Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Nu Science

See this is what I was writing about here. Here's Lord May of Oxford, president of the Royal Society, no less, giving his considered opinion on science:

Fundamentalism is hampering global efforts to tackle climate change, according to Britain's top scientist.
'Fundamentalists' - this is the language of disinterested seekers after truth ? I'll bet those folks studying, say, the rise in temperature on Mars will be surprised to learn they're not practicing Real Science.

In his final speech as president of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford will say scientists must speak out against the climate change "denial lobby".
Say, that phrase sounds familiar - anyone know what other form of 'denial' is commonly talked about ? Lucky for him Godwin's Law only applies on the 'net.

He will warn core scientific values are "under serious threat from resurgent fundamentalism, West and East".
Yes, Prof. Cutting heads off is exactly the same as mocking econuts. Is this bloke getting £500 for every L3 article of faith he spouts ?

Lord May completes his five-year term as president of the UK's academy of science on Wednesday.

"Ahead of us lie dangerous times," he will say in his fifth and final anniversary address.
Well, you know, some of those test tubes can be pretty sharp when they break.

There are serious problems that derive from the realities of the external world: climate change, loss of biological diversity, new and re-emerging diseases, and more.
See, that's why we're killing off all those species, so there's less places for new diseases to hide.

Many of these threats are not yet immediate, yet their non-linear character is such that we need to be acting today.
And, if you sign up today, you will get our special, Five-Star Executive Club membership for the price of a Standard memebership.

And we have no evolutionary experience of acting on behalf of a distant future; we even lack basic understanding of important aspects of our own institutions and societies.
In his case, who could disagree ?.

Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason.
As opposed to the deeply scientific technique of calling your opponents brainwashed morons.

Lord May will say that fundamentalism applies not only to organised religions but to lobby groups on both sides of the climate change debate.

The climate change "denial lobby" and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) opposed to nuclear power are not exempt from a denial or misrepresentation of scientific facts, he told reporters in London.
Translation: scientists will team up with econuts to work over eviiiil kepitalists, but the Green Weenies better not do anything to derail the gravy train.

Speaking in a week that saw the opening of climate talks in Montreal, and the re-opening of the nuclear power debate in the UK, he said there had to be open questioning and inquiry of such issues.
You know, kind of like alluding to Al-Quaida and Nazis when talking about your opponents.

The huge problems with nuclear power had to be weighed against the problem of putting more carbon into the atmosphere and the future potential of land and sea turbines, he said; "rather than ruled out of discussion on what you might call some fundamentalist belief system".
"I'm serious, dammit. Leave our gravy train alone!"

Another danger to the enlightenment of science came from the growing network of fundamentalist and lobby groups in the US that campaigned for creationism to be taught in science classes, he added.
Call us back when the first plane hits MIT.

By their own writings, this group has a much wider agenda which is to replace scientific materialism by something more based on faith," he said.
As opposed to the scientific community, who's approach is completely the opposite. After all, atheistic materialism worked so well in the last century.

He called on scientists to take a more active role in speaking out against so-called "intelligent design" and other threats to modern scientific values.
Man, maybe there really is something wrong with science if a bunch of hicks teaching the kids that fossils are one of God's little jokes is enough to have these folks going to Condition Red.

The only thing I can see scientists doing is being more energetic as citizens - getting out there and trying to convince people that that's not a very wise way to behave," he explained. "That's no easy recipe.
Well, now, that's kind of is the thing, init ? Seems to me that science went off the cliff precisely because scientists started to become convinced that a PhD qualified you to talk about everything from artillery to Zoroastrianism. Take the whole 'America as Theocracy' meme. We're meant to believe these people are worried about religion having too influential a role in American life, but everyone knows these people have always hated religion anyway, so how seriously can you take their pious talk about 'scientific values'.

For that matter, where are these scientifc values ? There's plenty of good science that contradicts the theory of anthrogenic global warming. Surely that should be taken on its merits, rather than merely calling people names ? But no, resembling nothing so much as the medieval church, the scientific community continues to insist that they alone can interpret data while opponents are isolated loons. Here's Michael Crichton on that point:

Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
Indeed. It's a sign of the times when the bloke who wrote Jurassic Park seems better informed about the nature of science than one of Britain's top scientists.

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