Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Silence of the Labs

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired an episode of The Fifth Estate on Friday night. I taped it and watched it yesterday between curling matches and the Canadian figure skating championships.1

The Fifth Estate program documents the shutting down of various government labs by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The title says it all: Silence of the Labs. Follow the link and you can watch the entire program. I highly recommend that you watch the first two minutes to get the gist of what's happening in Canada.

Here's part of the summary that appears on the CBC website ...
Scientists across the country are expressing growing alarm that federal cutbacks to research programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health will deprive Canadians of crucial information.

"What’s important is the scale of the assault on knowledge, and on our ability to know about ourselves and to advance our understanding of our world," said James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

In the past five years the federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists, and hundreds of programs and world-renowned research facilities have lost their funding. Programs that monitored things such as smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change have been drastically cut or shut down.

The fifth estate requested interviews with two senior bureaucrats and four cabinet ministers with responsibility for resources, the environment and science. All of those requests were denied.

On Tuesday, the fifth estate received a statement from the office of Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario.

"Our government has made record investments in science," it stated. "We are working to strengthen partnerships to get more ideas from the lab to the marketplace and increase our wealth of knowledge. Research is vibrant and flourishing right across the country."

But members of the scientific community disagree. CBC’s the fifth estate spoke to scientists across the country who are concerned that Canadians will suffer if their elected leaders have to make policy decisions without the benefit of independent, fact-based science.
The CBC is a crown corporation. That means it has to report to a branch of the government and some its Board of Directors are government appointees. A lot of its funding comes from the Federal Government.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that the CBC is also under attack from the Harper government. I don't think that pressure is going to diminish once Conservative MPs see this program.

[Photo Credit: I took this picture during a protest on Parliament Hill in July 2012. There are videos in the Fifth Estate program but I didn't see any glimpses of me of any of my friends.]

1. So many exciting things on television—one has to have priorities. I don't watch the Leafs any more.


  1. Our government has made record investments in science," it stated. "We are working to strengthen partnerships to get more ideas from the lab to the marketplace and increase our wealth of knowledge.

    Reading between the lines, that actually confirms the points made by The Fifth Estate. The program did not deny that overall science funding is increased (which may be true.) The point is that this funding is being diverted to projects that are immediately applicable to "the marketplace", and research that might actually impede this (eg. evidence that certain economic activities harm the environment) is being eviscerated.

    As I mentioned in my discussion of this program on another thread, this attitude by the gov't even affects research in disciplines like history and archeology.

  2. Cry me a river.

    So climate "scientists" are being cut loose. So sad. Sounds like folks are catching on to the green loons and their fake science. Honest people are realizing that we've been footing the bill for being lied to about the Imminent End of the Earth.

    The easiest way to snuff this junk science-- enviro-apocalypticism, Darwinian mythology, and the like-- is to defund the shit. If you want to publicize your mental illness or your creation myth, do it on your own dime.


    1. Great, so now we have an exhibit of another famous coupling - that between creationism and climate change denial. At what point does it stop being about the "fake science" on issue X and instead becomes anti-science, period?

    2. Georgi:

      There's no "anti-science" here. There's merely allocation of funding, which is routine science administration.

      I wrote a post about this a while back.

      Global warming loons have been arguing for decades that there is no genuine scientific controversy.

      So why not take them at their word? If there's no controversy, there's no good reason to fund their research. Why fund research when there's a scientific consensus?

      "No Controversy? No Funding"-- it has a ring to it. Perhaps the good folks in Canada are catching on.

      Is there any scientific controversy about evolution, Georgi?

    3. If there's no controversy, there's no good reason to fund their research. Why fund research when there's a scientific consensus?

      This is so stupid that it leaves me speechless.

      You never hear about the vast majority of science in the media because the vast majority of science does not have "controversies" of this kind. Does this mean it should be defunded?

      Climate science is "controversial" because of the implications it has for our socioeconomic system. That does not mean that if it had no such implications, it would not be worthwhile to study the climate of the planet - we found out the implications because people were studying the climate for other reasons.

      And climate change is far from the only science that has such implications. Our current socioeconomic system is totally unsustainable and this conclusion is derived only in a small part (but disproportionately reported on in the media) from climate science. It also follows from geology, ecology, paleontology, chemistry, and a number of other disciplines, but most fundamentally from very basic physics, thermodynamics in particular that was worked out in the 19th century. Basically all the known laws of nature mandate that we should end the current system of endless economic growth, and drastically reduce our total resource consumption and ecological footprint, all things that people like you do not want to hear. And our combined scientific knowledge (of which climate science is, once again, only a part, that if taken out, would not change the conclusions at all) tells us that the time to do so was decades ago.

      You have to reject pretty much ALL of science in order to reject that conclusion.

      But then if you are crazy enough to reject evolution, it is perhaps not too surprising you can be crazy enough to reject the most basic physical laws of conservation and of thermodynamics.

    4. Georgi:

      I guess the solution to all of these science apocalypses ("basic physics proves that our socioeconomic system is doomed!") is for the frightened huddled plebs to give all of you omniscient light-bringers complete power to save mankind.

      Please... please save us!

      Make sure you ask your psychiatrist if you're up to the job.

    5. Smegnor: So climate "scientists" are being cut loose. So sad. Sounds like folks are catching on to the green loons and their fake science. Honest people are realizing that we've been footing the bill for being lied to about the Imminent End of the Earth.

      Smegnor is a pioneer in a (comparatively) new way to censor science-- cut the funding and fire everybody if it produces evidence that hurts your religious or corporate patrons. Bishops and billionaires are so vulnerable!

      In the past he's floated other censorship schemes: he demanded the imprisonment of huge numbers of scientists-- not just climate scientists, but anybody in a lab coat who might publish accurate data inconvenient for Egnor's corporate patrons or just hurt his fragile feelings. It's not the first time creationists have demanded scientists but put in concentration camps.

      Egnor here is going off about Climategate, a non-scandal in which no scientist had to change even a single data point in any graph or plot; indeed, Egnor cannot find a single error in their data. The accuracy of their evidence enrages Egnor, and the only solution he can think of is the concentration camp.

      Egnor, 2009: "...there will be an accounting for this fraud [global warming]. People are very very angry... there are some financial and political resources available to the skeptics who have been demanding integrity in science, and they understand now that this is war."

      Why should scientists be put in prison, Dr. Egnor? Besides your profound and deserved sense of inferiority.

      ...even scientists who abjure from outright fraud often produce work that is at best insipid, and is more often than not aimed at securing funding irrespective of genuine scientific merit. A lot of published science, when not actually fraudulent, is more a peer-reviewed grant application than cutting edge research.

      I am reminded here of Hitler kicking holes in avant garde paintings he didn't like. It would seem Dr. Egnor knows nothing about peer-review, and has apparently never read a real scientific journal in his life.

      The ID-Darwinism debate clearly demonstrates that venality and shameless self-interest, as well as a toxic leftist-atheist ideology, runs very deep in the scientific community.

      ...Surely many many scientists knew of the frauds so clearly documented in the ClimateGate scandal; where were the august scientific organizations--the Royal Academy, the UN's IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science--while this fraud was growing and gaining power. The obvious truth is that these citadels of organized science were part of the fraud, or at least acquiescent in it.

      Why yes, that is completely obvious. To a meth-head having a paranoid breakdown.

      ...What can we do? Criminal prosecution of scientists who manipulate data would be a good start.

      If that's your start, I wonder what would be your finish? Bring back Dr. Mengele?

      ...Ultimately, perhaps massive defunding of organized science... may be the only way to defend ourselves from an utterly corrupt scientific elite.

      ...the public will be forced to protect itself from organized science, as we now protect ourselves from organized crime.
      [Michael Egnor, “Climategate: a Word of Advice to the Scientists”, UD, Nov. 28, 2009]

    6. Note here that Smegnor portrays himself as opposing scientific fraud-- and yet he presents no facts. He does not find any errors in any of the graphs or plots of the Climategate victims-- because there weren't any errors in any of their data points. No papers had to be retracted. The right wing just lied about it.

      Let's see how much Smegnor really cares about factual accuracy. How does he react when theists fake their evidence?

      Let's start with Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by real fraudster Eben Alexander. When that book came out, it was trumpeted by Smegnor as proof of the existence of spooks at Evolution Snooze and Abuse.

      Alexander, an unethical neurosurgeon with a history of altering medical documents, had a "Near Death Experience." He later told Michael Shermer that his hallucination "took place not while [his] cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off.” However, in fact he was in a medically induced coma, not a natural coma, during which he was conscious but hallucinating, according to his doctor.

      At Evolution Snooze and Abuse, Smegnor was aroused by Alexander's bosomy vision of the afterlife:

      [Alexander]: "...someone else was with me. A woman.

      She was young, and I remember what she looked like in complete detail. She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes. Golden brown tresses framed her lovely face."

      Just one woman!? I thought you religious types thought you deserved 72.

      If Smegnor found a stain in Alexander's underpants, he'd announce it was proof of Jesus and the Saints and all the Prophets, and that Balaam son of Beor really did have a conversation with his talkin' donkey, as the Bible says [Numbers 22:28].

      Meanwhile, a writer at Esquire checked the facts on Alexander's wet dream and every fact that could be checked had been hoaxed up by Alexander! Surprise surprise.

      Plus: "The Esquire article also accuses Alexander of falsifying medical records to cover up the fact that he’d operated at the wrong site on a patient’s spine when working as a neurosurgeon." [ Daily Mail]

      A crooked and unethical neurosurgeon. Never seen one of those before!

      The Esquire article is behind a paywall but you can read a summary of Alexander's fraud at the Daily Mail. He even changed the weather to invent a "perfect rainbow"!

      Now, since Dr. Smegnor has demanded Death Camp imprisonment for those who fake their data,

      Egnor: Criminal prosecution of scientists who manipulate data would be a good start.

      says he, I'm sure he will now (not) demand the imprisonment of Eben Alexander.

      Nah... Smegnor doesn't care squat about accurate facts. If he did, he'd either believe in global warming, or else do the damn research himself.

      Smegnor is just another fourth-grade intellect who feels insecure because scientists really are smarter than he is, a lot smarter, and in his hysterical rage, he'll say or do anything to get back at them.

    7. "No Controversy? No Funding"-- it has a ring to it. Perhaps the good folks in Canada are catching on.

      Cool idea. Since there's a scientific consensus that extrasolar planetary systems exist, let's cancel the Kepler mission. The honest people (a.k.a. good folks or ordinary voters) in the US would like to fund something controversial instead. If the LHC staff claim they have confirmed the existence of the Higgs particle (and physicists worldwide agree), why not take them at their word, defund that multi-billion-€ shit and disband the team? The good folks (honest people/ordinary voters) in Europe surely want their tax money to be spent on something they don't know yet.

    8. Smegnor, above, demanded the imprisonment of countless scientists, and also cutting their funding, especially if they're atheists.

      Smegnor clearly expressed his belief that he would defund scientists, and would only fund scientists if he could do so based on religious discrimination-- discrimination against atheists and for, presumably, religious people. How else could they hold jobs?

      Smegnor: I would resume funding for selected evolutionary biologists [if] They weren't using the status and opportunities gained by research funding to publicize their ignorant atheist metaphysics. [Michael Egnor, Jan. 10, 2014]

      Ah, it's all about status! Scientists have more status than melon-slicers like Egnor. That has to be fixed, by imprisoning them or cutting their funding.

      But Smegnor wouldn't cut off the funding of Christian scientists who use their "status and opportunities" to give glory to God! Like say, Francis Collins does. Would Smegnor imprison or destroy the Christian Francis Collins' "status and opportunities" by cutting his funding?

      Nah. He just does that to atheists. Short man complex.

      So Smegnor would put in place a regime based on religious discrimination, censoring research and suppressing evidence if it either A. is produced by atheists vastly smarter than himself, or B. produced evidence that hurts his fragile feelings or impairs the ability of his corporate overlords to damage other people's health and property.

      Why would you discriminate against atheists, Dr. Smegnor?

      "Essentially all great scientists were Christians" [Michael Egnor, July 5, 2013]

      Suck it, Watson, Crick, Einstein, Newton, Laplace, Feynman, Dirac, Max Planck, Nils Bohr, Steven Weinberg, Abdus Salam, Sheldon Glashow, Victor Weisskopf, Linus Pauling, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, Jacques Monod, Francois Jacob, Paul Boyer and Fred Sanger!

    9. And Peter Higgs! You suck it too!

    10. And Hans Bethe and Julian Schwinger! You all suck it!

    11. Piotr, it's much simpler than that.

      Egnor: "No Controversy? No Funding"-- it has a ring to it. Perhaps the good folks in Canada are catching on.

      Hey, there's no controversy about germ theory. So cut the funding into bacteria and viruses then-- that's the Egnor Principle.

      We could have a contest to see who could come up with the most ridiculous, yet strictly correct, application of the Egnor Principle.

      Cancer is caused by mutations. No controversy there. Let's cut its research funding. The Egnor Principle strikes!

      Smegnor says he does research too. Really? Perhaps he should tell us what he does research on, and we'll see if we can find anything controversial in it. Or not.

      Or on the other hand, we could just ask Smegnor to present his evidence that Canadians cut funding to science because they are opposed to evolutionary atheists, as Smegnor asserted.

      The evidence for that is equal to the evidence for Smegnor's assertion that John Scopes taught eugenics, and Jerry Coyne admired John Scopes because he taught eugenics. Which is, as I said there, like claiming that the Civil War was caused by Abraham Lincoln being a vampire hunter.

    12. It would also be nice to see some evidence that honest, hard-working ordinary folks (as opposed to government officials) are responsible for the cuts.

    13. Smegnor's rants are further evidence that anti-evolution is increasingly fascistic.

      Here are a few more examples of increasing fascism among anti-evolutionists.

      Pastor Bryan Fischer on American Family Radio recently said evolutionists should be disqualified from holding public office.

      "If a politician, if somebody wants to exercise political power and he is an evolutionist, he is disqualified from holding political office in the United States of America because he does not share the political world view that established the United States of America and made it he greatest country in the history of the planet.” [Byran Fischer on AFA channel, Jan. 2, 2014]

      (Never mind the fact that by this standard, we should disqualify creationists from holding public office-- because Jefferson rejected the global Flood of Noah (in Notes on the State of Virginia) and John Adams believed the universe was infinitely old. But back to fascism.)

      Joe Gallien, aka "Joe G", a regular at Uncommon Descent as well as running his own unintentionally hilarious anti-evolution blog, recently revealed the anti-evolutionists' "Final Solution" at Uncommon Descent:

      Joe G: "If this is true, that he [Mark Armitage] was fired for writing that paper and questioning evolutionism, then it is time for a war- a bloody war at that because this crap has to stop and obvioulsy the only way to stop it is to rid the world of all the cry-baby loser materialists." [Joe Gallien threatens extermination at UD, August 6, 2013.]

      Threats of violence against evolutionists are common at UD, e.g. Joe G: "Evos are bullies and there is still only one way to deal with bullies- punch them squarely in the nose." (here).

      This one is a bit older, but still a goodie, in the "Final Solution" category. Tom Willis, the head of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America, a berry farmer and geocentrist who believes the sun goes around the Earth, was tapped by the Kansas state Board of Education to write their anti-evolution curriculum in 1999.

      Willis: Clearly then, “evolutionists should not be allowed to roam free in the land.” All that remains for us to discuss is “What should be done with evolutionists?” For the purposes of this essay, I will ignore the minor issue of Western-style jurisprudence and merely mention possible solutions to the “evolutionism problem,”...

      * Labor camps... most of them have lived their lives at, or near the public trough. So, after their own beliefs, their life should continue only as long as they can support themselves in the camps.

      * Require them to wear placards around their neck, or perhaps large medallions which prominently announce "Warning: Evolutionist! Mentally Incompetent – Potentially Dangerous." ...

      * ...we could employ truth serum or water-boarding to obtain confessions of evolution rejection...
      [Tom Willis, CSAMA Newsletter, Volume 25 (5) Sept - Oct, 2008.]

      See, Willis would let evolutionists remain alive as long as their slave labor is productive. Among anti-evolutionists, that makes him a moderate.

      Egnor said he wanted lots of scientists put in prison. His pal Willis has been explicit about where they should be put. Arbeit Macht Frei, huh, creationists?

    14. Looks like Dr Regnor ran away to another thread.

  3. The show now on youtube, for those outside Canada, who have blocked to view CBC content.

    1. " who have blocked to view" -> "who have been blocked from viewing"