Remember that ranking of countries by their accommodation to the reality of evolution? Take a look at an economist’s take on the problem: he gets it right.
It turns out that the United States had the second-highest percentage of adults who said the statement was false — and the second-lowest percentage who said the statement was true, researchers reported in the current issue of Science. (Only adults in Turkey expressed more doubts on evolution).
What is the penalty for this belief system? Well, you probably won’t get a Science-based job — but that’s about it.
The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States.
That — and the lack of any sort of financial or societal disincentive for the belief system. At least so far…
Then take a look at the comments there. All the old creationist crackpottery emerges: evolution is “just a theory,” there is “no evidence,” it’s not “observable and repeatable,” all mixed in with people making reasonable defenses of the idea. What’s most dismal, though, are the people complaining that the blogger shouldn’t even mention evolution, presumably because it draws out all the kooks.
You know, that reluctance to engage the issue is exactly what the creationists want. They can’t win on evidence or logic, but they can harass everyone until they simply automatically recoil at the word “evolution”…and that’s how they win.
Disincentive is an interesting word.
And how do we create a “financial or societal disincentive” for evolution deniers? Is that even possible? Are there such disincentives in Iceland?
But there are disincentives. The problem is, they’re long term. Our scientific and technological edge go down, and our economic might goes to pot, but because of inertia, it takes too long for people to see the cause and effect clearly.
But there isn’t an immediate disincentive, as for gravity deniers.
Theron gets it right. As our scientific education decreases, so will our ability to graduate competant engineers. Good jobs sail overseas, and we get stuck with call centers and a lower GDP.
The perfect disincentive for evolution deniers: breeding bans.
It’s the perfect opportunity for an ID experiment. If God really exists and he loves fundaloons as much as they seem to think, he’ll create their next generation ex nihilo.
Well, there is [i]some[/i] immediate disincentive. Science jobs are few, but enough to make some difference. More, many non-science jobs require at least some scientific education. As others have noted, this survey looked at primarily western nations. I suspect the US would place significantly differently, if it included African nations and the mideast.
BTW, believing that socialism can be anywhere near as productive of wealth and technology as a capitalist economy is the economic equivalent of believing in creationism. I wonder how many readers of Pharyngula believe that? And how is that believe much different from a belief in creationists? Both are a matter of placing faith over voluminous evidence and solid theory.
I know a guy named Sputnik who might take issue with that.
Jonathan Badger says
Well, the Shakers were a sexless sect. And the Russian Skopts even believed in self-castration. So there’s precedence.
Because production of wealth and technology is the only metric by which an economic system should be measured. Not the fair distribution of that wealth and technology, nor such worthless intangibles as happiness and fulfillment.
Who cares if capitalism makes an abbatoir out of the third world to satisfy the desire for goods generated in the thin upper crust of the world’s humanity? Capitalism statistically produces more goods, and thus it’s superior. Even though the virtue of increasing production is itself capitalist ideology.
As for technological progress, it seems that the high tech industries in the industrialized world have derived great benefit from government protection and funding. Indeed, the vast majority of technology is produced in essentially government-funded labs — but don’t let that disturb your ideological furor.
And if you honestly think economic theory is anywhere near as rigorous as theory in a real science, I pity you.
Good observation. I hate tactics.
It just cleared to me how religion is exactly equal to brainwashing.
Tooth fairy or Santa Claus. These are simple things to dismiss.
But a question dealing with your mortality and everything is enough that these freaks can squeeze that single admission from a person _against_his/her_better_judgement_. And then it is over, it is enough. Afterwards their ‘soul’ is owned and can be milked for anything. The funny thing is a person can easily accept being milked by many of these religions, as long as they leave this person sufficiently undisturbed.
That is the source of the complacency. As long as the source of the threat knows how to play good cop bad cop, the native is content to not be totally run over. It will even learn to love the master.
Brainwashing. It’s by the book! Oh, Dear. My, Poseidon!
Jim Lippard says
I’m assuming that you don’t think the global income growth (and the corresponding changes in children’s life expectancy and reduction in the number of children per mother) shown at http://www.gapminder.org are a bad thing? (There’s a corresponding Gapminder.org presentation at Google here.)
Re: abuse of language,
Exactly right – happened with “feminism”, “socialism”, and now “terrorism” has been mobilised to cover any type of dissent. It’s pretty much impossible to use those words or discuss the underlying ideas without “attracting kooks” or at least causing some kind of kneejerk reaction.
Andrew Dalke says
“nor such worthless intangibles as happiness and fulfillment.”
Strange then that economists try to estimate the value of happiness. Can’t be much harder than measuring the “production of technology.” Is the rate of growth of the production of techology faster now than in the late 1800s? What metric did you use for that?
Dan, ’tis true that when a socialist government focuses large efforts on a specific area, it can get things done in that area. Cuba trains a large number of doctors. Would you care to broaden your vision a bit? The US not only won the space race handily, it did so while creating a world of consumer technology at which the residents of USSR could only stare in amazement.
Djur, I didn’t say productivity was the only metric. It is, however, an important metric. One of the reasons it is an important metric is because without it, economies don’t generate the kind of wealth that allows significant government funding, not only of basic research, but also for a variety of other purposes, without leaving the rest of the economy impoverished. There is no small irony that by eliminating an underlying capitalist economy, the socialist economies ended up not being able to afford as much government spending in a variety of areas as neighboring nations that maintained an underlying capitalist economy. In the name of greater equality, the residents of east Germany became significantly worse off than the poor of west Germany. Of course, you can argue that was for the better. The choice of metric is not an empirical issue.
BTW, one of the reasons that government funded research in capitalist nations does so much better than government research in socialist nations is that it has access to the vast technology produced by the private sector. There is hardly a science lab today that doesn’t rely extensively on cheap PCs, software, optics, control electronics, audio equipment, and a broad variety of other material and equipment that would be rare or nonexistent had the entire world turned socialist in 1945.
Djur is correct. We can make the simple observation that the U.S. has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world but is far behind other (mostly socialist) economies in every single quality of life metric there is. Most Americans simply don’t believe this because they have never left the country (and why would they? for they know for sure it is the Best).
And, yes, technological innovation in the US is socialism. No one spends more on research than the government.
Great White Wonder says
We can make the simple observation that the U.S. has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world but is far behind other (mostly socialist) economies in every single quality of life metric there is. Most Americans simply don’t believe this because they have never left the country
And they are inundated with relentless propaganda to the contrary.
Yes, the indoctrination is deep and effective, but many Americans seem to be convinved they are the most free-thinking people in the world. At my nephew’s preschool they were all instructed to make an art project to thank the brave soldiers who are “making us safer.” That the war in Iraq is making us safer is news to anyone with critical thinking skills (even some Republicans). Who feels safer? Hours of deprogramming were required.
I recently saw one of those unholy KFC-Taco Bell hybrids. It had a big green day-glo sign in the window that said “Freedom of Choice!” U.S. in a nutshell.
“We can make the simple observation that the U.S. has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world but is far behind other (mostly socialist) economies in every single quality of life metric there is.”
Say, what? There are very few socialist economies remaining. North Korea. Cuba. It’s hard to think of any others. The Soviet Union’s collapse ended the Cold War, and its experiment with socialism. China realized it would never get anywhere economically without introducing a measure of capitalism, and is now a mixed economy, with the state still running some major industries, but the growth coming where capitalism has been introduced. The west European nations, the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, and most other nations that are variously labelled “modern” or “developed” all have capitalist economies.
Are you confusing “socialist” with having various kinds of social programs? If so, the US is on the low end, but is not a statistical outlier.
Texas beat Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl to win the MNC. Therefore, Southern Cal was a bad team playing broken schemes with untalented players.
Millimeter Wave says
Are you serious? Look, I’ll certainly admit that my experience of (some parts of) America is that it can be extremely insular and ignorant of what happens in the rest of the world, but that notwithstanding, do you really think that socialist countries have it better on every quality of life metric?
Of course, it kind of depends on exactly how you’re choosing to define “socialist”.
No, Dan. Not even close to the same logic. The form of the dialogue was, “School A beat school B at volleyball in 1959.” “Yeah, but keep in mind that school B won every volleyball match from 1960 on, every other sports competition between the two schools, while focusing on academics rather than sports.”
Molly, NYC says
What is the penalty for this belief system? Well, you probably won’t get a Science-based job — but that’s about it.
Not even. For ID-supporters with any sort of credible science background, there’s a huge and sympathetic audience among the science-free, to whom they can whine about their career suffering because of religious discrimination, (1) and possibly a berth as a “resident scholar” at the Discovery Institute or some similar Casa de Whack-Ã¡-Doos.
(1) After which, without batting an eye, they’ll claim that their belief in ID has nothing to do with their religious beliefs.
I think you have an irresponsibly jingoistic view of the Cold War, Russell. It was nowhere near as lopsided as you seem to think it was. Wouldn’t have been much of a war, if it was.
Russia imploded politically. It didn’t collapse because it couldn’t compete technologically, and it was in fact more advanced than the US in some areas for decades at a time.
I think the problem is solely on the shoulders of education. Not to disrespect any science teachers out there, but if a student is presented the facts and as memorized them, there is little argument for the contrary.
I think the education budget should be quadrupled, this country is filled with idiots but it’s not all genetic. Quadrupling the education budget would be a minute percentage of the defense budget, and it would solve problems that you would never hope to solve with bombs. The blue-collar workers of today aren’t near as bright as the ones that preceded them by two generations, and they’re the ones who this country will be judged from.
Watch out for those jingo-capitalists, Dan. They’ll just quote Ayn Rand at you until you go catatonic and then declare they’ve won.
Yeah, I know, Stogoe. I guess I’ll have to settle for the consolation prize of not living in a silly fantasy world.
Millimeter Wave says
Well, I certainly don’t suscribe to the myth that seems to have sprung up in the US to the effect that the collapse of the Soviet bloc somehow was the work of Saint Ronnie; from my perspective it certainly looked like the whole edifice just collapsed under its own weight.
However, I honestly don’t understand how that supports your position that parts of the communist empire were somehow decades ahead of the west technologically. I attended a conference in Dresden (formerly part of East Germany) in 1993, a few years after the wall came down, and it was like walking into a 1950s time warp. There was some technology there, but all that was there came from the west. The overall scene was, quite frankly, comical. If there was some enormous technological superiority at work anywhere, it certainly wasn’t evident to me.
Yes, defining “socialism” is perhaps subjective. No country is purely socialist and none are purely capitalist. Socialism broadly defined as state control of capital movement and wealth distribution is a common feature of nearly all modern economies, and it’s fairly easy to see a spectrum among developed countries. My argument is that quality of life measures decrease as you near the US’s fringe position on that spectrum.
miko writes, “And, yes, technological innovation in the US is socialism. No one spends more on research than the government.”
You’re confusing basic science research with broader technology. The government funds most basic research. Private industry funds most applied research. That division makes sense because there is such a long path between basic research and economic application that it would not be much funded by private investment, and we want its funding to be judged on criteria other than economic benefit in any case. There’s a social benefit to knowledge for its own sake, and someone studying the evolution of squids shouldn’t be tryint to justify that because it might, at some distant point in the future, lead to some sort of profitable enterprise.
But most technology research is applied. Think Intel, Pfizer, and Schlumberger. There is no reason for the government to fund the development of faster and cheaper PCs, or better ways to do petroleum seismology.
Again, I will point the irony that a capitalist economy allows greater government funding of science research than does a socialist economy, by virtue of its greater productivity. It seems odd to me to label everything the government does as “socialist.” Curiously, the two groups who do this are right-wingnuts, who want to propagate the meme that the government is the enemy, and the remnant socialists, who want to recovery socialism from its historical dustbin. Capitalism and socialism are descriptions of economies, not of specific projects, like the exploration of the Antarctic.
Millimeter Wave says
Thanks for clarifying your position on the definition of “socialist”; I think your definition is perfectly fair.
On the question of whether quality of life decreases towards the US position on that spectrum, I think I can only opine that it’s much more complicated than that. My experience is that the US gets some things wrong, and some things right.
As far as healthcare is concerned, I’m arriving at the conclusion that the US has it wrong. Having experienced healthcare in both the UK (from where I originate) and the US (where I’ve lived for the past 6 1/2 years) I have to conclude that “socialized” heathcare has a lot going for it. Sure, healthcare in the US is great, provided you pay the premiums and don’t run into major problems that cause you to get your coverage dropped, but that doesn’t exactly sound like all that much to recommend it. The UK spends less than half the US, per capita, on healthcare, and everybody has complete coverage. Whatever you might have heard in the way of complaints at the quality of healthcare in the UK (and there are plenty of complaints), my experience is that it’s pretty much a wash between NHS care in the UK and what you can expect in the US assuming that you have a really good healtcare plan. There’s got to be something wrong with that.
Aside from that? The generally lower taxation regime in the US compared to most of Europe does encourage greater economic and technological growth.
As for environmental quality, whilst being pretty miffed at the US policy towards carbon emissions (which, of course, affects everybody) the general experience of environmental quality is vastly higher here in Oregon than anywhere I know in the UK.
My bottom line: for better or worse, I’ll pick the US any day. There’s plenty of things to fix, but I’m personally prepared to devote my allegiance this side of the pond and see what can be done to fix those things that aren’t working.
“ahead for decades at a time” != “decades at a time ahead”
I was in Magnitogorsk in 1994, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s pretty comparable to Dresden, both in size and in industrial infrastructure. At the time, I had four PCs at home, but I didn’t see a single computer the entire month I was there. There weren’t even that many cars, which was shocking for a city of ~400,000.
That’s all a bit by the wayside, though. The broader point is that the fact that the Soviet government did not allow the technology they developed filter down into the general populace does not mean that the technology did not exist, or was not at times more advanced than its American counterparts.
Millimeter Wave says
Fair enough. Point taken.
So what measure would you use? I haven’t seen anything which points to technological superiority (aside from a small number of blips) that could point towards a general trend. If the communist system didn’t provide technology in a way that was economically viable, what did it produce that was meaningful? If such technology was not widely available to the populace, what was the benefit?
“Socialism broadly defined as state control of capital movement..”
International currency and capital markets determine this, for most modern nations. An individual American can purchase Canadian timber interests, Norwegian oil & gas suppliers, French aerospace equities, and British mortgages, all over the internet. Governments tax the revenue or dividends or severance or gains, depending, to fund their operations. But not the capital! That flows freely, as the market determines. The governments that significantly try to control capital flows are the exception, not the rule. China still has a state interest in a lot of its industry, and controls its banks’ lending policies. Cuba and North Korea have government control of their capital, obviously. There are African and Middle Eastern nations whose economies are built around selling off various natural assets, controlled by the state. But in the “western” world, it is international markets that control the flow of capital across nations, and between different economic sectors within each nation. And currency value. And bond rates. (Central bankers will set a monetary policy, typically by a discount rate. But the effect of that is determined by the market. Google “pushing on a string.”)
TorbjÃ¶rn Larsson says
“Are there such disincentives in Iceland?”
On another thread someone pointed out that there are incentives for especially Iceland. They have detailed records and have been used for genetic research for a long time. The commenter claimed most Icelanders knew about the research and the industry around it, and so had a vested interest in evolution.
“Capitalism statistically produces more goods, and thus it’s superior. ”
I have heard that democracy and free trade statistically raises the living conditions fastest for the poorest. UN statistics, or perhaps gapminder now.
“There was some technology there, but all that was there came from the west.”
Regards science and technology, some socialist countries did some clever work, mostly more theoretical due to lack of resources, but also some good practical stuff though not always original.
I think Buran/Energya was a better, safer and cheaper ripoff than the original – the jet engines provided larger and safer landing zones, the cheramic tiles were both sturdier and better mounted than the Shuttles, no unstoppable solid rockets, no tricky dual mode air/space liquid engines.
The first shuttle move on an air plane lost many tiles – Buran lost a few on its only flight. They tolerated much higher temp too. Considering the shuttle trouble I still don’t understand why US didn’t buy into some of that technology instead. “Not invented here”, probably.
And how do you think you will win? Why, by smearing Christians and calling them vulgar names, of course! I mean, you obviously don’t need to actually directly address “[a]ll the old creationist crackpottery.” Just calling it “crackpottery” and listing each point is enough. No need to actually provide actual counterpoints. If anyone (like me) point this out, just continue to smear them and call them vulgar names. If all else fails, use the ever-popular “troll” condemnation and high-five each other for using it. But by no means ever, EVER directly address the issues.
Russell and MW, your points are well taken, it is easy to get caught up in US-bashing. Russell, I think you underestimate the extent to which much private/applied research is predicated on basic research. One reason basic research is so well-funded is the realization (forgotten by many) that the sources of tecnhologically applicable innovations are hard to predict, and often come from curiousity-driven research (check out the patent holdings of academic scientists and university IP transfer activities). Also, many private research and engineering industries frequently receive seas of government largesse in the form of contracts, subsidies, and protective economic policy.
Finally, I would argue that there is a huge amount of state interest in industry, albeit indirect. The lobbying industry and other features of our democracy have insured that federal economic policy serves corporate objectives, often at the expense of good governance (what’s good for GM is good for America).
Whatever semantics we use for differences in economic systems, there is an uncontroversial imbalance in wealth distribution and access to public resources in the US. I think there is a good chance that this is due to the differing economic philosophies of the US relative to other liberal democracies (i.e. increasing net wealth production vs. increasing net quality of life). Low taxes are great, but underfunded schools and millions of uninsured are not, and are ultimately much more expensive.
Actually, you know what? Maybe that’s the problem with your side of the debate (oh, yes – “There is no debate,” right?). Instead of actually engaging the public with the purpose of trying to inform them, the standard tactic of evolutionists apparently is to viciously attack their opponents first. Actual information is very secondary. Perhaps that is why U.S. citizens reject evolution: they are turned off by evolutionists’ negativity.
Millimeter, I suspect the US will move to some form of national healthcare, once we get past this infernal cultural war. I’ll say it again, there are two groups in the US who view everyting the government does as “creeping socialism”: the remnant socialists who can’t get over the fact that we live in a global, capitalist economy, their dreams filled with ways to defeat the evil Corporations, and the right wingnuts, who view capitalism as a religious doctrine that somehow derives from trinitarianism. The former don’t seem to realize that they empower the latter, by providing actual examples of the boogeyman the latter uses to frame debates.
In the 14 years between 1957 and 1971, the Soviets were the first to put a man-made object, an animal and a person into space, the first to spacewalk, the first to land an unmanned probe on the moon, the first to land anything on both Mars and Venus, and launched the first (theoretically) inhabitable space station.
They were always superior to us in rocketry and propulsion systems, and by the late 1980s, had stockpiled almost 10,000 more nuclear weapons than the US ever had, even at our warehouse peak in the mid-1960s. And hell, we were never all that sure that ours would even work at all if it came down to a real launch situation. In 1961, the Russians successfully detonated the largest nuclear charge ever tested, greater in yield by 35 Mt than anything that had been tested before or has been tested since. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Russian experimental fighter jets would have been able to almost literally fly circles around anything we had. And there are still Tu-160 bombers in service, which are comparable, at the very least, to the B-1. Last spring, Russia claimed that new 160s have penetrated American airspace undetected.
The benefit to all this, as I see it, was to make the US think twice about turning the USSR into a nuclear wasteland for no particular reason. And we would have done, too, what with our historical tendency towards pointless geopolitical prick-waving. In short, it helped prevent World War III.
Millimeter Wave says
Yes, I think I agree with your analysis. I hope that you’re right on where it might end up ;)
Miko says, “I think you underestimate the extent to which much private/applied research is predicated on basic research.”
Really? I would say 100% of applied research is predicated on basic research. Well, OK, 98%. There are cases where application precedes any understanding of what is going on. But those are interesting exceptions, not the rule. Don’t worry, Miko. If you elect me to Congress, I’ll be fighting to expand the NSF budget, and especially the life sciences part of it.
@miko: I don’t think your definition of socialism is correct. The fundamental feature of socialism is worker/state control over the means of production and a planned economy. No successful economy in the world has state control over the means of production or has a planned economy. Socialism is a complete failure. Government subsidies or funding are not the same as a planned economy or state control over the means of production. The european countries are not socialist and are in fact not even social democratic even though they are often run by social democratic parties. The ultimate goal of social democracy was to nationalize the whole economy using democratic means. European countries are better described as social market economies or welfare states.
The next question is which type of economy is better, a social market economy (European countries) or laizzez-faire economy (United States). This is difficult to measure because different people have different values. Quality of life measures are extremely subjective. For instance some people might value a job more than guaranteed healthcare. A good measure IMHO of how good a country is, is how many people immigrate there. This is a much better measure than quality of life since it is a direct overall measure of what people desire. So I would say a good measure of Europe vs America is the direction of net migration. I know quite a few Europeans who have moved to the States for a job even though they liked living in Europe more than America for various reasons (family, friends, culture etc). I live in Canada. I don’t want to move to America but I might have to because I strongly value having a good job which is much easier for me to obtain in the States (I am an engineer). In the graduate department I was in at University of Toronto 4 out of 5 recent graduates have moved to the States.
Anyways does anybody know the number of immigrants from Europe to US vs US to Europe.
Millimeter Wave says
…and I have it on good authority that throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the US flew invisible magic flying unicorn missions deep into Soviet territory (undetected).
Seriously, though, how does any of this speak to supposed technological superioriy of the communist system? Of course if you have a totalitarian regime, and a large enough country, one can sap its resources for some period of time and feed its military-industrial complex to produce some shortlived military superiority; but when that system is unable to feed the results to its populace, what good is it? We all saw what was there when the iron curtain was torn down, and it didn’t amount to a whole lot.
None of the apparent military might amounts to a vindication of the communist system as a better way of generating technological superiority.
Scott Hatfield says
You know, Jason, maybe I’d be more inclined to ‘address the issue’ if you would actually answer the question I posed to you previously regarding the apparent moral bankruptcy of some creationists. Remember?
Tell you what! I am more than willing to engage you, both as someone who has criticism of evolution and as a fellow believer. I don’t have any prior history with you, though I gather you’ve got plenty with a multitude here. They say pretty bad things about you. You could provide some evidence to the contrary by having a civil exchange of views with someone who is at least sympathetic to what likely motivates you. My e-mail is at the bottom of this message. You’re welcome to discuss evolution with yours truly. Of course, if you don’t respond, then I would be justified in judging you to be a poser and disregard anything further from you direction.
In other words, the ball’s in your court….Scott
Millimeter Wave says
Well, I have no data, only anecdotes, so value that as you will. I know of many (myself included) who have moved from Europe to the US. I know of no converse cases.
Hi Jason! :-)
Negativity? You vile death cult groupie (good enough? i can think of more insults directed at your faith, if you like, I’d hate to disappoint your bloated sense of persecution), Christians are the ones who get giddy imagining others in hell and pray for the death of innocents in the middle east. we guarantee equal oblivion for all. Don’t worry, you won’t get a chance to be disappointed.
If you want facts on evolution, read a book. We’re not your remedial biology or beginners critical thinking teachers.
There is still a serious backlog of your idiotic and factually impaired statements we’re waiting for clarification on… perhaps you could trawl through them when your busy schedule of numbing your senses with undigested right wing talk radio tripe permits.
I wonder how much immigration is simply job relocation, as opposed to a simple decision about where one wants to live? One see this dichotomy all the time within the US: one person moves from Florida to Boston, because they acquired a job that happened to be in Boston, but not really knowing anything about it, other than that some beans came from there. Another person moves from Albany to Providence, because they like the city and Narrangasset Bay, and having moved, they then search for a job. Quite different decisions.
Millimeter Wave says
One qualification I should have added to my previous post:
What I said is contingent on your economic situation. If you’re a middle class professional, life here in Oregon is very good indeeed. If you happen to be at the bottom of the economic heap, life here is (comparatively) brutal.
Make of that what you will…
I think that’s a historical definition of socialism, and what is generally in operation in many countries is what some folks call free market socialism (free markets and capitalism are not the same thing). As I said above, we’re talking about a spectrum. Since these words cause confusion, let’s just assume that the US’s economic philosophy seems to differ greatly from that of Canada and other liberal democracies in terms of the role of government in providing various services.
One reason the US is a popular place to emigrate to is that it is simply easier than many European countries, and even easier than Canada. That said, I don’t think immigration numbers are a good indicator of desirability, because job opportunities will necessarily be proportional to country size. Also in the US you have a network of well-established immigrant communities (also partly due to sheer size) that create a easy conduit through word of mouth, relatives, etc. It also presumes that people choose where to emigrate based on perfect knowledge of choices, advantages, disadvantages. The US, through historical reputation, green card lottery, etc, has great “marketing” for potential immigrants.
Finally, it may in fact be that the US is the best place to emigrate to…but opportunities for immigrants is not the same as overall quality of life. I’m sure most Canadians, were it not for the huge number of academic and professional jobs available in a culturally familiar country 15 miles south of them, would prefer to live at home where the cities are safer, etc, etc, all the things that make it the UN’s “best country to live in.” Of course, their experience of the US (and that of all professional or academic immigrants) is at the comfortable level of having a good income and health insurance.
Also, assman, for some reason it is deeply ingrained in americans to think that other countries are fruity, or at least deficient. There is a huge cultural inertia to stay in one’s home country. Anecdotally, travelling in Asia you meet far more Canadians, Germans, Belgians…you name it, than Americans. This could also affect willingness to move overseas for jobs, etc.
Anyway, speaking of Canadia, i’m going to a conference in Banff next week and everyone tells me the Canadian Rockies kick the American Rockies ass–asses?–i don’t know. Jason, what does God think? I don’t think he shed as much grace up there.
@miko: In my opinion it is easier to get a job in the US than Canada and talking to Europeans who have immigrated I think the same is true of Europe. I don’t think it is just related to the size of the US economy.
I also don’t think you can separate the jobs issue from the quality of life issue. What you are saying is that if the United States did not offer more job opportunies than Europe or Canada then they would be a more attractive places to live because of the better health care etc. I agree with you. But this assumes that having a job is not an issue that affects quality of life. But being employed is a very important part of having a good quality of life for most people. So having a good job is not something that can be separated from quality of life. Given the large rates of unemployment generally and more specifically among youth and immigrants in Europe it appears that it actually offers a very bad quality of life to large numbers of its people.
But being employed is a very important part of having a good quality of life for most people.
Of course…my point is that professional immigrants have a good job or they wouldn’t come. They don’t fall into the category of the working poor in the US, who are burdened with the issues that lead to a poorer average quality of life.
On the other hand, if you are going to be a taxi driver, I highly recommend you go to Toronto instead. You will have health insurance, your kids will receive a decent public education, and they will be able to afford university.
Finally, I would argue that, depending on your empathy skills, quality of life includes not just your own social position but a sense of societal well-being that comes with being part of an equitable system. San Francisco has an awesome quality of life… supported by the working poor who live in degraded and dangerous neighborhoods around the Bay Area, and as long as you don’t mind stepping over homeless people on your commute.
There’s no need to be a cleverdick. All I said is that they’ve claimed it. As far as I know, it has been neither confirmed nor disproved at this point.
Where did I say it did? I’m speaking to Russell’s wildly counterfactual assertion, which is unfortunately shared by a very large portion of the American population, that there is some kind of vast technological superiority inherent in capitalist economies. It stems from little more than unvarnished jingoism, I think. For a long time, we thought all that high-tech spy stuff about moles and communist infiltration and mock American cities in the Siberian steppes was an urban legend or a paranoid fantasy, but then the KGB opened their files and it turned out that a lot of it was actually true.
I find your assertion that in order for something to qualify as “technology,” it must be commonplace among the general populace just as silly. I can’t get my hands on a flamethrower or an M1A1 very easily, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t the result of all kinds of clever and meaningful innovations.
When people are speaking about economic systems purely in the abstract, as we often do, there is a marked tendency to completely and utterly ignore the way things have actually played out in their real-world historical context. Technologically speaking, and history bears this out pretty well, a country’s particular economic model actually has very little effect on its ability to produce new innovation, because innovation and creativity are human qualities, not economic ones.
We can’t dismiss socialist technology in favor of capitalist for the same reason we can’t dismiss Sergei Prokofiev or Dmitri Shostakovich in favor of Samuel Barber or Walter Piston. In fact, casual listeners of classical music are far more likely to know Soviet music than American music.
hmm, off the top of my head:
Russians have a slight edge in my mind.
It must mean something, but i can’t figure out what.
We can’t dismiss socialist technology in favor of capitalist for the same reason we can’t dismiss Sergei Prokofiev or Dmitri Shostakovich in favor of Samuel Barber or Walter Piston. In fact, casual listeners of classical music are far more likely to know Soviet music than American music.
Yeah, if you narrow down the technology to a specific genre. Just like you’re doing with the music.
Kerry Cunningham says
i work in an office outside of montreal. one of our young employees is about to finish up a bio-chem degree and go to medical school. he discovered i had just taken a molecular biology class for fun (odd thing for the boss to do) and came to chat about it. we talked about my transposon paper for a bit and he talked about a paper he’d done on mitochondrion and obesity. then he hemmed and hawed a bit, then finally asked, in a halting, whispering tone… “So do you believe in evolution?” I could tell he was afraid, as if he were doing something that could get him fired.
Miguel Garcia-Blanco says
Well everyone knows of the intellectual superiority of the Japanese. Just look to their constitution (article 20) for a perfect example:
Wait a minute, wasn’t it drafted by the [primarily US] occupation forces? Hmmm… Physician, heal thyself!? ;) (excuse the bible quote)
“Given the large rates of unemployment generally and more specifically among youth and immigrants in Europe it appears that it actually offers a very bad quality of life to large numbers of its people.” – assman
You can see the latest figures for unemployment here.
As you will notice, the difference in unemployment rates between the US and Europe are small. When you take into account the different ways they are derived, I’m not sure that one can say with certainty that there are differences at all.
Socialism broadly defined as state control of capital movement and wealth distribution
The word “state” is wrong, it should be “social”. The control may be exercised *through* the state in a democracy, but this definition neatly and erroneously lumps communism and fascism under “socialism”.
Why attribute the success of the West to solely capitalism? Why not to the Enlightenment? Democracy? Seperation of Church and state? Colonialism? Theft?
It is far, far too simplistic to attribute the West’s historically recent dominance to one single factor.
Lola Walser says
Scriabin! And just to mention a few younger ones: Schnittke, Gubaidulina, Silvestrov… The Soviets had superb performance art, from music and ballet to theatre and the cinema, also first rate animation.
Dan writes, “I find your assertion that in order for something to qualify as ‘technology,’ it must be commonplace among the general populace just as silly.”
I can think of several reasons why that makes a lot of sense. The first and most obvious is that technology’s benefit to society as a whole depends greatly on its infiltration. This is not just because more people have it, but also because of the network effects of more people having it. One’s use of a PC is more valuable because so many other people also have them. That’s true even of technology that is privately used. I don’t show anyone else the data I keep in Quicken, but my use of that program is enhanced by millions of other people using it, leading banks and credit cards to provide account data in a compatible exchange format. Second, broad use accelerates the improvement in technology. Cell phones are the quintessential example. Third, technology builds on itself. This is true even for doing primary research. Labs are very differently run today, and more efficiently run, because of laptops, spreadsheets and other off-the-shelf software, the internet, etc.
“I’m speaking to Russell’s wildly counterfactual assertion, which is unfortunately shared by a very large portion of the American population, that there is some kind of vast technological superiority inherent in capitalist economies.”
Well, yeah, once you completely discount the broad propagation of technology, the positive feedback that gives the development of technology, and the network effects of that propagation, which is to say, much of why technology is important. Look, no one is claiming any kind of superiority for a researcher in one place to a researcher in a different place. There is a reason, though, that the Soviets frequently relied on technology scarfed from the US, but rarely vice versa. It is precisely those effects that you seem to want to ignore or discount.
“Why attribute the success of the West to solely capitalism? Why not to the Enlightenment? Democracy? Seperation of Church and state? Colonialism? Theft?”
I don’t think anyone is attributing the success of the west solely to capitalism, as much as they are attributing the economic failures of socialism precisely to it. Keep in mind that socialism also was a product of the Englightment, separated church from state, and practiced colonialism. The issue of democracy is more complex. The significant correlation of liberal economies and liberal polities have led to an argument that there is significant causal interplay between the two. However much or little one credits that, it is not perfect. There are authoritarian regimes that have introduced a degree of capitalism into their socialist economies, to great economic benefit. China, for example. I wish I more believed that that would automatically lead to their political liberalization.
Ummm…what was the topic of this thread again?
I think it was to point out that belief in creationism pulls down countries economies and it has since mutated into a debate about economics. Blecch.
It was something about economic disincentives. Or, as I like to call it, the Stupid Tax. :-)
“But there are disincentives. The problem is, they’re long term. Our scientific and technological edge go down, and our economic might goes to pot, but because of inertia, it takes too long for people to see the cause and effect clearly.”
just like global warming….
If quality of life is still being discussed, there was a broad-ranging survey a few years ago… http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1353516,00.html
I know for a fact that you’ve had references and evidences given to you so often that it must be getting difficult for you to carry on saying “If I keep my eyes closed, it doesn’t really exist”. Most of the commenters here are willing (eager, even) to answer questions about evolution, and point people towards in-depth literature that deals with the evidence in detail. I have seen you be a recipient of that intellectual largess many times in many threads.
Some people, however, ask questions with the sole intent not of gaining knowledge, but of attempting to force “Darwinists” to admit that evolution is all a big lie, and that we all really know that God did it. These people willfully lie about the evidence and refuse to accept any correction that might imply that people who’ve spent their entire lives studying evolution might know something on the subject. They ask provocative and meaningless questions attacking a straw man version of evolution that only exists in Kent Hovind’s fevre dreams (the same dreams where he gets to pay his taxes directly to God) – cf Pinowski’s “if evolution is true, how come there are PIGMYS and DWARFS?” or “none”‘s “if evolution is true, how did something come from nothing?”.
After the tenth or hundredth time such a meaningless question is asked and its answer completely ignored, even the most patient and charitable commentor can begin to feel like he’s banging his head against a brick wall. And, surprisingly enough, it’s not a pleasant feeling. So they stop, and write off that person as a troll, which may be unfair (after all, it’s possible that they’re merely congenitally stupid and incapable of understanding anything that requires words of more than one syllable to explain), but is an entirely understandable defence mechanism.
And then someone else comes along, asking the same stupid questions, and everyone starts giving them helpful answers, though their heart isn’t in it quite so much any more, because another troll has poisoned the well a little more, making people think “well, this one won’t listen either, so why should I bother?”. And yet, by some miracle, serious, detailed answers go on being given, in spite of those people (such as you, Jason) who are doing the equivilent of standing on the runway at O’Hare, telling a crowd of NASA engineers, pilots and bird-watchers that heavier-than-air flight is impossible.
No-one calls you a troll just because you ask “difficult” questions. People call you a troll because you ask stupid questions, then ignore answers and claim that the only response you get is to be called a troll.
You should wear that epithet like a badge of honour. After all, you earned it.
Economics is an excellent example of what happens when you politicize science. Even sociologists laugh at the idea that economics is real science.
Why? Because political ideologies have completely hijacked economic models, and have done so from the git-go.
The truth is, free markets are good at some things and bad at others. Mixed markets are good at some things and bad at others. Regulated markets are good at some things and bad at others. Centralized markets are good at some things and bad at others. (No, even that’s not right: markets of any stripe are neither good nor bad — they are complex, even chaotic, systems, that can and should be accurately described and modeled.)
The notion that one economic prescription is “superior” to another in some abstract way is a political notion, not a scientific or even intellectual one. Real economics would be descriptive, not prescriptive. And when the time comes for economic prescriptions, they should be based on observed phenomena, not ideologically biased models.
What we’re seeing in the Republican War on Science (thanks, Chris Mooney) is the treatment of biology, climatology, etc., as though they were economics.
HP writes, “Economics is an excellent example of what happens when you politicize science. Even sociologists laugh at the idea that economics is real science.”
Ah, well. Let’s dismiss a whole field, then, because no one in it have ever done an empirical study, ever reasoned through what it shows, ever done any work worthwhile. Forgive me if I don’t take your dismissal of economics as much different from Ann Coulter’s dismissal of biology.
My only regret is that Timothy McVeigh did not blow up Russell. We should invade his home, kill his family, and convert him to Pastafarianism.*
Russell, what I’m saying in that sentence you quoted is that economics has an image problem. And it has an image problem because it’s been politicized. Of course, you know that, and you’re just being a dick. That’s nothing to do with economics, though; it’s just your pettiness as as human being. See? I can ignorantly insult strangers just like you do. We’re more alike than different.
Do you deny that people scoff at economics as a science?
Politics has hijacked economics. It has. Politics has hijacked economics in the same way that politics is trying to hijack biology and climatology. And I’m against it. I think economics is a valuable and real science, despite being the butt of jokes (which it is), and it could be even more valuable if economic prescriptivism were not so thoroughly entwined in political ideology. Wouldn’t it be nice to discuss alternative market models without people dragging in the mouldering corpse of Stalin or Hitler all the f*ckin’ time?
If biology were as politicized as economics, people would scoff at biology the same way they scoff at economics.
* Note: This paragraph exemplifies several forms of irony, including sarcasm, satire, parody, and quite possibly even litotes**. If you are irony-impaired, do not read it.
** Note: Litotes may not be a form of irony; it might be a rhetorical trope. The exact nature of litotes remains a mystery.
HP, I apologize. If you read some of my posts above, you’ll see what I think of the right-wingers who turn capitalism into a religious doctrine. Relevant to part of this discussion, one of the areas that gets a lot more heat than light is discussion of health care. It would be nice to be able discuss the alternatives there, without triggering all sorts of knee-jerk reactions.
As to Pastafarianism, I have long been among the alfredo orthodox. You’re not one of the marinari heretics, I pray?
I’d like to make some points about the U.S. and the rest of world, while people compare apples and oranges.
In Europe, the nobility has multimillion dollar properties, and a free lunch for the rest of their life paid for by their loyal subjects. They earned this right by being born. In the U.S., many presidents and congressmen have million dollars properties, however a lot of them actually did work to earn them, and they’re relentlessly harassed by various opposing media outlets.
The U.S. is they third largest country, population wise, in the world. European countries are more like states of the U.S. It would seem more apt to compare individual states to individual European countries, since they are of similiar populations and economic production. Like New York and Great Britain.
The U.S. is not homogenous. It has not had one genetic stock of people (other than the not really native americans) living in the same spot for thousands of years, to smooth out the genetic and ideological differences between people, like individual European countries.
The U.S. has only attacked itself once, unlike Europe, which did it on a regular basis, until the U.S., and Russia, said stop after World War 2.
So please, at think about the differences in the countries, before you bash the U.S. because it’s the cool thing to do.
I’m speaking to Russell’s wildly counterfactual assertion, which is unfortunately shared by a very large portion of the American population, that there is some kind of vast technological superiority inherent in capitalist economies.
I think the point that some people keep missing is that we are talking about “overall”, “wide use”, technology. I am sure for example that the ME is far superior to the US in making IEDs, but, other then the people blown up by them, who cares, since they are otherwise cesspools of anti-technological groups and their retoric? That said, Japan is usually several years ahead of the US in most electronics goods, with some social norms that would make a Fundies hair stand on end. There are certainly some things the US still does better, but much of it has to do with opertunity to experiment, since the Japanese don’t exactly having huge swaths of unused land to try new building designs in. But they also plan ahead a lot farther. It might take them 100 years, but unless someone comes up with a better solution in the mean time, everything from robotics to materials research over there is being directed, on some level, towards an offshore city, built using nano-tubes and robot workers. Try to even suggest such a thing in the US and you would probably be laughed at. Try it in some place like the old USSR and they would manage it with stolen techonology, in half the time, but 20% of the population would starve to get them there and the whole structure would be so unsafe that it would make their Mir space station look like it was a paradise. Starving 90% of your economy, just so you can build “one thing” that is superior, doesn’t count. Anyone can do that, but its pointless if you screw up everything else in the process. I mean, if, as was the case, you have super planes, but have to arrest people and deport them for bringing music CDs and blue geans into the country, because it proves to people that your horrible and producing either popular culture or good clothes, and that is just one example, there is something “seriously” wrong.
1789? 1848? 1914?
See it’s this type of bullshit ignorance that make people wonder about the USA. George Bush did no work to earn his position, but it’s the influence of his father and grandfather that gave him the money and influence that he has.
In the UK the royal family pay taxes and earn their keep by being tourist magnets. Similarly for the Dutch and Danish royalty.
It has not had one genetic stock of people (other than the not really native americans) living in the same spot for thousands of years
Neither has Europe. Those few populations that have been in the same part of Europe that long are the ones that suffered pretty much the same fate as the First Nations… clinging to the margins and treated as inferiors.
Keith Douglas says
As pertains to the ideology in some branches of economics, several people have written about this, from Herb Simon to Daniel Kahneman to Mario Bunge. One crucial area where this is true is the notion of “maximization”.
Don Cox says
“The fundamental feature of socialism is worker/state control over the means of production and a planned economy.”
What is missing from this definition is universal suffrage, which is _the_ fundamental feature of socialism. The workers vote for a government, which on their behalf plans the economy. In the US, the lever used for controlling the economy is the interest rate. The plan decides the desired rate of inflation.
Marxism is not to be confused with socialism. Marxism relies on government by an elite who understand the economy (they have read the sacred books by Marx), and there is no free vote. It is also anti-semitic (the “bourgeious capitalist” is a code for “Jewish capitalist”), and anti-semitism is harmful to an economy.
Don Cox says
The best example of religion as brainwashing is teaching small children to recite the entire Quran in Arabic, when they don’t speak a word of the language.
See here, for a discussion.
Scott Hatfield says
Actually, the best economic disincentive would be taxation. I’m a believer myself, but I fail to see why religious organizations are largely exempt from this. I think churches should, for example, be taxed on their property and merchandise sold, etc. If this were the case, many of the hucksters wouldn’t get into the ‘church business’ in the first place and, of course, it would be easier to establish the malfeasance that often goes on in the pews. Comments?
Zarquon, I never mentioned George Bush being one of the people who earned his positin by work, I merely said many of our presidents and congressman did, but thanks for enlightening me on my bullshit ignorance. And the nobility earn their keep by being tourist magnets? And who gave them the properties, and stature to be these magnets? I’m sure they weren’t born into it.
Graculus, I would still argue that European countries are much more homogenous than the U.S., since even us ignorant Americans can usually tell someone’s European stock, even a few years down the line.
Now, I’m not trying to support Bush (I voted for Kerry), or defend the widespread belief in creationism (I’m an atheist and have a biology degree) in my country, I would just like to point out some problems in the over simplification of my country. We have numerous problems that contribute to the slow spread of scientific knowledge throughout the general populace, if not our university system.
The U.S. is still the most diverse, genetically and ideologically, of any nation in the world, and we are trying to work out this problems. The are educated, thoughtful people here, but it is a difficult process to change the beliefs of millions and millions of people, as the European Union is finding out. You sweeping generalizations about my country remind me very much of George Bush, who also makes sweeping generalizations when considering another society.
I’m apparently not educated, though, judging from all the typos of the preceeding post. Take it as you will, I’ll proofread better next time.
TorbjÃ¶rn Larsson says
“In the US, the lever used for controlling the economy is the interest rate. The plan decides the desired rate of inflation.”
Yes, keeping inflation low prevents skewing the capitalistic system, and incidentally the social system. But I believe national economists considers more levers since they may have different leverage and time lag. Taxation and incentives are used too IIRC.
But speaking of changing viewpoints in my country, if any of you could make a cell culture kit for kids, or some other genetic manipulation toy, and put a natural selection aside in the instruction book, that’d be just great. I’d even buy them just to donate to underprivileged kids, and tutor them after school.
Swati Mukherjee says
If less and less Americans are going in for science and maths, it is only good news for the Indians and the Chinese and the other obsessed geeks from the developing world.
Interestingly, I think Hinduism is the only religion that claims that aethists are also ‘good hindus’. I suppose the touchstone is that one should try to do the maximum good for the greatest number of people– no matter if you believe in vigin births or ten armed goddesses.
And as for the funeral rites, we start by offering prayers for all forms of life that have died before us, from the smallest of the small to our loved ones.
Well, that takes care of your cephalopods, I guess.
Jordan Fett says
@#88 “If less and less Americans are going in for science and maths, it is only good news for the Indians and the Chinese and the other obsessed geeks from the developing world.”
That’s because American obsessed geeks are more interested in G4TV, role-playing, and hot pockets than applying their analytical skills in a more socially pragmatic sphere of knowledge.
Also, there’s been some murmuring about nationalized healthcare. I might be a lowly med student, but I’m certainly advocating for some form of basic, universal health care (So are all of the medical organizations I’m a part of; the AMA, AMSA, AAMC, etc). I think it’s important that we are careful about how we organize the system: Budgeting will be necessary, so what programs and options to we sacrifice in order to ensure full coverage? How do we define basic healthcare? Should this care be entirely government subsidized or should patients be allowed to buy insurance on top of this? How should the workers in health care be reimbursed? What would the system do to cut health care costs (which, in turn, would free up more money to fund a larger range of procedures)?
The point I’m getting at by asking all of these questions is the complexity of the problem. Simply chocking the problem up to “keep it free market” or “socialize it, let the gov’t worry about it” is a very uninformed position.
In regards to PZ’s article, I do wonder what would be an effective incentive to learning evolutionary theory. I have a lot of respect for the teachers in GA who are actually talking to people. Except for the truly indoctrinated Hovinds and Behes out there, most people are willing to accept the theory if you find out what about it bothers them and answer their questions.
I might dwell on this further in my own corner of the blog world:
Eric Kemp says
“You know, that reluctance to engage the issue is exactly what the creationists want. They can’t win on evidence or logic, but they can harass everyone until they simply automatically recoil at the word “evolution”…and that’s how they win.”
P.Z., if you’re so sure in your atheism, why can’t you help but strawman the creationist position? No intelligent creationist denies that evolution is happening all around us, that’s as close to a fact as you can get. However, it’s the philosophical, unscientific, naturalistic, uniformitarian conclusion of “therefore we call came from a single cell” that creationists reject.
To say that they are the same, you must ignore the difference between direct observation and logical inference.
Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM says
What about creationists from Scotland?