I've stayed (generally) away from political topics for the past while. I still have a lot to say (remind me to describe the "Electrical Model of Economics" sometime), but most of my vitriol has vanished. It'll probably be back soon enough next year, but let's not dwell on that just yet...
Per David Brin on The War on Science and it's referenced LA Times editorial on The War on Science there are some things on the War on Science that keep flickering through my mind. The pernicious Right have come to using very modernist ideas and vocabulary to undermine some of the normal operations of these systems that seems like it could only be malicious in intent. "The science is out", "we need more research", "there are disputes to that claim". Criticism and skepticism are indeed a part of the scientific process, but radicals are using these tools of the inquiring mind as bludgeons to bully the scientific process as they might a parliamentary process.
As just a single example, the science is not "out" on widespread humanity-influenced climate change ("global warming") for anyone but sheeple and people using skepticism to avoid answering the really tough questions. The scientific research has been coming in since the '70s and there is a large amount of data, study, analysis out there for anything of a mind to seek it. The amount of skeptical research (by reputable scientists, mind you) is much scarcer to find and does little to invalidate the scientific models that show a large human influence in global warming. Here's the amazing thing: scientists proved this in '70s enough to effectively ban the use of CFCs in the '70s! "Global Warming" isn't some fancy new term from freak scientists with an anti-Republican bias; it's a real and proven danger that we narrowly averted catastrophe once already. The next person I hear tell me the science is out on the topic deserves a punch in the face.
If you ask me "Is it possible that the current models might be dis-proven?" I am forced to admit that this is indeed a small, remote possibility. The problem is that I'm versed in the language of science and believe in the truth. There's a small remote possibility that Global Warming is caused by Martians who plan to attack as soon as Orson Welles' zombie is promoted to the head of CBS... there's no current evidence to dis-prove that conspiracy and until reality asserts any evidence it remains a remote possibility, but that's the nature of science to truthfully acknowledge the known accuracy of models. (This is a great tool for shining light on your own ignorance and point the way to future tests and iterations of your tests to further bring your models closer to reality.) It doesn't mean the "science is out", it means "barring future insights the best representation of the facts is the one we have". The more research, the narrower the band of probable inaccuracy and the tougher it is for someone to come out with a "breaking" study. I mentioned space aliens and for the most part it wasn't hyperbole, it would take an astonishing thing like the discovery of intelligent and angry intelligence on Mars to do much at all to invalidate the current Global Warming models.
The admission of known uncertainty is often confused with the admission of ignorance. The radicals use this to their advantage. It's hard for us to treat these radicals as our enemy. They show their own true ignorance when they ignore the strength of a model regardless of any known uncertainty, and we should treat them as enemy to what we stand for as rational people.
Choice David Brin quote:
Enemies? That is not the way that we who invented markets and democracy and science and the arts of practical compromise generally want to think. But make no mistake. Those who would take advantage of our good natures in order to destroy this way of life will attack from every angle and every dogma. Because fundamentally it is a matter of personality, not ideology. And we moderate-pragmatist-progressive-problemsolving modernists are gradually learning that the personality of rage can only be dealt-with from a position and an attitude of strength.