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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Recently a friend posted a video on Facebook that he asserted would demolish the Godless theory of evolution. On it, a fellow sitting in a pickup and wearing a backward baseball cap smugly explained that Darwinian evolution contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a fundamental principle of physics.

This hoary chestnut has long been a favorite of creationist apologetics — appearing to use scientific evidence to support a theological conclusion. Never mind that the fellow’s science was as backward as his baseball cap. The Second Law states almost the opposite of his description. Indeed, if it said what creationists claim, not only evolution but life itself would be impossible.

But what struck me as equally significant was the implied attitude toward scientists. Because if what the fellow claimed was even halfway right, it could only mean that every physics professor in every university in the world was part of a vast conspiracy of silence against God.

And why would they do that? I suppose for the same reason that climate scientists worldwide all but unanimously warn that increased levels of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere are contributing to a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet.

No less an authority than Sarah Palin once characterized them as employing “doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood that capitalizes on the public’s worry and makes them feel that owning an SUV is a ‘sin’ against the planet.”

The ex-governor’s use of religious metaphor is no accident. To millions of Americans calling themselves “conservatives,” at least for partisan purposes, science is religion, and religion science. Hardly anybody acts on this stuff in real life. People don’t quiz their veterinarian about Darwin.

However, when it comes to climate science, people who wouldn’t dream of diagnosing the family cat feel comfortable hearing the entire worldwide scientific community described as engaged in a gigantic hoax. Supposedly for the sake of one-world government or some similar absurdity.

Clearly, such people simply don’t know what scientific inquiry consists of, how hypotheses are tested, theories arrived at, and consensus achieved — all the things about science that make large scale conspiracies impossible.

Individual scientists are certainly as prone to temptation as anybody else. However, a single instance of serious fraud — misrepresenting experiments, faking data — is fatal to a career. The higher the profile, the more dramatic the fall.

So what happens when ideologically motivated pundits single out scientists for abuse? We may be about to learn from the lawsuit filed by renowned climatologist Michael Mann against the National Review. Do defamation laws protect even famous scientists from politically motivated smears against their professional integrity and private character?

Is calling an internationally known scientist “intellectually bogus,” a “fraud” and “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” as National Review blogger Mark Steyn did, a First Amendment-protected opinion? Or is it libelous, a provably false allegation published with reckless disregard for the truth and the malicious purpose of harming Mann’s reputation?

“[I]nstead of molesting children,” Steyn’s post explained, Mann “has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science.” Does it need to be added that National Review provided no evidence of same? Mann asked for a retraction and apology. Receiving none, he sued.

The director of Penn State’s climatology program — hence the Sandusky reference — Mann drew the ire of climate change deniers as the inventor of the “hockey stick graph.” First published in Nature, it combined so-called “proxy records” — tree ring studies, ice core and corals — of temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 1,000 years with contemporary thermometer records.

It showed the climate trending irregularly cooler until the Industrial Revolution, when temperatures trended sharply upward — the blade of the metaphorical hockey stick. Since then, numerous studies based on different data have drawn the same conclusion: Earth’s climate is warming rapidly, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Mann’s misfortune, however, was getting caught up in the largely phony “Climategate” controversy. Admiring emails referencing “Mike’s trick” of sophisticated statistical analysis were made to appear sinister. Eight investigations by everybody from Penn State’s science faculty to the British parliament have vindicated Mann’s work in every respect.

However, Mann’s not a shy fellow. His book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, constitutes not only a lucid explanation of his own work, but a vigorous defense of climate science against industry-funded denialists. In a recent pleading filed in the D.C. Court of Appeals, National Review argues that this makes him a public figure and fair game for abuse.

In a separate article editor Rich Lowry alibied that the offending post was merely “a loose and colorful expression of opinion that did not allege any specific act of fraud in the literal sense.”

In short, accusing a respected scientist of faking data and comparing him to a child molester was just a colorful way of saying they disagree with his conclusions.

Welcome to Washington, professor.

AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo

63 Responses to Conservatives Confuse Science For Religion, And Vice Versa

  1. Perhaps we should require that the fire department recognize the religious freedom of people who still believe that fire is caused by escaping phlogiston instead of adding oxygen. How dare they refuse to hire someone because of their “phlogistonist” beliefs!

    Deliberate misstatement and understanding of science would be humorous if the consequences were not deadly serious. To be sure, in the history of science there have been periods in which a new theory seems to conflict with known data, and so does the previous theory. But SCIENCE resolves these conflicts with NEW DATA, or with a third theory that explains the contradictions and can be tested with new experiments, not with “religious” or “national” loyalty tests (as in Nazi Germany’s rejection of “Jewish” physics or Stalin’s rejection of “capitalist” biology).

    Here is one example: in the 19th century both geology and biology made it harder to contend that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. But the old world view not only had religion, but seemingly had both astronomy and physics on its side, after chemists found ways to measure heat energy from chemical reactions. Astronomy had provided good values for the masses and relative distances of objects in the solar system, and when physicists and chemists calculated the possible lifetime of the Sun, based upon its measured mass consisting of nothing but pure carbon (as in coal) and oxygen initially, they came up with only a few thousand years as the MAXIMUM age of the Sun!

    But in the 20th century radioactivity was discovered, along with nuclear fusion, and stars such as the Sun were found to consist almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. And they were able to calculate that, as a mass of hydrogen equal to the Sun’s mass (or even less, as in dwarf stars) came together under gravity, the center would be compressed and heated to the point of igniting NUCLEAR FUSION. And based upon that information, a medium sized star such as our Sun would have a lifetime of over ten BILLION years. All the data known to us is now essentially consistent on the timeline: five billion year old Sun, four and a half billion year old Earth, life arising (for the most recent time, after a few possible total extinctions) a billion or two years ago, and so forth. And the Sun only halfway through its lifetime in its current status.

    No one was “purged” or “excommunicated” by a “science pope” or any “conspiracy” as scientific ideas evolved; even those who were SKEPTICAL about new ideas had to accept that at least the old ones no longer worked as new data appeared. If they didn’t, their scientific careers suffered because other scientists no longer took them seriously, but not because of any “conspiracy.”

    • Actually I think it was a guy named Bruno who was burned at the stake for claiming something similar to what Galileo was saying. The church has been quite active in the past in suppressing science, using every evil means available. It’s only in the last century or so that they have backed down a bit, but that’s only because they don’t have the power to publicly torture and kill the way they used to. Privately, heaven only knows what they still do.

      • And now political conservatives join w/religious conservatives to defend the outmoded and impossible old notions of the world and of Creation itself. We have a new hierarchy of religion and politics uniting against science. What’s the point of having large brains and the gift of reason if we won’t use them?

        • What gets me Joyce,is their claim of being staunch believers in Jesus while relying on the Old Testament and the book of Leviticus.Christ threw out the Old Testament and brought what He called The New Covenant.
          I’m not at all religious so I don’t know,but I’m wondering if that is one of the differences between Catholics and Protestants? I was raised Catholicbut I have never known any that rejected science outright.
          One thing I noticed years ago was when the gop began to court the ultra-conservative,fundamentalist/evangelical crowd.They were easily bought with well positioned republicans at local levels.Whenever a purchase of land for a new church became contentious,the purchase was shoved through and mysterious sums of money for church construction were received from anonymous donors.This was small investment to satisfy the gop money addiction at election time.
          Curiously a recent study conducted by the National Geographic Society ,revealed that most people who follow fundamentalist religious beliefs had noticeably lower I.Q’s. than other people.
          Well I never would have guessed(Please apply John Wayne accent here) pilgrim.
          In response to your question I would say” Use them or Lose Them.”

          • The difference is that Protestants read their bibles more often than Catholics. BTW, Jesus didn’t exactly throw the OT into the ash can. The Left throws their bibles into the ash can.

          • You are expressing an opinion when you say that protestants read the bible more often than Catholics.One very big difference is that Catholics do not waste their time in a literal word for word interpretation of the bible.The New Testament is the foundation of Christianity and Catholicism.You can be sure that Christ had no need of the Old Testament in his ministry,regardless of whether or not he referenced the OT.You can also be sure that Christ didn’t need the book of Leviticus either as Christ was the NEW WAY bringing the New Covenant,hence the New Testament resulted.Your typically ignorant right wing statement about the Left is also a puny opinion.

          • My opinion is based on my experiences with Catholics over several decades. They are simply dumber than protestants about the Bible. You may very well be an exception. As for ignorance, one can read ample evidence of typical ignorant left wing statements on every national memo article.

          • You should go back to the Yahoo page.Trolls like you will fit right in.Your “dumber” statement is also typical opinionated,redneck,right wing,claptrap.Who do you think you’re fooling? Your problem with Catholics is that they are not only more liberal but also smarter than you.You call them dumb to make yourself feel better.If you really knew anything,then you would know that people who have a solid relationship with God,do not require a bible to maintain that relationship.But if you need it,then go for it and leave others to their own devices.

          • You should talk to my neighbor who was excommunicated because she refused to bring her kids up as Catholics. Her husband is a protestant. Anyway, did Catholicism teach you to call people names? BTW, I didn’t say Catholics were dumb. I said they were generally dumber than Protestants Biblically. Obviously you have a great deal of smarts. Friends?

          • Comparitively,it would be better to be divorced from a church or a religion than to be divorced from God.I believe that man requires no church,religion,holy book or priest,preacher,rabbi or any other member of the clergy in order to have a relationship with the God of their understanding.I recognize that there are people who benefit from those things and they are welcome to them but those who are really on the path of truth and God realization most often leave those man made accoutrements behind. In response to your question Friends?,I reaffirm, Yes!

          • I’ve grown to like you Mark. There is a verse that supports your view, although it seems to have a rhetorical sense to it. The Bible has come to be my soul source, and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 sort of puts it all in perspective.
            I don’t know how much longer this troll can stay on nationalmemo because there’s just so much hate and stereotyping that goes on about the GOP and people of faith.

          • There is much negativity here as people struggle to understand why and how the gop and some of those who support them seem to want to destroy everything good about America.Our country has always been about what’s good for the People.Not solely about what’s good for the rich or the big corporations.They have the gall to call themselves Americans and Christians when they are neither and are trying to destroy those programs in our government that are specifically designed to be of benefit to the people.Their policies have almost totally devastated the middle class and turned millions of hard working,loyal Americans into paupers,many of whom have been reduced to surviving on as little as $7.25 an hour.All of this has happened due to a screwy tax code called Trickle Down Economics that has left people wanting and hungry in this land of plenty while the rich got richer.It is a crime and an abomination.
            I do not hold up the pages of the Nat.Memo as a bastion of pure truth and fact,but I know that I will learn more of it here than I will from the gop.They lost their souls and traded them for money a long time ago.
            The opinions I express here are mine.They were not given to me.Occasionally,I find myself running counter to the popular opinion of the day.I don’t care because I reserve the right to disagree with anyone at anytime.The trick is to do it without being disagreeable.I am still practicing.

          • I don’t see it that way, Mark. We have come to the current situation through a very complex set of circumstances. In my opinion the nation is being destroyed by the policies of the Left, not to mention a few from the Right.

          • Then I suggest that you do more research and use an honest source of information.I KNOW for a fact that what I have stated is true.An honest and thorough search will reveal that. I’m through here!

  2. Recently a friend posted a video on Facebook that he asserted would demolish the Godless theory of evolution. On it, a fellow sitting in a pickup and wearing a backward baseball cap smugly explained that Darwinian evolution contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a fundamental principle of physics.

    Groan. The persistence of this argument is a perfect example of the law of conservation of idiocy.

    The Second Law states that entropy of an isolated system never decreases,
    meaning that such a system tends toward lesser complexity, not greater. But living things aren’t “isolated systems,” because they interact with their environment by exchanging energy and matter with it. For that matter, even the Earth as a whole isn’t an isolated system, since it receives energy from the sun and radiates heat into space. The sun’s entropy is increasing as it burns through its fusion fuel–but it will be a lonnnng time before that will be a problem.

    If the Second Law worked the way creationists claim it does, living things couldn’t even grow, let alone evolve.

  3. It seems that we are in danger of what we call science becoming religion, too. We seem to take a theory, make it politically correct, and demean those who disagree. At his point, we also demean science. It should be noted that many significant scientific discoveries were not accepted by the majority of scientists when they were first presented. Even Einstein’s theory of relativity was not generally accepted initially. Had they taken the approach that current understanding was dogma, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Skeptics are necessary to keep science moving forward.

      • If you shut down the skeptics, you are accepting things on less than the most current data and that is pretty much blind faith.

        • And what would you say about those whose skepticism is not founded in logic or reason,should we give them more credence than they deserve ?

          • I am not saying religion is science. I am concerned that if we shut out skeptics of current science, we are making current science religion, and won’t advance. Remember, there was a time that a spherical earth was considered illogical.

          • I do not agree with your statement that science is becoming religion.It is a convoluted,disingenuous,and illogical statement that has already been postured by knuckle dragging fundamentalists,whose anti science beliefs have been proven faulty and cannot be substantiated beyond faith in a book that has been doctored since its first printing.The reality of day to day living disproves most of what those skeptics base their faith on.
            The existence of scientists who are paid by corporations to twist or skew the results of testing or otherwise withhold accurate information is also well known.Skeptics do not tend to promote scientific facts but rather work to suppress them.

          • I’m glad you were able to get that out of your system. I agree that anyone who considers an ancient text to be a science book is missing the point of both science and the ancient text.
            It is true that the way science is funded in our current world does promote supporting preconceptions. This is exactly why skeptics are important. Where you have it backwards is that skeptics tend to prevent facts from being suppressed, facts that if suppressed would otherwise lull us into considering “conventional wisdom” as the end of all discovery.
            An example of this is the recent wide use of antimicrobials in personal hygiene products. The conventional wisdom was that they were valuable in slowing the spread of disease, and products containing them could be found everywhere. Without skeptics looking at the long term effects, and the effects of such frequent use, we would never suspect a problem. Now with skeptics of the original skeptics, we may find the uses that do more good than harm.

  4. The most ignorant in the GOP stand on religion they’ve been indoctrinated by since their Bible Thumping Grannies entered Revival meetings in tents. Hellfire and damnation is an operative of control. It’s how these fundamentalists are controlled. In reality, religious fanaticism is mental illness.

    Individuals may practice religion. They may not “practice” religion in government. There must always be a separation between Church and state in order to maintain religious and non-religious equality.

    • Religion is not a very positive word in the Bible. James 1:26: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue,
      but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain.”

  5. Always enjoy reading Mr. Lyons’ roars.

    Religions need to get a grip on reality. Muslim fundamentalists are worse than ours, but fundamentally they are the same……they ignore the facts.

    The Pope’s latest gives some hope…..but who will notice?

    Morality is especially hard in physics…..the entropy here decays towards immorality. Measuring it one only needs watch the news.

  6. Religion has been at odds with science since the middle ages when astronomers were jailed for saying that the earth moved around the sun. It was against church doctrine and thus blasphemy. This battle still rages today pitting those who think of an all powering god that has mastery over all the earth against and those who study science. Then there are those that oppose Science for cynical and corrupt reasons like being paid by the oil/coal/and gas industry to deny the evidence for commercial gain. This is where Palin falls in for using religion that she really doesn’t believe in to battle scientists. She is paid by them to promote doubt as are other pundits on the right wing. Pastor in mega church’s who preach the powerful god message are also paid well to deny science to a flock that doesn’t understand it anyway. Palin is not spouting off to an educated audience. So the battle between ignorance, and intelligence rages on just like it was 1200 AD and every century since.

  7. We always have to laugh on any subject that mentions what Sarah palin thinks as she is commonly referred to as the dumbest person to ever run for Vice President. Climate change deniers are just a bunch of deluded idiots. Ignorance is bliss to those nut cases!

  8. Righties are like small children. If they dson’t get their way or a jaw breaker they scream and shout, fall to the floor kicking their puny little feet until they get their way. Well we’re not going to be like their enabling mothers and cave to their tantrums. Look for them to start holding their breath.

    • To quote someone I no longer remember ” If they’re going to die then let them get busy doing it and reduce the surplus population.” I have lots of plastic bags they can pull over their heads.

      • The quote about dying was uttered by Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. But it could as well be the mantra of the Koch Brothers and others of our own time.

    • Lefties are like small children. if they don’t get their way or a jaw breaker they scream and shout, fall to the floor kicking their puny little feet until they get their
      way. Well we’re not going to be like their enabling mothers and cave to
      their tantrums. Look for them to start holding their breath.

  9. I think part of the problem is that those whose dominant epistemological foundation is “belief” see others acting from the same foundations. You hear phrases such as “believe in evolution” or “believe in climate change” as though they are expressions of healthy skepticism. However, these are fundamental misunderstandings and a clash of epistemologies. One does not “believe” in a scientific theory – that theory is simply the best explanation of empirical observations that is currently available and that has withstood repeated tests. Scientists daily attempt to disprove these theories. The religious aren’t so engaged in trying to disprove god.

    • You have very well expressed the fundamental difference between Religion (which requires complete and utter belief) and Science (which requires PROOF). Thank you.

  10. Does anyone else find it curious that these “believers” struggle so hard to prove the existence of a supreme being that is so bashful he makes it necessary for them to do so? Doe they ever consider that if they prevailed, he may be angry with them for blowing his cover? Clearly this god stays very well hidden. So answer this one believers; why would a God who created a solar system in which the earth revolves around the sun then trick everybody for centuries, (by way of his supposed book of ultimate truth), into thinking otherwise? Doesn’t that make him sort of an asshole?

    • They use the excuse of faith as a shield against logic and reason and so refuse to recognize facts derived from those sources.

          • Careful,your comment reveals more than you realize.You show up out of nowhere and start attacking someone you know nothing about because you are a know nothing.

          • Yeah I get that all the time. However, you attacked people of faith and I responded; besides, I was just offering a little levity. Being the intelligent person you seem to be, you must see the stereotypical comments being made as it relates to people of faith. Friends?

          • I do not recognize those I criticized as being people of faith.Certainly you can see that there are those who call themselves Christian who don’t know the meaning of the word and they support policies that would harm a great deal of people.You may not agree with me as I am not religious and do not refer to myself as Christian mostly due to the above mentioned situation.I believe in one God,powerful enough to be manifested in many different ways to all manner of peoples,in ways that they are best able to comprehend.The God of my understanding is not a damning God and is rather more concerned with the actions of people rather than the religion they practice.The pronouncements of men and their often twisted interpretations of what they call the “Gospel Truth” are not Gods’ words.I don’t know about you,but I prefer to be informed of God straight from the source rather than the mouths of men who cannot always be trusted. In answer to your question Friends?,I would answer “sure,why not?” Though I would not have a friend on just any circumstances,I do say that I would rather have a friend than to have an enemy.

          • Nice response Mark. If you don’t mind me asking, but what is your source? Mine is strictly the Bible since one cannot trust what men say, nor their interpretations of the Gospel. I’m still learning.

          • I too continue to learn.It’s a constant process if one adopts it as a lifestyle.Not to be a smart ass,but because my perspective changes while some things remain constant,I would have to say in all honesty and in all cases that my source is God.I have asked directly of God for many things and have received directly,many blessings.I will never be perfect but I can make constant progress.

    • Everything you see, touch, and hear, God created. He is all around you and wants a relationship with you. He wants his disciples to share the Gospel, so the struggle is to spread the word, not to blow his cover. The real trickster is Satan. He’s the one who stays hidden, and he smiles when you defame the one true God.

  11. Defining characteristic of Fascism: religion and government intertwined…
    What the GOP and Religious Zealots want is a “Fascist Christian Plutartheocracy” (FCP), making them “FCPers” (Fascist Christian Plutartheocrats)…

    • They would be satisfied to have everyone and everything White Anglo Saxon Protestant. They haven’t succeeded yet so now they are trying corporate fascism.

      • As a White Anglo Saxon Protestant (actually Celtic), I can tell you that our goal is to follow Jesus into the promised land. The World is not our goal.

  12. From the picture of cooling towers, this story this story must be anti nuclear. Is not climate warm anti fossil fuel?

  13. The one and only reason to give these willfully ignorant people any credibility at all is the fact that they are dangerous.You cannot conduct an intelligent conversation with them,we have proof of that by way of the trolls who show up on this page.And if you should dare to dismiss them for their stupidity,they will claim that you have been disrespectful and threaten you with violence.They do not always stop at words and the frequency at which they fail to stop at words is increasing.
    We see it in the news all the time.Someone who is minding their own business gets blown away by some gun toting dolt who takes exception to the other persons existence.It begs the question: Just what are we supposed to do with those who refuse to be enlightened.Do we merely wait for more of us to be killed? I’ve always believed in peace and love but I do not belong to the turn the other cheek crowd.These others have proved all to often that they are not constrained by science,religion,or law.

  14. The passionate believers of the religion of manmade
    global warming are having a crisis of faith.
    For decades they have done their religious rituals of recycling, buying
    carbon credits and sustainable living are being forced to fact facts that prove
    their religion is all just a lie and all their sacrifices to the sacraments of
    their religion that they have done over the years was all for nothing. There is just too much empirical evidence
    that they can see with their own eyes that can no longer be ignored. The high priests that led this religion from
    the beginning are going after any heretic that strays from the true faith. The scientist that work hard to get to the
    facts with solid evidence that goes were
    ever the data takes them are to be put to the question with the rack and
    glowing coals.

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