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« Environmentalist journalist | Main | The full horror of shale gas extraction »
Wednesday
Aug072013

Political science

On Radio 4 last night, Ehsan Masood, the editor of Research Fortnight, looked at the politicisation of science in a show entitled Science, Left or Right.

The first twenty minutes or so was fairly bog-standard BBC fare, with Chris Mooney telling us that Republicans are waging a war on science and various talking heads agreeing with him. After that it picked up somewhat, with Tamsin Edwards interviewed and sounding very polished and very reasonable, while neatly avoiding naming the scientists who are "doing a PR job" on science. There was also Peter Lilley pointing out the scientific establishment's cutting off of funding for those with dissenting views. This point was put to Paul Nurse, whose answer was, in essence, that "if their arguments are good, their views will prevail". This didn't seem to address the point in my view, and Lilley's case therefore stands unchallenged. It was a pity that Masood didn't press Nurse.

It was good to see Mooney admitting that university scientists are overwhelmingly left wing, something that is always going to be problematic for climate science, which asks for dramatic policy measures based on claims that are at best only falsifiable at some point in the future. And not only are they very left wing, but in many cases they are actively hostile to those who hold right-wing views - witness the Climategate emails, in which de Freitas's political views were seen as a justification for seeking his removal, or any of the cases recorded here. I think this kind of thing happens because, as many people have pointed out, right wingers tend to view left wingers as fools, while left wingers view right wingers as evil. You don't try to sack a fool, you try to teach him wisdom. But with evil, anything goes.

Regardless of the reasons, we are left with an overwhelmingly politicised and overwhelming left-wing scientific establishment that is actively hostile to dissenting scientific and political views. The chances of anything resembling the truth emerging are slim indeed.

Are the universities reformable? In my opinion probably not - the aggressive political culture is so entrenched it is surely impossible to dislodge. What is needed are new ways of working: independent scientists like the McIntyres and the Lewises; independent sources of funding to support them, and a "red team" culture that throws rocks at scientific totems whereever they emerge.

 

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Reader Comments (50)

This was a very good programme and gave a balanced view. The thrust of the show was the politicisation of science and the contrasting of GM and AGW with the political affiliations of the environmental movement was a good one. The one detractor ( to me at least) was that the shibboleth of the 97% consensus, which is evidently construed was not challenged. However, the fact that the programme appeared at all is indicative of a subtle change in political attitudes in the UK as the realisation that dogma is really going to turn the heating and lights off hits home. I would dearly like to hear what is really going on behind the scenes?

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

I would dearly like to hear what is really going on behind the scenes?
Aug 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM Trefjon

There is little doubt that the first signs of some changes are emerging - although there is still a million miles to go.

Some time ago, I posted my guess at some of the behind-the-scenes discussion at the Met Office.

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Funding is a problem but the bigger problem is the acceptance of an unfalsifiable hypothesis as established fact. Nurse's claim that, if wrong, science will right itself just won't operate under that departure from the Popperian. Laying seige to their castle in the air until reality is imposed by observations is the only course - however long it takes.

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

"if their arguments are good, their views will prevail"

This is an accurate statement.

Consider Chomskyan linguistics. For decades, it was the only allowed theory. All else was forbidden. Your papers would simply not be published unless they were "generative". Thus, the possibilities of a promotion/tenure were slim. Even getting a job (if you were not Chomskyan) became difficult.

Eventually, Chomsky and his cronies became "experts on everything" and fields like AI were able to start moving forward again. As an example, to the extent that you have any form of language recognition device on your computer, it is because Chomskyanism has been abandoned.

Decades lost, true, funds wasted, true, the careers of the cult made and those of the rest torpedoed, true, but eventually we were able to continue doing research. Yay.

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

I think you’ve got a good point about “left = fools, right = evil”, particularly for those of us who go back a bit. It was very difficult fifty years ago to take seriously the opinions of sexist homophobic defenders of capital punishment and apartheid (and they really existed, in large numbers).
On the other hand, the sacking policy, if it exists, is obviously the wrong way round. James Frazer pointed out long ago in his study of magic and religion that more harm is done by honest fools in high places than by clever rascals. Where are the intelligent rogues in the modern Conservative and Labour Parties when you need them?

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

@Trefjon. I agree but I wonder if the REAL change will occur after one very cold and perhaps long winter when a massive and comprehensive failure of the energy generation infrastructure results in the establishment having to suffer the inconvenience of rationed electricity?

Aug 7, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohnnyrvf

The GM v CAGW example is a particularly fine one, when arguing about consensus. I've made the point countless times to lefty friends who happily quote one yet disregard the other. The point is not to accept either, but to question and evaluate what such consensus consist of.

Aug 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Carlo Cipolla pointed out that truly stupid people are much more dangerous - that is, do more damage - than rascals, his 5 Laws Of Human Stupidity are well worth reading.

Aug 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Where is the data for university scientists being overwhelmingly left wing?

[It's probably not necessary here to point out that "where's the data for X" does not mean "I don't believe X"]

A partial answer to my own question. In California, the Democrat / Republican ratio is 2 in engineering, 4 in chemistry and physics. In sociology, it's 44 :)

Aug 7, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

This study from 2003 (it's unlikely to have got better since then) was based on pre-existing registration of Dem/Rep political affiliation in an attempt to avoid interview/questionnaire biases or gaming.

Amongst tenured professors it was 10:1 Dem/Rep.

http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/news/1898/lackdiversity.html

Aug 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

I'm all for more independent funding of science, but I fear a "red team" of scientists specifically funded to produce skeptic results would be a disaster. I know you will disagree, but I don't think that tying of government funding to results has gone so far as you suggest. There is scope for independent funding to improve things, but having scientists employed by rival political factions would be a step backwards.

Also, is there a list of examples of climate scientists who have lost funding (at least in part) due to their views?

Aug 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJK

What is totally missing from most lefties is any self-awareness or reflection.

A huge number of people (me included) start off on the left in their 20s and drift off to the right as they experience the real world. The wisdom of self-awareness comes along with this process.

This explains how lefties can sit in the bottom-left square (climate concerned + lefty) and psycho-analyse people in the top-right square (climate skeptic + conservative). The lefties do not even realise they are in a square - they think they are objective observers sitting on the truth. They have no self-awareness at all. They do not realise that their own worldview is just one of many possible worldviews. That takes wisdom.

The big problem with the universities is they keep people infantilised in their lefty-20-something phase for longer than is healthy.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

During my time in academia doing environmetal impact studies (70-80's)I did not find most academics to be left wing. I found them to be expert at spotting the 'main' chance. Exploiting the government/ research councils for funding with hugely speculative assertions.
Quite frankly I was shocked at the time.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Frankly the argument regarding left=fools, right=evil is not the one that matters. The entire basis for CAGW is science that looks increasingly as falsified. But politicians of both the left and right refuse to see this. Remember our current Foreign Secretary considers CAGW as a bigger threat than international terrorism. We probably can assume the established climate science sector is generally left wing. But I suggest that if they are in denial about the near falsification of their science, it is because they are cunning, not fools. Those scientists who have embraced the environmentalist left are dangerous. And they know exactly what they are doing.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

geofchambers
"Where are the intelligent rogues in the modern Conservative and Labour Parties when you need them?"

err ... perhaps moving towards UKIP ?

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

One problem is a tendency among academics towards hubris and believing that the application of rational measures by experts (coincidentaly including themselves) will solve difficult problems. A feel for the limits of knowledge, human fallibility and the power of self organising systems like markets is missing from too many of the experts consulted by Government.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRecovering Leftist

Will the Scientific Method Prevail? Of course it must & will. No progress is possible without it. I've just been to see Rutherford's proud memorial @ his Birthplace in Brightwater Tasman New Zealand. It was a roll-call of all the heroes of scientific progress during Rutherford's lifetime. One quote, from a Russian student, hit me particularly hard "I learned a lot from him; not Physics, but how to DO Physics" (my memory, my emphasis). Climate Science as it is currently practised is quite obviously for charlatans. But real scientific heroes will emerge - eventually. Conversly how many "Scientists" can you remember who worked with Lysenko?

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

Recovering leftist...right on.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterjknapp

"It was very difficult fifty years ago to take seriously the opinions of sexist homophobic defenders of capital punishment and apartheid"

I find it difficult to take anyone seriously who engages in vicious, mindless slanders of people who disagree with him.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

From what I have read, the opposite of Diversity is - University..

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterHans K Johnsen

I think confused is absolutely correct.

"Leftiness" has always been prevalent in academia.

But this issue has been driven by money. Even the gargantuan sun blotting hubris apparent from people like Mann, for example, have not been the main driver.

Funding and grants.

Always follow the money.

From small acorns - the availability of funding for "consensus" science became self perpetuating and every uni wanted in on the cash.

How do we re-establish balance? As mentioned above perhaps only years of reality being imposed by observation will now redress the balance. It will happen, but as has been said, lost decades, etc. In my view it will take until many of the current activist/scientist/grant chasers are long gone.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

"It was very difficult fifty years ago to take seriously the opinions of sexist homophobic defenders of capital punishment and apartheid"

Especially when you saw the squads they picked for MCC tours ;-) .

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

Lotta people flinging around the term 'independent' as if it has a meaning in the political context the same as what you will find in the dictionary. I caution you to remember the phrase 'There will be an independent enquiry' and what that entails in the real world.

Anybody who comes up with an off-narrative result WILL be smeared as to their funding. No evidence is required.

Aug 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

On this topic, Anthony Watts put up a splendid essay on the right way to do science by Jim Steele. It is long but well worth the time. The comments also include some helpful video links. The essay's relevance to the current sad state of climate science is palpable.

Aug 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Geoff
You and I are going to fall out again!
Support for capital punishment, a belief that women were different from men (not better, not worse, just better suited to different tasks), and at least a suspicion about "certain men in the town" would have been mainstream thinking both on the right and on the left when I was a child (and I grew up in a mixed farming/mining area; I know whereof I speak).
It was the intellectual left, then as now, that sought to foist their trendy views on the rest of us with, one could argue, too much success and disastrous results. They, the 'champagne socialists', were the ones who saw the right as evil. We in the middle simply saw people as pretty much like us — wanting to get on with their lives, moderately content with the hand life had dealt us, not much spare time to be worrying about political philosophy.
Then as now, it was the inhabitants of what these days we call the 'Westminster Bubble' that worried about things like that. And then as now, real people see them as fools and therefore dangerous with their fashionable (in their eyes) dinner-party ideas and constant striving for the ear of people in the know so that they can be seen to be "in the know" as well. And of course their over-weening self-righteousness which gives them that aroma (or do I mean stench) of superiority.
We don't see them as evil. We wouldn't give them that much credence; we reserve that description for people who really are.

Aug 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The fools versus evil analogy tallies with my experiences. Both extremes also tend to be incredible hypocrites. But don't forget that while left-wingers may dominate the sciences, right wingers tend to dominate economics which is more influential, and their dogma there led directly to the financial crisis. Oddly the people most prescient about the crisis were either radical left-wingers or libertarians. You need to look at http://www.politicalcompass.org/ to see that this is not contradictory.

The real problem is the use of overly simplistic logic and the ubiquitous straight line, two variable simplification of a complex, nonlinear multivariate problem followed by really spurious correlations to back them up. Dogmatists of both the left and right do not like the noise of real-world data; so usually they cherry-pick the data that suits their viewpoint. But often the real-world data tells the opposite story to the simple theory or brings up a nuance that furthers the theory. Science mainly advances by people who challenge dogmata. Alas it is unwise for your career to stick your head above the parapet and disagree with the establishment so a bad dogma can take either a sudden crisis or a heck of a lot of lot of time to shift.

At last a good thread to link to the reflective criticism of lefty science from lefties: http://www.scienceleftbehind.com/.

You know that is also something I noticed about lefties; they do at least have doubts. Righties in the main don't seem to.

Aug 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I think Jack Hughes also sums up the problem with the BBC.

Aug 7, 2013 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Dunford

Whoever first wrote about left = fools and right = evil should probably not have done so. We have highly intelligent and well qualified people from left and right all joining in a rational if heated debate about climate. Why start name calling and muck flinging?
In terms of politics there is only one party of the right, which is UKIP. David Cameron is not even a Conservative let alone of the right, Miliband is further left and Clegg is as far left as he could get before he hit the buffers ^.^

Aug 7, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Tthe problem that the Marxists have created for themselves is typified by Nurse, who has arguably risen not because he was much better than his peers but because of his hard-line politics.

In short, they have dumbed down science so it is full of people who, like dare I say, Tamsin, who cannot face full on scientific argument because they have forgotten how to create and prove science from first principles, relying instead on the false authority of computer modelling; science by X-box.

Aug 7, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

An astonishing radio programme. Who'd a thunk that all along the BBC was aware of the kinds of discussions that have been going on in the blogosphere for ages?

Aug 7, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

stan
My remark about “sexist homophobic defenders of capital punishment and apartheid" wasn’t a “vicious mindless slander”, simply an observation that 50 years ago such people existed in the Tory Party, and it was very difficult for any sensible person to imagine associating with them. They’re not there any more, but many lefties behave as if they were.
I didn’t even say I disliked them. One of them wrote in the Telegraph under the name of Peter Simple, and very amusing he was too. He invented the term “Rent-a-Crowd”.

Aug 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Mike Jackson
Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to disagree with you - except pehaps about your honest-yokel neighbours’ suspicions of “certain men in the town”. We townies have our suspicions about “certain men in the country”, but we keep them to ourselves - as long as they don’t frighten the nice young men who sell antiques.

JamesG
I did the http://www.politicalcompass.org/ questionnaire, and it didn’t work for me. I think of myself as an Old Labour statist, but I turned out more libertarian than Gandhi. It must be my open-minded attitude to country pursuits.

Aug 7, 2013 at 2:53 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Dwight D. Eisenhower foresaw the danger that has come to pass in the scientific establishment in his 1961 valedictory speech (the one in which he coined "military-industrial complex"):
-------------------

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Aug 7, 2013 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

It was good to see Mooney admitting that university scientists are overwhelmingly left wing

Jolly good it may have been but is there any evidence for his claim? While we're at it, a definition of "left wing" might add a little clarity (not that the confusion seems to bother many).

Whatever, though the "climate change = leftie plot" myth was thoroughly demolished (deconstructed, even) in Rupert Darwall's excellent book, I fear it looks set to persist almost as long as the AGW one.

Aug 7, 2013 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Geoff
We actually had two in our village — real arty types, know what I mean? Nice people both of them.
We also had an equally nice elderly gentleman who was very generous with his sweets and biscuits; you just knew not to go into his house alone.
For all the changes to law and culture in the last 60 years I think in a lot of ways we were a more tolerant society then than we are now. There may be a good reason for that but I wonder if the more you pass laws to regulate people the more anyone who doesn't conform is ostracised or demonised.
Or do we actually have more paedophiles than we used to have? Or has the loosening of taboos led to a loosening of their self-control? Or what?
Sorry if I digress a bit.

Aug 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Recant or face excommunication.

Aug 7, 2013 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterOdins Acplyte

I noticed that Nurse was very quick to mention his Nobel prize, lending credence to this:

Link

I'd be pleased to have one, too, but I wouldn't mention it at every opportunity...

Aug 7, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The public sector has become very similar to the Church in the late Middle Ages. The Church had it's dogma , that is was the route to salvation; it earned money from tithes which was obtained from the work of others, it provided a reasonable standard of living with little or no risk for the vast majority of the monks, nuns and priest and a luxurious standard of living for it's leaders - bishops, and above, abbots, abbesses, priors and prioresses. For many literate people the restriction of being a monk or nun was preferable to the hard slog of being a farm labourer and one had a bed, a roof over one's head, reasonable food and access to healthcare.. What we need is a modern day Wycliffe and Lollards to state the job of the Church is to serve the people , not the other way round.

In the UK , universities were private until about 1919 when they became rather poor. in addition, it was recognised that directed scientific research was required to win wars. Until the 1920s most top scientists knew each other in their field, understood what was happening in neighbouring fields and could maintain high standards .

Until the 1920s the average academic earned about 4x the average wage. Even until the late 1960s , the average senior lecturer to professor could enjoy a middle to upper middle class existence. House prices did not start to rise until the early 70s and there were grammar schools for the children . The massive increase in the numbers of those employed in higher education since the 1960s and the relative increase in salaries in the private sector since the 1980s has left many academics aggrieved. Part of the problem is that the expansion in numbers of academics and those employed in higher education means the slice of the cake devoted to salaries has had to diminish : quality has been sacrificed for quantity .

We should revert to 20-30 Russell Group Universities offering Oxbridge standard of tuition and lecturing.
Polys should return to offering vocational training at the evening and weekends . Academics should have 5-10 year tenure. If schools offered education up to the standard of the old Oxbridge Scholarships , then this would be adequate for entry into most jobs. What would an employer prefer someone who has achieved an S1 in Latin,Greek, French,History ,Maths, Physics, Chemistry etc, etc or a degree in Media Studied from the like of Bedford University? Only about 15% of the Swiss go to university. Germany has very high quality vocational training and sends less people to university , especially in the arts and humanities ( and especially in subjects such as media , studies, cultural studies, sociology etc, etc). If we insisted that all those reading for a science degree had to have maths and physics or chemistry , then we would have a far more numerate body of environmental scientists/geographers.
How much of the problem is that environmental scientists lack an understanding of multi- variate statistics and basic physics or chemistry?

Fewer scientists, better educated, better funded, without a life time tenure, not pushed into a " publish or perish " existence; may produce better science.

If academics want the relative pay,conditions and respect of the the 1920s and earlier, then they have to return similar numbers employed.

Aug 7, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Universities may indeed be reformable...cut their income stream until they reform.

Aug 7, 2013 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimbrock

About Nurse - isn't he a (past?) member/supporter of the Socialist Workers' Party? Hardly right-wing, what?

Aug 7, 2013 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinking Skeptik

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Please provide a reference to some publication that shows "the lay of the land today" in linguistics research. I am very eager to learn what has escaped from the Chomskyan mold.

Aug 7, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

‘...right wingers tend to view left wingers as fools, while left wingers view right wingers as evil.’

Except when it comes to the use of terms such as ‘ecofascist’ and ‘greenshirt’, which surely imply evil intent.

That aside, the left=fools, right=evil claim rests on a bit of a contradiction. It implies that right-wingers are not only smart in seeing the foolishness of their opponents, but also nice in charitably ascribing stupidity rather than malice.

The further implication is that left-wingers are not only foolish but nasty to boot in opting for evil as an explanation for their opponent’s views rather than the more charitable foolish.

Further, a robust scepticism should be at least a little suspicious of a claim that is so conveniently self-serving.

Aug 7, 2013 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrendan H

@Theo Goodwin

You must be joking... or else don't know what generative linguistics is. Anyway, read anything that involves frequency considerations and/or neural networks. Author-wise (and for variety), Langacker will entertain.

Aug 7, 2013 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Charlie

The biggest problem for our universities came with Blaire (IMHO) when he made the imbecilic target of sending 50% of pupils to university. There was no way this was going to happen unless Universities dumbed down their courses and GCSE O and A levels were even more dumbed down. As you rightly say; we need fewer courses at a higher standard.
I can not resist this:
Are you a right Charlie or a left Charlie? ^.^

Aug 7, 2013 at 9:49 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Are the universities reformable?"

Maybe it doesn't matter. It can only take a few words on a website somewhere to disprove a theory, no univerity or journal required. Any article can be shared on the internet and reviewed by all who choose to.

With the internet anyone can have access to all the books, journal articles and data that you get at university. Even if some of that is expensive, there is nothing to stop someone who has access to expensive books and paywalled journal articles from sharing them on the internet anonymously.

Thanks to the ease of sharing information, hopefully everyone will get better educated, with or without universities and the will of the people who vote will get closer and closer to common sense.

Aug 7, 2013 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRich

A climate scientist is someone who is willing to say what is needed to protect his paycheck, but is unwilling to say what needs to be said to protect yours.

Aug 8, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterEric Barnes

Dung,
Below report says some universities only require half the hours of Oxbridge. In applied science / engineering difference is probably less due to time in labs and writing up results. However, as some universities only require 3 poor A Levels whereas some require 4 As at A Level ( including Further Maths A Level and 1 or 2 A *) , I think it is time to assess what is the difference in the final standard of degrees and how they compared to the past . First year degree even in science appears no harder than the old A / Scholarship Level exams.

I would suggest a major failing in environmental science is the lack of understanding of the following
1. Experimental error, it calculation and statistical analysis- which was taught in the old A Levels. Experimental error to include error in measurement and cross contamination.
2. Lack of statistical skill, especially multi-variate statistics which requires a knowledge of the old pre 1988 Maths A Level as a building block.
3. Quantitative chemistry , especially rates of reaction, half lives and first order and higher rates of reaction - All covered in the old A/S Level exam.

An Environmental Science/Geography degree should build on someone's all ready good grasp of pre 1988 A/Scholarship Level Maths and Chemistry. Someone undertaking an Environmental Science degree should have the ability to complete a chemistry degree at a Russell Group University.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10216619/Top-universities-expect-students-to-work-twice-as-hard.html

Aug 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Yes, this is the fundamental obstacle to progress : politically-funded science will always have a politicizing bias.
The problem is, what other institutions can match the scale of political spending, and have an interest in doing so ?

Aug 8, 2013 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatisha

I've never liked the stupid/evil classification of attitudes because there are two many counterexamples. Plenty of lefties claim that righties are stupid--in fact, here in the US, that's practically a form of in-group identification among "progressives" (nobody over here ever admits to being a leftist, socialist, or what have you). Plenty of righties claim that lefties are evil, accusing them of masking their agenda to destroy freedom, traditional values, or whatever righties are worried is being threatened. (It is true that most righties give lefties "credit" for pursuiing an ideology that righties find evil but lefties find virtuous.)

Aug 11, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersrp

“right wingers tend to dominate economics which is more influential, and their dogma there led directly to the financial crisis.”
Aug 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM | JamesG

Really? Data to back that up? Politicians like to spend your money. Who gives them an excuse to spend your money? Keynesian economists.

http://clunking-fist.blogspot.co.nz/2009/03/would-last-honest-reporter-please-turn.html
http://clunking-fist.blogspot.co.nz/2009/02/dismal-scientist.html

Aug 20, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterClunking Fist

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