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Thursday, December 14, 2006

[+/-]
 Bush wages continuing war on science

Some 10,000 US researchers have signed a statement protesting about political interference in the scientific process.

The statement, which includes the backing of 52 Nobel Laureates, demands a restoration of scientific integrity in government policy.

Campaigners say that in recent years the White House has been able to censor the work of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration because a Republican congress has been loath to stand up for scientific integrity.

"It's very difficult to make good public policy without good science, and it's even harder to make good public policy with bad science," said Dr Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security.

"In the last several years, we've seen an increase in both the misuse of science and I would say an increase of bad science in a number of very important issues; for example, in global climate change, international peace and security, and water resources."

The statement comes one day after it was reported that the Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey in an effort to control research that might go against official policy:

New rules require screening of all facts and interpretations by agency scientists who study everything from caribou mating to global warming. The rules apply to all scientific papers and other public documents, even minor reports or prepared talks....

If you are not already familiar with Chris Mooney's outstanding blog on the topic, go check it out.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Daniel Dragon said...

The Russians tried supplanting real science with fake, state-supported science once. In the long run, this policy didn't work out so well.

"Born Trofim Denisovich Lysenko,
he was a follower of the Lamarckian school, staunchly refuting the Mendellian theory of genetics-based evolution. Lysenko believed in “immediate results,” and achieved them on occasions. However, he propounded extremely vague theories that failed to pass the rigours that
scientific discipline demands. Lysenko believed that the critical factor that determines the length of the vegetation period in a plant was not its genetic makeup, but its interaction with the environment."

http://www.sandeepweb.com/2003/12/12/biologys-rasputin/

1:22 PM  

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

[+/-]
 North Pole will be ice free by 2040

I guess this means in a few decades when I retire I can take a cruise to the North Pole:
Ice is melting so fast in the Arctic that the North Pole will be in the open sea in 30 years, according to a team of leading climatologists.

Ships will be able to sail over the top of the world and tourists will be able visit what was, until climate change, one of planet’s most inaccessible landscapes.

Researchers assessing the impact of carbon emissions on the world’s climate have calculated that late summer in the Arctic will be ice-free by 2040 or earlier - well within a lifetime....

Their finding may, however, already be out of date and something of an over-optimistic forecast, said Professor Chris Rapley, head of the British Antarctic Survey.

He said a recent study by the Global Carbon Project suggests emissions are rising more than twice as fast as in 2000 which is likely to speed up ice-loss even further.

"The study findings may be an under estimate of when the Arctic summer ice might be all gone," he said. "It could well be their assumptions are more optimistic than they might be."

Monday, December 11, 2006

[+/-]
 Study detects recent instance of human evolution


A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa:
It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

The finding is a striking example of a cultural practice — the raising of dairy cattle — feeding back into the human genome. It also seems to be one of the first instances of convergent human evolution to be documented at the genetic level. Convergent evolution refers to two or more populations acquiring the same trait independently.

Throughout most of human history, the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk, has been switched off after weaning because there is no further need for the lactase enzyme that breaks the sugar apart. But when cattle were first domesticated 9,000 years ago and people later started to consume their milk as well as their meat, natural selection would have favored anyone with a mutation that kept the lactase gene switched on.

Such a mutation is known to have arisen among an early cattle-raising people, the Funnel Beaker culture, which flourished some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago in north-central Europe. People with a persistently active lactase gene have no problem digesting milk and are said to be lactose tolerant....

Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, an archaeologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the new findings were "very exciting" because they "showed the speed with which a genetic mutation can be favored under conditions of strong natural selection, demonstrating the possible rate of evolutionary change in humans."

Shhh! Don't tell the intelligent design creationists. It might fry their brains.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

[+/-]
 White House declares war on christmas – again!

The Bushes have heaped scorn on Christmas for two years running now:
The White House 2006 holiday card is just out – and it does not once mention the word "Christmas."

The front of the card contains a watercolor drawing of the White House festooned with a Christmas tree, wreaths and lights (no creche!) covered by snow. Inside the greeting reads, "May the light of the season shine bright in your heart now and in the new year."...

What do the Bushes have against Christmas? Why are they afraid to use the word? More importantly, where is the outrage from Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Bill O’Reilly and the entire Fox News Channel and the whole crew at the Alliance Defense Fund?

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[+/-]
 Man kicked out of Mosque for criticizing al Qaeda

The "religion of peace" kicks this guy out of their Mosque in Oklahoma for writing an op-ed piece criticizing al Qaeda and terrorism.

I can't wait until all religion goes the way of the dinosaurs.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

[+/-]
 Military Commissions Act under bipartisan assault

This is good news for American democracy:
The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled this week that he'll join prominent Democrats in seeking to restore legal rights to hundreds of suspected terrorists confined at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.

While the measure to restore the right of habeas corpus has almost no chance of passing before Congress adjourns later this week, the message is clear: When Democrats take over in early January, the issue could resurface.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which Bush signed into law in October, prevents detainees who aren't U.S. citizens from challenging their detentions in civilian courts. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who voted for the legislation despite his opposition to stripping such rights from detainees, on Tuesday reintroduced legislation to restore those rights. A similar measure sponsored by Specter failed by three votes in October.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Specter said he was reintroducing the issue to prevent federal courts from striking down the legislation, which some of the detainees' attorneys have challenged....

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

[+/-]
 Scientist fights fundies effort to hide pre-human fossils

Scientist Fights Church Effort to Hide Museum's Pre-Human Fossils:
Famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey is giving no quarter to powerful evangelical church leaders who are pressing Kenya's national museum to relegate to a back room its world-famous collection of hominid fossils showing the evolution of humans' early ancestors.

Leakey called the churches' plans "the most outrageous comments I have ever heard."

He told The Daily Telegraph (London): "The National Museums of Kenya should be extremely strong in presenting a very forceful case for the evolutionary theory of the origins of mankind. The collection it holds is one of Kenya's very few global claims to fame and it must be forthright in defending its right to be at the forefront of this branch of science." Leakey was for years director of the museum and of Kenya's entire museum system.

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