Global warming on trial?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to put well established scientific evidence on trial:

Global WarmingEnvironmentalists say the chamber’s strategy is an attempt to sow political discord by challenging settled science — and note that in the famed 1925 Scopes trial, which pitted lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in a courtroom battle over a Tennessee science teacher accused of teaching evolution illegally, the scientists won in the end.

The chamber proposal “brings to mind for me the Salem witch trials, based on myth,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist for the environmental group Union of Concerned Scientists. “In this case, it would be ignoring decades of publicly accessible evidence.” [latimes.com via slashdot]

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  1. JaHull

    Possibly the most unsettling fact about this issue is that as much as we might want to believe it, the statement “the famed 1925 Scopes trial…the scientists won in the end” needs to be sincerly altered, because quite frankly, it is not true.

    Over eighty years after John Scopes was paid off by local business men to stir up this lovely little riot of his (sorry Bert Cates – for those lost please go read ‘Inherit the WInd’) the “spirit” of what Darrow and Bryan said and fought for those hot July days is as lost on most people today as it was lost on the people of Dayton, Tennesse, the business men, even the creators and detractors of the Butler Act (the law that forbade the teaching of evolution). The fact of the matter is that neither man knew much about Darwin’s comments at all, this hgihlighted from the fact that the book ‘On The Origin of Species’, which was the one on trial, contains nothing specific about human evolution (that controversial paper was entitled ‘The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex’ – good read for any interested). The unfortunate truth we have to face is that scientific statements in a court of public opinion mean little if anything at all. Despite our “Age of Reason and Technology” nametag

    30 August 2009
  2. JaHull

    that we sport to make ourselves seem superior to the previous century, people are not now, nor will they ever be interested in a system of answering their questions where the best answer they can ever have is ‘Well, it is very probable that I am correct.’

    Perhaps as much as we want to hear that our way is the better way and that reason and logic trumps primal senses and fickle emotional whims, if we are the scientists we claim to be, I think we need to look at the evidence of this statement.

    Let us take a look at the aftermath of Scopes. By 1932, Butler Laws had been put on the “look the other way list” for basically every ACLU representative. In less than a decade after their “great victory for science” they gave up trying to appeal the laws. Every year American children are falling lower and lower in comparison to their European counterparts in the sciences and mathematics. There is no national science program for high school students, or if there is I think they were told to do something else. Now students are picking their own books to read and can decide whether or not they want to write in English, “local dialects” and even “AIM talk”.

    The fact of the matter is, we did not win because people have conditioned themselves to not listen when we speak and allow their children to receive similar conditioning. As much as it is necessary that people learn to understand the facts, the reality is that science will never be completely trusted and the best victory we can hope for is that when someone walks away from us and says ‘I learned a lot from you. Thank you for showing me that I can be wrong.’ we taught them a little something about being critical enough to do justice to themselves.

    It never bothers me that people do not care about fulgenic acid formation. It bothers me that people are okay with not caring and in some cases consider it their responsibility not to care. In a town like Dayton, science will never win the victory we would like. However, so long as one kid walks out of the town and asks why the summers seem longer, I am content to consider I did my duty as scientist. The best we can hope for is to train ourselves to always act with logic and reason, and hoepfully, help someone see the potential they have too. Leave the politicans to question away. They cannot take away our desire to find something more than the couch and the remote. That is victory enough for me.

    30 August 2009

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