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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

When Scientists Attack

Posted by: Hammer / 1:19 PM

Part 1: Global warming:
US scientists have increased the pressure on George Bush and other world leaders to tackle climate change by signing a joint statement calling on G8 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The statement, from the science academies of the G8 countries, says the scientific evidence on climate change is now clear enough to compel their leaders to take action.

It says: "There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities...

...One source close to the negotiations called the support of the US National Academy of Sciences "unprecedented".

In 2001 the US academy declined to sign a similar joint statement because it was preparing its own report on the issue for the Bush administration.

Part 2: Intelligent Design:
"Intelligent design" is science only if it's a story that can be tested by observation and experimentation. Is there any observation we can make or experiment we can do whose results would be one way if "intelligent design" is true, another way if it is false? I don't know of any, but maybe somebody can. If so, that person has not yet come forth.
In any case, even if God -- or someone claiming to be God -- were to emerge in a puff of smoke on the floor of the Senate and claim to have created the universe, that story would not be science unless there were some independent means of testing that claim through observation and experimentation.
Phil Unitt, ornithologist ,San Diego Natural History Museum

If proponents of intelligent design (ID) wish their hypothesis to be treated as a science, then they must be prepared to generate experiments that will prove ID incorrect and teach their students how to disprove ID. If an "intelligent designer" is equated with "God," then, if they are true scientists, they must now spend their time trying to disprove the existence of God. I am not sure if the proponents of ID are prepared to go down that route -- training a classroom of students to design experiments that rule out the existence of God. Yet, if they wish to add ID to the scientific curriculum, that is precisely what they must be prepared to do. Those experiments would then take their place with all the other experiments designed to rule out any hypothesis, in other words, to show that the null hypothesis (the idea that events and phenomena are dictated solely by chance) cannot be rejected.
Dr. Evan Snyder, neurologist and director of the Stem Cells and Regeneration Program at The Burnham Institute

By the way, I get all my ID news from Pharnygula.

Bush and the hard right are allies against science and knowledge. Trouble is, must people appreciate the value of science and knowledge even as they dislike the holders and purveyors of that knowledge. So it's no wonder, now, that Americans are uniting against Bush:

For the first time, most Americans, 55 percent, say Bush has done more to divide than to unite the country. A career-high 52 percent disapprove of his job performance overall, and, in another first, a bare majority rates him unfavorably on a personal level. Most differ with him on issues ranging from the economy and Social Security to stem-cell research and nuclear power.
Don't read ahead to page 3 of the report unless you have a strong stomach. Ready?
Another result underscores the conundrum Bush faces as 9/11 grows more distant: His success in preventing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil tends to move the issue down as a public priority.
That's Bush's problem -- his just too damn successful! Look, I don't have any real problem crediting the administration with preventing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. But if the Bush administration gets credit for preventing a second attack, don't they deserve the blame for the first attack?

I'll answer my own rhetorical question -- no. This administration is not responsible for anything. Not the quagmire in Iraq. Not the economic doldrums. Not the loss of standing in the world. Not the ballooning deficit. And certainly not the terrorist attacks of September 11.


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