Thursday, January 12, 2017

Economics in the time of Trump... plus Dylann "Eratratos" Roof


Toward the end of this posting, I will comment on how the Dylann Roof trial perfectly illustrates one of my ongoing themes called the "Erastratos Effect." But first...

== A jumble: economics, politics and the future ==

Evonomics chose my essay - The Ultimate Answer to Government is Useless - to cap off a tumultuous year, and to welcome one that might be much better. That is, if we choose to remember where all our good stuff came from. 

All our wealth, comforts, adventures, illuminations, fun and progress came from a civilization that (till recently) encouraged negotiation based on facts. One that benefited from educating millions. One that developed the fantastic tool known as science.

Following up on that, I do worry about how far the cult of science-hating in America will go. Twenty years ago, the Republicans took over Congress (then held it for all but 2 of the last 22 years). They immediately banished the legislature's own, in-house fact-advisory service, the Office of Technology Assessment, or OTA. Their justification for banishing expertise? That all of OTA's advice was "partisan and biased."  

Of course if that were true, they had only to appoint an influx of conservative scientists and other experts, to restore balance.  But no, top republicans knew that would not work. Because they could find almost no scientists - even conservative ones - who were willing to outright lie or deny blatant facts.

We will see similar things, soon. Plans are already afoot to de-fund Public Television and Radio. Even more comparable: the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which was hugely boosted under Barack Obama, will likely be slashed. But the real fit will hit a shan when this purge of "fact people" extends to the military and intelligence communities. The first shots have already been fired. We need to start pondering now, what if Donald Trump tries to emulate Turkey's Erdogan, and purge the Officer Corps of "unreliables..."?

How to respond? For starters, lay into any "left-leaning" individual who gives in to the ancient and hoary-stupid reflex of spite toward military or intel folks. (I am looking at fetishist-obsessives like you, Glenn Greenwald.) Suspicion of authority is one thing -- indeed powerful state institutions merit close scrutiny, as I push in The Transparent Society. Even pacifism is defensible as a philosophical stance, meriting a place at the table. 

But we who stand on the fact- and reality-based side of this civil war cannot afford to reject other fact-and-reality users, including short-haired civil servants and folks in uniform. We all need each other right now. Long hair or crewcut. If you believe in objective reality, then our Enlightenment Experiment needs you. We need you.

== What's next? ==


Next? Well, after 20 out of the last 22 years, when GOP Congresses were the laziest in the republic's history, 
I do expect a flurry of cosmetic activity. In a narrow range, they will be very active! For example: watch a wave of tax cuts for the rich. Despite the fact that Supply Side "economics" has never made a single successful prediction. Even one, ever.  Not one. Ever.

"At least starting with the federal personal income tax-rate cut of 1964, all personal income tax-rate cuts have been followed with cumulative net widenings in the federal budget deficits."
  -- conservative economist Paul Kasriel

In other words, Supply Side forecasts of deficit closings via tax cuts have never come true. At all. Witness also Kansas, Oklahoma and other states plummeting into bankruptcy by following this cult, whose sole positive outcomes have been (surprise?) to vastly augment the disparities of the uber influential-rich over the rest of us.  These people are unfit to shine the shoes of the Greatest Generation, who made America “great” under high, Rooseveltean tax rates.

From Evonomics: Finance Is Not the Economy: An economy that is based increasingly on rent extraction by the few and debt buildup by the many is a feudal model. 

So say Dirk Bezemer and Michael Hudson, who show how finance wizards persuaded our economy to inflate asset bubbles and enrich the Rentier Caste of new lords by piling up debt. CEOs spend their companies' cash on stock buy backs instead of investing in production or new products. In particular, Bezemer & Hundson focus on the parasitic ways that one sector of the economy -- finance -- has latched onto the arteries of every other industry, and consumers, enriching a very few while bleeding the economy, as a whole.

"Nearly all this asset-price inflation was debt-leveraged. Money and credit were not spent on tangible capital investment to produce goods and non-financial services, and did not raise wage levels."

Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump were all part of this "supply side" cult, criticized by Warren Buffett and all the west coast tech moguls who do invest in actual products and services. The foxes, truly, have been hired by the saps in the hen house. "Who better to look out for us, than guys who know how we're preyed upon?" demand the Trumpist masses, seemingly unaware that their 'logic' is not... logical. Nor is it self interest. 


== Science is the canary in our coal mine ==

The right's war against science and all other fact-professions has now zeroed in on the archetype of modern entrepreneurial enterprise, Elon Musk. So far, Donald Trump has appointed only finance-billionaire-rentier parasites... not a single successful businessman who made his fortune as a creator of actual, innovative goods and services. 

Only there's late news: Elon has agreed to serve on a Trump advisor board. Terrific! We'll see who gets useful show out of this... who gets used... and who shows agility for all our sakes.  Who knows? He can be persuasive...

In another Evonomics article, Entering the Age of Instability After Trump, Peter Turchin, author of Ultrasociety and Ages of Discord, asserts that cliodynamics (admittedly inspired by Asimov's psychohistory) predicted this era of social friction and wrath, which will peak in the 2020s. If this would-be Hari Seldon is right, then we must gird ourselves to get across the crisis.


And now... as promised...
== Erastratos Redux ==

As for Dylann Roof, as usual, the reporting gets it wrong: "It came as no surprise that a federal jury recommended the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the unapologetic, unrepentant young man who in June 2015 massacred nine African-Americans inside a historic church in Charleston, S.C. Not only did he deliberately target innocent parishioners in the midst of Bible study for the sole purpose of advancing the cause of white supremacy, but the trial was as one-sided as could be. Deliberations took less than three hours."

Journalists seem puzzled as to why Roof demanded to represent himself, why he offered no real defense, questioned few witnesses, refused a psychiatric defense and angrily rejected any notion of "insanity." Indeed, that insistence was the sole, central and passionate goal of a man who seemed bent on achieving for himself the death penalty.

Now this might be the tactic of a dedicated martyr, seeking to use his own death as a sacrifice for a cause.  But not in most of these cases.  Rather, this behavior is typical of what I have called the "Erastratos Syndrome" -- under which an individual who is generally inferior in intellect or positive accomplishment seeks to achieve fame and notice via some flashy-negative act of destruction. 

"I'm no poet or philosopher or warrior, but now you'll remember me!" shouted Erastratos, after he burned down the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Death is no large price to pay, when your only goal is to be noticed, at last, after a life of mediocrity. And thus it seems daunting to come up with any form of deterrence against this syndrome, which probably underlies fully half of all these mass-killers.

Except the ancient Greeks did find an answer.  It is a clear solution to this problem! One that I talk about here (and first published on Salon). One that would be cheap and simple and fair... and that would truly gall and repel all future Dylann Roofs, who will otherwise keep trying to tear the rest of us down, just to say "look at me!"

52 comments:

Zepp Jamieson said...

Expunging the name of people who commit heinous crimes would, I believe, have limited effect. Few such types really care about notoriety beyond their lives. They want notoriety NOW, and of course, they get that. And in nearly all cases, it fades fast. Your article mentioned “James Eagan Holmes,” and I had to think about it for a minute before I recollected his crime. The crime is what is notorious, not the criminal.
I have another reason for opposing such a plan: it gives the State a useful way to "disappear" people they convict of crimes against the state. "Doofus25 was sentenced to death today for treason against our glorious leader." Nobody knows who Doofus25 was, or why he did it, or even if he did it. Appeals and history won't come to the public's attention, and the ability to read about the crime, if any, would be lost.

Stefan Jones said...

Oh, I don't think Elon Musk will make the slightest difference as to how Trump or his kleptocrat advisors will behave. He'd be window dressing. If Elon were really brave, perhaps we'd get some juicy bits of gossip as to how the dysfunctional clique works.

If we're really lucky, perhaps Musk will implement a small scale version of Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons," and send Trump and his advisors on the maiden voyage of a cruiser to tour Venus.

* * *
Say what you will: Maddis wins the "cabinet member most likely to throw Trump out of the Oval Office window if he turns out to be a blackmailed Russian patsy" award.

raito said...

From last article,

Ioan,

No, I have no explanation why he'd advocate for a tuition cut. Especially one paid for by the state treasury. Walker has often seemed to deride college education. He didn't graduate (though exactly the reason is hard to pin down), and often acts in a manner consistent with disliking knowledge. It also doesn't much square up with the UW system cuts made recently. And the issue hasn't gotten much media attention here that I'm aware of. Maybe Tacitus2 has more insight.

David Brin said...

Zepp you did not read the article closely. I said that Erastratos types should be ASTERISKED. It would violate free speech to ban all uses of a monster's real name. But we could plausibly ban it from easy first sight, requiring that the curious click on the asterisk next to "Doofus25" in order to access the real name, as an historical footnote.

That act of volition would get tiresome after a while and hence, while the actual information is still there, the normal usage would be Doofus. And I think you deeply underestimate how desperate such men are, to be remembered by history.


TCB said...

Let's face it, if the GOP-run government were now to defund PBS (Public Broadcasting System) and NPR (National Public Radio), surprisingly little would be lost.

Why?

Because big corporate money turned them into mouthpieces years ago!

And I say that with yet another sigh of disappointment. NPR and PBS were fuckin' awesome, once. But in the case of NPR, apparently one of their reporters did an expose of Archer Daniels Midland's involvement in a lysine/citric acid price fixing conspiracy which cost them $100 million in fines. The next year, ADM started being an NPR sponsor and NPR stopped doing serious investigative journalism. Similarly, Republican administrations seem to have packed the PBS upper management with enough friends to geld any independence that operation may have had.

So now the Fox News crowd and far-right talk radio get to refer to NPR/PBS as "liberal media" long after it stopped being true.

My local PBS station still shows Lawrence Welk reruns, for Chthulhu's sake!

So: it might almost be better to lose these things and then rebuild them from the rubble.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

If this would-be Hari Seldon is right, then we must gird ourselves to get across the crisis.


More than "get across", can we limit it to a mere thousand years rather than a thirty-thousand year interregnum?

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Your article mentioned “James Eagan Holmes,” and I had to think about it for a minute before I recollected his crime.


It says something really bad when I thought "Holmes? He's one of the mass shooters, right?" but couldn't narrow down which mass shooting he did.


The crime is what is notorious, not the criminal.


Maybe we're inadvertently solving that problem, although in a draconian manner. Even the crimes are becoming too commonplace to remember each one.


I have another reason for opposing such a plan: it gives the State a useful way to "disappear" people they convict of crimes against the state.


I thought of that as well. The expunging would have to be done after a thorough and lawful conviction, not before. Not sure if the game is worth the candle here.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I suspect our government would take an option to asterisk as a power to obliviate. Even if they didn't, ... well, have you ever wasted an afternoon exploring tvtropes.org? It's loads of fun, probably the best time-waster on the web. It features descriptions of movies, tv series, anime and books and examines the various tropes, plot devices and literary devices to be found in each. (It's amazingly free of snark, too!). Obviously, such discussions involve spoilers, and viewers have the option of having the spoilers blanked out. Since I tend to gravitate to works I'm already familiar with so I can establish a good frame of reference, I leave spoilers on. But some people hate spoilers ("Whaddya mean, the Titanic SINKS?") and opt out. But you can drag the mouse over a blanked out space in a trope description, and see the spoiler anyway, and I bet a lot of people, sometimes even hating themselves for it, will reveal the spoiler. Curiosity kills cats and delights monkeys, and we aren't cats.
An asterisk would only pique curiosity, I believe. And I stand by my concern that it could be subject to government or corporate abuse.
It's the nature of a narcissist to entertain elaborate fantasies of their names echoing down the ages, but it is NOT the nature of such people to risk being killed for it. The Messianic impulse is, fortunately, fairly rare.

LarryHart said...

From the old Pharaoh in "The Ten Commandments" :

May the name of Moses be stricken from every scroll, every statue, every obelisk ...


So, sometimes, the "striking" doesn't stick.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

So now the Fox News crowd and far-right talk radio get to refer to NPR/PBS as "liberal media" long after it stopped being true.


That sentence would be just as true with a few redundant words clipped out:


So now the Fox News crowd and far-right talk radio get to refer to "liberal media" long after it stopped being true. (And for the same reason)

LarryHart said...

...that parenthetical was supposed to follow "words clipped out", not be part of the italicized sentence.

Sorry.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jaimieson:

Curiosity kills cats and delights monkeys, and we aren't cats.


Have you ever seen lemurs? Seriously, I think they are the missing link between cats and monkeys.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart: "Not sure if the game is worth the candle here."

As you say, a draconian solution. At first read, I thought Holmes was the schizophrenic who shot Gabby Giffords, and I needed to consider for a bit longer before remembering he was the guy who shot up the movie theatre in Colorado. They really are running together in my mind--I couldn't tell you the name of the guy who was blown up when he sniped at the police at that protest to save my life, and the only reason I knew instantly who Dylan Roof was was because he was in today's news. FLK, definitely an FLK. An evil twin to Moe. Two years from now, he'll have joined Holmes in my personal brain platform of Trivial Pursuit and I'll remember him more for his haircut than his deeds.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Have you ever seen lemurs? Seriously, I think they are the missing link between cats and monkeys."

It's the eyes, I think. They give lemurs an aspect of emotional indifference that cat-haters attribute to cats. Few emotional cues in the facial expressions of either creature, and we monkeys find that disturbing.

TCB said...

LarryHart said:

"That sentence would be just as true with a few redundant words clipped out:

So now the Fox News crowd and far-right talk radio get to refer to "liberal media" long after it stopped being true. (And for the same reason)"

Yep, I'd say both these and many other phenomena outside the world of media are ultimately examples of profit-uber-alles sapping a formerly respectable thing of whatever made it good.

Heck, I recall Don Rickles reminiscing about doing shows in Las Vegas back when the Mafia ran it. He said it was better back then! In the old days, the mobsters made their money off the casinos and let the nightclubs and restaurants act as loss leaders. But when Wall Street replaced the Mob, everything had to turn a profit: the casino, the nightclub, the restaurant, the coat check room, EVERYTHING. Rickles made it sound like the Mob were gentlemen compared to the corporate vultures.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

Yep, I'd say both these and many other phenomena outside the world of media are ultimately examples of profit-uber-alles sapping a formerly respectable thing of whatever made it good.


By design, profit means taking value out of the system.

As long as you do so in moderation, leaving enough value for the system to keep functioning, that's not a problem. But since the 1980s, the corporate mantra seems to be that all value is meant to be extracted from the system. Metaphorically, it's no longer enough to reap the golden eggs--you must suck the life out of the goose as well.


Rickles made it sound like the Mob were gentlemen compared to the corporate vultures.


I suspect the mob had their eye on the long game moreso than today's corporate raiders do. And they probably had sense enough not to kill the goose laying their golden eggs.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jaimieson:

"Have you ever seen lemurs? Seriously, I think they are the missing link between cats and monkeys."

It's the eyes, I think. They give lemurs an aspect of emotional indifference that cat-haters attribute to cats.


It's the way they walk as well. They walk like cats, but they swing like monkeys.

Jumper said...

Roof was a crackhead, it seems from a reporter who went and hung out with his buds. The New Yorker ran it.

Jumper said...

"They walk like cats, but they swing like monkeys."
I expect I'll hear that in a rock'n'roll song soon.

donzelion said...

Raito: Following on from the previous thread, you raise a good point here:

"if there were only one liar, I'd agree. My point is that if you can make one liar, you can make many."

When I was coaching a Model UN team (a community college with a national-championship program), I ran an exercise they hadn't seen before: 10 students working to achieve a 'resolution' to a problem, but two, secretly, working to thwart the rest. Those two quickly identified one another, and effectively divided the group, delaying and ultimately successfully blocking the much larger majority. The exercise is intended to train students to be aware that not everyone offering 'help' actually means it, and plan accordingly to achieve their goal (the students who participated were initially quite offended - but the lesson was learned).

I concocted the exercise with an eye toward group dynamics in general: it is exceptionally common for two liars each vouch for one another, while the remainder is skeptical of everyone and cannot determine who to trust.

Will they 'eventually' betray one another, as Dr. Brin correctly rejoins?

"if you have dozens of secret manipulative players competing to fudge cameras, would not some of them see interest in revealing THAT other forces are doing this fudging?"

Certainly. Eventually. Yet eventually, we're all dead. In the meantime, the fudgers benefit from the forgery up until they get caught (and if they're smart, they've 'cashed' out - and it's hard for cameras to capture that process).

"would not some of them see interest in revealing THAT other forces are doing this fudging?"
At some point, some member of the gang will rat out the others. That's especially likely when the gang is in decline: people will jump ship to protect themselves. However, so long as incentives reward fudging more than honesty, a small coordinated group with shared incentives has many strategies to take over a group. In practice, there is always quite a lengthy time between the bad action, the lie hiding that action, and jury deliberation - and juries, as with voters, often do what we did not expect.

I take this line of group dynamics to be a second major concern of sousveillance; along with inter-tribal dynamics (conferring the benefit of the doubt upon 'insiders,' placing a heavier burden upon 'outsiders'), this is a mechanism by which a small group of 'insiders' will cooperate to take control over the group.

And yes, I had in mind FauxNews, then as now - but also 'tribalism' - in the sense that the Faux tribe deviates significantly from the 'fact tribe' - and is now in control of quite a few facts.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "But the real fit will hit a shan when this purge of "fact people" extends to the military and intelligence communities."

How many retired generals embraced Trump? How many embraced Hillary?

Both the military and the intelligence communities depend on 'fact-people' to 'get the job done' - but other people to tell them what the job actually is. Reagan and Bush Jr. played this game with the CIA and the military whenever they failed to tell them precisely what they wanted to hear.

But in the 21st century, we've reached an era in which even the most catastrophic blunders are unlikely to result in more than a few thousand American casualties - 'acceptable losses.'

More often, the 'facts' of concern are the 'critical necessity' of a Marine Corps base in Arizona (because 29 Palms, California doesn't have enough desert?), a Navy base in Indiana or West Virginia (great outlets to the sea), an air force base in 'whatever Republican district demanded it.' When a general says "this is necessary to national security!" - there must not be any voices with the clout to suggest otherwise. It's natural that they'd want a fact-averse presidency.

Yet if 50% of American military is pork-inspired bureaucratic gambits, then the 50% which has to actually achieve missions must do so despite all that waste. They'll have to work twice as hard with half as much as they expected. For the career officers, they'll see clearly what's happening but owe a duty to their commands to try to make a bad thing a little better.

Meanwhile, the real estate tycoons will figure out how to profit from the next base expansion or retraction (a properly positioned baron can make almost as much money shorting real estate as developing it - and this is one gambit that when monitored and publicized, can actually increase profits).

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

it is exceptionally common for two liars each vouch for one another, while the remainder is skeptical of everyone and cannot determine who to trust.


It also seems common to preemptively accuse your opponents of cheating in the same way that you cheat, so that when you are called on actual cheating, the accusation just appears to be partisan propaganda. For instance, Trump harping on the election being rigged, so that now if one tries to point out the rigging by Republican state officials, the accusation just sounds like "Well, everyone says that about the other party."

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Indeed, but perhaps the most fascinating aspect is that people will consciously downplay a self-serving claim of cheating, BUT will unconsciously increase their suspicion of the person accused. They tend not to even be aware of how they were influenced - consciously, they shrugged off the source as a liar, and their modest request for additional proof (to 'allay suspicions') seems reasonable (until someone points out the immense difficulty of 'proving' a negative)...

Republicans control 32 state legislatures, 33 state governors, majorities in both houses, now the presidency, and soon the Supreme Court (how could I have thought in October 2016 that Hillary had the advantage?). Allegations of 'wide-spread cheating' as I see it were intended to counter the possibility of large numbers of Latino first-time voters showing up, a wild card which would invalidate much of the deeper information about voter history they'd gleaned.

donzelion said...

re Dylan Woof: Denying the '15 minutes of fame' to murderers makes sense - renaming them probably wouldn't hurt, but it seems to me a shift in emphasis away from the ugly idiots and toward the victims makes sense - and not just praising them in death (indirectly elevating the status of the shooter), but what they did and stood for.

How we heal is probably more important than how we judge (says a lawyer, obsessed with judgment).

Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, a victim, was the manager for the Charleston County Public Library system. Anyone know any authors anywhere who might arrange a book donation?

David Brin said...

donzelion, find out if there is a donation drive going on, in her honor. If so, please email me the details.

Anonymous said...

That's a rather odd transliteration of Ἡρόστρατος ...

Anonymous said...

Actually, the /h/ is commonly dropped from transliterations into the Latin alphabet. Just look it up.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herostratus

will suffice.

Bob Neinast said...

Dr. Brin wrote:

"Witness also Kansas, Oklahoma and other states plummeting into bankruptcy by following this cult, whose sole positive outcomes have been (surprise?) to vastly augment the disparities of the uber influential-rich over the rest of us."


It looks like Ohio may be joining the bunch. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer we get John Kasich warns Ohio 'on the verge of a recession'.

It seems that for the 5th month in a row, tax revenues are falling short of projections. So Kasich is calling for cutting state services even more.

And in response, the state Budget Director Says Income Tax Cuts Coming In Budget, Though Tax Revenues Are Down. Right, more tax cuts: their only (and ineffective) solution.

When Kasich first took office (2011), the State was already recovering from the Great Recession, but Kasich still pushed through huge tax cuts and corresponding cuts in state services. What happened was that those local governments that could do so raised their own taxes to try to maintain services. (My overall taxes sure didn't go down; they just shifted.) But the voodoo economics still isn't working.

But I don't expect him to realize and understand that.

Anonymous said...

"the cult of science-hating"

If one were to remove their blinkers and take a realistic look at the facts one may discover various sources of anti-science sentiment. There are, of course, the obvious bloopers—Tuskegee or the degredation of Mauna Kea (NASA has reported on this) that impact specific groups; these then when combined with other services rendered by the Pax (bayonet constitutions and bombing the snot out of "the target isle" Kahoolawe come to mind) help fuel anti-science sentiments in those groups. Note also that their members may not labour under reductionist views so common to yours and thus possibly not care for the fine distinction between one who peers through a bomb-sight versus he a narrow slice of sky. Passing from the specific to the general, I need only note the history of food science and flip-flops that cause specific harm to specific producers: are eggs good, or bad for you? How about saturated fat? Carbohydrates and bread? Or that Harvard sugar study, money for favorable research? What sort of impression does that make on the public? How could there not be anti-science sentiment following such antics?

Now, where the "cults" come from I'll leave that for you to explain; the word from here looks like a thoughtstopper with no meaning besides the expression of distaste for anti-science groups...or do you have evidence for actual cult activity you might wish to share?

Anonymous said...

Dropping the rough breathing is not the problem with the transliteration; using 'a' to transliterate omikron is the problem.

Laurence said...

"Erastratos Syndrome" -- under which an individual who is generally inferior in intellect or positive accomplishment seeks to achieve fame and notice via some flashy-negative act of destruction.

This doesn't really apply to Ted Kaczynski, who you mention in your original blog post. As one of the top mathematicians in the world; who’s dissertation supervisor said of his PHD thesis "I would guess that maybe 10 or 12 men in the country understood or appreciated it." Kaczynski was in line for a fair bit of glory if he'd played by the rules. He turned his back on the world and then waited fully nine years before starting his bombing campaign, and then a further seventeen before seeking publication of his manifesto. This contrasts very dramatically with the behaviour of Anders Brevick or Dylan Roof. If Kaczynski was just out for notoriety, he must have had the patience of a saint!

Berial said...

@Laurence some of these guys just want the notoriety. Some are just crazy.

Slim Moldie said...

@ Anonymous on "Cult of science-hating"

Or is it the norm of magic-loving? And apathy. How many millions simply don't care how or why it works and don't want to hear your explanation.

What if Harry Potter had to learn the laws of physics and understand differential equations in order to fly? Best seller?

You also mention food science and money for favorable research. Keep following the $. As a share of the GDP, health spending accounts for a meager 17.8%

sociotard said...

I was sad that the independent ethics committee died too. (well, it is still sort of there, but they removed a lot of the independence)

David Brin said...

SlimM... of course Eliezer Yuidkowsky's Harry Potter off-riff did exactly that!

===
ANONYMOUS? The stunning lack of scale and perspective of guys like Anonymous never ceases to amaze.

Okay fellah. Find for me one profession, one field of human endeavor, or any clade of humans, who have the ratio of honest and skillful delivery of genuine truth - versus deceit - that science has.

Your cult cherry picks isolated examples of science misuse and commits probably the most outrageous of all your innumerable logical fallacies… taking EXCEPTIONS and then calling them proof that all of science is like that.

Such hypocrisy! You take evidence for one thing, and crow that it proves the very opposite. In every case that you cite, it was science itself that poured light upon the exception and error.

The very STANDARDS that you use, to sling accusations at science, are the high standards of transparency and accountability that were invented by science and for which science is the top promoter.

The leaders of your cult have ratios of honest action to criminal deceit that are so low that they would not stand up to the rim of the shoes of the professions that your cult strives so hard to demean… not just science but teaching, journalism, medicine, law, and so on. Seriously? Your lords are Wall Street, Coal barons and Saudi princes, and you *dare* to invite comparisons?

har. lower case. because it isn't even funny anymore


Jonathan Sills said...

Hell, the food examples aren't even cases of scientists getting things wrong - they're cases of journalists, under pressure of the 24-hour news cycle and the conversion of news into part of the corporate entertainment division, grabbing at preliminary research (which is always ready to be disproved) and screaming it into the heavens as the New Revealed Wisdom! (And since folks like our anonymous friend here see Science as just another kind of Faith, they see the idea of scientists abandoning disproved hypotheses as a weakness, not a strength. After all, would the Pope be the leader of the Catholic faith if he were willing to simply toss the catechism into the trash if its statements couldn't be proved? Yet here these "scientists" are, throwing out their week-old papers just because someone showed that they were wrong, or even just unprovable...)

Robert said...

Two things.

First? I never thought of Huffington Post as serious news before now. But this article was fairly well written and on the surface at least looks like something you'd see in a proper newspaper in terms of content and language.

Second? First 100 days. I am becoming surer and surer of this. And Republicans are going to manage to convince Democrats to pull the trigger on Trump and in two years gain massively in the House and Senate as they draw in the ire of Trump's supporters and claim it's all the fault of the Democrats. You'll see a bare minimum of Republicans needed, and the Republicans will be those who are either planning to retire, are in safe states, or in the case of Senators, those who were just elected this last year and thus are safe for six years.

Rob H.

A.F. Rey said...

Except, to quote Captain Kramer on "Airplane!": "That's just what they'll be expecting us to do!" :)

I don't think the Democrats will go along with an impeachment that early. Partly because they are expecting it, and won't be used as patsies. And partly because Pence is in some ways worse than Trump. They won't get anything except a more qualified leader of the Free World, but one that would pass all, if not more, policies that they abhor. And they would know they would get all the blame. They aren't that dumb.

Slim Moldie said...

One issue regarding the attack on science is in language. Association and negative connotation. Imagine if "science" was a trademarked brand name. Every time we see or hear (bad, inaccurate, unsubstantiated, fraudulent and pseudo) paired with "science" our brains are making associations--even when intentions are well meaning. And I'd hazard a conjecture that the less an individual knows about what science really is the more the negative associations will inform their thinking or lack of...

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp:

Charles Manson.

Robert said...

Rey, Democrats ARE that dumb.

Rob H.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Said to say, I think if Charlie Manson committed his crimes now, rather than 50 years ago, he would be page three news.

David Brin said...

Zepp. Baloney. Sorry. That was the more violent time, by far.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Sure. Higher rate of largely anonymous violent crime. But spectacular murders were considerably rarer. You probably remember who Charles Whitman was, but I bet you can't remember the name of the guy who shot up that airport last week. I can't, either. You remember Charles Manson, but you probably didn't even hear about that horrific murder in Burney, California just after Christmas that was every bit as horrible as the Sharon Tate murder. The only reason I know about it is because it was just down the road from where I live.
We haven't become inured to violence as much as we've become inured to the grotesque.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Zepp
IMHO it was more about the fact that Manson killed celebrities - and killing the same type of celebrity now would have a similar effect

Tim H. said...

Saw something interesting:
http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/why-peter-thiel-fears-star-trek

I suspect if the likes of Peter Thiel found himself in a post-scarcity society he would manage to define himself without egregious human suffering as contrast.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, that and all the books, the movies, and even a song by the Beatles...

A.F. Rey said...

Oh, you mean this song?

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/marilynmanson/cometogether.html :)

LarryHart said...

Robert:

First 100 days. I am becoming surer and surer of this. And Republicans are going to manage to convince Democrats to pull the trigger on Trump and in two years gain massively in the House and Senate as they draw in the ire of Trump's supporters and claim it's all the fault of the Democrats.


I'm genuinely curious about your parents who voted for Trump, but would have voted for Bernie had he been the Democratic nominee. Any regrets or buyers' remorse? Any sense that they understand they've been had? That Hillary's ties to Wall St. or the possibility that she deals in "pay to play" or have inconvenient opponents silenced is dwarfed by the reality of Trump?

I shouldn't even try to put words in your mouth, but has their opinion of Trump as impending president changed?

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Jumper said...

I have wanted to mention in our references to historical elites, that one who owns ships has power. Private ship owners with a fleet had the world as their oyster, owning their own fate. However plenty go to the bottom, too.

Daisyworld said...

"...Twenty years ago, the Republicans took over Congress (then held it for all but 2 of the last 22 years). They immediately banished the legislature's own, in-house fact-advisory service, the Office of Technology Assessment, or OTA. Their justification for banishing expertise? That all of OTA's advice was 'partisan and biased.'"

I remember that clearly... 1996. Carl Sagan passed away that same year. It was a year of loss for science on many fronts.