Author Topic: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science  (Read 247 times)

Offline trdsf (OP)

The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« on: March 27, 2017, 01:15:37 PM »
Saturday morning was annual spotter training for National Weather Service 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 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.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"Confused? At a loss for what to do? Wow, sounds like you're human. Good luck." -- Welcome to Night Vale

Offline Baruch

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2017, 06:40:42 PM »
I think the scientific consensus is ... that global warming will lead to more extreme weather swings.
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Offline Sorginak

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #2 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. 
Religion is primitive, inventive nonsense.

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #3 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.

Offline Sorginak

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #4 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. 
Religion is primitive, inventive nonsense.

Offline trdsf (OP)

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #5 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...
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"Confused? At a loss for what to do? Wow, sounds like you're human. Good luck." -- Welcome to Night Vale

Offline Baruch

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #6 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.
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Offline SGOS

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #7 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...

Offline trdsf (OP)

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #8 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... one step forward, seventeen hundred steps back.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"Confused? At a loss for what to do? Wow, sounds like you're human. Good luck." -- Welcome to Night Vale

Offline Baruch

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #9 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... one step forward, seventeen hundred steps back.

In Eastern Orthodoxy, all priests (who aren't set to become bishops) are required to marry.
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Offline Cavebear

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #10 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.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline trdsf (OP)

Re: The Chilling Effect of the Politicization of Science
« Reply #11 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 tomorrow, then.  There are local marches all over, plus the main one in DC.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"Confused? At a loss for what to do? Wow, sounds like you're human. Good luck." -- Welcome to Night Vale