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Abuses of Science Political Cartoon Contest 345

AngryNick writes "The Union of Concerned Scientists has announced a cartoon contest for amateur and professional artists. 'The absurdity of political interference in science is fertile ground for satire,' said Dr. Francesca Grifo, Director of the UCS Scientific Integrity Program. 'We hope these contests encourage amateur and professional cartoonists alike to express concern--through humor and art--about the impact of the abuse of science on our safety, health and environment.' A celebrity judge panel will select twelve finalists and the public will then choose the Grand Prize winner. The winner will receive a host of prizes, including $500 and an all-expenses-paid trip to have lunch with the celebrity judge of his or her choice. You can read Contest details, sample topics and the list of celebrity judges."
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Abuses of Science Political Cartoon Contest

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:20AM (#15466543)
    Well, if I had any artistic talent...

    A cartoon of Darwin with a turban except the turban is actually a bomb with a lit fuse.
  • Any bets on what percentage of total entries will contain characterizations of George Bush Jr.?

  • Can we start.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:21AM (#15466550) Homepage
    If we're talking political abuse-of-science, can I link to this essay by Michael Crichton [michaelcrichton.com] about "environmentalism as religion" just to remind everyone that things like this cut both ways?
    • If we're talking political abuse-of-science, can I link to this essay by Michael Crichton about "environmentalism as religion" just to remind everyone that things like this cut both ways?

      Nope. Note in the rules:

      The subject of the cartoons must relate to political interference in science in the federal government.

      In other words, the subject of the cartoons must be the Bush administration.
    • How many people have been killed by enviro-weenies?
      • I just finished reading the essay, and he addresses this. He gives the example of people dying (I assume he means from malaria) because of the ban on DDT.

        This was actually a topic on /. not too long ago.
      • by rogerz ( 78608 ) <roger@3playm e d i a . c om> on Sunday June 04, 2006 @01:01PM (#15467053)
        Are you serious? There is no question that the U.S. Ban on DDT has resulted in supply shortages such that millions of Africans and South Americans are dying each year from malaria. This site [fightingmalaria.org] and this reference at the the CDC [cdc.gov] are good places to start.

        Even the New York Times [nytimes.com] has begun to accept the truth on this.

        What is worse is that the philisophical routes of this ban were explicitly anti-human. Rachel Carson barely mentioned any negative impact on humans in 'Silent Spring'. Certainly, there were no such studies at the time (and studies since then have shown 0 ill effects to humans). Carson's main complaint was that DDT weakened the shells of bird eggs, thereby disrupting their cycle. This too has been disproven.

        So, we have essentially sacrificed the lives of millions of humans in the name of speculation regarding the potential damage to birds! If that's not religion, I don't know what is.
        • The hallmarks of dishonet argument on DDT are as follows:

          1. Accuse DDT regulation of being motivated to protect birds for their own sake. Do not mention that birds are the primary preditors of malaria-carrying insects.

          2. Assume that the effects of DDT use are stable; do not assume that insects will become resistant.

          3. Assume that the number of infections prevented similarly follows a constant rate ad infinitum.

          The argument FOR banning DDT that I've always heard was the the benefits of DDT are strong at firs
        • by diekhans ( 979162 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @05:25PM (#15468358)

          This posting continues to repeat common distortions and false dichotomies about DDT, malaria, and the environment.

          • The use of DDT to prevent malaria is not an environmental issue. The amounts used are tiny when compared to what was used in agriculture.

            Millions of tons of DDT were applied agriculturally, resulting in the wide-spreed environmental contamination and non-consented exposure of humans. This also resulted in the evolution of strains of DDT-resistant mosquitoes, making DDT less effective in malaria control.

            A large about of the agricultural use in developed countries was to produce cheaper cotton. Yet this misuse that lead to the ban on the agricultural never seems to be criticized by the so-called DDT defenders.

          • The weakening of egg shells of birds by the DDT metabolite DDE has not been disproved.

          • The implication that individuals who are concerned about the environment and other species are not concerned about people in third world countries. There are extremists in every corner, but as a rule, no evidence ever presented to back this up.

            Personally, I have had malaria while in a developing country, with out access to western medical facilities. I have a greater appreciation than most of the direct affects of malaria.

        • Other replies point out some of the problems with your reasoning. But for a different perspective: My wife is Nigerian (just became a US citizen a few years ago). She had malaria as a child, and so did most of her family. And she doesn't see why this is such a big deal.

          Malaria is not a terrible scourge that puts people in fear of their lives. It is a common disease that, much like the flu, is unlikely to be fatal except in those who were already ill or infirm. Those deaths are still sad and should be prev

    • How is this an example of how things "cut both ways"?

      Politicians ignore science to further their own goals. Hippies further their own goals by ignoring the facts. Where are the scientists abusing anything here?
      • The scientists aren't abusing anything. The way the theme of this contest cuts both ways is that both politicians in power and hippies in the street distort or misrepresent science to further their own political agenda.
    • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:56AM (#15466718)
      Heck, if we're talking abuse of science, I can't think of any better subject to discuss than the author of Andromeda Strain, Prey, and State of Fear. The man's been mangling science for years and then making his books look better by tossing a gratuitous biblography of all the papers he supposedly read to justify his plots. (Alien crystal viruses, grey goo, and local cooling disproving global warming, oh my!)

      Michael Crichton doesn't know what he's talking about. State of Fear is filled with junk science. [csicop.org] Read a more thorough debunking here. [realclimate.org]

      The essay you link is nothing but an attack on the argument by attacking the source of the argument as being from zealots. He accuses the environmental movement of being responsible for massive deaths, and claims that they're distorting facts without backing any of it up with "facts" of his own -- except for "facts" like the harmlessness of second-hand smoke. Crichton's a loon and an asshole for making that last argument in particular, but the bulk of the essay argument is that environmentalists are wrong in their assertions (without any justification of why) and thus religious nuts for asserting something that his holiness Crichton declares to be wrong. (Oh, he could cite mainstream articles, but you wouldn't believe him anyway, so why back up his bald-faced lies?)

      He attacks environmentalists as being the same as people who romanticize primativism, use errors on predictions of a socially affected phenomena like population growth show that scientists who care about the environment can't be trusted. He claims that DDT is harmless because it's not a carcinogenic (when it's the liver, immune, and nervous toxicity that actually caused it to be banned). He states that we can't totally roll back carbon emissions without fusion technology, so it's a waste of time to bother reducing them in the meantime. He falls back on the old saw of the environment being a complex system that's hard to understand as justification for not erring on the side of safety.

      His speech is nothing but a litany of half-truths, distortions, unbacked assertions, and ad hominem attacks. So, yes, let's start our discussion of abuse of science with a discussion of Crichton. It's only appropriate.
      • He falls back on the old saw of the environment being a complex system that's hard to understand as justification for not erring on the side of safety.

        You had me interested until that point. Come on, that's just a little too obviously biased to let slide - side of safety for whom? Future generations who might be affected? Or current generations whose economic interests *will* be significantly affected?

        I'm not arguing against the theory of global warming, but merely stating that "playing it safe" is an ar
      • "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter"
      • Regardless of the quality of science in his writings, the interesting thing for me was the turnaround in perception of him. For years, I thought a number of his stories and the films made of them were quite good, but the science was iffy at best. Even so, he seemed to be well thought of as putting forward "cautionary tales" highlighting the hubris of science, scientists and capitalists who myopically care for nothing but their own ends (the owner in the book version of Jurassic Park for example).

        Now that he
      • So, after all that reactionary vitriol, do you have any actual counterarguments against hispoint that environmentalism has become an urban religion? Or are you just hating on someone who disagrees with you? You sound like the same reactionary loons who attacked the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, because he dared speak out against the hegemony of thinking going on in the environmentalist movement.

        Frankly, Crichton makes a lot of very valid points, particularly about man's ingrained rush to craf
      • If we're talking abuse of science, I can't think of any better subject to discuss than the author of Andromeda Strain, Prey, and State of Fear... Michael Crichton doesn't know what he's talking about.

        Here here to that! Micahel Crichton's works are disturbingly close to science, without actually being accurate (that is the danger - that they are confused with science by young/uneducated minds).

        The essay you link is nothing but an attack on the argument by attacking the source of the argument as being from zealots. He accuses the environmental movement of being responsible for massive deaths.

        Ad hominem attacks are highly effective. Why is this? Is it a quirk of human nature "I hate this guy so I don't listen to anything he says," or is it actually rational? Think about this for a moment:

        If one takes a Bayesian view of probability [wikipedia.org] (probability represents one's degree of belief in a proposition, not a frequency of occurrance), then if one is a rational Bayesian agent, one must incorporate all "relevant" information when ascertaining the belief of a hypothesis, through the chaining of probabilities. Starting with a prior on a statement (unfortunately what prior to choose is often unclear, and is perhaps even arbitrary), one modifies the belief by multiplying by conditional probabilities as gathered by evidence.

        One can easily make the claim (the "proof" for this shall be left as an exercise to the reader) that given the sum of experiences one has collected over their lifetime, (direct experience or transitive experience through discussion, books, and other media) one can infer that there is indeed a conditional probability connecting the probability that entity A is a "zealot" and that information from entity A is incorrect.

        Bayesian reasoning/inference differs significantly from "pure" boolean reasoning in that it captures this information in a way tha tis actually useful in real life. For instance, the statement "if someone is pointing a gun at you, they will kill you" is obviously false under boolean logic systems, however in real life it is prudent to infer that it is likely enough that htey will kill you that you should take it into account in your planning process. Similarly with the "ad hominem" attacks. The following statements are all valid in a Bayesian framework (when one takes into account the independence of these propositions from other information known about entity A):
        1. Entity A is a zealot/crackpot, therefore assertion X is more likely to be incorrect.
        2. Entity A is a well respected, unbiased source, therefore assertion X is likely to be correct.
        3. Assertion X is known to conflict with deep laws of science/politics, or is a minority viewpoint which is considered to be "fringe thinking"/"crackpottery"/un-preferred worldview (i.e. over-unity devices, fascism, tinfoil-hat), therefore Entity A is likely to be an untrustworthy source
        4. Assertion X, Y, Z, etc have proven to be correct and are in-line with generally accepted theory, therefore Entity A is more likely to be a trustworthy source.

        All of these statements are fairly vague (I'm sure one can find a far more rigorous discussion of this somewhere online), however I trust you can see that independent of all other information on Entity A these statements are correct.

        That leads me to conclude (in an albeit simplified fashion) that because information on a subject/individual/particular point is highly limited (indeed, with things like global warming, etc, even having a PhD in the field is only a reasonable start, not a comprehensive, authoritative educaiton), one must consider all information about an argument (and weight it according to statistical correlation) when one makes an inference (once again assuming one is a Bayesian, which is a strong assumption, but definitely closer to human reasoning under uncertainty than pure boolean logic, or frequentism). Therefore ad-hominmen attacks are actually important - if you must extend "trust" to a source (you are trusting their reasoning or their data), you must first ascertain the level of trust you should extend. Ad-hominem attacks are therefore effective precisely because they provide evidence (often very unbiased, but sometimes not) that the data should not be trusted. This does not in any way prove that the data or reasoning is wrong, merely that is should have a reduced weighting in the final inference of belief.

        Your own statements about Crichton attempt to de-establish him as a scientific authority (for good reason, he is definitely not one) and are effective because you reduce the weight given to his assertions, etc. However the issue with that is that it does not in any way indicate that they are wrong, and nothing in your post seems to provide any evidence that his stances on things like global warming are bad (merely for incorrect reasons). Let me examine in more detail:

        He accuses the environmental movement of being responsible for massive deaths.

        Is this so preposterous? Leaving aside the issue of whether or not large amounts of deaths are even a bad thing (with a world that's quickly becoming overcrowded, even the death of millions is fairly insignificant to the race as a whole), why should this be a surprise? Not being an expert in the field, I cannot provide conclusive proof of this of course, but it can be established as plausable, with the following reasoning:

        1. Technology often has intentional and unintentional negative effects on the environment.
        2. The advancement of human agenda often does as well.
        3. The primary sustaining force of human beings on the planet is advanced technology. The child mortality rate, along with sustainable population levels, were much, much worse for humans before the advent of science and industrialization. Modern nutrition, agriculture, medication, etc all help keep people alive.
        4. While some environmentalists (like myself) wish to preserve the environment because it is in the best long term interests of our species, there are many "zealots" (not that I think they are necessarily nuts, just stronger in belief) that believe that the preservation of the environment has an importance that ranks above the agenda of our species, that it is a fundamental ethical consideration (like that of individual freedom and exercise of free will, for instance). Thera have been many articles that support the idea that environmentalism is becoming a replacement religion for modern secular humanists.
        5. Environmentalists who place the environment's importance above that of our species will therefore necessarily oppose technological development and advancement of human agenda at the expense of the environment as a whole. Often this ignores the fact that technological development can lead to smaller ecological footprints (things like fusion power, hybrid cars, or eventually subterranian/extraterrestrial agriculture and habitats)
        6. Environmentalist opposition to technological development (like nuclear development) has had a measurable impact on our ability to progress technologically, and therefore support more humans in better lifestyles for longer lifetimes at better levels of health.

        To, me, the only questions left are to what degree this is true, and whether or not it is a bad thing. Economy and war are strong driving forces for development of technology, and frequently environmentalists cause (for right or wrong) stagnation. Unfortunately there are significant numbers of unenlightened environmentalists that act as luddites and believe that mankind should turn its back on science and technology becaues it is 'too dangerous" and are not willing to accept the possibiliity that environmental problems could be solved by applicaiton of technology.

        It is certainly possible that nuclear weapons could end all human life on the planet (among others), however it is also possible to artificially reduce the net solar flux to the surface of earth via injection of high-altitude particulate matter via nuclear explosions. Equally as is possible for huamn interference to doom entire species to extinction, it is also possible to collect DNA from species thorughout the world and preserve it in such a way that the species could be reconstructed at a later time, possibly hundreds of millions of years (at which time they may likely be extinct without human intervention). Similarly our ability (present or future) to deflect/destroy incoming astereroids, or open up new biological pathways unavailable to evolution (due to it being stocastic "greedy" search through the genetic configuration space, which practically guarantees significant global nonoptimality due to the abundance of nearly inescapable global minima), or even for humans to extend our life to other planets throughout hte galaxy, bringing life to worlds once barren. Who knows what will actually happne, but it is clear that technology is not the horrid ecological enemy that it is made out to be.

        He states that we can't totally roll back carbon emissions without fusion technology, so it's a waste of time to bother reducing them in the meantime. He falls back on the old saw of the environment being a complex system that's hard to understand as justification for not erring on the side of safety.

        This is often repeated, not because all people on this side of the issue are as idiotic as Crichton, but because it has a plausible chain of reasoning associated with it. In its purest form, it comes down to how much faith one has in social solutions, vs technological solutions. Personally my exposure to history suggests that many social solutions are shortlived and rely strongly on a collective will of individuals, and an atmosphere that lends itself to cooperation. Environmental problems, oftne being intangable and on timescales that are of little significance to individuals, do not lend themselves to sociological solutions, especially in the presense of "defectors." Indeed, like voting, environmental reponsibility is irrational (in a purely utilitarian framework) on the individual level when it is anonymous, as the cost to the individual's responsible behavior is orders of magnitude more than the tangible benefits (tradgedy of the commons) and thus a rational individual would defect. Of course there are solutions to this, involving binding contractual pacts (this is rarely done) or governmental madates (the current solution), however both solutions require large, centralized agencies to exert more power over individual lives (which is against the fundamental principles of some, and has notable, pracdtical problems in a utilitarian fraemwork, see fascism and minority oppression).

        Technological solutions, on the other hand, are much more viable IMHO because they rely less on large-scale human interaction (unreliable and sometimes dangerous) and more on sound (though not perfect) scientific/engineering principles to attack a problem. They have their own downsides, but for reasons which I cannot fully articulate, I have much stronger faith in the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of scientific/technological progress, which has eliminated so much disease, famine and suffering, which also seems to be exponential in nature, as opposed to sociological change which has considerable inertia and a very poor track record.

        If one believes strongly that environmental problems are solvable through the acquisition and application of advanced technology, then crippling the socioeconomic engines of technical progress by reducing "productive" consumption of resources is a very bad idea. "Sustainable" lifestyles that do not take into account the exponential nature of technological progress then simply serve to lengthen the amount of time it takes to come up with an ecological solution. Furthermore because technology can provide solutions for other, nonecological problems (increasing education, extending lifespan, increasing quality of life, learning more about the universe, the creation of art and beauty and new ways of thinking/communicating), it is creating additional problems.

        Also, while the notion that "we don't know anything about climate prediction, so we shouldn't do anything about it" is hopelessly oversimplified, the truth is that the field is still far from having a strong grasp of the fundamental underlying dynamics, and being able to produce comprehensive models. The underlying mathematics of complex systems is still in its infancy, and the computational requirements of those simulations are often orders of magnitude more than what are currently present (disclaimer: I work in computational physics not computational climate modelling, however the problem of solving partial differential equations with diffusive components on large, high-resolution spherical grids is highly similar in nature). This is where I think the republicans have it completely incorrect. "We don't know what's going on, so we should do nothing" should be "we don't know what's going on, so we damn well better find out." I think it's safe to say at this point that global warming is a very real, possibly disasterous phenomenon, but the best way of combatting it is still unkonwn. As I sated before, the overly-simplistic solution of "stop causing it" may very well be too little too late, and reduce the chance that a technological solution (in the case that the earth's homeostatic mechanisms cannot attain equilibrium before some extreeme harm is caused to humanity) can be found before millions die. Instead of the solution of cutting carbon emissions (which may do nothing at all, or even exacerbate the problem due to the nonlinearity of the situation), which has the further danger of appearing to be "doing something," we should be focussing significant (50 billion/year in the US at least) to developing the theoretical mathematics/physics and the necessary computational technologies needed to investigate this problem. This has the further benefit that many spin-off technologies/knowlege (like that gained from the space program) will improve our nation and the world. I think it'd be pretty incredible if the republicans "stole" this issue from the democrats - indeed they could probably find a way to funnel significant parts of the money into their own home districts, and to the military-industrial complex in the process. It is unfortunate that they do not, and that the current administration is so anti-science (when being pro-science could possibly help them with elections etc).

        This post was larger than I intended, and I am interested to hear what others think. Disclaimers: I am not an expert on Bayesian reasoning (though I've taken several classes on this type of reasoning, my professional work does not use it), I do not have a PhD (just a masters), and I do not work in the field of climatology (though the mathematics are relatively similar to the MHD simulations I work with).
    • from an objective standpoint, who would you rather win the debate?

      the way i see it.. if we are not causing global warming, but take environmental precautions assuming we were, there is no harm in that. Every environmental measure taken so far has had little effect on profit margins, and increased the overall quality of life in developed nations.

      this is much like putting a seatbelt on when you drive. while there is no guarantee that you will hit someone head on and be tossed through your windshield, I imagi
    • Actually I think that is their point. The pro-business politicians on one side and the eco-freaks on the other each with their own "experts" with the actually science being not some where in the middle, but on the other side of town.

      The scientists want the science to be the validator, not data being warped or cherry picked to support a politcal bent.

    • The contest is based on political interference. The people you're attacking (environmentalist hippies) misuse/misinterpret scientific findings to fit to their vision of the world. The people they're aiming at attack well establish science by cutting funding, exploiting government, "refuting" science (often using ad hominem attacks), manipulating the general public's understanding of the subject, etc. That's interfering.
  • Abuses of Science? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deft ( 253558 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:23AM (#15466562) Homepage
    Abuses of science.... poorly worded?

    Wow, did anyone else read that headline and think that they were inviting people to make their political attacks on science in a cartoon?

    I expected a cartoon attacking stem cell research, of maybe a mushroom cloud over hiroshima with the caption "scientific progress".

    Of course, it's completely the other way, as I would hope... but yeah, title misleading!
  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:29AM (#15466583)
    dupe this story when the results & cartoons are ready, please :)
  • Clearly the winner.

    Or maybe ManBearPig.

    Nah.....definately Two Days.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:35AM (#15466607)
    We need a cartoon that depicts an email recipient reading about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide with a send this to everybody you know footer.
  • by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:41AM (#15466632) Journal
    I worked at N.I.H (National Institutes of Health) in Washington, D.C. for 4 years doing research and let me tell you - scientists love cartoons! - everyones lab door had four or five cartoons on it (usually The Farside). They can also be pretty blunt and to the point. I'm pretty sure some of these cartoons will ruffle some feather quite a bit, which is what we need I guess. Unfortunatley, media portrayal of scientists is not always ideal, and may further serve to spread the barrier between rational thought and the great number of uneducated people who may be religious/creationists. I happen to be Catholic and couldn't be happier on the Vaticans stance that evolution is a valid scientific theory, and that the earth isn't 6,000 years old.

    Please no flame wars about the old churches stance on celestial mechanics - we've all seen it before, no need to bring it up and get side tracked. We are talking about todays political climate.

    And please let's not limit this discussion to evolution and creationists - there's been a great deal of interference on the topic of global warming. The old Republican party stance that it's not occurring has been disproven by the vast majority of atmospheric/climatologists scientists, and have shown it to be a fact. I hate that because Al Gore (A Democrat) is pro-environment, that many Republicans feel that they have to take an opposing viewpoint - what gives!? Yes, I'm sure the Dems do the same with other issues, but we are talking about science here, so let's keep our egos and passions aside and behave like rational thinkers.

    • Right.... the republicans are raping the environment because they want to stick it to the democrats. It has NOTHING to do with the millions of campaign dollars contributed by companies that profit from the destruction of the planet.
    • FWIW, I don't think that (1) global warming has definitively been established, and (2) that there is anything even approaching a definitive establishment as to cause.

      Me, I do believe it's happening--but that human activity has absolutely nothing to do with it. Rather, it's part of the natural cycle that has been in effect since before there WERE human beings on earth.

      The notion that it is caused by what puny humans can do is just laughable. One has only to look at the phenomenon of Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. St.

      • "The notion that it is caused by what puny humans can do is just laughable."

        Why is it that human beings (all 6+ billion of us) suddenly become puny and insignificant when, and only when, global warming is mentioned?

        "One has only to look at the phenomenon of Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. St. Helens--both of which put more particulates into the atmosphere in DAYS than humans have throughout their history--to realize the earth is a self-regulating system."

        A self-regulating system just like, for example, the human body.
    • There is significant evidence for global warming, but less showing that it is caused by people. It seems to me that scientists are politically pressured to support global warming, just like evolution (Which I don't necessarily disagree with, but I doubt many scientific organizations would give support to a scientist with another theory, even if it wasn't in any way similar to intelligent design.).
    • I've been thinking about whether evolution is a scientific theory lately. Maybe it's that I'm insufficiently imaginative, or maybe that biologists are less inclined to Popperian philosophies of science than people from a physical science background, but I can't see how theories about speciation over millions of years could be either falsified or tested repeatedly. In what sense, then, are they scientific?
      • but I can't see how theories about speciation over millions of years could be either falsified or tested repeatedly. In what sense, then, are they scientific? - well, we actually observe speciation happenning in real life, and not only in bacteria.

        In abalone for example, we have observed actual speciation taking place. We understand exactly HOW it happens in them as well. Speciation in this case involves a population splitting into two population and genetically drifting from each other, so that they can'
      • but I can't see how theories about speciation over millions of years could be either falsified or tested repeatedly. In what sense, then, are they scientific?

        You can't test evolution over millions of years. You can, however, test most fascets of it over much shorter spans of time, and potentially disprove it based upon that evidence.
  • by erexx23 ( 935832 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:49AM (#15466677)
    People of religion have been studying science for decades.

    There is no disparity.

    Those who seek conflict only search to reaffirm their own personal beliefs about the world.

    The "debate" deserves parody.
    • I'm not sure what you mean by "There is no disparity"

      There are some people who study science just to dig up facts that support their position, whether it is valid or not.

      Doesn't matter what the issue is, there's always going to be at least one person who will stand directly opposite the facts and yell "You're wrong", if for no other reason than to get attention &/or be difficult.
  • It is a political, not a scientific organization.

    Those of you not old enough to remember its 'fellow traveler' support of the Soviet Union and its geopolitical aims can do some reading instead of mouthing off. Learn something.
    • What are you talking about exactly? UCS's opposition to the Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative on scientific grounds? That hardly amounts to support of Soviet geopolitical aims, no matter how you slice it. Perhaps I am ignorant of something else? if so, please enlighten me; otherwise I think the assertion is nonsense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 04, 2006 @11:49AM (#15466680)
    When I read the New Testament, one thing that really stands out to me is the emphasis Jesus placed on always asking questions. He never told his followers to obey him obediently. He wanted them to question his actions and words. He wanted them to think for themselves, and analyze the world around them, for themselves. That's the very essence of science: understanding nature via observation and experimentation.

    A common theme throughout the Gospels is somebody asking Jesus a question, and Jesus telling them to look. Sometimes they would have to look inside themselves, but other times they were told to look at the world around them. They could find the answers there. All they had to do was look.

    Frankly, we don't need comics to prove wrong those Republicans, neoconservatives, evangelists, etc., who have perverted the teachings of Christ. As Christ taught us to do, all we need to do is look! We can look for ourselves at his very teachings just to see how perverted some people's interpretations of them are. And we can use his wisdom in our pursuit of science. As scientists, we always need to be continuously observing, experimenting, and otherwise understanding the world around us. That's exactly what Jesus encouraged his followers to do.

    • He wanted them to question his actions and words. He wanted them to think for themselves, and analyze the world around them, for themselves.

      Jesus was also very anti-theocracy and wanted people to develop their own, individual spirituality and not to repeat hymns by rote. He said his followers should just speak to God and mumbled off the Lord's Prayer on the spot as an example of how to speak to a diety.

      It's funny how his message was perverted by those who stood to gain from said perversion. Well, actually
    • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @12:34PM (#15466919)
      When I read the New Testament, one thing that really stands out to me is the emphasis Jesus placed on always asking questions. He never told his followers to obey him obediently. He wanted them to question his actions and words.

      You must be reading a different New Testament from the rest of us. For example, Christ's pronouncements on divorce look nothing like your description above. [religioustolerance.org]

      Mark 10:2-12: "And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."

      There is no questioning nor observation nor experiment here. There is a bald pronouncement: divorce is forbidden (there is a hotly contested description of the same exchange in Matthew that may permit divorce on some grounds if we could only figure out how to translate the Greek word "pornei" unambiguously.)

      The key to this passage is the question of scriptural authority vs the authority of Christ. Jesus is saying that even though the scriptures permit divorce, God doesn't approve of it and the time has come to end it. Jesus is claiming arbitrarily and without a shred of empirical evidence that God wants married people to stay that way. Period. He does not mention social ills or practical problems. He simply invokes what God wants. This why Christianity is religion, not science.

      There is no practical way within the Christian framework to challenge Jesus' flat-out prohibition on divorce. To do so you either have to avail yourself of Matthew's ambiguous loophole, or you have to deny the validity of Christ's words in this instance, possibly invoking the fact that we know prohibiting divorce can lead to various social ills, the exploitation and/or battering of spouses, etc, and Jesus was clearly against that kind of thing.

      But once you have done that you are well on your way down the interpretive slippery slope that leads to secular humanism. You'll find lots of friendly people ready to greet you with open arms when you reach the bottom!
    • "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." -John 3:36

      Since understanding the world around us is probably the best defense against God's wrath. =)

    • Great !

      So the Son of God basically told people to RTFA, or even "google for it" !

      I bet He reads Digg!

  • If someone can draw, how about drawing a scientist in a maze made out of patents and lawyers carrying him through it, labeled "A good study needs good supporters"?
  • So.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @12:06PM (#15466773) Journal
    So abuse of science, how far does that stretch?

    Could I not argue that science invented weapons so the Iraq invasion is an abuse of science.

    Could I argue that nuclear power was invented to save people, so using it as an excuse to pressure Iran is an abuse of science?

    We could push this so far it's insane.
  • $500 isn't much... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <[imipak] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Sunday June 04, 2006 @12:12PM (#15466804) Homepage Journal
    ...for a contest that could potentially draw an entry from virtually every scientist, academic, researcher, or otherwise pro-understanding individual in the United States. The potential exists for a few tens of millions of entries, especially given the current disillusionment.

    eg: NASA is currently cutting back or eliminating many science missions in order to pay for the next-gen shuttle, which assumes Congress won't cut NASA's budget over the next ten years -and- there are no cost overruns anywhere, according to the New Scientist.

    eg: The US has spent a miniscule fraction of what it pledged and committed in the fight against bird flu, according to the World Bank. Whether an epidemic ever occurs is irrelevant in this. What matters is that even hard-nosed financial institutions are getting concerned. When the economists think Government is spending too little, it's time to be worried.

    (I'm not singling out the US because it's particularly bad amongst nations - it actually does better than most - but because that's what the contest is about. Had this been an international contest, I'm sure I could find alarming attitudes in every civilized nation on the planet. It wasn't that long ago that the South African Health Minister promoted garlic as a cure for AIDS. Although I suppose there might be a lot of vampires in South African politics.)

    I just don't know how this project can possibly reach its true potential with such limited backing. Most who could enter a truly biting cartoon won't be bothered, because there won't be any perceived value. If getting into the final rounds constituted a publication in a peer-reviewed forum, then perhaps there would be more interest. Money from pro-science organizations towards prizes would have been good, too.

    For those on Slashdot with no artistic talents - enter anyway. Most scientists can't draw worth a damn, so it'll be purely down to the ideas in the cartoon anyway. Besides, there are valid reasons for believing the readers here have a broader understanding of the state of science and the attitudes around it - those focused totally on their subject won't have time to read up on anything much outside of their speciality and so won't be able to so easily draw on attitudes and perceptions that are universal.

  • by clambake ( 37702 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @12:55PM (#15467024) Homepage
    Somone steal this and submit it:

    Devil holding up a sign, "My gandpa ain't no monkey!" in a group of evolution protestors. One guys turns and says, "YOU'RE here too?" And the devil replys, "What? And let even MORE people see how brilliant he can be?"
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @01:17PM (#15467159)
      Man, it took me a bit to understand that, but that's about exactly right. I believe in God -and- evolution, and don't understand how people can flat refuse to believe God is powerful enough to use evolution as his tool.
      • ... or for that matter, that even if we have the best of evidence that evolution did happen, that an omnipotent God still could have created what we have right now yesterday and your very memories could be a figment of his imagination.

        That said, since its an unprovable tenet, we may as well do the research anyway :)
      • by clambake ( 37702 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @03:39PM (#15467892) Homepage
        Ah yes, more to the specific point, which God is more powerful:

        A) The god that creates everything in on feel swoop 6000, filles with incosistancies and plotholes and has to step in every so often to adjust settings here and there.

        B) The one who can plan out events billions of years in advance, making everything fit so perfectly together, using simple rules that are capable of fractal growth into marvelously complex systems that continue to run flawlessly for millions of years without intervention?

        In a head to head battle, I have a feeling that God B will have figured out how to win before the fight even begins.
  • How about a cartoon showing how genes sometimes mutate randomly and allow creation of different species (an ape becomes a man.) And then another cartoon showing that a scientist modifies a gene by design to enhance some specific quality of an organism (a scientologist trying to become a rationalist.) A signature underneath this: 'Evolution: 4*10^9 years. Intelligent design: 40 years, so this may take a while.'
  • Fooling oneself (Score:4, Informative)

    by edverb ( 644426 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @01:22PM (#15467191)

    For all this discussion has focused on the "debate" about global warming, if you think that political interference is limited to environmental science, you're missing a very, very big picture.

    Let me start off by saying that scientific advancement is not a left-right issue, and should never be viewed through the narrow prism of party politics. However, the United States has fallen into a (man-made) rut of EVERYTHING being split down partisan lines (even national security, even voting integrity, even scientific research) so that is the playing field we are on, whether we like it or not. Wedge politics infect every issue now.

    Under this administration, the religious right has exerted undue influence over decisions ranging from:

    (source article for that list, a must-read [glamour.com])

    And without going on a daylong linkhunt, they are passing bad information about condom effectiveness, intimidating non-profit organizations which do not toe the party line on reproductive issues, and denying USAID funds to overseas orgs which even mention abortion, or distribute condoms [wikipedia.org] as part of family planning efforts. (Imagine sending $15B to Africa to fight AIDS without distributing or even even mentioning condoms! Talk about throwing good money away...It's like fighting fires without water, it's that foolish.)

    And don't even let's discuss the bi-partisan support for embryonic stem cell research which has been effectively neutered under this administration. Or the medical expertise of Dr. Bill Frist in the case of a braindead woman he never examined [washingtonpost.com], or his patently absurd claim that AIDS may be transmitted via tears and sweat [planetwire.org].

    Sadly, I could document this sort of war on objective science all day, but I think I've made my point. It infests the policy debate over far more than global warming, and if you think there's no difference between the parties on this, you're sadly, tragically mistaken.

  • As if the Union of Concerned Scientists isn't infamous for perverting science for its own political ends itself. Real science that contradicts the Union of Concerned Scientists highly normative ideologically-based junk science? No, can't have that, people might begin to question the agenda, and more importantly, the funding, of "scientific" special interest groups.

Lack of skill dictates economy of style. - Joey Ramone