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But then, Tom Chivers’ Brit toff club harrumphed a man onto Mars just last year, remember?

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Plus, Chivers and his set cured cancer, and actually got real school inspections going over there in Brit, instead of the usual phony ones … That’s what gives them the right to make snotty remarks about the United States. Oh wait, let’s check our notes about current Brit toff achievements here …

In response to the usual Brit bumf about the Yanks supposedly being unenlightened in science – in this case, Tom Chivers’ “Republicans turn their back on the Enlightenment” (Telegraph , January 10, 2012) – physicist David Tyler responds,

Tom, your comments about science are far too sweeping. We have a problem today with the politicisation of science by scientists, science organisation, politicians and the media. To gain political muscle, legitimate debate about evidences is sacrificed to the sound byte of “Science says”.

You asked why Mitt Romney has moved from “I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that” to “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet” in the space of three months. Maybe he has been reading The Sunday Telegraph – articles by Christopher Booker. Or the blogs of James Delingpole on this site. Perhaps you should talk to them.

You refer also to the evolution issue, treating this also as a consensus matter. Yet there is enormous debate about the mechanisms of biological change and the relevance of Darwinism. Much of the resistance to “evolution” is because Darwinism is a process that majors on mutations and natural selection – which most evolutionary biologists agree have implications for beliefs about purpose and meaning in the Cosmos. For the health of science, we need an open debate about these issues. But to express doubts about the molecules-to-man evolutionary pathway is not to display an anti-science mentality – because these doubts are supported by evidence.

Wouldn’t do any good, of course. Chivers’ sort of Brit markets a superior attitude as an achievement in itself, not as a result of actual achievement. It’s the best they can come up with.

Typically, he contrasts an ancient photo of the classic shifty toff Darwin over against current US prez hopeful Rick Santorum – like we all still care about their long-dead toff, and aren’t just itching to sweep all that rubbish away, in favour of today’s real science.

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I think Ms O'Leary is trying to come across as colloquial and hip, or something like that. Hence her tendency to talk about Darwin bores, toffs and things in yer face. Perhaps she thinks her audience are all 14 year olds? I don't know, but personally I'd prefer a more serious and insightful form of journalism than this juvenile stuff that would be better suited for 17 magazine. It's a shame she can't write like Jerry Coyne - whatever you think about him, his writing style is at least engaging. woodford
Wish others would score same level of science achievements before attempting criticism.
I think the UK actually outperforms the US in science when you adjust for population and per capita spending on science - in 2010 we were No2 in terms of publication output (with the US in No1) but we are a much smaller economy, and I think we spend a smaller percentage of GDP on research than the US. GCUGreyArea
More haste less speed in this case, I think, News. Darwin wasn't a toff. I don't see any reason to think that Chivers is. I don't see any justification for generalising from Chivers attitude to Brits in general, or even toffs in general. We've produced a reasonable share of good scientists and artists. What any of that has to do with inspecting schools I have no idea. Elizabeth Liddle
Abbrevs not purposeful except re news speed. Broad measure okay here; some of us just don't like unjustified assumptions of superiority. We ask, so what field you lead the world in? News
Probably reasonably well all round, provided we remember to use a broad measure (not JUST cancer cure rates, for example)and to guarantee freedom of speech. On another subject, Ms O'News,I've noticed a slightly weird tendency at this venue to introduce unexpected abbreviations; e.g. "transpo" and "commun" above. This is a tendency shared by at least one other regular here. I'm just wondering if it's a purposeful thing, and if so, why? It really cuts down on my reading speed when unexpected word shapes are present - and that's important because some posts here, I've noticed, are very long indeed, ad there are only so many hours in the day Bydand
Okay, fair enough. Canucks would say the same, pointing with pride to the Canadarm, the Blackberry, and massive transpo and commun achievements. All some of us ask is, demonstrate achievements before criticizing. The Yanks like things that work. Canucks do too. We're less interested in "You're no good because you believe ... and ... " than we are in "Let's measure cancer cure rates." How would that work out? News
My ancestors were NOT toffs, until those suckers, GCUGreyArea's ancestors came along, waving their money around. We BOUGHT our toff-ness with money we got by pandering to the desires of the previous lot of toffs for whatever it was they desired. And so the world turns for Brit toffs Regardless of that, I think you'll find that the UK is at least the equal of the US in terms of science productivity when factors such as the sheer number of scientists, and the amount of money spent, are taken into account Bydand
But Chivers isn't criticising Americans as such, he's criticising the anti-science elements of a party looking to choose a Presidential candidate. He recognises that there is also a scientifically literate America when he says: "America is becoming an intellectual two-speed nation, with a technocratic, informed elite and a scientifically illiterate rump who are falling behind economically in their increasingly knowledge-based economy." Personally, I think that's a bit too black and white: the American population is, to a large extent, probably on a spectrum when it comes to science familiarity. The difference is that the US - unique in developed Western societies - has such a large concentration at the anti-science end of the spectrum. I also don't think you do your argument any favours by quoting David Tyler - a biblical creationist with a passing relationship with scientific evidence, and another "Brit toff" with superiority issues Grunty
Please, always: O'Leary = Canuck hack. Not a toff. Species not extant here. Some (imported) fossils found. Some here get sick of people trashing the Yanks for doing stuff that is their right, given their science achievements. Wish others would score same level of science achievements before attempting criticism. Lots of problems to solve. News
+1 to that. I'm not sure what qualifies you to be a "toff", but it's an irrelevant category as far as any relevant discussion here on UD goes. Jon Garvey
Personally, being British, I find O'leary's attitude to be insulting and childish and the kind of thing ID supporters here would rail against if it were directed at them. My ancestors were demi-toffs but blew the money long ago, however I know a few toffs and most of them are conservative Christians, skeptical of evolution and climate change. As a protest to this insulting attitude to any British person whom O'Leary dislikes or disagrees with can I suggest that the non ID supporters on this site henceforth refer to O'Leary as "That ol' Canda-hack", Dr Dembski as a "Yank creationist" and KF as a "son-of-a-slave". (FYI, that last para is a joke) ;) GCUGreyArea
Why the obsession with 'Brit toffs'? champignon

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