Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sir David Attenborough Is Tired Of Anti-Science Bullshit

From The Daily Beast:
Once criticized by campaigners for his reticence to address contentious issues, Attenborough is no longer willing to speak in hushed tones.

Sitting opposite the kangaroo enclosure at London Zoo, he told The Daily Beast he had lost patience with the “ignorance” of creationists, polluters, and climate change deniers. “To simply say that you must accept unquestioningly what you learned at your mother’s knee is not the act of an intelligent person,” he said.

In fact, Attenborough says he has finally grown sick of America’s attitude to climate change. “I think it’s very sad that people won’t accept evidence for what it says—it’s extraordinary that one of the wealthiest, materially advanced societies in the world can support irrational myths in that way,” he said. “That they should do it privately is up to them but since what they do effects that whole world it’s pretty serious that they should not accept that humanity has been responsible for these changes that are absolutely evident to everyone else.” ...

He does also have sympathy for those who resist the prevailing science on climate change. “There are very good reasons why people should not wish to accept it, because it interferes with their business,” he said. “I would much prefer it wasn’t true—but it is true and unless we can do something about it we are going to be in trouble.”

He has less time for those who deny the existence of evolution, however...

“If somebody says to me I believe every word of the Bible is true, you can’t argue against that degree of irrationality…there is actually a way of looking at the natural world and seeing the evidence and it’s all there. And what’s more it’s the same evidence whether it’s in Australia or Northern Europe or wherever. It’s all the same—it all produces the same answer and you can all see the evidence—if you reject that then there’s nothing I can say.”
If argument is futile, then getting on-stage with Creationist is not a "debate" in any sense of the word.

 It's spectacle, where Science gets to make the reality-based community feel good by mounting elegant, logical, evidence-based proofs...which the Creationists get to play troll and dance around poking Science with a pointy stick, and the idea that you are going to sway someone using the tools of science -- facts, reason, provability, and an openness to being wrong -- to a group whose entire movement is predicated on rejecting every one of those tools is ludicrous on its face.

It's a public entertainment where each side gets to walk away thinking their guys dazzled like the Harlem Globetrotters and the other clowns got their plodding perennial-loser Washington Generals' asses kicked.

By all means, don't ignore them.  Never miss a chance to ridicule the ridiculous, but never pretend they're going to go away and that the upside of "engaging" them in any way outweighs the downside.

Centuries ago, an astronomer like Kepler was able to gently promote the de facto heresy of heliocentrism while avoiding the worst of Galileo's fate by demonstrating the commercial value of his work (calendars, navigational charts, horoscopes, etc) to the monied interest of his day, while at the same time couching the results of his heresy in the most pious and God-fearing language.

Today, there is no monies interests dedicated to saving the planet from catastrophic climate change that are anywhere near as powerful and well-funded as the mercantile interests that bankroll ignorance and denialism.
The only thing that will change that equation is driving them from political power and forcing them to change.

To pretend otherwise is just another exercise in faith-based folly.


Anonymous said...

"I'm the kind of person that if you tell me a fact, I'll believe it without any verification. So yeah, you could call me a journalist."

--Michelle Wolfe


Anna Gaw said...

I love Bill Nye, learned a lot from him over the years but I really thought he was wasting his time in that debate. Why debate the snake oil salesman who comes to town? Yes, you know he just filled his vile with tap water and used a food coloring to make it look pretty and yes you know it is all bogus. But by "debating" it's merits you have legitimized that it "could" be authentic.

The monied interests want these debates to continue. As long as we are debating we are taking no action, which is to their short-term benefit. You are right Driftglass, only through taking their power away can any change happen. They know this, they fear this - thus they get stooges elected to congress and put on science committees and fund think tanks to confuse, divert, and mislead the American people.

n1ck said...

I disagree.

Any time science is able to debate mythology in the public sphere, it should.

Bill Nye didn't hurt science.

I mean, fuck Pat Robertson criticized the creationist for promoting idiotic bullshit and disparaging Christianity.

You don't think Nye knocked it out of the park? I do.

He wasn't trying to score points for atheism or against Christianity.

He was pointing out that creationism/ID, whatever, isn't science.

cipher said...

"The only thing that will change that equation is driving them from political power and force them to change.

"To pretend otherwise is just another exercise in faith-based folly."

Couldn't agree more. These "debates" (read: "performance art") are a colossal waste of time and accomplish nothing but the validation of these primitives by implication.