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Science Section => Science General Discussion => Topic started by: trdsf on March 27, 2017, 01:15:37 PM

Title: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: trdsf on March 27, 2017, 01:15:37 PM
Saturday morning was annual spotter training for National Weather Service Skywarn (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/skywarn/); they recommend refreshing one's training every two or three years, but I like to go every year anyway, and it's a program I recommend getting involved in because everyone has some sort of severe weather wherever they are, and because it's a great way to volunteer in your community.

I took the opportunity to talk to the meteorologist who came up from our local center after the session was over, noting that our severe weather season used to be limited to April to July, and now we have tornado watches and warnings as early as February and as late as November -- the killer F4 that hit Van Wert in 2002 was a November storm, for example, and as recently as thirty years ago, a storm that late in the year was unthinkable except in the wildest flights of meterological fancy.  Now it's the new normal.

And I asked, quite simply, if this could be the result of global climate change*.

His answer was rather more hesitant than one might expect for a simple scientific query, not just the "well, there are multiple factors".  It was more like he was trying to avoid stomping on someone's opinion, not confirm or deny a fairly straightforward question -- or that this was a fight he was tired of having with people who only wanted to hear something that supported their preconceived notions.

As we talked further and it became obvious that I wasn't pursuing a political motive, he sounded more like a scientist discussing a subject of current research rather than a scientist trying to avoid a pointless confrontation.

But this is what we've come to: because of unnecessary controversy, because of a media which thinks it has to provide a counterpoint to a news story even when no credible counterpoint exists, because of the politicization of science, there is a breakdown in communications between researchers and the wider public.  Not because the science is hard to explain or understand, but because so much bullshit is blown around by people who have a non- (or even anti-) scientific agenda.

This, if nothing else, is a good reason to participate in the upcoming March for Science (https://www.marchforscience.com/) on Earth Day.


* Calling it 'global warming' is sloppy.  The trend is warmer over the longer term, but what's actually going on is a breakdown in the natural weather cycles leading to, yes, hotter summers but also colder winters.  The number of times I have had to talk myself out of slapping someone who, during a cold snap, said something like "Well, so much for global warming" is a large, but still technically finite, integer.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on March 27, 2017, 06:40:42 PM
I think the scientific consensus is ... that global warming will lead to more extreme weather swings.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Sorginak on March 27, 2017, 06:41:51 PM
I think the scientific consensus is ... that global warming will lead to more extreme weather swings.

People who do not understand global warming are always like, "It's getting colder up here."

Well, duh, that is how global warming works.  It becomes colder in the north and hotter in the south. 
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Hydra009 on March 27, 2017, 06:52:00 PM
His answer was rather more hesitant than one might expect for a simple scientific query, not just the "well, there are multiple factors".  It was more like he was trying to avoid stomping on someone's opinion, not confirm or deny a fairly straightforward question -- or that this was a fight he was tired of having with people who only wanted to hear something that supported their preconceived notions.

As we talked further and it became obvious that I wasn't pursuing a political motive, he sounded more like a scientist discussing a subject of current research rather than a scientist trying to avoid a pointless confrontation.
I had a similar experience when my high school science teacher was discussing evolution.  I asked a question about early life and the teacher wanted to handle it one-on-one after class.  Apparently, my amazement could've been easily confused for creationist incredulity.  When she learned that I wasn't a creationist, she seemed relieved and directed me to the books on the topic.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Sorginak on March 27, 2017, 07:42:15 PM
I had a similar experience when my high school science teacher was discussing evolution.

I grew up in a small town.  My science teachers only discussed science.  And this was in a rather bible thumping town. 
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: trdsf on March 27, 2017, 10:47:17 PM
Funny thing is, I went to a Catholic high school, and evolution was in no way controversial, it was accepted and taught without controversy.

It's pretty sad when the Catholics are the progressive ones...
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on March 28, 2017, 07:26:10 AM
Funny thing is, I went to a Catholic high school, and evolution was in no way controversial, it was accepted and taught without controversy.

It's pretty sad when the Catholics are the progressive ones...

Since Vatican II, they are.  But the Protestants always were ass-hats.  The anti-intellectualism comes from Calvinism.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: SGOS on March 28, 2017, 09:30:16 AM
Funny thing is, I went to a Catholic high school, and evolution was in no way controversial, it was accepted and taught without controversy.
A broken clock telling the correct time...
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: trdsf on March 28, 2017, 10:37:28 AM
A broken clock telling the correct time...
Yeah, at the same time we were getting what I must admit was an excellent education, we were doing it in a school that was being used to stash a pedo priest (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2006/05_06/2006_05_09_McGraw_SNAPFounder.htm)... one step forward, seventeen hundred steps back.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on March 28, 2017, 01:10:41 PM
Yeah, at the same time we were getting what I must admit was an excellent education, we were doing it in a school that was being used to stash a pedo priest (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2006/05_06/2006_05_09_McGraw_SNAPFounder.htm)... one step forward, seventeen hundred steps back.

In Eastern Orthodoxy, all priests (who aren't set to become bishops) are required to marry.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on April 21, 2017, 05:39:10 AM
The chilling effect on science and knowledge occurs with every new Trump appointee.  It is beyond frightening.  It is becoming moronic.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: trdsf on April 21, 2017, 08:22:16 AM
The chilling effect on science and knowledge occurs with every new Trump appointee.  It is beyond frightening.  It is becoming moronic.
Don't forget the March for Science (https://www.marchforscience.com/) tomorrow, then.  There are local marches all over (https://www.marchforscience.com/satellite-marches/), plus the main one in DC.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 11, 2017, 03:10:48 PM
Don't forget the March for Science (https://www.marchforscience.com/) tomorrow, then.  There are local marches all over (https://www.marchforscience.com/satellite-marches/), plus the main one in DC.

The best thing that could happen for science is the reestablishment of the Office of Technology Assessment.  Originally created to advise Congress of science matters, it was defunded by the Republican Congress as being too awkward for the descientification of their goals. 
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: trdsf on October 11, 2017, 03:23:19 PM
The best thing that could happen for science is the reestablishment of the Office of Technology Assessment.  Originally created to advise Congress of science matters, it was defunded by the Republican Congress as being too awkward for the descientification of their goals.
Or better yet, get rid of Asshole and his christofascist lackey and their Congressional enablers, and elect people who respect the scientific process.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 11, 2017, 03:25:59 PM
Or better yet, get rid of Asshole and his christofascist lackey and their Congressional enablers, and elect people who respect the scientific process.

Yeah, but one step forward again at a time.  We don't want the middle US to succeed.  We tried that once before and it was kind of messy.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Mermaid on October 11, 2017, 07:22:38 PM
I attended a scientific meeting this summer in which the plenary session was about climate change as it relates to parasites. This is a meeting of the minds, and I was very alarmed to observe the smug, supercilious rejection of the very principles being discussed, the ACTUAL DATA. By ACTUAL SCIENTISTS. I don't know what the consensus was, but I did hear a few people talking over beer. It made my blood run cold.

I think this was the turning point for me. I am basically dead inside. There's nothing left of me at all. I have quit the shock and disbelief and am in thorough, complete denial.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 17, 2017, 04:59:29 AM
The best thing that could happen for science is the reestablishment of the Office of Technology Assessment.  Originally created to advise Congress of science matters, it was defunded by the Republican Congress as being too awkward for the descientification of their goals.

An excellent suggestion.  Can anything survive partisan politics?
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 17, 2017, 05:01:46 AM
I attended a scientific meeting this summer in which the plenary session was about climate change as it relates to parasites. This is a meeting of the minds, and I was very alarmed to observe the smug, supercilious rejection of the very principles being discussed, the ACTUAL DATA. By ACTUAL SCIENTISTS. I don't know what the consensus was, but I did hear a few people talking over beer. It made my blood run cold.

I think this was the turning point for me. I am basically dead inside. There's nothing left of me at all. I have quit the shock and disbelief and am in thorough, complete denial.

So do you suspect interference by funding agencies (usually government related)?  Or are they just dragging their heels to avoid jumping to a conclusion you already endorse?
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Mermaid on October 17, 2017, 06:45:26 PM
So do you suspect interference by funding agencies (usually government related)?  Or are they just dragging their heels to avoid jumping to a conclusion you already endorse?
Neither. It's just that people are rationalizing things differently.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 17, 2017, 06:50:59 PM
Neither. It's just that people are rationalizing things differently.

When can people stop rationalizing - BS ... and do actual thinking?
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Mermaid on October 17, 2017, 07:02:30 PM
Good question. It would be nice if actual scientists would do it.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 17, 2017, 10:53:34 PM
Good question. It would be nice if actual scientists would do it.

Are they simply being driven by the irrationality of their funding sources?  Like church sponsored research into Noah's ark?
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 18, 2017, 01:10:43 AM
Are they simply being driven by the irrationality of their funding sources?  Like church sponsored research into Noah's ark?

Investigations into finding Noah's ark are not real.  Investigations into neutrinos is.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 18, 2017, 07:19:59 AM
Investigations into finding Noah's ark are not real.  Investigations into neutrinos is.

Mermaid is laconic.  I frequently misunderstand her as a result.  In this case she says a bit more, but not enough to name names (who is selling cold fusion?).
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 18, 2017, 07:23:14 AM
Mermaid is laconic.  I frequently misunderstand her as a result.  In this case she says a bit more, but not enough to name names (who is selling cold fusion?).

Mermaid is even less specific than you are and that is going some.

Cold fusion is an old joke by now.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 18, 2017, 07:40:22 AM
Mermaid is even less specific than you are and that is going some.

Cold fusion is an old joke by now.

Hot fusion is ... still hot!
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 18, 2017, 09:51:12 AM
Hot fusion is ... still hot!

Define how it can work...
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 18, 2017, 07:19:41 PM
Define how it can work...

Take a ball of mostly hydrogen, a really big big ball, and compress it with gravitational attraction ... when the hydrogen (etc) nuclei have no place to go (path distance between collisions) they start fusing statistically, generating a lot of heat.  The heat from the compression initially, and from the fusing eventually, increases the rate of burn, because more and more nuclei are on the tail end of the gaussian energy spectrum, where fusing is more likely to occur.  Of course, with cooler gas, but thanks to "tunneling" it is possible at a low rate, to fuse even with less than the classical energy required.  Since there is such a vast number of atoms involved, even a little cool burning is enough to get things cooking.  Once it starts predominantly cooking, it burns until it runs out of fuel.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 23, 2017, 05:54:42 AM
Take a ball of mostly hydrogen, a really big big ball, and compress it with gravitational attraction ... when the hydrogen (etc) nuclei have no place to go (path distance between collisions) they start fusing statistically, generating a lot of heat.  The heat from the compression initially, and from the fusing eventually, increases the rate of burn, because more and more nuclei are on the tail end of the gaussian energy spectrum, where fusing is more likely to occur.  Of course, with cooler gas, but thanks to "tunneling" it is possible at a low rate, to fuse even with less than the classical energy required.  Since there is such a vast number of atoms involved, even a little cool burning is enough to get things cooking.  Once it starts predominantly cooking, it burns until it runs out of fuel.

Man I fell into THAT one, LOL!  Yes, I know how fusion works.    But out of curiosity, and WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP, do you know WHY fusion produces heat?  And why it stops?
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Mermaid on October 23, 2017, 04:33:35 PM
Sorry. I am not a laconic person, really. I just am an emotionally and physically exhausted person who can't find the energy to get into detail. I know that's probably really annoying.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 23, 2017, 11:17:06 PM
Man I fell into THAT one, LOL!  Yes, I know how fusion works.    But out of curiosity, and WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP, do you know WHY fusion produces heat?  And why it stops?

There is a conservation of mass energy.  If the end products are less massive than the starter material, then the net has to come out as energy.  Many kinds of energy, but in the case of the Sun, mostly heat and light.  When the net fusion products are mostly iron, the fusion equation is reversed, the net matter is more massive than the starter material, the reaction consumes energy.  This is a bummer for your solar system.

I am an applied physics major, and took nuclear physics.  I even thought of continuing in nuclear physics ... but was more attracted to renewable energy.  But Reagan and the problems of life scotched that for something completely different.  The closest I got to nuclear physics later, were the warheads in the weapon vehicles I was helping to develop.  Just the vehicles, not the warheads.  Fortunately what I worked on, only delivered conventional warheads.
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Baruch on October 23, 2017, 11:17:44 PM
Sorry. I am not a laconic person, really. I just am an emotionally and physically exhausted person who can't find the energy to get into detail. I know that's probably really annoying.

OK (trying to be laconic).
Title: Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
Post by: Cavebear on October 27, 2017, 06:21:42 AM
Sorry. I am not a laconic person, really. I just am an emotionally and physically exhausted person who can't find the energy to get into detail. I know that's probably really annoying.

I could go into detail about fusion, but you say "emotionally and physically exhausted", and I won't press you.  If you want to talk about that, many here are kind.   Me too, sometimes.