The expected Powerline slapdown

Powerline. Round about these parts, that name is pretty much a synonym for stupid, and I see they're doing a good job of maintaining their reputation. You'd think they'd learn that whenever they step into the domain of science, their level of ignorance is even more palpably apparent than usual.

Their latest embarrassment was prompted by an egregiously idiotic article from Michael Fumento, which catalogs an error-filled collection of so-called biases in science. The assrocket's conclusion?

The moral of the story is that the leading scientific journals have been taken over by liberals who value politics over truth. So any time you see a news report on a "scientific" journal article that ostensibly has political implications, you should greet it with skepticism.

Wow. So any science article that discusses, say, evolution, climate, energy, reproduction, conservation, petroleum geology, glaciers, pesticides, extinction, wetlands, materials science, transportation, agriculture, neurobiology, HIV/AIDS (shall I go on?), demographics, deforestation, habitat loss, human genetics (I could keep this up all day), influenza, psychiatry, ethanol production, sexually transmitted disease, medicine in general, stem cells, weather, sex (OK, enough), all issues that have political implications, and which are therefore automatically suspect and tainted by <hiss>liberals? Jeez, John and Michael, why not just say, "Science is EVIL" and be done with it?When all the scientists are disagreeing with you, though, maybe instead you should wonder if you, people with no scientific competence at all, might just be wrong.

I'm pleased to say that we here at scienceblogs.com seem to be presenting a united front on this one, unsurprisingly. Chris Mooney also points out the absurdity of rejecting in its entirety the so-called "liberal" academy, and Tim Lambert rips into the bogus interpretations of the Fumento article. I'll have to gnaw on a few scraps that are left over.

Here, for example, is an instance of Fumento illogic.

Consider a report
by three environmentalist authors back in 1988 in Journal of the American
Medical Association (JAMA)
, analyzing male-female birth ratios between
1970 and 1990. The authors found male births declining, and predictably
blamed man-made chemicals. Yet public data going
back to 1940
showed gender ratios are always changing, for no obvious
reason. Years that disproved their thesis were simply sliced out.

Look at that bit where he cites public data, with a link to a report by the CDC. He claims that the interpretation of the report is that "gender ratios are always changing, for no obvious reason"—I can only assume that he figures absolutely no one who reads his column will actually, like, look at his links. The report says nothing of the kind. Right at the top of the report is a graph that shows year-by-year variation, with trend lines on it to show that there is an overall decline in the number of males born. The report specifically discusses the reasons for it, explaining that it only looks at a few relationships and listing others. Here's the CDC's conclusion, plainly stated in the final paragraph.

Changes in the sex ratio at birth in the United States have been
attributed to many different factors. The factors examined in this report
include age of mother, birth order, and race and Hispanic origin of
mother. Other factors not examined here but cited by others in determining the sex of a child and, thus, the sex ratio at birth are weight
of mother, stress, age of father, family size, geographic and climatic
conditions, environmental toxins, and a preference for male offspring.
As such, the effect of these factors should be considered in under
standing the annual variation and overall decline in the sex ratio at birth.

How does he get away with this? He cites a report and claims that its conclusions are the exact opposite of what it actually says!

Assrocket just gullibly swallows it all whole. There is a whole parade of similarly mangled science results in Fumento's article, and another is the recent Hwang Woo Suk scandal.

Fumento's second example is embryonic stem cell research, where the most important "science" underlying public enthusiasm for cloning turned out to be fraudulent:

Even Science's awful stem-cell embarrassment wasn't purely a matter of fraud. I have written repeatedly on how both Science and Nature have turned themselves into cheerleaders for any supposed advance in ES cell science, while opening their pages to laughable attacks on what many see as both medically and ethically superior -- namely adult stem cells.

Neither Powerline nor Fumento understand this result. It was an important and expected step in stem cell research, but it was only one result, and certainly wasn't the foundation of public or scientific enthusiasm for this line of research. Nor does it in anyway invalidate the promise or past results of stem cell researchers, and the claim that everyone is sitting around wondering "How could I have been fooled?" is ridiculous.

  • Hwang Woo Suk flat out lied. I don't know how journalists, editors, and scientists are supposed to know that until it gets worked over by other researchers, as it was. Of course we can be suckered by someone who is malicious and dishonest, for a while at least; the point of science as a community enterprise is that there is frequent cross-checking and examination of result, which means the truth will eventually out.
  • The Korean teams have had a string of successes in stem cell technology that are valid and have been double-checked. This wasn't some nobody coming out of nowhere, but a research team with a good track record.
  • This technique of transforming somatic nuclei has worked in other animals than humans. There is no reason to think it isn't doable—and I expect the work will be done someday. The fraud picked a good target, one that is just within our reach, nothing too outrageous, and all he did was nudge himself over the finish line first, not invent something outrageous.
  • the ridiculous cheering over adult stem cells from a scientific ignoramus is absurd. Probably one of the most prominent researchers in adult stem cells is Dr Catherine Verfaillie, right here at the University of Minnesota, and she has flatly said that she thinks the embryonic stem cell research is an invaluable complement to her work. Get that? She's a person with a strong vested interested in AS work, and SHE is saying we need more ES work. Do Hindrocket and Fumento think they know better than a genuine researcher in the field? (yeah, probably. Incompetents don't know the limits of their competence.)

This happens every time Powerline mentions anything about science. I think we ought to encourage a new reflex: every time Powerline mentions the word "science", come check out scienceblogs.com, and you'll find several of us howling with laughter.

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Except for the fact that "science" has been successfully portrayed as an ivory tower, and the average person can't/won't be bothered to self-educate enough to understand. Thus the esoteric proclamations of "scientists" must be suspect since they can't be understood and thus can't be trusted. Anyone who comes along and appears to punch a hole in the over-inflated gas bag that "science" seems to be will be a hero to the average Joe. A partisan of the little guy who is confused by the complexity and rigors of science. The unfortunate fact is that more people will be "saved" in one night at a tent revival than will ever be awakened by worthy blogs such as this one.

Funny thing I notice about the "ivory tower" thing: When I get in a debate with some nutbar, they flip-flop between saying that I'm in the ivory tower with a paycheck and that I just have to trust the conclusions they drew from their invisible research.

I'm sure someone's commented on this before - but isn't it amusing that the real conservative wacko blogs have all turned off their comments sections?

Powerline, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh... it's almost as if they are afraid of something.

I think it could be an inverse ratio - the more conservatively radical a popular blog is, the less likely that the comments section of that blog will be enabled.

Geez, between you, Chris, and Tim, there's nothing left for me.

Oh, well, there's always the Geiers and RFK Jr. and their ridiculous distortions of science in the cause of linking mercury to autism.

Fumento: Yet public data going back to 1940 showed gender ratios are always changing, for no obvious reason.

PZ: The report specifically discusses the reasons for it, explaining that it only looks at a few relationships and listing others.

Aw, c'mon, PZ, don't you understand? To the conservative mind, anything other than "this is the absolute unquestionable truth" is the same as "nobody knows." Multiple causes? Complex interactions? That must mean they have no idea, and they're just bluffing.

Calladus,

Rightie blogs haven't just turned off comments, they have never, ever enabled them. Except for the unhinged at LGF, which is a perpetual source of embarrasement, hence LGF Watch.

We should not get too worked-up about the ignorati.

Instead, point out to all who care that when the ignorati use computers and telephones to communicate and electricity to illuminate their workspace and e.g., to cook their meals -- actually simply by existing in our society -- they are benefiting from the science they condemn.

Even more interesting is when/if the ignorati of our society do not use the means made available to them by science, they are helpless, and soon perish, because the ignorati have even less an idea how to live without science than they do with it.

RS

This is like Roy Jones, Jr. taking down Stephen Hawking in boxing, or, in the alternative, Stephen Hawking taking down Roy Jones, Jr. in quantum physics.

I prefer to view the linked site as an ongoing infomercial for egregious Republican stupidity, preferred voiced by the Australian guy in suspenders ("Magic Wax can clean 15-year-old birdshit off of the hood of this Rolls Royce!")

pablo,

The thing about tent revivals is that, in my experience at least, the people getting "saved" are all serial offenders. It's not like they walk in as agnostics and come out praising Jesus. It's a way some folks have of "charging their batteries."

Assrocket is a 2nd rate propagandist who is not interested in the truth about anything.

Fumento is his retarded cock-sucking dog.

I look forward to their comeuppance.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Anyone who comes along and appears to punch a hole in the over-inflated gas bag that "science" seems to be will be a hero to the average Joe. A partisan of the little guy who is confused by the complexity and rigors of science.

The Unfrozen Cavemen were hilarious until they took over the White House and Congress and started killing Iraqis like there was no tomorrow.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Do Hindrocket and Fumento think they know better than a genuine researcher in the field?

They're probably getting tutored on the weekends by Joe "Evanjunkical Outpost" Carter.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

This is like Roy Jones, Jr. taking down Stephen Hawking in boxing, or, in the alternative, Stephen Hawking taking down Roy Jones, Jr. in quantum physics.

I should point out that Prof. Hawking is mostly focused on the physics of the very large, rather than quantum stuff. I have one of his postgrads supervising me for General Relativity.

I look forward to their comeuppance, too.

We have a President who has in Ted Haggard a spiritual advisor who is a living, breathing, talking booger. Now, peer-reviewed science is "liberal." Okay with me. Scientific journals are participating in some grand conspiracy. Yay, let that pronouncement go down in history, along with neo-con "canduh-n-flowers," global-warming-is-a-lie lies, and adult stem cell claims! So much for evolutionary biologists playing "hide-the-atheists" in an attempt to woo religious woo-woos. There is just no way not to piss off stupid people, so why try?

Having comments turned on or not is simple to verify. But how do you quantify 'conservatism'? Self-reports? Surveys?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Do Hindrocket and Fumento think they know better than a genuine researcher in the field?

Yes. Yes, they do.

It's a scientific fact.

This is just another spin on the same conservative rhetoric that's become so familiar over the past 6 years: the notion that reality is only what people say it is, and consensus reality belongs to whoever argues the most aggressively.

Or, more baldly stated, Anyone who says anything that makes conservatives look bad is a 'liberal'. Liberals are by definition bad people, therefore anything liberals say is wrong. Therefore anything a conservative says is true.

By george cauldron (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Many if not most humans don't seem capable of perceiving things other than other people's reactions. Reality IS socially constructed as far as they're concerned.

If the story of the Emperor's New Clothes were enacted in reality, the crowd would either lynch the child who pointed out the king's nakedness, or have him committed.

Rand would be laughing in her grave.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Help me out here. What is Myers claiming? What is the Party Line?

Does he mean that 'liberal academia' does not exist, and that people of all political persuasions are roughly evenly represented throighout?

Or maybe, "Sure, there are more liberals than conservatives in academia (only because conservatives are stupid), but we don't let our politics affect our published work. By-and-large, allowing for the occasional human error/exuberance, academic publications are firmly unbiased."

Before anyone howls about George Bush, George Deutsch, and the Republican War on Science, I'll stipulate, for discussion sake, that such a "War" exists, perpetrated by Bush and his army of Red State Yahoos. Okay?

My questions remain. Does 'liberal academia' exist? Are academic publications largely unbiased?

Nor does it in anyway invalidate the promise or past results of stem cell researchers, and the claim that everyone is sitting around wondering "How could I have been fooled?" is ridiculous.

Martin Gardner, in one of his books on pseudoscience, claimed that magicians find scientists an easy audience to fool. Apparently, this is largely because intentional deception is very unusual in the lab (field, whatever), and scientists aren't trained to look for it directly. Rather, it gets uncovered the same way any invalid result gets caught: as a by-product of additional research, often lots of it.

Even ordinarily sloppy science (cold fusion, e.g.) can take months to resolve. A determined fraud can take years to unravel unless the fraudster confesses first.

By ColoRambler (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Assrocket just gullibly swallows it all whole.

Forgive me, but that just sums up the MO of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders and their adoration of Commander Codpiece. Do they wear the kneepads under their clothes and can they get them on fast enough when duty calls?

Liberal academia kicked my dog and made me go bald.

I think the answer is, you skeptically evaluate scientific claims using scientific evidence, not unfettered, propagandistic whining because you didn't like the study's conclusions and didn't understand the metholodogy.

The charge of bias is probably more properly applied when the phrase "tobacco company" is used as an adjective and the findings include "Rich, soothing cigarette smoke helps to invigorate your Q-zone and produces superhuman strength!"

My questions remain. Does 'liberal academia' exist? Are academic publications largely unbiased?

There is a reality outside Conservative polemics, bonehead.

But ultimately, you're right: the charges of the Bush administration being anti-science are amply disproved by Bush taking the sagely advice of Michael Chichton on all matters of science.

By george cauldron (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Commissar, the policial bias of academia has nothing to do with what gets published. If what gets published suits one political agenda better than another, then the people leaning towards the less suited political agenda should probably re-evaluate their stance.

By Kristjan Wager (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

For me, this is the best part:

Bottom line: First, there needs to be an outside body of peer-reviewers not picked by the journals themselves.

Do you agree with this, Commissar? If so, who should pick them? White House staffers? The RNC? Political appointees?

And which academic journals would be subjected to this? ALL of them, even outside biology and climatology? That's hundreds of journals. If not all of them, who would pick, and how would the choice be made?

And if these reviewers were not picked by the journals themselves (and they certainly couldn't be picked by any eggheady professors), why do we think these people could be relied on to have any kind of expertise? Doesn't this idea of government-appointed people overseeing the political content of scholarship seem awfully, well, totalitarian to you? Since I can tell you, that was all SOP in the Soviet Union...

I know, I know, liberals hate freedom...

By george cauldron (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Does 'liberal academia' exist? Are academic publications largely unbiased?

I think the questions are largely irrelevant. The nature of science is such that the truth will out, regardless of bias. The worst that bias can do is delay the process.

It is very different if you're talking about the application of science to public policy. There bias plays a huge role, and the "worst that bias can do" is very bad indeed. But that's not the realm of Nature and Science and other peer-reviewed journals.

My questions remain. Does 'liberal academia' exist? Are academic publications largely unbiased?

They, like every human endeavor, start as potentially biased. But then experimental protocols and the peer review process reduce or eliminate that bias.

I believe it went something like this: "An experiment is asking nature a question. The result is nature's answer." I'm sorry if nature happens to disagree with you and support "liberals," whoever they are.

If you want to contradict those science claims, try independant replication, instead of propaganda techniques like "Obtain Disapproval."

Kristjan,

"The political bias of academia has nothing to do with what gets published."

Okey dokey. I am very impressed that such impartiality and independence rules.

Okey dokey. I am very impressed that such impartiality and independence rules.

And we're very abashed that your withering rapier-like sarcasm has proven just how biased academia truly is. We're so sorry.

By george cauldron (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

I have a feeling Commissar isn't considering that he might have his cause and effect reversed: Academics might be liberal because of what gets published.

And, of course, if scientists cared more about politics than about truth, they wouldn't be double-blinding, controlling, or replicating experiments: They'd be questioning the motivations of their critics, rather than the criticisms.

Redshift sez: "To the conservative mind, anything other than 'this is the absolute unquestionable truth' is the same as 'nobody knows.' Multiple causes? Complex interactions? That must mean they have no idea, and they're just bluffing."

I have to step up and disagree with the assertion that this is a conservative thing exclusively or even mostly. This is a very common attitude among many people I've known, including good friends, who are far from politically/socially conservative, and far from unintelligent or uneducated in general. They subscribe to a spectrum of vague, wishy-washy, New Agey and/or pseudoscientific claptrap, which often seems to be connected to a not very well thought out strain of liberal multiculturalism. They seem to believe that if there are gaps or uncertainties in the scientific understanding of something, then all bets are off and the scientific view is no better than any other hypothesis that any group of people finds credible. Any attempt to claim otherwise is waved away as argument from authority by the scientific priesthood (usually not stated in just these words, but that's the idea, more or less). "Science hasn't cured cancer," one such friend asserted in arguing that modern medical science is "just another religion."

When I think about it, it's pretty clear that most people who argue like this, conservative or otherwise, don't really believe their own premise. They're perfectly happy accepting and benefiting from the conclusions of scientists in most areas. They only pull out these arguments when a bit of science trespasses on some belief that they want to defend.

By Michael Wells (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Shasgas,

"The nature of science is such that the truth will out, regardless of bias. The worst that bias can do is delay the process."

Maybe we disagree for how long, and to what extent, bias (or groupthink) might delay the ultimate arrival at truth.

Take a look at Myers' laundry list of topics. For whatever reason, he didnt mention human embryology or neonatology. Do you think studies in those areas get funding as easily as other subjects? A few months ago, Myers wrote a fairly adamant post about fish, "of course fish FEEL, you nitwit." Who's gonna fund my study on sensory development and pain reflexes of 14-week human embryos?

You're all quite confident that nothing like this occurs.

Sure, truth will out. Eventually.

Take a look at Myers' laundry list of topics. For whatever reason, he didnt mention human embryology or neonatology. Do you think studies in those areas get funding as easily as other subjects? A few months ago, Myers wrote a fairly adamant post about fish, "of course fish FEEL, you nitwit." Who's gonna fund my study on sensory development and pain reflexes of 14-week human embryos?

You're all quite confident that nothing like this occurs.

Sure, truth will out. Eventually.

Hmmm... didn't address any of our points, did you?

We're quite scared of our promised ultimate retribution, believe me.

Run along, little man. The grownups are having a talk.

By george cauldron (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

What is Myers claiming? What is the Party Line?

I wasn't aware there was a "party line".

By Bored Huge Krill (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

I don't see too much connection between modern Republican politics and what at least used to be called "conservatism." Just sayin'. I suspect that thirty years ago, a scientist would be much more likely to identify as "conservative" than today, given the traditional conservative emphasis on preserving existing institutions, fiscal restraint, and meritocracy -- all things routinely shredded by modern Republicans.

So with the "you're either with us or against us" attitude of the Republicans, and their tendency to identify all their enemies with "liberalism," it doesn't surprise me in the least that they tar scientists with that particular brush.

Who's gonna fund my study on sensory development and pain reflexes of 14-week human embryos?

You mean other than the Republican party, American Family Association, the Catholic Church, the Heritage Foundation, The Olin Foundation, and any number of other conservative/religeous/dedicated anti-abortion groups?

You're all quite confident that nothing like this occurs.

I'm quite confident that there's no heaven or hell awaiting us when we die, just oblivion. I sleep well anyway and don't worry about threats involving the afterlife. Now if I only could stop worrying about threats in real life...

By David Wilford (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

Commissar, does conservative academia exist? Are there a bunch of rightist professors who have banded together in an effort to influence politics?
I think probably there is, but I'm not sure. Given the paranoia of the "intellectual" right, I wouldn't be surprised, but I don't know.
In classic propagandistic projection, you have assumed liberal professors have some sort of brother/sisterhood, that meets regularly to promote the "liberal acedemic agenda". You seem to want people here to admit that there is a bloc called "liberal professors" whose purpose is to use their academic area to influence public policy to lean to the left.
If there is such a group, it is VERY secret, and very small.
Why don't you do an investigation and get back to us.

Left Wing Fox,

"You mean other than the Republican party, American Family Association, the Catholic Church, the Heritage Foundation, The Olin Foundation, and any number of other conservative/ religious/ dedicated anti-abortion groups?"

You have made my point. Ordinary, liberal academic bureacracies would be much less likely to sponsor, fund, or publish research into such politically unpalatable topics. Imagine PZMyers at a Biology Dept. meeting reviewing a PhD proposal in such areas? LOL

Hey Commissar, you never said whether you support Fumento's "outside body of peer-reviewers not picked by the journals themselves", and if so, how it would be implemented. Wouldn't this be your big chance to turn back the tide of wicked liberal academia?

By george cauldron (not verified) on 01 Mar 2006 #permalink

1. Sensory development in human fetuses has been studied. You think there are no papers that stain and map neurodevelopment in humans? I even assisted in one such study years ago, working with fetal and newborn tissue.

2. There are no studies that I know of of pain reflexes in living human embryos. It would be interesting to know about that, but I don't think you'll find many people, liberal or conservative, who'd permit such a study to be done. I might, but I'm a callous bastard--even so, it wouldn't make it past any review committee.

3. I have been a committee member on theses that investigated subjects I found highly unlikely and a waste of time (but not political ones...they don't come up much in biology). I evaluated them on technical merits and whether they met the standards of other theses.

4. My list was not exhaustive. I didn't mention embryology, but I could have...if you want me to make it even longer, that would just make my point even stronger, that assrocket is making a blanket condemnation of virtually all scientific research.

Actually, I don't see much here to distinguish Assrocket from the Commissar. Both make false assumptions about how even us liberal scientists operate, and both are astonishingly clueless.

The post was exactly right, and many of the commenters are too. But, I'm sorry to report, this has all been adequately dealt with in 30 seconds on The Daily Show. Their inimitable reporter says (from memory, it was more elegant the way he said it), "I'm sorry, Jon. I can't report on the facts of this case. The facts have an anti-Republican agenda."

On our local NPR station's Radio Times* show, there was a debate between Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists and lobbying-firm head Robert Walker about whether or not the administration was squashing science it didn't like. Towards the end, Grifo was tossing out a list of issues where scientists were complaining, including forestry, grazing lands, global warming, lead . . . Walker replies: These are all liberal issues, - at which point the moderator interrupts and says: Did you just say that lead was a liberal issue??! in tones of complete disbelief. He managed to burble something about different approaches and expensive new government regulation, but my oh my . . .
mp3 here maybe - realaudio link on page . . .

*with Marty Moss-Coane. Can't not add that - having heard it so many times on the radio, I remember it as one unit. Though if you had "moss" as your last name, would you ever hyphenate it? I know I wouldn't. That would rock. Dan Moss . . . maybe I'll change it . . .

-Dan S.

If I didn't believe it to be cruel, I'd say someone should listen to Hindrocket and his circle-jerk right-wing blogger radio show on Saturdays, and call in if they ever bring up science in any way. Give a fake reason for calling and then start asking real science questions.

It might be better than a comment page.

My words - "Do you think studies in those areas get funding AS EASILY ... Ordinary, liberal academic bureacracies would be much LESS LIKELY to sponsor..."

Myers' words - "You think there are NO papers ...?"

Hey, "Bronze Dog," you got a 'propaganda technique' for that?

From my experience, I'd probably guess accident over intentional in PZ's case, so that'd be the "straw man" logical fallacy, rather than the "straw man" propaganda tactic.

The kinds of studies you mentioned are no harder to publish or get funded than any others; they're actually easier to get funded (because of their immediate relevance to medicine), but it's much harder to get experimental material to work on. Please don't tell me you're going to try and argue that it's those damn liberals who make it hard to get one's hands on human fetal tissue.

If you want to play games and run away from the points of my comments, go ahead.

I'm not a liberal in many senses of that word (and certainly not a conservative in most senses of that word either). That said, it occurs to me that since science (and philosophy, etc.) are attempts to understand the world, in the long term (assuming no blocks to inquiry) the people who do such will exhibit a collective bias in favour of some positions rather than others. This is because they are closer to the truth. Now, this doesn't entail that any position in specific is more correct than those outside those professions (witness the disaster of most work in economics) but ...

PZ,

Your 2nd point is a complete red herring. Research on "living human embryos." Who said that? Once again, you are propagandizing, and trying to put words in my mouth.

Your 3rd point amounts to "I evaluated them on technical merits ..." You assert your own impartiality and probity. Okay. I can't challenge that.

4th. You could have made the list longer. um .. okay.

(unnumbered 5th) I am as "clueless" as "Assrocket." I prefer not to respond to insults and name-calling.

Your original post implied (and I explicitly challenged) that liberal academia either 1) does not exist, or 2) to the extent it does, is almost wholly impartial in its publications. That was an on-topic question to your post. Kristjan was kind enough to say "Yes, that's how it works." No one else has chosen to make a civil, explict answer.

I see. You said research on the "pain reflexes of 14-week human embryos" -- I'll assume then, that you have no idea how this kind of research is done and therefore didn't understand that it would require living tissue. If you're willing to admit to ignorance, I guess that's OK.

If you want to challenge my impartiality, all you have to do is find some disgruntled Ph.D. candidate from Temple whose work I destroyed in a fit of liberal pique. You can look; you won't find any.

Look at the original comment. See all those parenthetical comments in my list? I don't think I could be any plainer that I was just rattling off a long list, a partial list, of science that has political impact.

Your challenge is false. I did not anywhere claim that liberal academia does not exist (of course it does -- smart people gravitate away from right wing bs), nor that it is impartial. We're very strongly biased towards the actual facts. Your problem, and Assrocket's, is the same: the facts do not jibe with the right wing spin.

Bronze Dog,

"I'd probably guess accident over intentional in PZ's case."

He missed the difference between "less" and "none," when "none" just so happened to suit his rhetorical purpose?

I never mentioned using live human embryos either, but he threw that in too. Another accident, I suppose.

Sign me,
"Clueless as Assrocket"

He missed the difference between "less" and "none," when "none" just so happened to suit his rhetorical purpose?

Considering that I've been known to accidentally insert or miss a "not" while reading, I'd say it could very well be a case of misreading.

I never mentioned using live human embryos either, but he threw that in too. Another accident, I suppose.

Apparently you did mention them.

Here's a paper on pain reflex in human embryos.

http://www.cirp.org/library/pain/anand/

With 201 references.

"Clue" me in. I "ass"ume that none of the studies used live embryos unethically.

But there's research in the area. (I only claimed that perhaps, this is an area, where LESS might be done than otherwise. Its a 1987 paper.)

Your point 2 "even a callous bastard .. no review committee would approve ..." inferred cruelty and unethical treatment, and I dont know why you brought that up; that's the red herring.

Ethical pain reflex studies on human embryos can and have been done. (We agree on that much, I hope.) I cited it as an area that might get less attention from liberal academia.

Bronze Dog,

I mixed up and overlooked the distinction between any possible use of live tissue and the cruel/unethical research that PZMyers brought up.

Being the fair-minded guy you are, I'm sure you'll cut me the same kind of slack that you cut PZ.

I have a feeling Commissar isn't considering that he might have his cause and effect reversed: Academics might be liberal because of what gets published.

Published research in psychology shows that such changes of mind are very unlikely: intelligent, informed people typically don't change their minds, but interpret many facts in such a way that they become consistent with their already-established opinions.

On the other hand, there's no evidence of discrimination against conservatives in the academia. I think the best explanation left is that liberals are more sympathetic to the academia from the out start, and are therefore more likely to want to go to it in the first place.

Ethical pain reflex studies on human embryos can and have been done. (We agree on that much, I hope.) I cited it as an area that might get less attention from liberal academia.

Actually, liberal academia does do studies on pain reflex in human fetuses; but the politicized nature of the question means that most get funded by activist groups of either side of the question.

Hey, Commissar, you never did answer my questions about how to decisively SOLVE the problem of the Wicked Liberal Conspiracy in academia. What do you think the government should do? Do you have an actual answer, or is the whole point just to belligerently complain in hopes of intimidating liberal professors into compliance? Because right now, you're just arguing like one of those wingnuts who gloms onto one minor dubious point, starts a lot of semantic quibbling over interpretations of individual words when contradicted, and ignores all the other questions put to him. I mean, we're all USED to that, but it's a little tedious.

C'mon, let's hear your 'solution'. Or quit bitching.

By george cauldron (not verified) on 02 Mar 2006 #permalink

"Hey, Commissar, you never did answer my questions about how to decisively SOLVE the problem of the Wicked Liberal Conspiracy in academia. What do you think the government should do? Do you have an actual answer, or is the whole point just to belligerently complain in hopes of intimidating liberal professors into compliance?"

Nonsense. The solution the right has in mind is to appoint political officers to quash any nonconservative sentiment, wherever it should appear and whatever facts might support it. All of this is just laying groundwork for it.

Commisar writes :I never mentioned using live human embryos either, but he threw that in too. Another accident, I suppose.:

Well, AssrocketJr, how does one use dead embryos to examine the reflexes of an embryo?

Gawd.

By Stuart Weinstein (not verified) on 02 Mar 2006 #permalink

...how does one use dead embryos to examine the reflexes of an embryo?

Someone should have mentioned a particular line from... which one was it? Return to the Planet of the Apes?

Bronze Dog,

I mixed up and overlooked the distinction between any possible use of live tissue and the cruel/unethical research that PZMyers brought up.

Being the fair-minded guy you are, I'm sure you'll cut me the same kind of slack that you cut PZ.

OOPS. I guess not.

It's a classic example of right-wing dishonesty and distraction. Use a completely irrelevant complaint -- "I said 'less', not 'none'" -- as a distraction from the actual issue: Assrocket's blanket smear of science. Even better, accuse me of sinking to a low by calling him "clueless", while ignoring the fact that he accused me of discriminating against graduate students for their political views.

The simple fact of the matter is that it was Fumento's and Powerline's articles that were examples of ideology and ignorance trashing science; the Commissar is squinking up a storm to cover the stupidity of his political comrades.

Being the fair-minded guy you are, I'm sure you'll cut me the same kind of slack that you cut PZ.

Hey, I cut PZ slack on intentions, based on what I read of his stuff. This, however, is irrelevant to the topic, since motivation has nothing to do with the content of arguments. I didn't cut him slack on the mistake.

Still ignoring my questions, Commissar?

Maybe if you answered people's questions, people would 'cut you more slack'?

By george cauldron (not verified) on 02 Mar 2006 #permalink

Oh, give the Commissar some credit, George--by proposing to design a pain reflex experiment on dead embryos, he figured out a brilliant way to streamline the requisite ethics review board paperwork.

Kudos for thinking outside of the "scientific experiments must make sense" box, Commissar.

Oh, give the Commissar some credit, George--by proposing to design a pain reflex experiment on dead embryos, he figured out a brilliant way to streamline the requisite ethics review board paperwork.

True -- and since the subsequent report would be presumably vetted by "an outside body of peer-reviewers", presumably appointed by the government, the report could be depended on to give whatever results Commissar wants.

By george cauldron (not verified) on 02 Mar 2006 #permalink