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Politics and 'An Inconvenient Truth'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the get-this-sorted-out dept.

Education 630

Frogbeater writes "The producer of 'An Inconvenient Truth' is accusing the National Science Teachers Association of being in the pocket of Big Oil because she can't get preferential treatment for her film. The entire situation is turning into a 'if you're not with us, you're against us' yelling match. Regardless of the viewpoint, is it even possible that science can remain apolitical? Has it ever been?" The Washington Post makes things out to be less than above board: "In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil's foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they graduate from high school ... NSTA's list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA's Web site on the science of energy. There, students can find a section called 'Running on Oil' and read a page that touts the industry's environmental track record -- citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by the way -- but makes only vague references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called 'You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel,' a shameless pitch for oil dependence."

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OFFTOPIC (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016334)

This is offtopic, but where's the poll gone?

apolitical... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016920)

is it even possible that *slashdot* can remain apolitical? This site has turned in to one big bash on the right, and how is that news for nerds?

I'm SHOCKED (0)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016356)

The producer of 'An Inconvenient Truth' is accusing the National Science Teachers Association of being in the pocket of Big Oil because she can't get preferential treatment for her film
I never saw this coming. I'm shocked I say, SHOCKED!

Re:I'm SHOCKED (1)

Anivair (921745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016418)

It's funny how stupid the first claim seems till you read the below figures.

I guess being paranoid pays off sometimes. You only have ot be right once to make all the tin foil worth while.

Re:I'm SHOCKED (4, Informative)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016630)

She's not complaining about a 'lack of preferential treatment' - she's citing that the National Science Teacher's Association rejected [blogspot.com] an offer to provide free copies of the movie to classrooms, for fear of losing money from Exxon.

From the above link:
The producers of An Inconvenient Truth have offered to supply American classrooms with 50,000 copies of the movie free of charge. That offer has been rejected by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the nation's leading science education teachers group, citing a risk to funding from key financial supporters.

One of those supporters is Exxon-Mobil.

Or if that's not enough, how about this from NSTA directly:"Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters."

Me - 1
/. Editors - 0


Re:I'm SHOCKED (-1, Flamebait)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016714)

in other news NSTA rejects KKK film for fear of angering everyone. whats the difference?

Re:I'm SHOCKED (3, Funny)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016870)

> in other news NSTA rejects KKK film for fear of angering everyone. whats the difference?

No you hayseed retard, Algore's movie is the TRITH, says so right there in the title. Rejecting it means science teachers are against the Truth. My god (little G, don't send me to the camps) if one of the Democratic Party's core groups are rejecting Global Warming Theology what is the world coming to. What the hell was the point of taking Congress.

I'm off to pout on DU. :(

Re:I'm SHOCKED (4, Interesting)

Psykosys (667390) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016998)

The difference is that the NSTA would reject the KKK film because it's a KKK film. The NSTA's response to the Inconvenient Truth plan suggests that they seriously considered distributing it, but then bowed to financial pressure.

Re:I'm SHOCKED (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017022)

in other news NSTA rejects KKK film for fear of angering everyone. whats the difference?

Are the Black Panthers a major financial supporter of the NSTA?

Re:I'm SHOCKED (2, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017100)

whats the difference?

You'll have to remind me what science the KKK deals with. You know, the "S" in NSTA?

Difference (2, Insightful)

wytcld (179112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017124)

The difference is that climate scientists at the very top of their field - in terms of number of peer-reviewed articles published and positions held - vouch that An Inconvenient Truth is 99%+ accurate in portraying the current state of climate research.

Meanwhile, films that proclaimed the virtues of burning fossil fuels - nothing more than public relations - were distributed in past years under the guise of "science" education.

But I suppose to you a scientist and a Klansman both look the same, what with their white cloths? Except that you figure the Klansman prays to Jesus and the scientist is in league with the Prince of Lies? I'm sure you know your Klansmen; but you don't know jack about scientists. Nor do our students, being raised on crap rather than best data.

Re:I'm SHOCKED (1, Insightful)

jamie (78724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016846)

the National Science Teacher's Association rejected an offer to provide free copies of the movie to classrooms, for fear of losing money from Exxon

That's an allegation, but the facts of the article don't strongly support it. Yes, the NSTA was worried about losing corporation contributions; whether they actually would have or not has not been demonstrated. And yes, one of their supporters is Exxon-Mobil, and other contributors are also in that industry, but it has not yet been shown that Exxon is the supporter that the email's author was chiefly concerned about.

Slashdot is being accurate here, presenting the facts and allowing you to draw your own conclusions. Slashdot - 1, you - 1 :)

Re:I'm SHOCKED (1, Informative)

fastcoke11 (805687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017062)

It's nice to pretend. I don't think it's that far of a leap to take to draw the conclusion that an anti-oil "documentary" is being rejected by the NTSA because, admittedly, they are afraid of losing funding from a donor, and that the donor who would stop funding them is an oil company.

Re:I'm SHOCKED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016996)

No, it's the other around. They've got you and me to click on this article and type this rubbish, and got ad impression or whatever.

Zonk/slashdot - 1
you - 0

Just doing my bit to boost the "new" media business here.

Random questions and comments (5, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016362)

-Hypothetical: Let's say you run a business, and people start making what you believe to be baseless accusations about the environmental impact of your business. What do you do? NO, WAIT: You can't fund anyone who tries to scientifically demonstrate the invalidity of the accusations, because that taints the research, right?

-I remember seeing in science class a movie produced by Exxon about the Valdez oil spill. While it was propaganda, I also remember the teacher pointing out all the flaws and telling everyone that it was Exxon's propaganda. "Oh, look at this part, where they act like everything's all peachy now."

-Oh, so *now* you care about teachers' associations getting political. Just not when they oppose any whiff of school choice.

-Should no research into oil be funded by oil companies? Even basic research into hydrocarbon chemistry? That seems to be the implication.

-To answer the question: yes, science can remain apolitical, as long as it rigidly adheres to the scientfic principles of reproducibility and transparency. That's what makes science science: Even if someone refuses to believe you, it doesn't matter. Other people can perform their own corroborating experiments. Even if someone believes it to be all voodoo, you can then go out and continue to make valid predictions that result in useful services. And then anyone is free to propose alternate theories that match the data better.

When the above isn't possible, science can become political. When you can't make a thousand copies of the earth, causally separate them, randomly vary emissions, wait a hundred years, and run a regression, people have all the room the in world to reject your theories since it can't have the repeated empirical validation science relies on. When you can't engineer an entire planet's existence, start a weather system, wait a billion years, and see complex organisms evolve, you again don't have the repeated empirical validation science relies on. BEFORE YOU FLAME ME OR MOD ME DOWN, I'm not trying to dispute global warming or evolution, but rather, just pointing that you can't come up with the plain-as-day prediction and validation you can in other areas.

Re:Random questions and comments (2, Insightful)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016486)

-To answer the question: yes, science can remain apolitical, as long as it rigidly adheres to the scientfic principles of reproducibility and transparency. That's what makes science science: Even if someone refuses to believe you, it doesn't matter. Other people can perform their own corroborating experiments. Even if someone believes it to be all voodoo, you can then go out and continue to make valid predictions that result in useful services. And then anyone is free to propose alternate theories that match the data better.

So what happens when the other party refuses or is incapable of 'performing their own corroborating experiments'? What if they tell you that God has decreed that this science is wrong? What are you supposed to do with that?

Re:Random questions and comments (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016576)

That's my point -- you don't need their approval. You make predictions routinely. They are correct routinely. You apply these predictions to perform something useful routinely, that maybe this zealot actually uses routinely! What does it matter if he does or doesn't endorse it? The fact that you are performing a useful service (predicting the fall of objects, building structures, etc.) suffices as evidence that the science is valid enough for those services to be performed (by tautology).

When you have no service to perform that relies on this science, then you have no real-world check.

Re:Random questions and comments (2, Interesting)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016896)

That's my point -- you don't need their approval. You make predictions routinely. They are correct routinely.

The problem with this argument is that you assume your predictions come true the majority of the time. In many cases, environmental science especially, this assumption is not true. So what happens when you make your predictions and those predictions are wrong? While I think that his book on environmental theory was a bit of a sham, Michael Crichton definitely had a good idea when he proposed that scientists should be separated from donors - all research grants should either be anonymous or via the government, which as NASA and NOAA [msn.com] would attest, is never biased.

Re:Random questions and comments (4, Funny)

aicrules (819392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016504)

You are a complete idiot for disputing global warming or evolution...I think you are not just pointing that you can't come up with the plain-as-day prediction and validation you can in other areas.

BEFORE YOU FLAME ME OR MOD ME DOWN, I'm not trying to dispute global warming or evolution, but rather, just pointing that you can't come up with the plain-as-day prediction and validation you can in other areas.
...oops...sorry, ignore that first part. Very well thought out message!

Re:Random questions and comments (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016560)

This is always the counter argument..."As long as we hold true to our principles it doesn't matter where the money comes from."

This is fine as long as everyone does hold to their principles, as long as there is someone there to point out that, in fact, X, Y, or Z piece of propaganda is propaganda.

History is rife with examples of corporate special interests skewing research about their products through carefully chosen grants and commissioned studies. Lead, Tobacco, DDT, Oil; hell, you even get a lot of it in government sponsored hydro power, because if the people who make dams run out of places to put dams their jobs go away.

It's real easy to say, "We can keep our principles and take their money" but history shows that that's just not true. You take their money, you drink their kool-aid, you sacrifice your principles, and you produce biased research.

It's like a politician saying, "Just because this lobbyist gave me a million dollars, doesn't mean I'm going to vote the way he wants me to." Come on. You're only fooling yourself.

Re:Random questions and comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016720)

"This is fine as long as everyone does hold to their principles"

Everyone corrupts eventually. This can be applied to just about everything.

Nature BAD, Science GOOD (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017054)

Nature is out to get you! ...Lead, Tobacco, DDT, Oil...

Lead, Tobacco, and Oil are all natural products, and bad for you.

Meanwhile, a man-made product, DDT [google.com] is In (and used, of course, to fight nature).

Let's just pave everything and live indoors. That way we can just set the thermostat wherever you like. Global warming, global cooling - irrelevant with enough styrofoam insulation!

If nature is a circle, science is a square. Everyone knows the opposite of "circle" is "square". That's why we live in boxes.

Learn more here [timecube.com] !

And if you don't think I am joking, you're batty!

Re:Random questions and comments (4, Insightful)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016634)

... people start making what you believe to be baseless accusations about the environmental impact of your business.

I disagree with the assumption that the oil companies truly believe that global warming is a nonexistent threat. Remember big tobacco? They persisted in denying that cigarettes causes cancer, etc. all the while knowing full well that this was false.

A quote which is attributed to Friedman goes: "The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders." Taken to the limit, this means that a company will take any action neccessary to secure and guard profits.

I'm one of the people who believes that this is exactly what most big corporations do. Call me cynical, but I think a lot of empirical data supports this theory.

Re:Random questions and comments (4, Insightful)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016640)

We do what we've always done; use indirect measures and accumulated evidence to reduce our uncertainty, then make extrapolations based upon the reproducible data. Go to your nearest university library and look up Tom Ray's work on the Tierra simulator, or read a few physics journals to find out what goes into those climate models that you're implicitly rejecting. (hint: lots of physics, parameters derived from measurements as appropriate, and endless validation runs) Other people are free to use the same equations, write their own simulation, and if they aren't deliberately feeding the models misinformation, will converge to a result within some confidence interval similar to yours, presuming you did your job correctly as well.

I make my living as a computational chemist, and while I know that we're neglecting many terms in our solutions, reproducible results come back, that agree to varying degrees of confidence to experimental results. Furthermore, we understand how to improve those results, and make rational time/accuracy/resource trade-offs to get the answers we need to the precision required.

In short, while I've never directly observed an oxygen molecule, accumulated indirect evidence has caused me to believe in them. It has also led to the conclusion that removing them from my immediate environment is bad. Same for your examples. Come up with a reasoned set of arguments that explain why a couple thousand physicists or biologists are all wrong, send out some papers and get yourself slotted into a presentation at a conference, and have at. You're free to try, and that's what the process is all about.

Re:Random questions and comments (2, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016918)

Come up with a reasoned set of arguments that explain why a couple thousand physicists or biologists are all wrong,

To be "wrong" means their model doesn't match the real world. And that's my point: it doesn't matter how complex and cool and difficult to understand your model is; all that matter is, does it make valid predictions? Your focus is on whether someone can reproduce the model's result rather than whether the model matches reality:

Other people are free to use the same equations, write their own simulation, and if they aren't deliberately feeding the models misinformation, will converge to a result within some confidence interval similar to yours, presuming you did your job correctly as well.

If the model were making valid predictions (the same model, that is), you could parade an endless list: our model predicted this climate change in this region, and this increase this this kind of weather activity. No, not the past. I mean, predict it *now* and see if it bears out in the future. But obviously, you aren't getting that, or it would be used ad infinitum to shut up global warming skeptics.

Again, my point is not that the models themselves are without basis, just that it is difficult if not impossible to do the empirical tests that will determine if they are valid.

Re:Random questions and comments (1)

aquaepulse (990849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016750)

Let's say you run a business, and people start making what you believe to be baseless accusations about the environmental impact of your business.

Big Oil is throwing so much money at "investigating" the environmental impact that it shows that they believe it to be more than baseless accusations. In my opinion it is just an attempt to muddy the waters and confuse people who are scientifically illiterate, for example politicians.

When you can't make a thousand copies of the earth[....]

But you can get all the ice cores one wants and correlate CO2 with temperature. These arguments are the same ones used against global warming and evolution and they are intellectually dishonest at best. Sniping at perceived weaknesses in a theory to confuse, instead of proposing a real alternative theory to be tested.

Re:Random questions and comments (2, Insightful)

jstomel (985001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016772)

As someone who has been trained in scientific ethics I can answer your questions. Research funded by industry into the effects of that company will be viewed as valid if the following conditions are met. 1) The scientist performing the research is independent of the company. He can be funded by grant from the company, but must be independent of it's internal organizational structure and to hiring/firing pressures. 2) Said scientist must have free reign in his choice of methods and staff. 3) Results must be published in peer reviewed independent journals regardless of what those results show and without editing/review of the company funding the research. 4) The results must be repeatable by independent labs. and finally, 5) Said scientist must not receive any personal mony or "bonus" from the company at any point before or after the research. If these conditions are met then the research is generally considered to be unbiased. Many companies follow these guidelines as a matter of course, especially drug companies. But we're not really talking about companies funding research, are we? We're talking about companies being able to buy the beliefs in which your children are forcefully indoctrinated by the state. And that's wrong.

Re:Random questions and comments (2, Insightful)

yankpop (931224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016780)

I think you're missing the bigger issue here. There is not necessarily any problem with the oil industry doing their own research, and disseminating that research to teachers. It becomes a problem when they are allowed to buy access that other groups don't have. In this case they've been treated as loving benefactors, and the teachers have willingly accepted their message along with their cash. But when another group tries to offer a different viewpoint, they are labeled special interest and shut out of the process.

What's the real difference between what the offerings of the oil companies and the film-makers? Both have a vested interest in the issue, and both have done substantial research on the subject, research that merits careful consideration. But one is welcomed and the other is marginalized. The only difference, obviously, is cash.

It would be different if this were a fringe environmental group advocating a return to the stone-age or something, but it's not. It's a very conscientious group trying to advance a carefully researched opinion. They're not even asking for equal time. They just want to make their material available, presumably allowing individual teachers to decide how to present the information.

Underlying the whole issue, as the author points out, is that the teachers aren't really bad guys here. They've been forced into a corner by dwindling budgets, and its now so bad that corporate sponsorship trumps curriculum content. That's frightening.

yp.

Re:Random questions and comments (1)

orb_fan (677056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016944)

I guess the question is not about whether science is political or not - as you rightly point out, when any uncertainty exists there is room for political or other emotionally charged ideas to creep in and color the discussion.

No, the question is whether the teaching of science should be political. And I would come down firmly on the side of NO. Both politics and religion have no place in a science classroom. I'm probably being very idealistic, but it's a sad fact that all too often that people (politicians) with little science understanding or idealogical axes to grind dedicate what is taught in our schools. Just look at the hoopla over creationism/intelligent design...

science IS political (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016388)

"is it even possible that science can remain apolitical? Has it ever been?"

No and No. And IAAS

Hey, dummies! (0, Troll)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016390)

The "Big Oil" companies depend on science to do business. Without geologists, they could never find the pockets of oil and gas. Without engineers to design the drills, and tell them when a hole will or will not collapse, they could never get to the oil and gas. Without engineers, there would be no pumps, no pipelines, and no refineries.

How in the hell can anyone be stupid enough to think that there is a political motive behind "Big Oil" giving to science education? I don't think Welsely Mouch from Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged would be that moronic.

Andy Out!

Re:Hey, dummies! (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016728)

Sure, because all science education is beneficial to the oil companies.

All companies act in their own interests, and while oil companies need geologists, etc, they also stand to make a hell of a lot of money on increased consumption of their product. When oil prices spike, that's the oil companies making more for the exact same quantity sold. At the same time, if they can discredit this or that research that says they should be forced to implement this or that safeguard, that lowers their operating costs. Likewise research about atmospheric carbon; if people take that seriously and start putting an extra tax on gasoline to lower the consumption, that's the oil companies seeing a drop in sales.

In their ideal world, we'll stay addicted to their product until the last drop is sold. Any science that threatens that, they're going to work like hell to discredit.

Maybe because they admitted to it? (4, Informative)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016826)

How in the hell can anyone be stupid enough to think that there is a political motive behind "Big Oil" giving to science education? I don't think Welsely Mouch from Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged would be that moronic.

Maybe because the NSTA themselves admitted it [thinkprogress.org] ? As a previous poster pointed out: "Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place 'unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.'"

How in the hell can anyone be stupid enough to think that's NOT a political motive? ;)

Re:Hey, dummies! (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016844)

Yes, they depend on engineers and geologists to make money. So it's in their interest to support those fields. On the other hand, ecologists and climatologists are not making them any money whatsoever - in fact, many of them are actively threatening their profits. So it's not at all surprising that they would try to distort the teaching of those sciences. And don't you go quoting Ayn Rand at me.

Re:Hey, dummies! (1)

yankpop (931224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017038)

How in the hell can anyone be stupid enough to think that there is a political motive behind "Big Oil" giving to science education?

How can anyone be stupid enough to think that there isn't? Sure, they want to support the education of future engineers and geologists. But do you honestly think they are equally interested in the training of ecologists, climatologists, and environmental scientists? I'm sure McDonalds employs a lot of food scientists, and Monsanto employs a lot of biotech scientists, but do you think that means they sign a lot of blank checks for "science"? Or is it possible, maybe, that they direct their support towards the kind of research and 'education' that serves their interest, and away from the sort of research that might question the value of their products?

yp.

Science + Money = Politics (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016394)

Where there's money involved, so too will there be politics.

Get in Touch! (1, Insightful)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016422)

> NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called 'You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel,' a shameless pitch for oil dependence."

I believe that the video in question shows exactly how dependant we are on oil and gas. That's reality. If you want to change it, criticizing a cartoon is slightly less damaging than criticizing the source of funding for science education, but it's still incredibly stupid.

Andy Out!

Re:Get in Touch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016702)

I think my issue with "You can't be cool without fuel" is that it is wrong. It should be "you can't be cool without power".

Shift the dependence from oil and gas, and push for 'greener' power sources. There will be no getting away from the 1st world's dependence on power, I think that's a given. The least we should be doing is producing the power in a slightly less destructive way.

I don't understand your final sentence at all. Are you saying that it is stupid to criticize the funding of science education by big oil companies? I'm not being facetious. I see words, but getting some sort of sensible meaning out of them is giving me a headache.

Dependency is cool? (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016766)

And calling that dependency "cool" is any less stupid?

The domain of politics is isomorphic... (5, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016426)

...to the known universe. In other words, *everything* has a political dimension to it. Politics is unavoidable.

What needs to be avoided is not politics but the temptation to distort scientific findings and inquiries to match preconceived ideas that support entrenched political interests.

We're pretty terrible at that. But it might not take a genius amount of forethought to understand that putting Al Gore's name on the movie doesn't help to de-politicize the issue.

I mean, duh.

Re:The domain of politics is isomorphic... (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016484)

Of course... I think that to not put Al Gore's name on the film probably would have meant it was pretty much ignored.

Re:The domain of politics is isomorphic... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016542)

But the range of politics is isomorphic to three sixteen-year-old girls catfighting at a slumber party.

Is this about science being apolitical (0, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016464)

Or just about the left's inability to cope with itself.

Carbon exhaust is causing climate change. Okay.
1) there is no scientific consensus on this
2) I seriously doubt that consensus will be forthcoming withing less than 10 or 20 years

That's real inconvenient, for a truth.

Also the only viable solution to fossil power is ... nuclear power. Obviously.

That's also real inconvenient.

The only "renewable" energy source, hydroelectric, has cost at least 6000% more human lives than nuclear power ever did.

Another inconvenient truth.

Truth :

1) we need energy. Lots of it.
2) 2 economically viable options for energy : a) fossil b) nuclear

This is real inconvenient for left-wing environmentalist nuts (all of them live in cities, obviously, which are the least environmental of surroundings imaginable, but hey, let's just disregard that).

So they cry. They cry for attention. They present problems, but no solutions. So they cry some more.

Truth :

No amount of politics will solve the energy crisis. Yet all they do is politics.

So they cry for attention.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (4, Interesting)

defile (1059) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016638)

This is real inconvenient for left-wing environmentalist nuts (all of them live in cities, obviously, which are the least environmental of surroundings imaginable, but hey, let's just disregard that).

I guess by "least environmental of surroundings" you could mean that there aren't any lush forests, but while they are soul crushing, living in New York City is a more energy efficient way to live according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_in_New _York_City [wikipedia.org] :

New York's uniquely high rate of public transit use and its pedestrian-friendly character make it one of the most energy-efficient cities in the country. Gasoline consumption in New York City is at the rate where the national average was in the 1920s.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016788)

So ? Total energy consumption per surface area (which is all that matters to the environment) is definitely NOT up to par with 1920.

These people are completely isolated from the environment.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017020)

So ? Total energy consumption per surface area (which is all that matters to the environment) is definitely NOT up to par with 1920.

Hunh? Why would total energy consumption per surface area be important? I would think per capita figures would be more important. You seem to be saying that if the population of New York was far more spread out it would be more environmentally friendly. You've obviously never been to Los Angeles.......

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017110)

Because this is what determines wether nature has a decent chance of repairing the damage done by the city.

Unlike humans, who can live many per square meter (especially in a city with skyscrapers and such), trees per surface area is a de-facto constant, they can not be put in skyscrapers as they need access to sunlight. So carbon reabsoption is constant per surface area. So carbon exhaust per surface area is what matters. And, in every human city, it's WAY too high.

Also there is no real environment in just about every city.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (2, Interesting)

moheezy (1032844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016666)

1: As Gore points out in the movie, most of the "scientists" who don't believe in Global Warming are either those who have no right to speak(Non-Ecologists) or are astroturfing. 2: Actually, you might want to look into Fusion and even Solar power. 3: You crying about their crying about Global Warming *also* does nothing for the current situation. 4: I remember reading this somewhere but A disk a couple of miles wide in diameter between the Sun & Earth(LaGrange Point) will produce enough energy to power the world. Just a thought.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016906)

1: As Gore points out in the movie, most of the "scientists" who don't believe in Global Warming are either those who have no right to speak(Non-Ecologists) or are astroturfing. 2: Actually, you might want to look into Fusion and even Solar power. 3: You crying about their crying about Global Warming *also* does nothing for the current situation. 4: I remember reading this somewhere but A disk a couple of miles wide in diameter between the Sun & Earth(LaGrange Point) will produce enough energy to power the world. Just a thought.


the answers, respectively (assuming a person who does not know the enter key can now the meaning of the word "respectively")
1. have you checked this ? I actually go to university. Trust me, or go check for yourself.
2. fusion - not operational for 30-40 years solar - not operational (by a much larger margin than fusion btw)
3. why are you attacking me ? respond to my points or shut up
4. "you remember reading somewhere" - in the "fiction" department of the library ? This is not a viable option. The use of a difficult word such as lagrange does not vindicate your idiocy

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016914)

As Gore points out in the movie, most of the "scientists" who don't believe in Global Warming are either those who have no right to speak(Non-Ecologists)


I hope he meant physicists, since very few ecologists even understand the basic physics behind global warming.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016680)

They present problems, but no solutions.

God, you're an idiot. Solutions, like these [climatecrisis.net] ? Or like these [dot.gov] ? Or these [wikipedia.org] ? But God forbid we use less energy, even if we could do so with no impact whatsoever on our quality of life.

all of them live in cities, obviously, which are the least environmental of surroundings imaginable

Hey, guess what? You're still an idiot [environmentalleague.org] .

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017008)

The real problem is convincing people that preventing global warming matters. So what if a bunch of coast floods? Humanity has lived through worse. I say bring it on!

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016694)

Heh, someone here I agree with... Oh yeah, this is an interesting site to visit... http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ [junkscience.com]

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016782)

I find this demarcation between 'us' and 'them' to be distasteful.

The point of the article was that building an artificial line between 'us' and 'them' was bad.

Perhaps you should take a page from your own post and consider ways to bring 'them' closer to 'us', instead of dismissing them out of hand as being wingnuts. But it's probably better to spend time being a uniter, rather than a divider.

For example, I used to hate nuclear power. Then I read some posts on Slashdot that made me reconsider my position. Now I think nuclear power's probably the best option we have.

This is progress.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016786)

If i had mod points I would give you "insightfull". But i don't think you will get that here. \. does not agree with you. Therefore you are in bed with trolls and OT posts and probably oil companies.

Whats real funny about all this "its a fact we are ****ing the planet" crap, it they really do nothing about it. The planet is warming. I don't think we will ever know for sure if its us or just par for the course (well at least for a long time). However reducing oil dependance is a good thing so at least I will travel by train instead of aircraft when I can for example. I don't just bitch about how the leaders of my country won't fix it.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1, Flamebait)

cunamara (937584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016836)

Carbon exhaust is causing climate change. Okay.
1) there is no scientific consensus on this
2) I seriously doubt that consensus will be forthcoming withing less than 10 or 20 years

I give you props for persistence, but you're wrong about both of these points. If you are holding out for universal acceptance, that ain't gonna happen on any topic. Expert consensus is not universal acceptance, it is acceptance by the vast majority of experts in a field. In this case, the consensus has been reached and it is that human fossil fuel use has profoundly affected the environment. And, as recent studies show, the problem of carbon dioxide pollution is accelerating (while interestingly methane levels have been contained, at least temporarily).

It always astonishes me to hear conservatives complain about the restrictions of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, etc.- given that those laws and associated agencies are part of the proud heritage of the Republican Party! It also astonishes me to hear the helplessness and despair of the conservatives, that "nothing can be done to stop it so we shouldn't even try." Wah wah wah! It's too bad that the conservatives fell for Ronald Reagan's soundbite that "government isn't the solution to the problem, government is the problem." That's an attitude that guarantees incompetence in government and which has given us the past six years of vast governmental stupidity.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016874)

1) there is no scientific consensus on this

Yes there is.

2) I seriously doubt that consensus will be forthcoming withing less than 10 or 20 years

In fact it's been the orthodox view for over 10 years, probably was well established in academia 20 years ago. The initial research into the topic is over a century old and the current trends fit the prediction of that work very well.

Also the only viable solution to fossil power is ... nuclear power. Obviously.

If America would stop wasting more energy than any other country in the world it would help. A lot. In particular it would help with the argument to China not to follow the same waseful path.

1) we need energy. Lots of it.

We don't need all that we currently use.

2) 2 economically viable options for energy : a) fossil b) nuclear

and all the hybrid systems.

No amount of politics will solve the energy crisis.

There is no energy crisis yet. There is a pollution crisis but there are lots of ways out of that other than changing the source of energy we use totally over to nuclear or renewables. If idiots like you hadn't been holding things back for 30 years it would have been solved by now. There's nothing fundamentally difficult about it. Or, at least, there wasn't.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017060)

Does it really need to be said that saving energy will not help for a decent amount of time ? It will buy us 5, maybe 10 years, yes. But there's no way to tell.

The hybrid systems are in early stages of development. At least 10 years away from large-scale practical use. More likely 20 or 30 years.

For the other arguments, I give up, it's just not worth my time. There is no consensus. The hypothesis "global warming exists" is unproven by decent scientific standards.

We're making a lifestyle choice. (1)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016916)

"Truth :
1) we need energy. Lots of it."

            That's not a 'truth', but a result of choices we made and continue to make.

"Truth :
No amount of politics will solve the energy crisis. Yet all they do is politics."

            Politics is PRECISELY the public process that MIGHT lead to a change in our choices.
It IS the main driver for changes in our infrastructure.

            Pretending that one has no responsibilites in the face of immutable 'truths' is
certainly not going to solve any problems.

Re:Is this about science being apolitical (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016938)

Carbon exhaust is causing climate change. Okay.
1) there is no scientific consensus on this
2) I seriously doubt that consensus will be forthcoming withing less than 10 or 20 years
I assume by "consensus" you mean everybody who calls themselves a "scientist" agrees? I think that will take longer than 10 or 20 years. If you mean the mainstream scientific community, then the consensus has already occurred. You will see people occasionally raise doubts about certain aspects of it, but the base is sound and excess CO2 is defiantly warming the Earth.

When you think about the scales involved (the US alone emits around 1.5 Billion (with a B!) tons of CO2 a year[1]), and the fact that only about half of that gets reabsorbed by the biosphere[2], coupled with the fact that we know CO2 causes a greenhouse effect (this has been replicated in high school science labs), and there really isn't much room for doubt that the Earth is warming due to human influences.

1. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/each- countrys-share-of-co2-emissions.html [ucsusa.org] 2. http://www.john-daly.com/co2-conc/ahl-co2.htm [john-daly.com]

Science is hard to sell (1)

defile (1059) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016490)

Science just doesn't have anything to offer to the average Joe Sixpack.

Getting a definitive answer to anything takes effort, time, and worst of all, intelligence. And not just any intelligence, good intelligence, one that could explain something complex in simple terms that the average Joe Sixpack can understand. And even with all that, important science doesn't always have profit motive.

Without profit motive, the scientific community doesn't stand a chance of competing against all of the other noise makers that can make billions by getting their junk-science-but-profitable messages out there. Unfortunately, Joe Sixpack's going to hear a lot more about the snap crackle and pop of Rice Krispies than he will about the impending snap crackle and popping of his skin as it blisters and sloughs off as the temperature of the earth approaches 1,000 degrees. (Or however this global warming thing is supposed to work; I'm no scienceologist)

bittorrent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016500)

eh. if they are concerned about people watching it, make it free for download and let people bittorrent it.

I am not a poliSci major, but.... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016510)

It seems to me that all big business is incapable of being apolitical. It is politicians that make the laws that help or hinder the processes of big business, so therefore, big business necessarily must be political.

While it is offensive that big oil is trying to shape the minds and hearts of children in school, it is hardly surprising. Did everyone miss the evil masterminds in the James Bond films? Its not like big business is terribly different. Okay, not as destructive, but they are still trying to make more money than anyone of us normal folk can imagine, and to do that it takes some immoral actions.

Having this situation pointed out to everyone should be the call for 'honest' politicians to 'look into the matter' as a part of their responsibility to their constituents... if enough of them care to ask... that is how politics (at least in the US) is supposed to work. If anyone can make an election year issue of it, something might actually get done... /cynical despair

Re:I am not a poliSci major, but.... (0, Troll)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017092)

they are still trying to make more money than anyone of us normal folk can imagine

Yeah, because we know that there are few things more evil than "making money". Oh wait, YOU make more money than "normal folk" in third world countries can imagine. I guess you must be evil.

and to do that it takes some immoral actions.

No, it does not. The vast majority of eeeeeevil big business does not engage in immoral actions (including oil companies) -- unless you think making money is immoral, which you apparently do.

Reminds me of a film about Oil spills from Exxon (4, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016540)

A decade ago while I was in highschool I saw the film believe it or not but the teacher had the courage to tell us that Exxon had invested in the movie before we watched it. It went on how great the ecosystems were and despite the oil spill Alaska had the best salmon catch in history the following spring. THe teacher mentioned that this was an actually bad thing as those on the top of the food chain were negatively affected. Also we all laughed while the film had a diagram of most of the oil evaporating and doing little harm in Valdez. What was bad was that Exxon was not mentioned in the credits at all. Only the wetlands coalition as a major sponsor.

For those who do not know, the wetlands coalition is madeup of oil and gas companies despite the decietful name.

Re:Reminds me of a film about Oil spills from Exxo (4, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016790)

Also we all laughed while the film had a diagram of most of the oil evaporating and doing little harm in Valdez.


Why would you laugh? An oil slick really will evaporate over time. It happens every day in the Gulf of Mexico where oil literally rises to the surface from the sea floor.


Immediately after the laughter, your science teacher could have made the important point that the results of experiments often conflict with what our intuition suggests.

Re:Reminds me of a film about Oil spills from Exxo (2, Informative)

ductonius (705942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016856)

Also we all laughed while the film had a diagram of most of the oil evaporating and doing little harm in Valdez.


That's actually what happens, you know. Most of the lighter fractions of crude oil (the majority of the oil, that is) evaporate very quickly leaving behind the sticky tars and such. One of the most ecologically sound methods of getting rid of an oil spill is to light it up [ec.gc.ca] (since that's what were going do with the oil anyway), but that can't happen after the lighter fractions evaporate since the tars need 'help' to burn.

Can't Be Cool Without Fuel: what about Canada? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016548)

"You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel"? Seems like it gets pretty bloody chilly in places like Canada and Finland in the winter and you get mighty cool if not plain freezing if you don't have any fuel. Damn those oil guys don't know much, do they?

I swear... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016562)

If people just turned out the freaking lights when they left the room, it would cost them essentially zero effort, save them money and make a genuinely useful contribution to the environment, whatever the details of global warming turn out to be. It's like some people can't imagine any useful activity that doesn't involve denouncing someone else.

Inconvenient Truth is convenient bubkis.... (-1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016592)

It's obvious, to me, that this movie is simply a preaching to the choir type of movie. The movie can and does have holes the size of a Mac Truck.

http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ [junkscience.com]

Re:Inconvenient Truth is convenient bubkis.... (0, Redundant)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016726)


Wow, you really need help if you are using junkscience.com as your reference material.

Re:Inconvenient Truth is convenient bubkis.... (5, Informative)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016784)


Just to add and what a cursory review can turn up:

Junkscience.com

The most visible public activity of TASSC [The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) was an tobacco-industry-funded lobby group which promoted the idea that environmental science was "junk science", which should be replaced by "sound science" more favorable to corporate interests] was its support for the Junk Science website run by Steven Milloy, who describes himself as the "Junkman". Milloy denounces research on environmental issues such as climate change, pollution and public health as junk science if it produced results suggesting a need for public intervention or regulation. He promoted the idea of sound science, interpreted in practice to mean science favorable to corporate interests.

Adverse publicity about Milloy's links to Phillip Morris were followed by his departure from the Cato Institute, where he had been an adjunct fellow, at the end of 2005, and the removal of links to junkscience.org from the Cato website. However, Milloy remains influential as the science columnist for Fox News.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advancement_of_Sound_ Science_Center [wikipedia.org]

Not all were the choir (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017012)

I convinced my dad to see the movie, who had previously admitted to being unconvinced on global warming. He told me that it changed his mind - but that he still didn't like Al Gore. Of course, it no doubt helped that my dad is a scientist as well (retired, but with training in computer science and agricultural engineering). And yes, I've told him about junkscience (so aptly named, but not for the reason they think) and the people who were funding it, and let him make up his own mind about that. Not a big surprise that he was able to find the holes in their arguments as easily as I could.

oooh, I have an idea... (2, Funny)

clambake (37702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016624)

Make a documentary about it!

Science? (3, Insightful)

spikev (698637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016628)

I'm not saying they're not right about the NSTA being in Big Oil's pocket, but An Inconvenient Truth didn't have much in the way of science in it as far as hard numbers go. And without numbers, all of Al's pretty graphs don't mean anything. If my body temperature increases .000000001 of a degree, steadily year after year, I don't think it would amount to much. I'm not saying the science in An Inconvient Truth is wrong, it's just that the movie doesn't give any hard numbers to relate it to. I'm sure they're out there, but if I'm a science teacher and I'm going to spend valuable teaching time showing a movie, I want everything to be put together for me.

Feh. If you think the flick has merit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016650)

Sorry for posting AC ...

Buy a few extra copies, distribute to your favorite neice, nephew, son, daughter, cousin, roommates relative twice removed what have you.

I'd say about six to seven year olds should be a good start to see it. I know, young, but its an approachable topic for them, and this can trigger a discussion.

Ignore the zero sum threads of "oil bad, hug a tree". We do have to get energy from somewhere. However, you can impress on them that energy consumption has consequences ( not all bad .. but they are there ).

CO2 is something that you can give concrete examples of, and let them mull over.

But to rapidly summarize, you can get in, and plant barriers to one sided thinking.

Over time, imagine fifty million kids growing up recognizing energy production in its current methods may not be sustainable for lots of reasons, and the changes that would bring would be ... fascinating.

Enjoy !

why be cooperative (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016664)

The MPAA and RIAA continue to fund "copyright" education programs for schools and have been attempting to stronghold "entertainment" taxes to universities across the country. Propaganda is Propaganda, and whether you agree with the message or not, An Inconvenient Truth fits that mold. You cant strongarm and threaten with one hand and expect people to want to shake the other.

Like it or not you do have to have fuel of some sort to be cool. Exxon and other companies have been funding science programs for decades, concidering school budgets these days they are probably one of the saving graces for science in lower education. Sadly Exxon also leads the pack in being the most hardline against the Kyoto Accord and initiatives into alternative energy sources. Its a Convenient Lie however to ommit the other members while focusing on Exxon. Other companies in the American Petroleum Institute such as BP however are strongly researching alternatives such as wind farms and have gone so far as to publicly admit that fossil fuels are a huge contributor to the problem.

This isn't new..... (4, Informative)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016670)

.... Seriously folks, there have been big corporations and governments trying to influence the way schools go with everything from computers to food. Advertising brought into schools to get kids to buy things. Special interest groups spending money on things schools need to get a new generation of consumers interested in them.

Try:


* Discounts from Apple, Microsoft, etc on computers (I'd link, but I'm going to go with this as a given...)
* Coca-Cola [commercialalert.org]
* Book It (Pizza Hut) [bookitprogram.com]
* A growing trend of commercialization of sporting events and buildings [asu.edu]
* Large amounts of money being spent by religious lobbies to support Creationist teachings in schools....
* Large amounts of money being spent to promote evolution as a science teaching in schools
* Politicians getting involved in the above 2 items
* Politics derailing attempts to get anything done about improvments in materials and course work [toledoblade.com] .

Where there is money and future political mindsets involved, people will spare no amount of money and/or stupidity on all sides of a debate. It's really too bad that politics and ideology wars have to get in the way of doing what schools should be doing, give the kids the ability to think for themselves instead of telling them what to think.

Clean Coal (0, Troll)

KingNaught (718536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016684)

Energy Company Propaganda reminds me of that commerical with the little girl wanting to tell us more about clean coal technology. I've never wanted to punch a girl in my life before I watched that commerical. We have green alternatives to fosil fuels but the truth is were all selfish, lazy, bastards who want everything cheap and easy. And while we probably won't pay the price, our great grandchildren will curse our names for ruining their world for them.

Question about 'inconvenient truth' marketing... (5, Insightful)

doug141 (863552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016696)

A week ago slashdot had a story about the inconvenient truth DVD was out, and to go buy it, and about how noble Gore is. I realized, the movie was in theaters first, then the DVD came out, and it hasn't been on tv yet. Isn't that how you maximize profits from a movie? If I was all noble and I made a movie I genuinely felt people needed to see to save the earth, wouldn't I just give it to PBS on day 1?

Pro-big oil apologism (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016752)

It's not right that all science teaching is geared to the environemntal message. Yes, the Big Oil companies have done some questionable things, but the nature of our society is that we debate these points. The environmental lobby is hardly a tiny group of zealots these days, and it's not like they're totally without blame for spreading misleading propaganda. We should not allow all our science information to come from any single source. And there's some truth to what the oil conmpanies say. For good or bad, oil is essential to our society. Cars need it to run. Most machines will stop working without oil based lubricants. Oil is used for all sorts of purposes.

There can even be some largely apolitical justification for oil companies to be sponsoring science education. They are the largest employers of geologists, and oil probably account for a substantial portion of professional chemists. It's simply in their direct commercial interests to fund science. And if they do this, it's a good thing for everyone.

Likewise, with the lobbying against environmentla regulations - The adversarial system is not limited to the courts any more. Should politicians enact any and all possible environmental legislation no matter how small the effect without any concern at all for the costs to the oil industry?

2 comments (2, Insightful)

SageinaRage (966293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016760)

Two things I was thinking of while reading this:

1. By passing on some free material, I wonder whether the teachers are trying to promote having a single 'correct' view on things, as opposed to showing multiple different views, to show both differences of opinion, as well as differences in research. This to me seems pretty dangerous, as it makes the assumption that one thing is definitely 'correct'.

2. The author of the article's main problem seems to be that the movie isn't being accepted despite being OBVIOUSLY right. It's this attitude of smug correctness, even when from what I can tell global warming is not universally accepted even among scientists, which hurts their position.

Re:2 comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016978)

Global warming is fact not theory!!! It was proven by the fact that this years hurricane season was the worst in recorded history just like Al Gore said it would be.

Environmentalism has become anti-science (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016824)

Allow me for one to say that I am sick of the "Christians are anti-science" bullshit that the left loves to harp on while giving the environmental movement a free pass. You will notice, if you are honest, that the areas where even the most fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible conflict with modern scientific work are in areas that Christians have an **ethical** objection to the way that life is manipulated or ended or in how things came to be on some level. The environmental movement on the other hand is generally wildly antagonistic to everything from GM foods to many promising alternative energy sources to nanotechnology.

If there is any group that can be called anti-human, anti-science, it is the "true believer" segment of the environmental movement. No other politically active group is so thoroughly terrified of every promising area of research and development, so violent in opposing science (animal rights groups bombing research labs, for example) and so quick to limit the quality of life of the majority of the human race.

Woohoo, corruption for everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17016840)

Wow, vicious capitalists in one industry are mad at vicious capitalists in another industry known for buying out politicians for exercising political clout. Hold the presses!

Is it good? No. Is it unexpected? Certainly not. Is it newsworthy? Depends; do you enjoy reading about people who push their agenda on others and complain when it doesn't work? Do you find that interesting or enlightening? I guess I don't.

That she'd be surprised at this or think she could get anywhere by arguing it is ridiculous. Scientists take funding from anyone who will give it; that they allow themselves to be extorted into professing skewed viewpoints (or, worst case, reaching skewed conclusions) is a product of human stupidity, specifically allowing yourself or your organization to develop a dependency on funds from biased entities when you KNOW you are supposed to work and produce in an apolitical, unbiased manner.

Science in general, just like the average computer, appears to be experiencing user error.

Nothing to see here; move along, children (2, Insightful)

Paladin144 (676391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016848)

There's certainly nothing to be concerned about here. Sure, the increasing prevalence of corporate influence in every sector of our lives is astonishing -- astonishingly profitable. That's why the economy is in such great shape -- because we let the corporations do whatever they want. Look how far it's gotten us! We've got highly edumacated students, a brilliant president and a society that values truth... as long as it doesn't get in the way of profit, which is how things should be!

The omnipresence of major corporations is not a bad thing -- it makes things so much better. Imagine if we didn't give corporations the keys to our kingdom. Who would be in charge then? People? Voters?! Pshaw! We need the benevolent hand of Wall Street to guide us to the promised land of low, low prices.

Now, let's all rejoice in Big Oil's concern for the welfare of our children. It's obvious that they know what's best for us, and they obviously have our best interests at heart! After all, they are oil men, and oil men are the most caring, compassionate and kind people ever to walk this green earth (although they actually hover a few inches off the ground).

It is a blessing that corporations care for us so much that they intervene in our daily lives. We can only hope that they will one day bring their bounty to slashdot.

____________________
This post brought to you by the Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft loves you. Microsoft made Vista from little bits of love and crafted it into a generous helping of goodness, just for you. Microsoft makes operating systems just like your mother used to. Microsoft cares about your bits. Microsoft would like a few minutes alone with your children. Buy Vista!

Environmentalism as Religion (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016894)

This is a good read about environmentalism as a religion, a speech by Michael Crichton to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in 2005.

Before the crowd starts jumping up and down, his speech contains errors. So does An Inconvenient Truth. But his theme has merit - science should stand alone whereas Al Gore asks people to pray for environmental change.

We really need to teach schoolchildren facts, the skills to consider and weigh evidence, and enough wisdom to know when someone is blowing smoke up their dresses. An Inconvenient Truth isn't the right tool for scientific education, though it's a great propaganda piece, artfully assembled, and gets some things right. A proper school curriculum can cover all of the things Gore gets right, and then the things that he's omitted for 'time', e.g. solar activity and global warming on other planets, the effect of water vapor on the greenhouse effect, natural cycles of warming/cooling, etc..

Let's not assume our children are too dumb to learn about science or think like scientists.

They can then spend some time teaching the children about ways to conserve resources, get towards carbon-neutral economies, and cut back on their own energy uses. These things will have real environmental and economic benefits but only millions of small impacts, no big splashes which work out nicely for Big-Media political coverage.

The conspiracy theorists are going to have a heck of a time, though, reconciling the fact that the NEA isn't lapping up the film from a guy who will be a Democratic contender in '08.

Fixed link. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016934)

sigh.... <a ref doesn't work as well as <a href [crichton-official.com] .

Using the Preview button this time...

First step: No commercial donations to politics (1)

Bou (630753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016926)

Regardless of the viewpoint, is it even possible that science can remain apolitical?
A first step would be to disallow political parties taking money from corporations. I know this is what US politics is based on, but still, the rest of the world calls that corruption, or at least a conflict of interest... Political parties should never change their ideas or decisions to those of the highest bidder.

Science ? Apolitical ?!?! Has it EVER been ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016928)

Even in times when discoveries exploded in late 1800s, it was a matter of 'national' pride and s/he who got sponsored by governments got the boon and get their names on history annals.

today its even worse with all the private colleges, funded universities, 'foundations', and government projects about.

Science has grown to be an extension of the governing body, just like church was in older times - they are now telling us what to believe, what to not.

Little Environmentalists (5, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016936)

When I graduated high school years ago, our Chemistry II class used a college-level textbook. The education I got from that class was good enough that I sailed through freshman Chemistry in college.

The year after I graduated, I went back to visit a few teachers I considered to be friends, including the chemistry teacher. She told me with some disgust that the school board had decided to replace the chemistry textbooks for both Chem I and II, and she handed me one of the books so I could see what the problem was. Instead of college-prep chemistry, most of the textbook was filled with text and pictures (rather than equations and homework problems) about protecting the environment. The quality of the actual chemistry education provided in that book was so low that I suspected that many students would have insufficient background for their freshman-level chemistry classes they'd be taking next year.

In other words, Big Oil isn't the only lobbying group that attempts to influence high school education.

No. (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016954)

it even possible that science can remain apolitical?
Highly unlikely. A lot of science has been mired in politics or religion. The earth going around the sun; The earth being flat; Contraceptives; Stem cell research. Science is part of culture and it has to interact with it accordingly. It will never escape from politics or religion - and I'm not certain that it should.

when i was a kid (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016988)

As a kid in the 80s, I learned all sorts of fun non-fact in science class. I learned when I grow up, I will live on a land-fill unless I stop throwing things away and recycle EVERYTHING. I learned that as an adult, I would have to wear sunblock all day long or else I would die of cancer because the ozone would be completely gone. I learned some stupid social darwinism/organism-based model for evolution which was quite wrong in light of selfish-gene theory.

As an adult, I learned that predictions which assume current trends never change are almost always wrong, and should not be taught to children. I also learned that K-12 science teachers don't really know or care enough about science to have a right teaching it.

Take the damn movies! (1)

McGregorMortis (536146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17016994)

If the oil people decide to cut your funding because of it, then on their conciences be it. I'm sure the organization can survive without it.

Conversely, if you refuse to show this movie soley out of fear of losing oil-industry funding, then remove the word "Science" from your name, since your motivations clearly have little to do with Science.

Slashdot misleading.. (1)

kryptomaniac (319301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017010)

"The Washington Post makes things out to be less than above board:"

Turns out if you read the article, this is IN NO WAY the Washington Post's view. The Slashdot summary implies that the Washington Post "NEWS" paper is making this statement. This is not from the news section, but an opinion piece written from an interested party, printed in full.

The little girl in the coal commercials... (1)

mrfett (610302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017014)

Does anyone else gag when they see that commercial touting the beauty of burning coal, using a little girl to sell the premise? Our country is run by energy companies. To deny it is tantamount to denying Iraq is in a civil war. Until people start voting, expect more of the same.

Another 'Inconvenient Truth' (1, Insightful)

WileyC (188236) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017084)

...unlike the movie, however, this is actually based on facts.

Global warming does exist... on Mars. And, in fact, on every body in the solar system that we can measure accurately including the Earth. Polar ice caps are melting that aren't terrestrial. Until people realize that whatever human beings are doing to the atmosphere is not and cannot be the whole story, then the "It's all our fault!" environmental movement is bankrupt both morally and intellectually.

Here's some other Inconvenient Truths...
* DDT is not very dangerous to the environment
* One of the founders of Greenpeace supports nuclear power
* The Kyoto Treaty exempts some of the biggest carbon polluters of all

Politics, Science and Money... Love em mmm mm good (1)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017130)

So troll me now, you won't like what I have to say...

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a very political movie. If it wasn't, why is it presented and narrated by a Politician? Not a scientist, not someone who would actually have facts... but a guy who's job has been for the last 30 years to spin ANY news or ideas in the favor of his point of view.

So what's the problem with "Big Oil" donating money to teachers? Last time I checked, teachers were underpaid and schools underfunded. So, we have some organizations willing to give money to help out in our failing schools, and all the lefties complain. Where are the lefties donations? If they donated as much, or more than, "Big Oil" to such funds, then this wouldn't even be a discussion.

So do such organizations have the right to "protect" their funding sources? YES! Is it political? YES! Is "An Inconvient Truth" all fact? No, it's fact mixed in with a bunch of hypothesis, because in reality, no one really knows. What happened to that horrible hurricane season we were supposed to have this year... all the scientists told us it would happen... but yet it didn't!

Twenty years ago science told us we're entering an ice age... today we're "warming"... tomorrow? Who knows! Let's face it, most "science" relies on government funding. If, as a scientist, you say 'well, everything is as expected' or 'well, everything looks okay' then you don't get the next federal grant, because you just said everything was okay. So, you fudge the numbers, you make up things, and say 'ooooh this looks bad, I need to do more research' and the grant money continues to roll in. You write a few papers, get published a few times, do some talks making $10,000 per speech... and drive around in your brand new 7-series. All that doesn't happen when you say, 'I've spent the last 5 years to tell you everything is OK'.

Doesn't Big Oil Need Scientists? (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017132)

I am not at all surprised that "Big Oil" gives so much money to such organizations. After all, they need scientists, don't they? Aren't scientists - or at least Chemical Engineers - the ones who design and test petroleum cracking processes?

Seems like a big conspiracy theory to me.

Why expect apolitical? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17017148)

People are political creatures. It is foolish to pretend otherwise. Science _is_ political, but has anarbitration mechanism (physical proof). That is not the same as fundamentally apolitical.

Al Gore is nothing if not political. I'm disturbed by many advocates of Global Warming since they often do not adress the objections of their opponents with facts, but more often appeals to authority.

And aren't the shareholders of Exxon entitled to freedom of association (into Exxon) and freedom of speech as that association? If their lies are flagrant, they must be easily disprovable.

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