Who speaks for science?

“We should not have people in office who do not believe in facts and truths and modern science…”–Leonard DiCaprio, Address at Yale University.

I have a better idea.   Rather than actors (who didn’t graduate high school, but did get a GED) pontificate about science, let’s require tests in basic science– the history of science, philosophy of science, and what science is all about–for all celebrities and politicians who choose to speak about science.   If they don’t pass, they shut up.

What say you, dear reader?

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Bob Kurland, Ph.D.

Retired, cranky, old physicist. Convert to Catholicism in 1995. Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith. Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/ and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland). Extraordinary Minister of Communion, volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC. Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.


  1. Amen, Dr. Kurland! Time and again I have seen that ignorance of basic science and common sense engineering missing from those primates having the largest mouths and smallest brains among the great apes: eco-wacko, enviro-nazi, global warming nutcase, anti nuclear activists. Can we all say “Al Gore?”

    One time I had an opportunity to explain to a really smart Long Island lawyer why decommissioning Shoreham before it even operated was a dumb idiot idea on the part of Mario Cuomo. I explained reactor protection, engineered safeguards, spent fuel storage, rad monitoring, negative temperature and void coefficients of reactivity, etc. He followed everything I said and assented, “Yes, that’s safe.” But at the end he declared Shoreham unsafe and was glad at its shutdown and replacement with carbon spewing methane burners. Now Mario’s son Andy is doing the same to IPEC. Losing 850 MWe of clean safe energy on Long Island was not enough. Now we will lose 2000 MWe in Westchester County.

    PS, for the record, Andy and Mario are pro-abort Katholyck anti-nuke wackoes. Environmentalism is a religion whose goddess Gaia liberals use to replace Lord God Jesus Christ.

  2. I regularly hear speeches by real scientists. They are meaningful and entertaining. What if these universities stop inviting actors and started having their own scientists give these addresses?

  3. That’s just crazy talk. What will you want next? People to know history, or religion before they pontificate on them? Why, that’s just un-American. As our atheistic president Ben Franklin said, all men are created equal, and that includes those who cannot add fractions.

  4. Science education, (advanced chemistry), doesn’t seem to have helped PF1.
    Or, could this be yet another case of “willful ignorance”?

  5. EXNDAAMAN, I thought about that too, then remembered my own education in undergraduate chemistry at Caltech (and some physics too) and compared it to what I knew about a State University in the Northeast. We had a bit of history of science and a smattering of the philosophy of science. Nothing like that in the State University–just problems, stochiometry, reactions, etc. If one wants to know how science works one needs to know the history of science. Just because PF1 taught chemistry does not mean he knows what science is all about or how it works–that is clear, of course, from his pronouncements on global warming.

  6. The accusation “climate heretic” says it all. Science is no longer the search for truth. Science is just another weapon of totalitarians. Guy McClung, Texas

    Science failures-but which were at one time accepted as truth-
    “Science’s errors and mistakes? There are now-rejected scientific theories in most branches of science, including, inter alia, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Cosmology, Climate Study, Geography, Geology, Psychology, and Medicine. For example, these once-accepted-as-true scientific theories are now rejected: Spontaneous Generation theory; Lamarckist Evolution; Phlogiston theory; Caloric Theory; Luminiferous Ether theory; the Ptolemaic System; Heliocentricism; Flat Earth theory; Hollow Earth theory; Geosyncline Theory; Four Humors Theory ; and Phrenology.”

    Scientists as first servants of Power, but now soldiers of Power:
    “Scientist Soldiers
    In his thoughts about the use/abuse of science by those in power, Robert S. Cohen begins with two spot-on pertinent quotes, one from C.S. Lewis and one from Max Horkheimer:
    “ C.S. Lewis: ‘What we call man’s power over nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men, with nature as its Instrument.’
    Max Horkheimer: ‘The ideological dimension of science comes to light, above all, in what science closes its eyes to’. ’’ (Cohen, Id. P. 223)
    For Cohen, many scientists who had become “servants of power,”have enlisted now as are “soldiers of power”. Soldiers must obey, says Cohen, and, in the past, the task of the scientist was to question, not to “obey” when someone said something was true (Id., pp. 226-227). Today science is permeated, funded, and corrupted by the “scientific obedience to power.” (Id., p. 227). Scientists have become the laboratory mercenaries of powerism.”

  7. Regarding knowledge and understanding of the history of science, let me relate from my own experience in the nuclear industry. I have worked with a population half of whom are grizzled grumpy old Navy nukes like me and the other half of whom are millennial snowflake graduates from liberal Academia. Curiously there are very few in-between age groups in nuclear energy. Just the young who are propagandized into believing in the fiction of anthropogenic global warming and the older who served as nukes aboard submarines and aircraft carriers. The younger ones know nothing of Admiral Rickover and Alvin Weinburg, Eugene Wigner, Enrico Fermi, and the rest. They are completely ignorant of how the AEC divided into the DOE and NRC under Nixon, how the currently regulatory framework came to be post-TMI, and the aweful screwup that Navy nuke droput liberal Democrat “Iranian hostage crisis” Jimmy “I am an idiot” Carter was (Rickover always regretted vetting him for the Navy nuke progam – his one bad appointment). They are in the nuclear industry for one and only one reason: to avert anthropogenic global warming. And their deity is goddess Gaia. Surprisingly they have zero respect for nuclear regulations. They demonstrate an arrogance – a hubris – that their intellects are so great and their passive safety design so wonderful that the US NRC just has to accept it no matter what. They dare to tell the NRC what the regulation means. And those of us grizzled grumpy old navy nukes who have been through Operational Reactor Safeguards Exams (ORSE) on subs and NRC inspections at commercial plants do indeed know better. There’s sound engineering reasons for regulations. When they aren’t followed, events like Chernobyl happen (let’s do a test with Reactor Protection over-ridden; let’s design and operate a reactor with a positive void coefficient of reactivity). Events like Fukushima happen (let’s put our emergency diesel generators in buildings on the shoreline beneath the height of a once every hundred year tsunami; let’s call collusion between the regulator and TEPCO cooperation).

    Academia no longer teaches any history, so these snowflakes come out as graduates believing in scientism (notice the ISM – I, Self and Me), which is not science at all. And the media (full of ignorant liberal journalists) and the government (full of power-mad, money-hungry politicians) just suck it up. Hey, useless worthless renewable energy at less than 30% capacity factor is big bucks because every solar farm and wind turbine installation is a methane burning fossil energy generator for spinning reserve for 70% of the time there is insufficient sunlight and insufficient wind. Nuclear is a threat to all that.

    But try to explain that to these millennial hipster airhead snowflakes.

  8. I once received a call from some organization fighting Global Warming, when the woman mentioned that “carbon dioxide was poison” I shopped her and stated “not it’s not, carbon dioxide is plant food and the fizz in beer and soda, carbon monoxide is poison. “.

    She stopped and said “you’re right”… and you know”, she said, “Of All the people I’ve called… YOUR THE FIRST PERSON TO EVER SAY THAT TO ME.”

    That’s scary.

  9. DiCrapio speaking at Yale. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, are we?

    For all his concern over the environment, did he fly commercial and Uber ride share?

  10. I still recall that great Man Show episode where they got people to sign a petition to “reduce Dihydrogen Monoxide” polluting our planet.

  11. If the search for truth is the goal in this climate change debate then why the poor choices by the left? $!
    Environment Subcommittee Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.): “I commend Dr. Bates for bringing to light the corrupt practices used by his former colleagues and hope this serves as a deterrence to anyone thinking of manipulating science to serve their own political agenda. I applaud Chairman Smith and the Science Committee’s efforts to provide the necessary oversight to ensure the American people have the best information possible.


    Lenny needs to act more and speak less.

  12. Scientific ideas that scientists clung to long after evidence pointed to the contrary:

    1) Steady state model of the universe
    2) Oscillating model of the universe
    3) Denial of the existence of the universe itself, i.e., via misinterpretation of Bell’s Incompleteness Theorem
    4) Acceptance of the uniqueness of global warming and a denial of the importance of solar warming (Solar warming deniers!)
    5?) Denial of the Rare Earth Hypothesis and Fermi Paradox out of a desire for aliens (i.e. saviors)
    6?) Acceptance of the multiverse in an attempt to refute the parallels between the Big Bang and Genesis (which really fails, the parallels and the multiverse are not incompatible)

    The last two are marked ? since the “clung to long after” is not completely true: debate is still ongoing in ways that are not yet fully understood, but it still smells.

  13. Always forget something:

    7) Acceptance of missing gaps in the fossil record and slow imperceptible biological evolution even after the modern synthesis theory (with genetics that are on/off) and Gould and Elbridge demonstrated rapid changes in the fossil record.

  14. LQC, just read your comment on the snowflakes. WOW.
    I personally knew a vet like you. He told me his class aced Reactor School 101 (his words) and thought they were hot sh** (his words). Then in the first session of Reactor 102 they were forced to watch a film of the cleanup of the SL-1 accident. They sobered up fast!
    So no one knows history anymore?

  15. Dr. Albert Einstein’s evaluation of Princeton University, loosely quoted: “A quaint little village inhabited by demi-gods on stilts.”
    Perhaps, Leonard DiCaprio will speak at Princeton next. He will fit right into Einstein’s evaluation.

  16. Tom D, I’m not sure #2 (oscillating universes) is all that moribund. Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist for whom I have the highest respect (he and Hawkings did the black holes bit) prefers “conformal cyclic cosmology”. See here
    Also, in spite of overwhelming evidence at the end of the 19th century for the existence of molecules and atoms, there were prestigious physicists (Mach for one) who denied this.

    (sorry, direct copy/paste, no idea which letters are supposed to be lower case, not shouting)
    According to various folks who know more about the education system involved, it’s basically a technical degree. Not that it isn’t more advanced than standard knowledge, but I’ve got what amounts to a technical degree in electronics and experience, and I wouldn’t call it any kind of advanced training.

    don’t forget plate theory.

    it’s POSSIBLE you were the only one who is “rude” enough to mention it, but who didn’t just flatly hang up. (“Rude” isn’t because it’s actually rude– they’re calling you up at random to speak falsehoods– but because the charitable desire to not be rude is behind it. Well, for those who aren’t waiting for the person to pause long enough to say “Excuse me, this phone number is for emergencies only, please remove it from your calling list.”)

  18. “I once received a call from some organization fighting Global Warming, when the woman mentioned that “carbon dioxide was poison””

    Well, there is such a thing as hypercapnia.

  19. Bob Kurland, I have the utmost respect for Roger Penrose also (have some of his books), but his stance in the face of our current knowledge proves my point. The Big Crunch at the end of the universe with our current state of knowledge is out of the question. We will get either the Big Chill or more likely the Big Rip (due to Dark Energy). Many scientists long favored the oscillating universe not on the evidence (there was always very little) but because it potentially excluded a creation event. Their current craze over the multiverse (which has a bit more evidence to support it) is of the same motivation: the Big Bang becomes a natural quantum fluctuation, so it is no longer a potential creation event. Anything to be rid of God. Well, that doesn’t really work, because we can still accept a natural cause for the Big Bang and a miraculous cause of the multiverse.

  20. Foxlier, yes, I did forget plate tectonics, thanks. Funny thing was, I was burned in 9th grade by that very lack of acceptance. I did a presentation on it – it was just emerging at the time – and my teacher shot it down with the “it’s only a theory” line. All the evidence dismissed! I was so mad, but I couldn’t show it!

  21. TomD, and others. I think that it is such an imperative for those who don’t believe in God to deny a point of creation that they go to extraordinary lengths to propose hypotheses for continual existence or the multiverse. Here’s a quote to that effect:
    “Perhaps the best argument in favour of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheistic physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual desire of a theorist to support his/her theory . Chris Isham, “Creation of the Universe as Quantum Process”in Physics, Philosophy and Theology–A Common Quest for Understanding.
    Penrose also exhibits this desire to avoid the intervention of a Creator in his discussion of The Second Law in the big book,”The Road to Reality”, trying to find an explanation of why the initial universe was so ordered (in such a small volume of phase space).

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