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The Case for a Science Party
The Case for a Science Party
We are at the crossroads: We can either go down the road to perdition by entering the Dark Ages of superstition, climate change denial and Big Business abuses or we can go up the high way by entering The Enlightenment.
What Science Is
For most of human history and continuing to the present day, people have argued about things. Often these arguments get out of control and people get killed. Arguments generate heat but not the light of enlightenment.
The Age of Enlightenment was the rise of science. What is science? Science is when you stop arguing and simply find out. You do not argue about whether the Earth is flat. You simply send explorers to find an edge. After circumnavigating the globe and returning to home not from the direction where you departed but from the opposite direction, people did not need to be looking down from orbit to figure out that the Earth was round. After mountain climbing became a popular sport, people could see a long distance and see how the land curved. And again, they figured out the Earth was round. Finally, when the first astronauts left Earth orbit and entered lunar orbit, one astronaut got the bright idea to point his camera back at the planet from which he came. Again, it was round. Any remaining flat Earthers were clearly seen as delusional.
That first photograph of the Earth is also credited with creating the environmental movement because even a fool could see weather patterns that circled the globe. Air does not stop at borders. We have maps but you cannot see borders and lines drawn on maps when you actually look down on the Earth from space. Since air does not stop at borders, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that air pollution gets into everyone's lungs. Likewise, water polluted in one place will flow all over the ocean.
Science is simply shutting up and finding out -- instead of debating.
the case for a Science Party
Therefore, only fools continue to deny climate change when you can see the poles turning from white to dark. All this is not to take a well-deserved swipe at deniers but to point out that we need smarter people managing this planet.
We need scientists to run for office. We need a Science Party because we have one party that is officially against accepting reality and the reality of climate change (the Republicans) and we have another party that is ashamed to have a reverse climate change plank in its party platform (the Democrats). We need a Science Party yesterday because the idiots running things now flunked science in school and the mismanagement of the country proves it. They do not understand simple arithmetic.
Politicians have even been known to try to legislate pi !!! One state legislator wanted to define pi as 3.14 by fiat. Because their minds are too small to deal with a non-repeating decimal, one suspects that inability to deal with transcendental numbers explains why reactionaries deep down hate God, the ultimate in transcendental concepts.
Another reason to establish a Science Party is because scientists are good at solving problems that others cannot solve. Others throw up their hands and give up. Or go back to approaches that have never worked. Repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results. [By the way, this is neurological perseveration. Insanity is a legal term that people in the mental health community do not use.] Scientists are pragmatists. They do what works not what is ideology or dogma.
How should the Science Party be created?
- Any one with an interest in using science to solve our nation's problems should start a discussion group in their home town.
- Attract more participants.
- Organize committees for such things as science education, outreaches, college science scholarships, distribution of science text books, literacy programs, visits to research centers (such as labs), voter registration, and science lobbies in DC.
- Outreaches should be to science clubs in high schools (since they will be voting soon), science majors in college, scientists (duh), science teachers in primary and secondary schools, science professors in universities, Nobel laureates (would make great stars for the party), the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), people who listen to radio programs like NPR's Science Friday, people who watch television programs like Nova or science channels on cable, amateur science groups, scientists in the military (not all of them want to make super-weapons or robots to kill us all), and the customers of science hobby stores. There are probably dozens, even hundreds, of other groups that the party could seek out and register.
- On the local level, collect names of clean law-abiding sober people and vet them as possible candidates to run for low-hanging fruit such as vacant public offices, offices where no Republican or Democrat is running, and offices where a Science Party candidate can run unopposed.i
- On the national level, establish a leadership council whose job will be to find scientists who can win. Unfortunately, Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan are dead so we have our work cut out for us.
- We are not interested in feeble efforts for president that have no chance of success such as the Green Party or Libertarian Party candidate for president. As scientists, we do what works. That means poll science with state of the art statistics and voter research. That means financial engineers and economists designing Science Party Super PAC's. That means political scientists designing a party that can out-organize the better financed but corrupt duopoly. That means information scientists identifying donors. That means psychologists doing persuading. That means playing hard-ball with anti-science morons. That means using logic to slice up Republicans (and Democrats) who use propaganda, disinformation, and logical fallacies. Logic will be our most formidable and unstoppable weapon simply because we are running against people who lack the ability to reason.
- We can hope one day to overturn Citizens United and the folly of corporate personhood but in the meantime we can beat them over the head with their own corruption -- beat the fools with their own tools,
Our vision is a world run by logic with no war, no pollution, no crowding, no crime, and no invasion of privacy,. A world with freedom, clean air, clean water, clean land, interesting jobs, a booming economy, a smarter population, a healthier population, with the worst ravages of poverty minimized. A better legal and political system with less emphasis on the adversarial and more emphasis on truth -- perhaps more emphasis on justice and fairness too. Politeness and manners and etiquette and courtesy make sense. Being mean makes no sense. Racism is not science and Hitler proved that with his "racial science" and abuse of eugenics. Ignorance does not work. We do not need the new Dark Ages that our opponents want. We need a new Age of Reason and a new Age of Enlightenment.
signature of Galileo
signature of Alfred Nobel
recruit them young before the world has a chance to dumb them down
How to prevent politicians influencing studies to get a favorable viewpoint
- ethics committees in the US House of Representatives using ethicists from the American Philosophical Association (APA)
- ethics committees in the US Senate using ethicists from the APA
- use of ethicists in the executive and judicial branches where politics intrudes
- citizen group led by people such as darknezz111 who pressure the presidential debates to include questions about the ethics of party nominees in influencing scientific studies and to ask candidates these same questions earlier in the primaries and on the campaign trail. We are asking the reporters to do their job and ask serious questions. If the national news organizations do not listen, then the group can issue a report card listing all the reporters who have never asked a politician a question about influencing scientific studies.
- this same citizen group can also encourage that special breed of reporter known as investigative journalists by passing along information that comes its way, referring whistle blowers to investigative journalists with a reputation for following up on good leads, and giving the Pit Bulldog Award to individuals and/or teams who won't let go of ethical violations until the culprit is out of office. [Senator Jim Inhofe has a special animus against impartial climatology]
- this same citizen group should also pressure TV network news divisions, major newspapers, and major news magazines to encourage their reporters to ask politicians running for seats in Congress questions about why they try to influence scientific studies and corrupt the scientific search for truth (because truth is what science attempts to discover). Imagine this exchange -- Reporter: "Why do you try to influence scientific studies?" Politician: "Because I get bribes from polluters." One could wish for such refreshing honesty but most politicians will change the subject or not call on that reporter again or give a non-answer. The real point to this is to let the public see these liars sweat.
- Blogs such as Huffington Post and the Daily Kos already do yeoman's work in raising ethical issues but more of that could be encouraged.
- ethical and integrity training should be an obligatory part of the orientation that all newly elected Congress men and women receive, Yes, they actually have an orientation. Ask your US Representative if you don't believe it. As for the Senate, some people have called it a cesspool. The best way to clean up the US Senate is to identify the worst offenders and take them on one by one until all 100 are vetted. Repeat often as new Senators are elected. After awhile, perhaps ethical behavior will become the norm not out of human beings becoming better (not likely) but out of force of habit and constant enforcement and vigilance on the part of citizens. Impossible you say? This country got rid of slavery and child labor. Progress actually is possible.
How to prevent scientists from altering data
Back in the day when a scientist lost his wife and went mad (no mental health resources back then), he might snatch bodies and sew up a corpse and during a violent thunderstorm use a lightning rod to channel electricity in order to reanimate the corpse. Despite the peaceful nature of the monster (saving people from drowning) the local villagers might insist upon screaming over the appearance of the monster. Cosmetic surgery had not yet been invented. So the villagers would grab pitchforks and torches and burn down the mad scientist's home.
Mary Shelley's fictional tale left out quite a bit. The ethics for example. The mad scientist went on to create a bride for the monster who naturally rejected the monster. We women are like that. The point is not male/female relations. The point is that unless ethical controls are in place, bad scientists will keep up to their old tricks.
Case in point: ExxonMobil funds climate change deniers. They and the American Petroleum Institute and several other organizations funded by the oil industry and the Koch Brothers will flat out pay for certain results. They simply do not care to do research that is in search of the truth. They want results that say climate change either is not happening (pesky things all those melting glaciers) or is not their fault. They fear massive trillion dollar lawsuits -- which they should fear. The intelligent way to handle blame though is to respect truth, respect science, and cooperate with efforts to reverse climate change. No climate change = less legal exposure. Perhaps if climate change is reversed, no fossil fuel company will be sued at all. But you cannot tell that to the executives at ExxonMobil. [More about this further down] A scientist working for the Koch Brothers to deny climate change recently admitted that he was wrong and apologized. Remarkably, the Koch Brothers did not immediately hire a contract killer to silence the man. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Koch Brothers are now funding a school curriculum that teaches little children to deny climate change modeled on the creationism and intelligent design curricula.
[In disclosure, your author Toni Roman is a Fundamentalist Christian and has never had a problem with the theory of evolution. The Bible is religion and evolution is science. Moreover, it seems to me arrogance to tell God that He has to create by magic when it was God who created the laws of nature as well as the Ten Commandments. Laying down the foundations of science and jurisprudence seems rational and reasonable to me. Magic is superstition.]
So how do we prevent scientists from altering data to get a research grant?
- recognize that we cannot stop billionaires who are scientific illiterates from funding pseudo-science but we can loudly and frequently remind the public that political lobbies are public relations disinformation and propaganda NOT science
- identify scientists on the payroll of vested interests
- encourage stockholders of ExxonMobil to pressure Rex W. Tillerson (Chairman & CEO) to stop funding climate change deniers. He has promised several times to stop it but the funding continues. I would say that his promises are lies until the funding actually stops.
- peer review
- the National Science Foundation already has audit controls in place
- other foundations give research grants and they should be encouraged to enforce a code of ethics
- do not re-invent the wheel. There are ethics organizations already out there monitoring foundations. Find them and fund them and motivate them to be more aggressive.
how to develop a scientific appeal to "an apathetic and largely unintelligent electorate"
I thought I was too harsh in trying to wake up my fellow Americans! But Michael Tully makes me look like an amateur. I do not intend to put Mr. Tully on the spot. On the contrary, he raises an issue that I thought about but did not put in this hub originally. Thanks Michael!
Let's get into it.
Number One, apathy. We Americans are guilty as charged. Most of us do not vote. Our ancestors died to get us that vote. Think of the soldiers at Valley Forge without boots. Bare feet bleeding in snow. They should come out of their graves and kick our butts.
Number Two, "largely unintelligent". Mister Tully uses considerably more tact in his wording and wins points for grace. I have used the word "fools" in more than one article in my zeal to wake up my fellow Americans and sound the alarm. However worded, it would not hurt if we Americans decided as a nation to raise the national IQ and to learn more science.
How do we develop a scientific appeal?
- We raise the national IQ based on our study of similar programs attempted in Venezuela and other countries.
- Understand the differences between euthenics and eugenics. Eugenics seemingly has always been abused. We Americans are partly to blame for The Holocaust because the Nazis got their ideas from American eugenicists. To this day, the people who perpetrated the Tuskegee syphilis experiment have never been punished though some of the people responsible for this atrocity are still alive. Euthenics on the other hand is simply better education and better environment using such things as home economics, sanitation, hygiene, public health, better housing, and early childhood education. Because these programs show results that work, they are often called "social engineering" and Headstart is often the first program that critics want to cut. Do they hate little children? Do they hate poor people?
- Create and fund more science education programs not only for children and teens but for adults. And not just science education programs for adults in grad school, college, and adult ed programs but create science education programs for adults who are not enrolled in any class or course.
- Publicize popular science programs on PBS (such as Nova) and on the science channels on cable.
- Publicize science programs on NPR -- such as Science Friday.
- Get an attitude adjustment on the matter of science popularization. Alan Alda was criticized for agreeing to be a part of a science popularization program. WTF! This is what we want! Since Carl Sagan died, the USA has lacked high profile superstar scientists. My grandfather's generation had Albert Einstein to look up to. What genius do we have? Steve Jobs was great but he was a businessman not a scientist.
- Give today's science fiction authors a piece of your mind -- since they seem to lack minds. Isaac Asimov was a biochemist and wrote hundreds of books that explained science. Arthur C. Clarke kept his novels as scientifically accurate as possible. Today's "science fiction" is actually fantasy and horror and has almost no science in it. As predictive literature about the future, science fiction has a responsibility. If you predict nightmares, then your children will live in a nightmare world because the world goes to science fiction for ideas on what is supposed to come. Science fiction predicted rocket ships and robots and we got rocket ships and robots. So let's stop coaching leaders towards doomsday and dictatorship with post-Apocalyptic stories. How about some utopias for a change? Why depress kids so much that they want to swallow an overdose of drugs and slit their wrists? Back in the Fifties, kids were so charged up by super-science short stories that they grew up and went to work for NASA and started high tech companies. Inspiration please!!!
- If you are a scientist, then get an attitude adjustment toward the people, the public. As taxpayers, they pay your salary. As voters, they desperately need you to speak up and inform them on the issues. Don't run back to your ivied tower and hide and leave the voters at the mercy of demagogues and publicans who will say that facts are not facts and that everything is debatable. As voters, they need you to run for public office. Right now, of the 535 members of Congress, less than five are scientists. We need fifty percent of Congress to be working scientists who are respected by their fellow scientists. We can no longer leave the country in the hands of demagogues (scientific illiterates) and publicans (those bought & paid for by polluters). And let us be crystal clear: Not all corporations are criminals. Just corporations that pollute are criminals. Civilians need peaceful academics in office who are not like the warmongers ready to let the country jump into war after war in order to keep the coffers of the defense contractors full. Economists can tell taxpayers that the national debt and the recent skirts with deficits and defaults is the legacy of wars. Wars cost a lot of money. Members of the military need peace studies scholars to run for office who are not itching to throw away the lives of young people and put them in harm's way in order to make another trillion dollars for the war industry. But if this country is attacked, then who better to defend this country than military scientists? Considering the brain power that this country has had, any enemy must be suicidal.
- Organizers of the Science Party must be a lot more careful in their speech than me. We do not want the electorate to think that they are looked down upon. On the contrary, scientists are human beings. A fact that is verifiable by scientific research itself. Scientists come from the permanent underclass, from working class homes, from middle class homes, and from wealthy families. Scientists come from every Christian denomination, from every religion, and a few are even agnostics and atheists. Scientists are men and women of every ethnic group. Scientists have to pay bills, get up in the middle of the night to check on the baby with colic, tend to dying parents and attend weddings. Some scientists have crew cuts and some have long hair and they get along quite well together. Some scientists have personal problems but they are more likely to seek professional help and deal responsibly with those problems than most people. Scientists love America and it pains them to see profiteers destroy it. In short, scientists are human beings just like you. Okay, so they may have IQ's off the chart and a stack of PhD degrees. So what? They have friends, neighbors and relatives who are not smart. Do you really think that they will do anything to harm their loved ones? Of course not. They want to help. Let them.
- We need to make it cool to be smart. Bill Gates was a step in the right direction. It is true that early in his career with Microsoft that competitors in other companies made him out to be The Antichrist. Now that he is semi-retired and spends his time with the Gates Foundation, one seldom hears Larry Ellison (who is no dummy himself) and others grouse about Bill. But as with Steve Jobs, these are business superstars. We need more science superstars who are obviously smart but understand the value of being pleasant and appealing. In other words, cool.
- Cultures and groups within America (you know who you are) who make a cult of being "stoopid" mooks and [insert name of state] Girls need to step back and look in the mirror. Why would you make being stupid a good thing? Being stupid is a bad thing. And don't corrupt the word bad to mean good. Being stupid is not desirable, it is not sexy, it is not cool. Being stupid is negative. And, I am told that more than two ethnic groups do this. There are dumb jokes about every nationality. Even rich people do not escape this stupidity. Ever heard of the Gentleman's C? It has to stop. No social group or subculture in America should tolerate stupidity as a positive value or goal. Not if America is to survive and prosper. Think of it as your patriotic duty to wise up.
- Television used to have these national quizzes or tests on various subjects. They were on all networks so you could not avoid them. It is still possible to pull this off because after 9/11 and hurricane Katrina there were telethons that were simulcast on all networks. So we need the National Science Quiz live and sign up broadcast networks ABC, CBS, the CW, FOX, NBC, and PBS; all the major cable networks; all the satellite networks; all the worldwide web video networks YouTube, Metacafe, Veoh, and Vimeo; all the social networks Facebook, Bebo, Google Plus+, LinkedIn, and Twitter; all the mobile device networks Apple, Android, BlackBerry, and Samsung; and, returning to television, all the syndicated networks such as MyNetworkTV.
Let's rephrase the question.
How do we develop sex appeal for science? We word the question this way because motivation is how one deals with apathy. The other way is hold a gun to people's heads. Since violence is unethical, we have to use non-violent means to motivate people.
- Use motivational research. The knowledge already exists. We just have to crack a few books and use what we already know.
- Use psychology.
- Register unregistered adults.
- If they have employers with a bad reputation for not allowing their workers time to go vote, then publicly shame the employer in the media. Meanwhile, get voters to vote before work or immediately afterward before the polls close. Better yet, take advantage of early voting laws and get voters to vote on their day off in the weeks before Election Day. Also use voting by mail for voters in difficult situations.
- On Election Day when you are corralling the remaining voters who have escaped previous nets, give no one an excuse to not vote. Organize volunteers to go by voter's homes and beat on the door until they answer and then drive them to the polls by motor pool or vans or personal cars.
- If necessary, organize an impromptu intervention where the registered voter is confronted by their parents, children, pastor, friends and any one else who knows what emotional buttons to push to evoke repentence and, more importantly, an urge to run to the polls to vote and seek absolution in the confessional booth of the voting booth. [It is sad that we may have to resort to such extremes.]
- Where guilt does not work, scare tactics might work. Especially since our political opponents really do want a corporate state with mindless consumers who buy when they are told and die when they are told.
- Logic though is the philosophy that our society needs to be nudged toward. Irrationality simply does not work. The history books are full of proof.