Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ur Doing it Wrong!

First let me apologize to readers. The title of this blog entry is inspired in part by having read way too many of Abbie Smith’s blog entries. I am slightly infected by Lolcatese.

Now, who is doing it wrong and what is it? “Who” is Alaska’s legislators and “it” is science. Alaska’s legislators have decided that they are unhappy with the idea that polar bears might be endangered by global warming. Thus, they want to hire scientists to conduct a study that says otherwise. Newsflash to Alaska: Science doesn’t work that way. You don’t conduct studies with a specific result in mind, working towards that result.

Now, in the past when science has been inconvenient, groups have tried to quietly hire people who were nominally scientists to say otherwise. Tobacco companies conducted studies dismissing the dangers of cigarettes. Oil companies conducted studies dismissing the danger of global warming. There are many other examples. These all pretended to be serious, independent scientific studies.

This Alaskan situation is unique in that no attempt is being made to hide the motivation or the desired result of the study. So here’s my question: Are the Alaskan legislators so ignorant that they don’t understand how science works? Or have anti-science attitudes become so prevalent that it has now become acceptable to engage in blatant junk science in full view? Or is the Alaska legislature so full of chutzpah that they just don’t care?

Regardless of the cause, we should all be filled with outrage at this sort of behavior. This is the logical result of the continuing war on science. Groups on both the left and the right have repeatedly tried to pass their propaganda as science. Now, educated adults in positions of power cannot even tell the difference between science and advocacy.


Ian said...

Proper lolcatese would probably be "Rongz", wouldn't it? :)

Joshua said...

Google seems to agree with me. Compare

Image searches of lolcats seem to also agree with me. You are of course welcome to doublecheck with Abbie. I would trust her understanding of LOL over google.

sniffnoy said...

Here's an especially awful quote:

"'You know as well as I do that scientists are like lawyers,' Harris said."

Joshua said...

Yeah that line is pretty appalling. It argues slightly that this is genuinely not understanding how science works rather than simply not caring to hide ones motivations.