"Systematic reviews and meta-analyses that
are carefully done
and that are done by players who do not have conflicts
pre-determined agendas are not a problem, quite the opposite.
The problem is that most of them are not carefully done or are
with pre-determined agendas on what to find and report."
|"In the end I must rely on
the judgment and standing of the few scientific leaders who have, on the one
hand, sufficient independence of thought to weigh my data on its own hideously
convincing merits or in the light of certain primordial and highly baffling
myth cycles; and on the other hand, sufficient influence to deter the exploring
world in general from any rash and over-ambitious program in the region of
those mountains of madness.
It is an unfortunate fact that relatively
obscure men like myself and my associates, connected only with a small
university, have little chance of making an impression where matters of a
wildly bizarre or highly controversial nature are concerned." - HP Lovecraft,
At the Mountains of Madness
Widespread scientific illiteracy has left
Americans defenseless against pseudoscientific babble.
pseudoscience demonstrates a pattern of characteristics:
There is a
lack of experiments.
The results of experiments are
contradicted in the conclusions.
There is either no
peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.
cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data.
are supported by marketing or
are supported by the evidence are ignored.
"We have dumbed down our educational standards in
science so far that public policy is at
risk. A population that believes in telepathy,
fat-burning diet pills and a
10,000-year-old planet Earth is unable to evaluate anything objectively."- Paul
"Corn crops require
fertilizers, virtually all of which are derived from synthetic ammonia.
Synthetic ammonia is produced by the reaction of
nitrogen gas and
Nitrogen gas, which
makes up about 80% of air, is abundant and
renewable, but hydrogen
presents a problem.
The major source of hydrogen
is from natural gas, a nonrenewable fuel.
I have seen many statements about
the energy yield of
corn-derived ethanol outweighing its costs, but it is unclear whether these
estimates include the cost of natural gas needed to produce
the energy cost of fertilizers, harvesting, distillation and transportation
match or exceed the energy produced by burning the ethanol, then claims that
corn-produced ethanol is a
renewable energy source are invalid." - Henry Abrash, professor emeritus of
chemistry at Cal state Northridge
"Something that is overlooked these days is the
influx of large amounts of money, bureaucratic power and influence and prestige
that has flowed into science over the last 75 years has turned large parts of
it into a careerist profession rather than the vocation it supposedly was. This
is important because there are a number of
scientific beliefs maintained in the face of contrary evidence which is
politically repressed and editorially swept under the carpet because those who
have built their careers on those reigning beliefs are
loathe to have them removed from
under their hard won elevated positions and from
the textbooks they have written." -
THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS SENT TO
CNN BY FED EX (FOR
DELIVERY, 12/22/08), BY FAX AND BY EMAIL December 19, 2008
One CNN Center, 6 South Tower Atlanta, GA
Jon Klein, President
Center New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Walton and Mr. Klein,
writing on behalf of several national and international science journalism
organizations to express our strong concern about CNN's shortsighted decision
to cut its science, technology and environment unit in one fell swoop.
In wielding this
ax, your network has lost an experienced and highly regarded group of
science journalists at a time when science coverage could not be more important
in our national and international discourse.
The environment, energy
exploration, and biotech are crucial ongoing stories that will have growing
prominence as a new American president takes office and nations confront a wide
range of science-based global issues.
As the impacts of climate
change intensify, shows like "Planet in Peril" cannot make up for
informed daily coverage
of this important issue and other science topics in the
As with political and policy reporting, it is important
that the underlying science be covered by journalists with the skills and
knowledge to sort out competing claims.
Concerned as we are about the
dismissal of our colleagues-including the award-winning science reporter Miles
O'Brien in New York; Peter Dykstra, head of
CNN's science unit in
Atlanta; and five other science producers there-this letter is not about
Rather, the wholesale dismantling of the
science unit calls into question CNN's commitment to bringing the most
informative science news to the general public, including the science-minded
wants to be truly international, it will be at odds with the trend toward
increased science coverage in many parts of the world.
It is difficult
for us to imagine why CNN, which has earned a justifiably strong reputation for
its science journalism in the past, has opted to widen the gap in science
coverage rather than strive to fill it.
We would hope that you would
reconsider your decision and reassemble a cadre of well-trained science
journalists that would enable you to expand unfolding science news and in-depth
coverage, not shrink it.
Your action is an unfortunate symbol of recent
widespread cutbacks in specialty science journalism.
Our groups will
continue to push for more science coverage by the major media and to do our
part to promote the highest possible professional standards for communicating
complex science-based issues across the spectrum.
We plan to publicize
this letter as widely as possible to encourage further discussion of
the future of science
Thanks for your attention.
Russell, President, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW)
President, National Association of the Science Writers (NASW)
Christy George, President,
Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) CGeorge@opb.org
Pallab Ghosh, President, World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ)
"I am increasingly dismayed by the devaluation of
scientific fact by its inclusion, by
commentators, in opinions about purely superstitious subjects.
Zev Chafets* derides "secular liberals" for "profoundly"
believing in global warming.
Zev Chafets* writes about
Armageddon as though the
latter is more likely to occur.
There is no such thing as "liberal" science .
Peer-reviewed scientific method has
no political party, race or relgious
creed and no objective but
There is no
peer-reviewed scientific journals about the fact of
global warming and its cause being
human activity." - Sue Simmons
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