Reality-Based Rule?

Of course I'm playing on Valerie Jarrett's remark that President Obama will be "ready to rule." And of course I'm mocking the notion that Democrats have a monopoly on reality.

But what is no laughing matter is the lack of reason and the total disregard for science in what may be the imminent appointment of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to head the EPA.

I keep seeing his name bandied about among lists of potential cabinet members, but he must be barred in the name of science and reason.

In short, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has proved himself little better than Jenny McCarthy, that detestable mouthpiece of the anti-vaccine crowd who has directly contributed to declining health among children, has deluded countless parents, and has supported dubious, unscientific methods. This would be a disaster and an appointment anything but reality-based.

You can read much, much more from Steven Novella at NeuroLogica Blog or from David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine, or from the many, many science bloggers and skeptics who have blogged in opposition. Notable among these is Orac who goes into very great depth on Kennedy and why he's such a terrible choice, and also helps us to find out how to contact the president elect and to be heard.

This is no direction for the Obama administration to go after the Bush administration was so reviled for hindering science. A Kennedy selection would have far less to do with reality than with expediency and personal relationships.

MORE: And now by coincidence I find (via Drudge) that John Podesta seems to have a history of UFO quackery. Just what have we gotten ourselves into?

posted by Dennis on 11.12.08 at 10:27 AM










Comments

When your political mindset is based on delusion and fantasy (i.e. authoritarianism and socialism) then it stands to reason that you will buy into other delusional fantasies, like UFOlogy and envirocultism.

Phelps   ·  November 12, 2008 11:57 AM

The Left warned me that this kind of shit would happen if I voted Republican.

dr kill   ·  November 12, 2008 12:28 PM

I told everyone that Obama was stupid.

Seems I was right.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 12:44 PM

Dennis

re: Podesta

I'm not the world's biggest Podesta fan, but I find it difficult to believe even this blog can spin his position on releasing UFO data as "UFO quackery."

Could you please identify the "quackery" in the following position?

"I think it's time to open the books on questions that have remained in the dark on the question of government investigations of UFOs," said Podesta. "It's time to find out what the truth really is that's out there. We ought to do it because it's right, we ought to do it because the American people, quite frankly, can handle the truth and we ought to do it because it's the law."
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9ttSXYwZsg)

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  November 12, 2008 12:58 PM

Michael Crichton's idea for the integrity scientific standards was product liability for information. His point was that we live in an information society and we are essentially totally dependent on such info.

Yet we still do not define information as a product, and as a result it has evaded the Quality Revolution that has transformed other industries. Info Liability would hit junk scientist's in the wallet or maybe heads of research labs should do jail time. The Al Gore's of the world would be liable for knowingly spreading false data. If you receive federal money for research you run the risk of losing it as well as penalties for essentially cooking the books. Science is not about consensus it is about being right based on known facts and should not be politicized by either party.

dittybopper   ·  November 12, 2008 1:06 PM

dittybopper, I'm surprised Crichton took that position. It seems at odds with the notion that the best results will come from a free exchange of ideas and conclusions. If people have to worry about liability for being wrong, you will see fewer risk takers and therefore fewer discoveries.

Gore's punishment is to be made into a laughingstock by time. The Nobel Prize committee will suffer the same fate.

tim maguire   ·  November 12, 2008 1:32 PM

Little better than Jenny McCarthy?
Dude.
For probably 2 years back in the late 90s she was internet pr0n.

That should count for something.

Veeshir   ·  November 12, 2008 1:47 PM

Life on the front lines of environuttery is a constant source of bemusement and amusement. Unfortunately, these guys are playing Chinatown rules.

.

OregonGuy   ·  November 12, 2008 2:03 PM

Oh, Doc Nobel! Back at the blog you love to hate!

What part of that does not seem like UFO quackery to you?

If you insist, how about "we ought to do it because the American people, quite frankly, can handle the truth..."?

Handle what truth? Keep in mind that he was working in conjunction with the SciFi Channel.

At the very least he lends legitimacy to the UFO quacks who profile him on their websites and use his stature and his positions on UFOs to bolster their credibility.

He seems given to wild conspiracy theories, like RFK Jr. on vaccines, and people like Andrew Sullivan who demanded that Sarah Palin prove she was the mother of her child.

What was she covering up? What is the government covering up? WE DESERVE TO KNOW AND WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!

By the way, "this blog" doesn't spin anything. We only pretend to have clandestine meetings. We are individuals. My name is Dennis. You can't believe that Dennis (not "this blog") can "spin" Podesta's position.

Troll on.

Dennis   ·  November 12, 2008 2:18 PM

Dennis

Nowhere does Podesta claim that the UFO records will reveal alien visitation (in fact, quite the opposite) and I doubt that Mr. Podesta can control what internet sites post profiles of him.

The simple fact is that you are trying to spin a comment by Mr. Podesta that the government should release the records it is legally obligated to release as endorsement of quack science. It isn't.

If you can't respond to criticism without accusations of "trolling," please let me know and I will refrain from responding to any of your posts on this blog. Thanks.

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  November 12, 2008 2:36 PM

Hi Tim McGuire, here is a link to one of Crichton's web pages - this is where I found the info I posted earlier. He also mentions what you did - the free exchange of ideas - his point is that is not happening now. The whole speech is quite interesting.

http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-sciencepolicy.html

dittybopper   ·  November 12, 2008 3:07 PM

No, Podesta's just a shameless opportunist and a Truther about UFOs.

http://www.presidentialufo.com/john_podesta.htm

"In speaking with the Las Vegas Journal he simply stated, 'I think it�s time to open the books on questions that have remained in the dark on the question of government investigations of UFOs.'"

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/TECH/space/10/22/ufo.records/

"CFI director Ed Rothschild also works for Podesta's public relations firm, PodestaMattoon, which is coordinating the new group at the behest of the Sci- Fi channel."

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Jay Manifold   ·  November 12, 2008 4:35 PM

Doc,

Spare me the indignation. Give and take and all that. You say spin, I say troll.

Take it or leave it.

Dennis   ·  November 12, 2008 4:59 PM

Dennis

Of course, it's your house & your rules. I was merely suggesting that if you can't argue with me without reverting to the tiresome "troll" game, you might want to let me know ahead of time. It's boring, and it only serves to muddy the actual discussion.

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  November 12, 2008 5:08 PM

That boy's definitely a troll. Of the quacky flying-saucer nut variety.

Carlos   ·  November 12, 2008 6:19 PM

You have been 'lanched.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 6:29 PM

But DND - you are a troll. Your comments are very low information and generally of the slinging poo variety.

I'm sure you could do better if you tried really hard.

Now the low information stuff is not per se off limits. I do it myself often enough. However, I do like to present real information from time to time.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 6:36 PM

Agreed on RFK & McCarthy. Anti-science nuts are a threat to us all.

Did you read about the measles outbreak in San Diego because of "belief exemptions"? Just google "measles san diego" and read the CDC report. Crazy parents.

As for RFK, Jr., what a disappointment. As an avid hunter & fisherman, I so wanted to believe that he was a champion of environmentalism. Although he has had success (riverkeepers), his nuttery more than diminishes his qualifications for Cabinet position.

steelheader   ·  November 12, 2008 6:55 PM

If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. becomes head of the EPA,does that mean I have to quit calling him 'Nazi Joe's Grandpunk' and 'Smacky the Mick'?

Anonymous   ·  November 12, 2008 6:57 PM

Just what have we gotten ourselves into?

What do you mean "we?" Not me, brother! I voted for McCain. It was 52% of our We-Love-To-Be-Kissed-While-We're-Being-Screwed fellow citizens who may end up inflicting not one, but two more Kennedy's upon us.

Caroline Kennedy for SCOTUS, anyone? Dude, it seems "Camelot" won't stay dead no matter how many times we drive a stake in its heart, chop off its head, and bury it face down.

MarkJ   ·  November 12, 2008 7:03 PM

I vote that it is quackery.

I think that we conservatives need to point out the Democrat's "War on Critical Thinking".

Moptop   ·  November 12, 2008 7:19 PM

Are some of you seriously trying to tell us that there are no UFOs? Come on, I've been to Roswell,NM and those sure as hell looked like pictures of aliens to me, but then I don't think I've ever seen an alien, at least not that I know of. Let us follow the path of scientific knowledge without making fun of those who truly believe there are UFOs. They are here. I've seen pictures of them on CBS, and that network wouldn't lie - would it? Of course, Dan Rather was the commentator.

Concerned One   ·  November 12, 2008 7:41 PM

Dan Rather is an alien.

Well, it makes as much sense as any other explanation...

Pixy Misa   ·  November 12, 2008 8:08 PM

Now, now... RFK the Lesser has already done some fine environmental protection work. Thanks to him and his comrades, whooping cough, once virtually extinct, is making a comeback! As (as steelheader notes above) is measles.
Do we want our children to grow up in a world where no one remembers polio and smallpox? Of course not! These species must not be allowed to die out!
Every species, no matter how small, is precious!

Eric Wilner   ·  November 12, 2008 8:30 PM

M.Simon

"However, I do like to present real information from time to time."

Let me know when you start.

Anonymous   ·  November 12, 2008 8:34 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:43 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:43 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:43 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:43 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:44 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:44 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:44 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:44 PM

How do we get the lowdown on Podestas UFO qwackery? I don't have a password.

Keith   ·  November 12, 2008 8:44 PM

Anyone who posts anonymously has no business throwing pebbles at Simon.

Grow a pair.

steelheader   ·  November 12, 2008 8:46 PM

Dr Dynamite, no one can defend UFO truthers, no one. That you do so proves that you are not here as loyal opposition, but a disinformation plant. Get back in line, your number is being called for that government cheese.

dr kill   ·  November 12, 2008 9:09 PM

dr kill

"That you do so proves that you are not here as loyal opposition, but a disinformation plant."

You're right, as always. You folks had my number from the beginning: I was a paid Obama operative, and I'm currently a disinformation plant that specializes into getting suckered into ridiculous discussions about whether releasing government documents equates to believing in UFO's.

The ironic thing is, I don't even really like Podesta, and I *do* think its rather silly to be overly concerned with the release of UFO records. But, I *don't* think that someone who says that the government should release records it is legally obligated to release makes them a quack. Government transparency is a good thing, I'm willing to bet that the files in question don't indicate alien life, but do indicate a fair amount of government douchebaggery and lying. Why would releasing those records be tantamount to UFO truthing?

I didn't earn my paycheck on this thread, that's for sure.

dr kill   ·  November 12, 2008 9:48 PM

Liberals always beleive that the government is full of "douchebaggery and lying" That is why, every two years, they vote to make it bigger and stronger.

moptop   ·  November 12, 2008 10:05 PM

dr. kill

Your name was inadvertently auto-filled into my name field. I'm not trying to steal you identity.

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  November 12, 2008 10:20 PM

Whee! Time to put my MJ-12 documents back up on E-Bay!

EX-XO03   ·  November 12, 2008 10:43 PM

Why should we care what anyone's position is on UFOs? At worst, believing in them is harmless.

Nathan   ·  November 12, 2008 11:07 PM

Let me guess, just because he wants to see the government's classified files, Podesta must be a quack... what for giving any credible possibility to the idea that something you can't see or has recently shown any rational reason to compel belief he must be crazy. Like that Jesus guy and the wackjobs that believe in him and the bible gobble-dee-gook. The liberals are certainly a bunch of winers but the conservatives are a bunch of quasi-elitist sheep too afraid to question the stupidity of their own Judgement.
PS
Tell Sarah that NAFTA only includes the US, Canada and Mexico.

Embarrassed for any colored sheep   ·  November 13, 2008 12:30 AM

Let me guess, just because he wants to see the government's classified files, Podesta must be a quack... what for giving any credible possibility to the idea that something you can't see or has recently shown any rational reason to compel belief he must be crazy. Like that Jesus guy and the wackjobs that believe in him and the bible gobble-dee-gook. The liberals are certainly a bunch of winers but the conservatives are a bunch of quasi-elitist sheep too afraid to question the stupidity of their own Judgement.
PS
Tell Sarah that NAFTA only includes the US, Canada and Mexico.

Embarrassed for any colored sheep   ·  November 13, 2008 12:31 AM

John Derbyshire warned in NRO here that an Obama administration might well lead to the strangling in their crib of some of the more fascinating avenues in evolutionary biology. The Left is deeply inimical to the idea that there is an innate human psychology; this is unsurprising when one contrasts it with its belief in the Perfectibility of Man.

David Gillies   ·  November 13, 2008 12:56 AM

I think that research found we Ashkenazi Jews come out at the top of the heap and we all think Jesus was just another big mouthed carpenter.
What's your point David?
Are you saying that the Dems don't want John Derbyshire to tell them that black are genetically dumber than you because logically we'll have to make them slaves again?
Yeah, we're all better off because you know how to type.

Philip Rosen   ·  November 13, 2008 1:12 AM

I thought you meant that Jenny McCarthy. I was hoping for that centerfold of old. Would RFK Jr. be the first recovered heroin addict to hold a cabinet position? Another first for the BO administration.

bandit   ·  November 13, 2008 8:33 AM

Don't try to wiggle out now, Doc. I have admiration for some of your past postings, and would personally be saddened if you vanished from CV.

But defending this shit lessens you. And believing in UFOs is not harmless. Science is an area I expect more from with Democrats in charge.

Have Axelrod call Clinton to call Berger and send him over to the Pentagon.

dr kill   ·  November 13, 2008 8:51 AM

How many Politicians are recovering alcoholics? At least on heroin, there's never a mad grab for the breath mints. Also seems like there are a lot of recovering homosexuals in the GOP well. Didn't anyone realize earlier that Mark Foley and Larry Craig were a little more pink than red?
I'm not so worried about the Dems handling science.
But please, lets not waste any more GOP money trying to get prayer into school and evolution out.

Philip Rosen   ·  November 13, 2008 10:06 AM

I was in the Air Force for 24 years—five years enlisted and 19 as an officer. During that time I never found out anything, classified or not about UFOs. However, I did find out something about the Air Force and the Pentagon in general. Here’s what it is—if the military had any valid information that could be used to boost their budget, they would use it. They didn’t care if it panicked the public or not (a frequent reason given for military secrecy on UFOs). I sincerely believe that if anyone in the Pentagon had any convincing evidence of the reality of UFOs, they would have used it to convince congress to fund one of the most massive research and development programs since the Manhattan Project. It would have been the perfect excuse to spend as much as they wanted, i.e. to counter the alien incursion. Since they didn’t, I don’t believe they had any evidence that would have worked.

ken in sc   ·  November 13, 2008 1:52 PM

Ooh, snappy comeback, Philip Rosen. Yes, of course evolutionary biology is a front for us paleskins to re-impose slavery on our genetic inferiors. Manifest Destiny, except this time with Science!

If you rule an avenue of scientific investigation off limits because its outcome may not sit well with your preconceived ideas then you are intellectually stunted. That applies whether you're some snake-handling Arkansan mutant afraid of what paleogenetics will reveal or a tenured hipster from Bard College who thinks that human nature is an infinitely malleable social construct.

The fact that Ashkenazi Jews do seem to score significantly above the mean on most measures of cognitive ability should be a matter of fascination and intense scrutiny, not treated like some epistemological minefield. The Mau-Mauing that Larry Summers got for daring to stick his head above the parapet is a taste of what's to come.

As for Jesus, why bring him into it? So you think he was an uppity cabinetmaker. I think getting nailed to a tree was a not uncommon fate for rabble-rousing zealots under the Pax Romana. Neither viewpoint has much bearing on whether kin-selection is the underpinning of reciprocal altruism, or whether humans possess deep neural structures enabling the acquisition of language.

David Gillies   ·  November 13, 2008 3:59 PM

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