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Respect the Science

Do you "respect" scientists?  

33 members have voted

  1. 1. ?

    • Yes
      16
    • Depending on their qualifications
      19
    • Depending on their source of funding
      9
    • Depending on what they are working on
      14
    • Depending on the results of their work
      11
    • No
      5


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Sick of the denialists and the death threats Australian scientists are asking for respect and an understanding of the importance of their work.

 

 

Scientists hit back amid fresh death threats

 

By science reporter Sarah Clarke

 

 

The Executive Director of FASTS, Anna-Maria Arabia, says she received a fresh death threat only this morning. (ABC Breakfast)

 

 

In an unprecedented move in Canberra today, more than 200 scientists will converge on Parliament House to call on politicians to help stop misinformation in the climate debate.

 

Their concern is that the hysteria has now escalated and is spilling over into attacks on their work and threats to their personal safety.

 

Anna Maria Arabia is the CEO of the nation's peak scientific body, FASTS - the Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies.

 

Ms Arabia, who is launching the 'Respect the Science' campaign at Parliament House today, told ABC News Breakfast she had received a fresh death threat only this morning.

 

"We know there have been some very serious death threats in the past, this is completely unacceptable," she said.

 

"[i had] an email threatening my life. No scientist should ever have to have their life threatened simply for doing the work they need to do."

 

Earlier this month, a number of the country's top climate change scientists, including several at the Australian National University (ANU), were targeted by death threats and reported receiving abusive phone calls for months.

 

ANU was forced to move its scientists to a more secure location and introduced other security measures.

 

Ms Arabia says today's campaign launch is aimed at restoring public confidence in science, as the hysteria in the climate debate spills over into attacks on all research.

 

"It is really aimed at looking at the misinformation campaign that's being run against the scientific evidence largely coming from the climate change debate ... and seeing how that is undermining the nation-building work of our scientists," she said.

 

"So it's really asking the public to have the confidence to respect the science, because there is a very robust methodology behind the scientific information that we use to make decisions every day."

 

Ms Arabia says the misinformation campaign is largely being run by climate deniers.

 

"It's unfortunate, because it's aimed at creating confusion, and it really places a question over the validity of the scientific process," she said.

 

The group of scientists hope that by detailing how the process works, the public will better understand the intense scrutiny the science must undergo in the peer review process, before major decisions can be made.

 

Chief scientist Ian Chubb, who provides advice to government ministers and the Prime Minister, says science results are rigorously tested.

 

"It is about ensuring that people understand that there is proper science, properly conducted, properly reviewed and properly debated," he said.

 

"And the consequences of that debate may change the way we think or they may confirm what we think, but there's a process that underpins everything we do.

 

"I think it's too easy for people to pick one little bit of this or that and constantly ram it home, because there are a lot of people in the world who know that you don't have to be bright, you just have to sow doubt."

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/20/3248032.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3247902.htm (interview)

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If the funding is coming from an organisation etc that has a vested interest in the research then thats not on. So many 'results' from scientific tests come out supporting something and later you'll find it was funded by an organisation that were wanting said thing supported or the other way around, in that they wanted it proven to be bad.

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If the funding is coming from an organisation etc that has a vested interest in the research then thats not on. So many 'results' from scientific tests come out supporting something and later you'll find it was funded by an organisation that were wanting said thing supported or the other way around, in that they wanted it proven to be bad.

But that's a bit of a tough one. Is government funding vested interest? What about funding from non-industry pressure groups?

 

What about something more sinister - say when groups infiltrate science organizations to peddle their own unsubstantiated view points?

 

I tend to think of it this way... I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.

 

Funding for me, isn't really an issue, especially given the fact that all scientists are human and all humans are able to be swung by money, no matter what the source. It's just the amount that varies :)

Edited by Leonid

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Government funding is vested interest if they are funding a specific research to back/further there political agenda.

 

If the scientists are being funded to allow them to research what ever they want then thats different.

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If the scientists are being funded to allow them to research what ever they want then thats different.

Grants don't work like that :)

 

Even, say, the CSIRO which is government funded has a committee that assigns grant money for specific research. Or the ARC doles out moolah too...

 

All grants are targeted - no scientists get to do whatever they want, when they want to, and competition for funding is very intense.

 

A scientist/group can apply for specific research but the committees may alter terms/scope/reject/accept or in fact, do pretty much anything they want.

Edited by Leonid

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meh, just more think tank propaganda.

 

What's next, will they start wheeling out the actors and other celebrities to advance their next globalist tax scam?

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meh, just more think tank propaganda.

 

What's next, will they start wheeling out the actors and other celebrities to advance their next globalist tax scam?

I do find it funny how Kevin Rudd described climate change as the greatest moral challenge of our lifetimes, endorsed a report promising catastrophic SEQ sea level rises and then promptly bought a $5m sunshine coast property at sea level.

 

People lose credibility by not eating their own dogfood.

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Yeah between that and Al Gore's lifestyle I think we should be paying scientists to study them instead. Hypocrisy is much more credible than megalomania.

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1,2,5

 

The problem with Science is that it's practically always been a kind of closed shop where anyone who dares to stray from so-called "accepted theory" is shunned.

 

So, various branches all experience their own Dark Ages from time to time.

 

The problem I have with modern-day science is that it's generally all funded by government or big business, and so-called research is gone into with a set agenda and a desire to bias the results one way or the other.

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Firs toff the question should be more specific as I believe OP is referring to scientists in research positions.

You will find the majority of scientists are not in research positions rather in more direct application of their work, for instance most pathologists will actually just be testing people's blood for diagnosis and operating their or work environment maintaining equipment and the like, not researching new diseases etc. so to say I don't trust scientists would be to say you don't trust the results of your blood tests, you don't trust the drugs you brought at the chemist which at some stage was likely seen to be a scientist at some point of its production and so on.

 

1,2,5

 

The problem with Science is that it's practically always been a kind of closed shop where anyone who dares to stray from so-called "accepted theory" is shunned.

That is the case when someone goes against accepted theory without evidence or reason, if you want to go against accepted theory do studies showing anomalous results formulate your own model of what is happening, that explains what is happening with more accuracy than current theory and still expect scrutiny as it was the scrutiny that you gave to 'accepted theory' that you will now be subject to.

The problem is people will just make claims contrary to accepted theory and expect the scientific community to jump in and do the leg work for them, then claim corruption when they are ignored/shunned.

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Very much so. When people claim that scientists disallow new theories they often bring up cases in which the scientific community shown scepticism towards an idea (Helicobacter and ulcers is a frequently used case) and didn't just accept it the minute the paper was published. As you say all new ideas should be approached with scepticism because that is a necessary part of the process.

 

But no it’s not just research scientists. FASTS represents all sort of scientists. And it seems some of them feel under threat as the system underlying their work is under attack.

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some scientists are genuine, some think they're out to save the planet, and champion whatever cause is politically superior at the time.

Edited by smadge1

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But no it’s not just research scientists. FASTS represents all sort of scientists. And it seems some of them feel under threat as the system underlying their work is under attack.

FASTS is complaining about a specific issue at the moment - death threats to climate scientists.

 

Death threats are bad mmmkay... but the recent reporting of ANU security being beefed up was a giant beat-up, it didn't happen at all, the way the ANU said it did.

 

Secondly, the system underlying scientists' work is called science. When it's rules aren't being followed, do you expect anything other than critique? Is it wrong to criticize the Lancet for the inaccurate Iraq studies? Or Mann's 98/99MBH hockey stick for failing principal component analysis? Or the IPCC using Greenpeace data, then getting the original Greenpeace (non-scientist) author to be lead author of the chapter which uses this data and then be the subsequent reviewer of that chapter? Or the Wakefield study linking MMR vaccines and autism?

 

Science isn't a holy grail - it's a process-driven, evidence-based system for finding out about the questions that intrigue us. The system isn't foolproof or holy.

 

Death threats = bad

Skepticism = good

Edited by Leonid

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Secondly, the system underlying scientists' work is called science. When it's rules aren't being followed, do you expect anything other than critique? Is it wrong to criticize the Lancet for the inaccurate Iraq studies? Or Mann's 98/99MBH hockey stick for failing principal component analysis? Or the IPCC using Greenpeace data, then getting the original Greenpeace (non-scientist) author to be lead author of the chapter which uses this data and then be the subsequent reviewer of that chapter? Or the Wakefield study linking MMR vaccines and autism?

 

Science isn't a holy grail - it's a process-driven, evidence-based system for finding out about the questions that intrigue us. The system isn't foolproof or holy.

 

Death threats = bad

Skepticism = good

Sure but wouldn't you agree that critique is not equal to disrespect?

I feel you can respect science and still critique or criticize theories, results or aspects of science.

The fact that science can be challenged is why it is a better system than just arbitrarily claiming something from authority.

Edited by Bundy

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Secondly, the system underlying scientists' work is called science. When it's rules aren't being followed, do you expect anything other than critique? Is it wrong to criticize the Lancet for the inaccurate Iraq studies? Or Mann's 98/99MBH hockey stick for failing principal component analysis? Or the IPCC using Greenpeace data, then getting the original Greenpeace (non-scientist) author to be lead author of the chapter which uses this data and then be the subsequent reviewer of that chapter? Or the Wakefield study linking MMR vaccines and autism?

 

Science isn't a holy grail - it's a process-driven, evidence-based system for finding out about the questions that intrigue us. The system isn't foolproof or holy.

 

Death threats = bad

Skepticism = good

Sure but wouldn't you agree that critique is not equal to disrespect?

I feel you can respect science and still critique or criticize theories, results or aspects of science.

The fact that science can be challenged is why it is a better system than just arbitrarily claiming something from authority.

 

That's why I ticked 1,2,5.

 

I respect scientists based on their qualifications and the results of their work. If I cannot verify the results of their work because they haven't released data or made conclusions based on assumptions which have no basis in reality, I'll criticise them and the system that lets them make outrageous claims based on compound guessing.

 

That stops way before death threats though.

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Very much so. When people claim that scientists disallow new theories they often bring up cases in which the scientific community shown scepticism towards an idea (Helicobacter and ulcers is a frequently used case) and didn't just accept it the minute the paper was published. As you say all new ideas should be approached with scepticism because that is a necessary part of the process.

And that in particular is a bad example for people who claim scientists shun divergence from the accepted theory, because after going through a few years of skepticism and verification of their results by third parties, as should happen, the two Australian scientists who were the driving force behind the discovery were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine.

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Or the Wakefield study linking MMR vaccines and autism?

ahem.

 

(Oh never mind you can google it yourself, there's been a few studies that have justified his claimed.)

 

But good example of another case where someone speaking out against the herd is vilified, then justified later.

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Very much so. When people claim that scientists disallow new theories they often bring up cases in which the scientific community shown scepticism towards an idea (Helicobacter and ulcers is a frequently used case) and didn't just accept it the minute the paper was published. As you say all new ideas should be approached with scepticism because that is a necessary part of the process.

And that in particular is a bad example for people who claim scientists shun divergence from the accepted theory, because after going through a few years of skepticism and verification of their results by third parties, as should happen, the two Australian scientists who were the driving force behind the discovery were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine.

 

Yep. Yet it is still trotted out as though they were tortured by the inquisition instead of handsomely rewarded after an appropriate period of oversight.

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1, 2 & 4

 

I don't have a big issue with who funds the work. While it'd be ideal if it was truly independently funded, but that's rarely going to happen.

 

The "what" they are researching is the critical bit, and their rigorous approach to it.

I have no problem with a scientist for hire that will rigorously research and report on any topic someone pays them for.

I have no problem with that topic being narrow and highly targeted - provided that it is disclosed that it was narrow and targeted - and that is usually where the media and the PR companies from the sponsoring organisations muddy the water.

 

How many people really read the report, and how many people read the news article that discusses the findings, digests and regurgitates the statistics out of context and extrapolates favourable or sensational conclusions that were not part of the science.

 

It's a matter of integrity, and I have no doubt that that is a test if your hungry for work and someone says, I only have $X for a study, but the scientist knows it will cost a lot more to do it right. But someone who knowingly doesn't refuse to do pointless science doesn't deserve much respect for their professionalism.

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Very much so. When people claim that scientists disallow new theories they often bring up cases in which the scientific community shown scepticism towards an idea (Helicobacter and ulcers is a frequently used case) and didn't just accept it the minute the paper was published. As you say all new ideas should be approached with scepticism because that is a necessary part of the process.

And that in particular is a bad example for people who claim scientists shun divergence from the accepted theory, because after going through a few years of skepticism and verification of their results by third parties, as should happen, the two Australian scientists who were the driving force behind the discovery were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine.

 

It wasn't scepticism - they were shunned and ridiculed.

 

Science is not a special all-is-good discipline. Group-think pervades it just like it does every other profession.

 

I invite you to have a look at what mainstream consensus did to Barbara McClintock, Stanley Prusiner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Fritz Zwicky and George Zweig.

 

And that is just the start of a long list of modern scientists whose ideas we now take as truth, jumping genes, existence of prions, black hole theory, dark matter and quark theory respectively.

Edited by Leonid

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Or the Wakefield study linking MMR vaccines and autism?

ahem.

 

(Oh never mind you can google it yourself, there's been a few studies that have justified his claimed.)

 

But good example of another case where someone speaking out against the herd is vilified, then justified later.

 

Oh bullshit! The Lancet withdrew his paper (which was apparently rubbish to begin with), a whole range of studies have refuted what he was claiming, and it since turns out he was colluding with a group of lawyers who were hoping to sue the vaccine manufacturers. Just earlier this year, the British Medical Journal also claimed he had actually fabricated evidence in the original paper:

 

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452.full

 

But now that he's speaking at events with 9/11 troofers and new world order nuts, I guess he's one of your people and you're unlikely to see reason.

Edited by orinjuse

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Or the Wakefield study linking MMR vaccines and autism?

ahem.

 

(Oh never mind you can google it yourself, there's been a few studies that have justified his claimed.)

 

But good example of another case where someone speaking out against the herd is vilified, then justified later.

 

Oh bullshit! The Lancet withdrew his paper (which was apparently rubbish to begin with), a whole range of studies have refuted what he was claiming, and it since turns out he was colluding with a group of lawyers who were hoping to sue the vaccine manufacturers. Just earlier this year, the British Medical Journal also claimed he had actually fabricated evidence in the original paper:

 

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452.full

 

But now that he's speaking at events with 9/11 troofers and new world order nuts, I guess he's one of your people and you're unlikely to see reason.

 

Does that just about prove that science and scientists are corruptible and that no-one deserves any respect except for on the basis of verifiable quality of their work?

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