Ron Paul FTL

Dec 25 2007 Published by under Politics

So... after hearing that Ron Paul was one of only two congresscritters who voted against an asinine law to further cyberparanoia, and knowing that he's been described as a libertarian, I began to think that, hmm, perhaps there might be a Republican worth a slight further look even though I've forsworn that party after the disaster that is George W. Bush and the continued support he gets from his party despite clear evidence of disaster.

Well, alas, that slight further look has happened, and while it seems that Republicans may disagree about the intrusiveness of government into our lives, the one thing the candidates may be willing to agree upon is being ignorant about modern science.  It's sad that this is what the Republican party seems to be showing as its true unifying core.

At the moment, as best I can tell, I'm an Obama man all the way. Further thought will be required.

6 responses so far

  • SLC says:

    Actually, Representative Paul has some issues that are more serious then his anti-science views. In particular, his close association with neo-nazis. See attached links.

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2007/12/can_someone_explain_to_me_why.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2007/12/neonazi_leader_says_paul_is_on.php#more

  • rknop says:

    Dude, we're Godwined already!

    In any event, see also:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2007/12/the_elders_of_ron_paul.php

    The fact that like Y shouldn't necessarily be taken as a reason to reject Y. Hitler (see? we're in Godwin territory already, so I can say that without fear) liked Wagner's music, but that doesn't make Wagner's music bad.

    But, yeah, there are scary things about Ron Paul. My reading of what Razib is writing about Ron Paul is that the movement is probably similar in many ways to the Nader movement of 2000. A lot of the people supported Nader not because they necessarily liked all of the stuff he said, but because he was an "other" who was a real "other".

    One thing Razib mentions is the "straightjacket centrist consensus of the Democrat-Republican duopoly." I know what he's talking about there. I'm not sure I'd put "centrist" in there, because I'm very unhappy with the whole one-dimensional "left-right" axis that we use to describe political candidates. But other than that -- it's all consensus and compromise, coming up with the mildly oppressive self-perpetuating bureaucracy where nothing really ever changes, and no real steps forward can be taken without throwing huge bones that undermine those steps to the current power bases (be they big corps, copyright cartels, powerful unions, lobby groups, etc.). Which leads people to look for some kind of seemingly real alternative, regardless of how extreme some views that get associated with them are.

    I voted for an "other" in 2000-- but not Nader. In 2004, I voted for Kerry, because at that point I was in a state that (I believed) wasn't a foregone conclusion. (In 2000, I was in CA, so effectively my vote didn't count-- CA was going to Gore.) This year, I don't know what I'll do, but I do know that 8 years of Bush followed by a Republican party unwilling to distance themselves from him the way Gore did from Clinton in 2000 makes me very, very, very suspicious of that party.

    I like what I see about Obama so far, insofar as one can like any forefront politician.

    I don't like what I see about any of the Republicans.

    I don't like what I see about Hillary.

    So, you can probably guess where I'm leaning at the moment.

  • I respectfully submit that there is just as much anti-science on the other side of the aisle. The Democrat's attitude about global warming is a prime example. They say I should believe in significant anthropogenic global warming because a there is a 'scentific consensus' on it and that the 'debate is over.' Teaching that to people is about as anti-science as you can get. Leave aside how significant you believe anthropogenic global warming is, look at WHY they are saying people should arrive at a particular belief. It is not asking people to analyze facts using the scientific method. It is an appeal to authority. That is the very antithesis of science! By attempting to treat its conclusions as final and no longer debatable, it teaches against the scientific process of continuously refining our understanding of the universe by continuously testing our scientific models of it.

    I think that the fact is that most all politicians do not arrive at their beliefs through any scientific examination of the world, but from upbringing or what lobbyists tell them or what they overheard at a cocktail party or the latest polls or maybe even what they feel in their gut. They certainly don’t want the voting public to get THEIR understanding of the world through a rational, scientific examination of things! They would prefer us to get our understanding of things as received wisdom from our betters (mainly them and their campaign staff). They want to whip us up with fears about something or other and herd us into the polling booths and the last thing most all politicians would want is to encourage us to examine claims about those fears with a scientific attitude. Even though I have been pulling the lever for Republicans (or more accurately, against Democrats) a lot in the last several elections I at least have the honesty to say that the above description fits the large majority of them. If you think, however, that almost all the Democrats aren’t anti-science as well, then you need to wake up and smell the cult of personality*. To disparage the Republicans as the party of anti-science is to let half the anti-science politicians off the hook. Both of them are, generally, the parties of anti-science. I think it is dishonest and, quite frankly, dangerous to pretend otherwise just to get someone who will enact laws you favor elected.

    Now, I recognize that most academic faculty and ‘science’ bloggers consider the Democrats to be the sensible, intelligent, pro-science party. I don’t think they arrived at that conclusion because the evidence shows the Democrats reject Appeal to Authority in favor of the Scientific Method. I think it is because the Democrats flatter their ego with their choices of authority that they appeal to. The Republicans know that they have a lot of religious people in their base, and so they use a lot of religious figures as the authorities they trot out to scare people into voting for them. The Democrats know they have a lot of secular voters who respect academics, and so they trot out people with academic degrees as the authority they appeal to when trying to scare people into the voting booth. That doesn’t mean one’s position is holy and the other’s is scientific. I can find plenty of Christians who believe in evolution and scientists who are skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. It only means that both parties know their voter and donor base, and have smart PR people, but NEITHER are abandoning Appeal to Authority. It is just a lot easier for academics and ‘science’bloggers to condemn Appeal to Authority when that authority is a guy with a funny hat than it is when the authority is a guy with a lab-coat and a Dr. in front of his name. But the identity of the authority you try to replace the scientific method with does not change the fact that it is still destroying science as a process and as a tool we pass on to the next generation; it only makes it easier to sell on the blogosphere and at the faculty get-together.

    Galileo’s trial didn’t happen because the Pope read his writings and was offended. It happened because Galileo’s colleagues could not disprove his skepticism of a geocentric universe with reason or evidence, and rather than admit he could be right they ran to the most powerful authority figure they could get, the Catholic Church, and had it simply declare that Galileo was wrong. How can anyone who cares about science listen as the skeptics of the most popular current global warming theories are equated holocaust deniers in the Boston Globe, and not hear echos of all the past struggles between free scientific inquiry and the blind appeal to moral authority?
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/02/09/no_change_in_political_climate/
    How can anyone who cares about science not respond with outrage when one climatologist suggests that all her colleagues who are skeptical of the theory she advocates should be excommunicated from their professional society?
    http://climate.weather.com/blog/9_11396.html
    Galileo must be spinning in his grave so fast that we could solve the world’s energy crisis by hooking him up to dynamo… and yet there is a deafening silence from Leftist scientists all around the world. Why? Because most all of these people who claim to be upset with the Republicans because they are the anti-science party, are really upset because the Republican party doesn’t flatter their egos enough. They are perfectly fine with anti-science politics, as long as the authority figures it pushes in front of the masses has the dress and speech and mannerisms of someone from their subculture. They are perfectly fine with teaching people that no-one should be skeptical of the priest class, as long as that priest class comes from their subculture and agrees with them instead of that old dark-ages habit of taking the priest class from the theology dept.

    But I write this here, because I think it will not fall entirely on deaf ears. Dr. Knop, you seem to have a bit of an iconoclastic bent in your personality and you are now freed from having to worry that you will not get tenure or funding if you express a controversial opinion to the wrong person. I hope you’ll give some serious thought about just what makes something anti-science. Is it being skeptical of the latest research results? In which case all good scientists are anti-science. Is it not being sufficiently deferential to someone with a white lab coat and ‘Dr.’ in front of their name? Is it something that threatens the funding of someone's pet project? Or… is anti-science something which would undermine continued practice of the scientific method and the culture of free scientific inquiry? If so, then I hope you’ll admit that neither the Left nor the Right has a monopoly on anti-science. And, in fact, I believe the prodigious anti-science memes that are transmitted by the Democrat party are much more dangerous than the ones in the Republican, if for no other reason than because the Republican anti-science memes are easier for the traditional defenders of science to recognize as such. The Democrat anti-science memes stroke the egos of scientists as authority figures while it undermines the very practices which are essential to science itself and thus get spread even into science classrooms and laboratories to replace the scientific method with some hollowed out shell constructed of prejudice, funding, and a lab-coat.

    As for what politician to support… I suggest you look at Fred Thompson. He is a very strong federalist, so he has a lot of the same ‘live and let live’ benefits of Ron Paul but without either the heavy religious baggage or unsavory donor base. In fact, Mr. Thompson has openly stated that he is not a regular churchgoer. Federalism would make it harder for blue-staters to use the federal gov’t to force their ‘progressive’ agendas onto the poor benighted red-staters, but a lot of liberals forget that it will also work the other way ‘round and if it caught on again it might turn the presidential elections back into just being about one branch of one level of a limited government, instead of being a bitterly-contested, all-or-nothing, live-or-die, struggle for which half of the culture gets to shove its memes down the throats of the other for the next 4 years. Obama is better than Hillary, but his pro-gun control, union** ties, and pro-big gov’t bureaucracy solution to health care costs still are a turn-off for me.

    *Don’t even try to sell me on Al Gore. Mr. Gore, especially, promotes anti-science attitudes and methods even while he purports to be fighting ‘ignorance of modern science.’ He stands up on stage in An Inconvenient Truth and shows a huge graph of historic temperature and CO2 data that are very similar. Now if he were a scientist the next words out of his mouth would be an honest appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of that data. Perhaps he’d mention that the CO2 increases seem to lag temp. increases by about 800 years, and speculate on whether that was evidence against his thesis or if it was a result of some systemic flaw in the measurement process. Of course, that’s not what he does. He makes a disarming joke and an ad-hominem attack against skeptics. That’s because he’s NOT a scientist and he’s not trying to further the scientific goal of achieving a better understanding of the universe. He’s a lawyer and a politician. He is interested in winning. If he has to cherry-pick data, misrepresent sources, and gloss over inconsistencies in his story… then that’s exactly what he’ll do. Whatever your meteorological bent, Mr. Gore’s methods are the methods of “winning” not of “discovering.” They are the opposite of science, and yet the movie is shown in science classes around the world. They are teaching the next generation to win arguments with debate tricks, not to research honestly what is true. I can think of few things more destructive to science.
    ** For the record, I’m not against having unions I just don’t think a company should be allowed to hold a monopoly on negotiation services for laborers anymore than they should be allowed to hold one on oil drilling or computer operating systems.

  • rknop says:

    So, that was long.

    There is a fundamental difference between the Appeal to Authority represented by asking the Catholic Church to affirm geocentrism, and the Appeal to Authority represented by pointing to the scientific consensus on global warming. In the former case, it's a true appeal to authority-- somebody said so because "it is written." In the latter case, it's more of an appeal to trust. It's an appeal to those who have spent the time thinking critically and researching the issue and coming to a conclusion on the issue.

    It is unrealistic to demand that each person work through the chain of evidence himself or herself. Most scientific disciplines are far too complicated nowadays, requiring too many years of concentrated study to be able to really follow the chains of evidence. So, we're left with seeing whose advice gets trusted. I'd much rather take the people who are trusting the advice of the scientific community, for whereas the scientific community does not always get things right, they are coming to their conclusions based on scientific evidence, and they are always questioning and testing their conclusions.

    The fact is that there's clear and unambiguous evidence that global warming is happening, and that we're contributing to the cause of it. Yes, lots of people still deny it, but they are clinging to threads.

    Re: the CO2 lag, that's one of those straw men that gets thrown out a lot. Alas, at this point, it's not much better of a straw man than the argument about the eye not being able to evolve thrown out by Intelligent Design proponents. I can't give you the answer to it off of the top of my head, but the lag is understood in a way that is still consistent with all of the knowledge (theoretical and practical) that tells us that changing CO2 concentrations will change the climate. Since this isn't my field, I'll just point those interested here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=13

  • So, do you believe then that Democrat politicians are really trusting the "advice of the scientific community." Or do they find scientists whose statements support their preconcieved positions and then use them as political props? They are not the same thing. A reason is not the same as an excuse.

    You responded very quickly... I think you are looking for justifications instead of doing introspection. Did you even think about the link you sent me, or did you cast about on Google for some excuse to dismiss my complaint? The link basically argues "The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2" Really, Dr. Knop... And on THIS you claim the 800 year discrepancy to be a straw man on par with unevolvable eye? I thought better of you. My point wasn't even to disprove anthropogenic global warming, but to point out that Gore's 'science lecture' teaches students to deal with skeptics in a manner that wins the political argument instead of illuminates the truth. The minutia of meterological merit is irrelevant to the point. Why rebut it, instead of the main point?

    But in fact I don't believe you THINK it is a strawman on par with the unevolvable eye, I think that you say that because pff... well... other scientists on TV and in Science and around the watercooler treat it with the same disdain. And since you trust them, you FEEL they must be right. Look at it yourself and see if you think both are equally straw. You're not a climatologist*, but you have good sense.

    Most good science comes when someone distrusts something that is in their field. No, you can't distrust everything. But you must develop a good feel for when to question something. And certainly not to belittle someone for being a skeptic. If there is such a thing as scientific manners, then being patient with skeptics must be high on the list.

    Can you honestly imagine a good physicist saying that the time has come to stop testing Relativity? And that's a pretty darn useful model!

    It is you who have created a straw man by claiming that teaching students that they should not resort to Ad Hominem attacks in place of reason nor substitute Appeal to Authority in place of real work is the same thing as me claiming that each person should work through the chain of evidence on everything themselves. Stop trying to find an excuse to dismiss what feels wrong and think about ruminate on it.

    *Though you're prehaps as much of one as Sagan was.

  • SLC says:

    In addition to Representative Pauls' apparent racist associations, there is an even more, IMHO, serious issue, namely his associations with medical cranks and quacks. I am posting a thread from Dr. Oracs' blog in which he dissects these latter associations in some detail. Quite frankly, I find Representative Pauls' getting in bed with Mike Adams rather more frightening then his possible dalliances with David Duke and Bill White.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/12/ron_paul_quackery_enabler.php#more

    Considering the fact that Representative Paul is a physician, these associations are very serious indeed as he should know better.