Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Promoting Science: Supply-Side Reform

This is a series of posts inspired by the talk that Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum gave at the Beyond Belief conference "Candles in the Dark".

I wrote about that presentation yesterday, discussing two errors that I see in the ways some people talk about promoting science. The two propositions that I argued against are:

We need to make science relevant to people's lives.. Science is already relevant to people's lives. The degree to which they do not recognize or appreciate that relevance is responsible for countless deaths and a great deal of human suffering every year. The task is not to make science relevant, but to teach people of a relevance that already exists.

Science questions are relevant, but most political questions are not science questions.. Every political question is about making choices. The only institution with a proven track record for being able to predict the results of one’s actions is science. Science – or evidence-based predicting – is relevant to all political questions.

So, the question is: How are we going to get people to do a better job of applying science to these policy questions, so that we can get better results?

Answers to these questions can be categorized into two types; supply-side reforms, and demand-side reforms.

A supply-side reform is a reform that follows the model, "If you build it, they will come." It says that if you create a supply of scientifically relevant facts, people will flock to it and consume all that is available. Supply-side reformists say that we need to focus on supplying the people with a better understanding of science, the scientific method, and the conclusions that scientists have reached.

This is actually the practice, if not the philosophy, of the Science Network – the people who put on the Beyond Belief conference, and who post the videos on the web for all to see. They are attempting to engage in supply-side reform by supplying the world with the thoughts of those who come to the conference.

Typically, I consider supply-side reform to be a waste of time. Supply-side reform is like trying to push a cooked strand of spaghetti across the floor. Pushing does not do any good – the spaghetti simply twists and distorts itself, resisting any attempt to actually move it across the floor. That is, until the end that one is pushing on becomes the front piece of the spaghetti strand, and the action one is engaging in switches from being the push (supply-side) end to the pull (demand-side) end of the spaghetti.

Mooney pointed out that major news organizations are closing down their science and technology departments. They simply do not report on science and technology any more. Now, if supply-side reform had any merit, then the fact that there was once a supply of science and technology reporters means that the types of reform Mooney was talking about should have already taken place. The media was, once upon a time, supplying the public with more and better technological and scientific understanding of the world. But supplying scientific and technological information isn't enough.

In fact, supply-side reform is a waste of time.

As reform.

Where there is a demand for science eduction, it is good to have somebody around ready to meet that demand. However, the success of a supply-side project rests in having a demand to be met.

I will have more to say on demand-side reform in my next two posts.

1 comment:

Judy Weismonger said...

In this nearing birthday of the imaginary jesus, the Christians need to show us their love.

My Christmas Letter of Good Cheer to Christians:

Long before you silly, confused, lying, obfuscating, faking frauds created your NEW religion 2000 years ago (by voting jesus in as a god in 325 AD by the Nicene Council)---Winter Solstice was celebrated for at least 5000 to 8000 years before you upstarts stole the celebration, up to and including appointing the birth of jesus as the same day as Winter Solstice, Dec 25th (which conveniently was also the birthday appointed to two other gods, Apollo and Mithra).

So...when we say...Happy Winter Solstice...the traditions and acknowledgment of when the life-giving SUN is farthest from the earth and thus begins the realignment of the earth and the Sun back to being closer to us...so plants can live, we can grow food and eat, the earth warms up, water flows, and Spring is on the way...sustaining life on this planet, it is really significant. Your religion has completely ignored life on this planet which is very important. Winter Solstice means something real.

Your dream world and delusional religion, cannot plant crops, sustain life, or even acknowledge the importance of the SUN....since you are all life-haters...and are in reality suicidal self-hating creatures, who worship a neo-god who also committed suicide....

It is not Merry Whatever as one of you sarcastic xians said, chagrined at Xmas no longer being as important or "real" as it once was considered to be. Dec 25th is again being acknowledged as one of the most important days of the year known for at least 5 millenium. But, no never mind...the suffering of your imaginary jesus and gawd have to be more important than all other religions or CELEBRATIONS OF LIFE...

Instead of celebrating life, you xians worship death and just can't wait to join this multiple-god trio including a "ghost"....in eternity...doing who knows what...how boring. OK then, I say...do it....Make the 25th of December the day that you join jesus....in heaven, or where ever your delusional and insane brain takes you. Since you are saved...then joining jesus in heaven...will be just a mere step into the harmonious, ever boring after world of your brainless religious invention.

In fact...use the 25th of December...to have cruci-fiction parties....get those crosses out, nail each other to the cross....SUFFER just like jesus did....my oh my what a role model you have chosen to worship i.e. some nearly naked, bloody, beaten up dead guy in a diaper hanging on a stick who intentionally committed suicide by cop (Roman Soldier)...

PS: I would never, ever ask or approve of anyone "dying for me," or "committing suicide" for any reason so I can go to some imaginary, unknown place in the sky...and I find an entire religion based on this "belief" out right insane. The backwards of mental hospitals are full of people like you...who have done various and hideous things to themselves and others in the name of god and jesus....including drowning all of their children in a bath tub because god told them to (Andrea Yates).

If you do a Google search, or go to YouTube.com....you can take lessons on how to drive nails into your palms and feet just like some nut case Filipinos do every year. They almost got it right...problem is they don't hang on the stick long enough to end up like jesus...they just do it for only a short time, long enough to get enough attention from the crowds to satisfy their sick egoes.

Oh yeah, even you dumb xians don't even get cruci-fiction right...in real cruci-fictions by the Romans, nails were driven through the wrists....not the hands, because the many, small bones in the hand can separate by supporting the weight of the body, causing the crucified to fall off the cross and just hang upside down by their feet and flop around like a gaffed fish....so do it right...drive those Christian Nails right through the wrists...and hang there...and see if god saves you. And the more you suffer, you will know that this is what jesus wants you to do...so do it. Show us your love, show us how much you are suffering for us. Jesus is going to be so proud.

In the 21st Century....christianity is right up there with other bizarre practices, such as female genital mutilation, piercing nipples, lips, eye brows, noses, tongues, and other parts of the genitalia, or tatooing "Mother" across one's back...and other defacements of the human body. And, such practices are all supremely painful...making the sufferer "feel" as if they are doing something really unique, worthwhile, and wonderful...so join them, start nailing each other to the cross every year. Get on with your orgy of suffering "for us," and...do it right, after all jesus did it, so, why you too?

Just how much you xians hate yourselves and are willing to suffer because of self-hate, including hate for all of human life (the sin of carnality) depends on how hypocritical the xian is in reality. Real xians can't wait to die. You xians state frequently, that you are "born sinners"...you are born evil, you are not even worthy of kissing the hem of jesus "dress,"

And,...the rest of you fake your self hate, when in reality, you are full of narcisscistic, hysterical, egotistic need to dominate others, and psychologically use blackmail, extortion and threats, including instilling guilt and shame to manipulate other unsophisticated, and vulnerable human beings. Therefore, to better "sell" xianity like used car salesmen,using the most base emotions and manipulations, you xians need to crucify yourselves as a witness to your "faith" and an example of how much "christian love" means.

In reality, whereby you xians then want the rest of us to worship your suffering....its all about YOU...and getting attention. Afterall, the word "christian" means little christ...so be a little christ and crucify yourselves just like jesus did. Show us by example....what we should do, show us your love.

Xianity is all about insecurity, fear, lack of self esteem or a sense of worth of your own life and the life of others...Your religion is an example of the LUDDITE fear of progress, and the need to self destruct into annialistic mindlessness of which you just think you are going to enjoy---Forever.

Freud and other philosophers of psychology have noted there are two main drives in human beings...the drive to Live, and the drive to Die....The Christian Religion has taken the drive to DIE and encased it in an art form and an orgy of self hate, and the worship of suicide and self mutilation....well OK then...stop whining around telling everyone we should be just like you...show us by example, what you really worship and believe.

Every one of you xians...should re-enact the cruci-fiction on yourselves....show us how much you love and emulate jesus...jesus is afterall, the example you follow, so do it...crucify yourselves.

I can't wait...be sure to get someone to take pictures or a video and put it on YoutTube.com...don't let the Filipinos be better xians then you.

Judy Weismonger--Atheist Activist Against Religious Insanity