Geek manifesto

by Judith Curry

British journalist Mark Henderson makes a passionate case for why science and scientists deserve a greater role in politics in The Geek Manifesto. But he offers no discussion — much less remedy — for “geeks” who play politics via science. Increasing the influence of scientists won’t clean up our politics; for that, we simply need to practice better politics, which means holding institutions and authorities, including scientists, accountable to the public. – Roger Pielke Jr.

Roger Pielke Jr

At Breakthrough, Roger Pielke has a post entitled Should Scientists Rule?  Excerpts:

Henderson argues that political views ought to be measured beyond two axes representing economics and social policies. “Politics,” Henderson explains, “has a third axis, too. It measures rationalism, skepticism and scientific thinking.”

The champions of this third axis are the “geeks” — those “people with a passion for science and the critical thinking on which it is founded.” Science, Henderson explains, “is not a noun but a verb.” He continues, explaining that science “is provisional, always open to revision … comfortable with your changing your mind … anti-authoritarian: anybody can contribute, and anybody can be wrong … [tries] to prove the most elegant ideas wrong … [and] is comfortable with uncertainty.”

Ultimately, I disagree with the book’s bottom line call for a political movement centered on science as an organizing theme.

So I welcome and appreciate Henderson’s polemic in support of the importance of evidence as a key element in effective policy making. Yet, despite my predisposition, I am also of the view that Henderson’s call for geeks to organize a political movement not around specific policies, but around scientific thinking is doomed from the start. Beyond that, rather than making our politics more scientific, the geek movement might just make our science more political, and not in a good way.

I base my critique on two related aspects of Henderson’s argument. The first is the quick recasting of science not as a verb but as a noun representing people, credentials and money. Throughout, Henderson equates those with a passion for critical thinking with credentialed academic scientists. This is wrong in two ways: having scientific credentials is no guarantee of an ability to think critically in political settings; and the absence of a scientific degree is no indication of a lack of critical thinking ability. The shift from advocating critical thinking to the advocacy of scientists, science funding and science education turns The Geek Manifesto into a plea for science as a special interest.

More scientists in elected office, more government science funding, more scientific expertise in journalism and more science education may all make good sense, but the evidence is thin that such outcomes benefit common interests rather than the special interests of the science lobby.

The Geek Manifesto’s selective reading of the economics of R&D is related to the second aspect of my critique, which is more fundamental. Henderson writes as if there is in fact a lobby out there who might advocate for science, independent of specific policy issues, such as climate change, nuclear power, genetic modification, drug safety and other topical issues of the day. However, experience shows that we “geeks” are just like everyone else with ideologies, political preferences and points of view on particular policy issues. Further, many geeks have shown themselves to be willing to stretch, bend and even distort science for political gain. In fact, such tactics are particularly appealing to geeks because science carries such authority in political debates. The Geek Manifesto offers no advice on how the geeks themselves are to be held accountable.

What happens when it is the geeks themselves who engage in a pathological politicizing of science?

The subtext of The Geek Manifesto is of course political power. It is about who should be in a position to determine what evidence is deemed acceptable in political debates, what decisions ought to be made in the public interest, what should be taught in schools, and what should be reported in the news.  Henderson’s view, one widely shared among science connoisseurs, is that by virtue of its essential characteristics, science — and more specifically those who embody the virtues of science — deserve a special place in politics.

The idea that science and scientists deserve special treatment in politics is often what leads to the temptation to exploit that specialness for political gain, which ultimately works against science being afforded special treatment. In this manner, calls for a “geek revolution” can have a hard time avoiding the slippery slope of scientific authoritarianism. Henderson doesn’t engage these issues, and thus avoids stepping on that slope. But it is there, nonetheless.

For instance, The Geek Manifesto rightly takes issue with green campaigners who consistently exploit the latest weather disaster to make the case for emissions reductions to deal with climate change. He explains that such claims create “an unnecessary weakness which deniers can target to sow doubt about the rest of the science.” However, in his critique Henderson focuses exclusively on the excesses of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Al Gore. He does not mention the role of the “geeks” in aiding and abetting such misinformation, including the much celebrated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and many prominent geeks. Instead, Henderson paints an idealized picture of “geeks” who are always right about the science and non-geeks who need to be overcome. Reality paints a far more complex and difficult picture.

Henderson’s passionate defense of the climate scientists whose emails were exposed from a leak or hack at the University of East Anglia reinforces this lack of nuance.  The problem, Henderson asserts, is not that the scientists engaged in “any wrongdoing” but rather that these scientists did not  ”meet their foes in hand-to-hand combat” to defend their virtue in the public eye. My experience with these same scientists, as revealed in the leaked emails, is somewhat different.

As Jacob Bronowski once said, “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”

The Geek Manifesto offers no discussion, much less remedy, for geeks who play politics via science.  Even more confounding, what about those geeks who politicize science in pursuit of authority and power via a geek revolution? Once we descend from the idealized version of “science” to the more prosaic realities of science in the real world we see that what we actually need is to practice better politics in all of its messiness. This means holding politicians and scientists accountable to each other, and to the general public. Science is a part of this process, not a separate political axis.

Science has a crucially important role to play in democratic governance. On this point Henderson is no doubt correct. Judged by the volume of discussion and debate that The Geek Manifesto has already generated, the book is certainly a valuable contribution to science policy discussions.  In the end geeks should be very careful. Calls for science to represent a third axis of political conflict might just succeed — an outcome which would improve neither science nor politics.

Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor has a post on this book entitled Science Geeks Ready to Rumble, which includes an interview with Mark Henderson and discussion of Pielke Jr’s points:

KK: In a sharply critical review of your book, Roger [Pielke Jr] is among those who argue that such special treatment is counterproductive, because scientists, like everyone else, have views that are informed by politics and/or ideology. Thus, conflict and politicization of issues often follows when scientists wrap their own personal views in the mantle of science. Would you like to now offer some advice on this?

MHHe’s right of course that geeks – by which I mean those who appreciate science, not necessarily “credentialed scientists” as Roger mistakenly asserts – have all sorts of political viewpoints. And that we are all, geeks included, prone to confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance and all the other foibles of judgement to which the human mind is prone. Some geeks, it is absolutely true, have been known to twist science themselves to serve a political purpose.

I don’t endorse those who do this at all. How should geeks be held accountable? In the same way as everyone else – by the levers of democracy. I make it very, very clear in the book that I am not advocating some sort of technocratic rule-by-scientists, and that there are occasions – many occasions – where it is perfectly proper for democratically-elected politicians to disregard scientific evidence when they consider this trumped by other factors. Science and evidence are almost always necessary for good decision-making, but they are very rarely sufficient.

What I do want, though, is for the evidence to be weighed, considered, and published, and for decisions that are made for reasons of ideology or valued to be explained as such, and not justified according to spray-on evidence that doesn’t really exist. I don’t think science deserves a special place in politics – it is one of many factors that properly go into most political decisions. But it deserves to be considered fairly as one of these factors – the examples I quote in the book show that all too often it is not. It’s the difference between arguing for a greater role for science, which I unashamedly do, and a special place, which I do not.

KK: Roger points out that in your book, you rightly criticize green campaigners who go too far with some of their claims. But he also complains that you let the scientists–who sometimes aid and abet such exaggerated rhetoric–off the hook. Are you letting scientists off too easy?

MH: To some extent, I probably am. This was one of the areas of Roger’s review that I thought had most merit. He is undoubtedly right that some scientists have happily encouraged, or at least, failed to challenge, overblown rhetoric from green campaigners – and other campaigners with other agendas as well. It isn’t much more helpful, for example, to portray GM crops as some sort of panacea for world hunger than it is to present them as an unalloyed evil with no contribution at all, and there are certainly scientists out there who have exaggerated this way.

Q. Roger also charges:

The Geek Manifesto offers no discussion, much less remedy, for geeks who play politics via science.  Even more confounding, what about those geeks who politicize science in pursuit of authority and power via a geek revolution?

Have you given special dispensation to the geeks without cause for such concern? Or are you not as worried about this as Roger?

MH: I would hope that other geeks would be in the forefront of the challenge!

This, I think, points towards the critique I am happiest to accept in Roger’s review – which is the difficulty that any “geek movement” might have in avoiding being painted as just another special interest. He’s right that this is a significant risk, and that, as he concludes, “the geeks should be very careful.” Roger is especially astute to point out that this risk grows once calls for better use of evidence in policy-making, and for greater scientific understanding in the political process, are joined by calls for increased funding. I’m also willing to accept that the book did too little to reflect the contrary literature on links between research funding and economic growth.

Overcoming this risk of politicization is difficult, but I think it can be done. It has to start with being equally hard on, and fair to, all political parties when they abuse evidence and damage science, leaving normal party loyalties aside. I’m with Roger, and Daniel Sarewitz, when they point out the dangers of US science’s increasingly close identification with Democratic politics. When the Obama Administration transgresses, geeks need to be every bit as robust as they were when Bush held the White House.

Ultimately, too, I think geeks have to get more politically active if political approaches to science are to change for the better. As I’ve said above, the problem isn’t by and large that politicians are anti-science. It’s indifference, a lack of engagement. Few politicians have much sense that there might be any kind of political price to pay if they handle science badly. It’s only by acting as more active citizens that those of us who care about science stand much chance of addressing that. Roger’s right that we have to be careful, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it at all.

KK: Can there be both a geek revolution and a check on its power?

MH: Absolutely. Democracy can, should, and generally does provide it. As I’ve said above, I do not think for a second that science should trump democracy. I’m not calling for a technocratic state, or for scientists on top, in authority, holding the levers of power.

If science really were an over-mighty elite wielding exceptional and undemocratic power over elected governments, I’d be in the vanguard of those calling for it to be cut down to size. But as I think I show quite successfully in the book, we’ve a long way to go before that becomes a serious threat.

The problem with science and politics isn’t that scientists are too active, too controlling, too spin-savvy and streetwise. It’s quite the reverse, that there aren’t enough of them who know their way around the corridors of power, or even how to make themselves heard by those in office, and there aren’t enough politicians and civil servants who have really engaged with science and appreciate what it has to offer. A political class with a stronger grasp of science, incidentally, would also be a stronger bulwark against scientists who do play politics with data, and try to twist it to suit their own ends.

Yes, let’s hold science to account. Geeks need to be very robust on malpractice – scientific fraud, for example, and non-publication of clinical trials. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We can do huge amounts to improve the way politics uses, appreciates and exploits science to deliver more effective policies before we have to start worrying about technocratic rule.

JC comment:  I am all in favor of better information informing policy making.  For science to be more effective in informing policy making, science and scientists need to be held to a greater level of accountability.  Geeks playing politics with science act to diminish the value of science qua science and in decision making. I don’t have any suggestions for a solution to this issue, but I thinking shining a light on the issue and discussing it is a first step.

144 responses to “Geek manifesto

  1. I kinda got lost after reading ‘science is a verb.’ I admit that the idea of giving policy wonks a privileged seat at the tables of power is attractive–but then I’m a policy wonk. I also think balding, middle-aged men should be more widely celebrated…

    • “The entire case for panic is based on computer games. I want to remind you that the other multi-trillion-dollar debacle we are witnessing around the world today is because risk managers with gray hair were replaced by computers. The computers got it spectacularly wrong, yet the financial consensus relied upon them.” (John Linder, U.S. Congress)

      • David Springer

        thomaswfuller2 | January 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Reply

        “I kinda got lost after reading ‘science is a verb.’ ”

        I didn’t get lost. That was the point where I realized it was trash and scienced to the bottom as fast as I could science my mousewheel.

        I wonder if the author actually tried using science as a verb before he wrote that? What a maroon.

      • Oh, he’s just keying on the idea that a named object doesn’t change and an object in motion changes something, but it’s off-putting and sloppy.

        And wrong. Like the rest of what he wrote. What’s wrong? Let’s start with what’s right. Well, science is a verb.
        ========

      • Should science do politics?

      • Science started doing politics in 1946. George Orwell recognized the danger. http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-2157

    • +1 on the balding middle aged men…

    • lurker passing through, laughing

      Thomas,
      lo. But sadly you are part of a shrinking group who is willing to consider things in full. We are perilously close to a ‘ten days that shook the world’ experience.

    • thomaswfuller2

      Check the list of folks receiving real Nobel prizes (not the Crackerjack “Peace Prize” variety handed out by another panel by the hundreds of millions): a large percentage of the recipients are “balding, middle-aged men”.

      Of course, there are also many non-balding women, as well (age is not discussed in this category).

      Max

      • Then the next move is to start kvetching about how there are too many middle-aged bald white males, and start agitating for more diversity, and next thing, we have a bunch of Lisa Jacksons running everything.

      • She fooled ya’ didn’t he. Lisa’s a middle-aged balding white male in drag, Richard Cory Windsor is his name-oh.
        ==================

  2. I think this is entirely the wrong approach.

    Rather than moving science into politics, we should as a general principle remove from the purview of government all those things that can be decided by science. They are better off in the private sector where those who apply the science correctly will prosper and those who misunderstand it will suffer.

    There can be exceptions to this (e.g. things imposing external costs on others), but even then most of those should be decided by courts, not elected representatives.

    • Bruce Hoult
      +1.
      I agree with all that.

      If we went the free market approach we could reduce global emissions from electricity generation by 13 Gt CO2/a by 2050. That is the same as the Nordhaus ‘Optimal’ Carbon price claims it would achieve.

      But, whereas the Carbon price approach is based on academic assumptions that would be totally impracticable to achieve in the real world, the free market approach would achieve the result (as long as we don’t continue to prevent it by imposing bad regulations).

      Here are some of the non-CO2 related external benefits of a free market approach:
      • Avoid increasing the cost of energy through taxes and regulations (e.g. ETS)
      • Avoid the compliance cost of carbon tax and ETS schemes (http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578 )
      • Avoid cost premium caused by partial participation in such schemes (http://skepticalscience.com//news.php?f=nordhaus-sets-the-record-straight-climate-mitigation-saves-money#82373 )
      • Avoid the inevitable and ongoing domestic political interference, international cheating and dragging the chain.

      • Faster GDP growth due to lower energy prices
      • People rise out of poverty faster
      • Reduce population growth rate and lower the peak population
      • Reduce toxic pollution and black carbon (avoiding millions of fatalities per year)
      • Reduce the transporting of coal and gas – less ships, trains and gas pipelines.
      • Greater energy security.

    • Separation of Science and State.

  3. Hmmmm … the Geek party. The documents containing merely the rules of the Geek party would span 3000 pages.

  4. Science and scientists will deserve a greater role in politics after they clean house and demonstrate a deep personal commitment to honor science as one of the sacred paths to truth.

    With deep regrets,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for NASA

  5. Since the advent of the web, if the purview of the data/interpretations/advice-to-policy-makers is sufficiently open to the public, then I think more “geeks” with useful knowledge/skills are likely to turn up.

    Who thinks the IPCC is sufficiently open and honest to the public?

  6. Say Mark Henderson, the wonderful march of progress.*
    From democracy ter thearchy, I mean…technocracy.Hmm,
    isn’t that a variety of fascism? Let’s ask cui bono?

    *An extension of “IPCCing,” ( a verb)

    • An old “Hellzapoppin” road show joke (during an earlier period, when there was a “technocrat” political party.

      Census taker (at door, talking with one co-tenant in apartment): And your roommate, what is his political affiliation?

      Co-tenant (shouting at his roommate, who is in the bathroom): Hey, Joe, are you a technocrat?

      Joe (shouting from background) Naw, I’m just washing my face.

      Yuck, yuck.

  7. Once upon a time, one Greek had a Geek manifesto.

    Did not turn out that well.

    • David Springer

      Kaczynski’s a polack name, his parents came over on a boat from the old country, but he’s sure a Geek with a Manifesto. The Unabomber graduated Harvard, then obtained a PhD in math from Michigan U, then taught at Berkeley before completely losing the plot.

    • David Springer

      Beware of Geeks bearing gifts.

      It’s all Geek to me.

      Geeks don’t fight like heroes. Heroes fight like Geeks.

      I am not an Athenian or a Geek, but a citizen of the world.

      My Big Fat Geek Wedding

      Geek Mythology

      A Body Like a Geek God

      Willard thinks too much. That is his problem. ~Zorba the Geek

    • cave physici qui gerant praemii

      (Beware of geeks bearing gifts)

  8. Listen serf, do not worry yer pretty little head about things yer don’t understand. We will do yr thinking fer you. Now on page fourteen
    of The Geek Manifesto …

  9. blueice2hotsea

    The Geek Manifesto has an interesting premise which – for reasons cited by Pielke – would likely fail if universally adopted. However, I wonder if a successful “Geekdom” already exists in Finland. And if so, could it be due to an unusual set of shared cultural values?

  10. “Science has a crucially important role to playin democratic government”

    True. But not the converse.

    The UN loves to do things democratically. But science is an intensly elitist activity, because we are always tryimg to do better than our predecessors and our colleagues. The UN has asked it’s scientists to do something no one has ever done: predict the climate nearly a century ahead. This is about as elitist as you can ever get. Perhaps they hoped that the wide confidence limits they would have to put on their calculations would contain some hidden truth. Or perhaps, like Al Gore they thought they knew the answer and were merely wanting confirmation. Either way, democratic processes will not help.

    It amazes me that reputable scientists would put up their hands for this task. Or maybe they thought they knew the answer too. Or maybe they thought they would be dead by the time confirmation came through.

  11. JC Comment:

    I am all in favor of better information informing policy making. For science to be more effective in informing policy making, science and scientists need to be held to a greater level of accountability. Geeks playing politics with science act to diminish the value of science qua science and in decision making.

    I agree.

    I no longer have anywhere near the faith in scientists I did once. I believe many, at all levels, have become corrupted by power and the money that flows in if they support the orthodoxy. They are predominantly of Left ideological persuasion. Most have little or no understanding of politics, economics, finance, engineering or business. They tend to have a narrow view of what is important. And they do not have ethical standards any more (they did once). They are not accountable for their advice as other professional disciplines are (doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, company directors, financial advisers to name a few).

    The extremist advocacy of scientists like James Hansen has does enormous damage, as has the Head of the UN, past next-president of the USA AL Gore, the IPCC, CRU, etc. It almost makes me feel sick to realise how badly the public has been misled and the enormous waste of money.

    • Peter Lang | January 14, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Peter, you don’t mean all scientists, just the coterie of knaves at the heart of the IPCC and their fellow travellers. I agree with you about the waste of money, but the fact is that the only people who can get us out of this mess are scientists who stand up and challenge the IPCC. Of course the environmentalists need this scare to impose their will on the people and have successfully muzzled the MSM, so even scientists speaking out about this hoax are unable to be heard.

      • geronimo,

        Peter, you don’t mean all scientists, just the coterie of knaves at the heart of the IPCC and their fellow travellers.

        Yes. Correct. Thank you for pointing out that correction. I didn’t properly qualify which scientist I was referring to.

        but the fact is that the only people who can get us out of this mess are scientists who stand up and challenge the IPCC.

        I don’t really agree with that statement. Good scientists can help, but realistically the culture is now set and it is impossible to make more than small changes on the margin.

        The solution is now largely outside scientist hands. They can keep playing with their temperature readings, statistics and trends and argue about these things interminably. But they are now basically irrelevant. We’ve move on. It’s now up to economists, engineers, lawyers, diplomats and politicians.

        The reality is that legally binding international agreements are not going to happen. We need other ways to deal with the issues. This is where we come back to reality: Free Markets with light, appropriate regulation work; they deliver better well-being for all. On the other hand, central control and excessive regulation do not.

  12. Here is a scientist (physicist) who has achieved a politically influential position.
    David MacKay is Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. See this 18 minute TED video http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_renewables.html
    But, even though he shows the numbers objectively, notice his body language and the rather unsupportive way he speaks about the technology that, based on all the evidence he has presented, is clearly the best option.

  13. Regardless of credentials, scientists who allow their activities to be driven by political ideology cease to be scientists, and are no different from any other species of political hack – except maybe that their credentials make them rather more dangerous than the garden-variety political hack..

  14. Progressives are progressives first, and everything else second.

    A progressive geek is a progressive first.

    It takes a special kind of isolation from reality to argue for more po9liticized scientists.

  15. It is interesting that those with the minority view don’t like scientists to have a political say. Imagine if the clear majority of scientists thought an element in the drinking water was bad for you, but a minority disagreed. Wouldn’t you want the politicians to know which view was in the majority?

    • Jim D

      ” Imagine if the clear majority of scientists thought an element in the drinking water was bad for you, but a minority disagreed. Wouldn’t you want the politicians to know which view was in the majority?”

      Not really, Jim.

      I’d want to know (and want politicians to know, as well) which group had empirical scientific evidence (ex. water analyses, animal tests or even clinical studies on the suspected harmful element or compound showing concentration at which it is harmful, etc.).

      Max

    • Jim D, what if the minority was right? Alternatively, what if it was the minority who (correctly) thought the water was bad? What would you have happen in those cases?
      And what if the cost of ‘doing something’ about the drinking water would be prohibitively high, or would mean people dying of thirst?
      Science isn’t a popularity contest – what counts is who’s, or rather what’s right, and not how many scientists agree.
      Science should recognise that scientists, like anyone else, are affected by biases, prejudices and political beliefs, and rigorous methodology and standards should be in place to prevent research findings being coloured by these human failings.

  16. My experience with scientists is that they are an opportunistic lot. Constantly writing grants aimed at Requests For Proposals to provide money for past projects which have already run out of funding but are not completed. I know there are rules against this; nevertheless, depending upon the grant administrator and a wink and a nod, your reputation and how well you glad-hand at “The” meetings, “All’s well that ends well.” So I already see the scientist as a politician in a specialized field. Governance by these science politicians occurs in committees while sitting on Government funding committees, in specialty associations committees, or in the hallowed halls of academia. Scientists are already political, and those who make it to “chair” positions are good at politics; very good. That’s how one gets to advise the President, or Prime Minister, or His/Her Majesty. Moving scientists into the halls of Congress, Parliament, or other tribal networks would really take time away from the kind of politics they do so well.

    Now the geeks with whom I am familiar are generally young, ideologues, unencumbered by nuance and reality, anti-establishment, disregard for other people’s property (particularly intellectual), high risk takers who assiduously avoid consequences of their own behavior/actions. Not a group I would like to see making laws, rules, policies, enforcement actions, etc. Not in large numbers at least.

    Politicians who dwell in the halls of Congress or have had influence upon the outcomes of wars, myths, social movements, as well as provide light entertainment, tend to be winnowed by time and are best viewed with the retro-spectoscope. A dated example, (historical is much safer than current), Winston Churchill. During WW I he was First Lord of the Admiralty until sending many to die at Gallipoli. Lost that portfolio in a heartbeat. His return to leadership in 1940 and a place in political history was as the voice of resoluteness during “Britain’s darkest hour” of WW II. Many Churchillisms remain today in our English lexicon primarily his commentary on the political life of which he was a part. There are not very many Churchillesque scientists to lead us all in a scientific world event.

    I readily admit my experience with scientists, politicians, and geeks is anecdotal, circumscribed, and wholly biased with regards to their political hay making. I have learned to judge politicians, whatever their specialty, as good at what they intend to do: aggrandizing power and resources for their own purpose. I watch, observe and “gird my loins” for their thrust.

    Geeks make no better nor worse politicians, at least in small numbers.

    • Now the geeks with whom I am familiar are generally young, ideologues, unencumbered by nuance and reality, anti-establishment, disregard for other people’s property (particularly intellectual), high risk takers who assiduously avoid consequences of their own behavior/actions. Not a group I would like to see making laws, rules, policies, enforcement actions, etc. Not in large numbers at least.

      I agree. Who would trust the ‘Hockey Team’ to be our political representatives? I certainly wouldn’t want anyone like that lot to be in politics.

  17. I cannot justify a greater political voice for scientists than engineers, social workers, farmers, industrial workers, small businessmen, registered dieticians, law enforcement, nurses etc. I can argue for a lesser voice for attorneys, FIRE professionals (FIRE – finance, insurance, real estate) and large business.

  18. Barclay E Mac Donald

    Theodore Hall was a young scientist on the Manhattan Project who gave himself a greater role in politics. Perhaps ones profession should be just one of many considerations for choosing our leaders.

  19. A good response by Mark Henderson. Four days ago I posted this on Breakthrough:

    “Excellent post, Roger. The big issue for me is the honesty, integrity and commitment to public benefit of politicians and bureaucrats. I saw this at its best in 1985-91, when I worked for Australia’s Economic Planning and Advisory Council, chaired by PM Bob Hawke, and briefly for the Ministerial Committee on Longer Term Economic Growth, chaired by Senator Button. At the first meeting in May 85, Button told the economists (including Ross Garnaut) to forget ALP policy and ACTU policy, the government wanted to know what was best for the people of Australia as a whole. By and large, that is how the government, heavy with ex-trade union officials but including people with a wide range of backgrounds and experience, operated.

    “The present government is quite different. Almost all are career politicians who went from student activism to political or trade union work then parliamentary selection. It’s mainly about power, sometimes about ideology, with dire results.
    “Would more scientists help? Only if they seek to identify and promote the public interest ahead of their own perceived self-interest. Even this may not be enough, I’ve known good ministers in the UK and Australia who were seen as insufficiently partisan, and suffered for it.

    “Prior to the 2010 election, a prominent economist asked me about Kevin Rudd, who I’ve worked for. I replied: “He has no core” – it’s all about Kevin. Scientists or no scientists, the question is how can people not obsessed with power and self-interest become political leaders? I can’t answer that, I just try and apply strong moral principles in my own life and to foster them as opportunity arises.”

    One way of reducing the capacity for damage by self- and power-interested politicians is, as Bruce Hoult and Peter Lang suggest, reducing the role and scope of government. But the incentives for politicians and bureaucrats are all the other way. I’m currently involved with Queensland Health, where there has been a massive expansion of bureaucrats under the ALP state government – I think that the ratio was as high as 57% non-medical to 43% medical staff, and decisions were made by the former, with little understanding of the medical coal-face. The current government is cutting numbers, but too many decisions on where cuts fall rest with the self-serving bureaucrats, who of course protect each other’s jobs, with too many of the losses being amongst good medical staff.

  20. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Pielke’s analysis shows a lamentable disregard (does it originate in willful ignorance?) of the entangled history of science, radical politics (as espoused by Priestley, Franklin, Lavoisier, etc) and the Enlightenment:

    A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy

    Beyond a certain level there were and could be only two Enlightenments—moderate (two-substance) Enlightenment, on the one hand, postulating a balance between reason and tradition and broadly supporting the status quo, and, on the other, Radical (one-substance) Enlightenment conflating body and mind into one, reducing God and nature to the same thing, excluding all miracles and spirits separate from bodies, and invoking reason as the sole guide in human life, jettisoning tradition. […]

    The dramatic rise of the Counter-Enlightenment and the vehemence of the British public’s loyalism and anti-intellectualism by the 1780s and 1790s are probably symptoms that the moderate mainstream, in the tradition of Montesquieu, Hume, and Voltaire, was losing the fight to block radical intellectual arguments.

      — Jonathan Israel

    Are today’s moderate climate-change skeptics losing the fight to block the radical implications of climate-change acceleration? For one simple reason: Nature cannot be fooled? And thereby has Nature destined Science’s return to its radical political origins, despite the outcry of the moderates?

    The world wonders! \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  21. The AGW anti-capitalist priesthood has been exposed and the reputation of Western science is in serious need of a Hollywood makeover. Nature is the decider. The Sun has decided not to cooperate in the global warming hoax.

    An yet, after all of the gross lying and deceit and willingness to stab America in the back and condemn millions to misery, poverty and death still more Leftists and liberals must now be elected to high office, appointed to an ever bigger federal government bureaucracy, enrolled in the secular, socialist education machine, to rewrite history and continue to embrace their AGW/Maoist program in America’s dropout factories. More and bigger government strings are choking the last shreds of libery out of humanity.

  22. Too late, Henderson; the damage is done, and only worsens with every silent scientist.
    =========

  23. It’s sort of amusing that he completely misses the irony that his Dream Team of Geeks is the Hockey Team. He is writing a prescription for future social disasters that would make this one pale in comparison.
    ================

    • I don’t get that sense. I don’t think these folks have taken off the blinders yet to see what the hockey team has did.

  24. I see some criticism of ‘science is a verb’. Obviously ‘doing science’ is a verb, and I think he meant it doesn’t have a past tense, i.e. it is never completed.

    • “doing science”

      “Doing” is the verb, “science” is the object. The phrase requires a subject to become an actual sentence. Plus you can add some

      “Climate scientists are more interested in doing politics than doing science.”

      But hey, many of you want to anthropomorphize “science;” now it’s a verb; it’s already a noun/object; and it can be used as an adjective.

      “Science scientifically scienced the science.”

      Let’s just turn the language to gibberish, that way no one will have a clue what you are trying to do.

      Oh wait….

    • Jim D

      Is “doing science” like “doing lunch”?

      (Not to be confused with “free lunch”.)

      Max

  25. Its not just “geeks [not forgetting dorks and nerds] who play politics via science.”

    I’m not sure if there’s a suitable word for the right-wing / proprietarian reactionary geriatic old-fogey climate denier types who inhabit climate blogs like this one.

    I’ll have to give it some thought!

    • TT how about fossils? The word implies that the person, idea etc is outdated and incapable of change. But hey, this could well apply to (some) people on both sides of the debate!

    • lurker passing through, laughing

      tempterrain,
      Your next thought regarding your obsession will be your first, and the next evidence you find that supports your characterization of cliamte skeptics will also be your first. You are a tedious, predictable and derivative bore.

  26. Hendersen wants scientists to have more money from the government so that they can have more influence and power within the government? Typically progressive…

    Politics is rhetoric based (not necessarily a bad thing) in that it is about convincing people that you are the one with the ability to accomplish the wants and needs of the people. It is essentially sheep herding. The more sheep the more influence, the more influence the more power. Some sheep want lots of herding some want almost none. People who are masters of rhetoric (lawyers, business execs) tend to populate political leadership positions, those that are not as effective at communicating with the general population (scientists, economists, etc.) have a lessor role.

    Also, from my perspective which is outside of science, I find the science community, and especially academia, to be overall arrogant and tedious. You want to impress me? Build something, accomplish something, lead people, or improve my life. Writing another paper to get rave reviews from your peers while feeding from the government trough does nothing for me and I will not follow you. If you want to lead, then you have to be a leader, you have to be able to accomplish great things and to earn my respect.

    Here is what that looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAIhfw9bY5U

  27. “Third axis…………rationalism, skepticism and scientific thinking.” ?

    Are we talking about the kind of ideas promoted by Richard Dawkins?

    http://richarddawkins.net/

    Sounds OK to me. I can’t see what’s ‘geekish’ about it.

    • David Springer

      Hostility towards organized religion has driven Richard Dawkins batshiit crazy. The consensus is that it is very deep rooted hostility that took root when he was molested by Anglican priests as a child.

    • tempterrain

      You cite Richard Dawkins (Foundation for Reason & Science)
      richarddawkins.net

      Our mission is to support scientific education and critical thinking to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.

      Sounds good to me so far.

      I especially like that part about “critical thinking”.

      Max

    • Of course, if Dawkins is carrying painful baggage that makes it hard for him to think rationally (rather than emotionally) about religion, this could present a problem for him – but his “manifesto” sounds OK as written.

      Is there some specific reason you bring him up (related to our topic), tempterrain?

      Max

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Richard Dawkins is a *very* clear thinker. I don’t think he does emotional “baggage”. His “incident” was with a teacher, not a priest, and he has described his particular incident as being “an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience” in “The God Delusion”.

      • Max,

        “Is there some specific reason you bring him up (related to our topic), tempterrain?”

        It seems that Henderson is making a ” call for a political movement centered on science as an organizing theme.”.

        I’d say it’s already been happening for some time and Dawkins isn’t the first to link politics and science . I’d put scientific findings before any political views I hold anyway. In fact I’d say they are based on a scientific approach. If it could be shown, for instance, that the health of Americans was so much better, and they paid less in the process, than those who live in countries with socialised medicine then I’d be against it. It would just be common sense.

    • Isn’t that the same Richard Dawkins who fell in love with Mrs Garrison? Yes, once again South Park hits the nail on the head.

    • David Springer

      Dawkins attended Anglican school. I’m unfamilar with them but I’m familiar with parochial Catholic schools where the teachers are ordained church members (nuns or priests). Do you know the teacher at Dawkin’s school was not ordained?

  28. Thought fer Today , H/t Gary M

    ” Gibberish, ole! … Get rid of history as record, let’s chuck it down
    the memory hole, substitute post modern ‘science,’ ( an action
    word,) fer conjecture – refutation – science- methodology based on
    evi – dence, and hey .. exclamation mark… ya on the way ter dumbing down the pop – u – lay – shun ter sheeple inter – lec- tu – al stat – us…
    So goes Mao’s Little 1Red Book.”

    H/t Gary M

    • Confucius say:

      Head fulla infohmation moah likely get chopped off by Emporah than empty head.

      • Depends on whether or not the information in the head is true. Lots of heads full of false information out there are in no danger of being chopped off. The heads full of true information are dangerous, and likely to be chopped off.

  29. knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing (although a bit of knowledge usually helps)

  30. lurker passing through, laughing

    More self serving scientist-as-priest bullsh*t. Science is not immaculate, not error free and scientists are not capable of ethics or morals beyond those of ordinary people. They are merely human. And as the systemic experience of phonied up peer review publications shows, it is not merely climate science that exhibits this.

  31. Judith Curry

    Thanks for a very interesting lead post.

    Mark Henderson calls for scientists to play a “greater role in politics”, with which he is referring to influencing policymakers to do (what the scientists believe is) “the right thing”.

    This is a slippery slope.

    I’d agree with you that

    ”For science to be more effective in informing policy making, science and scientists need to be held to a greater level of accountability. Geeks playing politics with science act to diminish the value of science qua science and in decision making.”

    There are two aspects, as far as I can judge. Many of the “scientists” being discussed are in the direct or indirect pay of the taxpayers, who simply want unbiased and objective information from the guys they are paying. When a scientist becomes an active advocate for a cause, this scientist loses the unbiased, objective view required to be a good scientist.

    Scientists should not become “disciples spreading religious dogma”.

    So I’d agree with the statement by Roger Pielke Jr. regarding Henderson’s book:

    ”Ultimately, I disagree with the book’s bottom line call for a political movement centered on science as an organizing theme.”

    The world has seen some of these in the past, and they didn’t turn out well.

    Max

    • Steve Milesworthy

      …to influencing policymakers to do (what the scientists believe is) “the right thing”.

      You put “the right thing” in quotes. Where did you get the quote from because it is not in the article, and it doesn’t ring true.

      I suspect you have got the wrong end of the stick.

      The clue was in the full “greater role in politics” quote:

      What I do want, though, is for the evidence to be weighed, considered, and published, and for decisions that are made for reasons of ideology or valued to be explained as such, and not justified according to spray-on evidence that doesn’t really exist. I don’t think science deserves a special place in politics – it is one of many factors that properly go into most political decisions. But it deserves to be considered fairly as one of these factors – the examples I quote in the book show that all too often it is not. It’s the difference between arguing for a greater role for science, which I unashamedly do, and a special place, which I do not.

  32. tempterrain | January 15, 2013 at 4:19 am

    “I’m not sure if there’s a suitable word for the right-wing / proprietarian reactionary geriatic old-fogey climate denier types who inhabit climate blogs like this one.”

    Curmudgeons

    • tempterrain

      “I’m not sure if there’s a suitable word for the right-wing / proprietarian reactionary geriatic old-fogey climate denier types who inhabit climate blogs like this one.”

      Whodat?

      max

  33. David Springer

    Using science as a verb:

    BBD, a retired British shopkeeper who couldn’t science his way out of a wet paper bag, typifies the Skeptical Science fan.

    Yeah, that works. I may have to reconsider my initial criticism of science as a verb.

    • I rarely visit SkS. This is an ad-hom. Why hasn’t your comment been deleted?

      • David Springer

        Curry evidently has better things to do with her time than cull off-topic or off-color comments and is unwilling to give anyone else the authority to do so. IMO the recent spate of deletia was a passing bit of pique that lasted hardly longer than it took to pen the warning.

        I’d like to take this opportunity to quote Larry Flynt in “The People vs. Larry Flynt”. Larry was outside the Supreme Court informally talking to a crowd of reporters.

        Because if the First Amendment will protect a… What did Grutman call me? A scumbag like me… then it’ll protect all of you.

        So you see, when it comes to rude crude socially unacceptable behavior on respectable blogs, if I’m still here then the rest of you are safe.

        It’s a dirty job being the scumbag but someone has to do it for the good of us all.

        You’re welcome.

        ‘Cause I’m the worst.

    • 1. Possibly because it had a light touch, unlike your thankfully deleted humourless bile (although Dave can do that too).
      2. An anonymous commenter writing personal insults against a named one always scores lower.
      3. David didn’t call you “**** *******” or similar, which is a big step for him, and needs acknowledgement (Although your timing sucks, David).

      • (1)DS has spewed a great deal of humourless bile in my face and our host ignored it

        Prove to me ‘manacker/Max Anacker) is truly the author of ‘manacker’ comments and not merely a pseudonym and your (2) would be stronger.

        (3) Agreed, David is being more than usually restrained, and we should praise his efforts at self control.

      • re: 2, I was actually referring to your comment to Tom Fuller.

  34. Steve McIntyre

    DIdn’t a wise commentator once say about scientists presenting powerpoints to politicians: beware of geeks bearing gif’s.

  35. CAGW has been scienced ad nauseam – in fact, it’s been scienced to death.

  36. Withall a geek’s
    A human bean.

    If you prick a geek
    Will he not bleed?
    If there’s a grant in the offing
    Will he not be pleased?
    If there’s a chance of tenure
    Will it not be seized?

    Jest a human bean …

  37. science “is provisional, always open to revision … comfortable with your changing your mind … anti-authoritarian: anybody can contribute, and anybody can be wrong … [tries] to prove the most elegant ideas wrong … [and] is comfortable with uncertainty.”
    Perhaps science is, but scientists are not. Any working scientist will tell you that pig-headedness is a marker of both successful and unsuccessful scientists.
    Spend a life-time proving the existence of quasicrystals and you get a Nobel Prize, spend a life-time proving the existence of ‘squiggle’ or ‘super-strings’, and you end up a failure.
    Now many would like to put it down to intellect, but success in many cases is a matter of luck.

  38. A fundamental concept of the process we call science is that all knowledge is provisional, subject to continuous question and validation. The history of scientific efforts shows us that for every advance there were many, many false paths followed. While those false paths were honest, they do point out that simply doing science does not make a person an expert, and certainly it does not imply an ability to judge what is best for humanity or this planet of ours.

  39. Matthew R Marler

    How should geeks be held accountable? In the same way as everyone else – by the levers of democracy. I make it very, very clear in the book that I am not advocating some sort of technocratic rule-by-scientists, and that there are occasions – many occasions – where it is perfectly proper for democratically-elected politicians to disregard scientific evidence when they consider this trumped by other factors. Science and evidence are almost always necessary for good decision-making, but they are very rarely sufficient.

    What I do want, though, is for the evidence to be weighed, considered, and published, and for decisions that are made for reasons of ideology or valued to be explained as such, and not justified according to spray-on evidence that doesn’t really exist. I don’t think science deserves a special place in politics – it is one of many factors that properly go into most political decisions. But it deserves to be considered fairly as one of these factors – the examples I quote in the book show that all too often it is not. It’s the difference between arguing for a greater role for science, which I unashamedly do, and a special place, which I do not.

    This sounds like a loud, confused call for more of what we already do. Are there any specifics? For Example, should the US Congress overrule a bunch of recent EPA regulations? Should industry scientists play a greater role in the writing of EPA regulations?

    As presented here, the essay sounds empty.

  40. I think most scientists tend to be left wingers with big intellectual egos that make them victims of F A Hayek’s “Fatal Conceit”, especially social scientists.

    • Got any evidence for this smear of an entire profession? Or is it just your vast ego talking? And referencing *Hayek*?

      • I think you are the evidence BBD. Yes, von Hayek, other than Milton Friedman, the greatest economist ever.

      • I don’t have any evidence that i can cite. It’s just my impression from reading science blogs like Pharyngula. I’ve also gotten the same impression at skeptic sites, although there appears to be a libertarian incursion.

      • Polls suggest that among scientists Democrats outnumber Republicans about four to one, which is probably true for academics in general. This is a big ratio. I think that Republicans interested in how the world works tend to become engineers.

    • True as for Western scientists in academia. Three of Japan’s leading scientists have said that Climate science amounts to ‘ancient astrology’ and that climate change is the result of ‘natural cycles’ not ‘human industrial activity.’ Kanya Kusano wrote that the IPCC’s “conclusion that from now on atmospheric temperatures are likely to show a continuous, monotonic increase, should be perceived as an improvable hypothesis.” Shunichi Akasofu stated that, “We should be cautious, IPCC’s theory that atmospheric temperature has risen since 2000 in correspondence with CO2 is nothing but a hypothesis,” and cautioned that, “Before anyone noticed, this hypothesis has been substituted for truth… The opinion that great disaster will really happen must be broken.”

  41. ‘Fatal Conceit’ or ‘Insignificant Obsession.’

  42. Please,please ,don`t let the geeks write the rules.

  43. The role of science in politics seems to be “bend it or be banned.” Nothing exemplifies this more than the supposed “blanket effect” of carbon dioxide.

    The “blanket” is produced by non-radiative diffusion processes primarily involving nitrogen and oxygen at the surface-atmosphere boundary. If the only consideration were the effect of water vapour and carbon dioxide you’d be sleeping under a handkerchief.

    Discover The 21st Century New Paradigm Shift in Climate Change Science (on the Principia Scientific International website) and discover what real physics has now proved, completely negating any significant relevance of the old 20th Century radiative greenhouse concept.

    No back radiation caused the Earth’s surface to be 288K (or the Venus surface to be over 730K) all on its own, somehow multiplying the Sun’s energy. What did cause it was the temperature distribution brought about by diffusion of kinetic energy in a gravitational field, and this process continues to maintain surface temperatures as atmospheres absorb direct incident Solar radiation, the only possible radiation that can keep them at the observed temperatures. For more detail read “Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms” published by PSI in November 2012, as well as this week’s article mentioned above.

  44. Berényi Péter

    The meme was already tested on a large scale, failed miserably. Why step into the same foul river twice?

    The Rise and Fall of “Scientific Socialism”
    By Arthur P. Mendel
    October 1966

    ‘After observing this illusory fusion of science and ethics for more than a century, we are fully aware of its consequences: the concentration of absolute power in the hands of self-appointed executors of history’s “laws,” and their easy justification of deprivation and oppression as the “scientifically” necessary price to be paid for a future good society.’

  45. Even though I might be more sympathetic than most , on this blog, to Henderson’s call for an increased level of scientific rationalism in politics, I do have to agree with criticisms of his “Science is not a noun but a verb” comment.

    That’s just not right at all and its quite irrational to even think it might be.

  46. And to properly Godwin this thread, but on topic as far as I can tell, another geekafication of politics was behind the acceptance of eugenics.

    Quoting Wikipedia:
    “At its peak of popularity eugenics was supported by a wide variety of prominent people, including Winston Churchill,[40] Margaret Sanger,[41][42] Marie Stopes, H. G. Wells, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvey Kellogg, Linus Pauling[43] and Sidney Webb.[44][45][46] Many members of the American Progressive Movement supported eugenics, enticed by its scientific trappings and its promise to cure social ills. Its most infamous proponent and practitioner was, however, Adolf Hitler who praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf and emulated Eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States.[47]”

    So yeah, checks and balances may be in order, as well as a bit of skepticism of the consensus view applied to curing societal ills.

    • Its true that the Left went off the idea of Eugenics somewhat in the wake of Hitler’s enthusiam for it.

      Perhaps we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, though. Its not just me who thinks that those of very right wing opinions are often just plain stupid. As Pierce Morgan recently said there’s just no other word for it.

      Maybe we should take another look? :-)

      • You remind me of Piers Morgan. What I can’t figure out is why he is on TV with no apparent talent, then I remember that he is the best CNN has. That’s not good for him, it’s bad for CNN.

      • David Springer

        Take another look at eugenics? Seriously?

        Okay, but be forewarned all anonymous cowards will be automatically culled from the gene pool so that the human race going forward isn’t spineless.

    • I can tell you something you may not know about Da Führer and the Nationalist Workers Party. They were Leftists. And, the followers of Marx took the body count even further. America has been fighting against the tyranny of liberal fascism and the consensus that supports it for a century.

    • W,

      “I can tell you something you may not know about Da Führer and the Nationalist Workers Party. They were Leftists.”

      That’s not what its sez it the Dictionary!

      http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Nazi. I wouldn’t have thought the American dictionaries would have it any different, but I’d be interested to see if they have.

      I think it should be das Führer which just means “leader” or “guide” in German. Although it could be der Führer, the male gender, which I think is particularly associated with Hitler. Max could correct me if I’m wrong in saying this.

      • tempterrain

        der Führer = the leader (male)
        die Führerin = the leader (female)
        [das Führer does not exist (neutered "Führers" lose their status)]

        The word is still used in its generic sense (although it lost some of its appeal in Germany after WWII), when Adolf was the “Führer” of the NSDAP (“Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei” or National Socialist German Workers’ Party).

        But in Switzerland you see it frequently in combined words such as “Parteiführer”, “Gruppenführer”, “Geschäftsführer”, etc.

        The Nazis pretty much cornered the term during the 1930s but Lenin is also known as der “Revolutionsführer”, http://blog.zeit.de/stoerungsmelder/2008/04/13/revolutionsfuhrer-lenin-ein-kommunistischer-klassen-rassist_291

        Max

      • Who was Ich bin Führer of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party from 1921–1945? An anti-semitic, secular, socialist, Leftist-liberal Utopian, of course.

  47. Say, dictionary definitions do not suffice, Tempterrain.

    If you read Freidrich Hayek ‘The Road to Serfdom,’ which
    describes the kinship in Germany between socialism and the
    organisation of the Prusssian State and read Eugen Weber,
    ‘ Varieties of Fascism,’ you will see the commonalitiesof fascism
    and other centralist planned economies with contempt for old
    style liberal values and parliamentary democracy
    .
    Weber provides pages of readings of speeches, manifestos
    throughout Europe , early 20th century to 1940′s. Many in the
    National Socialism had intellectual roots in the Socialist Party,
    like Hitler, who as a young man sold Socialist Party papers on
    the street corner, (Weber P11) and Mussolini a leading figure
    in the Italian Socialist movement prior to1915.
    Tempt, Chiefio has had some interesing discussions on the
    above as well.
    Beth.

    • If you want to look at who the real democrats were in pre-war Germany you might want to at the life of Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm who changed his name to Wiili Brandt to escape Nazi persecution and live in exile. The Nazi concentration camps are now associated almost exclusively with the extermination of Jews. But they were used for the extermination of many other racial and political groups, mainly the real socialists, too. But not Conservatives. The traditional Prussian establishment weren’t threatened in any way.

      The recent “Nazis are/were socialists” argument is essentially part of the new US Right wing “conservapedia world view” promulgated by Fox news and others.

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Socialism

      Its part of a new big lie which needs to be seen in its entirity:

      Darwinian Evolution: “The history of science shows many examples where the scientific community consensus was in error, was scientifically unsound, or had little or no empirical basis”

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Evolution

      Global warming is the “liberal hoax”:

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Global_warming

      Even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has been “repeatedly contradicted by experiments.”

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Relativity

      There does seem to be a new Fascism developing, mainly in America but elsewhere too, which ironically is grouping under a banner of supposed anti-fascism. Fascism, in their eyes having been redefined as post war liberal democracy.

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Liberal_Fascism

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Fascism

      Its all so absurd and irrational that its easier to just ignore it all. That’s been the reaction of most intelligent people so far. I’m not sure that is the correct response. As we know from history absurdity doesn’t necessarily imply harmlessness.

      • tempterrain: It will not “be seen in its entirety” by relying upon the sources you reference.

        First. Your “The ‘Nazis are/were socialists argument” manages to be both misleading and slanderous at the same time.
        a. That is what they called themselves. NSDAP: National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
        b. As was your reference to “big lie”, invoking Goebbels and Mein Kampf.
        c. I watch Fox news, and I have not heard them promulgate a “conservapedia world view”. I do not read “conservapedia”, but then I did not read the Vőlkischer Beobachter, either. I do visit the “Democratic Left” occasionally.

        Second. In reference to fascism, you immediately invoke Nazism and the Holocaust. Guilt by association, perhaps? You omit Italy (facism is Mussolini’s word), Spain, Portugal, Argentina and for a time, the United States (NRA under FDR, struck down by the Supreme Court as inconsistent with liberty). More countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Fascist_movements

        Third. The political movements above were all variants of the “Corporate State”, where the individual is subsumed into the “national interest”.

        Fourth. Using “the reaction of most intelligent people” is a bit of slur on those who disagree. Are we to understand those who disagree are lumpenproletariat?

        Fifth. The word “democracy” (and variants) occurs several times. The United States is a popularly-elected Representative Republic. Why? Madison, Federalist #10. “Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

        I do recommend that you read more broadly. Here is a start:
        Wikipedia contributors. “Corporate Nationalism.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, August 30, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_nationalism
        ———. “Corporate Statism.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, June 30, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_state
        ———. “Corporatism.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., May 15, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Corporatism&oldid=490582883

  48. Lesson: never use the word ‘geek’ in a blog post title. I am getting spammed to death

  49. tempterrain, birds of a feather don’t always get along together,
    even when there are commonalities bbetween political flocks, Mensheviks shun Bolsheviks, Marxists don’t care fer Maoists.
    There’s an old Bedouin saying … I’ll use it fer ‘Thought fer Today’

    “I against my brother, my brother and I against my cousins, my
    cousins and I against strangers.”

    Studying the relationship between socialist and fascist movements,
    tempt, I’d say yer gain more insight by reading the platformso or manifestos and records of speeches and actions, than by entries
    in Wiki or Conservapedia where details and context are usually
    short circuited.

    For example, Eugen Weber’s ‘Varieties of Fascism’ gives an international coverage of political movements of the first half of
    the 20th century and the inter-connections of fascism with
    socialism.This from Mussolini who transferred his socialist
    loyalties to the corporatist state harnessing industrialist groups
    to the service of the state:
    ‘The individual exists only insofar as he is in the State and
    subordinate to the necessities of the State; the more complex
    the forms of civilization become, the more freedom of the
    individual is restricted.’ (Fascist Party Congress 1929)

    Those who think Nationalist Socialism was pro – Capitalist misunderstand the nature of the corporist state. Hitler
    adopted pragmatic opportunism in harnessing big business
    to the service of the state,’They will do what we say’ was the
    message and industrialists like Thyssen were dealt with,
    brought to heel or shot as thought necessary by the Nazi Party.
    By the1940′swhen all industry was nationalized and run by the Party
    .
    Socialist and Fascist oooooorganizations, whatever their differences shared a belief in the state as an organic entity. To differ with the State was heretical, hostility to parliamentary democracy and economic liberalism were views they had in common.That is why, addressing
    the French Socialist Party Congress of 1933, Marcel Deat could
    mention the possibility that Fascist forms are only a transition on
    the way to the Socialist society. (W p43)

    Friedrich Hayek, who spent half his life in Austria before going to
    the US, was in close touch with German intellectual life and made
    the following observation:
    ‘Few are ready to recognise that the rise of Fascism and Nazism
    were not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding
    period, but a necessary outcome of these tendencies. This was
    a truth which most people were unwilling to see even when the
    similarities of many of the repellent features of the internal regimes
    in Communist Russia and National- Socialist Germany were widely recognised.’ ( Road to Serfdom” Routledge reprinted,2010. page 4)

  50. I suggest we be more circumspect in using the words “democratic”, “democratically” and “democracy”. By design, the United States is not a “democracy”. It is a popularly-elected Representative Republic, in which citizens over the age of 18, not disqualified by felony conviction, may vote.

    Why? “Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” – James Madison, Federalist #10, Pg 133. Hamilton, Alexander, James Madison, and John Jay. The Federalist: The Famous Papers on the Principles of American Government. MetroBooks (NY), 2002

    Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    • You couldn’t keep it. Actually began finally losing it when the Federal Reserve came into being and you became slave labour to the banking cartel which continues to organise the government to perpetuate its fractional reserve banking fraud, organise its wars to facilitate its industrial imperialism and so much more, but as already said, you don’t even know what it was you’ve lost because you’ve been re-educated to think you live in a democracy..

      http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/608781/posts

      http://thenwwrdor.blogspot.ie/2012/05/rockefeller-admitted-elite-goal-of.html

      Obama it seems studied the Constitution and is an expert..

      “According to Politico.com, in that interview, Obama – “reflecting on the Warren Court’s successes and failures in helping to usher-in civil rights – said, ‘I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples.’ ”

      He has it backward. The Creator already endowed African-American people with these rights, which is precisely the argument powerfully made by Martin Luther King Jr.

      Any rights that are “vested” in people by other people may be removed by the same or future people. Endowed rights are “unalienable” and what America did was to finally recognize those rights.”

      http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue/2008/10/30/101091-thomas-obama-marx-and-trashing-the-constitution/

      We’re all screwed by the banking cartel who create money out of nothing and can fund the egomanic/psychopathic/sociopathic idiocies which drive its members in a modern world of innovation putting new means at their disposal which past mass murderers on the world stage could only dream of.

      Take away their control of money and it all collapses..?

  51. Geek victories in Britain, see this article in New Scientist Time for Science to Seize Political Power

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23089-time-for-science-to-seize-political-power.html

  52. This seems like a logical extension of Post Normal Science (Ravetz), especially Ravetz, Ph.D., Jerome, and S. Funtowicz. “Post-Normal Science – Environmental Policy Under Conditions of Complexity” Philosophy. NUSAP Net, 2001. http://www.nusap.net/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=13.
    And
    DSA USA. “Toward An Economic Justice Agenda” Political. Democratic Left, May 2008. http://www.dsausa.org/pdf/eja_may2008.pdf

    “The challenge of climate change is an economic, scientific, and labor issue much more than a traditional environmental issue. Therefore, we advocate that the labor movement take the lead in pushing Congress to enact a massive program of public investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as proposed by the Apollo Alliance, which sees clean energy and more jobs as reinforcing each other.

  53. Pingback: Best Year Ever | Skeptical Swedish Scientists

  54. Yes, Technocracy by any other name smells as foul.

  55. Greeks and Geek manifesto can probably live for another 100 years more. Kudos to Greeks!