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Jonathan Wells offers some context for the March for Science

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Money walks. At the Washington Times:

Take, for example, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The current NIH budget is $32.3 billion, all of it from taxpayers. The Trump administration proposes to reduce that amount, though the decision is up to Congress. A scientist quoted in a recent article in The Atlantic says the proposed reduction would “bring American biomedical science to a halt.” But the NIH budget has been reduced several times in the past eight years without that happening.

The 2017 March for Science is not about protecting experimental science, which is in no danger — at least, no danger from the U.S. government. It’s about pressuring lawmakers to vote for more money.

But throwing more money at the NIH may not be such a good idea. Science journalist Paul Voosen wrote in 2015 that “science today is riven with perverse incentives,” most of them financial. Universities and financing agencies reward scientists based on their publication records. This encourages the submission of results that have not been carefully checked and often cannot be replicated. Mr. Voosen quoted biologist Arturo Casadevall: “Scientists themselves are playing this game because once they succeed, the rewards are so great they basically force everyone to do it.” More.

We know. Replication scandals don’t just dog social psych but life-threatening diseases. And money does not cure problems that don’t arise from lack of funding.

Jonathan Wells is the author of Zombie Science

See also: March for Science: Neil DeGrasse Tyson thinks science denial dismantles democracy. Poseur. Democracy gets dismantled mainly when not believing the government of the day becomes a crime.

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11 Replies to “Jonathan Wells offers some context for the March for Science

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Let’s be clear, science is a human enterprise that exists in the context of human society. What projects are funded and the extent to which they are funded is a decision for the society that provides the money. Ideally, these should be informed and non-partisan decisions which accommodate the interests of all in society, not just the favored few.

    For example. decisions about what, if anything, should be done about climate change and the extent to which human activities are affecting it should be made in light of the best science available which bears on the question. They should not be decided just by what best protects the interests of a declining fossil-fuel industry.

    Given the harm that could be caused to human society by accelerating global warming, some of the budget proposals from the Trump administration are questionable, to say the least. NPR reported as follows on March 16, 2017 under the headline “Trump’s Budget Slashes Climate Change Funding”:

    Scientific agencies that study the climate fared little better in the budget proposal. NASA’s Earth sciences budget got whacked by about $102 million, down to $1.8 billion. The budget would reduce funding for Earth science research grants.
    Scientific agencies that study the climate fared little better in the budget proposal. NASA’s Earth sciences budget got whacked by about $102 million, down to $1.8 billion. The budget would reduce funding for Earth science research grants.

    It would also ax several NASA missions designed to study climate: The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 mission and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory Pathfinder mission.

    The implication is that the government is desperate to save money anywhere it can and that science funding is wasteful and should be cut. But to put that in some sort of perspective, the proposed cut to NASA’s climate research programs is slightly less than the cost of one F-35B. Couldn’t the Air Force make do with one less overpriced fighter in the interests of protecting the future of the planet?

    From the Washington Post:

    Trump is putting together what will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history. His announced nominees for top positions include several multimillionaires, an heir to a family mega-fortune and two Forbes-certified billionaires, one of whose family is worth as much as industrial tycoon Andrew Mellon was when he served as treasury secretary nearly a century ago. Rumored candidates for other positions suggest Trump could add more ultra-rich appointees soon.

    Many of the Trump appointees were born wealthy, attended elite schools and went on to amass even larger fortunes as adults. As a group, they have much more experience funding political candidates than they do running government agencies.

    Their collective wealth in many ways defies Trump’s populist campaign promises. Their business ties, particularly to Wall Street, have drawn rebukes from Democrats. But the group also amplifies Trump’s own campaign pitch: that Washington outsiders who know how to navigate and exploit a “rigged” system are best able to fix that system for the working class.

    Science, as I said, is a human enterprise, so it will have its share of human failings, including corruption and fraud. But when it comes to corruption and fraud, that’s not where the big bucks are. That’s going to be among the one-percenters who are populating Trump’s administration. These are the people making the funding decisions in the name of taxpayers like you but if you think they have your best interests at heart you are as naïve and gullible as the people who voted for Trump.

  2. 2
    Armand Jacks says:

    Given the wealth of the various churches, specifically the Catholic Church, funding for “proper” science should not be an issue.

  3. 3
    Origenes says:

    Here are the scientific facts:

    From 1890 to 1990, records show only a .45 degree C rise in global temperature as measured from near-surface thermometers around the Earth. Yet about 75 percent of the increase occurred before World War II, while most of the increase in human produced greenhouse gases occurred after World War II. So, human industrial activity doesn’t really correlate with the main effect of interest. Meanwhile, after a few warmer than usual years in the early 1990s, global temperatures have flat-lined. They show no net increase over the last two decades.

    Here is the “scientific” hysteria:

    Many marchers will wear their belief in climate change on their sleeves. On their signs, too. They, like Nye and others who claim to speak for science, equate belief in man-made climate disaster with science itself. If you disagree, you’re “anti-science.”
    Yet there are strong reasons to doubt the so-called “consensus” on warming. But the popular media rarely cite them. ….
    Bill Nye, Al Gore, and former President Obama have said we must accept what “the scientists” say. To listen to the skeptics would be to reject “settled science.”

    Here is fact-based scientific skepticism:

    Many top scientists are skeptics of extreme global warming, including physicists, biologists, earth and atmospheric scientists.
    Most warmists’ models have predicted steep rises. But these models don’t match the real global temperatures collected after the fact. So why believe the dire predictions that those same models make about future temperatures before the fact?
    … skeptics of extreme warming include many top scientists: physicists, biologists, earth and atmospheric scientists like Richard Lindzen (MIT), Freeman Dyson and William Happer (Princeton), Roy Spencer (University of Alabama, formerly NASA), John Christy (Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama), and Matt Ridley (DPhil, Oxford). How strong can the “consensus” be if such stars of science question the idea?


  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    Origenes – isn’t it great to be alive in 1991? I wonder what the future will bring!

    More seriously, look at the whole time series. You’ll see that there is a blip in temperature up to about 1944, and then a drop. So choosing the end of WWII is convenient for making that argument: it wouldn’t work if you took 1950 as the mid-point. Also, why end with 1990? Again, look at the plot: the temperature continues to rise after 1990, so the argument gets worse and worse if you use 2000, 2010 etc. instead.

  5. 5
    Origenes says:

    Bob: Origenes – isn’t it great to be alive in 1991?

    Why do you ask? I have no special fondness for that year.

    Bob: I wonder what the future will bring!

    WRT global warming, it’s in the quote I provided. Here it is again:

    Meanwhile, after a few warmer than usual years in the early 1990s, global temperatures have flat-lined. They show no net increase over the last two decades.

    Bob: Also, why end with 1990?

    What’s ending with 1990? Global warming, you mean? If so, you are correct.

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    What Origenes? Look at the graph in the link I gave – global warming didn’t stop in 1990 – it’s continued with the same trend. Meyer is simply wrong on that score.

  7. 7
    Origenes says:

    Everyone knows, or should know, that those temperature graphs are not based on raw scientific data — the data Stephen Meyer is talking about.

    Look e.g. here


    US Temperature Data Tampering – Worse Than It Seems
    Posted on April 20, 2017 by tonyheller

    Most people assume that temperature graphs from NOAA and NASA are generated by averaging thermometer data and honestly reporting their findings. This belief is based on a blind belief in authority, rather than evidence.

    NOAA publishes two US temperature data sets – raw and final.

    more …

    – – – –
    p.s. you can have the last word. This topic doesn’t interest me very much. Yes, you are right, I should have refrained from commenting on this thread.

  8. 8
    asauber says:

    those temperature graphs

    They aren’t really temperature graphs. They are processed data products.


  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    Origenes – yes, those aren’t based on the raw data. But different groups have used the data to reconstruct the global trends, and have come up with very similar results.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    What is NOAA’s explanation for the difference between the raw and final datasets? What is Heller’s basis for claiming that both the raw and final datasets show “too much warming” and that there has been massive data tampering where “tampering” implies dishonest manipulation of the data?

  11. 11
    rvb8 says:

    The point on climate change is moot, and even with Trump’s idiocies the writing is on the wall.

    Businesses,including the biggest car makers, and oil industry companies are well into adjusting their business models.

    Kicking and screaming, ‘deniers’ will be brought up to speed. It is probably too late, but market forces, (ironically, given what the President apparently believes), will drag this administration along with it.

    Again, even if the science is wrong, (it is not), why wouldn’t everyone embrace an oil free world? It is self destructive narcissism to go against this enevitable change.

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