Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Do You Even Science, Bro?

 

As religious belief loses steam in the western world, people must look elsewhere for ways to flex their moral superiority muscles. After all, without a core belief to espouse, you look rather silly while standing on a soap box. Sure, your primary reasons for occupying the pedestal are to feel good about yourself while simultaneously letting those around you know how awesome you are, but pretext can be important for one’s self-image.

An unfortunate side effect of this impulse has been the politicization of the sciences. Rather than treating human knowledge as incomplete and ever evolving, many have chosen to treat scientists as a priestly cast, from which all decisions in life should be primarily informed. Many scientists balk at this role, while others embrace it. The Union of Concerned Scientists wants to know if you’ve got Science, and they provide a handy quiz in order to be sure. As a fun exercise, I thought we might take this as a group.

q1

As one of the dozen or so human beings on the planet who has wasted a portion of their lives actually reading the IPCC’s reports, I actually know the answer to this one.

In many temperate countries, there is clear seasonal variation in mortality (Sakamoto-Momiyama, 1977; Khaw, 1995; Laake and Sverre, 1996); death rates during the winter season are 10-25% higher than those in the summer. Several studies indicate that decreases in winter mortality may be greater than increases in summer mortality under climate change (Langford and Bentham, 1995; Martens, 1997; Guest et al., 1999).

I clearly Science, Bro. Global Warming will likely save lives on the net. Who doesn’t like it hot? Let’s see our result.

q1a

Wait, who’s ALEC? I’ve never even heard of them. I’m quoting the UN panel that studies climate change. They won the Nobel prize along with Al Gore. Don’t tell me they are in the pocket of big oil too!

q2

This feels like cheating, but I can clearly see one report features a Michael Mann-style hockey stick increase in temperatures on the cover, while the other shows a murkier picture of temperature fluctuations. Since the government can’t justify intrusive policies in our everyday lives without a crisis, I’m going to say the right one is the government report.

q2a

Did they type out the word “sigh?” Do you even English, bro?

The report on the left was created by the Cato institute (Koch! Billionaire! Oil! Heretic!), and has been criticized as trying to confuse the public by masquerading as a government report. The same public that cannot name the vice president of the United States is supposedly aware enough of government environmental reporting to be deceived by the similar appearance and title of the Cato report.

What does Cato have to say in its defense?

The front cover of our report, smack in the middle of the page it says “Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute.” That’s deceptive or misleading? The back cover is completely blank except for the prominent Cato Institute logo. There is a letter of introduction (p. 3 in both documents) written and signed by (then) Cato President Edward Crane. And “The Cato Institute” is included in the running header of every left-hand page in the document.

Likely story, Koch heads, but what about your “dubious” sources?

Both reports draw primarily from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. That our report includes a large number of peer-reviewed studies directly relevant to climate change impacts in the United States that were not included in the USGCRP report, and which support a more modest impact, in and of itself speaks volumes. Instead of quibbling over the number of references, the USGCRP co-authors ought to be apologizing profusely for producing such an incomplete and one-sided report on the taxpayers’ dime.

q3

Though I fail to see where this Union of Concerned Scientists are going with this question, there is only one answer for any human being with a beating heart in their chest: Please let this be true!

q3a

Just so I’m clear, this text book isn’t used in any charter schools, but “materials” from the same publisher are? Do any of the materials actually used have anything objectionable in them? I assume if they had, you would have referenced that instead. This criticism appears to be a guilt-by-association fallacy. Do you even logic, bro?

q4

I’ve seen higher estimates than 30 million acres, so I have little doubt that 30 million is a reasonable number.

q4a

What this union of scientists seem unconcerned with is the human lives affected if we were to stop cutting down trees.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture. Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation; logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation and fuel wood removals make up 5% of deforestation.[9]

Monsters. Cutting down trees for food and heat. Why can’t you just die, and ensure that temperatures don’t increase by minuscule amounts over the span of centuries?

q5

It is fun to tear apart overly generalized comments about an otherwise valid point, isn’t it?

q5a

The UCS is technically correct (the best kind of correct) in this answer. Of course natural gas has emissions when burned. What our scientist friends have neglected to mention is that burning natural gas results in about half the carbon emissions of coal. U.S. carbon emissions are down largely because of increased use of natural gas.

But by all means, please allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

score

Good news everyone: You can defend science with bumper sticker slogans. I was afraid it might be something hard like reading the opinions of those who disagree with you and considering their arguments in good faith.

There are 25 comments.

  1. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    If the amount of climate change in the 20th century is within the standard deviation for all centuries, how can that change be labeled as anthropomorphic?

    • #1
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:08 PM PDT
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  2. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It’s poetry in motion … Science!

    • #2
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:13 PM PDT
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  3. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I think I know where to stick my free “Got Science” sticker.

    • #3
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:17 PM PDT
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  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Frank,

    This all about ‘peer review’. The Union of Concerned Scientists have a new peer group that they intend to convince with their arguments. Here is a leading journal in which they publish their reviews articles.

    Tiger Beat

    One might ask just what the Union of Concerned Scientists is concerned about?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:18 PM PDT
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  5. Done Contributor
    Done

    I worry I may have made an error in failing to capitalize the S in science. What does the Ricochet style guide say? I don’t want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

    • #5
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:33 PM PDT
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  6. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Can’t We all just COEXIST?

    • #6
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:35 PM PDT
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  7. Hammer, The Member

    wonderful that we can summarize “science” in only 5 simple questions… does a perfect score get you an honorary science degree, or just the same ripoff milk-slogan in sticker form?

    • #7
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:45 PM PDT
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  8. :thinking: no superfluity of n… Member
    :thinking: no superfluity of n… Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Science is only Science if it comes from the right(eous) sources. Oil companies in particular know nothing about Science. I mean, come on, how Science-y do you have to be to dig stuff out of the ground? The Clampetts did it, after all.

    • #8
    • March 26, 2015, at 3:49 PM PDT
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  9. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    What does science say the alternative is? Seriously. Are we to cram every human being into cities and huddle together for warmth within walking distance of Whole Paycheck Foods and where we labor for the good of society rather for our own selfish ends? How exactly are the peasants supposed to get out to the fields to grow the arugula?

    • #9
    • March 26, 2015, at 4:25 PM PDT
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  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We Southerners put the Si in Science.

    Si-ence

    • #10
    • March 26, 2015, at 4:57 PM PDT
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  11. Hammer, The Member

    TheRoyalFamily:Science is only Science if it comes from the right(eous) sources. Oil companies in particular know nothing about Science. I mean, come on, how Science-y do you have to be to dig stuff out of the ground? The Clampetts did it, after all.

    hah! yes, that is such a perfect point… Of course oil companies hire brilliant scientists. They don’t count because they are self-interested, you see? Profit is a magic word that means everything you say is invalid by mere association. Real scientists, you know, the sort who only have to worry about tenure and publication and speaking gigs and … oh, wait … no, I mean public servant scientists who work for the government and don’t get paid for their work … crap … I mean scientists who get grants from democrats in congre… dangit… What I mean to say is Koch Brothers!!

    • #11
    • March 26, 2015, at 5:05 PM PDT
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  12. iDad Inactive

    They don’t understand that stunts like these undermine the respect and confidence informed people used to have for science and scientists.

    • #12
    • March 26, 2015, at 5:33 PM PDT
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  13. Dietlbomb Inactive

    So for question 2, a corporate report is evidence of anti-science bias, but for question 4, a corporate report is pro-science?

    • #13
    • March 26, 2015, at 6:06 PM PDT
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  14. The Reticulator Member

    When government and the news media provide revolving-door employment for each other, that enhances the credibility of both institutions. True or False.

    • #14
    • March 26, 2015, at 6:14 PM PDT
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  15. Cow Girl Thatcher

    What astonishes me about the controversy over what is “science,” is an apparent lack of understanding of the scientific method. We were taught to respect that method in elementary school about fifty years ago. Scientists are always experimenting and continually finding out new things. The LAST thing that science should be labeled is “settled.” After high school, I got married and had five kids. Then, I finally went to college and got a degree, and it was about 25 years after I’d graduated from high school. During those college years, I encountered concepts that “science” had found new evidence for, that altered what I’d been taught previously. And that idea–that things can change in science—was not revolutionary.

    So, what in the world is going on now?

    • #15
    • March 26, 2015, at 6:22 PM PDT
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  16. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dietlbomb:So for question 2, a corporate report is evidence of anti-science bias, but for question 4, a corporate report is pro-science?

    Hey, this is a test of science, not logic. You’ll never get a “Got Science” bumper sticker with that attitude.

    • #16
    • March 26, 2015, at 6:40 PM PDT
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  17. The Reticulator Member

    Cow Girl:

    So, what in the world is going on now?

    Power corrupts. These people are on the side that has the money and power to force its way. They don’t need to use science or reason to convince people. They have other methods at their disposal, so they can use the word “science” to cover some very unscientific behavior.

    • #17
    • March 26, 2015, at 6:46 PM PDT
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  18. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tommy De Seno:If the amount of climate change in the 20th century is within the standard deviation for all centuries, how can that change be labeled as anthropomorphic?

    Because Mother Earth is angry with us for our capitalism, not to mention right-to-work laws and the gender wage gap.

    • #18
    • March 26, 2015, at 7:25 PM PDT
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  19. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    He’s Dick to the Dawk to the Ph.D.
    He’s smarter than you, he’s got a science degree!

    • #19
    • March 27, 2015, at 12:32 AM PDT
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  20. CuriousKevmo Member

    This thread reminds me of the old SNL skit with Phil Hartmann…..”So, professor, gold is long and thin, like Kareem Abdul Jabbar”.

    • #20
    • March 27, 2015, at 5:44 AM PDT
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  21. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Frank Soto: Do You Even Science, Bro?

    By the way, please stop verbing nouns.

    • #21
    • March 27, 2015, at 8:25 AM PDT
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  22. Hammer, The Member

    CuriousKevmo:This thread reminds me of the old SNL skit with Phil Hartmann…..”So, professor, gold is long and thin, like Kareem Abdul Jabbar”.

    I end every argument in court with “but what do I know? I’m just a caveman…”

    • #22
    • March 27, 2015, at 11:38 AM PDT
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  23. Mare Pete Coolidge
    Mare Pete Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TheRoyalFamily:Science is only Science if it comes from the right(eous) sources. Oil companies in particular know nothing about Science. I mean, come on, how Science-y do you have to be to dig stuff out of the ground? The Clampetts did it, after all.

    I’ve always said that the surest sign that the warmageddonists are losing is that they break out the ad hominems pre-emptively.

    • #23
    • March 27, 2015, at 4:59 PM PDT
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  24. Pepe LePew Inactive

    James Gawron,

    The Union of Concerned Scientists used to have their Doomsday Clock on how close nuclear proliferation was bringing us to disaster. If a Republican president was sowing seeds of nuclear weapon demand all over the middle east they would be screaming in fear. Because a Democrat does it, there’s nothing about it on their website. Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize is a shield to such accusations!

    • #24
    • March 28, 2015, at 5:47 PM PDT
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  25. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Pepe LePew:James Gawron,

    The Union of Concerned Scientists used to have their Doomsday Clock on how close nuclear proliferation was bringing us to disaster. If a Republican president was sowing seeds of nuclear weapon demand all over the middle east they would be screaming in fear. Because a Democrat does it, there’s nothing about it on their website. Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize is a shield to such accusations!

    I believe it’s the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who wind the Doomsday Clock. They moved it ahead to three minutes ’till midnight this January.

    • #25
    • March 29, 2015, at 4:09 AM PDT
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