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Superman's product of the century (so far):
So what was the hottest topic in the 'sphere middle of last week?
Nope, wasn't the long-legged Obamarathon Wright-stuff stuff.
This is what is was: It was the kerfuffle over meany IDists tossing a scientist from seeing their movie. Yep.
I recently noted that Ben Stein (he of Nixon speechwirting, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, game show, and television commercials fame) is spearheading a new movie project called Expelled which examines with Ben Steinian precision and wit the demagoguery of science - specifically as it relates to the barring of a certain point of view from the academic marketplace of ideas.
Different participants have different views on just what went down last week. There are some things that are clear: It happened in Minnesota. This was a prescreening of the movie - it's not released yet - that is to happen around mid-April. PZ Myers of Pharyngula fame was refused attendance and asked to leave. Richard Dawkins (the world's most famous atheist evolutionist), accompanying Meyers, made it in and afterward was engaged in some discussion, seemingly cordial. (Both Myers and Dawkins appear in the film. Both say that they were deceived about the intention of the film at the time that they gave their interviews.) Myers and Dawkins subsequent to these events posted reasoned academic discussion (OK, I made that part up) about their experiences, and all hell broke loose in the science blogs - as of this writing the Myers post has something over 1600 comments and still going strong. The Expelled folks have this take. At some point last week, the NYT and AP picked up the story as well.
What seems to be in dispute about the matter is: whether the screening was a private affair or not, whether Myers was behaving in a way that attracted security for the event, whether film producer Mark Mathis pre-determined that Myers would not be admitted to the movie, and whether Richard Dawkins flew across the Atlantic to see a pre-screening of his star role (or attend a nearby atheist conference) among a plethora of other ideas and projections among the parties.
As you can surmise from Dawkins' post, he is very unhappy about what happened to Myers and unhappy with the film, enough to appello Jesus.
For his part, PZ finds ultimate irony that people so concerned with science demagoguery to the extent that they would have Expelled as their nom de guerre would stoop to the very same treatment.
The blog noise over all of this is primarily concerned with the ironic hypocrisy at hand - and in many cases, given such hypocrisy, that the film shouldn't even be released.
I suppose that it could be pointed out that there seems to be a moral equivalence of thin design at work. Neither Meyers or Dawkins work for the film producers or the production company. Neither of them were fired for expressing their views to the producers or the production company. Neither Meyers or Dawkins have had their careers ruined by the denigration of the producers or the production company.
Myers denied attendance at a prescreening of the incomplete film morally equivalent to the experience of expelled academicians? That cur fails to track.
It is also possible that the prolonged ad hominem shouting may just serve to attract more attention to the film's content than the 'science' community would like.
UPDATE: Try some video...
H/T for the video: Uncommon Descent.
UPDATE2: Discovery Institute's Evolution News blog points to highest 'sphere traffic statistic and visits the moral equivalence issue.
Faithful reader, you know by now that I've been around for a while. Old as dirt you know.
That means that I can remember many of the science fads of recent history. (Maybe, not as old as dirt after all, I can at least remember, and old as dirt can't do that - can it?)
Way back before everything was searchable by the Google crawlers, oh back in 1975, the NYT, Time Magazine, Newsweek and the like published dire warnings about - heavens! - Global Cooling. (And, if you are willing to go look through some 'fische the NYT published dire warnings about cooling in 1924, warming in 1935, before settling on cooling again in 1975.)
Newsweek, for its part, felt moved to address their 1975 scary stuff with this blurb in 2006 which begins:
In April, 1975, in an issue mostly taken up with stories about the collapse of the American-backed government of South Vietnam, NEWSWEEK published a small back-page article about a very different kind of disaster. Citing "ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically," the magazine warned of an impending "drastic decline in food production." Political disruptions stemming from food shortages could affect "just about every nation on earth." Scientists urged governments to consider emergency action to head off the terrible threat of . . . well, if you had been following the climate-change debates at the time, you'd have known that the threat was: global cooling.
Newsweek apparently felt compelled to issue this explanation because the article is still being quoted regularly and they must defend themselves - journalistically speaking, of course, they impart: In fact, the story wasn't "wrong" in the journalistic sense of "inaccurate."
Hmmm... sounds almost Ratheresque to me.
Check the link and you'll be treated to a few paragraphs of twisted conjugation about how ice ages might happen, maybe, but the consensus now is that human impacts will swamp [those ice age theories].
And Newsweek concludes:
The point to remember, says Connolley, is that predictions of global cooling never approached the kind of widespread scientific consensus that supports the greenhouse effect today. And for good reason: the tools scientists have at their disposal now—vastly more data, incomparably faster computers and infinitely more sophisticated mathematical models—render any forecasts from 1975 as inoperative as the predictions being made around the same time about the inevitable triumph of communism. Astronomers have been warning for decades that life on Earth could be wiped out by a collision with a giant meteorite; it hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean that journalists have been dupes or alarmists for reporting this news. Citizens can judge for themselves what constitutes a prudent response-which, indeed, is what occurred 30 years ago. All in all, it's probably just as well that society elected not to follow one of the possible solutions mentioned in the NEWSWEEK article: to pour soot over the Arctic ice cap, to help it melt.
Yes, it's true. Some scientists in 1975 thought it would be a good idea to work on melting the Arctic ice.
But the key point here is that we should understand that we are so much smarter now, we have global consensus, and news magazines like Newsweek aren't alarmist - there's equal value in the public square to presenting data on either side of this particular issue. That's just good journalism. Right?
Well, it's now a scientific fact that the past twelve months have completely wiped out the 'warming' trend of the last one hundred years (OK, three one-hundredths of a degree short of wiped out). So much for the increase in parts-per-million of CO2. Something far more powerful than the increase in CO2, at least one hundred times more powerful, has reversed that trend. Perhaps it's time to consider Global Cooling again.
As of this writing, a brief survey of mainstream media shows no coverage of this incredible scientific finding. Only USA Today has an environmental front page item about a study revealing high toxin levels in National Parks. Deep in CNN today there is an article about Algore warning off Wall Street about 'subprime carbon'.
Just think, they've eschewed a front page item like: Science Determines That Something Far More Powerful Than Carbon Emissions Has Reversed The Effects Of Global Warming In A Single Year. I mean that would just be good journalism wouldn't it?
Perhaps this is the reason that the politically correct speak of the algorologists recently has morphed to Climate Change.
Because, you see, no matter what the effect is now, warming, or cooling, it is the presence of the incipient pestilential human race that causes Climate Change. Nobel clout will be wielded. Actual scientific measurement be damned.
And as time progresses, I suppose, to paraphrase something my friend Jeff Goldstein once said, we'll continue to see the obvious certainty of terrestrial physics, and the global temperature will rise and it will fall, for reasons that we do not know.
And fraudulent charlatans, some even well-meaning, will continue to prey upon the globe, effecting action with politic, public spending and legislation against the very forces of nature as if a single utterance they make could alter the particle stream from the sun or change the law of gravity.
Until, I fear, that the notion of climate and temperature becomes a palimpsest, and is replaced by global suicide.
Many of the opposing view feign shock that there could be such a thing - for example, note this comment exchange:
Here's what it comes down to ... Either there is a massive, global, air-tight conspiracy of atheist, evolutionist scientists OR Humphrey [Ed: a scientist with an alternative view] is a crank.
EMCEE: I never asserted that there was a conspiracy. You have been tossing that about on your posts - I never said it. A conspiracy is secret. Scientific elitism is practiced openly and observable evidence is being suppressed. Those are just the facts. I've mentioned a few cases in my post. Or perhaps you are aware that Humphrey has been invited to present to the next symposium on radioisotope dating? No? Oh, yeah, he's not doing science digging up those crystals around the world and measuring their helium content.
It's not a conspiracy, it's completely open disbarment of dissident views from the public square. And it just happens that subjects such as the age of the earth have religious implications. I've given several examples where there are no such implications - and the disbarment is the same.
This spring, in theaters, everyone will have the opportunity to see the suppression at work.
Enter, Ben Stein, activist, entertainer, speech writer - champion of freedom of speech.
See Expelled the movie. Coming soon to a theater near you (unless the 'science' establishment can prevent it from being released).
Back in August after Time magazine published this cover:
I suggested in a satirical piece that an organization representing the grand poo-bah of science in mechanistic Material Nature would have preferred a cover like this:
I did so because this is the actual kind of dialog that is currently conducted by those who call themselves 'scientists'. Instead of actually having a discussion about scientific ideas offered by dissident scientists, the mainstream scientists have punted on discussing science and instead just offer fear mongering and ad-hominem attack. It's really indistinguishable from political moonbattery.
Don't buy that this is the way it is? Well, as it is said, truth is stranger than fiction. I've already pointed out an analysis of the TIME image that castigates TIME magazine for going so far as to actually allow that there is a debate.
And now, the November issue of SEED magazine features this cover:
Apparently, the editors of SEED got the letter - not mine - the real letter that went out.
This iconic image serves to represent how 'science' has approached the controversy in the public square. The chimpanzee represents the accepted assertion that humans descended from non-human ancestors (this despite the fact that no one, not even evolutionary gradualists believe that humans descended from chimpanzees. It is asserted that they have a common ancestor - one which we have no evidence or proferred model for.) and that such facts (representing the entire scientific community) are enraged, incredulous, and frustrated with the co-opting of 'science' by the disguised thumpers. And there's no worry about the relative positioning of science and God in this image - there is only science - nothing else.
So this is it, Public Square:
ID Scientist: So, can we discuss, say, irreducible complexity?
Scientist: Of course not, I won't even participate. You are just trying to sneek in the baby Jesus.
ID Scientist: No, I mean can we talk about several examples of organic structures, like flagellates, the mammalian eye, and components of living cells that have interdependent macro structures which are problematic for an explanation that involves gradual additive actions over a period of time.
Scientist: No, look, Intelligent Design equals the baby Jesus. Irreducible complexity is the baby Jesus.
ID Scientist: Well, can you proposed a model, a theoretical model that accounts for interdependent organic macro structures developing over time?
Scientist: Baby Jesus! Baby Jesus! You are forcing me into Sunday School!
So much for the practice of science. Science is supposed to reflect a process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Instead we get demagoguery.
Curiously, SEED asserts in this issue that it (the magazine) has a new design. The editors have intelligently realigned layouts and content in the magazine to make it more likely that it will survive in the plethora of magazine species. Using the current logic of science, it would be reasonable to suppose that if we were to peel back that top right hand corner, we'd see a picture of the baby Jesus.
(Actually, it's a picture of the Dahli Lama holding a baby Buddha* - just shows the stretch that science is making to confront the numinous - but that's another story.)
*I mean figuratively - there is an article touting the scientific value of Buddhism in the issue.
The Divine Wind didn't work in World War II - but it still must be protecting Japan from things like typhoons.
Tropical Cyclone Saola pretty much took the right angle turn predicted by the Japanese forecasters, has reduced to a Category 1, and is heading NE back into the Pacific.
After pretty miserable weather yesterday, I ventured out today - caught a few 50 mph gusts in the eastern part of Tokyo, but no precip.
From looking at the news, it appears that though Rita slammed hard into the Texas coast, everyone is thankful that it wasn't worse.
I still think it would be a good idea to hire Japanese forecasters at the US National Weather Service.
Tropical Cyclone (typhoon) Saola only appears to be heading for a direct hit on Japan.
Over the last 24 hours or so as the storm has progressed West/NW toward Japan the projected angle of 'deflection' has increased to almost 90 degrees.
The storm is currently gusting to 125 mph and has a 24 foot storm surge.
Wonder when the angle gets to be greater than 90 degrees if they'll perhaps begin to re-evaluate.
Rita has no such sensibility.
Maybe we just need the Japanese forecasters in the US - they'd get that thing turned around.
Here comes hurricane Rita:
Did you know that tropical cyclone (typhoon) Saola is bearing down on Japan?
I live in Seattle, I'm watching hurricane Rita coverage on TV in Japan and hoping that Tokyo doesn't get evacuated in front of Saola.
We live in interesting times.
Oooh, this'll be fun! Can't wait until they are about 50 inches by 30 inches unrolled - roll it up and fold it, it's the size of a pen!