The Science March and partisanship


[Guest post from Sam Roy]

There is a lot of talk on the March for Science being “non-partisan” and above “politics.” Three points on this:

  • When science is under attack by the powers-that-be, the defense of science is a political act, and we should not shy away from this.

    What this regime has unleashed is potentially catastrophic in its consequences for humanity. Humanity confronts a warming planet, with rising sea levels, melting glaciers and extreme weather events causing droughts and famine; it is nothing short of a crime against humanity to accelerate this by denial of global warming, by muzzling of climate scientists, by de-funding this research, approving fossil fuels and oil pipelines, and effectively undermining any global response to this crisis. Humanity confronts increased incidence of global pandemics; it is nothing short of a crime against humanity to de-fund public health research. Let’s not forget Trump’s inhumane, mean-spirited and chauvinistic response to the doctors and nurses who went to Africa to deal with the Ebola crisis, tweeting, “The “US cannot allow EBOLA infected people back” and they “must suffer the consequences.” Imagine what his policies and response will be to the next pandemic outbreak!

  • The March for Science should be non-partisan, if that is to mean NOT favoring the “Democrats” over the “Republicans”.

    Let’s not forget that not a single prominent Democrat has come out and boldly proclaimed that evolution is a fact – all life on planet Earth evolved from common ancestors over nearly 3.5 Billion years. Democrats have constantly conciliated with Christian fascists and Biblical literalists who have waged well-funded and deceptive campaigns to undermine the teaching of evolution in schools. They did not oppose Betsy deVos, the Christian Fascist Secretary of Education, on this front despite her well-known and historic efforts to impose this worldview on society, denying generations of children the science of evolution and the scientific method. To rely on the Democrats to “save” and “defend” science is a fool-hardy enterprise.

  • But the March for Science should be Partisan – In the Name of, and For Humanity!

    The March for Science has a wonderful celebratory spirit in sharing science with the world.

    At the same time, let’s recognize that this regime – the Trump/Pence regime – is a fascist regime, posing existential threats to humanity, including with nuclear brinksmanship. Some say it may be true but it’s not useful or too scary or too polarizing. Imagine if some didn’t raise the alarm about AIDS, when the powers-that-be refused to even acknowledge it – because it’s not useful or too scary or too polarizing. Imagine if they knew in 1933 what we know now about Hitler and the Nazis. Let’s call scientific reality for what it is, let’s not make this mistake – for the sake of humanity.

    The terror unleashed on millions of immigrants in this country by this regime is very real, and is happening – right now! The world’s most devastating bomb short of nuclear was dropped – last week. Today they threaten an unbelievably catastrophic war against Korea. Imagine what harm this regime can do over the next few days, weeks and months with its levers of power, bludgeoning truth and repressing dissent as it carries out its horrors.

    We need to drive out this regime – at the soonest possible moment.

Comments

  1. Larry says

    I know of no prominent Democratic senator or congressman who disputes AGW. Denial of it is built into the GOP platform and red state legislatures are enacting laws to prevent it from even being mentioned in schools. No prominent Dem senator or congressman has suggested that we “teach the controversy” about evolution in schools, ignoring the near universal consensus among scientists that evolution is the process by which life has changed over the ages where as most of the GOP believes in a bearded being poofing life into existence 6000 years ago.

    Make science political and partisan? It already is.

  2. starfleetdude says

    “They did not oppose Betsy DeVos”

    The Democrats in the U.S. Senate were unanimous in their opposition to the confirmation of DeVos, actually.

    How Senators Voted on Betsy DeVos

    Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) had this to say about her as well:

    ” … she is the most incompetent cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen. Last night, I urged my Republican colleagues to oppose her nomination, because if we cannot set party loyalty aside long enough to perform the essential duty of vetting the President’s nominees, then I don’t know what we are even doing here.”

    So to diss Democrats regarding their support of science & education is so much bullshit.

  3. scottde says

    “They did not oppose Betsy deVos, the Christian Fascist Secretary of Education, on this front despite her well-known and historic efforts to impose this worldview on society, denying generations of children the science of evolution and the scientific method. To rely on the Democrats to “save” and “defend” science is a fool-hardy enterprise.”

    Every single Democratic Senator voted against the confirmation of de Vos.

  4. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The accusations of partisanship against the science march remind me of the accusations of class warfare by the super wealthy. Class warfare starts when the poor start shooting back. Until then, it’s just business as usual for the patriarchy.

  5. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I also think we need to be careful about false equivalence between the parties wrt science. Dems are not perfect, but they do at least carry on a nodding acquaintance with reality. Rethugs literally think reality has a literal bias.

  6. dhabecker says

    “The March for Science has a wonderful celebratory spirit in sharing science with the world,”

    I can agree with that.

  7. archangelospumoni says

    “Guest post from Sam Roy.”

    Mr. Roy: please instantly edit your erroneous statement with respect to the Education Secretary.

  8. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Some of y’all are misreading Mr. Roy. Here’s his statement in its full context:

    Let’s not forget that not a single prominent Democrat has come out and boldly proclaimed that evolution is a fact – all life on planet Earth evolved from common ancestors over nearly 3.5 Billion years. Democrats have constantly conciliated with Christian fascists and Biblical literalists who have waged well-funded and deceptive campaigns to undermine the teaching of evolution in schools. They did not oppose Betsy deVos, the Christian Fascist Secretary of Education, on this front despite her well-known and historic efforts to impose this worldview on society, denying generations of children the science of evolution and the scientific method.

    He didn’t claim that no Democrat opposed deVos, just that they didn’t oppose her on the basis of her denial of evolution, and, more broadly, that they aren’t out there defending evolution as a fact.

    I haven’t read or watched all the endless hours of the committee’s hearings, so I can’t vouch for the truth of the statement, but quotes like the one from Franken above don’t refute it.

  9. starfleetdude says

    @9

    Roy is picking a nit to claim that Democrats aren’t true supporters of science. In fact, the subject of creationism did come up during the hearings on the nomination of DeVos, as she was questioned about the teaching of “junk science” by Sen. Whitehorse (D-RI). That it wasn’t trumpeted as much as Roy may have liked is evident, but he’s placing a lot more importance on that than on all the other things Democrats have done in support of science.

  10. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Correct Science is not Partisan. It is the Partisans who are making Science an issue. So is it not fair for Science to respond to the partisans with this upcoming March ? . No one in Science is claiming all Democrats are always correct about science issues. We are saying all Republicans are alays wrong about science issues as there are many examples of outright deniers of sceince with (R) attached to their names. Democrats while not perfect, usually willing to listen and consider recommendations from science rather than instantly dismiss them at first word.
    like the “paradox of tolerance”, there comes a time when the non-partisan nature of science become partisan and fight back against its suppression.
    — nevermind, too angry today due to Ossoff’s hiccup. —
    ?

  11. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    starfleetdude@9,

    Fair enough–that’s a legitimate criticism. But it’s far different from the strawman that you (@3), scottde, and archangelospumoni were attacking.

  12. feministhomemaker says

    What a Maroon quoting Roy: “They did not oppose Betsy deVos, the Christian Fascist Secretary of Education, on this front despite her well-known and historic efforts to impose this worldview on society, denying generations of children the science of evolution and the scientific method.”

    But if every democratic senator voted against her, and one even questioned her about her anti-science creationist views, how does Roy know they did not oppose her on that front? Why would you defend his statement that no one opposed her on that front when every democrat voted against her? Might that have been a front of many on which they were opposed to her? Roy’s statement is dumb, blustering false equivalency. Democrats may have been less agitated in public on one or another of the many fronts they have built up a solid reputation for opposing but to equate this with the overt support for anti-scientific views by republicans is just willful inattention.

  13. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    feministhomemaker,

    My point was not to defend the comment that Roy made, but to point out that he was being criticized for a point he never made.

    As to your larger point, if the Dems were opposing her on her denial of evolution it should be easy enough to find them saying so. If they don’t have anything to say on that point, well, why is that?

    I agree that Dems are light years ahead of goppers on most science issues (and most issues in general), including evolution, but I think he has a point that they aren’t very vocal on that point.

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    Let’s not forget that not a single prominent Democrat has come out and boldly proclaimed that evolution is a fact…

    But, yadda yadda bipartisanship yadda yadda middle ground yadda pragmatism yadda yadda yadda compropmise yadda Big Tent yadda yadda moderate centrism yadda yadda the Democrats don’t need their own version of the Tea Party.

    To rely on the Democrats to “save” and “defend” science is a fool-hardy enterprise.

    Ahem… (blows a pitch pipe)…

    BUT THE REPUBLICANS WOULD BE WORSE!!!!!!

  15. unclefrogy says

    I look at it this way. the republicans have and continue to claim they want to support “the free market” and industry and the US position in the world because we are the bestest in the world (because god & jesus of course).
    While at the same time wanting to reduce the governments role in society and the economy. To do that they consistently call for reduced spending on research of every kind except military. They denigrate science and scientists regularly.
    What they are trying to do is maintain things the way they are now with the current “winners” always on top when history shows that things change.
    If they succeed in their pursuit of some ideal of the past the leadership of the future will be taken up by some other nations ones who support the research and development that the continuing growth of the market and technology have depended upon since the end of the middle ages at least.
    as was stated above it is not science that has declared itself political, science has been declared political by the reactionary entrenched forces who only see the past and future as the status quo.
    history is filled with those who tried to resist the inevitable reality of change and the nature of reality itself, which is the subject of study of science itself.
    uncle frogy

  16. feministhomemaker says

    What a Maroon—

    The point is, and you missed it, when every democrat opposes a nominee and then Roy complains that no democrat opposed the nominee because of her stand on evolution, that becomes a silly attempt to assert something as true that Roy cannot possibly know to be true. At the hearing she was questioned about her anti-science views regarding creationism, a belief system intimately associated with evolution denial. And then all democratic senators voted to oppose her. Roy cannot know they opposed her because of things other than that. The blanket statements Roy made about democrats were misleading and false. Easily refuted and people who complained about his assertions were responding to how blatantly overgeneralized his comments were, to the detriment of the one party working harder than any other to make anti science positions anathema.

    And then there is this that the democratic senators tried to do in support of evolution just 2 years ago. So yeah, no, Roy has it all wrong.
    http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/18/senate-introduces-resolution-to-make-federal-holiday-celebrating-evolution/

  17. feministhomemaker says

    Sorry, meant to say Roy cannot know they opposed her for reasons that excluded her position on evolution. Clearly, her position on evolution could easily have been a “front” on which they opposed her. There is no good reason to assume it was not part of their thought process. Except to incorrectly malign a party not at all equivalent to the other. That does no one any good and Roy was appropriately corrected on that point. Not unfairly corrected as you maintained.

  18. feministhomemaker says

    One final comment about this, by way of explaining why this particular issue got under my skin so badly: this was exactly the same kind of lazy equivalence thinking that was used against Hillary and did so much damage. She’s the same as republicans, the democrats are crooked like her so no difference between them and the republicans, etc..

    When I see it being done here by Roy, lazily assuming democratic senators don’t support evolution science and assuming they let DeVoss slide on that issue and using that supposition to assert that we must be non partisan in the sense of treating republicans and democrats the same as if they are both opponents of science and cowardly about evolution support, well, that’s it. I can’t take such nonsense any more. That kind of thinking is a big reason we are now in the mess we so hate. I will push back on it every time I see it now.

  19. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    feministhomemaker,

    OK, this will be my last post on the subject. I’ll recap the conversation as I saw it; the record is above for others to decide who’s missing what point.

    Roy: Dems didn’t oppose deVos on basis of her views on evolution.
    starfleetdude: quotemines Roy; “refutes” by saying all Dems voted against deVos.
    scottde: quotes Roy; “refutes” by saying all Dems voted against deVos.
    archangelospumoni: asks Roy to correct “mistake”.
    me: you’re reading Roy wrong; he didn’t say that the Dems didn’t oppose Roy, just that they didn’t do so on the basis of her views on evolution. I don’t know if that claim is true, but no one has refuted it.
    starfleetdude: Roy is nitpicking
    me: fair point, just not what you and the others were saying (here I call out the specific posters I was criticizing; you can draw your own conclusions about why I called them out and not others)
    feministhomemaker: maybe they didn’t mention evolution (though one did question her about her fundamentalist beliefs), but how can you know that they didn’t oppose her because of that?
    me: (a) that wasn’t my point [addition: wasn’t what the others said]; (b) if Roy’s claim is true, he has a point, so where’s the evidence against him?
    feministhomemaker: provides actual evidence that at least one Dem senator (plus a few representatives) publicly defended the fact of evolution in the recent past. Yay!

    I understand (and share) your frustration, but I still maintain that certain posters were misreading Roy and criticizing him for a claim he didn’t make. That’s lazy argumentation and cheap point-making. My point for the most part (with a slight deviation in my third post) was to call them out on that, not to defend Roy.

  20. feministhomemaker says

    What a Maroon–

    I guess we just don’t see what happened with this post in the same way. That’s fine. This will be my last effort as well. But to be clear, I see this post as being the type of accusation against democrats that Trump so famously makes. His accusation that democrats don’t oppose a nominee on the evolution denial front is unsupported by evidence. In fact, just based on the public vote by every democrat opposing that nominee he should have seen his accusation was on shaky ground. Could he say none of those democrats opposed her only for reasons that did not include that front? In just a few minutes I found some evidence refuting his accusation that democrats don’t publicly support evolution. He is like Trump just making an assertion and then expecting others to prove him wrong! Your last summary emphasized the supposed small amount of evidence I found refuting him. But no, he shouldn’t make assertions without doing his own research to see if what he thinks is true. No wonder he got so much push back right away and it was legitimate push back. With more time he may have found many more instances, recent and from long ago, of democratic public support for evolution, enough to let him know he should not make such a negative assumption without knowing if it is true. That type of lazy thinking hurts people and parties. We are living that truth out right now.

  21. feministhomemaker says

    I need to figure out how to edit before I post again. I make lots of mistakes and then can’t fix it! Need to use preview I guess. ugh..I’m done for now.

  22. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I know of no prominent Democratic senator or congressman who disputes AGW.

    I know of many Democratic senators and reps that are equally dogmatic and wrong about nuclear power, which represents the best and only reasonable hope for solving global warming. I am firmly convinced that it’s the so-called environmentalists that are actually the biggest impediment to solving global warming because of their irrational and dogmatic resistance to nuclear power.

    For further reading:

    Solar and wind cannot work because of intermittency and lack of workable storage tech, specifically from a systems energy-cost analysis.
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/
    https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/
    https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

    We’re never going to run out of nuclear fuel.
    http://energyfromthorium.com/cubic-meter/

    There is no nuclear waste problem. It’s a political myth.
    http://thorconpower.com/docs/domsr.pdf

    Contrary to popular belief, nuclear is quite safe. It’s the safest and cleanup form of electricity production that there is, beating out even solar, wind, and hydro.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_accidents#Fatalities

    Contrary to popular belief, nuclear is not innately expensive. South Korea shows how it can be done.
    http://euanmearns.com/nuclear-capital-costs-three-mile-island-and-chernobyl/
    The same link shows that the costs in the west for nuclear power is almost entirely the result of oppressive (and often needless) government regulation. By stifling nuclear power, we have killed tens of millions or more over the years just from airborne particulate pollution alone from the use of fossil fuels in the place of nuclear.

    The only legitimate concern of nuclear power is contamination of surrounding lands for years or decades after an accident. That can be fixed with safer designs. Chernobyol was a reactor designed to explode (positive reactivity coefficient), and Fukushima was a 40 year old design. New designs would have survived the earthquake and tsunami without accident. Even then, because the linear no-threshold (LNT) model of biological damage from radiation is clearly false, many places that are deemed by some authorities to be unsafe to live in are actually quite safe to live in. Further, even the actual dangers concerning the some areas of the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the Fukushima exclusion zone are exaggerated.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/29/babushkas-of-chernobyl-film-nuclear-exclusion-zone
    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/08/how-dangerous-is-the-fukushima-exclusion-zone/

    Still, we should built safer reactors, and we can, drastically and radically safer reactors. For a model example of extreme safety and low cost, I particularly urge people to look at ThorCon. Other next-gen reactor designs are also very compelling, but I know the most about this one. Unlike solar, wind, and especially the battery tech, molten salt reactors are already well demonstrated by work at Oak Ridge National Labs, and the sodium cooled fast metal breeder reactors are also well demonstrated by work at Argonne National Lab.
    http://thorconpower.com/docs/domsr.pdf


  23. anchor says

    There’s something like a ‘belief war’ in progress. Scientists might respond, “WTF is that”? The reaction is understandable. Where the hell does THAT come from? Science isn’t a belief thing.

    Explaining science effectively is one thing. Explaining how science works is another. But none of that explaining matters when folks yammer that they feel their beliefs or rights or freedoms or whatever aspect of their autonomy are threatened. They believe their preferences – which they hold sacred and with which they personally identify themselves – are not only being challenged but under direct attack. They have a strong belief in belief, and facts which don’t coincide or otherwise reinforce those adopted worldviews can’t be allowed to erode them, however compelling or true such facts may be. If necessary, they will and in fact do retaliate by spouting an endless supply of ‘alternative facts’ as a defensive countermeasure. It doesn’t matter to them that they resort to lies and deception. All that matters is they are ‘fighting the good fight’ in defending their right to their adopted beliefs – truth, rationality and reasoning be damned.

    What can the scientific community do? Well, for one thing, they can be less squeamish about confronting the problem directly. They can point directly at that ghastly tumor on society and tell people, in effect, “This is your brain on belief. Cut it out!”

    Is that science? Of course not. It’s simply academic and professional expertise allowing itself a voice. Nothing at all wrong with making it as loud as any other.

  24. mnb0 says

    “There is no nuclear waste problem.”
    Not at all.

    http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2011/ph241/madres1/

    Or perhaps there is, as I’m pretty sure you don’t want high level waste in your backyard.
    Disclaimer: it’s a lost cause, so I don’t oppose nuclear energy anymore. See France. That doesn’t mean I will accept propaganda of a commercial company like ThorCon without any further do.

  25. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Or perhaps there is, as I’m pretty sure you don’t want high level waste in your backyard.

    I would not mind at all. The waste in those large steel and concrete casques is not going anywhere. It’s entirely safe. I would be worried in some small way about an actual nuclear power plant in my background, because on extremely rare scenarios, sometimes bad things do happen, like Fukushima. However, I’d be much more worried about the tsunami itself.

    PS:
    I cited ThorCon like twice, once for the waste article, and a second as a simple demonstration of a safe nuclear power plant. If you like, I could also cite the Argonne National Labs tests on the IFR for demonstrations of similar levels of safety with an entirely different reactor design.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also, I can cite a variety of sources that show the same thing for the waste: The nuclear waste problem is entirely a political fiction without any basis in reality. The solutions are manifestly safe, easy, and cheap, precisely because there’s so little nuclear waste, and precisely because nuclear waste is not infinitely dangerous like some proponents would suggest. LNT is simply false.

  27. johnmarley says

    @a_ray_in_dilbert_space (#6)

    … reality has a literal bias

    I desperately hope that was deliberate.

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