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Friday, April 21, 2017

The March for Science

See my prior posts on The March for Science.

Article at The Atlantic:

How the March for Science Misunderstands Politics

If protesters want to change policies, they need to target the values, interests, and power structures that shape how research is applied.
This Saturday, in Washington, D.C., and around the world, scientists and their supporters will hit the streets. From Ketchikan to Buenos Aires to Bhutan, marchers will demand that politicians support scientific research, publish its results widely, and base their policies on those results.

I will be marching with them. But I worry about the movement’s arguments. A few skeptics have charged that the march will politicize science, reinforcing an already widespread perception of scientists as liberal activists rather than dispassionate researchers. As march advocates note, however, science is already enmeshed in politics. It could hardly be otherwise, write Jonathan Foley and Christine Arena, in an article reposted on the official March for Science website: “After all, politics is how we are supposed to solve problems in a democratic society, and science is crucial to nearly everything we do — our economy, our health, our security, our future.”

My concern is the opposite of the usual objection. The March for Science, I believe, is not political enough. I do not mean that the marchers should campaign for Democratic or Republican candidates or take stands on contentious issues such as immigration reform. Rather, I hope that they will come to grasp much more clearly how political power works, how it intersects with social conflicts, and how policies emerge from this nexus.

The movement’s rhetoric suggests that if governments simply fund and heed scientific research, the world will march steadily toward peace and prosperity. Applying science to politics will create “an unbroken chain of inquiry, knowledge, and public benefit for all.” This is, dare I say, an unscientific conception of human action...
"Who knew that science could be so complicated?"

No, I don't like the guy.

From The Atlantic article:
"The march organizers imagine a future world in which science promotes equality and justice, rather than simply wealth and health for the few. Evidence-based policy is important, and science should certainly play a role in politics. Yet more and better data is hardly enough to ensure equality and justice. Societies employ science in accordance with their leading values, interests, and power structures. If March for Science participants want science to advance the causes of equality and justice, they will need to help create a society in which those values predominate."
We seem to be moving in the other direction of late. Consider the ruminations set forth in "Four Futures."

The article is fine. Buy the book, it's better. See also Paul Mason's excellent "Postcapitalism: a guide to our future." I cited him last year here.

Quadrant IV, folks.

In that vein,
...At the end of the day, the collapse of Western civilization — and perhaps all of civilization — is less likely to be a consequence of cultural factors than economic and ecological ones. Indeed, just a few days before the Brooks column was published, the BBC posted a noteworthy article titled “How Western civilization could collapse.” According to the computer models of system scientist Safa Motesharrei, the leading factors will likely be “ecological strain and economic stratification.”

Under this scenario, the BBC’s Rachel Nuwer wrote, “elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour.”

This sounds more like Karl Marx than Oswald Spengler, and it indicates that it will be people like Donald Trump — rather than Syrian refugees or irritating Social Justice Warriors on Tumblr — who will bring about the end of Western civilization. It also demonstrates how badly we need more thinkers like Adorno and Horkheimer today, and fewer YouTube conspiracy theorists and clueless Beltway columnists. 
- from
Quadrant IV.


apropos of our topic here, broadly, from another article:
"...[W]hat philosopher Henry Giroux has described as the “culture of cruelty.” It is the intersection of creeping authoritarianism, militarism, surveillance, violence by the state against its citizens, gangster capitalism and extreme wealth inequality, the assault on the very idea of community and government, widespread loneliness, and social dominance behavior against the Other.

How did the culture of cruelty help to create the political and social circumstances for the election of Donald Trump? Is the United States now a fascist and authoritarian state? What are the issues that could potentially unite the American people to create a more humane society and to resist the cultural and political forces that helped to elect Trump? Are Trump’s voters victims? Is American democracy in a state of crisis and permanent decline? What should resistance look like in this moment?
'eh? Again, to me, we look to be on a course toward a iron-fisted dystopian Quadrant IV.

I may have to buy and study his book.

Above, from the NYC March.

Another news item, from Vox:

The March for Science on Earth Day, explained

The Trump administration is cutting science budgets and denying research. Scientists are pushing back.

Brace yourself, DC: The nerds are marching in. On Earth Day, April 22, thousands of people will descend on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and take to the streets in cities across the globe — in the name of science. 
Inspired by the success of the January 21 Women’s March on Washington, the March for Science will celebrate the scientific method and advocate for using evidence in decision-makng in all levels of government. Though the event’s website doesn’t explicitly mention Trump, it’s a protest of his administration’s policies, including his proposal to cut billions in funding for scientific research...

Why march for science? Because the value of social trust — under attack by Trump — is worth fighting for 

Defending science is not just about resisting climate denialism. It's about bedrock values of social progress

With science under attack under President Donald Trump as never before in recent memory, this weekend’s March for Science has engendered broad, enthusiastic support, with more than 500 satellite marches listed. The role of science in illuminating the threat of global warming, and how to respond, is a key catalyst behind both the attacks and the response — and for good reason. It’s hard to imagine anything more high-stakes than the gamble we’re taking on our planet’s future. 
Yet the attack on science is broader than global warming, or the environment in general, and there’s still debate and reflection about the idea of the march itself. Some in the field still express reluctance to become politically engaged in fighting back — science shouldn’t be political, they feel. There are also concerns around science’s elite status...


My daughter was vetted for clinical trials eligibility this week at UCSF amid a "second opinion" eval (She's a Kaiser member). We should know something shortly, after some labs come back. We are still in shock over her recent dx. One of her friends started a crowdfunding page for her. We are amazed and gratified by the results to date. She's gonna need every penny. She's up to several grand in co-pays already. Probably going to have to vacate her job, break her apartment lease, and move back in with us.

We lost Danielle's elder sister to cancer 19 years ago. That still seems like last week. Gonna have to re-title (and add to) that book effort. Struggling to keep it together of late.

Backstory on my girls here.

More to come...

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