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Comments for A Slightly Less Disgruntled Science Vote

By System @system2013-09-06 03:25:10.000Z
  • 6 replies
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    Dani Barrington2013-09-06 12:58:18.000Z

    You forgot about the fourth big force in politics- Palmer United!

    Any idea about their science policies? Divert all funds to oil and gas research? Oh, and I guess regular mining as well?

    1. JJason Heeris2013-09-06 16:51:51.000Z

      Ahahahaha, How could I forget Palmer? I'm pretty sure we'll need a lot of research for the animatronic dinosaur park and the design of the Titanic II!

      It is going into space, isn't it?

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      In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
      Cathy Chua2013-12-09 06:18:35.000Z

      *On the other hand I still find it very, very hard to dismiss their anti-scientific dogwhistling and derailing. I find their their tacit approval of Greenpeace physically destroying research to be a frightening thing, and in the same ideological realm as the Liberals trying to shut down research they find politically unpalatable.*

      Just because 'science' is doing it, doesn't mean it is right and doesn't mean a moral response is inappropriate, not to mention a practical one. My own two cents' worth on GM is that Australia is about the only place in the world with a meaningful possibility of staying uncontaminated. Sometime that could be a big point in favour of isolation.

      I imagine once, whilst the Nazis were doing scientific research, there would have been vigilantes trying to stop it by sabotage or any other means possible and I doubt whether you, looking back on it, would be saying 'OMG, these Nazis were doing this really amazing research on twins and then these Greenpeace type people just ruined it'. I'm not suggesting the CSIRO is doing something as appalling as the Nazis. What I am saying is that if you put science on some level where it is not answerable to anybody and is the master of its own morality, which is what you want to do in making your comment about Greenpeace, you create a monster.

      1. JJason Heeris2013-12-09 13:27:49.000Z

        Greenpeace claim that we need more research on the effects of GMOs before we use them. They then destroy research that would give us more information on the effects of GMOs. That is neither moral, nor practical, nor based in any kind of rationality.

        Furthermore, their actions *increased* the possibility of outside contamination by organisms that had not yet been fully researched. They broke the isolation that was in place, and they observed no decontamination procedure when they left. This clearly indicates that it was a PR stunt, no more , no less. And if you think GMOs are inherently dangerous, then it was a dangerous PR stunt at that.

        *Just because 'science' is doing it, doesn't mean it is right* — no one is saying this. No one.

        *I'm not suggesting the CSIRO is doing something as appalling as the Nazis* — yes, you are. There is no other reason to mention them but to compare their actions to that of the CSIRO. The comparison is not necessary otherwise. When [deniers of climate change](http://www.parliament.nsw.g... do it, it is deeply offensive. When you do it, it is equally offensive.

        If you think that *this* CSIRO decision was a bad one because you have evidence that suggests that, that should form the basis of your argument. Claiming that some other scientists somewhere else at some other time were evil lends no weight to that evidence or any argument involving it.

        *What I am saying is that if you put science on some level where it is not answerable to anybody... which is what you want to do in making your comment about Greenpeace* — this is a false alternative, and your claim here is that the only moral authority on science is Greenpeace. There are more options than "not answerable to anybody" and "policed by Greenpeace's arbitrary vandalism."

        The CSIRO is one of the most accountable organisations in the world — just about every decision, every hour of research time, every action undertaken by a scientist, every dollar of funding, every data point and every result can be accounted for in some way by someone's decision or action (or, obviously, the laws of nature). This is the way it should be (not that it shouldn't continue to improve), and it is a stark contrast to your assumption that they are not answerable to anybody and that they think it is right just because they're doing it.

        If Greenpeace have any legitimate, accountable scientific evidence that those organisms were potentially hazardous, they should present it. They have not, though — they justified this using the same vague rhetoric and the same silly spin on the same amateurish, unscientific surveys on unrelated phenomena they wave around every time they pull this rubbish.

        Oh, but their argument is, "it's us doing it, so it's right." Of course.

        1. CCathy Chua2013-12-09 15:05:39.000Z

          Dear Slightly Disgruntled Scientist, (I do love your blog, by the way, having discovered it and wanting to make sure I haven't made you more than slightly disgruntled).

          My point is not about Greenpeace. My point is simply that you are doing the thing that you object to my doing: making a general moral statement that has nothing to do with evidence. Just because a scientist does something does not make it sacred. You are welcome now, as you do, to provide various evidence, most compellingly that Greenpeace did what it did unsafely. I imagine that Greenpeace does some good in the world and some bad, just as 'science' does. Personally, I find the people I know who work with Greenpeace hypocritical ignoramuses, but I doubt they are all like that, and I would certainly say the same of some scientists I know too!

          I think scientists need to permit people in the world to be concerned about things they do, without being put in the category of climate deniers (do you want to add Creationists to that? :) ) At the moment you seem to have a special category that includes both Greenpeace AND climate deniers. I hope I don't have to go sit in that room.

          I have simply no idea why you would say that I'm saying Greenpeace is the world's moral arbiter. It doesn't seem to come from my original comment. Don't be offended, be open-minded; much better for all of us. Is it such an unreasonable idea that the world may be best off with a place that isn't completely GM overrun? And if it is reasonable, isn't Australia a rather obvious choice for that? That may not be Greenpeace's argument, but if it is the consequence of their publicity stunt and the result of discussion that Australians share about what we should do, I would be happy.

          1. JJason Heeris2013-12-09 15:58:02.000Z

            *Just because a scientist does something does not make it sacred.* — no one is saying this. Not me, not anyone working for the CSIRO, no scientist or administrator or manager involved in this incident is making that case. Just step back and consider that there is middle ground here.

            *You are welcome now, as you do, to provide various evidence, most compellingly that Greenpeace did what it did unsafely.* — Well that's a bit difficult, precisely because they *have no accountability!* When a scientist anywhere needs to go through a decontamination procedure, it is carefully documented, it is logged when they go through the process, and any problems or failures are reported on and the whole procedure is then improved.

            Greenpeace, on the other hand, don't have any semblance of accountable procedures. Where is their log? Where are their procedures written down? By what process did they arrive at those procedures? They did *not* document their decontamination procedure, so I can't possibly point out flaws with it indicating that it was negligent.

            Having said that, I saw the videos of their vandalism, and there is no evidence that they observed any kind of decontamination procedure whatsoever. They broke containment and detached specimens (both of which make external contamination much more likely), and they did not clean their outer clothing between coming into contact with the specimens and leaving the enclosure. What more can I say? There are world-class practices for avoiding contamination of genetic material, and they didn't follow any of them. That's it.

            *I think scientists need to permit people in the world to be concerned about things they do* — no one needs a scientist's permission to be concerned about their work, or to raise these concerns. Every scientist I have ever worked with or spoken to is happy to talk to people about their research, whether it be about concerns or not. But there is clearly a point at which this crosses over from "being answerable" to "being derailed," and I believe that point has been reached when it comes to blanket claims about all GMOs being hazardous.

            This does *not* mean that I think we can ditch all accountability for GMO research now. It means that I think if you still have concerns about it, it's up to you to figure out why you seem to have an opinion that is overwhelmingly at odds with the scientific community. I think this applies to, yes, climate change deniers and creationists; but this does not mean I think that anti-GMO activists are in the same category as climate change deniers, or that the latter are in the same category as creationists (etc, etc).

            *I have simply no idea why you would say that I'm saying Greenpeace is the world's moral arbiter.* — okay, so... you said, "if you put science on some level where it is not answerable to anybody and is the master of its own morality, which is what you want to do in making your comment about Greenpeace..." The only way I can make sense of this statement is that you believe that criticising Greenpeace for their actions *in this instance* means that I think science is beyond reproach in general. Is that really what you were trying to say, or have I read it wrong?

            I fully believe that the work of scientists should be answerable to all. In Australia, there are massive systems in place to achieve this. While accountability could always be improved, Greenpeace's vandalism is not such an improvement. A political party that supports it does not support accountability in science, and that is what worries me.