The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

The Misrepresented and So Called ‘War on Science’

The American People standing up against a coup d’état falsely spun in the name of science, does not constitute a ‘War on Science’
war on science is spin for social agendas
…doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts.” or so Joel Achenbach laments in this month’s issue of National Geographic. National Geographic contends there should exist shame on the public for not behaving as a herd of sheep, guided lock step by the dogs of supposed rationality. Characterizing public objection to political/social/corporate activism as a “War on Science” is maliciously incorrect. Pigeon holing those who express concerns as a group of 6,000 year Earth & faked Moon landing or set of tin foil hat conspiracy theorists, simply because they have issued words of caution around the impetuous imposition of policy and wholesale politics extrapolated from science, is a fallacy of characterization from a negative premise or by straw man.  Science in American constitutionally based public policy should reside in the public trust, and not be employed as the tyrannical football of private activist and socialist oligarchy interests.
The rancor over this apparent conflict originates from manipulative forces precipitating a loss of public trust around the perception of the role of science in our culture. Ironically, the article in question exhibits key factors which are the very reason for this loss of trust. To regain the trust of the public, science needs to be returned from its imprisonment by Social Skepticism and back into the role of service to the American People. Regulatory government officials in critical matters of public trust should be drawn from the public and not corporate special interests involved in profiteering from those disciplines. Scientists yes, should answer to the public trust just as do our politicians. We have not surrendered these rights as Americans, just because one groups thinks they are smarter than everyone else and therefore only they and their ‘peers’ are qualified to determine policy.  Independent of the red herring of whether atheists or religious people have caused the most suffering throughout history, one thing is for certain, we have suffered from this type of elite regime rule before, catastrophically so.  The more social agendas we spin off claims of ‘consensus’ among the unaccountable elite, the less the public is going to trust those who make such claims. The public perceives the difference between freedom and tyranny, and is correct in their mistrust of any process which promotes loss of its rights.
There exists much less a War on Science as there exists a war of despotism on the part of non-scientist social activists inside the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) against the sovereignty and rights of the American People. The avarice and misrepresentation involved in this equivocal propaganda tender clues as to why the underlying scientifically flawed Pew Research Study² has been pushed so effectively; and moreover how essentially the same plagiarized article has been replicated so far and wide in such a short time frame in the same familiar media channels.

This month’s National Geographic features an article¹ which is part of a push series currently being promoted by Social Skepticism on how purportedly the American Public is apparently at war with science. I am disappointed that National Geographic would join a push propaganda bandwagon movement over a non-scientific poll² designed specifically to promote the idea that the public has no justifiable set of rights when it comes to issues which can be attached to science.

What National Geographic and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have done, is to spin ANY equivocal concerns inside these topics into foaming at the mouth tin foil hat irrationality, antithetical to the prevailing opinion of their ‘members’ conflated as representing the entire opinion of science.  This errant approach to journalism and public policy is illustrated in a set of four major flaws or fallacies of argument:

1. The topics chosen from the poll are Stooge Posed.  That is, easily discernible and visible topics or ludicrous versions thereof are chosen; versions of position inside which every normal person will find dissent to be ludicrous. These are then further used to elicit the issue of ‘science’ and the public trust in the most biased fashion possible.

1.  Stooge Posing

/fallacy – misrepresentation of self/ : attacks on a piece of data or an easily disprovable topic of credulity used as an effort to bolster or provide evidence for an opponent’s point or falsely boost their record of debunking success and club ranking. This reputation to then further allow for irrelevant and unmerited gravitas in addressing other arguments where data and observation do not support the goals of the opponent so readily.

This discrediting of the public comes from a distortion of poll results and statistical spin, used to underpin a claim that significant portions public are at war with science, as evidenced by phone and membership surveys on this set of very visible issues. Stooge Posed issues topics/claims which are equivocated in terms of the actual question posed in the poll, implied by the National Geographic article to be publicly regarded thusly (see cover of issue above):

  • The Public Denies that Climate Change Exists
  • The Public Denies Evolution
  • The Public Denies the Moon Landing
  • The Public Desires to Stop Vaccination Programs
  • The Public Desires to Eliminate Genetic Modification Science¹

days of bullshit are doneOf course all these points of contention are ludicrous misrepresentations by National Geographic. The American Public is in no way at war with scientists, nor denying these stooge posed issues.  To the average American, Climate Change is obvious, evolution is a fact, we definitely went to the Moon, vaccines are a vital part of our National Health vanguard, and responsible and publicly approved genetic modification of yes, even our food, IS the future.  The simple fact is that, despite how the poll has been spun, none of these implied contentions bullet pointed above by National Geographic are true. At most, 18% of the public endorse 6,000 year creation.ª But truly, I have never actually met a person who has expressed to me that the world is 6,000 years old or has denied the Moon Landing, so they are getting this 18% from some strange or remote locations. The only argument inside of Anthropogenic Global Warming is the degree which man’s recent fossil fuel use has contributed to the 1.5 degree increase in the last 130 years. Most rational people aver that genetic modifications offer a potential wonderful future impact. Most people I imagine, would agree with the sentiment that a little more corporate accountability is warranted with respect to substances which impact each and every one of us so intimately. Perhaps conservatism in not rushing into modifying 90% of our food as the first foray into GM technology – especially when only for the benefit of marginally increasing logistics profits and for creating a glyphosate monopoly.  Wow, rational, level headed views held by John Q. Public which did not show up in the dissenting head count of the ‘survey.’ Views which would be spun as whack job profiles in this article and the underlying study.  The ‘survey’ purposely fabricated questions which would make the public look monolithic and irrational, and contrast easily with the lock step answers of people selected because they are activists for ‘science.’

A Flawed Study

scientific poll what you don't seeThe Pew survey sampled 2002 adults on “landline and cellular telephone”² (one should take a hint here – professional cell phone users ignore surveys‡) as well as “3,748 U.S.-based members† of AAAS”² touted as representing science.¹ ² Phone surveys are a well established and notorious method of ‘dumbing down and extremist skewing a survey result.’‡ Especially when used as a direct numerical contrast against a survey conducted inside a special interest activist group. This is a non-scientific, flawed method of drawing contrast. A member of the AAAS neither represents a typical scientist, nor does an AAAS member indeed have to even be a scientist. Science has not been completed to a Roper or Gallup industry standard, which would show the (s) to (S) population statistical significance of the phone poll or the AAAS ‘scientists’ pool selected. The integrity of both surveys, the sole empirical basis of the Pew Research Center study, is highly in question.

What they are asking you to infer is that 60+% of the public believe completely irrational and destructive things (bullet pointed above topical expressions that incorrectly cite what was actually asked in the poll) that only 5-15% of scientists hold true. This is a false representation of reality.

The simple fact is, that the public is an order of magnitude more rational as a whole than Joel Achenbach, the AAAS, Forbes Magazine (another push outlet for this article series) and their science-excused coup d’état cronies would ever admit.  But assassination of the idea that the American Public has the right to determine its own governance, even on issues of science, is the goal at hand.

This corrupt method of persuasion, an answer looking for a question, a question looking for a victim – applied inside an obdurate – is outlined in our post on Rhetoric and Propaganda, how it is structured and how to spot and disarm it.

We continue now with the next applied fallacy from the article.

2.  Those who expressed an issue of concern inside these topics are further spun by the Pew poll study and the National Geographic article into ludicrous representations of their argument, categorizing these people into the lunatic fringe through a bifurcation error in tally. All this in an effort to show why it is dangerous to have science operate in any fashion besides outside the public trust.

2.  Straw Man Conformance Fallacy

/fallacy – fictionalized mischaracterization of persons or groups/ :  an argument formulated according to the idea that since a person or group believes or considers subject A to be a potentiality, then an opponent insists that they therefore have endorsed extreme misrepresentations of subject A as well. Usually tendered at the end of a discussion or in a format where no retort is allowed.

The article portrays the public as an incompetent and completely irrational mass of idiots.  Unworthy of determining self course or lacking competence to discern even the most straightforward principles of science on their own. The implication below being, that the public is wildly irrational and must be forced to surrender their rights because of this lack of scientific ability or correctness. The National Geographic article continues:

“Less than half of all Americans believe the Earth is warming because humans are burning fossil fuels.”¹

But this is not what the study poll asked.  This is only one example of mismatch between the question asked, and the spin applied to the numerical answers on the part of Social Skepticism media. The study poll asked if “Climate Change is mostly due to human activity.”² Most graduate science level educated Americans are aware of Milankovitch Cyclical variations which have placed us in the last 2000 years especially in an uptick warming cycle, naturally.  It is just that the current spike is rising faster, especially since 1939, and a significant percentage higher than the most recent Milankovitch climate temperature peaks.  This is disconcerting, and certainly argument must be made that this overage in temperature rise is attributable to human activity. But the actual question posed in the poll leaves too much to equivocation.  When this equivocation slack (play in systemically derived numerics) is matched to the lock step allegiance (low slack) of the activist AAAS membership, an artificial gap is imputed into a misconstrued, bifurcated and finally misrepresented contrast.

3.  The public is spun as one large untrustworthy and irrational group, and as such, enough of it adheres to bunk and ridiculous ideas so as to consider that the public at large principally believes antithetical concepts inside all of the issues contended by science.  Therefore a mandate must be assembled to counter this. A mandate which in the eyes of Social Skepticism, supports that science must operate outside the public trust.

3.  Fallacy of Characterization from a Negative Premise

/fallacy – fictionalized mischaracterization of persons or groups/ :  subject A is a disproved topic. As a ponderer of subject A you are therefore a pseudo scientist; and in being pseudo scientist you therefore then adhere to every other philosophy of pseudoscience and every philosophy a critical observer finds distasteful. Class stereotype disdain with fictionalized evidence.

The public is spun as one monolithic will, irrational to the core and unqualified to pass jurisdiction on issues of science because it believes a whole host of nonsense and non scientific ideas. The war is a symmetric and purposed action in their view, an act of will on the part of a public, which now justifiably must be emasculated of its power.  The American People have become dangerous through their irrationality. Wow.

“Science appeals to our rational brains, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. ‘We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school.’ “¹

So contends the article. However once this assassination of the public trust is achieved, we must nominate those who will inherit the mantle of authority in place of the American Public. Who? Why us of course, after all, We Are the Science.

4.  The “consensus of scientists” is spun by polling one biased activist organization (AAAS), and not through the polling scientists themselves as is claimed in the whole propaganda push campaign.  By the simple act of citing the study poll and championing the authorized conclusions in the stooge posed topics assembled inside the poll, journalists are able to impress their Social Skepticism peers, and falsely default themselves and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as ‘representing science.’ Moreover, these newly qualified ‘science’ media channels are now fully granted tacit permission, through compliance in repeating the authorized message, to characterize such polling evidence which differs from their activist policy survey as a “War on Science.”

4.  Ergo Sum Scientia

/fallacy – misrepresentation of self/ : when a group portrays highly visible activism on an easy or a sensible cause célèbre in support/defense of science, in order to tender the appearance of and imply to an audience that they represent critical thinking, the scientific method or the correct conclusions of science.

We Are the Science 2The simple fact is that only the AAAS was polled in the portion of this survey which was supposed to represent ‘scientists.’ The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is a political advocacy group, and as such does not bear a profile of opinion which would be congruent with the larger body of scientists. They are qualified for membership by adherence to specific advocacy causes before the United States Congress and Regulatory Bodies.³

If anything, the statistics posed in the study are falsely claimed as representing the opinion of scientists.  They are simply the opinions of a special interest activist organization, the membership of which wishes to claim to represent science – when they are not scientists at all for the most part. The members of AAAS do not actually have to be indeed scientists.† 

This statement from the Pew Research Center website makes it clear that the AAAS is an amalgamation of non-science social activists and their ally – highly politically biased scientists:

“A survey of 3,748 American-based scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that 87% agree with the statement “Scientists should take an active role in public policy debates about issues related to science and technology.” Just 13% of these scientists back the opposite statement: ‘Scientists should focus on establishing sound scientific facts and stay out of public policy debates.’ “

It was this same exact survey, which not only established its own inherent bias, but moreover was used to establish the ‘gap’ between public phone call sentiment and the supposed sentiment of scientists.  This is research fraud.

“The survey of scientists is based on a representative sample of 3,748 U.S.-based members of AAAS”²

The charter and policy declarations from the AAAS clearly delineate it as a social activism group. This is far from a valid basis from which to make the claim that one has sampled an opinion representative of scientists. This is the opinion of ONE BIASED ORGANIZATION. From the AAAS website itself:³

“AAAS provides objective analysis to decision makers and helps experts contribute to policy-making.”

Read this as a social activist organization. Further,

“The Center [of Science, Policy, and Society Programs] engages science and scientists with many communities, including those of government, religion, and law.”

“Office of Government Relations Providing timely and objective information to Congress on current science and technology issues, and assisting scientists in understanding and working with Congress.”

How are these scientists going to vote at the AAASTheir charter as a social activist organization is to influence, intimidate and bypass the public trust in an attempt to influence the government. A right granted solely to the American Public, stolen by a special interest.  And finally, from its 1973 AAAS CONSTITUTION (Amended):

Article III. Membership and Affiliation
Section 1. Members. Any individual who supports the objectives of the Association and is willing to contribute to the achievement of those objectives is qualified for membership.†

Let us put the AAAS membership stipulations in their objective (less equivocal-more accurate) form:

To be a member scientist of the AAAS you must support the objectives of the AAAS and must contribute your vote on issues in the way in which they urge. Otherwise you cannot be a member.

This series of declarations show that, in order to join the AAAS, one must support the advocacy goals of the organization, and does not actually have to be a scientist. But if you are a scientist member, you can only vote 1 way. This is a self regulating requirement and calls into high question the contention that 1) the AAAS represents the consensus opinion of all scientists, and 2) that the poll conducted on 3748 “members of AAAS” was actually a poll of scientists. It is clear that these shenanigans render the poll above, not scientific in even the least sense.

Finally, in the finishing paragraph of the National Geographic article you have presented the premise of the article:

“But then they should use the scientific method, or trust people using the scientific method, to decide which way they fall on those questions.”¹

The public is an irrational mechanism and as such, cannot be trusted to be empowered with decisions upon which science has a potential input or bearing.

In short, bullshit. This is promotion of a coup d’état in the name of science. You must surrender your Constitutional rights and rights to self determination, via justification spun through any tendered appearance of scientific study.  This all of course, as we have consistently observed, existing as key tenets of Nihilism, coincidentally the religion of choice of those who promote the rule of science above the public trust.

In order for the American Association for the Advancement of Science to win the trust of the American Public, they must return legislative and moral power of science back into the American public trust.

TES Signature


¹  Joel Achenbach, “The War on Science,” National Geographic March 2015, pp. 34 – 47.

²  Carry Funk and Lee Rainie, “Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society,” Pew Research Center; February 29, 2015, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/

³  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) website: http://www.aaas.org/

†  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 1973 AAAS CONSTITUTION (Amended)  http://www.aaas.org/aaas-constitution-bylaws

ª  Bishop, George F; Thomas, Randall K; Wood, Jason A; Gwon, Misook (2010). “Americans’ Scientific Knowledge and Beliefs about Human Evolution in the Year of Darwin”. National Center for Science Education. Retrieved September 6, 2014.

‡  FactCheck.org “Are polls skewed because many people only have cell phones?” http://www.factcheck.org/2008/02/cell-phones-and-political-polls/

February 26, 2015 - Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Institutional Mandates, Social Disdain | , , , , , ,

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