February 2007


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Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 18 Feb 2007 21:03:31 -0500
text/plain (89 lines)

Maybe those of us on the Science for the People list need to start a
national science show on Pacifica.

I suspect many of us on this list are Pacifica listeners somewhere in the
US. I listen to WBAI. Michio Kaku does science on WBAI, but he tends to
focus more on "hard" science, although he does do some science and society
or science and politics stuff.
As a chemist I am not "expert" on many issues, especially medical, but I
could help facilitate in between my publish or perish work at Rutgers.

Larry Romsted
> On 17/02/07 10:00 AM, "Josť F. Morales" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Folks,
>> To me this is a broader issue. This is an issue of another social
>> force, albeit small -- the left, working to question and undermine
>> through various issues, the foundation of a reason based society.
>> From the other end of the political spectrum, various books like
>> Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science followed how the
>> ideology of the corporate and Christian right sectors, lead their
>> treatment of the facts. Their ends determined how they would deal
>> with the evidence available to them. This is what is contrary to an
>> evidence-based "anti-evidence" politics if you will.
>> That's what leads various observers and scientists to decry the
>> right. Some even say that the FAR Christian right wants to lead us
>> to a pre-enlightenment era of feudal theocracy. OK, you all know
>> this, but I also see something similar from the other side.
>> I think some left wingers are also practitioners of an anti-evidence
>> politics. In sum, they are the anti-science left. I've run across
>> them in various venues in my travels in environmental justice work
>> that I've been involved in since the late 80's. Just as for the
>> right, their ideology leads their treatment of the evidence available.
>> Anything that even appears to stand against what they value or
>> contradicts their positions is to be opposed or at least open to
>> question. Anything that opposes or questions their adversaries has
>> legitimacy (ie. acupuncture, anti HIV folks vs. medical
>> establishment). They'll hang their hat on the most flaky practices
>> or positions with the the most meager, poor quality supporting
>> evidence as long as it stands in opposition to their adversaries.
>> To me, this is as bad as the right wing anti-science forces. I think
>> that they, from the other end, chip away at the enlightenment
>> foundation of our society right along with corporatists and
>> Christians on the other end.
>> I think a way to get to the bottom line to ask these guys, does
>> evidence lead ideology or does ideology lead evidence?
>> I'll give you folks an example of this kind of test that my thesis
>> advisor (another red diaper baby) gave me during graduate school. He
>> knew I was a progressive and had worked on civil and human rights in
>> the Latino community in NYC, he also knew I was an early proponent
>> of environmental justice even when the name wasn't coined. So he
>> asked me what if researchers had completed a study and found that
>> white people were of superior intelligence to people of color, would
>> I believe the conclusions? What if the study was rock solid,
>> completely water tight. Then I went through a series of questions
>> and caveats and he replied yes this study took that into account.
>> Ultimately, the idea was that all possible criticisms from all
>> corners (people of color, civil libertarians etc.) were taken into
>> account and controlled for. Would I believe it? I said, well if all
>> these possible concerns and questions were taken into account and
>> controlled for, I'd have to believe that all white people are of
>> superior intelligence to all people of color. He said, OK you will
>> be a good scientist. I took that to mean that if the evidence stood
>> contrary to one of my most treasured beliefs, and I still believed in
>> it, then evidence led ideology.
>> I think that many members of the left would fail this test. If they
>> do, they are of the anti-science left. I don't know what that makes
>> them, but I know I don't agree with them. Further, people with these
>> views, and WBAI and KPFA are chock full of them, can adversely
>> affect many people especially on health related matters. Not as many
>> as the right can thankfully!
>> I would have to ask, what is to be done about the anti-science left?
>> J