Compare and Contrast

After getting the Earth around the Sun thing wrong, 
the Vatican’s science advisors have raised their game 
and could run LAPS around Obama’s science advisors.

Dr. J. got into an email row with one of his childhood chum, Diogenes, who lost it over Marco Rubio’s less than articulate answers to a knuckle-ball of a question thrown by interview Michael Hainey of GQ magazine  about the age of the Earth. A question, mind you, that was presented out of context and outside the linear flow of the interview. When you read the interview, it comes across as out of nowhere. Now this friend ostensibly comes across center-right most of the time, but he is one of those regimented empiricists whose political leanings are driven by intellectual honesty rather than a clear cut ideology. Diogenes votes the man, not the party. He was hacked off because Rubio is someone who has a vote on the NIH/NSF and NASA budget and gave he appearance that he doesn’t believe in science (geology, cosmology). He also intimated, but did not state outright that he falls for the classic Democrat trap that Democrats are pro-science and science informed while Republicans are backwards Luddites who don’t understand teh sciunz.

Mr. Rubio has since clarified his comments. The author of the Forbes article about his clarification opined about it pro and con:

Pro:

To be honest, I’d encourage you to watch the video. I was impressed – I thought his answer was forthright and interesting. In particular, I appreciated that he stated, “Now for me, actually, when it comes to the age of the earth, there is no conflict. I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And I think that scientific advances have given us insight into when he did it and how he did it, but I still believe God did it.” 

I’m sure that’s going to raise some guff with some more militant atheists out there, but I think that there’s a real wisdom in reconciling one’s religious faith and the teachings of science. They address two separate fields of inquiry. Science is about logos – the facts about the world we live in. But religion is about mythos – the truths about how we should live in this world.

Con:

That said, while I appreciated Rubio’s comments, I still take issue with his statement in GQ that “I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow.” As a stated in my previous essay about Rubio’s remarks, scientific inquiry has a great deal to do with the the economy and the world around us. I’m glad that Rubio, who sits on the Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, recognizes the importance of science and doesn’t see it as the enemy of his religion. But I’m still concerned that he doesn’t understand the connection between scientific inquiry and our future economic growth.

Now Dr. J. will not rehash the discussion but the point that came across was that politicians that understand science are important to Diogenes. Dr. J. never finished the email thread because got too busy, but an article today at National Review Online shows that Democrats either don’t understand, or more likely, don’t care about science when it is inconvenient to their agenda.

In this NRO article, the Department of the Interior sacrificed 30+ jobs and a family business that leased National Park lands on the altar of their false god, Big Government under the ruse that the local environment is in jeopardy if this oyster business were permitted to continue.

They write:

Corey Goodman, a 61-year-old professor emeritus at Stanford and Berkeley, is an animated man. He’s a brilliant, much-lauded scientist with an impressive résumé that spans the academic, private, and public sectors, and he has a talent for explaining complicated scientific studies simply, gesturing often to emphasize his points. After being elected in the 1990s to the National Academy of Sciences, Goodman became interested in science and public policy, chairing the Board of Life Sciences. He has long expressed his commitment to putting science before politics. 

In 2007 Goodman received a phone call from Steve Kinsey, a member of the Marin County board of supervisors. Kinsey told him of the Park Service’s allegations of environmental damage from a small oyster farm with an otherwise impeccable reputation, then he asked Goodman to fact-check the government’s claims. Goodman agreed, reviewed the data, and attended a public hearing on Drakes Bay Oyster Co. He had never met the Lunnys, but he was appalled at what he heard from the Park Service officials. Their statements completely conflicted with what Goodman had found. 

“I sat and listened to the Park Service that day make the most incredible claims,” he tells National Review Online. “We hadn’t heard exaggeration,” Goodman recalls. “We’d heard things that were simply not true.” 

His interest piqued, Goodman embarked on what became a five-year examination of the Interior Department and National Park Service studies of the oyster farm. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Goodman says. “It’s a stunning misuse of science by our federal government. . . . They have spent a huge amount of money trying to find harm when it doesn’t exist. . . . The Park Service was determined to get rid of the oyster farm, and they simply made [the environmental damage] up. . . . These people aren’t following the data. They’re following a predetermined agenda.”

In other words, Interior is suffering from confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when you are so set that your hypothesis (educated guess) is correct that your experimental design and data interpretation are biased towards your hypothesis. Sometimes this is done maliciously, but in the scientific community it is typically done because of more innocent hubris.

Dr. J. suspects the Obama administration falls into the former category. They have their policies they wish to enforce (capping emissions, protecting endangered species, clean air/water/land to the point where the outdoors is cleaner than an OR, sticking it to the petroleum industry, etc…), and will cherry pick the data that suits their needs and ignore exculpatory data.

While the bulk of this is with regard to the environment it applies to other areas of science as well. For example, it is an established and reproducible scientific fact (more so than how old the Earth is or how the Universe is, which are data collected through observation rather than through experimentation, by and large), that a unique, individual life begins at conception. That scientific fact is ignored with regard to the protection of the rights those individuals do or do not enjoy. Rather than make hard decisions in the face of fact, the left stick their heads in the sand and sing “LA LA LA” at the top of their lungs arguing that a human zygote, embryo, fetus, and even inconveniently born child’s biological status is not as important as a (voting age) woman’s right to choose.

They also ignore science when it comes to the economy. The Laffer Curve is as close to a scientific fact as you can have in the social sciences. Dr. J. learned about it in high school Marxist American History and in Ivy University’s Econ 101, from a very famous economist. The argument Dr. J. had with his high school teacher was not whether it existed or not, but where we sat on it. Obama, on the other hand would reject increased revenues from tax cuts because he wants to stick it to the man. Ask Charlie Gibson about that.

So Dr. J. would rather support someone who’s scientific foibles do not necessarily affect policy (with a caveat from the Forbes Author), than someone who ignores science on an anti-economic and anti-life crusade towards a brave new world with less freedom and less prosperity.

About Dr. J.

Dr. J. was born the son of a New Atlantean sharecropper who cornered the market on notoriously delicious seaweed Himanthalia elongata (popularly known as Thongweed). With his newly minted seaweed fortune, Mr. J. the Elder sent his son to attend the Academy of Sorcery, Alchemy and Surgery where the good doctor apprenticed with the finest sorcerer surgeons in New Atlantis.Dr. J.'s areas of expertise grew to include bleeding, cutting for stone, trephination, medical divination with outstanding spatial and temporal resolution, cybernetic sorcery and medicinal alchemy. When King Orin of Atlantis fell ill with the Ick, Dr. J. stepped in with an elixir he devised from a combination of minerals, herbs and saps. Curing the king, Dr. J. gained significant notoriety which afforded him the luxury of time to devote himself to his side hobbies which include porpoise racing, the study of supply-side economics, cooking and raising his lovely merchildren alongside his lovely bride the archconservative Mrs. Dr. J.

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