Marching for science?

I didn’t march for science; I was busy running the Head of the Cam (in something of a turn-up for the books, Nines won, in only a tiny fraction over 9 mins, a good time; Jesus were three seconds slower and in a welcome return to form Caius were only a second slower than that; it promises well for the summer). But my daughter went down to London for other reasons and got caught up which is where my pic comes from. But what am I to think of it all? Being English, and generally rather curmudgeonly, I can hardly be enthusiastic; but I can’t bring myself to be quite on RS’s side. I think maybe ATTP’s take suits me. Or, as usual, I’m happy to go with Gavin. The https://www.marchforscience.com/mission/ seems supportable enough: The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest. The last clause is slightly iffy though.

Why is it iffy? Well, if you ask the economists, they will tell you that the most economically efficient solution to CO2 emissions is a carbon tax. There’s a consensus on it, roughly as strong as the scientific consensus on GW. But the Obama adminstration was no closer that the Trump one to imposing a carbon tax. And yet no-one marched for it against Obama. Why not? Well, I think because “evidence based policies in the public interest” doesn’t quite mean the noble sentiments it pretends to; it’s actually code for “policies that we like”. And you don’t have to look too hard to see a party political theme: as the Graun says: many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university. Or try this pic from the Graun’s best-ten gallery. I know, I carefully selected it.

But everyone is blogging the MFS, mostly better than me. Instead, let’s broaden the topic to the Crisis of Western Civ(ilisation) by David Brooks (who he? Incidentally, I am unable to understand how anyone bemoaning the downfall of civilisation could possibly write it as “Civ”, unless he is thinking of Sid Meier, which seems unlikely; or is an unusually self-conscious barbarian). What somewhat surprises me is that this is news. People have been bemoaning the downfall of Western Civilisation since forever, but perhaps they do now have a point. We have got grossly fat, as a civilisation. Here’s a recent example, from CIP. We’re too rich. We can afford to make too many mistakes. The vital error-correcting function of natural selection – killing off stupid ideas – doesn’t function well any more. People can afford to vote for a bozo like Trump, because meh we’ll survive somehow. The idiot village Turks vote themselves a dictator. But I’m distracting myself, the people I’m worrying about are the intellectuals. It isn’t quite that they’ve lost faith in the Liberal project; it’s just that they take it too much for granted, assume it is so strong that they can piss around. Have you read “The Road to Serfdom”?

Update: evidence-based policy

Looking at wiki’s page on evidence based policy it is clearly very thin indeed. Most of the text seems to be based around overseas aid, rather than applications to “home” policy. It seems to have been used as a buzzword by the Blair govt; but did they pass the test? Clearly not: the Iraq war was the antithesis of evidence-based policy, policy-based evidence. There’s a brief nod to the Australian tariff board which is odd, I think, because I don’t see them recommending zero tariffs.

Update: Why I marched for science by Jon Butterworth

settinbgs

From the Graun.

One reason I think this march is needed is because there is a worrying trend at the moment toward isolationism and nationalism… Science and international collaboration are what we need to survive; to avoid killing ourselves, or each other, by accident or on purpose… But there is a danger than it leads to science being ignored, or taken for granted. That’s another reason today’s march is a good thing.Science will not make moral and political choices for us, or tell us what our goals should be.

This is a much smaller, but much more defensible, set of claims.

Refs

* The ice stupas of Ladakh: solving water crisis in the high desert of Himalaya
* Best #MarchforScience Posters – QS
* Abbott’s Stents In India – Price Caps Mean Products Disappear From The Market – Timmy
* Why March for Science? Because when it is attacked, only the elite benefit by Lucky Tran in the Graun is crap. You can’t substitute passion for thought. That’s what Trump is doing.
* Bart is in favour
* Brian in San Francisco
* We want to clear up a few things about what the March for Science stands for – mission creep; courtest of RS
* CIP

Comments

  1. #1 Eli Rabett
    http://rabett.blogspot.com
    2017/04/22

    And, of course, you have the majic elixer that would have forced a carbon tax through both houses of the US Congress for Obama. Don’t be more clueless than you have to be

    [Holy carrots, Rabbit Man, that was swifter than a speeding Electron. Did I strike a nerve?

    The answer, of course, is No: I have no such elixir. But nor do the marchers. They are protesting, not attempting to set policy. So the question still remains: why didn’t they march against Obama? Why are they only in favour of certain sorts of evidence based policy? Could it be, perhaps, that they seek to privilege their own areas of expertise? -W]

  2. #2 Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog)
    2017/04/22

    The road to serfdom where governments of experts robotically do what is most efficient? I prefer democracy.

    [Ah, you haven’t read it either. Isn’t it somewhat unscientific to criticise and dislike something, without knowing what it is? -W]

    There are many more considerations. Especially if you argue that we “have got grossly fat” why should we only value efficiency? (Not sure if I agree with that for a large part of the population, but we could be if society were more equal.)

    [We should not only value efficiency. Nonetheless, we should strive to be efficient in the things that we do. Mostly because calls to do something inefficient generally turn out to be special pleading for your own pet policy -W]

    There is a big difference between policies that are informed by science and policies that are dictated by science. I like the former, I think the organisers of the March mean the former.

    I see no reason to protest that Obama did not introduce a carbon tax because that was politically impossible. That hypothetical protest should have targeted the Congressional Republicans that fought this efficient policy, which should be theirs if the believed their ideology and their donors allowed them to accept reality.

    There are many things people should have protested against in the Obama years, but were asleep due to the smooth language. A carbon tax seems to be a particularly bad example.

    [Why? When it comes to economics, suddenly your call for evidence based policy making disappears, and you switch to “my pet policy, whether there is evidence for it or not”? -W]

  3. #3 Mal Adapted
    In the rear with the gear
    2017/04/22

    I marched in Santa Fe today. I haven’t seen official numbers, but I was personally gratified by the turnout. It was a decent tribal buzz. I’m skeptical, of course, that it will have the slightest influence on public perception or policy; but it was at least weakly cathartic.

  4. #4 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/04/23

    A piece of economic science to march for:

    In the context of climate change as a possible source of disaster risk, we show that our results of a downward-sloping term structure and a very long-run discount rate of 2.6% for risky real estate provide an upper bound on discount rates for investments in climate change abatement. Since such investments reduce consumption risk, their discount rate has to be below that for real estate, which is a risky asset. We find that this upper bound is a simple yet powerful result that challenges a wide range of estimates previously used in the literature. For example, this bound is substantially below the 4% rate suggested by Nordhaus (2013) and the 4.6% suggested by Gollier (2013). Quantitatively, it is more in line with long-run discount rates that are close to the risk-free rate, as suggested by Weitzman (2012), or the 1.4% suggested by Stern (2006), or results by Barro (2013). It is also close to the average recommended long-term social discount rate of 2.25% elicited by Drupp et al. (2015) in a survey of 197 experts, and falls within the range of 1% to 3% that more than 90% of these experts are comfortable with.”

    No. 10958, November 2015
    Centre for Economic Policy Research

    CLIMATE CHANGE AND LONG‐RUN DISCOUNT RATES: EVIDENCE FROM REAL ESTATE

    Stefano Giglio, Matteo Maggiori, Johannes Ströbel and Andreas Weber
     
    [Before marching for that, I’d want to stop to wonder if it was the mainstream view. That it is a discussion paper suggests not -W]

  5. #5 Russell
    Downstream from the Cambridge Boat Club.
    2017/04/23

    “The last clause is slightly iffy though”

    Really? Did you catch the organizer’s inaugural press conference?

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/04/stay-tuned-for-next-predictable-episode.html

  6. #6 Tom Fuller
    United States
    2017/04/23

    They couldn’t march in favor of a carbon tax because it was embraced first and most enthusiastically by people they had already labeled as beyond the Pale.

    So they had to jury rig a vastly inferior Cap and Trade BloatBill that couldn’t get through Congress.

    But at least they didn’t have to admit that we got something right.

  7. #7 Mentifex (Arthur T. Murray)
    Guantanamo Concentration Camp, Hunger Strike barracks
    2017/04/23

    Instead of marching, I was writing “PROCLAMATION: June 14th is National Sexual Predator Day” as an anti-Trump diatribe at
    http://www.advogato.org/article/1106.html

    WHEREAS: Donald J. Trump has a birthday on June 14th.

    WHEREAS: Donald J. Trump has sexually assaulted many women.

    NOW THEREFORE, WE THE SHEEPLE OF THE UNITED STATES DO HEREBY PROCLAIM JUNE 14th OF EVERY YEAR AS NATIONAL SEXUAL PREDATOR DAY IN HONOR OF THAT GREAT AMERICAN SEXUAL PREDATOR DONALD J. TRUMP.

  8. #8 Marco
    2017/04/23

    “They couldn’t march in favor of a carbon tax because it was embraced first and most enthusiastically by people they had already labeled as beyond the Pale.”

    People such as Al Gore, you mean?

    [I wouldn’t have tagged AG as particularly in favour of a carbon tax. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_activism_of_Al_Gore doesn’t even contain the phrase. https://www.algore.com/project/the-climate-reality-project mentions regulations, but not a carbon tax. https://www.carbontax.org/public-officials/ claims Gore, but then again they also claim Obama. The earliest quote they give from him in favour is from 2007, which is quite late; but he is only being approving (briefly; it isn’t a major portion of what he says) of someone else’s proposal (http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/dmo2/AlGore.pdf). So I don’t see why you’d consider him an early adopter. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/michael/barone042800.asp claims it is in “Earth in the balance” but also that it was unpopular and not pushed. https://www.carbontax.org/blog/2009/07/06/back-to-plan-a-the-revenue-neutral-carbon-tax/ also says its in EITB -W]

  9. #9 David B. Benson
    United States
    2017/04/23

    I’ve seen but 3 bees and 2 butterflies so far this year.

  10. #10 Marco
    2017/04/23

    Gore indeed already promoted a carbon tax in his 1992 book “Earth in the balance”. It wasn’t popular, that’s right, too. Two reasons have been mentioned for that:
    1) the cap-and-trade program already in place for SO2 reduction seemed to work so well
    2) the Clinton BTU tax proposal, which passed the House but not the Senate, cost a lot of Democrats their seats.

    That made the carbon tax politically really tough to get through, but the Clinton Administration actually did introduce one (a very small one, but still).

    [So why did “Clinton” come to make such a stupid suggestion? Gore was vice at the time, and far more interested in such things than Clinton, so presumably it was actually his idea. Why? -W]

  11. #11 crandles
    2017/04/23

    >”And you don’t have to look too hard to see a party political theme”

    Yes but it is no fun if you can’t ask questions like ‘Why are atoms and Trump similar?’

    They make up everything.

  12. #12 Marco
    2017/04/23

    William, as far as I know, vice-presidents are not supposed to come with their own political plans (at least not openly). So, it could have been Gore’s idea, or that of others in the administration, or several including Gore, whatever.

  13. #13 Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog)
    2017/04/23

    Ah, you haven’t read it either. Isn’t it somewhat unscientific to criticise and dislike something, without knowing what it is? -W

    I was not aware that the book The Road to Serfdom was about the quality of climate station data. On all other topics I claim no expertise and have unscientific opinions. I hope that is allowed.

    Naturally I did not read a vulgar libertarian pamphlet that is said to argue by its fans that any hint of human decency leads to a totalitarian state. We had a mix of social and capitalist systems for over a century in the West. Our current problems are not due to an excess in decency.

    We should not only value efficiency. Nonetheless, we should strive to be efficient in the things that we do. Mostly because calls to do something inefficient generally turn out to be special pleading for your own pet policy -W

    Do you have any scientific evidence for that? :-)

    Risking the lives of many poor people so that billionaires get a few billion more can be economically efficient. I think it is deplorable. It would be nice to be able to say that without it being called “special pleading”.

    Why? When it comes to economics, suddenly your call for evidence based policy making disappears, and you switch to “my pet policy, whether there is evidence for it or not”? -W

    Which economics, your cartoon libertarian economics or the more Keynesian version that professor Simon Wren-Lewis claims is the mainstream?

    Do you have evidence for your claim about my behaviour? (By the way, I am in favour of transferring the tax burden from labour to environmental destruction. Markets are great tools, should just not be made into a religion.)

  14. #14 Eli Rabett
    https://rabett.blogspot.com
    2017/04/23

    Ah, the KoolKidz weaselling again?? Eli can just picture you in your leather biker jacket with the duck’s ass haircut making a play for the ladies back in junior high?

    OTOH, the M4S was about science not just climate science, and yes, there was a lot of other stuff

    https://twitter.com/mrtstur/status/855918143289651200
    https://twitter.com/EthonRaptor/status/855927842252742656
    https://twitter.com/EthonRaptor/status/855928208000262145
    https://twitter.com/EthonRaptor/status/855927842252742656

    Good times.

    The Climate March is next week. Will you be going?

  15. #15 Richard Erskine
    Nailsworth, Glos., UK
    2017/04/23

    William, if I may be allowed to stick my oar in, have constructed a straw man worthy of those denialists you blog about (so brilliantly, I must say). Apparently, the march was about effective policy on climate change, which translates to a carbon tax, and since Obama did no better than Trump is want to do, the March was irrelevant. Well, this woman was beaten badly by her first husband but didn’t complain, and now her second husband beats her too, so she was told you can’t complain, because nothing has changed! Well, I did suspend by British curmudgeonly tendencies yesterday and went on the Bristol March, after hearing some great speeches, one from Dr Suzi Cage you can read on her blog. For me and many there was I believe there was a two-fold reason to march. Firstly, a recognition that many of those crankish ideas that were for a long time marginalised by right and left politicians have now got close to the seats of power, more obviously in the US, but with some worrying signs even in my home country, the UK. We have assumed the consensus on the important of science in policy is bullet proof, it is not. Vaccination rates have fallen and junk science is confronted at every turn, in many fields, not just climate science, and not simply left and right. Dr Simon Singh was one of the speakers yesterday, and he fought a successful campaign against the homeopathy establishment, and homeopathy is sometimes aligned with ‘greens’; well, not this green (me) because it is as junk science as James Delingpole’s ‘not even wrong’ writings on climate change. But guess what, we have a Secretary of State for Health who has expressed support for homeopathy and an NHS that actually spend money on it.

    [Err, yes, indeed. Homeopathy on the NHS is nothing new. So why march against it *now*? -W]

    Junk science bleeds into every crack. In Australia, CSIRO has has climate work undermined and defunded, in the US large slashes in funding in research in environment and health are expected. These are not fantasies of an ideological face off between left and right. But the second reason for the march, perhaps best exemplified by the stalls I saw and people on the March such as “mini Professors’, and those sharing the research they were doing, was simply a celebration of science. Too many of us know very little about where our food comes from; the supply chain. Even fewer know where their science comes from. Will politicians fund stuff that people don’t care about? And will people care if they are disengaged? Maybe not, in both cases. At-Bristol Creative Director Anna Starkey gave an inspiring talk, and said we needed to step back from the keyboard and engage at a human level. I know many scientists do this, including your good self I am sure. But I think your curmudgeonliness about the marches missed the mark, by some way in my view, based on my experience yesterday.

    [My wife thinks the same -W]

  16. #16 Russell
    Cambridge MA
    2017/04/23

    Is Bill McKibben going to do something kool next Saturday, Eli? Or is it just a warrmed over warm up for the Naomi Klein May Day gig that bombed here Tuesday last?.

    Somebunny with an attention span of less than 1984 years is always celebrating the centenary of the Revolution by starting a new movement , and this year’s spring fashion seems to be marching for alphabet soup materialsm .

    Next Saturday is better spent watching four thousand Marylanders cheer eight horses, than forty thousand scientists make asses of themeselves on the National Mall

  17. #17 Mal Adapted
    b
    2017/04/23

    Tom Fuller:

    They couldn’t march in favor of a carbon tax because it was embraced first and most enthusiastically by people they had already labeled as beyond the Pale.

    Tom, are you going to tell us who “they” are, as well as who the “people they had already labeled as beyond the Pale”? Or are you just taking the opportunity for a gratuitous swipe at “them”?

  18. #18 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/04/23

    WC – [Before marching for that, I’d want to stop to wonder if it was the mainstream view. That it is a discussion paper suggests not -W]

    You really don’t understand economics, do you? Much important economics research is published as ‘discussion papers’ or ‘research reports.’

    [Are you talking about understanding economics, or understanding the publication process that economics uses? -W]

    And did you miss the part where 90% of economists believe that the appropriate discount rate is between 1% and 3%. Have you forgotten the earlier research I’ve cited that shows the consensus expert opinion on the appropriate discount rate has changed over time; consistently decreasing in value over the past few decades?

  19. #19 Eli Rabett
    https://rabett.blogspot.com
    2017/04/24

    The number of people outside of the DC march in the US was 300-400 thousand. DC was big add a or more but as yet no published estimates. 100 K or more probably.

    Importantly, while there were many scientists, there were many others and tons of kids, esp earlier on for the demonstration (of science you twit) who left early before the march began.

  20. #20 Paul Kelly
    2017/04/24

    With the M4S, science becomes fully politicized. We demand the government continue to provide the livelihood to which we have become accustomed.

    From Eisenhower’s Farewell Address: “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.”

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by.Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

  21. #21 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/24

    #17, but at least he discussed rowing first. Post wasn’t a complete waste.

    Now if we could get some bad beekeeping mixed up with the bad economics all would be well…

    “if you ask the economists, they will tell you that the most economically efficient solution to CO2 emissions is a carbon tax. There’s a consensus on it, roughly as strong as the scientific consensus on GW.”

    History shows otherwise, at least in part. The cheapest significant reduction in CO2 from governmental policy so far has been the L Prize. $25 million for about 4% reduction in future CO2 releases as well lower lighting costs for everyone. Unfortunately, there are not enough market failures like this, or more plainly that making serious reductions in CO2 emissions isn’t an easy problem. Yet the L prize should stand as a fair lesson to consider the details. There have been and there likely still are some reductions in CO2 emissions from actions other than a carbon tax that are clearly far cheaper than a carbon tax. Sure, none are a “complete solution”, but a carbon tax isn’t a complete solution. I should mention that CO2 isn’t the only greenhouse gas of interest.

    [We’re talking about consensus. You, as a non-expert, going into the subject and picking out your favourite examples is moderately similar to people doing the same with GW. And you know how well that works. scienceblogs.com/stoat/2016/12/07/scott-adams-is-a-tosser/ -W]

    Or perhaps the comparison was intended to be more narrow: the question of a carbon tax vs cap and trade. There is nothing really wrong with either, and both are very dependent on the details. A carbon tax with well done details would be far better than a poorly implemented cap and trade. A cap and trade with well handled details would be far better than a poorly implemented carbon tax. I’m not sure why this is a binary question, as I’ve read economic journal papers proposing doing both for different parts of the economy, and more broadly, countries have different economic situations, some countries might be better suited for one or the other. There are also other ideas which are complementary rather than competitive.

    One size does not fit all, regardless of what the sock makers claim.

    I tried to find support for your claim of consensus. It seems lacking. For example this:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/jan/04/consensus-of-economists-cut-carbon-pollution

    “81% said a market-based system (carbon tax or cap and trade system) would be most efficient, while 13% answered that coordinated performance standards and programs that prioritize cleaner fuels and energy efficiency would be most efficient.”

    That doesn’t sound anything like the overwhelming consensus on global warming.

    [Errm, well, you didn’t look too hard because the same article you’re quoting says “The key finding: there’s a strong consensus among climate economics experts that we should put a price on carbon pollution to curb the expensive costs of climate change”. Mind you, that’s the Graun, so you shouldn’t trust it on economics. I’ve discussed what looks to be something very similar before, scienceblogs.com/stoat/2015/12/09/expert-consensus-on-the-economics-of-climate-change/. Whether they have the 97% that we claim, or “only” 80%, I wouldn’t swear to. I’d strongly prefer carbon tax to cap’n trade, for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere in tedious detail without convincing those who prefer cnt, so I won’t explain again; but I’ll agree with you that they favour that kind of market based approach over the regulations that pols seem to desperate to try -W]

  22. #22 MMM
    2017/04/24

    ” Well, if you ask the economists, they will tell you that the most economically efficient solution to CO2 emissions is a carbon tax. There’s a consensus on it, roughly as strong as the scientific consensus on GW. But the Obama adminstration was no closer that the Trump one to imposing a carbon tax. And yet no-one marched for it against Obama. Why not?”

    Because:
    1) the US is a two-party system. So it makes sense to protest against the party that is furthest from the efficient solution, and (no climate policy) < (command and control) <~ (carbon tax)
    2) Because Congress passes laws. Obama could only work within the structure of the Clean Air Act, which doesn't authorize carbon taxes.
    3) Because carbon taxes are the most efficient solution in an ideal economy with forward-looking, rational actors, perfect information, and no transaction costs. I'd still lobby for a carbon tax, but in the real, messy world I think the efficiency contest between (carbon tax) and (a hodgepodge of programs) is actually closer than you seem to think.

    So to sum up: while there are some climate activists might be against a carbon tax, I think most would happily take a carbon tax if that seemed politically viable. But as long as the climate threat is being addressed, that's much more important than doing it the perfectly optimal way.

    I think you've made a pretty shoddy equivalence here.

  23. #23 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/24

    ” You, as a non-expert, going into the subject and picking out your favourite examples is moderately similar to people doing the same with GW. And you know how well that works.”

    I think we agree on this. You, as a non-expert, going into the subject and picking out your favorite examples is moderately similar to people doing the same with GW. And you know how well that works. Oh wait a second, I’m quoting you, other than American vs English spelling.

    I am not an economics expert. I know that.

    You are not an economics expert. Do you know that?

    I’d prefer bad beekeeping to bad economics. Add some rowing to taste. Don’t forget some sea ice discussions.

    80% support for a market based approach is not the same thing as 80% support for a carbon tax. Economists generally prefer market based approaches as markets mostly work, except when markets don’t work, see LED bulbs, Commons problems and so on and so forth. I would and have happily supported a carbon tax, I gave money to the campaign for one in Washington State, signed the petition to get it on the ballot and voted for it, even as this version of a carbon tax was fatally flawed by details.

  24. #24 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/24

    “The key finding: there’s a strong consensus among climate economics experts that we should put a price on carbon pollution to curb the expensive costs of climate change”.

    Both a carbon tax and a cap and trade put a price on carbon.

    The carbon tax does so directly. Cap and trade set the price in a market.

    Both set a price on carbon.

  25. #25 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/04/24

    WC – [Are you talking about understanding economics, or understanding the publication process that economics uses? -W]

    Typically, both – but in this case the publication process. Krugman has actually written posts *ON* the publication process in economics and how it differs from many other sciences. Most major economics organizations (IMF, CEPR, NBER) publish their own research. Many papers are put out for immediacy so that the research can be timely. So criticizing a paper because it’s a discussion paper or research report ignores the actual practices and validity of the report.

  26. #26 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/04/24

    P.S. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and Keynes’ General Theoryof Employment, Interest and Money, and Friedman’s A Theory of the Consumption Function were published in which refereed journals respectively?

    These three books weren’t, of course, published in journals. I guess we should disregard them.

  27. #27 rconnor
    2017/04/25

    > “I have no such elixir. But nor do the marchers. They are protesting, not attempting to set policy.” – WC

    You know how you get a carbon tax through congress? Public support (which puts enough pressure on elected officials to make their concerns of re-election larger than the influence from their lobbyists/donors).

    You know how you get public support? Public awareness.

    You know how you get public awareness? Well, marches are a pretty darn good way. They were instrumental in most human rights advances.

    Marching would appear much more effective at getting to a carbon tax than, say, writing about how the March was misguided (based on a tu quoque fallacy).

    > “why didn’t they march against Obama?” – WC

    They are people. People need a rallying call – and Trump’s a pretty big one.

    Obama was at fault for not doing more, despite a congressional majority that was hell-bent on blocking him from doing so (and he got a lot of lack from parts of the left for not being as progressive as advertised…but I think that ignored the political realities of the time). Trump is at fault for attempting to undo what little Obama did, despite a congressional minority being hell-bent on blocking him from doing so, and undermining the science that supported those measures. So it’s understandable why people would feel stronger about marching against Trump than Obama. It’s apple and (an idiot) orange comparison.

    > “Why are they only in favour of certain sorts of evidence based policy? Could it be, perhaps, that they seek to privilege their own areas of expertise?” – WC

    They are people. When it hits close to home, you’re more likely to act. That’s not surprising, nor should their inconsistency deter from the message – so long as the message is a good one. Tu quoque and such.

  28. #28 Paul Kelly
    2017/04/26

    Obama’s great climate fault was betraying voters by reversing his position on 100% auction in cap and trade. He was given large and filibuster proof majorities in the Congress and managed to put the quietus on climate legislation for at least a decade.

  29. #29 Marco
    2017/04/26

    “He was given large and filibuster proof majorities in the Congress”

    Which in practice existed for 4-5 months, due to a contested election, several severe illnesses (Byrd and Kennedy), and the required switch of one Republican at a later stage.

  30. #30 Paul Kelly
    2017/04/26

    If you’ll recall, the House produced a bill so odious it was almost universally condemned. The Senate never even produced a bill to vote on in committee, where the opposition party cannot obstruct.

  31. #31 Marco
    2017/04/26

    Why blame Obama for something you state the House did?

  32. #32 Mal Adapted
    Middle of the pack
    2017/04/26

    Paul Kelly:

    With the M4S, science becomes fully politicized. We demand the government continue to provide the livelihood to which we have become accustomed.

    What’s this “we” business, Paul? Speak for yourself.

    I pursued a childhood fascination with “natural history” through two years in a PhD program in Ecology and Evolution, before deciding I didn’t want to work that hard for a living. Academic tenure? That was already a pipe dream for ecologists and evolutionary biologists by then. Cuz who needs that shit, amirite?

    My place in the world turned out to be hewer of wood and drawer of water for science, providing tech support for scientific computing in federal government research labs: NASA, DOE, EPA. It was easy, fun (I like dicking around with computers), and the pay was about what a research scientist could make, if not a PI. Mostly without civil service protection, too, because I had no fun at all during the year and a half I was directly employed by the government, so I quit and went back to being a beltway bandit. The hell with job security; having portable skills and vested employer-sponsored savings meant I could walk away from my job in an oppositional-defiant snit if I felt like it, with a trivial downside. I even did it (except for the vindictive part) once. Oh Sweet Freedom! And I always had intelligent people to talk to.

    Yeah, the government subsidized my early academic aspirations, to the garret-apartment-and-peanut-butter level. It paid for my MSCS degree, then my modestly bourgeois lifestyle. I was perfectly suited to the work I did, and the taxpayer’s investment in me was repaid long since. Meanwhile, people with my degrees and skills were earning three times my salary working in banks. I coulda done that too; yeah, no I couldn’t, because basic science, that centuries-long, international enterprise for the accumulation of verified knowledge as a public good, is the most important work in the world and scientists are my peeps. I knew a lot who were even sappier about science than I am, Paul. None of them were initforthegold.

  33. #33 Mal Adapted
    Out of the fallout "shelter".
    2017/04/26

    Paul Kelly quoting Ike:

    Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

    That was a prescient speech. Dwight Eisenhower was a Republican I could vote for today, although if he were alive today he might not be a Republican. Ironically a bunch of STEM types, employed in the military-industrial complex Ike warned us about in the same speech, enjoyed the summit of their public recognition and honors while he was in office. Some, later finding themselves at leisure when the Cold War sputtered out, got lucrative work renting their credentials to astroturfing pseudo-conservative stink tanks, as pseudo-skeptics of the socialized costs of the nicotine industry and now of the fossil fuel industry.

  34. […] Marching for science? * The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the […]

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