Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why do we let polys talk science and not scientists

The prominent public issues of the NBN , the Murray darling irrigation , river health and Carbon sequestration are public issues of controversy and concern resolved only by sound science,-- not by more public football by polys.  Whose living in dream land here?  Why are our public discourses about science and technology so often mediated by people who are not scientists . Infact these spokesmen for science are men and women who historically are not known for representing much truth at all . What blinds our so called investigative media that they run this blatant irrationality on our TV screens each week .QANDA and Insights chose their guests and give polys the platform  Why?Why? why? Are the media so poorly educated they don't know how to get answers,  and from whom ?
I know the answer,  but do you ? And more importantly for the clever country , does the scientific community who are increasingly been abused and alienated ( quoting what scientists say instead of quoting the scientists should rightly be seen as a form of  patronising,  especially when these polys tell only one side of the story ).
 By not being treated with the respect that a dominant panel of experts would give ,  the media demean the authority of those who make Science their career . Where will Australian Science be if we let this pathetic hypocrisy continue? Why do the media keep asking the wrong people ? Ellul spelt the reason out like some others as early as the 1920's.
I thought Qanda was typically unbalanced here but last week I saw Jenny Brockie make the same mistake on SBS .( over telecommunication issue )  If you want to avoid the waste of time that was SBS last week , get scientists to talk on the science of copper , airwaves and optic fibre. Only when the media let scientists speak  freely will the medai be worth listening to about the truth  .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Survey shows ...

The ABC are fond , like many in the media,  of using " surveys" . Tonight was a classic. ABC news kept running a non news,  non science story that " most people wanted someone do something about the Murray Darling"   . Same stupid question and answer as some have been doing for such subjects as "Climate change" or "reducing violence" or " poor teachers in schools"  ( Never the students problem notice  ).
If there was a half decent scientist and supercynic amongst them they would be saying "beware of those who use surveys to say what they want the people to say" . Our often excellent ABC needs to weed out susscience reporters if its going to compete with the BBC and blogs who do respect sound science principles in practice  .
 The only poll that matters long term in science is the one that gets the item into "boring"  - Few science issues need hot air to establish themselves in consensus territory . They just go there naturally if they are more than hype and spin .Scientific American  has just acknowledged there are plenty of scientists who either don't accept AGW or the quickfix response agendas promoted by the wannabes .
Surveys would show that ABCTV  are not presenting science at all well BECAUSE they let polys tell us what science says.  Why do so many ABC media think polys know what they are talking about ( QANDA is a blatantly typical example ) - a mystery and faith of grand proportions -
Maybe journos like people like themselves - good at spin . All the hype in the world won't keep the ABC from slipping behind in the news stakes if it continues to confuse commentary with reporting. How seriously do the media think we take all their talk about someone else's  more competent talking ? .

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New public funded panic agencies

Nowhere is the complete waste from MC more evident than in the scaremongered  actions driven by governments.;  those irrational fears  that were often in the background where they belong,  develop somehow ( often through SMD)  into growth areas - dominating as the new often does , over reality and balance considerations, finally settling in the public mind  where its now so hard to shift .
Thoughtful citizens know that the truth is not in the hands who live in concrete and steel but who should provide advice on the complex matters of the environment.
Whose to say what the truth is ? Scientists of course ( we agree completely there - applied and experienced scientists)
This does include those with a piece of paper and a passion  who are promoted to lead the risk management institutions our dumb polys are creating to deal with risk . Such moves are totally unsustainable  so their culture remains one of " fear at home - fear out there" . The taxpayers live with that great cost and distraction of public funded panic agencies for the moment.
Polys,  to their own damnation , exploit the panic risk in the cities to drive agendas that in reality require great precision and care in someone else's backyard .With  risk management  advice,  once the fire is lit,  its hard ,if not impossible to put the blaze out.  The potential for blatant hypocrisy and projection too , should be evident to all who think deeper than the reactionaries who try to govern us .
Take the panic over water and the quick fix of Labor creating water . Take the ignorant stupidity of Tim  Holding who talked today on 3AW about  "weaning us off dams' ( patronising is a common consequence of going to SMD).   We would be better off with dams in the total risk and cost stakes ,  but he doesn't know that .History will prove him to be what he is - ignorant of the total picture.
As Craig Langdon has now revealed . the normal stupidity of polys is no longer mediated by the honesty of scientists in their control;They don't know and they don't admit they don't know .
( For the inexperienced risk managers now in charge , when a risk arrives you don't speak objectiely of its coming and going , of how to prevent it or any of that important focus ----you play it up to survive )
If I was a poly of any colour I wouldn't worry about the ignorance in the public mind but those whose advice can't simply be relied on.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Climatology - given priority status by the panic merchants

The excessive panic in the month of August in Victoria in 2010 over water flow on soils is largely an expression of the public minds preoccupation with only one area of science. Paradoxically the term is anachronistic referencing to historical  trands rather than the study of the present and the processes (weather and hydrology ) . The public think they are thinking ahead when they are clearly hooked on a idea of what "works "( they love technology not science) .
There are lots of other areas of science which provide much quicker and sounder access to predictive modelling on some of these matters than the kindergarten focus of monitoring that dominates Government vision lessness in many of these matters .
I won't list the areas of more relevant science that would be more useful  because the silly ministers who run this country will be off destabilizing the bureau with their latest and greatest half baked ideas which grow new shoots and just as quickly cut them off  . The wannabes want to be ahead of the game and  do all the talking,  instead of those who should be speaking.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our wannabes talk like they are scientists, displacing those who are

It was refreshing to hear this week close to the election that some of the major party differences in policy, say on telecommunications , were coming from scientists, and not from politicians locked into their own ideas of what works.
How much optical fibre how much copper , how much  air transmission how much subsidy to areas the " competitors would never go .  
As an applied scientist, it’s very hard to watch some on the edge wannabes blundering through a list of wonderful sounding ideas when they clearly have no idea of how to implement them. It’s not a joke when we haven’t even got science and technology properly on the menu at our schools.
Believe me, The Greens hypocritical , reactive and unbelievable talk of a mentoring program this week goes down very, very poorly amongst those of us who have taught science and technology , and what really works,  for decades in our own backyards !  I

If your kids, as scientists, ever got to work for some of these wannabes, would they get a word in edgeways ?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Researching the Health of Australians- whose the biggest donkey here ?

RE : Fines for those who don't cooperate with a survey
The theme of this blog is,  in short,  that the greatest evil to sound science is done in the name of the best intention - research that tells us nothing more than we already know,  or could deduce from existing opportunities.   Perhaps a subclause  to this site could be that the greatest evil is done in the name of presumptions about our good intentions .( The Post modern innocents)
( Why is all this nanny stuff happening?   Another question HERE and HERE )

Governments have convinced themselves they care .......when the only thing that works is when people care ! Worse , they don't understand the human condition because they assume that lecturing us actually works  ( When will the Libs wake up and call it not just "political advertising" but" pathetic parent advertising"or ADDs advertising (Authors Dumb/dopey  Disorder)  - do they not have children?
How many  people will admit how often they do the wrong thing with food ? Typically they are going to spend millions on trying to identify the problem - multiply by....if they ever find out HOW to treat it !

Videos around  Mackas would give more cost effective data than these grand ambitions of our leaders to know more about us - extracting  valuable information from questionaires is a typical warning signal for MC risk
I'd fine people for only half filling forms out,  rather than for not filling them out . You know what election voting is like . Less than half the donkeys are ever rounded up ,
What do you think ?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Scientist magazine

Like Flannery, the magazine is popular , but is popularity part of the solution to the brain drain , or part of the problem . Is NS popular amongst the sort of scientists we need to mentor to lead this country to a intellegence led future? What do scientists want more of ?  Are NS readers more interested in the results of science ( technology ) than science itself .  Be serious because  if you want to talk science progress properly  we do want to get distracted by silly superficial stuff.

A few years ago the magazine was unashamedly defending  "PC scientists say " stuff with long features on correct green house gas controls .  But such drama ran short news about the volcanoes and particulate matter and what they were doing to lower temperatures .
NS is , let me put it bluntly , more interested in speculating on the shiny popular and new ,  than what comes out of the old and boring buildings which really should the only place to give the magazine something to talk about .

Many of us have stopped subscribing; stopped being annoyed by its woosiness , its constant promotion of the new, its failure to take science seriously( the  controversial , the cool  and the evidence based )  .
NS is particularly annoying because it feeds the lie that it is "a science magazine " - for scientists  .  We know that popular sciencepromotion  is promoting the drip feed that  is draining sound reseach and practice in our culture ( good science is often too " boring "to the NS audience )
On the evidence : If Australians were serious about science, and NS about science , they might pay them enough to able to afford the  cars that are sold in new scientist?

Science gurus?- Tim Flannery

A lot can be learned from those who dance the tune the pipers are playing .
The ABC need to do a poll of experienced practical  scientists ( the ones we want to grow more of) and see what they think of this man's attempts to represent them ! I know he's "popular",  but maybe thats part of the problem? (Take his popular but highly suspect preoocupation  with the population problem that plays up to popular predjudice and uses the sort of simplistic ecological analogies that give complex symbotic science a bad name . )
The carelessness that often characterizes Tims talks is more symbolic of our times than Jones in the MPC stakes .. He seems so busy trying to move us somewhere quickly  that he is happy to employ any technical sub scientific( short circuits)  means to move us there . He uses and confuses science and technology in a way which is unfortunately all too common in our culture . I Just read another wandering feast by one by Lawrence Money which teels us  little new about Tim ( except that his passion began as a childish one) but allows him to wander across every other scientist's territory with the applom characteristic of emperors . The Biologists with philosophical bent  , in particular,  are serial offenders here . I wonder why?
Typical of many MPC's he's more focused on the goal than he is on the means he uses to get there .
Typical of many MPC's he's promoting short term gain, long term pain .
Sustainable solutions, once discovered, don't need to be propped up .
They may need , going on the evidence all around us ,  protection from whiteanting by fearmongers and mere number , fact and fad crunchers who wannabe in the media .  

Science gurus? - Barry Jones

A lot can be learned from those who dance the tune the pipers are playing .
The ABC should be worried that after decades and decades of rhetoric about their  promotion of science in our culture,  they still promote this classic myopic guru of the school of mere descripton as someone who symbolizies the future of science . Whitehead would be turning in his grave.

Do I need to say more.  Misplaced concreteness.

Where do we start ?

My reason for starting this tribute to AN Whitehead is the sinking ship of sustainability research that has been the terrible toy of politics, and their suspect new vehicles of governance and research, for at least 15 years .
It is absolutely no cooincidence/or surprise  that the Australian Federal Goverenmnet have this last week stopped funding Land and Water Division because the whole focus of environmental research has lost its way .
The drip feeders ( like CMA,s and CRC' and water authorities and local government) in their youthful ignorance and arrogance have been complicit in misplaced concreteness in a grand way thats ground on ground credibility to a halt ; printing maps of problems and things they are monitoring  BUT that they themselves aren't addressing .
Not that the States and other drip feeders  who have allowed this to happen division are soley responsible . Cabinets own priorities in this area are all over the place symbolizing  in turn by their desperation to "do something "( like putting bats in roofs)
The roof bat fiasco will seem like a mere belfrey problem when Australians discover their govts at both state and federal level have been wasting water money in way which beats anything anyone has been doing in their backyards during our dry years( My estimate will be in the hundreds each year for every household - to do what ?  allow our polys to build water infrastructure that only goes rusty -you heard it first on blogger )
What can the thinking person do to relieve the pain ?
I could go on - Here is a few more .  Its now up to you to tell us about your area of research and practice that has been undermined by the quickfixers  .Be part of the solution - sustainability science