The culture of science fetishism

The New York Times belatedly discovers that sciencebloggers don’t actually give a damn about science qua science.

Clearly I’ve been out of some loop for too long, but does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the “skeptical community” go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers? And can anyone who still enjoys this class-inflected bloodsport tell me why it has to happen under the banner of science?

Hammering away at an ideology, substituting stridency for contemplation, pummeling its enemies in absentia: ScienceBlogs has become Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd. Though Myers and other science bloggers boast that they can be jerky in the service of anti-charlatanism, that’s not what’s bothersome about them. What’s bothersome is that the site is misleading. It’s not science by scientists, not even remotely; it’s science blogging by science bloggers. And science blogging, apparently, is a form of redundant and effortfully incendiary rhetoric that draws bad-faith moral authority from the word “science” and from occasional invocations of “peer-reviewed” thises and thats.

There is the salient bit: “rhetoric that draws bad-faith moral authority from the word “science”.” That is exactly the same point about the fraudulent bait-and-switch so often utilized by scientists upon which I have been hammering for several years now. It is interesting that an increasingly broad spectrum of people are now beginning to notice that just as not all that glitters is gold, not all that identifies itself with science is actually scientific. Writing about science isn’t science. Bitching about the Catholic church isn’t science. Molesting food with malicious intent isn’t science. Even teaching about science isn’t science. These things may be important, they may be necessary, they may be entertaining, but they are not science. This is precisely why I have always identified PZ Myers and others like him as charlatans; they claim to be scientists on the basis of their academic credentials rather than because they are actually doing any science.

By which logic I note that I am not only an economist, but East Asian to boot. If studying Japan doesn’t make you Japanese, studying science cannot make you a scientist.

The downward spiral

Sasquatch writes: I sincerely hope you can write a blog entry about this. I can’t properly put into words how much rage I feel for those who’ve tried to destroy this man’s life. He was falsely accused of molesting a neighbor’s child and he’s put together the entire journey in detailed fashion. It touches on so many of the issues you write about – abuses of the Department of Social Services, misuse of police powers, herd mentality, churchianity, and the pressure on a traditional nuclear family.

In November of 2006, I was accused by a family whom we considered our friends, of inappropriately touching their 4 year old daughter during a party out my home.  The accusation was ridiculous, as in our house at the time were more than 15 adults.  Regardless, I was arrested, placed in jail, released, lost my job, removed from my home for a year, lost all but our closest of friends, and shunned by our neighbors.  For the first time in all of my years of living in the US, I have a criminal record.  What makes all of this so shocking is I did nothing.  There was no evidence beyond the word of a 4-year old girl.

Follow the money and notice that the “victim’s” family actually made a couple of thousand dollars off the accusing process. And note that it is ALWAYS a mistake to speak to the police in America without a lawyer present. Be pleasant and be polite, but do not ever offer information or cooperate in any way, shape or form. They will take even the smallest shred of barely relevant information and use it to spin a fictional narrative; their job is to find a perpetrator and feed him into the machine, not to divine the truth. Unless you wish to become a part of that narrative, you must keep your mouth shut. Furthermore, keep in mind that their assurances to you are worthless; courts have repeatedly confirmed that the police are permitted to lie to witnesses and suspected perpetrators alike.

Now, perhaps I’ve been living in Italy too long, but it seems to me that the man would likely have been better off spending the thirty thousand on MS-13 instead of lawyers and court fees if he wanted to get the charges dropped. These miscarriages of justice are exactly why people have historically turned to godfathers and gangleaders instead of being willing to let the machinery of the system run its course.

Of course, the primary lesson is to absolutely refuse all physical contact with children who are not your own. I’m not the touchy-feely type, so this is not at all a problem for me, but men of an avuncular inclination should take note. If you never touch other children, much less permit them to sit on your lap, your denials of any potential false accusation will be all the more credible.

The Writer’s Lottery, part II

Vrye Denker expresses a certain degree of incredulity: The successful writing career of Katie Price? As in Jordan?

Yes. Exactly. In fact, the woman is topping the bestseller lists even as we contemplate the matter:

July 29, 2010 – One time glamour model Katie Price looks set to reach the number one spot of the Sunday Times Bestseller list with the publication of her lastest book in the Angel trilogy entitled Paradise. Katie known also as Jordan will see her novel go straight to the fiction top spot for hardbacks as her Random House publishers revealed that the book is outselling its nearest rival by two to one.

In other words, she is presently outselling the best-selling Harry Potter novel and the bestselling Twilight novel combined.  And that would be why I don’t worry about how well my books sell or equate book sales with literary quality. No doubt Katie Price will, like JK Rowling before her, have an entire generation of children – girls anyway – reading too. Having written numerous bestsellers, she is obviously a literary giant and an example to be much-imitated by ambitious young writers of the future.

The face of modern literature

WND column

You Were Warned

The ECRI’s Weekly Leading Indicators has now fallen eight consecutive weeks and has been below -10 for two consecutive weeks. … [T]here has never been a WLI plunge in history of this depth and duration, nor any dip at all below -10 that has not been associated with a recession.
– Mike Shedlock, ECRI WLI in Negative Territory, July 31, 2010

The percent change from the preceding year in real GDP was revised down for all 3 years: from 2.1 percent to 1.9 percent for 2007, from an increase of 0.4 percent to 0.0 percent for 2008, and from a decrease of 2.4 percent to a decrease of 2.6 percent for 2009.
– Bureau of Economic Analysis, Revised Estimates: 2007 through First Quarter 2010, July 30, 2010

As the government statisticians revise their statistics downward and the leading indicators suggest that the so-called recovery is nothing more than an artifact of massive federal borrowing and spending, I thought it would be useful to revisit the scenario that I considered to be the most likely when I finished writing “The Return of the Great Depression” thirteen months ago. Given the advantage of one year of hindsight, I see absolutely no reason to change my conclusion regarding the ongoing global economic contraction. “It is not over. It has only begun.”