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Bloggingheads 12-09-2011 11:02 PM

Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 

tickknob 12-10-2011 07:21 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Please, when selecting people to discuss a book, select two people who have BOTH read the book. Thank you.

Romanized 12-10-2011 08:25 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Ways to get people to believe the "truth".

1) Stop trying to trick them.
2) Actually know the "truth".
3) Quit having condescending conversations amongst yourselves where you talk about tricking people and act as if you have the "truth".

harkin 12-10-2011 09:41 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Interesting that one of the subject lines is "Tricking people into believing the truth". A more accurate wording would be "into supporting the cause"
It echoes back to these boards where the clique argued that lies/obfuscation/exaggeration about global warming was entirely justified. This was around the time that they were also saying Britons would never see snow again (aka tricking themselves).

"if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid not only what you think is right about it; other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong to explain it."
- Richard Feynman

"Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" - Phil Jones

Please remind us again who is in the 'anti-science crowd'.

bjk 12-10-2011 09:49 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Whoa did she just say this.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/403...7:42&out=07:47

cbjones1943 12-10-2011 11:12 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
1. ~10-15 y a Bobbi Low addressed the "Noble Savage" ideation empirically.
2. The "who is family" discussion may be interesting in context of philosophy's conventional distinction between what is "morality" and what is "ethics".
3. American art (eg The Hudson River School) would seem to say a lot about the "trope" as one of the speakers puts it. Might this and related genres be examples of sublimated aggression, violence, conflict? Reaction formation? Maybe interesting that Albert Bierstadt was German.
4. It is obvious to say that the "tropes" being discussed may be ways to render benign the feared, the hated, the threatening, the ones abused, the "Other(s)" ( using one discussant's word) etc.
5. This discussion reminds one of Stuart Hall's scholarship re: communication/iconic uses of language/etc.
6. This discussion also reminds one of Adrienne Rich's early 1960s/70s poetry.

badhatharry 12-10-2011 01:15 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 234192)
Interesting that one of the subject lines is "Tricking people into believing the truth". A more accurate wording would be "into supporting the cause"
It echoes back to these boards where the clique argued that lies/obfuscation/exaggeration about global warming was entirely justified. This was around the time that they were also saying Britons would never see snow again (aka tricking themselves).

Given events at the recent Durban conference one might be lulled into thinking that real science ala Feynman may have won the day. But these guys are a tricky lot, have careers at stake and way too many people are uninformed and just want to believe the "consensus" because they think it makes them look smart.

Starwatcher162536 12-10-2011 02:01 PM

Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Both our guests miss the point. It doesn't matter what people believe with respect to the science of anthropic global warming in regards to public policy. Skeptics are irrelevant. It's just a culture war issue at this point. Both sides argue about the science since it gives the illusion they are supported by the authority of science, but the important part in this discussion is really about values. Specifically what does this generation owe generations further down the line? It would be nice if the crazy and stupid things, especially on one particular side*, would be attenuated so we could move onto the values part of the discussion, but it doesn't really matter. The answer to my previous question is not very fucking much! Nothing will be done, the can will be kicked down the road. My justification for this particular extrapolation is more or less every other issue that has ever faced us with a time horizon more then 30 years.

In the end I guess we are just glorified monkeys. Not really equipped to deal with these kinds of things.


*Care to guess?

Starwatcher162536 12-10-2011 02:10 PM

Dumbing down the explanation
 
Maggie wants scientists to dumb down the explanations. Perhaps she forgets that not that long ago an incident where a scientist did dumb down the explanation to a group of laymen resulted in professional peddlers of bullshit picking that up and then branding it about across the entire width and breadth of the right wing media as proof of climate science's duplicity. Hint; "Hide the decline".

sapeye 12-10-2011 03:42 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjk (Post 234193)

That was the best line in the diavlog.

sapeye 12-10-2011 03:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Here (and the original article by Klein) is a much more substantive and interesting conversation.

badhatharry 12-10-2011 11:11 PM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 234209)
In the end I guess we are just glorified monkeys. Not really equipped to deal with these kinds of things.

Well, it's not a very pretty discussion but I think that values are being discussed pretty regularly. There are a lot of questions to be asked and answered. The problem is that a certain side* thought that coming out and saying that the science was settled would impress. Instead it was a total miscalculation of the disposition of people. Our civilization is way past the point of taking orders from on high.

*care to guess?

AemJeff 12-10-2011 11:19 PM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 234261)
Well, it's not a very pretty discussion but I think that values are being discussed pretty regularly. There are a lot of questions to be asked and answered. The problem is that a certain side* thought that coming out and saying that the science was settled would impress. Instead it was a total miscalculation of the disposition of people. Our civilization is way past the point of taking orders from on high.

*care to guess?

Certain people* seem to argue more from a distorted sense of class(?) resentment than from any factual or reasoned POV. Asserting what one imagines others saying and trying to rebut that with aphoristic handwaves isn't argument, it's just fallacy and straw-man farming.

* :)

thouartgob 12-10-2011 11:59 PM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 234209)

In the end I guess we are just glorified monkeys. Not really equipped to deal with these kinds of things.

Laugh while you can monkey boy !

Sorry I had no free will when it came to coming up with this reference.

Here is the the full scene(s) from this utter classic.

Ocean 12-11-2011 12:18 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
I thought it was odd that Maggie considered that Pinker's ideas could originate a justification for violence against groups that are "less civilized". Even if the idea may inevitably include a sense of otherness, it doesn't mean that the response would necessarily be violent. Perhaps understanding what it is that makes civilization capable of making progress towards less violence may allow to extend those circumstances to other groups. Don't we know that the luxury of peace is more likely when basic needs are met?

But I did agree with her, that accepting that civilization may have lead to less violence doesn't mean that we don't value other cultures for their own virtues.

Trying to explain scientific or any technical concept to lay people does involve understanding where they are at conceptually, their possible biases and gaps in knowledge, as well as conflicting beliefs. Once all that's taken into account an approach that is supportive and yet clarifies the main misconceptions would be the preferred one.

Great discussion if somehow too open ended at times.

consider 12-11-2011 09:20 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
What a bad "science" Saturday.

Climate change.... zero tolerance toward mugging old ladies = zero emissions....

So embarassing. Maybe Blogging heads is about over due to funding issues, but it is better to just end Science Saturday instead of having shows like this.

TwinSwords 12-11-2011 05:36 PM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 234209)
Both sides argue about the science since it gives the illusion they are supported by the authority of science, but the important part in this discussion is really about values.

I understand the temptation of the "both sides do it" formulation, but above you seem to imply that in the case of climate science, both sides come to the table with preconceived notions about public policy and then cherry pick the science to support that view.

If this is, in fact, your view, I disagree. The skeptics are the ones who come to the discussion with a predetermined view: industry should be unregulated, the state should not encroach on free enterprise, we will harm our competitive standing vis a vis the developing world if we impose costly regulation, and so forth. In order to defend and advance this point of view, many climate skeptics feel it is necessary to attack, undermine, and reject the science. This puts them directly at odds with and in conflict with the overwhelming scientific consensus. They are, in effect, like tobacco manufacturers who have to contend with the unpleasant scientific realities about the cancer causing properties of tobacco use.

The non-skeptics -- everyone else -- you can call them "left" if you want, but really it's not the left, it's just all the other people who aren't "climate skeptics" -- do not approach the issue of climate change in the same way, that is, with a set of policy preferences that compel them to cherry pick the data. Rather, the non-skeptics take a position that is informed by the science. If the science went the other way, so would the opinions of this group. Again I would analogize to tobacco: There are a lot of people who loved smoking cigarettes but gave it up because they respected the science. These people are not just the mirror image of the people who do smoke and dismiss the science as a hoax.

TwinSwords 12-11-2011 05:39 PM

Re: Dumbing down the explanation
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 234211)
Maggie wants scientists to dumb down the explanations. Perhaps she forgets that not that long ago an incident where a scientist did dumb down the explanation to a group of laymen resulted in professional peddlers of bullshit picking that up and then branding it about across the entire width and breadth of the right wing media as proof of climate science's duplicity. Hint; "Hide the decline".

An excellent point.

TwinSwords 12-11-2011 05:51 PM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 234261)
The problem is that a certain side* thought that coming out and saying that the science was settled would impress. Instead it was a total miscalculation of the disposition of people. Our civilization is way past the point of taking orders from on high.

In other words, wealthy industrial interests can fund a lot of denialism which they feed directly to a certain very pliant segment of the population that has been trained to believe whatever it is told to believe by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, et al., and this group -- we call it the base of the Republican Party -- goes around pretending they have serious questions about the scientific consensus.

cbjones1943 12-12-2011 01:07 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
1. This podcast reminds me of Stuart Hall and Adrienne Rich because of Maggie's very precise use of words to dissect Pinker's language.
2. The linked article provides genetic documentation of the effects of contact with whites on American Indian populations.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/20....abstract?etoc

Starwatcher162536 12-12-2011 02:18 AM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
That was not my intent. What I meant is when talking about science it's possible to credibly say "I am right and you are wrong". The same is not true when talking about things such as the desirability of the welfare state. It's preferences. It's values. Both sides wish to appear to be objectively right, so they argue about the science in the hopes of if they can win that argument they will win the values argument on just inertia from winning the previous argument.

Starwatcher162536 12-12-2011 02:25 AM

Re: Skeptics are irrelevent
 
Disdain Bill Robinson! Disdain!

Regarding "settled science"; I'm not entirely sure what that term even means in this context, but that the equilibrium climate sensitivity hasn't significantly changed since waaaaayyy back in the Charney Report over 30 years ago leads me to suspect that it is indeed far more "settled" then most other things lauded as "settled" by the political and chattering class. Laffer curves, fiscal multipliers, etc., etc.

bsw 12-12-2011 11:05 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Hmm...after raising an eyebrow at Pinker dredging up a lot of 'old think' that we moved beyond a generation ago, the diavloggers argue against the notion that there is any sort of progressive, continually improving knowledge/technology/society. There's some kind of disconnect there...

I appreciated the discussion of Pinker's examples being cultivating species-that was quite good, and important to know. But then they wandered into questions not of whether Pinker's thesis was *true*, but whether it would be a *good thing* were it true, as it might spawn othering, and, ultimately, violence. While an interesting question, it seemed like the diavloggers were coming dangerously close to an, "it's not true because it would have bad consequences if it were true" sort of thinking, which is exactly the problem they argue is coming from the political right on climate science.

Gamble seemed unable to wrap her brain around the possibility that one (perhaps Pinker, or myself, or herself, or even 'members of advanced societies') could see technology, rationalism, and 'modernity' as improving *our* lives as *we* judge them, while we still maintain a respect for other people as they chose to live their lives. Niebuhr had an answer for this-'my culture is better than yours by *my* criteria, but I can accept that your culture is better than mine by *your* criteria, and we have to learn to live together on that basis.'

When pressed on this, she basically responded with, 'yes, but if Pinker is right, that would mean that those cultures are more violent, and that really WOULD be worse, so therefore it must not be allowed to be considered true.' Actually, many cultures, including that of Western Europe, *have* glorified violence (at least 'violence for a good cause'). Gamble, in contrast, had no problem assuming that *of course* one should agree that violence is a bad thing.

Even as Whiggish and Western a triumphalist as Theodore Roosevelt would have disagreed with her, saying that war allows nations to renew their manly virtues, and to prevent themselves from growing soft and decadent. That Gamble, one century later, didn't even entertain that kind of position, seems to augur well for Pinker's argument.

Wm. Blaxton 12-12-2011 09:28 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Good point. They seemed to have relatively little to say about the voluminous evidence that Pinker has marshaled (one exception: an observation about possible misclassification of certain societies as hunter-gatherer). Instead, they're primarily interested in critiquing his descriptive thesis on normative grounds. Which is kind of dispiriting, given that they're ostensibly defenders of science and this sort of is-ought confusion is one of the hallmarks of scientific illiteracy.

If Pinker's thesis is incorrect, which it may be, let's hear exactly why he's wrong. Explaining why it's morally problematic is fine, of course, but only after you've established that this is a separate, secondary issue.

Diane1976 12-13-2011 12:52 AM

Re: Dumbing down the explanation
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 234211)
Maggie wants scientists to dumb down the explanations. Perhaps she forgets that not that long ago an incident where a scientist did dumb down the explanation to a group of laymen resulted in professional peddlers of bullshit picking that up and then branding it about across the entire width and breadth of the right wing media as proof of climate science's duplicity. Hint; "Hide the decline".

I think those emails didn't challenge the science, as such. They were used to accuse those few scientists of lack of integrity. Based on what I read there were several investigations and independent studies that found no fault with their work. Now there is another release of emails that are thought to be of the same original batch, but held up in order to cause another scandal. They seem to be of the same sort. Where they from here, I don't know. Maybe more investigations?

Florian 12-13-2011 12:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bsw (Post 234431)
When pressed on this, she basically responded with, 'yes, but if Pinker is right, that would mean that those cultures are more violent, and that really WOULD be worse, so therefore it must not be allowed to be considered true.' Actually, many cultures, including that of Western Europe, *have* glorified violence (at least 'violence for a good cause'). Gamble, in contrast, had no problem assuming that *of course* one should agree that violence is a bad thing.

Even as Whiggish and Western a triumphalist as Theodore Roosevelt would have disagreed with her, saying that war allows nations to renew their manly virtues, and to prevent themselves from growing soft and decadent. That Gamble, one century later, didn't even entertain that kind of position, seems to augur well for Pinker's argument.

There were probably as many peace-loving, pacifist Europeans and Americans in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century as there are today (socialists for example). Did they outnumber the many chest-thumping Theodore Roosevelts and his war-mongering European counterparts? I don't know, but their numbers certainly didn't prevent two world wars.

If the existence of people like Gamble lends support to Pinker's argument, their powerlessness to prevent wars considerably weakens it. After all, G W. Bush was able to convince the majority of Americans that war with Iraq was necessary. In the final analysis, it is states that make war; and until there is a world state, or a world federation of states, I really cannot imagine why anyone could think that war is a thing of the past.

TwinSwords 12-13-2011 01:00 PM

Re: Dumbing down the explanation
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Diane1976 (Post 234489)
They were used to accuse those few scientists of lack of integrity.

This is far too narrow a claim. The emails were used in an attempt to discredit all climate scientists and to support the view that the whole idea of climate change is a hoax.

bsw 12-13-2011 11:32 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
This is a good point. I would say what is significant here is not the existence of pacifists in the 19th century, but the near extinction of the TR view. Of course, you are very right about the world wars (though, to give Pinker his due, he points out that even given these wars, the deaths as a fraction of the population were very low by historical standards.

War is certainly not a thing of the past (though folks like TPM Barnett have made more reasonable versions of this Angell thesis, though Barnett's is ).

While I agree on the Iraq war, it should be noted that compared to the World Wars, it was a small affair.

Sulla the Dictator 12-14-2011 01:32 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 234512)
There were probably as many peace-loving, pacifist Europeans and Americans in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century as there are today (socialists for example). Did they outnumber the many chest-thumping Theodore Roosevelts and his war-mongering European counterparts? I don't know, but their numbers certainly didn't prevent two world wars.

I don't know if that's necessarily so. Socialists and Progressives like TR were pretty militant. I'm pretty sure that German Socialists, for instance, were generally supportive of the German war effort in WWI until the last year.

Florian 12-14-2011 05:28 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234593)
I don't know if that's necessarily so. Socialists and Progressives like TR were pretty militant. I'm pretty sure that German Socialists, for instance, were generally supportive of the German war effort in WWI until the last year.

It is a well-known fact that many French, English and German socialists rallied to the "patriot party" once war was declared. I don't see how this bears on my statement. If anything, it confirms what I said: that the opinion of pacifists was powerless to prevent the outbreak of war.

badhatharry 12-15-2011 10:18 AM

Re: Dumbing down the explanation
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 234520)
This is far too narrow a claim. The emails were used in an attempt to discredit all climate scientists and to support the view that the whole idea of climate change is a hoax.

I don't think the emails were used as you say. They first set of emails showed that at times Mann et al were more interested in the politics and appearances about climate change than the science. I suppose this isn't unusual in any human endeavor where there is money and reputation at stake.

The problem in the whole climate change debate came when everyone was informed that the science is settled. That was like waving a red cape in front of a bull.


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