Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The only sentence you need to read.

"In recent years, the politicization of science by the left has become a serious problem."


stella said...

Wow. that guy cites a whopping three examples of lefty-biased scientific studies. If thats a 'serious problem' for the powerline guys, they've got some pretty thin skin.
And yet Chris Mooney has written a whole book on how the GOP has messed around with science to suit their party line. I think the outrage belongs firmly to us in this regard.

M@ said...

I think you're missing the point, Stella. You see, Chris Mooney, for all his "facts" and "research", is critical of the reigning authority in the USA. That means he's a leftie. That means he is not to be trusted, and we can safely ignore his book.

On the other hand, the Powerline guys are of unimpeachible trustworthiness, and they've given us three examples. Therefore, they are correct.

Simple, see?

Adam said...

Careful, Stella - you shouldn't concede that these were "lefty-biased" studies.

I'm unfamiliar with the context, but the stem cell example is almost certainly simple fraud on the part of the researchers. To believe otherwise you have to buy into the thesis that promoting embryonic stem cell research is somehow a left-wing political goal. Or at least that Science should subject its manuscripts to Fumento's "ethical superiority" test.

The global warming example (another mysteriously "lefty" issue) presents a quandry. Why did they only use 35 years of data? How could anyone find out? Fumento's hoping you don't actually read the paper
(href="http://tinyurl.com/zc873). It's two pages long, and you have to read almost to the end to hit this:

"We deliberately limited this study to the satellite era because of the known biases before this period"

And also this:
"attribution of the 30-year trends to global warming would require a longer global data record"

As for the Lancet study, it never claimed to enumerate civilians killed by the war, but rather the increase in overall mortality rates since the war began. However, I love how bin Laden is somehow an expert in the Iraq casualty count...

I guess there was left-wing bias in these studies in that they were carried out by scientists and not political hacks...

Simon said...

The Lancet study was absolutely not "lefty-based", and it's a shame that such a rigorously executed and peer-reviewed scientific study has been essentially rejected out of hand by the uninformed Western media, just because the resultant death toll "seems high".

Adam, I agree with your sentiments but the results of the Lancet study do suggest that the increase in mortality is mostly attributable to the invasion. A quote from the Lancet authors: "Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths."

This of course doesn't reduce the validity of the report at all, which is why I think that progressive thinkers should stop making excuses for the report and not be afraid to quote from it. I notice even progressive bloggers everywhere mention only "thousands" or occasionally "tens of thousands" of Iraqi deaths because they fear that if they mention "hundreds of thousands" of excess deaths than they won't be seen as credible.

The Lancet was, at the surrounding time, one of something like 6 unique studies on body count. Its results showed something like the third or second highest totals. Iraqi Body Count was by far the lowest (which isn't surprising since by its own admission is a rock-bottom estimate, the misleading "minimum" and "maximum" counts notwithstanding).

I say it's time that progressive thinkers stop making excuses for the Lancet just because the numbers "seem high", and start treating it for what it is - a valid, scientific study using time-honoured methods. People have tried to take it down since it came out, but there have been no successful attempts (lots of critiques, all of which have been addressed by the authors and fellow scientists). And yet the right wing noise machine has still managed to convince everyone that the Lancet is discredited. Unbelievable.

Some recommended reading, just a taste (Parts I & II):



Simon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon said...

Sorry, the links didn't work. Let me try again:



stella said...

adam- I used 'lefty-biased' in the same way they did, and I fully agree with you. I, in no way, meant to agree that these studies somehow have political ideology driving their outcomes.... my point was to simply note that powerline gave three whole examples, whereas there is far more evidence on the other 'side',if you will, of this issue.

GoodGrief said...

Science - politicized? Never say never, and quite frankly, in my 56 years on this earth, I have never seen such an attack on science as I have in the past 6 years. Yes, there is faux science, used by politicians to further their own ends, but this has become an all out assault on the foundations of scientific study. If it doesn't fit the current political agenda, then can it, and if you can't can it, then smear it. A typical rovian agenda to support a corrupt agenda and misdirect us poor uneducated folks.
Choice between a doctoral scientific researcher who is non partisan and a politician who needs to get elected....hmmm, which one should I believe?

Rolf said...

Well said goodgrief ... I couln't agree with you more! They will either ignore or twist scientific findings in an attempt to satiate their appetite for money and power ... and they will never be satisfied.