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.

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7 Responses to “The intersection of science and politics…”

  1. Dr. Birdcage Says:

    Your confused Republican companion needs to get historical, yo. Used to be that the republicans were the conservationists as well as the conservatives. Somewhere, lost in the land that time forgot, when Republicans weren’t all about spending your great grandchildren’s money like a bunch of drunken sailors and didn’t pander so much to the religious right. You know, back when the world made sense and I could comfortably wear my tax-and-spend-liberal status, and didn’t have to be so confused by the fact that I find myself making impassioned speeches about fiscal responsibility.

  2. jamy Says:

    I once had a date founder on the rocks of an argument over drug laws (I was pro legalization, he thought crack was the source of all evil). When talking drugs, reason seems to go out the window. The only plus on the alcohol/tobacco side is that at least we know what the dangers of those drugs are–only the scientists understand how safe other things are!

  3. techne Says:

    I hear that Dr. B. As far as I’m concerned, the terms no longer have meaning. The last 5 years or so have changed the one side profoundly and exposed the diversity of viewpoints of the other. I pointed out at dinner that the definition of “Republican” he was using dates from at least ten years ago, and that today one can easily find a Dem who’d espouse his beliefs more accurately. I have a blog post in me about this actually. I think my outrage fatigue is over…

  4. furcafe Says:

    All one really needs to know about American politics is that parties mostly represent certain socioeconomic/demographic groups, not necessarily ideological perspectives. 100 years ago, the Democrats were the party of the “common man” (see Populism, a.k.a., give the people what they want) whose support was centered in the South, i.e., the redneck party, a.k.a. the folks who lost the Civil War. In contrast, the Republicans were party of the elite technocrats (see Progressivism, a.k.a., give the people what’s good for them) whose support was in the Northeast & Upper Midwest, i.e., the banker/businessman party, a.k.a. the folks who won the Civil War. Basically all that’s happened in the past 100 years or so is that the parties have completely switched their “core markets.” The only groups that have been steadfastly loyal to each of the parties have been (most) newly-arrived immigrants for the Democrats & (most) businessmen for the Republicans. So the Republicans haven’t really been a conservationist party since the days when they were the liberal/pro-civil rights party, i.e., the late ’50s-early ’60s. There was a blip when Bush Sr., who was a bit of a throwback, really the last of the old WASP Republicans, briefly elevated the status of the EPA (1 reason why my agency was evicted into the RRB).

  5. Reagan Fan Says:

    But, But, But…

    Clinton got a Blow Job!

  6. Dr. Birdcage Says:

    that’s why I was suggesting getting historical, yo 😉 I mean, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican. But really these labels have no real meaning anyway. I was reading an article a while ago that was talking about how very confused people were with regards to their political affiliations. People say that they are Democrats or Republicans, but when asked which platforms their party or their candidate agrees or disagrees with the vast vast majority declare that their party/candidate believes in what they personally believe in– which is often (according to this survey even more often than not) at complete odds with reality. It also showed that most people hadn’t the foggiest idea what half of the issues meant anyway– the classic example being the estate tax, which most people asked believed would have an impact on them, though none of them had anywhere close to enough assets to make it so. When it was explained to them, they almost all thought repealing it was dumb, and then proceeded to say that their party did not support repealing the estate tax– even the ones who identified as Republicans. So it doesn’t even matter that the parties have flip-flopped since no one has any idea why they are affiliated with either party anyway.

  7. Reagan Fan Says:

    But, But, But…

    The illegal aliens are taking our jorbs!


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