Both creationism and environmental denial are almost daily news. Their vile triplet, anti-vaccination crusading, hasn't reached quite the same level yet, but this article is a fascinating read -

A Broken Trust: Lessons from the Vaccine–Autism Wars

It's quite a sobering reminder of the actual scale of the assault being mounted against reason. Recommended for those who are still dubious about memes and their malignant virus-like nature.

Tags: dark age, immunization, meme, nutjobs, vaccination

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Just finished reading the very interesting article. This is a subject I am most interested in as my eldest granddaughter was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when she was around 3 years old. LoLo is now 14 and doing quite well. She is extreamly intelligent, a compute
unholyroller: She is extreamly intelligent, a compute

Must be. She knows which cable to yank.
Yeah....that was an eff up on my part. Ment to say computer phenom. She's a great kid and we love just like she is. I had all of the childhood diseases and remember how sick and miserable they made us.

Jenny McCarthy is an idiot. You can't cure autism and for her to claim to have cured her son of this disorder is irresponsible and dangerious. It gives parents of these kids false hope and sends them to the peddlers of quack nostrums and weird-ass treatments when they should be getting their kids the education and programs they really need and have been proven effective.

Why are people so willing to accept the word of a celebraty of dubious intelligence and education of that of scientists and researchers who have years of study and reams of evidence to prove their case??

Will we lose a generation of children to their own parent's stupidity? How manypregnant women exposed to rubella, with it's horrific consequences, will it take for people to come to their senses?

I dunno. Only time will tell and I fear time is running out for the children of the world....especially those countries where prevention is readily available. What a shame.
This is guilt by association . How are creationism, GW denial and anti-vaccination related? They're not. Many accept or reject one without the other. Creationism is an extreme RELIGIOUS viewpoint without any scientific support.

GW is generally accepted although many climatologists disagree as to its cause or cure. A big problem is the idea that the current mild climate of the last 10,000 years should remain unchanged and is the norm when in fact it is the exception.

Anti-vaccination advocates assume they are being scientific despite numerous studies contradicting their claims plus the rather sordid "data" on which this movment started. This movement got lots of help from distinguished newspapers (NYT, WP, WSJ) and soft shows like Oprah and the View.

One could add Holocaust deniers, UFO nuts or those who believe in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. The idea that the economy can be "fixed" by printing trillions of worthless dollars is equally irrational buy few rail against it - LOL.
This is guilt by association . How are creationism, GW denial and anti-vaccination related? They're not.

They are unified by denying evidence. And often, inventing agenda driven counter evidence of their own. And they are all borderline, if not absolute, nutjobs. I see no difference whatsoever.

Consider it this way: they decide on conclusions first - then massage proofs to suit.
Felch,
Look on conclusions first? Alas, we all do this - overlook comments from politicians we like (BC goingn on about prayer & faith, Hillary with her Bible, Obama and his "testimony") Or we refuse to accept the obvious (the overwhelming majority of Americans are religious and this has not changed).

Yes, they may have conclusions but why? What unites these people is a conspiratorial world view. Whether it's 911 & the contradictory "truths" or the age of the Earth in light of scientific findings or immunizations, the real problem is that these people see reality differently therefore their conclusions are irrational.

I've met very intelligent people, educated people, who believe irrational things whether it's UFO's, anti-Semitism, centrally planned economies or denial of moon flights (with photos, graphs and long commentary). Some have sworn that the CIA started AIDS, that aliens walk among us or that cell phones are recording our thoughts. If we search hard enough we'd probably be surprised at the degree of irrationality that exists.

take Care
To be honest, I'm not sure if you had a point or not. If I'm reading right, it seems like it should be "The root problem is not irrationality but a conspiratorial world view."

With or without conspiracies the core beliefs could be held because they refuse to apply rigorous logical standards to their conclusions. Without irrationality a conspiratorial world view could not be held. Which is more basic? Yeah, the rationality bit. Conspiracy is the child of irrationality.

The fact that you can find lots of moronic ideas is meaningless. His point was that there were three big irrational ideas. Define big, you say. Define big, I shall. Big is something that has high exposure, a large number of adherents and/or does lots of damage. By far, these criteria are met disproportionately by his trifecta.

Sesame Street taught us how to do this as children, for the record.
It's true that the irrational see things differently, but it's not because they have a conspiratorial worldview. It's because they don't know or understand the rules of reason and the scientific method. Science accumulates data and then finds the best (usually simplest) explanation to fit all the facts. As evidence continues to build up, explanations are refined, and only rarely completely replaced (Darwin and Copernicus did it, but not many others). Pseudo-science proponents, on the other hand, find an explanation and then look for evidence to support it and dismiss all contrary evidence, even to the point of imagining conspiracies against the preferred explanation. They may think they are doing science, but they're not. Any hypothesis can be tried out, but clinging to one in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is irrational. The conspiracy theorist mindset is a last ditch effort to preserve the preferred explanation against the encroachment of reality. It's cognitive dissonance stretched to the breaking point. Conspiracy theories are a symptom, not a cause.

Ockham's Razor says to choose the simplest explanation that fits the facts. Religious apologists, global warming deniers, creationists, 9/11 truthies, and anti-vaccinators aren't doing this. Their preferred explanations are invariably more complicated (tortured, even) than the scientific consensus. They are more interested in being vindicated than in understanding the world around them. Or more afraid of the reality than the fantasy.
What the hell are you talking about? There are a lot of controversies in science between scientists for scientific reasons, including the extent to which Ockham's Razor is applicable. Darwin and Copernicus were important precisely because they overturned the consensus. Copernicus did indeed simplify things but it was a re-interpretation of accumulated data; the Ptolemists had done what you claim is science - they accumulated date and found explanations. The idea that the Sun is at the center was not observable until theory pointed to it - so which came first, the observation or the theory. As for Darwin, I'd like to see an explanation of how theory of natural selection is simpler than creation. One of the biggest things wrong with creationism is the fact that it's too simple.


"Pseudo-science proponents, on the other hand, find an explanation and then look for evidence to support it and dismiss all contrary evidence". A lot of modern physics would have to be considered "pseudo-science" then. Einstein developed a theory to account for the absence of aether without overturning Newtonian physics. Einstein himself tells us that this was his purpose and objective. Since then, "standard" physics has developed according to Einstein's theory and they do dismiss or ignore evidence to the contrary or bend the theory to accomodate the obversations. The "rules" of science include the requirements that theory must accord with Newtonian physics and be expressible mathematically. These are conventions, not laws of the universe. Reported "scientific" findings are often as much a matter of legitimacy under the conventions as they are findings of fact. Having faith in the little teaching device five step "scientific method" we were taught in school misses the point of being methodical.

One of the major scientific methods is to define the object of investigation as an "isolated system in equilibrium". It is not uncommon to refer to the system as an "environment". The boundaries of the environment are designed to limit the field to enclose only those factors that are considered relevant to the study. These boundaries are more or less arbitrary (with respect to the "real world") and relevance is partly determined by the purpose(s) of the study. Expanding or contracting the boundaries can produce significantly different or even contradictory results. That is why all good science includes qualifiers like "within the conditions specified", of "given the limits imposed", or "in a void", etc..

The controversies over GW involve legitimate disagreements between credible scientists. Expanding the boundaries of the system to include possible effects of solar activity and time periods longer than the last 50 or 100 years or questioning the reliability of the data and the statistical manipulations of that data are perfectly legitimate from a scientific standpoint. The attitude that "the science is settled" and "any disagreement is irrational" is itself anti-scientific. Your inclusion of global warming sceptics with the others you mention betrays the fact that your approach to GW is political or religious (or perhaps some lame psychological theory), not scientific. You treat science as nothing but a tool for taking the moral high-ground and insulting those with whom you disagree politically.

For my part, I don't care which side is right so long as GW is not used as an excuse for authoritarian government. I'm sceptical of some theories and conclusions on both sides and doubt that any of it provides the kind of predictive capability needed to justify social/political policy. Climatology is one of those relatively new "sciences" that doesn't seem quite to have found its way. At its current stage, I'm not sure that it is anything but big, large weather. I wouldn't rely on it and definitely wouldn't want to be subject some one elses reliance on it.

But, that's just me. I'm probably just a flat-earth, creationist, conspiracy theorist, so incurably infected by dark age memes (another theory that deserves some scrutiny) that I wouldn't know reality if it smacked me in the face (which being "real" it probably does).
As a good modern example of science throwing Ockham's Razor out the window, just look at string theory.

And I agree, arguing about which side is right regarding global warming is irrelevant. What is important is that we have identified factors which do contribute to GW. Many of these factors are irresponsible and unnecessary bad habits by our species. Habits can be changed.

I like to explain the GW debate as a variation of Pascal's Wager, though a far more pertinant one as we will eat our own cooking.

Assume GW is correct and -

* Take action - we may avert catastrophe

* Take no action - we head into Mad Max territory

Assume GW is incorrect and -

* Still take action - no harm is done, our environment gets healthier and our carbon addiction gets an extended life time as we source alternate energy models

* Take no action - we still head into Mad Max territory, as infinite growth with finite resources will always end in tears

All debate and no action is just like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
David S, I don't believe I disparaged the Ptolemists. They did the best they could with what they had. Epicycles were actually kind of clever. Copernicus turned the universe inside out and subsequent observations supported that. But apart from natural selection, I can't think of any other so-called scientific revolution that completely turned our understanding of the universe upside down. Maybe Continental Drift/Plate Tectonics. The Theory of Relativity didn't invalidate Newtonian physics, which still describes the local universe to many degrees of precision. The Quantum Model didn't invalidate Einstein's work.

I may be guilty of having given short shrift to hypothesis generation and testing. It's not always easy to say which comes first, the hypothesis (a proposed explanation) or the data to be explained. I think it's safe to say that hypotheses are generally stimulated by some phenomenon that needs an explanation, but hypothesis and observation proceed in a back and forth of mutual influence. Of course scientists often disagree for quite some time about a new hypothesis until the data come in. (As Felch Grogan points out, String Theory is currently a hot topic, and its certainly possible that its merely hot air.) But when the data tilt to one side and just keep tilting that way, you can stop pushing the failed explanations. Particularly if they've been disproven. And especially if they're unfalsifiable. When the accepted explanation fails to account for new data points, then you have to revisit it, but not until.

Evolution by means of natural selection is an immensely simpler explanation than divine creation. All the so-called explanation of divine creation does is force you to then try to explain the creator. Good luck with that. Infinite regression is not simplicity. Quite the opposite. I'm willing to bet that when we figure out how abiogenesis happened, it will be a damn sight simpler than the explanation of any god could be. Creationism is only simple in the sense that you hit an explanatory wall at "God did it". All further inquiry is impossible. Creationism is only simple by virtue of the fact that it doesn't explain anything. With natural selection, you get to ask (and find plausible answers for) questions all the way back to the primordial ooze. And it's exquisitely simple: Living things change with each generation, but only slightly. Helpful changes tend to be preserved. Harmful ones don't.

Any "science" that dismisses contrary evidence out of hand is pseudo-science. Real science accounts for contrary evidence by updating the explanation to include it or by showing how it isn't actually as contrary as it seems. There's nothing wrong with being unsatisfied with an existing explanation or with anomalous data, but it's foolish to insist that well-supported explanations are wrong simply because they don't comport with your suspicions. If there's really something wrong with the prevailing explanation, then prove it, don't whine about it. If you can't prove it, then admit it. Anything less is intellectually dishonest.

Considering local conditions in isolation sounds like what is usually referred to as reductionism. While reductionism may be much reviled by "holistic thinkers" and other postmodernist BS-peddlers, it's just another way of saying you're holding some variables constant so you can see what the effects of varying others might be. It's a good tool for figuring out how things work. Of course you have to consider the larger picture when you're drawing your conclusions, and you have to be careful when extrapolating beyond the experiment. But logical induction is a powerful way of learning general physical principles from finite data. To disallow it would be enforcing myopia.

There are fewer and fewer credible scientists who disagree that anthropogenic global warming is a fact, and that we should take immediate steps to reverse its effects if we can. The data have gone beyond a tipping point and have rapidly accumulated to the point of being overwhelming. Sea levels are rising and glaciers and ice shelves are retreating and collapsing. Ice cores give us data going back thousands of years, showing a rapid rise in CO2 only recently, corresponding precisely with the Industrial Revolution's increase in the burning of fossil fuels. Anybody who remains unconvinced is trying really hard not to be convinced, or they're just not paying attention. In any case, nobody disputes that CO2 is an insulator in the atmosphere. We have boosted its atmospheric levels by roughly 50% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. I have yet to hear from a global warming denier any mechanism, plausible or otherwise, that would prevent that increase in atmospheric CO2 from doing what an insulator does.

David S, you accuse me of treating science as nothing more than a political tool. Thank you. I can think of no better political tool than science. Of course, I think science is much more than a political tool, but the world would be so much better off if we based our policies on science, that I'd be willing to settle for that, at least to begin with. And my assertion that the science is settled is not anti-scientific by any stretch. Admitting that the consensus scientific explanation is overwhelmingly likely to be correct is accepting science, not rejecting it. Refusing to recognize consensus is anti-scientific. Recognizing consensus doesn't mean you have to stop being skeptical. It just means that the onus is on you to make your case against the consensus. I've seen a lot of contrarian arguments about global warming. All the ones I've seen are either obviously flawed or have been shot down by countervailing evidence.

And if you don't like authoritarian government now, just wait until the southern half of Florida is under water. Government will be making a lot of decisions for people then. That's right. I'm using climatology to make a prediction: If you add a fluffy blanket of insulation around the planet, it will warm up, thus melting the ice and causing sea levels to rise, drowning coastal cities around the world. We've added that blanket. We're still adding that blanket, faster than ever. The warming and melting have started and are accelerating. Say goodbye to Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Miami, among other places. This century. It's already too late to save them, but if we don't change course, the problem just keeps getting bigger. We already know enough that not to act would be immoral.

And regardless of the accuracy of my prediction, Felch Grogan's Wager(TM) definitely applies.

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