Sunday, October 08, 2006


When critics bemoan the politicization of science, they usually point a bitter finger at the Bush administration. Their condemnation should actually be aimed in the opposite direction. Increasingly, it is the scientists themselves--or better stated the leaders of the science sector--who are devolving science from the apolitical pursuit of knowledge into a distinctly ideological enterprise.

The creation of a new 527 advocacy PAC called Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA) is the latest example of this phenomenon. SEA claims to be entering the political fray because the nation's leaders "systematically ignore scientific evidence and analysis, put ideological interests ahead of scientific truths, suppress valid scientific evidence and harass and threaten scientists for speaking honestly about their research." But most of the problems SEA identifies on its website as supposedly threatening science are actually disputes about ethics, philosophy, or social theory--areas of human concern that are not within the scientific realm.

The brouhaha over President Bush's federal funding limitations on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is a prime example of a dispute that SEA pretends is scientific, but which really centers on values and ethics. "Decisions concerning the future of biological research," the SEA Website asserts, "must always rely on the best available evidence and on transparent decision making processes. Researchers have a strong history of conducting thoughtful ethical reviews of their work and must continue to do so while resisting ideologically driven interference." In other words, the stem cell research community has determined what is ethical in the field and opinions to the contrary are presumptuous and should be disregarded as mere "ideologically driven interference."

But "the scientists" who SEA claims should have the primary say over these matters are just as ideological as those with whom they disagree. If you doubt this, consider the voluntary "ethical guidelines" for conducting embryonic stem cell research published in 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Not only would the NAS permit the destruction of leftover IVF embryos for use in ESCR, but it also advocates using embryos "made specifically for research" both through fertilization and human cloning. In other words, one of the country's most prestigious science organizations believes that embryos can be created and harvested like a mere crop of corn for the sake of biotechnological research.

For many people, the NAS's ethics opinion constitutes a profoundly radical and subversive denigration of the widely held moral belief that human life has extraordinary value merely because it is human. Applying this moral view to stem cell research doesn't make these objectors anti-science--nor, for that matter, is the NAS's contrary opinion pro-science--since the question of whether it is right or wrong to create human embryos for research cannot be answered through scientific methods.

Most of the other "science" issues that concern the SEA are actually political and policy questions about which reasonable people may differ. Predictably, SEA brings up climate change and points toward Al Gore-type approaches as best for dealing with the supposed crisis. For example, the group urges the creation of "tradable permits in greenhouse gasses or equivalent incentives to encourage innovation and drive investment in cost-effective technologies." This is pure political advocacy. It may even be good political advocacy. But it is not ideological interference with science if others disagree.

And is immigration policy as it relates to national security really a science issue? According to SEA, apparently so. One of its advocacy goals will be to "ensure that inappropriate security concerns do not block American access to the best students and researchers from around the world."

A careful perusal of SEA's website reveals the organization's primary mission; vacuuming billions from public coffers into the science sector. In this sense, SEA is merely accelerating the ongoing metamorphosis of science into just another special interest willing to use all the political tools of the trade in order to gain increased access to the public trough.

Thus, the SEA seeks "increased federal and state-level public investment"--read, public spending--"in a balanced portfolio of research and development activities." It further demands that the government "remove inappropriate limits on stem cell research," meaning dramatic increases in NIH grants for ESCR and public funding of human cloning research. It urges that public policy "promote new partnerships between government-funded researchers and industry, including the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors"--in other words, time to ratchet up the corporate welfare! And it seeks "an aggressive program of research and innovation incentives," to promote more efficient energy use, which would, not coincidentally, provide substantial financial benefits to an increasingly powerful science-industrial complex.

SEA plans to present itself to the media and public as a "grass roots" organization. Front group for vested interests is more like it. When I first learned about the organization, I went to its website and asked to "sign up for e-mail alerts." The next day I received an e-mail response thanking me "for joining Scientists and Engineers for America"--which I had not done--and asking that I help the group achieve its goal of signing up more than 10,000 members. "We can reach this goal if you help spread the word about SEA to your friends, family and colleagues," Mike Brown, SEA's executive director wrote. "As you know, membership in SEA is free and anyone can join," meaning, of course, that so-called membership is essentially meaningless.

SEA claims to be advocating for science. But by crossing the crucial line that separates science from special interest advocacy--and by co-opting the coinage of accumulated community trust in science to achieve its own distinctly financial and ideological ends--SEA risks lowering the public's opinion of the scientific community. If that happens, these scientists will only have themselves to blame.


Vermont secession hucksters

Yes, they are at it again. Small-town socialist hucksters like James Kunstler - along with Kirkpatrick Sale and Rob Nayler - are getting loads of ink around the country with their plans to turn New Hampshire into an island of progressive socialism within a sea of dismal social engineering. Read below to see what Nayler and Sale have in mind for Vermont. Hint: It’s a kind of small-town hyper-Greenism in which everyone seemingly will ride bikes to work, light houses with corn oil, go to bed at dusk and wake at dawn to slave throughout the day on small-plot farms. Ah, the satisfaction of eking out a “bare bones” living!

Of course all the rich Wall Street types and monied Hippies who have flooded into Vermont from Manhattan over the last three decades no doubt believe that Naylor, Sale, Kunstler and others are brilliant prophets of a “sustainable” future. Looking out from barns reconfigured as million-dollar homes, these erstwhile or present-day legal eagles and Wall Street traders are apt to agree with the hype. (Fields of wheat turn to ruddy gold in the sunset of the mind’s eye, rustling like fiat money in generously gaping wallets and pocketbooks.) Soon, the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media get wind of yet another remake of the 1960s; the predictable, laudable articles follow one behind the other, replete with the just right touches of sentimentalism and skepticism.

What’s the reality? One only has to drive through the New England to see how the United Soviets of the North– Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine – are making out in the Brave New World their leveling and economically-illiterate politicians have built for them. Century-old factories by the thousands lie abandoned and in ruins by streams and rivers that once provided power. Fertile farmland has reverted to second- and third-growth woodland. Vast swaths of New England’s once prosperous and bustling cities need no Al Qaeda; they already look like victims of terror plots, blown to bits by Homeland Securities’ (non-existent) nuclear suitcases or dirty bombs that leave no damage but remove all traces of decent citizenry.

Where have the workers gone? The ones who are not on welfare in the politically-cultivated bestiaries of New England’s once-great and graceful merchant towns have fled West or South where taxes are not quite so egregious and the unions, including the public school unions, do not have a complete lock on the legislative process. Into this morass of dysfunction and despair came the New Hampshire “free state” movement with a simple, wonderful idea: Let many libertarians move to one place (New Hampshire) and gradually people who wished to live their lives without overt, endless, ever-more-expensive government projects would take over civic excrescences and shut them down.

This is not something easily tolerable to the monetary elite, however. And just as elite first created and then subverted the hippie movement of the 1960s - to the lasting discredit and endless sociopolitical and economic confusion of the Baby Boomers - so the same crowd appears to have come up with the Vermont Secession movement.

More here

Australia: Greens hitting back at the Brethren

Amusingly, the article below is written by a Ms Green! Her biases show in the opening words. The Brethren are mostly just ordinary working people

A wealthy and exclusive religious cult which has been blamed for destroying families [The Catholic Church hasd been blamed for lots of thiungs too. Should itsa schools be closed down?] is operating in at least six private schools in Queensland with the help of government funding. The Exclusive Brethren, which has been exposed in recent months for its controversial forays into politics in both New Zealand and Australia, is also actively scheming to ensure John Howard is re-elected as Prime Minister in next year's federal poll.

A former lifelong Brethren member from Bundaberg who managed to escape the group with his family eight years ago said yesterday that the cult's hypocrisy and "brazen" push into politics could end up compromising the Government.

Mr Howard revealed last week that he had met with members of the Exclusive Brethren, saying "it's a free country . . . and like any other group they are entitled to put their views to the Government". "I've met a lot more fanatical people in my life than the Exclusive Brethren," Mr Howard was reported as saying. However, members of the Greens, which the Brethren have targeted with hugely negative advertising campaigns in recent state elections, have questioned how such a politically motivated group which bans tertiary education can benefit from both state and federal funding for its schools around Australia.

With one Queensland government source privately describing the school grants as "a gravy train", Queensland Greens election spokeswoman Juanita Wheeler has called for a rethink of guidelines which allow Exclusive Brethren schools to gain non-state school accreditation. The Exclusive Brethren currently operates schools at Norman Park, and in Bundaberg, Nambour, Toowoomba, Warwick and near Maryborough. The group is also understood to be well advanced with plans for a major new school at Tingalpa in Brisbane.

A media release signed by three leading Brethren men said that the group's position was "not to participate in the political process by voting, but to testify to the truth according to our consciences and pray for and support good government".

Businessman Trevor Hill, who rose to become one of the Exclusive Brethren's "trustees" before leaving at the age of 44, said the real problem with governments or potential governments receiving money from the Brethren was that it gave the group power - boosting its ability to lobby governments and, where political donations had been substantial, the obligations were correspondingly substantial



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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