Category Archives: Science

Both U.S. Political Parties Oppose Science

This is a subject we’ve written about before — the last time was Is Your Political Party Really Pro-Science?, in which we said:

[I]t’s understandable if you imagine that Republicans are scientific idiots, while the other party (yours, presumably) is nobly enlightened. However, as we said in our last post [Which Political Party Is Anti-Science?]:

Our conclusion is that both parties, like the population as a whole, are mostly ignorant of science, but they tend to have confidence in science where it doesn’t conflict with their other opinions — like religion, environmentalism, “social justice,” etc. In other words, the parties are driven by ideology, not science.

When such ideologies are involved — and those are deeply partisan issues — then science takes a back seat — or it may be tossed out altogether. And that’s true of both parties. Don’t take our word for it, and don’t confine yourself to those in the biological sciences. Ask someone in the energy industry, or who works at NASA.

So don’t be so smug that your political affiliation is the smart one, the one that’s on the side of science. The sad truth is that in politics, science has no friends. All we have are temporarily convenient alliances, and depending on one’s science, we don’t have the same allies.

With that introduction — which will upset most of our readers — we bring you the latest on this subject. It’s from the blog of Reason Magazine, which has no traditional political bias because they’re mostly Libertarian. Their article, from a couple of weeks ago, is Are Republicans or Democrats More Anti-Science? Here are some excerpts, omitting links to the polls they reference, and with bold font added by us:

It’s popular to portray the GOP as the anti-science party and Democrats as the sane, “party of science” alternative. And only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republicans, according to a 2009 Pew Research poll, which seems to be the most recent one on the topic. But the truth is that when science and politics meet, the result often isn’t pretty, regardless of partisan affiliation.

Then we’ve given some examples of what they’re talking about. Let’s read on:

Reason TV asked locals in Venice, California about their thoughts on various scientific policy questions and compared their answers to public opinion poll data. We found that many people favored mandatory labeling of food that contains DNA, the stuff of life contained in just about every morsel of fruit, vegetable, grain, or meat humans consume. Yet a recent survey out of the University of Florida found that 80 percent of respondents favor mandatory DNA labeling, only slightly below the 85 percent that favor labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While Republicans are divided evenly on the GMO question, Democrats rate them unsafe by a 26-point margin, despite almost 2,000 studies spanning a decade saying otherwise.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Almost everyone wants mandatory DNA labeling. We continue:

Republicans are more skeptical of the theory of evolution, though by a surprisingly slim margin with 39 percent of them rejecting it as compared to 30 percent of Democrats.

Interesting. We thought the gap was far wider than that. Here’s more:

When it comes to other scientific matters, the waters are even muddier. For instance, Democrats and Republicans believe in the false link between vaccines and autism at roughly equal levels.

We didn’t know that either. Moving along:

The big science policy issue of the day, though, seems to be global warming. Sixty-four percent of Democrats believe in man-made global warming, while only 22 percent of Republicans do. But when it comes to realistic solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Democrats still aren’t always science-minded.

That’s a point we’ve discussed before. They give some specifics about attitudes toward solutions:

Only 45 percent of Democrats support expanding the use of nuclear energy, as compared to 62 percent of Republicans, despite the fact that except for Chernobyl, not a single person, including nuclear workers, has ever died due to a commercial nuclear reactor accident.

They also discuss the benefits and low risks of fracking, to which there is a lot of opposition, but we’re not given any partisan opinions about that. The article concludes with this:

So maybe it’s not that Republicans are dumber than Democrats when it comes to science, or the other way around, but that both sides have blind spots when data-based evidence contradicts their political preferences.

So there you are, dear reader. If you’re feeling a bit less self-righteous about your party affiliation, then your Curmudgeon is pleased.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Ken Ham Says: ‘Stop Looking for Evidence’

The scientific expertise of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, seems to be boundless. He’s the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, and for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark.

Ol’ Hambo’s latest blog article at the AIG website is Can Vanishing Stars Point to Alien Civilizations? We already know his attitude about aliens — see Ken Ham Says There Are No Intelligent Aliens, but today he’s criticizing a paper published in The Astronomical Journal. We can’t find it at their website yet, but this is an article about it from New Scientist: Impossible vanishing stars could be signs of advanced alien life. Here are some excerpts from Hambo’s view of things, with bold font added by us:

It seems every week there’s a new study regarding supposed alien life in outer space and yet another possibility of how we can find these elusive supposed beings. The newest attempt to find advanced alien civilizations involves looking into our universe for vanishing stars. The thought behind this method, proposed by a team of scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden, is that “perhaps . . . [the aliens are] harnessing energy from it using a Dyson sphere — a ball of solar panels around the star that blocks the light from our telescopes. Or maybe the aliens would want to hide their star from an enemy.” [Ellipsis and brackets in Hambo’s post.]

That sounds like an interesting research proposal. What’s wrong with it? Hambo says:

Apparently the research team analyzed several hundred thousand stars looking for ones that seemed to disappear. The 148 candidates quickly dwindled to one as they weeded out false positives and negatives. And the one that was left might not actually have disappeared at all “because it looks faint in the second data set.”

Hambo is delighted that they haven’t found any evidence yet. Let’s read on:

What I find interesting is that creationists doing real, observational science in astronomy, genetics, or any other field [Hee hee!] cannot reference a biblical worldview or a Creator God or their work will never be published in a secular journal — even though they have real evidence to back-up their claims. And if the researchers are known to be creationists, they will likely have trouble getting published (even if their work doesn’t mention God and isn’t in any way related to the origins debate) simply because they are creationists!

It’s a cruel world. Hambo continues:

Yet completely speculative research such as looking for vanishing stars in hopes of finding advanced alien civilizations — for which no observational evidence whatsoever exists — is accepted and published in The Astronomical Journal!

Hambo is missing the point. The scientists are suggesting that there may be evidence to be found, and saying that it if were found, it would be very useful. What’s wrong with that? Hambo explains:

When Bill Nye “the Science Guy” was touring the Ark Encounter two weeks ago, he said that it wasn’t crazy to believe we descended from Martians. He openly admitted there’s no proof that any life exists on Mars — though he hopes someday we’ll find the life that he thinks is there. Many secularists think like this.

Those silly secularists don’t know how to think! But Hambo does. Moving along:

They hold to the hope that, despite the lack of evidence, someday, somewhere, we will find life — preferably intelligent life — in the universe. It seems they are willing to believe in anything except for the biblical God and His Word. It’s all really a clash of worldviews that began in Genesis 3 — God’s Word vs. man’s word.

Hambo doesn’t need any evidence for his worldview, because he already knows it’s true, and those godless scientists are fools to look for evidence of theirs. One last excerpt:

We need to pray that these secularists will have their eyes opened to the truth of God’s Word. You see, it’s a spiritual issue, not an intellectual one. These men and women are very smart people, but they are blinded to the truth of God’s Word because of the hardness of their hearts.

Hambo should pray that the search for evidence will continue, and that it will continue to produce negative results. But deep down, he lives in terror that one day the evidence against his ancient worldview will be irrefutable. It already is in many ways, but spotting an intelligent alien civilization might be more than even he could bear.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Supernatural Science Camp for Children

This is a good item for the weekend. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Summer science camp teaches kids about God, which appears in the Conroe Courier located in Conroe, Texas — near Houston. The newspaper has a comments feature, but we don’t see any yet. Okay, let’s get started. The bold font was added by us:

Children are learning about God while discovering the world of science at Mims Baptist Church in Conroe. The church summer science camp offers several hands-on activities for all children who have completed kindergarten to sixth grade on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Camp began June 8 and will continue to August 17.

Sounds like a wonderful experience. We’re told:

“Last year was our first time doing the science camp and the children really enjoyed it,” said Children’s Minister, Debby Stovall. “Kids are intrigue [sic] with experiments and God is visible in science and most scientists do not believe in God, but as they start working through things you cannot explain it a part from God.”

So true! Let’s read on:

The power of God, said Stovall, is demonstrated through science. Children learn by curiosity, Stovall said, and the camp is an opportunity for them to learn about scientific facts and also the facts about God.

That’s an opportunity the godless public schools don’t offer. We continue:

A particular lesson about the sun, moon and the stars, described Stovall, helped children understand just how important they are to God. She told the kids there is more than 200 billion stars in the galaxy, and God knows all of them.

Wowie — all the names are known! Here’s more:

“God knows the number of stars, he calls them all by name so how much more important than you are to God than a star,” Stovall said.

That’s a bit unclear. Are we more important than the stars, or is it the other way around? Anyway, let’s move along:

“Kids also learned how the sun may shine, however the moon does not shine, but it reflects. In the same way, we reflect the glory of God when we are obedient to him.”

The rest is mostly several gushing remarks of a woman whose daughter attends the camp, so this is where we’ll stop. We’ve seen other articles about church-run science camps, but this is the first time we actually read one of them. It’s pretty much what we expected.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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104 More Planets & One Amazing System

It keeps getting worse for creationists. They’ve transitioned — with difficulty — from the biblical view of the Earth as the only world in existence, unmovable in the center of the universe, to the post-Galileo view of the Earth as merely one of several planets orbiting the Sun. Most creationists now accept the solar system, but until very recently they insisted that ours was the only planetary system in existence, so they could still believe that Earth was specially created for us as the focus of divine attention.

But in recent years, to their increasing horror, other planetary systems have been discovered. And despite the difficulty of spotting them — we have to be visually lined up with the orbital plane of extra-solar planets in order to see the dimming effect as they transit their stars — more are constantly being sighted.

Our last post on this topic was a few months ago: Oh No! Still More Planets Found. The total of verified extra-solar planets was then 3,200, almost 550 of which are rocky planets like Earth, and 21 of those are in their star’s so-called Goldilocks zone, or rather, the Circumstellar habitable zone.

Today we have even more bad news for the creationists. The website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reports: NASA’s Kepler Confirms 100+ Exoplanets During Its K2 Mission. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

An international team of astronomers has discovered and confirmed a treasure trove of new worlds using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft on its K2 mission. Among the findings tallying 197 initial planet candidates, scientists have confirmed 104 planets outside our solar system.

What’s the difference between the Kepler spacecraft and its K2 mission? According to Wikipedia, the Kepler spacecraft is “a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars.” K2 is what they call its revised mission, after some necessary repairs, “utilizing the disabled Kepler in a way that could detect habitable planets around smaller, dimmer red dwarfs.” Okay, back to NASA. They say:

Among the confirmed is a planetary system comprising four promising planets that could be rocky. The planets, all between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth by diameter, are orbiting the M dwarf star K2-72, found 181 light years away in the direction of the Aquarius constellation. The host star is less than half the size of the sun and less bright.

That’s quite a planetary system! Let’s return to NASA. They’re still talking about those four rocky planets:

The planets’ orbital periods range from five and a half to 24 days, and two of them may experience irradiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth. Despite their tight orbits — closer than Mercury’s orbit around the sun — the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to lead author [Ian] Crossfield, a Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

Life can’t be ruled out? The creationists won’t like that. Here’s one more excerpt from NASA:

“This bountiful list of validated exoplanets from the K2 mission highlights the fact that the targeted examination of bright stars and nearby stars along the ecliptic is providing many interesting new planets,” said Steve Howell, project scientist for the K2 mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “These targets allow the astronomical community ease of follow-up and characterization, providing a few gems for first study by the James Webb Space Telescope, which could perhaps tell us about the planets’ atmospheres.”

There’s another article on this at PhysOrg, Kepler confirms more than 100 planets in single trove. They quote Crossfield:

“Because these smaller stars are so common in the Milky Way, it could be that life occurs much more frequently on planets orbiting cool, red stars rather than planets around stars like our sun,” Crossfield said.

[…]

“Our analysis shows that by the end of the K2 mission, we expect to double or triple the number of relatively small planets orbiting nearby, bright stars,” Crossfield said. “And because these planets orbit brighter stars, we’ll be able to more easily study everything possible about them, whether it’s measuring their masses with Doppler spectroscopy — already underway at Keck Observatory and APF — or measuring their atmospheric makeup with the James Webb Space Telescope in just a few years.”

As we’ve said before, it’s not a good time to be a creationist. But then, it never was.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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