The Deceptive Politics Edition

The Deceptive Politics Edition

The best thing I’ve read on the Internet today is from the “History Chick in AZ.” It looks like a major paper on the subject of the misuse of history by advocacy groups in particular, The Federalist Society, although it talks about quite a few others.

These days, if you wander the Internet, it seems there are tidal waves of made up history from Black regiments fighting for the confederacy, to white people being most of the slaves, to Puritans seeking religious freedom, all of them running a muck at all times.

But the paper is talking not about just made up history but made up with a purpose. And the purpose is to change the law by creating an impression of a scholarly take on American history.

The Deceptive Politics Edition

My first encounter with the phenomenon was an article extolling the idea that the Old West was a paradise of tranquility since everybody carried a gun and it mentioned prominently that Tombstone, Arizona only had two or three murders a year during that wonderful period. Except that Tombstone never had more than 7,000 people in it and the average modern American city of 10,000 has one murder every ten years. I wasn’t impressed by those claims then and I’m not impressed now.

When you don’t have any government and no legal avenues for justice, people get killed and not just a few. The Old West was a time of chaos and crime in American history, and all the spin you can slap on it isn’t going to change what happened.

But there are many other areas where history and simple factual data are under attack – one of them is climate change.

Here’s an excerpt from the article

One of the more visible examples of the power of these groups to shape policy and public perceptions has been the issue of climate change. Flush with money from oil and gas companies, several political advocacy groups were able to wage a public battle against scientists to successfully create the perception of doubt, when there was none within the scientific community. With public confusion and cowed politicians, they were able to bring any legislation meant to deal with the problem to a halt. (19) The media, sadly concerned more with the appearance of neutrality than with the truth helped create this perception of doubt. In addition, reporters have been too trusting of experts without checking their affiliations and potential conflicts of interest. Realizing the problem the ProPublica reporterRobert Faturechi states, “Reporters and editors need to be more skeptical of experts, and the false sense of security that their name brand affiliations provide. Before we quote them or their studies, or publish their op-eds, we have to ask harder questions about their funding and their outside employment.” (20) We are now all paying the price for this mischief, and it will only get worse.

I recommend to got the “history chick’s” blog and have a good read. The article I’m referring to can be read here.

As always, like, share and subscribe!

James Pilant

Do the American People Need to Become Re-introduced to Science?

Global warming ubx

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Seth Mnookin: The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism

Last January, Andrew Wakefield, the discredited British gastroenterologist whose 1998 paper sparked the first wave of fears that vaccines might be causally connected to autism, was further disgraced when the editors of the British Medical Journal declared his work “an elaborate fraud.” (By that point, Wakefield had already forfeited his medical license for a litany of moral, ethical, and professional misdeeds — including an incident where he paid children at his young son’s birthday party to donate their blood for his experiments.) With little left to lose, Wakefield seemed to fully embrace the fringe: In June, he headlined a rally titled “The Masterplan: The Hidden Agenda for a Global Scientific Dictatorship” with a cohort of 9/11 Truthers, One World Government conspiracists, and anti-fluoridationists.

So, how are the mighty fallen. This is one of the slender reeds upon with the anti-vaccination movement rests? Has the movement slidden into Internet Conspiracy Theory? (JP)

Seth Mnookin: The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism


Do the American People Need to Become Re-introduced to Science

I’m beginning to wonder.

Last winter, I was getting my haircut during a snow fall and one of the clients said “I guess that global warming is going to get us all; the he hee-hawed like a jackass.

Didn’t hear quite so many jokes during the drought last summer when in the eight county Houston area, 66 million trees are dying roughly 10% of all trees in the area.

The evidence is clear. Get some bad research, a couple of bogus think tanks and compliant media with give you equal credit with internationally renowned scientists. Using this tool, you can confuse enough of the population to keep necessary legislation or in the case in the article above vaccinations from taking place.

I’ve been in college with students studying to be scientists. (My degree is in criminal justice and speech, and I have a law degree.) I was always amazed at how hard they worked to be precise in their conclusions. Their dedication was amazing. For many it was a love of learning, of discovering, and of making a difference. That’s why they became scientists.

Hearing and reading them described as some kind of international plot to disdain God and make people give up their cars is a pretty miserable experience. It’s like hearing a good friend maligned.

Let me tell you something. I was raised in a fundamentalist church. Do you know how many times I was lied to in their literature; how often the material was simply made up whole cloth? Do you know how often when I went and studied history and science and discovered that the things they told me were non-existent or distortions of the facts? It was a regular experience.

When I compare that to the number of times that scientists have deliberately misled me in my lifetime, there is simply no contest.

You make better decisions with facts and science than you do with wishful thinking. Whether it be secondhand smoke or global warming, I’ll line up with the best knowledge available.

James Pilant

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NOAA Makes It Official: 2011 Among Most Extreme Weather Years in History (via madaboutthenews)

Facts are facts. Whether about evolution or climate change, the data is going to just keep accumulating in ever larger stacks of hard to ignore facts.

It’s getting hotter. Now, tornadoes are not very get indicators of climatic change – too many variable. Hurricanes are a little better but not much. The best indicators are average temperatures over time and weather volatility.

However, with the rise of “intelligent design,” more and more science is a matter of opinion. Thus, the United States is gradually losing that key part of the democratic process, critical thinking. If we don’t like what science or history or sociology says, we just get together with a few other disgruntled individuals and rewrite history or science. It’s easy. Pretend there is a controversy, and that you are God’s seekers after truth.

Will we be burning witches soon? Or giving faith healing status to collect insurance for services rendered? I don’t know. Let’s watch. The 14th century awaits.

James Pilant

NOAA Makes It Official: 2011 Among Most Extreme Weather Years in History Just past the halfway point, 2011 has already seen eight weather-related disasters in the U.S. that caused more than $1 billion in damagesAmplify’d from http://www.scientificamerican.comEXTREME WEATHER: Halfway through, 2011 has already seen eight weather-related disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damagesThe devastating string of tornadoes, droughts, wildfires and floods that hit the United States this spring marks 2011 as one of the mo … Read More

via madaboutthenews