Saturday, 31 December 2016

So Who's The Better Scientist, Bill Nye (the science guy) or Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin: ‘Bill Nye Is as Much a Scientist as I Am’

by Arthur Foxake, 18 April, 2016

When I saw the above headline I just had to take a closer look at the article under it. Sarah Palin is a good looking lady but not famous for being one of the brightest lights on the Christmas Tree. On the other hand I have seen some of the abjectly stupid things Bill Nye The Science Guy has said in his mission complete the dumbing down of the USA promote 'science' (although all the evidence suggests Nye does not even understand what science means.) In one of Nye's 'pro - science' (anti - reality) rants in the past couple of years, in support of the now discredited global warming scare, he cited the snow free slopes of some mountains in the USA as proof of global warming. Unfortunately he was looking at the south facing slopes which were always clear at that time of year. The north facing slopes had been snow covered as per usual.

But is such dim - wittedness surprising from someone like Nye, one of those TV pop scientists who have contributed to putting science on a par with medieval religion: those who challenge the dogma are subjected to witch hunts, heretics are burned, if only metaphorically, and modern astrophysicists have put humanity at the centre of the universe just as medieval priests put God at the centre of the universe.

Mrs. Palin's intervention is well times, coming at a point when a pushback against the assumptions of intellectual superiority common among those who call themselves scientists was starting to gather momentum. Now I would never call myself a scientist, I was a digital communications specialist setting up computer and digitized voice networks, a field in which there is a lot less pure science than one might imagine - technology is not a branch of sciences. But I did resent the many occasions when some plank who claimed the title scientists tried to lecture me on my specialist field by citing what he had read in PC Wanker magazine and when corrected, told me that as I was not a scientists I 'could not understand how science works'. (Actually science does not work, it's a noun, verbs work.) These people love to call themselves 'scientists' as if it established them as an authority on all subjects that have a even a tenuous connection with any of the natural or applied sciences. My understanding however is that 'scientist' is an honorific properly bestowed by posterity. When used about people by their contemporaries it is more often than not derogatory.

Breitbart reported recently:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin slammed Bill Nye’s view on climate change, saying he does not have the scientific chops to say climate-change skeptics are wrong.

Palin, speaking Thursday after the opening screening of the anti-climate change documentary, Climate Hustle, said the popular children’s show host was nothing more than an actor and had no authority to speak about climate change.

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, said Nye “is using his position of authority to harm children by teaching them that climate change is real and man-made.” Nye frequently speaks about the negative effects of climate change, both on camera and during in-person appearances.

“Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am,” Palin told the gathering. “He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.”

Before he was “The Science Guy,” Nye studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University and worked as a Boeing engineer. His show, Bill Nye The Science Guy, aired from 1993 to 1998 and is still popular with children. He has worked with NASA on projects that include creating a sun dial for the Mars exploration rover project, among other things. He has also written several children’s books with a focus on science. Read all at Breitbart >>>

Having seen some of Nye's interventions on climate change, evolution, genetic modification and space travel over the years I had formed the opinion that he is a science fan rather than a scientist, if he is told something is 'science' then no matter how nonsensical it is he will not question it, or even reserve judgement.

So I threw a comment into the thread. Here is what happened next

Arthur Foxake • 2 days ago
There's more scientific understanding in the steam off a gnat's pee than Bill Nye could ever muster.

RbertRgus Arthur Foxake • 2 days ago
And you are anti science because of your religious beliefs?

Arthur Foxake • 2 days ago
No, I am a non theist, and I am not anti science, I am anti corporate propaganda masquerading as science. And I am against the conflation of mathematics with science, mathematics is an artifice - in modern usage this implies a sense of falseness and trickery but its true meaning indicates only something not natural, i.e. created by humans. Science on the other hand means knowledge (latin: scienta - to know) or understanding acquired through study of nature (ergo The Natural Sciences, physics, chemistry, biology). The first lesson we learn in a science primer course is, "Never jump to conclusions," you'd do well to take that on board.

RbertRgus Arthur Foxake • 18 hours ago
I trust the 98% of climate scientists over you.

Arthur Foxake RbertRgus • 20 minutes ago
If you don't know by now that the 97% cited in the discredited Skeptical Science story (you didn't even get the percentage right) was actually 97% of the research papers that actually committed themselves to an opinion on what was causing 'climate change' (how very unscientific of them that was - the science is NEVER settled) But a closed minded science worshipper like you will never even concede that I and other sceptics are entitled to express an opinion, so try opening you mind and considering the views of some well qualified scientists as reported by Bishop Hill, a scientific publisher; The Wall Street Journal; Science and Education; The American Meteorological Society; Friends of science . I could produce hundreds more but clearly your 'scientific' mindset will reject any evidence that does not fit your prejudices.

However as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of in your philosophies."

Wondering who this person was I looked up some of his comments and found he is also an evolution evangelical and like most who wear that cloak is absolutely convinced climate change and evolution are a scientific facts and anyone who questions that position is a young earth creationist. You will also have noted perhaps that he assumes I am setting myself up as an expert on climate change.

Now I have had long arguments with Church Of Sciencology evangelists on evolution many time. My view is that Darwin's theory of evolution as presented in his book "On The Origin Of The Species By Natural Selection etc." is the best explanation of how life forms evolve that we have. It does not answer some very big questions about the origins of life or the development of human intelligence. And of course true evolution is a grindingly slow business in the higher life forms and so does not meet the scientific criterium of having been observed. We can see changes take place in response to environmental stresses in bacteria but are those true evolution of merely mutation? is typical of Church Of Scienceology zealots in the way he dismisses perfectly reasonable challenges to his views with the old canard: "You're not a scientists so you don't understand science".

It is interesting that he is defending Bill Nye The Science Guy, who though not a scientist but a mechanical engineer, has built a career on mocking US Christian creationists on television and in print. Trouble is, anybody can say "The Biblical creation is a load of bollocks," (and I can present a much more coherent and convincing demolition of it than Bill Nye's, which can be summed up as "Creationism is wrong because science.") I should make it clear that the person who comments in the thread as 'strawman' is not an associate of this blog and is not known to any of us.

But as you will see in the exchange below, Rbert Rgus, arguing the case for 'science' is no rhetorician.

strawnman 2 days ago
According to Wikipedia:
Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science for the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the design, production, and operation of machinery.
Engineering is not science; it is the application of science. Bill Nye is NOT a "science guy." He's an engineer by training, and as Palin correctly points out, an actor by vocation. Palin is not the first to point this out, either.

RbertRgus • 2 days ago
Fact -- We are evolved primates.

strawnman RbertRgus • a day ago
Organic evolution has never been observed. That means it does not meet the minimum criteria for science. Evolution is a theory, and a very unscientific and internally contradictory one at that. Evolution is a religion worldview more than anything else, but more like a cult than something reasonable like Islam.

RbertRgus strawnman • a day ago
Ridiculous. You can deny facts if you like. This is one of the real harms caused by religion today and this is why fundamentalist Christianity is more dangerous in the USA than fundamentalist Islam.

strawnman RbertRgus • a day ago
Can you provide me with a single example of organic evolution which has been observed? I have argued purely from science, but you continue to attempt to deflect my arguments by arguing against religion. Why will you not address the science?

RbertRgus strawnman • 18 hours ago
We are evolved primates. Evolution can be directly observed in insects in the form of adaptations. The evidence for human evolution all the way back to pond scum is overwhelming.

strawnman RbertRgus • 14 hours ago
There is exactly zero evidence for organic, "molecules to man" evolution. It's a fairy tale. If I told you my cell phone evolved you would think there was something wrong with me. That's how I see your argument.
DNA encodes information. The code itself is evidence of intelligence, design, and purpose. Information can only come from intelligence. The information encoded in DNA must be transmitted (another feat of intelligence, design, and purpose) to other parts of the organism to cause it to do something. That other part must have the ability to receive, decrypt, understand, act, and respond back that it has done its job. Do you seriously, for one second, think this is random? You are a fool!

How did giraffes get long necks? Let's hear your brilliant, evolutionary explanation for that. This ought to be good for a laugh! I love listening to you evolutionists talk about food waaaaay up high on the tree and how the giraffe's DNA recognized this and created entire new systems all at once to adapt to the problem.

RbertRgus strawnman • 14 hours ago
You need to read a high school biology book.
Giraffes' necks are long because they are stretching all the time (just kidding). The evidence of the evolution of giraffes is very well-documented. It will be in your high school biology reading assignment. ;-)

strawnman RbertRgus • 13 hours ago
There is no evidence for the evolution for the giraffe. Where are the intermediate species, all of which must have been viable and more successful than their predecessors? Please explain the order of evolutionary development, since this is so well documented in your high school bio textbook: the elongated muscles, the elongated blood vessels, the additional vertebrae, the larger and more powerful heart, or the blood expansion organ at the brain stem which prevents the giraffe's head from exploding when it bends over to get a drink of water. Did this happen at the same time in both a male and a female, who were in the same neighborhood and just happened to meet each other at a singles acacia tree? If these are dominant traits, then why do we see no evidence of the regressive, older traits in the "junk DNA" of the giraffe?
If I put my phone in the microwave, will I get a new laptop computer at some point? If I hack into the registry of my computer and let my labrador retriever walk on the keyboard, will I get a bigger computer screen and a better operating system? If I blow up a junk pile, will I get a new dishwasher? Please explain this evolution thing so that a dim like myself can understand it.

RbertRgus strawnman • 13 hours ago
This is an easy topic that you can and probably have researched yourself. You are just not accepting the facts. Here is one website with some research. This is actual science, not beliefs based on a book of Bronze Age bull$/it.

strawnman RbertRgus • 12 hours ago
"Scientists have long theorized. . ."
". . .reveals the evolution likely occurred in several stages. . ."
There is no science here. This is entirely conjecture, and the scientific explanation for this is absent. It's a nice bedtime story, but nothing else. How did the DNA obtain the CPI (codes, processes, and information) necessary to make these adaptations?
I conclude that there was a common ancestor which already possessed these traits and was created with the genetic information already in it's cells which giraffes needed to make these adaptations. Based on what was presented in the article, can you prove me wrong? I find my conclusion far more plausible. Information already existed and did not spontaneously appear in the DNA. You are still missing the mechanism by which these changes occur.

RbertRgus strawnman • 3 hours ago
There is a $/shipload of science in the facts of evolution. I will accept the fact-based conclusions of over 99% of biologists over your "plausibility analysis". Give me a freaking break. ??

Strawman may to some extent be arguing from a religious perspective, or may simply be playing devil's advocate; there are parts of his argument with which I as not a non believer (someone who does not say "I don't believe in God," but "There is no God, believe or disbelieve do not figure in the debate,") do not agree but I being sure beyond doubt that nature is the highest manifestation of the divine and humans are the highest manifestation of conscious life, I find the argument that "Evolution is a fact because science," is untenable.

I've also never met a science fan - boy who understands evolution (biologists generally do, astrophysicists are clueless). The sub title of Darwin's book refers to The Survival Of The Fittest. That does not mean the fastest, strongest or the one who goes to the gym most often, but those best fitted to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Thus when science fan - boys start babbling about how our next human evolutionary step will be when we start to interbreed with computers (!), in fact our next evolutionary cycle may see us swinging about in the trees again. Science, you see, (particularly medical science) is degrading the species by ensuring the survival of the weakest.

Oh, and BTW Giraffes did not get their long necks because the best food was high in trees, they tend to eat from lower vegetation and the long neck is a huge obstacle to drinking water (as important as food if not more so), one theory that has been advanced is those members of an older species with the longest necks survived because their natural habitat is an area where vegetation grows high and the longer necked members of the species were better equipped to spot predators. But that's just another theory of course.

Before 'scientists make assumptions which assign to themselves a monopoly on intelligence and reason they need to sort out where theory ends and fact starts. Next they need to understand that when one of those awkward philosophical questions arises, the answer, "I must be right because science," simply does not suffice.

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