Sunday, November 02, 2014

Left-leaning academics reject science

Chris Mooney is continuing his voyage of discovery in social science.  He has just rediscovered one of the most well-known facts about Leftists -- that they reject genetic explanations of human behavior.  Perhaps encouragingly, however, among a group of academic sociologists there was SOME acceptance of genetic influences.  Among many other Leftists, there would be none. 

Mooney's usual schtick is bashing conservatives and climate skeptics so it is understandable that he is very defensive about where the Left stand on science.  Rather hilariously, he finds their stance on global warming heartening.  But global warming is inherently anti-science.  What scientists do is use regularities that they discover in nature to predict the future -- but Warmism predicts a DEPARTURE from known trends and regularities.  There has been so little warming in the last 100 years or so that changes have to be expressed in tenths of a degree Celsius.  So the best  scientific prediction from that trend would be that warming in the 21st century will also be trivial.

But that does not suit Greenie catastrophism and Messianism.  So they have various unproven theories which say that the normal scientific prediction is wrong and we are all facing doom unless we do what they tell us. If that consoles Mooney he really is moony.  The Left are solid Warmists so the Left is much more anti-science than Mooney believes.  If Warmism really were science they would readily make their raw data available for re-analysis and would welcome debate.  They do neither.  They even resort to lawfare to protect their data and do their damnedest to shut down debate

In trying to find something anti-science among conservatives Mooney would have a better case if he had stuck to creationism -- the belief that God created the world in 7 days of 24 hours approximately 4,000 years ago.  The fact that only a small number of conservatives hold that view would not normally disturb chronically deceitful Leftist polemicists.  (Democrats even manage to create a "war on women" out of the fact that Republicans are reluctant to facilitate abortion). Theologically sophisticated Christians, of course, point to the fact that, as in English, the original Hebrew word for "day" can be used vaguely and may refer to a long period ("In my day", for instance)


Conservatives often face a lot of questions -- and controversies -- for their views on science. Most notably, only 22 percent of conservative Republicans accept the scientific consensus that global warming is mostly caused by humans. Meanwhile, conservative officials in some states have pushed to undermine the teaching of evolution in public school classrooms.

Liberals get a lot less flack, in general, for ignoring scientific findings. Yet there is also reason to think they, too, are susceptible to allowing their political biases influence their reading of certain scientific questions. And now, a new study just out in the journal Sociological Spectrum accuses them of just that.

The study is far from the authoritative word on the subject of left wing science denial. Rather, it is a provocative, narrow look at the question. In particular, the study examined a group of left wing people -- academic sociologists -- and evaluated their views on a fairly esoteric scientific topic. The specific issue was whether the evolutionary history of human beings has an important influence on our present day behavior. In other words, whether or not we are "blank slates," wholly shaped by the culture around us.

While there's virtually no argument in the scientific community that personality traits like being extroverted run in families and have at least some genetic component, there's been much greater debate among academics about whether other phenomena, such as an inclination toward committing violence and demonstrating an unusual level of jealousy, are rooted in nature rather than life experience.

The new study, by University of Texas-Brownville sociologist Mark Horowitz and two colleagues, surveyed 155 academic sociologists. 56.7 percent of the sample was liberal, another 28.6 percent was identified as radical, and only 4.8 percent were conservative.  Horowitz, who describes himself as a politically radical, social-justice oriented researcher, said he wanted to probe their views of the possible evolutionary underpinnings of various human behaviors. "I wanted to get at the really ideological blank slate view, it’s sort of a preemptive assumption that everything is taught, everything is learned," he explained.

Sure enough, the study found that these liberal academics showed a pretty high level of resistance to evolutionary explanations for phenomena ranging from sexual jealousy to male promiscuity.

In fairness, the sociologists were willing to credit some evolutionary-style explanations. Eight-one percent found it either plausible or highly plausible that "some people are born genetically with more intellectual potential than others," and 70 percent ascribed sexual orientation to "biological roots." Meanwhile, nearly 60 percent of sociologists in the sample considered it "plausible" that human beings have a "hardwired" taste preference for foods that are full of fat and sugar, and just under 50 percent thought it plausible that we have an innate fear of snakes and spiders (for very sound, survival-focused reasons).

Yet the study also found that these scholars were less willing to consider evolutionary explanations for other aspects of human behavior, especially those relating to male-female differences. Less than 50 percent considered it plausible that that "feelings of sexual jealousy have a significant evolutionary biological component," for instance, and just 36.4 percent considered it plausible that men "have a greater tendency towards promiscuity than women due to an evolved reproductive strategy.” While it is hard to be absolutely definitive on either of these issues (we weren't there to observe evolution happen), evolutionary psychologists have certainly argued in published studies that people exhibit jealousy in sexual relationships in order to ensure reproductive fidelity and preserve the resources that come from a partner, and that men are more promiscuous because they are not constrained in how often they can attempt to reproduce.

So is this proof positive that academic sociologists are science deniers? Not at all. Still, it's certainly noteworthy that a substantial minority of these scholars are resistant even to the least controversial evolutionary explanations, such as those involving hardwired tastes for certain foods or innate fears of poisonous critters.

But there's also a notable limitation to the study. When it comes to some of the more controversial statements about the evolutionary basis of various human behaviors that were used (for instance, the assertion that "The widely observed tendency for men to try and control women's bodies as property...has a significant evolutionary biological component"), the research doesn't really take a strong stand on whether they're actually true -- which makes it rather hard to call the sociologists woefully biased. Instead, study subjects were merely asked to state whether they considered such statements "highly plausible," "plausible," "implausible," or "highly implausible."

"I think the 'science denial' here among sociologists is their mechanical dismissal of evolutionary reasoning applied to human behaviors -- a dismissal that's much sharper when considering potential sex differences in behavior," says Horowitz, explaining why the study took this approach.

Take one case where sociologists were pretty dismissive -- the assertion that "Feelings of sexual jealousy have a significant evolutionary biological component," which only 44 percent of them considered plausible. Certainly evolutionary psychologists have argued that sexual jealousy is a deeply rooted part of human "nature." One such scholar is David Buss at the University of Texas-Austin, who argues in his book The Dangerous Passion that jealousy is an " evolved solution to a recurrent problem of survival or reproduction," namely, keeping your mate faithful to you.

"Though we can't strictly speaking 'prove' that jealousy was adaptive, we find the mechanical dismissal of the adaptiveness hypothesis dogmatic," comments Horowitz.

There's no doubt that many left leaning academics have historically been quite skeptical about evolutionary psychology, presumably out of the fear that ascribing certain traits to biology suggests that they cannot be changed -- and thus, can perpetuate inequality. The famed Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker extensively challenged their "blank slate" view in a bestselling 2002 book. Going back further, in the storied "sociobiology" wars of the 1970s, evolutionary thinkers like Harvard's E.O. Wilson sought to apply their understanding of humankind's origins to modern human behavior -- and fell into a ferocious row with broadly left-leaning scholars who attacked biological or genetic "determinism," and defended the idea that social factors explain most of what we need to know about why people do what they do....

None of this is to say that a few sociologists' views about evolution can be considered proportionate with global warming denial, in either the volume of those holding the belief or the belief's consequences. But it does suggest that 100 percent objectivity doesn't exist on any side of the aisle.



A defeat for bureaucratic rigidity and a win for individual liberty

The American nurse at the centre of a national battle over quarantine rules for health workers returning from west Africa has won the latest round in her fight not to be forced into three weeks of isolation.

A judge in Maine rejected a request by the state to impose a mandatory quarantine order on Kaci Hickox in a ruling that was being closely followed by politicians and heath chiefs across the country.

Miss Hickox, who has showed no Ebola symptoms and twice tested negative for the disease, had refused to agree to a voluntary home quarantine during the 21-day incubation period since returning home from treating Ebola patients for an aid agency in Sierra Leone.

Judge Charles LaVerdiere had initially imposed a temporary order requiring Miss Hickox to keep three feet away from people and to avoid public places.

But after hearing arguments from lawyers for the state and Miss Hickox and evidence from a health expert, he lifted those restrictions ahead of a full hearing to be held on Tuesday.

"This decision has critical implication for [Miss Hickox's] freedom, as guaranteed by the US and Maine constitutions, as well as the public's right to be protected from the potential severe harm posed by transmission of this devastating disease," he noted in a written ruling.



Over 214,000 Doctors Opt Out of Obamacare Exchanges

Over 214,000 doctors won't participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs. It's also about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In January, an estimated 70% of California's physicians were not participating in Covered California plans.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1.      Reimbursements under Obamacare are at bottom-dollar - they are even lower than Medicare reimbursements, which are already significantly below market rates. "It is estimated that where private plans pay $1.00 for a service, Medicare pays $0.80, and ACA exchange plans are now paying about $0.60," a study by the think-tank American Action Forum finds. "For example, Covered California plans are setting their plan fee schedules in line with that of Medi-Cal-California's Medicaid Program-which means exchange plans are cutting provider reimbursement by up to 40 percent."

2.      Doctors are expected to take on more patients to make up for the lost revenue, but that's not happening, because primary care doctors already have more patients than they can handle. "Furthermore, physicians are worried that exchange plan patients will be sicker than the average patient because they may have been without insurance for extended periods of time, and therefore will require more of the PCPs time at lower pay," says the study.

The study also points to two reasons that doctors might not get paid at all:

3.      An MGMA study indicates that 75% of ACA patients that had seen doctors had chosen plans with high deductibles. Given that most of the patients are low-income, doctors are concerned that the patients cannot meet the deductibles and they will get stuck with the bill.

4.      HHS requires that insurers cover customers for an additional 90 days after they have stopped paying their premiums: the insurer covers the first 30 - but, it's up to the doctor to recoup payment for the last 60 days. This is the number one reason providers are opting to not participate in the exchange plans. Currently, about a million people have failed to pay their premiums and had their plans canceled.

So, Obamacare is asking doctors to take on sicker patients for less money, with the risk of not getting paid at all? No wonder doctors are running from these plans!



Houston Mayor Withdraws Sermon Subpoenas

 Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday she has instructed city lawyers to withdraw subpoenas ordering five local pastors to turn over all sermons and other communications relating to their opposition to an ordinance that allows transgender people to use any public bathroom regardless of gender.

"After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort,” Parker, the city’s first lesbian mayor, told a press conference.

She vowed to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) – dubbed the “bathroom bill” by critics – in place.

“It is extremely important to me to protect our Equal Rights Ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged,” Parker said.

“We are going to continue to vigorously defend our ordinance against repeal efforts.”



Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi Just Ordered to Be Immediately Released From Mexican Jail by Judge

Marine veteran Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi has been ordered to be immediately released from a Tijuana jail, following a Mexican federal judge’s ruling late Friday.

Tahmooressi, who moved to San Diego to receive treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was jailed March 31, after accidentally crossing the Mexican border with three loaded weapons in his car, which are against the law in Mexico.

The family issued the following statement: “It is with an overwhelming and humbling feeling of relief that we confirm that Andrew was released today after spending 214 days in a Mexican jail.”

Congressman Duncan Hunter of San Diego, a Marine combat vet, is particularly galled at the President’s lack of action on behalf of Tahmooressi. Hunter and several other Congressional Reps have worked to free Tahmooressi.



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1 comment:

Robert said...

With regard to the age of the universe and the Earth, keep in mind that time moves much more slowly in the presence of vast amounts of energy and mass than it does in our frame of reference now on Earth. While the age of the universe is about 15 billion years from our point of view, with the speed time flows now, guess how long that 15 billion years has taken from the point of view of someone present at the inception of the universe?

Prepare to be blown away after reading the first few pages of this.