Sunday, January 24, 2010

science, education and society


This article is brilliant. Science education sucks balls in this country. I've ranted before that effective democracy requires electoral decisions to be made rationally and based upon evidence. This clearly isn't the case at the moment, amongst the public or representatives of the government. Any improvement in the standards of education will have consequences for the health of society. Education, education, education, was not just a trite sound bite. It was one of the many good ideas Labour had to offer when they swept to power in 1997. For a perfectly ironic example of this: More rationality and evidence-based decision making during Blair's premiership would have secured his legacy as one of the greatest Prime Ministers ever. Instead he's a war criminal who finished off Thatcher's privatisation campaign and oversaw the resurgence of religion in public life and government policy.

Fucking. Weak.


  1. "effective democracy requires electoral decisions to be made rationally and based upon evidence". But the Green Party is the guiltiest of all, it’s laudable democratic structure allows any nutter to put a motion to conference– the GP was two votes short of adopting a 9/11 ‘Truther’ policy, the US party was not so fortunate.

    In Finland an independent study found the Finnish Greens anti-science policies made them the most environmentally unfriendly party. Now I know there are differences between politic in the UK and Finland, but I suspect the same is true here.

  2. Okay. Interesting comment. I really don't think the Greens are "the guiltiest of all" at evidence-based policy. I am very aware of the more whackjob policies as they are often covered on this blog.

    The Green Party's strengths are in different policy areas than other parties, i.e. sustainability and the environment. However, without consideration for those concepts all other policies are fundamentally flawed and unsuitable. That means all the grey parties policies aren't based on reality because they fail to account for peak oil, climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation and erosion of ecosystem services.

    If you want to quote the conclusions of an "independent study" please be so kind as to link to it. Hundreds of thousands of years of human civilisation have produced an information network which does allow you to do that you know.

  3. any party coming within two votes of a troofer policy is so chockafuckingblock to the brim with loons that no matter what their other policies they should never get anywhere near anything remotely important - until they ditch the retarded fucknuts, ease up on the anti-vivisection stuff and then they'd have my vote!

  4. the problem with all political parties is that it is the "fucknuts" who attend conference and vote. I find that the "ordinary" members of most parties are quite sane. But then that does rather assume that I am fit to make that judgement.

  5. @Anonymous 14:13
    If that same party wasn't offering the closest thing we have in this country to sustainable development I would definitely agree with you. But they are and ultimately they didn't endorse the truther policy. Sanity reigns. As rathernotsay points out, you will get whackos and wingnuts in any political organisation. The other political parties come up with such gash policies and Labour and the Tories actually enacted some of them. Labour even let Hazel Blears and James Purnell into the cabinet!

    The problem is that all the normal(ish) people out there typically aren't interested in politics because it sucks donkey balls. Call me an optimist but I think that if the people were re-enfranchised through political and electoral reform there would probably have been a lot more sane voices on hand to gently put the whackjobs to bed.

    As it stands I'm still giving the GP my vote. If not them, who?

  6. Sorry still searching for a link to the study, and yes PS you are refreshingly honest about your own party's policies - if somewhat colourful with your language.

    @'rather not say' Yes all parties attract nutters, the problem is that these people in the Green Party are securing the party’s nomination to stand for office and speaking to the press and public in the party’s name.
    Take Keith Bessant for example; he was a parliamentary candidate in not one but two consecutive general elections. That means he was in a high-profile, public-facing, leadership position in the Green Party for about eight years. In less than a year, Bessant metamorphosised from a mild mannered tree-hugging Green Party Parliamentary Candidate into a Nazi BNP stormtrooper – because the BNP had better environmental policies!
    Then there is, Ian Holman formally chairman, co-ordinator, and thrice council candidate. Selected as Green Party parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth, last week he stepped down – in order to campaign for his erstwhile Conservative opponent!
    It seems the Green Party are pushing people into leadership roles in constituencies when it is clear that they are fragile, vulnerable and in some cases unstable. I believe the Green Party is so concerned to get its name ‘out there’, it will use anyone to have a 'local presence', without any regard for the person’s mental health or suitability for the role.

  7. You are going to love the Green PPC for Torbay.

    "My family roots are all ‘green’. I come from a line of 10 generations of ‘wise women’, who used ‘the olde ways’ in their lives, work and home life. I follow suit. I grow my fruit, veg and herbs as well as botanicals, I make organic herbal medicines from tried-and-tested family recipes dating back centuries. I also make organic cosmeceuticals and natural jewelery and offer community spiritual advice on a regular basis."

  8. I get a 404 error when I go to that address. Not that I don’t believe you: I am convinced that an enormous percentage of the green activists out there are profoundly misguided. Lets face it: the natural world really is very, very complicated. Biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics. They are very, very , very complicated. And that makes it very hard for stupid people (i.e. most people) to construct rational arguments for pursuing sustainable policies, despite the massive amount of easily accessible material out there that makes the task astoundingly easy for some of us. Of course, the ability to rationally assess the credibility of source material is fundamental to this task.

    However, I think we are fucked. Its a rational conclusion.

    I have a subconscious conviction of this, that my humanly optimistic conscious overrules in my day-to-day life, that those “tipping points” that are so often mentioned in environmental science are already in the past. Not technically but practically:

    In a nutshell: we can’t educate society to vote for a government that has the political wherewithal to action the policies required to divert our civilisation from the path of pollution and environmental degradation within the timescales required to divert that civilisation from the path of ecological and biogeochemical catastrophe. Its just not likely to happen at P < 0.05.

    That was a stats joke

    That doesn't mean I’m not going to stop fighting for it but I am being truthful when I say I think its probably not going to happen. So I think its useless to rail against tree-hugging fucktards like Goldsmith. SHe's an enormously soft target. It’s the millenarians, the corporatists, the staff of Spiked, the Viscount Moncktons of the world, Mondeo Man and the van-driving, plasma screen owning classes who need to be dealt with; not the fluffy pseudo-ecowarriors whose hearts are in the right place, even if their minds are in orbit around the sun somewhere between earth and Mars.

    Please, don’t get me wrong. The Green Party are being ridiculously counter productive by allowing cuntards like Goldsmith a platform on their behalf. From the other pages on she still has better intentions for the environment and our society than David Cameron or Gordon Brown. Given the choice between them and her, I could do without vivisection for the day-or-so it would take for an incontrovertible argument to be presented to her for its utility.

    That’s quite my point. Morons like Goldsmith are still ideologically plastic. She probably doesn’t consider homos to be fundamentally evil or single mothers to be tax-sponging parasites. She probably doesn’t even use such terminology: she probably considers single female parents to be “mothers-without-partners”, or some such warmingly sentimental drivel. I know which terminology I would rather have bandied about.

    Dude, I'm really enjoying this exchange. If I stay sobre enough this weekend I want to write a long post about this. Have you seen this:


    Lets see if we can generate a little critical thought in her cotton-wool-filled cranium.

  9. punkscience what critical thought do you want to generate? It reads like you are the most ignorant, homophobic, hypocritical, religous-maniac, psycho-alkie asshole that ever wasted space on the internet. And you want to tear apart someone who answers eco questions?

    Get a life, dude. Really, go get a life.

  10. You are pulling her apart personally but have you even read or heard one single word of her political policy?

    Didn't it occur to you that her party and constituents democratically voted for her?

    Did you know her party is now the biggest in the whole of the uk?

    I thought not.

    She is a feisty ballbreaker who takes no prisoners. She is a fighter, and will out anyone who stands in her way if they are corrupt and undemocratic. She will have transparency at any cost.

    Personally thats the kind of politician I do want to vote for. She doesn't hide her background and why should she? She is honest and open and in it to give voters a democtatic choice. But each to there own.

  11. @Anon 23:46 - If you comment here I expect you to address the issue at hand and not resort to bizarre ad hominems. Answering "eco-questions" requires an appreciation of ecology. I have three different degrees in related fields culminating in a PhD with the term "ecotoxicology" in the gods damn thesis title. Who the fuck are you calling ignorant? I can't begin to comprehend the chutzpah necessary to make anonymous drive-by comments such as yours.

    @Anon 00:28 - I have read the manifesto of the political party that Sarah Goldsmith represents. So yes, I have read many words of "her" political policy. Did it occur to you that she is a candidate and hasn't been elected? So no, it didn't occur to me that her constituents voted for her. I don't believe that the Green Party uses open primaries so her party didn't vote for her either, you massive fucktard.

    Do you really believe that the Green Party is the biggest in the UK? That is damning evidence that you don't know what you are talking about. In the 2005 general election the Green Party polled 1% of the vote, as my post here observes:

    She may be all those things that you claim but she is also a whacko tin-foil-hat-wearing fool. I can't think of a better way to drive voters away from the Green Party than to let some bizarre fantasist, who claims to have magik powers represent them. She will not "have transparency at any cost" because if I ask her to demonstrate evidence of her "green roots" and the manifest benefits to society of her "olde ways" she will fail. How about the rationale underlying her "community spiritual advice"?

    Holy cunting fucksticks, you people really do live on another sodding planet, don't you.

  12. @Anon 00:28 and @punkscence 01:29 I think I can clarify. The South Devon Green Party which is Mrs Goldsmith's one is now the largest Green Party in the U.K. It is the fastest-growing one as well.

    I agree with @Anon 23:46. It IS ignorant to pass judgment on someone who may be an excellent politiclan just because of their background. Sorry but ignorant means ignore - ant. You ignore everything she has done for her constituency and for democracy and slam her for what? You never even heard her speak. Ignorance is an acceptable term.

  13. 10:12 - Well argued and presented with relevant facts. I am flattered.

    A few questions present themselves. Do you or anyone else here maintain that the size of the local party Sarah used to belong to (she has now left the Green Party influences how good a politician she is? Did the local party hold an election to select her as candidate? If I heard Sarah speak do you think it would change my opinion of her, knowing what I know about her personal background and apparent convictions that she is a witch, that she is endowed with some heritable form of wisdom (whatever that means), that she somehow has some life experience and insight that uniquely qualifies her to offer "community spiritual advice"?

    Everything I have heard from her sends shivers down my spine. This bold statement on her now-defunct website, "Make no mistake – I will fight for FAIRNESS and COMMON SENSE. Alway.", is patently contradicted by everything else she blithers. Witch craft, spiritualism and woo are not synonymous with "common sense" in my book nor many other people's, I imagine.

    I might finally point out that the Green Party is a national one and part of a loose global coalition of similarly minded political bodies who collectively fight for sustainable policy and social justice. I support this cause unreservedly as the rationale behind such policy is based upon mountains and mountains of evidence both from the peer-reviewed and grey literature. Post modernist wankers like Goldsmith, whose ideology is based on lies, propaganda and fairy tales detract greatly from the public support the Green movement currently enjoys because they are increasingly seen as synonymous, despite the attempts of academic commentators such as George to separate the two.

    So, do you think that homeopathy, herbal remedies, feng shui, magik potions and meditation are as important as mitigating climate change, biodiversity loss and social injustice? Do you feel that the evidence-based approach that has allowed us to identify environmental degradation as the one of the most challenging problem our civilisation faces is somehow inappropriate as a methodology to assess the appropriateness, or otherwise, of personal ideological choices and social policy?

    Anyway, Sarah has responded to my challenge on the PRSD website so I will address her directly rather than debating further here with your good self. Please do join the discussion.

  14. Let me just post this paragraph from George:

    "Perhaps because using alternative medicine means, for the most part, boycotting the business of the biggest and most brutal pharmaceutical companies, perhaps because the alternative medicines industry has done much to promote itself as "natural" I know plenty of greens who can explain in some detail how radiative forcing works, yet who use homeopathy or won't expose their children to MMR injections.

    That's up to them. But the association in the public mind does us nothing but harm. Those of us who do not believe there is a link between a movement based on science and a business based largely on nonsense should say so loudly and clearly."

    The emphasis is mine.

  15. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  16. Hi Andrea, and thanks for your kind words.



Feel free to share your opinions of my opinions. Oh- and cocking fuckmouse.