Guardian Science Blogs

| 23 Comments

Another group (or as self-styled, “network”) of science blogs is being set up at the Guardian newspaper in order to “entertain, enrage, and inform.” According to the announcement, to start with there will be four blogs covering “evolution and ecology, politics and campaigns, skepticism (with a dollop of righteous anger) and particle physics…”. A fifth will be more generic, and “…will hopefully become a window onto just some of the discussions going on elsewhere. It will also host the Guardian’s first ever science blog festival - a celebration of the best writing on the web.”

We start tomorrow with the supremely thoughtful Mo Costandi of Neurophilosophy. You can also look forward to posts from Ed Yong, Brian Switek, Jenny Rohn, Deborah Blum, Dorothy Bishop and Vaughan Bell among many others.

The Guardian’s science blogs join a growing array of aggregations of science bloggers, most of which are well known to PT readers.

23 Comments

The Guardian is great on science, and suffers no fools in any argument against evolution. The Econmist (limited access without paying) and The Wash Post are also good. For fun I also visit Fox, TownHall, and Anncoulter.com for BALANCE you understand. There’s little to compare with the rants of that botex stick insect for ill-informed scientese.

R v Bakel – while The Economist may be supportive of evolution, it has sullied its sheet somewhat with a seemingly unending stream of articles lauding wonky papers in evolutionary psychology that are a load of bullshit (you know, the sort of paper that claims women like the colour pink because it makes them better at foraging for berries). That The Economist covers these papers is OK; that it presents them as emphatic factual confirmations of pre-existing neoliberal biases is not.

robert van bakel Wrote:

There’s little to compare with the rants of that botex stick insect for ill-informed scientese.

Assuming you mean Coulter, I’ll never forget the talk radio interview just after “Godless” was published. She admitted - even to a very sympathetic host (Medved?) - that she was an idiot (her exact word) about science. Elsewhere she admitted, or at least didn’t deny, that the none of anti-evolution chapters in “Godless” were not her original writing, but at best paraphrased from DI material. If paraphrased, and not outright written by DI folk, they were undoubtedly proofread by those professional pseudoscientists before the book went to print.

(apologies to Don McLeroy) Someone has to stand up to experts. ;-)

Scienceblogs, Discover Blogs, Scientopia, now Guardian Science blogs. Is there a network I missed?

She has acknowledged her friend, one Bill Dembski, as her science “expert” in one of her recent books (I believe it may have been “Godless”.). How pathetic especially when as a Cornell University alumna, she could have relied upon substantially better qualified people there:

Frank J said:

robert van bakel Wrote:

There’s little to compare with the rants of that botex stick insect for ill-informed scientese.

Assuming you mean Coulter, I’ll never forget the talk radio interview just after “Godless” was published. She admitted - even to a very sympathetic host (Medved?) - that she was an idiot (her exact word) about science. Elsewhere she admitted, or at least didn’t deny, that the none of anti-evolution chapters in “Godless” were not her original writing, but at best paraphrased from DI material. If paraphrased, and not outright written by DI folk, they were undoubtedly proofread by those professional pseudoscientists before the book went to print.

(apologies to Don McLeroy) Someone has to stand up to experts. ;-)

Chris Lawson said: That The Economist covers these papers [articles lauding wonky papers] is OK; that it presents them as emphatic factual confirmations of pre-existing neoliberal biases is not.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Last Sunday there was a entirely uncritical, unreferenced and unsupportable presentation of prayer’s effect on infidelity (Frank Fincham, Family Unit, University of Florida). Some Economist writers avoid this approach, but the effect is a science section without integrity.

Jac said:

Chris Lawson said: That The Economist covers these papers [articles lauding wonky papers] is OK; that it presents them as emphatic factual confirmations of pre-existing neoliberal biases is not.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Last Sunday there was a entirely uncritical, unreferenced and unsupportable presentation of prayer’s effect on infidelity (Frank Fincham, Family Unit, University of Florida). Some Economist writers avoid this approach, but the effect is a science section without integrity.

Just curious. Was the claim that praying would increase or decrease infidelity? Was the claim that it would affected the infidelity of the one praying or another individual who was the object of the prayer? How about DNA, does prayer affect the infidelity of DNA polymerase?

“Dear God, please let me get away with this.”

Sound like something Tiger Woods would say. Or Bill Clinton.

Marion Delgado said:

Scienceblogs, Discover Blogs, Scientopia, now Guardian Science blogs. Is there a network I missed?

Greg Laden points to a new collection of blogs at PLoS, the Public Library of Science journals.

How pathetic especially when as a Cornell University alumna, she could have relied upon substantially better qualified people there

The basic problem is, it’s extremely difficult to find an at least nominally qualified “scientist” who is also politically correct for her politics. So she was obliged to compromise either on her foregone conclusions, or her “scientist’s” qualifications. A no-brainer, Coulter’s specialty.

Chris Lawson; women preferring pink, and their supposed role as gatherers in ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies represents neo-liberal bias? Hmm! Have to think about that.

However, your call to be wary of ‘The Econmist’ is fair, they are inveterate freemarket nutjobs, wanting everything to be privatised, even civil defence; that’s just nuts. I do like their writing style however, it’s streets ahead of Time which seems to have become a mix of big pictures, graphs, and pointless factoids: I prefer to be treated as a grown up. As for Newsweek, that rag must regain credibility under new ownership. However they all seem to tow the line when it comes to real science, which is heartening.

You’re merely stating the obvious Flint:

Flint said:

How pathetic especially when as a Cornell University alumna, she could have relied upon substantially better qualified people there

The basic problem is, it’s extremely difficult to find an at least nominally qualified “scientist” who is also politically correct for her politics. So she was obliged to compromise either on her foregone conclusions, or her “scientist’s” qualifications. A no-brainer, Coulter’s specialty.

Flint said:

How pathetic especially when as a Cornell University alumna, she could have relied upon substantially better qualified people there

The basic problem is, it’s extremely difficult to find an at least nominally qualified “scientist” who is also politically correct for her politics. So she was obliged to compromise either on her foregone conclusions, or her “scientist’s” qualifications. A no-brainer, Coulter’s specialty.

I made that observation knowing full well that if she had decided to, she could have contacted some of the distinguished scientists who work at Cornell. Instead, she relies upon a poor mathematician, a mediocre statistician, but, of course, a first-rate mendacious Xian loon.

I made that observation knowing full well that if she had decided to, she could have contacted some of the distinguished scientists who work at Cornell. Instead, she relies upon a poor mathematician, a mediocre statistician

You are talking about what she could have done, and I’m talking about why she couldn’t. She couldn’t because qualified people give the wrong answers. The distinction is between knowledge (find what’s known and present it) and politics (find what you WISH were true and present it as though it is).

It’s the church/school distinction again. Cornell is a school, and inappropriate for making religious converts. If ignorance and mendacity are the necessary conversion tools, then that’s what you use. You criticize Coulter for not using tools inappropriate to her purposes, taking for granted that her her purposes OUGHT to be yours. But her purpose isn’t to cure her delusions, but to spread them.

robert van bakel said: However they all seem to tow the line when it comes to real science, which is heartening.

(psst… Robert… it’s “toe” the line, i.e., line up properly with everyone else, not “tow” the towline.)

Flint -

I think you are giving too much credit to Ann Coulter (and by extension to similar nihilistic right wing celebrities).

The most obvious historical parallels are with propagandists of the most cynical authoritarian regimes of the past century.

Ann Coulter’s writings loaded, sometimes coded language, and aim to manipulate people with appeals to the most negative primeval emotions, in order to cause them to behave irrationally.

There is literally no possible way to deduce how much of her own output she “believes”.

(Incidentally, somewhat relatedly, I predict a spike in aggressive creationist activity in 2011.)

Actually I have to thank Coulter for getting me seriously interested in evo science. When GODLESS came out in 2006, the reviews got me agitated enough to start reading Dawkins and so on.

It wasn’t the creationism that really annoyed me. It was that someone who knew and cared nothing about science was passing judgement on scientific issues: “You’re a lawyer. You haven’t paid your science geek dues.”

There is literally no possible way to deduce how much of her own output she “believes”.

I understand that for some people, the purpose of power is power. But I believe most people have goals they wish to achieve, and see power of any sort as a tool to help them get there. So I think Coulter genuinely believes that if everyone shared her particular flavor of ignorant superstition, and like her sincerely believed it to be Absolute Truth, the world would be a better place.

And you don’t need to point that that everywhere in the world where people have had the chance to try it, they have not only failed spectacularly, but have (locally and temporarily) intensified beyond all recognition exactly the opposite of what they expected.

But when it comes to ideological fanaticism, hope not only triumphs over experience, but experience isn’t even allowed into the ring. If Coulter’s fantasies came true, and if she were burned at the stake as a direct result, she’d die knowing beyond any possible doubt that she was STILL right, and that her executioners just don’t understand. One doesn’t become as wrong as Coulter if one is capable of entertaining doubts.

Flint said: One doesn’t become as wrong as Coulter if one is capable of entertaining doubts.

Anthony Hopkins on his alter-ego, Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector: “You know he is mad because he has no doubts.”

Flint wrote

But when it comes to ideological fanaticism, hope not only triumphs over experience, but experience isn’t even allowed into the ring.

Well put, and it’s what gives me no great optimism about the human species, at least at a population and technological level like that at present. Human-level cognition has by no means shown itself to be an adaptive trait in the long haul, and my bet (which I probably won’t live to see won or lost) is that it isn’t.

Thank you fnxtr! My whole life I’ve ‘towed the line’ when I should have ‘toed the line’, Cheers:)

Of course as an accepter of the scientific method I don’t mind being corrected, and am relieved to be enlightened.

Flint said -

I understand that for some people, the purpose of power is power. But I believe most people have goals they wish to achieve, and see power of any sort as a tool to help them get there. So I think Coulter genuinely believes that if everyone shared her particular flavor of ignorant superstition, and like her sincerely believed it to be Absolute Truth, the world would be a better place.

There is no point in a mind-reading contest between me and Flint.

However, I will note that my goal with regard to creationists is to objectively predict how they will behave.

The primary objective of Coulter’s writings is not to persuade. Her writings are a text book example of how NOT to persuade those who are in true disagreement. The primary objective of her writings is to keep the true believers loyal and riled by manipulating on their negative emotions. She also occasionally attempts to provide “logical sounding enough” arguments, mainly straw man caricatures of opponents, that her supporters can use as fig leaf rationalizations. In this way, her tactics are virtually identical to the tactics of ID/creationists.

A secondary goal is to “persuade” some timid bystanders, mainly by presenting the image of a very frightening, very angry group that may harm them if they don’t get on board.

An important thing to bear in mind is that many of those being manipulated are objectively harmed by the ideas and policies which they are manipulated into supporting. Evolution denial is an extremely obvious case.

I suppose it is irrelevant whether manipulative authoritarianism with strong overtones of violence is motivated by sincere belief in a fanatic ideology, or merely by a desire to manipulate and dominate, leading to subsequent superficial adoption of fanatic ideology. Especially in Coulter’s case, I favor the latter.

I will note that neither interpretation is grounds for optimism about the human species.

While you and I may often disagree on politics, this statement of yours often reflects my own feelings about the ever “astute” Ms. Coulter, whom I find quite appalling (even as both a Republican and a Conservative):

harold said:

Flint said -

I understand that for some people, the purpose of power is power. But I believe most people have goals they wish to achieve, and see power of any sort as a tool to help them get there. So I think Coulter genuinely believes that if everyone shared her particular flavor of ignorant superstition, and like her sincerely believed it to be Absolute Truth, the world would be a better place.

There is no point in a mind-reading contest between me and Flint.

However, I will note that my goal with regard to creationists is to objectively predict how they will behave.

The primary objective of Coulter’s writings is not to persuade. Her writings are a text book example of how NOT to persuade those who are in true disagreement. The primary objective of her writings is to keep the true believers loyal and riled by manipulating on their negative emotions. She also occasionally attempts to provide “logical sounding enough” arguments, mainly straw man caricatures of opponents, that her supporters can use as fig leaf rationalizations. In this way, her tactics are virtually identical to the tactics of ID/creationists.

A secondary goal is to “persuade” some timid bystanders, mainly by presenting the image of a very frightening, very angry group that may harm them if they don’t get on board.

An important thing to bear in mind is that many of those being manipulated are objectively harmed by the ideas and policies which they are manipulated into supporting. Evolution denial is an extremely obvious case.

I suppose it is irrelevant whether manipulative authoritarianism with strong overtones of violence is motivated by sincere belief in a fanatic ideology, or merely by a desire to manipulate and dominate, leading to subsequent superficial adoption of fanatic ideology. Especially in Coulter’s case, I favor the latter.

I will note that neither interpretation is grounds for optimism about the human species.

Re Tranny Annie Coulter

Just for the information that many here are, apparently, unaware of, one of Tranny Annies’ former gentleman friends was quoted several years ago as stating that she/he doesn’t believe 90% of the stuff she/he writes and says. The only thing that Ms. (Mr.) Coulter believes in is making money and has been very good at it by selling her/his books to the yahoos.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on August 31, 2010 9:46 PM.

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