Tuesday, February 28, 2006

At least liberal science journals don't cite Barney Rubble.

The kids at Powertools are at it again. Assrocket has produced a stunning piece claiming scientific journals have been taken over by liberals more interested in politcs than truth.

Umm. No.

His cited source is Michael Fumento who holds credentials as an author, journalist and lawyer. He's no scientist and as a source he has even more problems. Fumento regularly takes shots at the scientific community but has a particularly nasty habit of claiming that global warming is junk science and that research into the dangers of man-made chemicals, particularly in regards to agriculture, is needless. His main argument in regard to the latter is that man-made chemicals are not the carcinogens science has revealed many of them to be.

It doesn't seem to faze Assrocket that Fumento is a Bush cheerleader and an associate of the Hudson Institute, a right wing think tank and bastion of conservative policy production. That particular association recently resulted in a little trouble for Fumento.

The Scripps Howard News Service had been carrying Fumento's regular column. On January 13th, this year, SHNS severed their relationship with Fumento when it was revealed that in 1999 he had received a $60,000 book grant from (cough!) the biochemical and agritech company, Monsanto and was clearly promoting that company's agenda.

Fumento's claims, repeated by the the 'tools, is that the study of hurricanes like Katrina fail to look far enough back to justify global warming as a culprit. He states that the conclusions of scientists in Science, would have shown the reverse if they had taken their research back to 1850. Of course, he's counting on you not looking it up, because if you do, you realize that Fumento is dead wrong. Studies here and here, both US government agencies, show a steady increase in hurricane activity and strength since 1850.

His next claim is that Science and Nature journals were duped by Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk when they published his paper having claimed to have successfully cloned embryonic stem cells. While it was certainly an embarrasment for Science, how it translates into the editors and peer-review board being liberal and politically motivated is known only to Hindraker and Fumento.

The last claim made by Fumento is the study by Lancet claiming 100,000 deaths in Iraq as a result of the war. I don't know anybody who wasn't a little skeptical at the Lancet's claim, but it also goes that nobody knows the real figure and the methodology reported by the Lancet was just as good as anything else produced, particularly since the US military had no idea because they didn't keep any statistics and did no research at all. Fumento then cites numbers which are intentionally low and gives a citation to the numbers produced by, of all people, Osama bin Laden. He claimed only 15,000 killed. Well, that's just so much better, isn't it?

The weak suggestion that science journals are being taken over by liberals pushing a political agenda throws a convenient smoke-screen over the fact that US government scientific institutions have been taken over by Bush politicos bent on making the science take second place to administration politics. Or perhaps Hindraker has forgotten that the Bush administration is allowing 24 year-old political appointees, who pad their resumes and lie about their education, give direction to the US's most prominent scientists.

If Hindraker insists on commenting on science and scientists he would do well to limit himself to areas with which he is more familiar. Perhaps something like Voodoo.

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