The intersection of science and politics…
26 June, 2006
…it’s an odd nexus in me.
— During the 2000 election aftermath I kept thinking, “a couple hundred, or even a couple thousand people difference? This is noise, pure noise. Junk the data and do it again.” This put me in the position of arguing against both sides, which was odd after a year of passionate partisanship.
— On a dare, I once spent three hours investigating the 9/11 Pentagon crash conspiracy theory. You know, the one that is all “where’d the plane go??” and “no way can anyone fly that well!” and so on. (It’s crap, of course. Although the pilot was a pretty lucky guy.)
— I am always a hit at parties when I inform people just exactly WHY LSD is one of the safest recreational drugs you can take. I love it when people, holding containers of one of the most dangerous drugs you can take and often holding little sticks of another, refuse to believe me. (Of course, now that I work at NIH, I have instant cred on all such topics, which always ensues in hilarity, as when I was introduced as an expert in bird flu to a bunch of political folk.)
— On the flip side of this, I once lost two friends due to an argument over drug laws, specifically, the relationship or lack thereof between a drug’s legal status and its dangerousness. The argument basically arose because I took a historical and biological view, and they took a prosecutorial/law-and-order view. Not so much with the compatible. (Also incompatible? The scientific and the legal attitudes towards disagreement and how to handle it. Sigh.)
— The recent intersection was seeing An Inconvenient Truth this weekend. There’s Al Gore standing on an elevator dealie scaring the shit out of everyone and I’m looking at the scary-ass graph and wondering, what’s the r-squared for temp and CO2 in that graph? I’ve spent the last 45 minutes tracking this data down to analyze it myself. Why? Oh, you know, because I have NOTHING ELSE TO DO, CLEARLY.
In other news from the movie, I got in a nice dig at my Reagan-loving, supposedly-Republican companion. At one point Gore makes the case for greener policies being good, not bad, for business, and uses the car companies as an example: “Look! Toyota and Honda are doing well! Ford and GM are not! *colorful graphic evidence*” This struck my companion — mind already stretched dangerously far open by even being AT the Al Gore movie — as having the ring of truth, and he said so to me, incredulously. Nah, said I. Their taxes must be too high.