto it. Sunlight excites a light atom/molecule to a specific speed, and if that speed has a decent likelihood of exceeding the planet’s escape velocity, away it goes. This process is fast compared to the age of a Solar System, and so by time Earth was about 2% of its current age, the envelope was gone. But you don’t accumulate it after you make a core; you accumulate everything at once, and what you see today is an artifact of what survives.

Total voter turnout as of November 9th.

Total voter turnout as of November 9th.

From dean on polling: “The difficulty in today’s world is the changing modes of communication: there is still no good way to adapt traditional sampling methods to account for the huge numbers of people who don’t have a fixed location or phone number, and the weighting measures usually used to account for under-represented groups haven’t been adequately updated.”

Apparently, polling is good for informing what people who you actually poll have told you as answers to the poll questions. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to vote the way they indicated, they’re going to vote at all, or they’re going to vote in proportion to the demographics you’ve surveyed. 69% of eligible voters for 2016 were white, for example, but over 70% of actual voters were white. A change of a little over 1% can result in a huge swing, especially in an electoral-based system like ours.

Truman holding up a copy of the infamous Chicago Daily Tribune after the 1948 election. Image credit: flickr user A Meyers 91 of the Frank Cancellare original, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/85635025@N04/12894913705 under cc-by-2.0.

Truman holding up a copy of the infamous Chicago Daily Tribune after the 1948 election. Image credit: flickr user A Meyers 91 of the Frank Cancellare original, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/85635025@N04/12894913705 under cc-by-2.0.

From Wow on a reason to vote: “There wasn’t a reason for voting, except for the reactionaries on the right who see their entire worldview collapse, and whose vote was the only one ever courted by the USA’s “left”.”

I remember being in 6th grade, and voting for our class’s president. Someone nominated, as a joke, an extremely unpopular and awkward kid for class president. The vast majority of the class was delighted that such a subversive, in-your-face refutation of what voting for president was supposed to be option was on the table that he won in a landslide. In college, my junior year, the same thing happened: we elected a graduating senior as our student government president for the next year, who ran under the name “Evil Dave” on a platform of “reparation for the people of the lake.”

Sometimes, people overwhelmingly want to shake the system up, and give the metaphorical finger to business-as-usual. Even if they themselves become collateral damage.

The final pre-election predictions from Larry Sabato / University of Virginia Center for Politics. Image credit: screenshot from 270towin at http://www.270towin.com/maps/crystal-ball-electoral-college-ratings.

The final pre-election predictions from Larry Sabato / University of Virginia Center for Politics. Image credit: screenshot from 270towin at http://www.270towin.com/maps/crystal-ball-electoral-college-ratings.

From Denier on the polls vs. the results: “Late Night shows are heavily staffed by liberals, as are op-ed pages, and news rooms. Those men and women weren’t reading the data as a scientist would. They sought out the data that reinforced their view and reported it. Blaming the data is just scapegoating for a false narrative.
Ironically the pervasive narrative of a Hillary landslide combined with footage of loooooong lines at polling places likely depressed her vote. Why stand in a line for hours when it is unnecessary? In becoming partisan participants to further what they viewed as the ‘correct’ path forward, the media at large helped it to not happen.”

There were plenty of non-partisan or even pro-republican partisan sources (like RealClearPolitics) that had Hillary winning and Trump losing. (RCP, by the way, correctly called 49 of 50 states; the one they goofed had enough electoral votes to flip the election from Trump to Clinton.) Regardless, I think the overwhelming point-of-view is that Hillary lost not because so much of America was pro-Trump, but because so few people came out to vote for her. Few people were enthusiastic about her; her major campaign message was that she wasn’t Trump; she lost badly among working-class Americans (even among union workers); and she got about 10 million fewer votes than Obama did in 2008.

There’s a lot of blame to go around if you were pro-Hillary, but it’s pretty obvious just from the results that even if she had won, she was a looooong way from a landslide against arguably the most unqualified presidential candidate of all-time.

The star in the great Andromeda Nebula that changed our view of the Universe forever, as imaged first by Edwin Hubble in 1923 and then by the Hubble Space Telescope nearly 90 years later. Image credit: NASA, ESA and Z. Levay (STScI) (for the illustration); NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) (for the image).

The star in the great Andromeda Nebula that changed our view of the Universe forever, as imaged first by Edwin Hubble in 1923 and then by the Hubble Space Telescope nearly 90 years later. Image credit: NASA, ESA and Z. Levay (STScI) (for the illustration); NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) (for the image).

From CFT on science and influential moneyed interests: “No, Ethan,
Much like prostitutes (or economists) scientists flatter themselves and those that pay them. You keep pounding the self delusional drum of ‘noble science’ pristine and above the political fray, when you know it’s bullshit. Scientists are just people with many objectives and agendas that quite frequently are in conflict with their own presumed objectivity, questionable ethics, vacant morality, and are often more concerned with getting published than doing work that is actually reproducible.”

This is 100% untrue in physics and astronomy, and — in my experience — is a completely unsubstantiated accusation in most scientific fields. This includes chemistry, biology, geology, atmospheric sciences and any of the physical or life sciences. There is not a lot of money there; there are a great many “excellent”-rated proposals that go unfunded. Your charge of widespread scientific corruption is baseless, and you know it or you would have provided the non-existent evidence.

The beauty of science is that it is reproducible, and that if you follow a researcher’s methodologies, you should be able to obtain the same results. It isn’t perfect and many of those who engage in it are flawed, but it’s by far the best method we have of gaining knowledge about the world. I’ll take our scientific knowledge over any other attempted methods at knowledge every time.

The word Supermoon came into popular use in 2011, where three Supermoons in a row graced the night sky. Shown here is the central one, observed over Munich, Germany. Image credit: Kai Schreiber of flickr, under cc-by-2.0.

The word Supermoon came into popular use in 2011, where three Supermoons in a row graced the night sky. Shown here is the central one, observed over Munich, Germany. Image credit: Kai Schreiber of flickr, under cc-by-2.0.

And finally, from Julian Frost on the full (Super) Moon happening tomorrow: “Thank You Ethan. That was quite fascinating, particularly about women’s menstrual cycles not following the moon. A few years ago, I read a post by one of your Sciblings (I forget who) which mentioned that the belief that mental illness was correlated with full moons (hence lunacy) was actually incorrect, and the mentally ill were no more likely to have an episode during the full moon than any other time.”

I don’t remember that piece (and I couldn’t find it with Google), but old legends and myths die hard in today’s world. It isn’t just about the Moon, either; it seems to be about women in general. There are a great many who believe that cohabiting women’s periods will sync up over time, although they only do in the sense that two different frequencies will see their peaks move closer together, align, and then drift apart.

Two different frequencies will see their "peaks" align over time, but only for a brief moment before they drift apart again. Image credit: Pearson / Prentice Hall, 2005.

Two different frequencies will see their “peaks” align over time, but only for a brief moment before they drift apart again. Image credit: Pearson / Prentice Hall, 2005.

It’s my great hope that the scientific truth on all matters will win out. It may never become common knowledge, but perhaps it isn’t to much to hope that it will someday be valued by the overwhelming majority as the go-to source for useful, reliable and robust knowledge. I’ll keep fighting the good fight no matter what!

Comments

  1. #1 Narad
    November 13, 2016

    Xkcd’s comic on Astrophysics. Image credit: Randall Munro of xkcd

    The mouseover text is even better.

  2. #2 eric
    November 14, 2016

    Figure 10 (“Total votes…”) is somewhat telling, however starting Y at 52M makes the relative change in number of voters look bigger than it actually is. I suggest that anyone interested in this data replot it with the Y starting at 0; this will give you a better feel for the relative magnitude of the change in voting population.

  3. #3 Sean T
    November 14, 2016

    Ethan,

    I’m not sure where you got your info about RCP’s state by state predictions. If you’re going by the map that includes tossups, it’s true that they only got one state (WI) wrong, but it would not be 49 of 50 right since the tossup states really were not predicted. Missing one state in that instance really isn’t all that good anyway since you’re allowing yourself to not predict the states that you believe are close.

    If you are going by their “no tossups” map, then RCP blew 3-5 states. That map shows WI and PA for Clinton and NV for Trump. It also shows MI and NH both for Clinton. Neither of these states has officially been called, but if current leads hold, that would make MI incorrect for a total of 4 states wrong.

  4. #4 dean
    United States
    November 14, 2016

    “Apparently, polling is good for informing what people who you actually poll have told you as answers to the poll questions. ”

    Not exactly fair – first, that isn’t a statistical issue, and second: when many polls show the difference within the margin of error, but people interpret an absolute difference of a couple percentage points as meaning “clear lead”, that isn’t a statistical issue with the polling, that’s an issue with the people reporting them not having any understanding of the meaning of margin of error.

  5. #5 CFT
    November 15, 2016

    Ethan responds:

    This is 100% untrue in physics and astronomy, and — in my experience — is a completely unsubstantiated…”
    .
    Well, you missed the point entirely if you were being at all serious. I’m not questioning the IDEAL of science, or the benefits of the scientific method, any more than I’m challenging good accounting methods and standards, I’m merely pointing the obvious that YOU are not that ideal, and are far from it, (much like pretty much everyone else and their ideals) and much like the jaded pundits who decided they were right because they didn’t know anybody who voted for Nixon, er, Reagan, er Trump, that everyone knew the ‘truth’ as they did. I’m also pointing out you are quite lacking in the humility required to assess your own profession and peers honestly.
    Academia sucks at the teat of the federal government to survive at its present funding levels. You are entirely a political creature of that insular environment who has it would appear next to no experience outside of it. You assume the rest of the universe functions much like your bubble in it…which is why you don’t see yourself or your colleagues as capable of the foibles you condescendingly bestow on those outside your protected circles.
    .
    Ethan, scientists are human beings long before they take a single science course. NO, they are statistically no more pure or ethical, or trustworthy than any other group of humans…unless you are subscribing to some perverse delusion of moral superiority that only the people you know and like happen to be the only ones in the human race who aren’t humanly flawed with double-plus ungood thoughts.

  6. #6 Wow
    November 15, 2016

    Sometimes, people overwhelmingly want to shake the system up, and give the metaphorical finger to business-as-usual.

    It’s possibly that, but I think it more about the frustration of a large proprotion on the left being left (at best) uncourted and (at worst) lambasted by those who are expecting their vote, allied to a worldview that is changing much faster and the old certainties no longer holding true, and this being mostly the right.

    In the 60s, it was mostly the left being vitriolic, but as money got more and more into news, it became more conservative and the overton windown shoved over to the right and has been moving there ever since.

    Mind you, that’s the televised overton window. The actual populace haven’t really moved much, if at all. And that’s the reason for the left being unenthusiastic for the available options, since those options are pre-approved by the media, and anyone outside that window is avoided. Even yellow journalism doesn’t want to go there.

    Yours may be part of it, or even the proximate cause, but the underlying (at least) reason is systemic problems with the political discourse allowed.

  7. #7 Wow
    November 15, 2016

    “Well, you missed the point entirely if you were being at all serious”

    You didn’t have one, CFT, only a lot of bile to spew up. Bile to make you feel better by pretending everyone else is no better than you.

  8. #8 CFT
    November 16, 2016

    Wow,
    First,
    When someone directs a comment at Ethan, let the man answer himself, You aren’t his personal secretary and you do not speak for him until he declares otherwise.
    .
    Second,
    You have no idea what my ‘feelings’ are, not that they matter, and I don’t think I’ve ever indicated ‘everyone else is no better’ than me. Quite the opposite. I have been advocating for more humility on both your and Ethan’s part from the beginning, as you both come across as snarky teenagers who still believe arrogance is good for convincing people.
    .
    Now, that said,
    While it pains me deeply that I didn’t get to see your facial expression on election night after the race was called,
    I understand you are in a lot of butthurt right now, that you are grieving and need to work off some steam in several stages, and that’s ok. If you do decide to go outside and play with your friends in the streets, try not to hurt anyone or set anything on fire, and whatever you do, don’t try breaking into someone’s home or pulling them out of their car and beating them up because they don’t vote the way you do…because then they just might exercise their blessed constitutional second degree rights on you at near point blank range…which could potentially mess up the rest of your evening of artistic self expression. Have fun!
    .
    The point I made to Ethan is also very central to much of the hand wringing going on about the selection bias in the election polling, and how it affects voting behavior in elections. There was little excuse for such unprofessional disregard for proper sampling methods as was evidenced by almost every major media poll, but again, this is what happens when experts consider themselves so clever, they are blind to their own bias . You might also wish to see who voted for which candidate in the statistical exit poll breakdowns in the NYT. If you actually know anything about statistics (I’m never quite sure because of your aspergers flare-ups) you would see that you are not going to get much traction with racial hate and various ‘phobia’s’ as being the motivating causes of the voting trends without implicating your own party to a much greater degree in such behavior. Using such a methodology would result very unfavorably if applied to the fact that almost 95% of voting black people voted for Obama in 2008. Black voter turn out for Hillary in 2016 was far weaker than it was for Obama either term, does this mean most black democrats are misogynist? If democrats are going accuse over half the country of being ‘bitter clingers’, or ‘bile spewing’ hateful racists your political party will continue to lose more elections and seats in congress. If you insult a majority of the people, why would they vote for you?
    .
    P.S.
    ‘Racist’ , ‘Bigot’, ‘hater’, etc. are not appropriate language to use when you disagree with someone over politics and policy, and lose their effectiveness entirely when over-used. Because liberals carpet bombed the country with this language during the campaign, the words now have next to no meaning besides “I’m pissed off at you and want to shame you into shutting up” which is not their meaning . Please learn how to disagree without crying wolf.

  9. #9 eric
    November 16, 2016

    Academia sucks at the teat of the federal government to survive at its present funding levels.

    IMO this perception is largely driven by a public that doesn’t correctly evaluate the return on investment of long-term basic research. Which is not surprising, as most of us can’t even correctly estimate the return on investment of compound interest on a bank account, and that’s a much clearer and easier evaluation to make. Basic research is thus vastly underrated by the public.
    I’ll give you an example. IIRC the pharmaceutical industry plows about 10-20% of its profits back into basic research, because they estimate that’s the level at which they get the best return on investment. Remember, these are hard-nosed, for-profit venture capitalists making that estimate. If its lower than that, then they lose out to their competitors in the long run. If its higher than that, then they lose out to their competitors in the short run. In contrast, using AAAS’ data for 2016, the US federal government spends a mere 3.6% of its revenue on basic research (and over half of that is DOD’s discretionary choice to spend money on research, its not money Congress has specifically directed be spend on R&D via organizations like NSF). So as a very rough calculation, we are woefully underfunding basic research in terms of getting the best return on science we can get. And the reason for that miscalculation is very likely that the public sees basic research has having no short-term value – they consider it “sucking at the teat” rather than “an investment that will pay off in the future.”

  10. #10 dean
    United States
    November 16, 2016

    “There was little excuse for such unprofessional disregard for proper sampling methods as was evidenced by almost every major media poll, ”

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Is there some reason you expect to be taken seriously?

  11. #11 eric
    November 16, 2016

    CFT:

    ‘Racist’ , ‘Bigot’, ‘hater’, etc. are not appropriate language to use when you disagree with someone over politics and policy…Please learn how to disagree without crying wolf.

    Shouting “Jews-S-A” at a rally is not a ‘disagreement over policy,’ its just plain anti-Semitism and I have no problem calling it that. What would you call it?

    “I’m tired of seeing a Ape in Heels” “Thanks, you just made my day” is not a disagreement over policy, its racism, and I have no problem calling it that. What would you call it?

    “[Paul Ryan] is rubbing his social justice Catholicism in my nose every second” is not a policy statement, its an anti-Catholic smear, and I have no problem calling it that. What would you call it?

    “There was blood coming out of her..wherever” is not talking politics and policy with Megyn Kelly, it’s attacking her using a sexist, personal ad hominem. I have no problem calling it that. What would you call it?

    Its true that we have yet to see what sort of policies the Trump administration actually puts forward for legislation. Those may turn out to not reflect the wishes, desires, and opinions of his supporters at all. Frankly, I hope that is the case. But don’t pretend that the charges of bigotry are just fake objections to tax policy or Trump’s foreign policy or what have you; the charges of racism and sexism amongst Trump’s supporters and his advisors are based on actual racist and sexist things those supporters and advisors have said. Unless, that is, you want to claim that “Jews-S-A” is some deep foreign policy statement about US involvement in the middle east?

  12. #12 CFT
    November 16, 2016

    eric,
    With all due respect, you can not win the “you’re a bigot” argument, because statistically with respect to large groups of people, you are always going to find some.
    You can finds bigots in BLM.
    You can find bigots in Israel.
    You can find bigots in the Democrat party, (Egods, it did support slavery, invented the kkk and Jim Crow laws!)
    You can find bigots in the Republican party.
    You can find rich bigots.
    You can find poor bigots.
    You can pick up a book about history and find lots of dead bigots…according to liberals, everyone was.
    You can find bigots pretty much anywhere given enough people and room for variation of opinion…except in scientific circles according Ethan, because they are just too darn educated and smart for little things like that.
    .
    Let you in on a little secret,
    If you continue the ‘bigot’ accusations, it will ALWAYS break down into “Well, even so, your bigots are worse than our bigots!” Much like the utter stupidity of identity politics one-upmanship arguments which all go steadily down hill pretty much like this:
    “You don’t know what it’s like, I’m a minority, I’m a woman”
    “Well so what, I got it tougher, I’m a minority black woman”
    “Well big deal, I’ve got it worse, I’m a minority black woman lesbian”
    “Whoop-dee-doo, bunch of lightweights, I’m a minority black/latino albino dwarf transgender eskimo who happens to be physically handicapped and talks with a speech impediment…and I was molested by my father every other Tuesday.”
    And then I say quietly into the mix:
    “I’m just a gay conservative.”
    At which point there is a moment of stunned silence.
    And then many eyes start bugging out, pearls are clutched tightly, and trembling lips are followed by a bit of stuttering and frothing followed by some of the most amazingly intolerant language. I’ve actually been told I can’t possibly be gay by a very angry bear (don’t ask, just google) who was deeply offended I wasn’t voting for Hillary. Strangely, In my life I have only been called a ‘FAGGOT’ to my face by unhinged liberal democrats who think because they are on the right side of history and all that happy horseshit they can’t possibly be bigots. By far most of the intolerance I have ever encountered in this world has been by other gay people who think their sexual preferences magically make them accepting, loving, tolerant people…it doesn’t, and they are seriously deluded. It is more acceptable to be a practicing pedophile, or into bestiality, or intentionally spreading HIV at POZ breeding-parties in the urban gay communities (I do know this for a fact first hand, and any gay man that has grindr can not refute it) than to be a politically conservative homosexual…go figure. My straight liberal friends don’t even know that their own gay liberal friends call them names like ‘breeders’ behind their backs, and discuss how mandatory birth control and eugencis controlled by the state should be put in force to eliminate stupid people and anyone else they don’t like from the gene pool, especially those terribly intolerant republicans. Plato and Margaret Sanger would most definitely approve.
    .
    Spare me your one-way moral indignation pity party. I take it as a given that in any large group (even of scientists, Ethan) , some are going to be offensive to my preferences.
    As for Trump, yeah, he and every other man talk dirty about women/men sometimes, I’m gay remember? I’ve heard far worse in a locker room or in the pages of Cosmopolitan.
    As for Hillary,
    She has the blood of all of Syria on her hands, and freely and frequently took millions of dollars from people who support people who kill people like me by throwing them off the tops of buildings because we exist. Not a real big fan of ‘the religion of peace’ Islam narrative, sorry. You can smear me as a bigot about that if you like, but I’d rather be a breathing bigot any day of the week than a politically correct dead faggot spattered on the ground. Go figure.

  13. #13 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    November 16, 2016

    @CFT
    I do not think you will find too many people on this site (disregarding sandbaggers) who give a damn about a persons life preferences. The majority come here to share, & learn science.
    As for WOWs facial expressions on voting results, I don’t think he would have given a twopenny damn who won, being a Brit.
    🙂

  14. #14 dean
    November 16, 2016

    “he and every other man talk dirty about women/men sometimes”

    Speak for yourself. Some of us were raised to know, and act, better than that.

    “frequently took millions of dollars from people who support people who kill people like me by throwing them off the tops of buildings because we exist.”

    I don’t care for her either, but she is not the foundation. No money went to her.

    But, on the other hand, our new vice president believes homosexuality is a disease and that “people who have it” should be made to undergo treatment for it. That’s hardly a good sign for people like you or many of my friends, relatives, and students.

  15. #15 Narad
    November 16, 2016

    IMO this perception is largely driven by a public that doesn’t correctly evaluate the return on investment of long-term basic research.

    Or know how to parse a Form 990, although it’s certainly a specialized skill.

  16. #16 Narad
    November 16, 2016

    ^ Oh, right: The basic “teat” issue, I take it, is overheads. (Sorry, I just woke up from a nap.) Nature looked at NIH money a couple of years ago. Yes, administrations are bloated, but paylines are also low.

  17. #17 Narad
    November 16, 2016

    Finally,

    As for Trump, yeah, he and every other man talk dirty about women/men sometimes

    What Dean said. Not everybody was raised in a f*cking barn, and even those who were have the opportunity to grow the f*ck up.

  18. #18 CFT
    November 17, 2016

    Narad, Dean,
    Both of you would appear to speak from ignorance, you can fix that..
    You might want to research how Hillary addressed her own secret service detail during her days as first lady (it is widely documented that a nod or smile was met with a ‘fuck you’ on a daily basis, a custom she apparently taught Chelsea as well), or how she treated her secret service detail during her time as Secretary of State( this is also very well documented) or how she treated her staff and security detail on the night she lost the election (also documented). The state troopers who tried to watch over her in Arkansas commented on her foul mouth and her strong throwing arm (also documented)…which I understand Bill was often on the receiving end of ( he had facial bruises on multiple occasions) during his various ‘bimbo eruptions’. Hillary Clinton treats a lot of people who are there to help her like crap, chefs, cleaning staff, travel office personal, anyone who isn’t powerful or connected. This is also why for one of the first time in secret service history, the plumb job of being assigned to the secretary of state became a hot potato nightmare with agents not wanting to be assigned to her detail).
    .
    I live in the DC area, I know people who have worked with the secret service and in the white house, word gets around in the working classes about how the would be lords and ladies behave when the cameras aren’t on them.
    For the coup de grace, Hillary had Jay Z of all people belting out ‘F’ and ‘N’ bombs as a pep rally musical entertainment singing ‘My Black President’ (again, feel free to google the lyrics) during her last campaign rally ON TELEVISION. It’s a trashy song, and quite inappropriate for public places, much less a backdrop to the presidential hopeful (imagine Trump having played it during his rally, that would have gotten your attention I’m sure), but once again you didn’t really care to begin with, so of course you didn’t even notice. If you are going to give the woman a pass on her own filthy mouth, fine, just drop the milquetoast act over your gentile sensibilities being offended by the crude language of anyone who isn’t on your side, it’s pathetic.

  19. #19 eric
    November 17, 2016

    With all due respect, you can not win the “you’re a bigot” argument, because statistically with respect to large groups of people, you are always going to find some.

    With all due respect, nothing you’ve said actually addresses my point, which is that people’s objections to Trump’s behavior are based on his documented behavior and are not covers for them merely objecting to his policies.

    The whole idea is ridiculous, given that most liberals don’t feel any need to hide their objections to his policies at all. You’re implying that people who loudly and clearly object to his policies feel some need to hide their objection to his policies behind personal offense. That’s laughable. Dems loudly and vocally object to Trump’s mass deportation campaign promise. They also object to him claiming lots of Mexicans are rapists. To claim the latter objection is some sort of secret cover for the former is absurd, given that his detractors have no problem saying it very loudly and without any cover at all. Most dems think both the immigration policy he espouses and the personal opinion he stated about immigrants are cringeworthy. Your idea that one is secret cover for the other…I’ve rarely heard anything more ridiculous in my life. Your political reasoning makes Axil’s posts look like a good alternative energy investment.

    “he and every other man talk dirty about women/men sometimes”

    As with Dean, I object to this generalization as unfair and untrue. My “locker room” experience is that in any group of 20-40 men you’ll likely get a few who engage in rude and sexist commentary. You’ll also likely see most others ignoring it because they just want to shower, change, and get on with their lives. They neither object nor participate. You’ll rarely but sometimes see someone vocally object and tell the people making the commentary to cut it out. Claiming every male on the planet is in the first, actually relatively small group is wrong. It also ignores the point that we aren’t electing someone to be Regular Guy. We’re electing a President. I want my president to have the moral strength of character to be in the third group. And that’s true even though I, myself, am far more often in the less morally courageous second group than I am in the third (though now that I have a son, I’m more apt to jump into the third group). I’m not looking to elect someone with my faults and my moral limitations, I’m looking to elect someone better than me. Who wouldn’t? So no, I don’t buy your line. Its both a gross generalization that mischaracterizes many men, and it utterly ignores the fact that the sort of behavior we tolerate amongst groups of strangers is not equivalent to the sort of behavior we should expect from a good leader.

  20. #20 dean
    November 17, 2016

    cft, if you choose to embrace all the undocumented crap that is thrown around, I will never take you seriously. The myths of Hillary’s grand temper have long been debunked, as have your other assertions.

    I suggest you begin worrying about reality instead of the bullcrap you continue to toss around. Until you do deal with verifiable things, I’m done wasting my time reading your stuff. I don’t bother reading breitbart – you are no better.

  21. #21 Narad
    November 17, 2016

    Both of you would appear to speak from ignorance, you can fix that..

    By joining “every other man” and “talk[ing] dirty about women/men sometimes”? Thanks, no.

  22. #22 Wow
    November 18, 2016

    “Wow,
    First,
    When someone directs a comment at Ethan”

    First, when you post dribble on the internet for all to see, don’t whing that your idiocy is ridiculed. To do so is to be a thin-skinned shrieking wimp, and open to even more deserved ridicule.

    Second, whinging about tone rather than substance merely shows the paucity of your “argument”: you have to resort to “Look! SQUIRREL!!!”.

    Third, I couldn’t give a rats ass what you want, you prissy little idiot. Open your mouth and spew idiotic bile, and I’ll take the piss out of you with relish.

  23. #23 Wow
    November 18, 2016

    “As for WOWs facial expressions on voting results, I don’t think he would have given a twopenny damn who won, being a Brit.”

    Though CFT’s “thought” processes that lead him to his assertion are extremely revealing of CFT’s mental state. And given he voted trump, it’s a window on the mindset willing to vote for that badly shaved orangutan balancing a giant shredded wheat on his head.

  24. #24 Wow
    November 18, 2016

    “With all due respect, nothing you’ve said actually addresses my point, which is that people’s objections to Trump’s behavior are based on his documented behavior and are not covers for them merely objecting to his policies.”

    School debating society tactics 101: accept a “problem” not assigned, assign it to both themselves *and their opponents* then expect a give on some item of substance from the opponent.

    CFT, like most morons, doesn’t have an argument, so in this post-normal world, he pretends that reality is something he wants to be true, then acts like that’s what is really going on.

    After all, existing in reality and dealing with it doesn’t work when it’s not willing to lie for his comfort.

  25. #25 CFT
    November 20, 2016

    Wow,
    You have your own side of the pond to worry about. Be sure to take your meds.

  26. #26 Wow
    November 21, 2016

    CFT, which planet to do you live on? Please stop trashing the one where we humans live and thrive.

    TIA, The Earth.

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