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Old 09-20-2011, 06:07 PM
tom tom is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 67
Default Yes, the right wing movement is anti-science.

This is a slightly hurried reply, as well, but there are a few things i wanted to get to before I head out.

So is he saying it has to be God?
Behe refuses to comment on the nature of the "designer" he believes must be responsible for the "intelligent design". He just argues that the science shows that a designer is necessary; evolution could not possibly have produced certain mechanisms. A charitable interpretation is that he's sticking to the science and not relying on religious preconceptions. A cynical interpretation is that he's just thinly veiling the religious motives behind his junk science.
But the question of which interpretation is correct is probably not very interesting so long as Behe continues to lose the argument this badly on the scientific merits.

Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
I didn't realize there was a decade of emails. I need to look into that. The idea is that the data was tortured. They thought it was fine to hide the decline and not inform anyone that they did so .That calls into question pretty much all of their work product. People will tell you 'everybody does this' and that it's not a problem. But that's just them saying that. Plenty of people have a problem with it. The right wing media is just regurgitating. If you want the real story about anything you need to dig a little.
You've taken care to express modesty here and disclaim any close knowledge of this subject, so this is in no way a personal attack, but your stated beliefs here are a perfect example of what I claimed the right wing propaganda effort has done on this issue. What you wrote is wrong on a few levels, so I need to unpack it a bit.

The quote you refer to - "hide the decline" - is one of several soundbites that in play when right wing media outlets, as I put it earlier:

...find examples of sentence fragments that, when taken out of context, appear to mean something very different from what they meant in their original context (then read) ...the same few tiny resulting soundbites - freshly cherry picked from the enormous document dump, and even then with their meanings deliberately changed - hundreds of times on the air and then (claim that) ...the hard work of an entire field of actual science is thereby debunked.
Your beliefs about this soundbite, and the conclusion you draw about the whole of climate science, could not have illustrated my claim more perfectly.

The phrase "hide the decline" does not refer to a decline in temperatures. We already know the temperatures for the period in question (1960 on; they're not talking about hundreds or thousands of years ago); they're a matter of clear, uncontroversial record.

Instead, they're discussing tree ring growth, which normally tracks directly on to temperature changes. However, in certain high-latitude areas, the tree ring data diverges from what we know to be the real temperatures over just the past few decades. So it falls to scientists to understand why that is the case: why does the tree-ring data in a few places, considered in isolation, show us a decline in temperatures during a period that we know saw an actual temperature increase? This is not something that thousands of climate scientists have labored to keep secret. It is a well known, openly discussed issue called the Divergence Problem.
When a scientist has a candidate explanation for what is causing the false appearance of decline in tree ring data, he will plug that variable into a model and see if the result properly compensates for the discrepancy. This is what the climate scientist was discussing when he said that he was able to "hide the decline": if you can properly hide the apparent (but false) decline in tree-ring temperature reconstruction so that it matches actual recorded temperatures, you've got a potential candidate for what's causing the divergence in your models.

I would just further note that the talk of "hiding the decline" was not something that finally "came out" when these emails were hacked. This is something scientists discuss openly in papers, lectures, symposiums, etc. available to everyone. If they're attempting to secretly conspire, they've got a very odd way of going about it.

So: this was presented to you by whatever media source as though the hackers had uncovered secret evidence of climate scientists attempting to falsify the record of actual temperature trends. All three bits that I italicized there are false.

This further created in you a (perfectly reasonable, once you accept the false premises) belief that none of the work done by climate scientists is really trustworthy: even legitimate work is tarred by this conspiracy, and everything they produce must be viewed with skepticism. I won't speculate on your media sources, but I will say that this incorrect belief of yours was the intended political outcome of Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News (both "news" and opinion), and countless websites.

The idea that, as you put it
"The right wing media is just regurgitating."
is wrong. They are creating an alternative reality, and they are doing it on purpose. It would have taken about 15 minutes for any of them to completely debunk the narrative that the right wing media pushed for months: just read the relevant passages in the hacked emails and check what they actually said, and then maybe check Wikipedia to learn if the Divergence Problem was a real phenomenon discussed openly in venues accessible to the public. (There's no way that multibillion dollar media conglomerates with tens of millions of viewers didn't do this. But the easily discernible truth didn't fit their politically and financially remunerative narrative.)

I would reiterate my recommendation to check out this video for a quick overview of some of the other soundbites that have been handled in the same way by right wing outlets.

Look again over my explanation and contrast it with the stated beliefs that you took away from their coverage of this phony "scandal", and you'll see why I think the right wing media is a disgusting propaganda machine (for the record, I make the same criticism of some lefties, though I don't think the problem is as severe, or systemic in the same way), and why I would call the movement surrounding it "anti-science".

Last edited by tom; 09-20-2011 at 06:22 PM..
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