Paying For Denial "Science"

Plutonium Page reports on this:

A $2 million program funded with little debate by the Legislature last month calls for using state money to fund an "academic based" conference that highlights contrarian scientific research on global warming. Legislators hope to undermine the public perception of a widespread consensus among polar bear researchers that warming global temperatures and melting Arctic ice threaten the polar bears' survival.

. . . Legislative leaders said they are frustrated that researchers skeptical of the doomsday scenario get marginalized as crackpots or industry shills by the media and scientific agencies. "We want to have the money to hire scientists to answer the Interior (Department) scientists," House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said last week.

(Emphasis supplied.) So the way to avoid having people labelled shills is to buy the research you want? Not only is this outrageous use of government funds, it is monumentally stupid. Who is going to believe any findings from scientists funded like this?

< W.Va: It Counts, Deal With It | Profile of Obama's Politics While In Chicago >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    This takes anti-intellectualism to a new (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by bjorn on Sat May 10, 2008 at 01:56:52 PM EST

    Remember how people (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sat May 10, 2008 at 01:59:09 PM EST
    who wanted to undermine Joe Wilson were always citing some report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence?*

    Laundering BS through a government committee report can add an aura of legitimacy to BS.

    *I think Bob Somerby thinks that Joe Wilson is unreliable, FWIW.

    Even Somberby is not perfect:.. (none / 0) (#3)
    by MarkL on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:03:06 PM EST
    True (none / 0) (#16)
    by andgarden on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:20:46 PM EST
    I happen to disagree with him in this instance.

    What does Somerby have to do with this issue? (none / 0) (#38)
    by Radiowalla on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:23:02 PM EST
    I don't recall him dealing with it.

    For my money, he's as close to perfect as they come.


    I am not fsamiliar with Alaska's laws (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:04:37 PM EST
    So I hesitate to argue it is illegal.

    It's the same strategy (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Dr Molly on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:04:45 PM EST
    creation scientists have taken in my field - they try to force their way into evolutionary biology journals and, when that doesn't work because peer review kicks them out, they just pay for their own journals (and museums).

    But governmental funds for this kind of anti-science stuff? Outrageous.

    There's your fair and balanced (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Lahdee on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:08:28 PM EST
    Harp on it and anything can be given credibility. Life is a see saw to they people. Anything more complex is to be denied and attacked.

    Who is going to believe.... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by p lukasiak on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:09:22 PM EST
    Who is going to believe any findings from scientists funded like this?


    This has been another episode of "One Word Answers To Stupid Questions."

    If (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Nadai on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:12:08 PM EST
    they don't want to be marginalized as crackpots or industry shills, maybe they shouldn't be crackpots or industry shills.  That seems like a much more straightforward approach.

    Profligacy is pretty nearly THE definition (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by tokin librul on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:15:52 PM EST
    of 'success' in modern Murka. Folks are told that if they work hard, nobody can tell 'em they cannot party down, no matter what form the party takes. It's the cattle-drive theory of reward: get the cattle to market, then shoot up the town and humiliate the sheriff...

    The climate crisis will have one indisputable and undeniable consequence. It will cut into the Profligacy element, either by diminishing the resources with which the drovers can party, or by making their party seem (as it is) excessive in its selfish dickishness.

    The Murkin people do NOT wanna hear that they're being dickish with their energy, even if it's not theirs, per se (USerland now imports pretty close to 60% of our energy from folks who are not our friends).

    So there are LOTZ of people desperately trying to find ways to deny their obvious dickishness by claiming the Climate Crisis does not exist. I'll be long dead, but I hope their children are working on growing gills.

    Are all these congressmen childless? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by nellre on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:21:55 PM EST
    That they'd play politics with the planet their children and grandchildren are to inherit is heartless.

    About a month ago, (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by mulletov cocktails on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:29:35 PM EST
    my father (a Republican) floated a talkibg point about polar bears drowning because of disappearing ice flows.  He said he didn't beleive it because he said he'd never seen it reported in the news.
     When I pointed out I'd seen several stories on the major network news broadcasts, he scoffed.  When i asked where he was getting his info from, he replied, "It was on Fox or Rush maybe."  The echo chamber is far and wide.

    Denial is Strong (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Spike on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:17:25 PM EST
    For folks in places like Alaska and West Virginia, the changes required to combat global warming threaten life as they know it just as surely -- and more immediately -- as global warming itself.

    Not the ones along the coast. (none / 0) (#33)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:42:57 PM EST
    The people along the coast in Alaska know that global warming is occurring, because they are at risk of losing their homes. Some tundra natives in northern Canada are actually having to move cities because their homes are being flooded by rising waters. Other residents of permafrost areas are having to change their construction techniques because the permafrost is getting thinner.

    Maybe, But... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Spike on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:53:50 PM EST
    Some of the people may get it, but the state legislators cited in this story are certainly concerned about the impact on the oil industry...

    From the Anchorgae newspaper, per linkee thingee (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by wurman on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:41:50 PM EST
    [My emphases]

    The state Department of Law is now reviewing the internal memos from scientists to see if they can be released under the state's open records laws.

    "It is stunningly hypocritical that the state will spend $2 million to convene a scientific conference on this issue, but they will not release their own scientific analysis," Steiner said.

    Deputy Fish and Game Commissioner Ken Taylor said Friday he erred when he first promised the documents to Steiner, not realizing they were subject to legal review.

    Steiner is a scientist at U. of Alaska.  It seems that neither he, nor apparently any other human on planet Earth, was aware that scientific reports from Alaska state marine biologists were subject to, shall we say, top secret eyes only security classification.

    Careful (none / 0) (#7)
    by Manuel on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:07:24 PM EST
    While it is good that scientists eventually reach consensus, it is also true that the scientific community is often hostile to new ideas, for perhaps good reasons.  They were slow on smoking, they have been slow on global warming, they tend to go slowly on medical treatments.

    This is a terrible idea, but it is worth figuring out how we can improve science research funding.  Is it even possible to do science on some topics in a way that is independent of political considerations?

    Scientists exposed the smoking problem (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:04:54 PM EST
    It was industry "researchers", the government, and the public who didn't believe the truth. They didn't want to believe the truth, because smoking was so widely accepted that it was easier to not believe it.

    Sorry to follow up to my own post (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Manuel on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:23:14 PM EST
    But I wanted to amplify what I meant.

    From the quoted article.

    Critics say it's a waste of state money because all the hard scientific research points in the other direction.

    At one time it was hard for many scientists to get research grants to go against the tobacco companies and this argument was used aginst them (never mind that the hard scientific research was cooked as we now know).  

    Many parents today are unconvinced by the hard scientific research regarding vaccines and autism.  I am not one of them but I am not opposed to funding more research that looks at the issue.

    The fatal flaw with this program isn't the questioning of "hard scientific research".  It is the preordained results.


    Different point (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:10:11 PM EST
    Relevance (none / 0) (#19)
    by Manuel on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:36:18 PM EST
    I thnk it is important, when we object to awful proposals such as this one, to offer asome alternative, if possible.  For good reasons, people are skeptical of the scientific establishment.  Some way to fund scientists who are out of the mainstream isn't a bad idea.  We need to agree on some definition for what is good science, however.

    Relevant sure (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:48:07 PM EST
    But a different point.

    hogwash! (none / 0) (#23)
    by cpinva on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:54:59 PM EST
    They were slow on smoking,

    the only "they" that were slow on smoking, from 1964 to the present, was the tobacco industry and their funded frauds, masquerading as "science researchers". so spare me the obvious BS.

    actually, king james II of england, way back in the first years of tobacco production in the va colony, knew it was bad for you, calling it a "noxious weed, bad for one's health and foul smelling." turns out, he was a few hundred years ahead of the curve!

    this is beyond a poor use of tp funds, it may actually border on fraud.


    The story portrays (none / 0) (#13)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:15:51 PM EST
    a truly hideous corruption of science.

    However, since it's being reported by an author from a particular orange web site that I give the same importance as the National Enquirer and Drudge, I have to take it with a grain of salt.

    then you do not know (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:18:54 PM EST
    Plutonium Page.

    Your attitude is very misguided.


    Outside of the candidate diaries, there (none / 0) (#21)
    by MarkL on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:44:09 PM EST
    are always a lot of great issue-oriented diaries at DK. The problem is that the wreck list is dominated by the worst of the worst now----people who were fringe lunatics 6 months ago have top diaries, day after day. Then there are the paid Obama operatives.

    Of (none / 0) (#20)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:43:28 PM EST
    course the climate has been changing the entire history of the earth.

    Not so quickly (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:06:31 PM EST
    There are feedback mechanisms in place that prevent rapid change, except in rare cases of extreme events, like meteors or the discovery that we can burn fossil fuels to go places fast.

    Prove it (none / 0) (#28)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:20:15 PM EST
    is happening quickly.

    Ice melting (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:38:54 PM EST
    A lot of research has been done on glaciers. It's fairly simple to understand - you can take cores to tell how stable they have been over time, just like you can look at tree rings to tell how old a tree is and how much rainfall occurred while it was growing.

    The evidence for global warming is solid, overall. Scientists who research climate are pretty much unified. There are details to be worked out, but anybody who knows scientists knows that they are like philosophers. If you get 10 scientists in a room together they will come up with 20 hypotheses. Global warming is as real as cancer, or or gravity, or oxygen. There were people who didn't believe in those, either until somebody did the research.


    I agree (none / 0) (#34)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:51:15 PM EST
    the climate has been changing, but as I said, it has been changing the entire history of the world.  

    Like I said, it's the timing (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:42:25 PM EST
    Climate changes, and species adapt. No problem. But evolution takes time, and we're not giving them time to adapt. Even humans are going to have problems, although, given our ability to adapt over short periods, we are unlikely to be wiped out. But... do you want to live in a world without polar bears? Or penguins? Or salmon? I don't. And the cost to humans is going to be high. We don't need to let this happen.

    OK (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by wurman on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:54:25 PM EST
    The planet is reaching the "trough" of the graph for our 5th interglacial epoch.  There have been 5 previous periods of extreme glaciation--i.e., polar cap ices to as far South as Minnesota & laterally around the globe at or near that point.

    The North pole is at the midpoint of its transit between pointing at the star Polaris & shifting to the star Vega, a 2,500 year cycle that seems to somehow track with the waxing & waning of glaciers on Earth.

    The receding ices have exposed strata in Greenland that have not been surfaced since before the 1st glacial epoch.

    The toes of some glaciers in British Columbia & Alaska have receded further & exposed more strata than since before glaciation began.

    That these things have happened at all is rather unusual; to have completely occurred in a few decades is alarming; that they continue onward to even more extreme levels is disastrous.

    Buy some land in Oklahoma.  Build a boat dock.  They will come.


    Yes everybody knows (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by jondee on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:15:46 PM EST
    there's no such thing as a greenhouse gass.

    The whole thing is just the product of a defacto conspiracy on the part of tenured radical trained scientist "elites" who, like the other enviro-whackos, secretly hate America and want to undermine our way of life.


    Greenhouse gases (none / 0) (#48)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sun May 11, 2008 at 07:00:50 AM EST
    have been around since the formation of earth.  Interview any volcano.

    Like saying death (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by jondee on Sun May 11, 2008 at 11:33:48 AM EST
    has always been around, so the homicide rate isnt worthy of investigation.

    Better we should keep big govewrnment off the backs of murderers.


    Um (none / 0) (#50)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sun May 11, 2008 at 02:06:11 PM EST
    ok, tough on crime, eh?

    It won't work (none / 0) (#26)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:08:00 PM EST
    The "polar bears are dying" meme has taken hold. Children are upset because one of their favorite mammals is becoming extinct. I don't know if it's true ( I haven't tracked the research) - but the public thinks it is true, and that's enough to get them concerned about global warming.

    To me, it is about protecting energy co's (none / 0) (#30)
    by Leisa on Sat May 10, 2008 at 03:26:16 PM EST
    I think that this is designed to defend the way big business operates in our world.  

    I do believe that the costly changes we need to implement will hurt profits of certain big business.  The way to slow down raising clean air and energy efficiency standards and the progress we need is to develop counter arguments that are "scientific"...

    If the melting ice sheets at our North and South poles and the plight of the polar bears and other species are not good enough evidence that we need to change things, I would argue that it really shouldn't matter if these emissions are causing global warming as we do know for a fact that these same pollutants are a major health hazard to our citizens.  We have too many days where it is unhealthy to go outside and breathe the air.  That alone should be reason enough to regulate the energy industry.

    What a waste of $2 million...

    Govt. Funding CorpoRat Propaganda (none / 0) (#39)
    by tokin librul on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:23:58 PM EST
    demonstrating the essential synonymy of the Corporate State.
    Because of course the purpose of the deniers is to forestall any regulation that might ever so slightly erode their profits, or slow the rush to extract the last fabulously profitable tablespoon of oil, process it, and sell it. that is, in effect, their fiduciary duty to their stockholders. And to do that, they must undermine any/all research that could support such regulation. And must raise as many straw herrings as their well-paid, fertile, yea even febrile, imaginations can fashion from the endless store of anti-intellectualism they have so assiduously planted, and so diligently husbanded for these last 100 years...

    The denial of science (none / 0) (#40)
    by Radiowalla on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:30:49 PM EST
    in the service of ideology is the heinous legacy of the Reagan-Bush years.

    One more urgent reason to vote for the Democrat in 2008.

    Not at all (none / 0) (#42)
    by dianem on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:46:37 PM EST
    It's been happening for as long as there have been human beings on the planet. Look up Socrates. Okay, his "science" was more like theology than modern science, but the principle was the same. Copernicus is a more recent famous example. And Darwin was widely condemned for his hereticism.

    Well, sure (none / 0) (#44)
    by Radiowalla on Sat May 10, 2008 at 06:37:25 PM EST
    but the right-wing Republican crew has been pretty egregious.
    Liberals can also be deniers of science when it suits the agenda, but that's a topic for another diary.

    Buckle up (none / 0) (#43)
    by AnninCA on Sat May 10, 2008 at 05:22:47 PM EST
    since privatization of university research has been creeping up for a decade.

    In science as in medicine there is a (none / 0) (#45)
    by Florida Resident on Sat May 10, 2008 at 06:41:09 PM EST
    procedure called peer review.  When this people are called shrills for industry or crackpots it is because when the data they provide is reviewed by different groups and academic specialties it did pass muster.  It could not be replicated, verified,was not properly gathered or was tainted etc.. These reviews are performed by different universities and goverment agencies as well as scientific organizations.  My problem with this type of use of taxpayer money is that is being proposed by the same people who claim that using taxpayer money for studying things such as the life cycle of the Eleutherodactylus coqui is goverment waste.  Sorry this is just another bunch of bull from the peanut gallery,

    meant not pass muster (none / 0) (#46)
    by Florida Resident on Sat May 10, 2008 at 06:43:26 PM EST
    The George C Marshall Institute (none / 0) (#47)
    by coigue on Sat May 10, 2008 at 07:55:16 PM EST
    has made anti-global warming into a fine art...but they don't do original research  because it may not give the answers they want. Instead they use funds to pick at the flaws in others' peer reviewed research in the popular media.

    2 mill isn't much for original research, but it's plenty to bypass the peer review system and merely pick at the research of others.