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Should Science Be King In Politics?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the instead-of-the-court-jester dept.

Earth 737

Layzej writes "According to former Republican representative Bob Inglis, being conservative means dealing in facts. He suggests that energy and climate policy warrants a conservative approach based on science and accountability, rather than a populist approach based on denial and wishful thinking. He also proposes an intriguing free market solution to our energy and climate challenges."

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737 comments

Sale of Franchises (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597510)

I think the management sciences must be the part of politics specially for the less developed countries.
Sale of Franchises [opera.com]

Offtopic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597794)

Ruining a franchise under any prominent and profitable company will spell success for any ambitious business entrepreneur.

genius...

Yes. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597518)

OTOH, if every decision is going to be based on gathering facts, peer reviewing them, gathering more data, and reproducing outcomes, government would never get anything done.

Re:Yes. (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597550)

This, and the fact that politicians talk stuff that people understand. Make people learn science, politicians will have to.

Simple, really. Not realistic, but simple.

Re:Yes. (5, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597624)

Less 'learn science' than 'learn the scientific method' and its application to everyday life. Or just critical thinking in general.

Too many people stop learning at the end of high school/university. If they just memorize some state of the art science related facts at that time our situation will not likely improve as new facts are discovered.

Amen ! (2)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597812)

"Or just critical thinking in general." that plus several courses in logic. It would enable the average person sift through the BS easier.

Re:Yes. (2)

Captain.Abrecan (1926372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597828)

Does it bother you that what we once called 'basic logic' is now called 'critical thinking', as if it is harder to perform or some such nonsense?

Re:Yes. (1)

chills42 (750137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597564)

How is that any different that the status quo?

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597742)

How is that any different that the status quo?

They currently get plenty done - all based on knee jerk reactions or heavy lobbying by folks with their own "facts" as opposed to actual peer reviewed data.

Re:Yes. (5, Insightful)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597626)

Bottom line for people to be succesful in politics, the shorter your sentance is, the more likely people can remember it and keep it as a quote.

Examples
Bad: There is plenty of evidence to support this (*goes on to show evidence)

Good: Nope that is wrong!

Bad: Here is the explanation for why this is a problem

Good: God wants it this way

Valid science's biggest weakness in politics, is a shortage of 5 second soundbites that work. (and before you say less then 1% of voters know what E=MC squared means.)

Re:Yes. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597954)

The soundbite is not the fault of politics per se. It's the fault of a worthless news media that fragments every story into bite sized chunks so that they can get back to commercials as quickly as possible. Unless it's worthless celebrity news or even sports, then the entire segment is a commercial and can run as long as needed.

Re:Yes. (4, Insightful)

emagery (914122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597770)

No, not quite; It would get very few things done... nearly all of them the RIGHT things. Government is meant only to be the collective tool belt, replete with powers of leverage and enforcement, wielded by the citizenry for the benefit of the citizenry. One isn't meant to play with tools, nor use them any more often than any give job calls for.

Re:Yes. (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597848)

More likely what will happen is the government will manipulate the "science" to its own ends. We have already seen this happen. Making "science" the be-all end-all will just make it worse.

Note the 'former' (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597522)

Interesting how many Republicans become sane once they're out of office

Re:Note the 'former' (3, Interesting)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597716)

Bob Inglis was my (republican) congressman until the tea-partiers ran him out on a rail during the primaries. He was accused of not being sufficiently conservative. On fiscal and economic policy he was consistently conservative, but not so much on social issues. In other words, he is pretty much a Liberterian, and has not shifted his positions since leaving office. I do not know him personally, but he appears to be a thoughtful, principled man.

He was originally elected in the Clinton era, promised to limit himself to two terms, and kept that promise. He was succeeded by Jim DeMint, and was persuaded to return to congress when DeMint was elected as a senator.

Republicans are often accused of being dismissive of science and beholden to religion. I agree with this view. However, from my point of view as a non-religious person, the Democrats are the same, but in different ways. They have a mystical conviction of environmental catastrophe which is unsupported by real science. Environmentalism should be labeled a religion and treated as such. Also, Democrats propound economic theories of "fairness" which demonstrably lead to worse outcomes for the people they claim to represent. Remember, Republicans are no better.

For myself, I believe global warming is happening, but I am unconcerned about the consequences. So I am more worried about the response to global warming, than I am about the warming itself.

Re:Note the 'former' (2, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597938)

They have a mystical conviction of environmental catastrophe which is unsupported by real science.

Agree with the majority of what you wrote, although that one line is horribly wrong.

Hang out with a geologist, like my former roommate, and even if you don't talk geology all the time, simply having to think about the topic will educate you.

The entire science / history of geology seems to be nothing more than carefully supported / researched / analyzed scientific study of environmental catastrophe. I'm sure there is some weird corner of geology focusing solely on the flight patterns of unicorns flying over rainbows, but 99.9% of geology is catastrophe related. The sea level rising a couple feet sounds really scary in a perfect knowledge vacuum. Compared to past, present, and future geological events, frankly I'm VERY unimpressed by a minor sea level fluctuation like that. Doesn't mean it won't be bad for the fools who didn't plan for it, but it does mean its (unfortunately) pocket change compared to expected geologic evolution.

Environmental catastrophe always has, and always will, occur. The politically correct environmentalist position is if we go Pol Pot on our population (with the poorly hidden message that we'll be going Pol Pot on the "politically nonenvironmentalist" population, or at least not our ethnic / cultural group) and destroy our economy down to the level of Somalia or Afghanistan, then it'll be "better". Nope, its still gonna suck, its just if we torture ourselves and destroy civilization before hand, we can make it worse and increase the total suffering of humanity, if we try really hard to implement hard core environmentalist agenda.

Part of it is what used to pass for environmentalism has become common sense. Don't dump industrial waste into your drinking water is common sense, not "modern environmentalism". All thats left of environmentalism is the watermelon types, green on outside, red on inside.

Re:Note the 'former' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597780)

Interesting how many Republicans become sane once they're out of office

Interesting how Democrats DON'T

See Jimmy Carter.

Unfortunately, every generation has to put Democrats in charge of the government just to find out for themselves how bad of an idea it really is.

Lyndon Johnson? Got us involved in Vietnam (it was the Republican Nixon that got us out...)

Jimmy "Malaise" Carter? Gave up in the face of an act of war by Iran. Terrified by a killer rabbit. Even Carter's own mother said she wished she'd stayed a virgin.

Obama: Makes George W. Bush look good. Obama's unemployment rate is twice the "horrible" Bush years. Obama's deficits are 10 times the "unsustainable" Bush ones. Unilateral war? Obama in Libya is the archetype for THAT. Bush never lied about closing Gitmo or extending his tax cuts - Obama LIED about both. Bush also never summarily executed American citizens...

Re:Note the 'former' (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597824)

Well, there's some sane Republicans in office, such as Mitch Daniels, but his term as an elected official is soon to be over.

Re:Note the 'former' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597914)

"Interesting how many Republicans become sane once they're out of office"...

and how many Democrats don't.

Contentious Subject Matter? (3, Funny)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597528)

Surely this subject will instil nothing but the most civil, logical, and objective debates. After all most debates about climate change somehow morph into a left versus right debate, and it's that transition that's really hard. But now we can have the debate in parallel to each other. Throw in the libertarians, and I'm positive that we will all get through this one with not a swear in sight.

Re:Contentious Subject Matter? (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597610)

Yep, took about 4 posts after yours to happen.
And he also seems to forget that scientists will lean to where the money is (left or right, up or down). They don't get lots of money if they are studying things that either 1) don't interest, or 2) don't coincide with the purse-string holders' ideas/beliefs.

Re:Contentious Subject Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597822)

He doesn't "forget" that at all. He directly addresses that argument, in fact:

Some conservatives even allege that the scientific conclusion about climate change is affected by the flow of grant money -- a conflict of interest that we overlook when taking the drug Lipitor, even though the tests proving its efficacy were financed by its maker, Pfizer.

Re:Contentious Subject Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597656)

It turns into a left versus right debate because small minds have a problem of finding *people* who agree over *parties* who agree. There is a ton of common ground in most debates but people don't build off of that.

Re:Contentious Subject Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597888)

Starting with the "Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts" line, the entire article is pretty much a standing joke. These people haven't dealt in facts since the early '90s.

Start your party and let democracy decide (3, Insightful)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597530)

Start a "The Scientific Party" and let the democratic process do it's work. If there's a demand for such thing, it will be.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597590)

Facts are defined by the consensus of the voters, not by "objective reality".

(captcha: "pollute".)

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597608)

Not when voting favors big winners over third parties.

Once we get range voting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Range_voting) then I'd agree with you.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (5, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597616)

The problem with democracy is that it assumes everyone's opinions on every subject are equal.

In the real world, they're not. With a sufficiently educated populace, or a sufficiently minor subset of the populace who gets involved in voting and politics, it can potentially work. But with a populace with shrinking levels of basic education and basic abilities to rationally evaluate the information they're receiving, the US is showing that democracy largely does not work.

The world was a far simpler place when the US system of government was put together.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (2)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597694)

everyone's opinions on every subject are equal.

I rather believe democracy is the equality in rights. Not the assumption to equality of one's intellect or alignation of ideals with what is best. And a system to avoid domination by those who feel their ideals are superiour as the "stupid uneducated populus".

In a multi-party system you do end up, sortof, with a more colored government with different ideals in a representation of ideals. (Christian, Liberal, Environmentalists, Extreme Right, Socialist, Chauvenists, ...) representing or a history loyalty of ideals ("my father used to vote for...") or protest votes ("the larger party did not deliver") or actual informed votes ("these guys are the closest to my ideals").

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (3, Insightful)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597818)

"I rather believe democracy is the equality in rights."

That's perhaps how it ought to be, but these days having a majority based on equal votes is how things are actually decided. Doesn't matter who is right or wrong, just who has most votes. A bit of a problem, because the minute you decide to let people who understand the issues decide them, you will be charged with weakening democracy.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (2)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597720)

"The problem with democracy is that it assumes everyone's opinions on every subject are equal."

That is not the characteristic of democracy per se.

It is rather the hypocritical version of it, the postmodern world.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (4, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597738)

Our population is more educated today than ever before, though I can't comment on their ability to rationally evaluate much. We also have the ability to do what the Greeks considered essential to Democracy, which is allow every citizen to witness the debate over every subject.

Internet, TV, newspapers, these things should be improving democracy and making it work on a larger scale than ever. That we use them mostly for porno and formulaic television shows is unfortunate. You could maybe make watching a debate prerequisite for voting, but we have a hard time even making people identify themselves at the polls, much less prove their fitness for being there.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597884)

Really? Are you sure about that? Because we have ever higher rates of students failing basic math and science tests upon entrance into universities that have been the same for over 100 years. You apparently have been hiding under a rock whilst your education system has been crumbling.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (3, Informative)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597942)

The Greeks were arguably far more educated than we are. There is a difference between knowing stuff and being educated. We know way more maths than they did, our science is lightyears ahead, but what does that change? If the state of the art is making wheels out of iron instead of wood, then democracy will ideally work when the voters have a minimal knowledge of wooden and iron wheels.

The Athenians, for instance, did. Obviously, the people who could vote in this ancient democracy were but a small subset of the population of the city, but those were pretty much guaranteed to have had extensive education in litterature and philosophy, with the latter being critical for thought processes and passing for science at the time.

In the modern days? State of the art is so diverse and impenetrable to the common man that they know nothing. They do not know the actual statistics on how much nuclear power is dangerous, nor have they read Darwin's theory and the multiple refinements done to it in the years after. They do not understand relativity, they do not comprehend how vaccines work or how virus work.Most do not know psychology, statistics, they barely have a primitive knowledge of their own history learned and then quickly forgotten in high school. In this perspective, we know more on average than the Greeks did absolutely, but quite a bit less relatively.

I'd say that unfortunately the problem is that democracy was initially created for mid-sized communities with a very uniform distribution of knowledge and education. For extremely large scale communities like many countries these days, where knowledge levels vary wildly, it isn't adapted.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597772)

You postulate that education makes for better democracy. This was, of course, the thought of the founders, who wanted only landed free men to vote.

Now, my degree is in Physics from Carnegie-Mellon, and I see "climate change" as bunk science and worse policy.

This would be far from the first time that scientists and academics got public policy completely wrong.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597778)

We live in a republic in the U.S. not a democracy there's a big difference.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597874)

A republic is a government without a monarchy. Democracies do overlap with republics since, such as in the US, they don't have a monarch as head of state. What you really should be saying here is that the US is a constitutional representative democracy.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1, Interesting)

satch89450 (186046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597784)

When the US system of government was first put together, the States did most of the actual governing. Federal government didn't have their hands in everyone's pocket -- that came considerably later. There is also the concept of "the science is settled", which conveniently forgets that the climates sciences battle with the physics people about what's verity and what's balderdash...yet the conventional wisdom is that climate change is man-made. Have we as a species affected the climate? Yes. Have we affected the climate enough to start us on the way to another Venus? That's where the talking gets heated. Remember when cow farts were a Big Problem? One of the big issues I see is that we let the scientific method fall down by boosting some science in the public eye while ignoring out of hand other science. That's the source of my unease with the whole climate change debate -- we aren't hearing all of the story.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597842)

Keep in mind that the USA are not a democracy (like most nations) but a republic. In other words you vote for someone, and he does what *he* wants, and nto what *you* want.

In a democrycy you would vote over: do you want this war, yes or no? Do you want this new law, yes or no? You would not only "apoint" a "leader" and some mediocre control in a "parliament".

On top of that the USA is perverted into (or always was?) a money aristocracy.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597872)

In the real world, they're not. With a sufficiently educated populace, or a sufficiently minor subset of the populace who gets involved in voting and politics, it can potentially work. But with a populace with shrinking levels of basic education and basic abilities to rationally evaluate the information they're receiving, the US is showing that democracy largely does not work. The world was a far simpler place when the US system of government was put together.

When the US system of government was put together, there was no such thing as the telegraph or telephone or radio. You had messengers riding with news across the country, which was printed in newspapers far from all could read. You can bemoan the current education system and mass media all you like, but to pretend it was worse 200+ years ago you must be dreaming. I would wager the average voter knew far less about what they were doing in Washington than today.

The main problem is that the US system fairly quickly degenerated to a two-party system rather than individual representatives, which is what I thought they imagined. You sacrificed political nuances and compromises for strong political leadership, the winner takes it all. If you claim it doesn't work, I'd say it's because a democracy without choices doesn't work. That's not a general problem with democracy, only with the US implementation.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597898)

The problem with democracy is that it assumes everyone's opinions on every subject are equal.

That's not a problem, that's a feature. Do you really want to go back to a feudal system (nobles opinions count more)? Do you really want to go back to a dictatorship (one guy's opinions count only)? Do you really want to go back to an oligarchy (ruling party members opinions count more)?

In the real world, they're not. With a sufficiently educated populace, or a sufficiently minor subset of the populace who gets involved in voting and politics, it can potentially work. But with a populace with shrinking levels of basic education and basic abilities to rationally evaluate the information they're receiving, the US is showing that democracy largely does not work.

Our education levels aren't shrinking, they're growing. Have you forgotten that a little over 100 years ago, large chunks of the populations in all advanced countries of the time were illiterate? Nowadays, just about everyone can open a book and learn if they want to.

And with the internet available, it's easy to discuss any topic with lots of people, even if they're on the other side of the world. When a hot political issue comes up, the average voter can now talk to more people with other opinions than ever before. Think back a generation, and people's opinions were formed from maybe one newspaper, a magazine, maybe a church preacher, and a tiny number of people with whom they discussed things - family, neigbours, work colleagues. Just on slashdot today, you're exposed to more people than that when reading the comments on a story.

Education levels aren't the problem with modern democracies. However, it's never been easy to accept that other people's preferences may be *radically* different. If their world view is in direct conflict with yours and they win the elections, then your bottom line and way of life *will* be affected. Politics is serious.

Re:Start your party and let democracy decide (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597958)

It's worth noting that the primary reason education doesn't work like it used to in the US is because it has been suborned by an elite who seem more interested in job security and risk avoidance than in teaching the next generation of kids. I speak here of the teachers and their administrators. Sure, there's plenty of blame to be laid at the hands of parents, students, and a tight-fisted community. But none of those three groups is paid to be responsible for the system.

Science Is The King In Politics (-1, Flamebait)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597534)

Science Is The King In Politics.

It is just some closet Christians that happens to be in rule.

Did you know that some president's wife used to consult a crystal ball... How much did we hear about that, when the poor husband had his finger on "the button".

No serious politician wold ever admit to belive in a God, seriously. They may say so, for funding reasons. Otherwise they would be laughed off their underpants. It is all rhetorics (I hope). Did you really believe that the Alaskan chick could get away with a heartbeat? No, she was dismissed with before it was all too late, thank God.

Re:Science Is The King In Politics (3, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597642)

You clearly don't live in the United States. A professed belief in God is an absolute requirement to be elected president, and damn near essential for any other federal or high-level state elective office.

Re:Science Is The King In Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597728)

Too bad the secular humanists of the 19th century believed in spiritism and crystal balls.

No (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597542)

We don;t want a monarchy. Maybe science should be president.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597786)

We don;t want a monarchy. Maybe science should be president.

Yeah, with a two-term limit. I bet that would solve all our problems.

Jon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597548)

is that you? I guess owning a multi-billion dollar, international chemicals manufacturer will sort of prompt you to "believe" in science....

I don't think that'll work. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597562)

The world is run on emotion as much as logic. Anyone that thinks logic can be king either has never been married, or is rapidly headed towards a divorce...

Re:I don't think that'll work. (3, Insightful)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597718)

The world is only run on emotion. Logic always gets shouted down by people who don't like it or, worse, don't understand it.

Key words (0, Flamebait)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597566)

According to former Republican in name only representative Bob Inglis

Text in italics added. Mr. Inglis refutes his own thesis by indulging in fantasy regarding the nature of "conservatism."

Fact-based solutions already exist (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597568)

The two solutions that are in line with both past experience and economic theory are:
(A) cap-and-trade, where the government sells a limited number of pollution permits, allows the buyers of those permits to trade them, and then sends inspectors (funded by the proceeds of the original sale) to ensure that nobody goes over the number of permits they have. This was successfully used to reduce SO2 emissions back in the 1980's and 1990's.

(B) A CO2 tax, where the more you pollute the more you're taxed. This gives companies a financial incentive to reduce their emissions, and means that those that do reduce their CO2 emissions aren't at a competitive disadvantage from those that don't. Again, inspectors are needed (funded by the tax) to ensure that nobody cheats.

Both of these basically rely on putting a price on pollution, and then making sure nobody cheats on paying that price. It's enforced by the government because nobody else can - nobody owns the country's air, and nobody reasonably could.

Re:Fact-based solutions already exist (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597630)

The politicization of cap and trade isn't over whether it would have impact, it is over how the caps get set.

Re:Fact-based solutions already exist (0)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597646)

much of economic theory is about as disconnected from real life as the bible is...

Re:Fact-based solutions already exist (0)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597960)

Both options do only one thing...put money in he coffers of the government.

It's a bureaucrat's dream and a Democrat's Big Government wet dream. It would place virtually all of the economy under the thumb of the government and do little to reduce emissions.

I expect that is exactly what you want.

 

Politics Corrupts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597572)

Do you really want the process of the scientific method corrupted by politics? Let's keep politics away from our science, thank you very much.

If only... (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597584)

If only more conservatives felt the same way. But American conservatives (and Republicans in particular) are about as far as it gets from "dealing in facts" these days and are more anti-science than the far left.

"Dealing in facts" means recognising evolution. That's unacceptable in the US Right. So something even mildly controversial, like climate change, has no hope.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597652)

If only more conservatives felt the same way. But American conservatives (and Republicans in particular) are about as far as it gets from "dealing in facts" these days and are more anti-science than the far left.

"Dealing in facts" means recognising evolution. That's unacceptable in the US Right. So something even mildly controversial, like climate change, has no hope.

I thought it was called the "Theory of Evolution"? It's also nice to know that CO2 has been accepted as a pollutant, maybe the best thing we could do for the planet is stop breathing, and never ever open a beer or coke, because that realeases captured CO2 into the atmosphere.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597882)

Words in science don't always have the same meaning as common usage.

In science, a theory is a powerful term used to describe an idea explaining a collection of many observations. For example, the Atomic Theory postulates that matter consists of small elementary particles which grant a substance its characteristics. The Theory of Gravity postulates that there is a force between masses which pulls them towards one another, and the force is proportional to the size of the masses. Scientific theories are true for the most part because they represent a body of evidence obtained with the best methods of collecting data within our current capability. They may be revised for mistakes when better data collection method arises, but scientific theories aren't just thrown out.

In common usage, theory is used to describe an idea which isn't necessarily proven to be true. Like someone's pet theory doesn't necessarily equate to facts.

Calling evolution "just a theory" is a common misconception of what scientific terms mean. But, on occassion, this happens when people set it up as a strawman argument.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597906)

I thought it was called the "Theory of Evolution"?

*sigh* You should take a science class. They are all called "Theory of ...". Even the ones that are so old that people, out of custom and habit, use the outdated terminology "Law of ..." are actually "Theory of ..." using modern scientific terminology.

Re:If only... (0)

Obble (1680532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597726)

Please dont try to lump evolution the category real science. Because I would argue that atheists don't want to acknowledge the facts of evolution. (namly that it doesn't work) but they insist on it because it is their "religion".

Re:If only... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597852)

Please dont try to lump evolution the category real science. Because I would argue that atheists don't want to acknowledge the facts of evolution. (namly that it doesn't work) but they insist on it because it is their "religion".

What doesn't work about evolution? And what does the theory have to do with atheists?

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597964)

Moron!

Re:If only... (1, Flamebait)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597926)

Even worse, dealing in facts means they'd have to abandon trickle down economics. They've been running that scam for at least 30 years now. Evolution, birth control, gay rights, those aren't real issues. They're only used to whip crowds into a frenzy. But robbing from the poor and giving to the rich? That's the heart and soul of the Republican party. It's the only reason they exist.

Not on everything (3, Insightful)

nharmon (97591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597588)

While I can see many will knee-jerk themselves into an emphatic "YES" to scientific superiority in government, there should still be a place for philosophy and morality in politics as well. And in some cases, philosophy should trump science.

When you might ask? How about in terms of macroeconomics? It makes little scientific sense to provide welfare to people who will never be productive citizens ever again. Yet it goes against our values to not take care of our most vulnerable who are unable to care for themselves.

It also makes little scientific sense to protect individual rights to the extent that we do. My friends over in Europe and Asia often point out that the banning of hate speech has a demonstrable effect on reducing bigotry. Yet our non-scientific culture values free speech.

So, science should play a big role in determining the fundamental facts of a political discussion, but after that it is all about values and philosophy.

Re:Not on everything (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597788)

It makes little scientific sense to provide welfare to people who will never be productive citizens ever again.

That's because you are only placing value on economic work. Grandparents (especially retired grandparents) provide a great deal of high quality and unpaid services such as day care which don't show up as economic transactions. Productive is hard to quantify. There are people who do little to be worthwhile people, but I think they are less common than many people believe.

It also makes little scientific sense to protect individual rights to the extent that we do. My friends over in Europe and Asia often point out that the banning of hate speech has a demonstrable effect on reducing bigotry. Yet our non-scientific culture values free speech.

Not really. The non-scientific culture values free speech that it agrees with. There are many examples of populist reprisals against people who say things the non-scientific don't want to hear. Racism and bigotry are tolerated in America because at least one popular party uses it as a way to attract some voters.

Re:Not on everything (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597902)

Productive is hard to quantify.

And the difficulty of quantifying it is due not just the multitude of factors but the vagueness of the underlying concept as well. Which ultimately makes the question "How much welfare should we provide in society?" one that science can not answer. Science can only provide the facts upon which society can apply its values against.

There is no morality without science (2, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597832)

In order to make any moral decision at all, you need to know the consequences of those decisions. People who don't know science or are not properly informed about the results of scientific studies, cannot make reliable moral judgments and should refrain from doing so. (The latter being obviously problematic, because most people don't know about their ignorance or delude themselves about their knowledge - and there is a selection bias in politics that favors those who are overconfident about their knowledge and judgment.)

Imaging a simple moral dilemma. Choice A: Ten people will die. Choice B: 5 people will die.

The decision is simple - you take B.

The problem? Well, you're wrong. Choice B was based on a popular myth that three of the people involved would not be in any danger - but actually they would die. B would cause the death of 8 people. Choice A on the other hand has only been represented by the media as being extremely dangerous, but a sober scientific assessment would have led you to the conclusion, that only 2 people will die.

Yes, there can be science - even successful science - without moral judgment. Which is a problem and it is highly visible. But there can be no true moral judgment without science. Moral judgment is entirely derivative of our knowledge of the world, of the cause and effect relationships involved.

Unfortunately, pomp and circumstance can easily hide a lack of knowledge about the consequences of decisions made by those claiming (or claimed) to be moral authorities. That includes, unfortunately, the whole debate of climate science that usually sees a lot of discussions among people who hold a claim to moral authority but don't know the least bit about the science. Instead, they rely on biased reporting of the science [wordpress.com] to make and justify their "moral" decisions.

Re:Not on everything (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597840)

How do you make scientific judgements about things like welfare and bigotry?

Saying that less bigotry is a good thing is a value judgement, not a scientific judgement. Even if you go all Spock on it, you still have to have some starting principle(s).

Re:Not on everything (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597886)

It makes little scientific sense to provide welfare to people who will never be productive citizens ever again.

It does make sense. Without welfare, they'll be more likely start criminal activities to support themselves. In the end, these have a higher cost to society than welfare.

Wait, this is coming from a republican? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597598)

I thought they were more about climate change denial and less regulations so corporations could destroy the env... err be more competitive.

the faithful’s faith in the faithless (2)

Krau Ming (1620473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597604)

from the full article: " 'If there is a problem, surely there’s some brainiac who will invent a solution.' Call it the faithful’s faith in the faithless."
so true.

Am I Reading the Onion? (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597620)

Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts.

News flash: neither party can be counted on to deal in facts. I will also say with utter confidence that your party line (of which there are only two) will not determine how factual you are. There are goddamn liars among all the ranks of any party.

We base policies on science, not sentiment, we insist on people being accountable for their actions, and we maintain that markets, not mandates, are the path to prosperity.

If you based your policies on science, then why isn't it a completely open process? Anonymize the names (if any) and release the numbers (especially who pays what in taxes from which areas) behind your policy making. Of course you don't and on top of that, paltry though it may be, we have to wait until Obama to get that ball started rolling [whitehouse.gov].

Oh, yeah, accountable of their actions? Yeah, you rich bastards love to hold each other accountable for your actions [forbes.com] -- especially your financiers [bloomberg.com].

You would expect conservatives to stand with 95 percent of the scientific community and to grow the 13 percent into a working majority.

Oh, wait a minute, I see what's going on here. You're not really a conservative. You're like Zell Miller [wikipedia.org] who is a Democrat only by label and paperwork.

Your proposal, though noble, is a fool's errand. I believe this has been tackled before and the real problem is that you can always find more and more ties to pollution or non-renewable resources being used to make your product and get it to the consumer and then even after that you have the whole usage of it followed by proper disposal and returning the resources. That cheap Dell computer your secretary is playing Bejeweled on? Yeah, that's a nightmare.

What if we attached all of the costs -- especially the hidden costs -- to all fuels?

Once you lay out a comprehensive and complete list of what the costs are -- especially the hidden costs -- then I'll hop on board. For now you're basically scratching the surface of a very deep and complicated rabbit hole that is hard to trace backward for many reasons. Some of them supply line problems, some of them scientific problems, some of them statistical problems and some even privacy problems for the users.

Companies already try to regulate themselves by paying a so called 'carbon tax' by being 'carbon neutral' or by planting just an assload of trees so they can say X trees for Y products sold. But you know, that's all really neither exact nor assuredly truly undoing all that is done in their dealings. And while they might tell the public one thing, I don't think they believe it.

Could someone please enumerate every true cost of getting one gallon of gasoline into my car tank? What about what happens as I use it? What about what happens after I've used it?

And the best part is that at some point, as you noted, loss of life is going to be on that list of true costs. Whether you're buying an Apple iPhone that some worker committed suicide while making at the Foxconn plant or BP's little explosion killing 11 oil well workers, you're going to have to say at some point that 1 human life = X million dollars in cost. And that makes people really uncomfortable. It gets even more uncomfortable when whoever deciding that cost considers nationality in influencing that ratio.

Re:Am I Reading the Onion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597680)

There have been a number of attempts to put together the true cost of today's energy use. The problem is getting those who cshould be looking at those number to take them seriously.

Re:Am I Reading the Onion? (4, Informative)

Alomex (148003) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597700)

News flash: neither party can be counted on to deal in facts. I will also say with utter confidence that your party line (of which there are only two) will not determine how factual you are. There are goddamn liars among all the ranks of any party.

Sorry, but for the last ten year or so they haven't been comparable. Yes, neither party is perfect, but only one party has taken a conscious ideological (as opposed to strategic) hard tack away from the facts.

Only one party has made it a party platform to attack scientific facts based upon religious or ideological principles.

Re:Am I Reading the Onion? (4, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597892)

Frankly, Bob Inglis sounds like a true fiscal conservative.

I suspect people have forgotten what they are, ever since talk radio began turning "conservative" into "people we like" and "liberal" into "people we don't like", there seems to have been a coarsening of the public debate. Nixon officially ended the days of the Republican party being the party of fiscal conservatives, he alienated scientists and universities and began the descent of the Republican party into social conservatism.

Frankly, I suspect that the Republican party is on the verge of a huge collapse that will have them spending 20 years in the wilderness again, if they're lucky. They are deliberately or ignorantly leading their followers astray, and this will blow up in their faces unless they continue to lose to the Democrats. If they win in 2012 it just may destroy the party. It seems highly unlikely the current Republican fiscal policy will make the U.S. economy better. If it doesn't the party could implode like it has so many times before.

false premise (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597632)

"Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts."

I don't think he understands how the rest of us view (modern) conservatives.

If he's trying with this article to pitch reason and science to his fellow conservatives, by suggesting to them that it's consistent with their core values, best of luck to him. But if he really thinks that this is where his audience is really coming from, he's woefully out of touch. Today's conservatives' unwavering faith in The Market doesn't come from their observation of its empirical validity, but from a gut-feeling belief in the Unseen Hand of the market as the demiurge of God.

The Facts are not important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597650)

One of my past mentors had a favorite saying, "The Facts are not important." If a patient perceives that you screwed up, the facts are irrelevant, because their opinion is unlikely to be changed by the facts. Perceptions are reality.

Yes, please! (2)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597660)

The problems are many though.

Conservatism is usually an expression of:

1. Tradition-keeping
2. Protection of the already powerful
3. Fiercely challenging new ideas

However conservatism changes with its constituents, and across different nations, this core of conservatism tends to be in direct opposition to the changes brought about by science.

What support of science in conservative circles usually means is: Science has made us strong, we should support what science has done to make us strong, but oppose anything else it may do.

So yes, we may see some support for an HPV vaccine with more conservatives if this view becomes more common, and I hope it does - but the interests of the already powerful is still what matters, not wherever the scientific method leads.

Ryan Fenton

Did I wake up in an alternate universe ??? (0)

breagerey (758928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597672)

Acceptable levels of arsenic, Yucca mountain, the "Clear Skys" act ....
global warming is just the most prominent example of how Republicans routinely twist or flat out ignore science.
Their focus is lining pockets not adhering to facts.

Re:Did I wake up in an alternate universe ??? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597904)

Please remove all the arsenic from your body. And don't eat anything with arsenic in it.

Politician talking sense... (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597684)

"former ... representative Bob Inglis"

I've heard a lot of politicians talking sense, but they are always *former* office holders.

No human with skin in the game can tell the truth (the whole truth). It is against nature.

What is a fact? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597688)

Scientists produce data. But this data already has some uncertainty (which is often not reported, btw).
This data is then interpreted, manipulated and possibly even extrapolated, which might introduce additional errors.
Then extra assumptions are made to arrive at an answer to a question from a politician.

Can you still call that a fact? I think politicians should merely aim to understand this process.

Re:What is a fact? (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597866)

Scientists also produce error bars with their data. As a politician, you should look at the data including the error margin.

For example, if a scientists says that 'A' is happening with a 95% confidence, the politician can then calculate the costs as 0.95 * cost(A) + 0.05 * cost(not A). All kinds of strategies to deal with 'A' can be calculated in a similar way. In the end, net costs for all policies can be listed, and the cheapest one can be implemented.

ROFL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597692)

Conservative... hahaha dealing... ahahah facts... hahahahahahah OMFG that is brutal funny.

The Snappy Comeback (1)

kjell79 (215108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597702)

U.S. politics is dominated by the idea that your candidate has to look good and have a quick wit. It's a bogus premise that factors in minimally in how to run a government. I don't want my politicians to be scientific experts but rather to have a general knowledge strong enough to know which experts are valuable and which ones are trying to hoodwink them. I also think that there's something to be said about flip-flopping. Why is this bad? Shouldn't someone be thoughtful in their beliefs and open to the idea of change within themselves? Yet it's ugly and comparable to someone switching allegiance to a sports team. It's one thing to have strong convictions and to stick to your principles, but it's another when those principles are reviled. This is why politics are so divided. It's shunned to change your views. What's the point of having a political debate if no one is allowed to change their mind? And this is paramount to having a strong science presence in politics. Science changes all the time.

The Social Sciences Aren't (0)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597704)

Politics is primarily about the social sciences such as economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, etc. In broad terms politics is about human ecology.

The problem is everyone in politics KNOWS what the causal laws are that govern human ecologies. Indeed, everyone in the social sciences KNOWS what the causal laws are that govern human ecologies.

They don't.

What they have are correlations and, as every sophomore knows "Correlation doesn't imply causation."

The hard sciences get around this with experimental controls but it seems that the political class equates the political equivalent -- the Laboratory of the States -- as some how being a violation of the 13th amendment (or at least on the slippery slope to same). They prefer to slug it out with rhetoric and propaganda to see who can get their hypothesis in human ecology imposed on all States at once in the guise of "liberal democracy" which, in operational terms, is merely tyranny of the majority restrained only by a vague laundry list of selectively enforced "human rights".

Such "liberal democracy" is de facto theocracy whose canons are dictated by the equivalent of religious wars.

It is much more important to any real notion of human rights that people be able to vote with their feet, than vote in the ballot box. Assortative migration of mutually consenting adults sharing strongly held working hypotheses in human ecology is what the world needs -- not more centralized government ruled by a "scientific" elite. If a minute fraction of the dollars spent on wars was spent, instead, on such assortative migrations, not only would people be able to enjoy genuine consent of the governed, but the science of human ecology would be, for the first time, genuine science as the groups into which they assort would function as control groups, discovering the causal laws politicians and professors guess at and then preach at the populace and the pupils.

Of course -- the only time "science" is trotted out by the central government guys is when there are no options for control groups: global atmospheric concerns.

Yes, it is true that of the various soft-scientific views, atmospheric ecology is the strongest justification for centralized governmental controls. That's why we are NOT given the option of global assortative migrations but ARE given the option of global central authority controlling anyone who affects the atmosphere.

So, yes, Bob, you're right. You and your globalist theocrats do have a reasonable justification for imposing your belief system about global warming on the rest of the world. But you would be a LOT more credible among the "populists" if you put a fraction of the effort you put into global governance of atmospheric ecology into "regime change" that promoted a genuine Laboratory of the States so that when it comes to other political issues, you guys can just STFU and let people live their strongly held beliefs in human ecology among mutually consenting others.

Oh, but that would "open the door to 'State's Rights' Nazis!!!" The truth be damned. Consent of the governed be damned. Scientific ethics be damned.

Dystopia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597732)

(Not about TFA but about the title) I for one find the vision of a society ruled solely by scientific results to be a horrible dystopia. While the scientific method is the most reliable method to make the sphere of our ignorance smaller it is not beyond criticism. And especially the application of scientific results to our everyday problems and society is prone to error and abuse.

The Term "Inconvenient Truth" Applies (5, Insightful)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597758)

I think it's important to understand why conservatives are rejecting certain scientific facts. People like me on the left often make fun of them as being ignorant or anti-intellectual, but the reality is that it's very difficult for anyone to accept a fact that conflicts with your worldview. For example, history has turned the lawyer William Jennings Bryan from the famous "Monkey Trial" into a caricature of ignorance of foolishness in the face of scientific fact, but that belittles his motivation for fighting against the teaching of evolution: the textbook in question was pro eugenics [ideonexus.com] and used the theory of evolution to argue that society should breed people the way we breed dogs. The Theory of Evolution was a fact, but the public policies people were proposing from it were an anathema to our human values. The theory of evolution has never recovered from the damage the eugenics movement did to it in the early 1900s.

The same thing is happening now with Global Warming. Whether conservatives know it or not, they are not resisting the Theory of Global Warming, they are resisting the policies that many conclude from it. Publicly accepting the theory and taking a more nuanced position about what we should do about, if we should do anything about it at all, isn't as straightforward as simply running a campaign against the theory itself using the same tactics the Tobacco industry used [ideonexus.com] as recently as 15 years ago to defend smoking against its link to cancer (Yes, 15 years ago. I recently listened to a 1996 Larry King interview with Presidential candidate Bob Dole where they argued about whether smoking was safe or not).

It's a natural human reaction to reject facts that conflict with our vision of the world. That's why I love the term "Inconvenient Truth" to describe an empirical fact that generates cognitive dissonance. Just today I was reminded of one such truth as the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the discovery that our Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate [npr.org], a fact I resisted for a decade because it paints such an incredibly bleak picture of our Cosmos where the galaxies will eventually vanish from the night sky as they fly away from us and the Universe eventually freezes at absolute zero. But you have to accept the fact and adapt your worldview to it.

Liberals have their own anti-science views: resistance to GMO Foods goes pretty far into unscientific scaremongering ("Frankenfoods" and anti-corporatism), the idea that smaller classes sizes are the only way to improve student performance (teacher accountability does demonstrate equal results for less money), and anti-vaccination scares come mostly from the left (mostly). The science behind these issues are inconvenient to certain aspects of liberal ideology, so it's easier to go off the anti-science deep end rather than refine their positions. The problem is that we the media finds nuanced debate and finely articulated positions inconvenient to ratings.

I don't know about what you folk read but... (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597764)

I read, "I'll limit government agencies to only be able to see corporate shell games and call it consumer protection".

We need another government program (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597776)

I mean really, we're only 14 Trillion in debt, clearly we need to make it harder and more expensive to do business in the United States. Any other solution is just ludicrous. We'll just buy things made in another country and resell it here. I mean, thier poluted air will never make it ALL THE WAY over here... No chance. Let the other side of the globe burn to cinders under global warming. Technically, we already have carbon credits... They are called fines.

Science? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597800)

Sorry the big controversies that "science should solve" are political.

For example global warming, the boosters claim the debate is over.
In science the debate is NEVER over.

The earth was flat, until we found out it was round.
The atom was the smallest indivisible object, until we broke it.

What about scientifically managing the economy? Not only are there different views of what the desired outcome should be, we don't actually understand how it works.

There are a number of areas where science doesn't give us the good clean perfect answer that some would hope for.

The reason to support "science" on climate change, is because the science supports your course of action.
I bet many of those same people would be opposed to supporting "science" on the economy and trade, because the scientific agreement is opposite their desired course of action.

Rightwing and Science? Our president runs things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597834)

I guess they want to use science in everything except... yup, you guessed it, religion. How convenient!

Seriously, people still think the president runs the show, and does it for the majority of us common folk? Go look into Yale's skull and bones, Bilderberg, ect.

Minumum wage (2)

wytcld (179112) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597880)

I agree that we should tax the externalities of fossil energy use directly, rather than use cap and trade to the same ends. Cap and trade was originally a Republican idea, since it involves a market mechanism (the "trade" part), rather than being a pure government program (as a tax is). But a carbon tax is favored by James Hansen (the NASA climate scientist much hated by Fox), and it's the most direct route to the result.

But the representative's claim that not raising the minimum wage is favored by science or the facts is nonsense. It's wishful thinking that keeping wages down results in more jobs. We're in an America now where wages have been broadly suppressed for 30 years - over which median income has been nearly flat while per-capita GDP has doubled, with almost the entire gains going to the super-rich. So where are the jobs? On the scientific side, comparisons of similar regions with different minimum wages, and before-and-after comparisons of places where minimum wages have been raised, find absolutely no support for the claim that there will be higher unemployment where minimum wages are higher. None. The evidence, while not conclusive, leans the other way. It certainly isn't "science" then to be against raising minimum wages. It's just what the people who would rather stiff their workers on wages indulge in as wishful thinking. They want it to be true. And if your logic is simple minded, it will seem as if it should be. It's not.

For one thing, when more people are paid more, the can spend more, which supports greater employment all around. That logic is perhaps too complex for the Republican mind, because it's a second-order effect - it depends on the whole local economic ecosystem's health, rather than the immediate profit to the firm that just hired a worker at a low minimum wage. But complex systems are like that - you get effects out of them that aren't predicted from studying their parts in isolation. The Republican argument against a higher minimum wage follows exclusively from studying a part in isolation.

So do the Republican arguments against moving to forms of energy production without such dire "externalities." So yes, price in the cost of the externalities with taxes (even though there's no exact math capable of application in setting those taxes), lower the income tax, and capitalism will find a way. Republicans generally doubt that capitalism is smart enough to find a way unless the current economic landscape is kept in stasis. They call this "lessening uncertainty." The modern "capitalist" Republican is as addicted to stasis as the leaders of the old Soviet Empire. Heaven forfend America should ever again have to embrace progress and change. How could we compete in such a landscape, where oil and coal companies don't rule us forever?

Note the *Former* part in description (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597890)

Representative Inglis became former representative Inglis when he lost in the GOP primary in 2010 to run for re-election. That is what political parties tend to do to people who think on their own...

If science were king... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597900)

we'd throw out most of classical economics and the notion of the free market due to being completely fallacious and based on a naive and incomplete model of physics.

Moderate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597956)

When was the last time a politician really solved a problem? I find that they just put band-aids on issues. It's time that we have scientists solve the issues of the world.

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