Saturday, July 23, 2011

Science and society for the week ending July 16, 2011

Here are the leftovers from my linkspam source--two stories about anti-science decisions by politicians where they are using austerity as a weapon against sustainability, two articles about how one particular anti-science politician responds to a sustainability issue instead of science, then two stories about the science behind the mentality of people who would make such decisions. As you can probably figure out, I'm not in a mood to be nice today.

First, the anti-science decisions, which tie into The end of an era: last space shuttle mission.

Discovery News: James Webb Space Telescope Closer to the Axe
Analysis by Ian O'Neill
Wed Jul 13, 2011 08:16 PM ET
This could be considered "strike two" for the deeply troubled James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee made the recommendation that the advanced infrared space telescope -- and Hubble's replacement -- be cancelled. On Wednesday, the full House Science, Space and Technology Committee has approved the subcommittee's plan.
Hubble WATCH VIDEOS: Hubble is always seeing the cosmos in a new light. Browse the next big Hubble scoop in the Discovery News Hubble video playlist.

Although the project isn't dead yet, the 2012 budget still needs to be voted on by the House an the Senate, but things are looking grim.

Despite a last minute appeal to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday, the Republican-dominated committee were unmoved.
Time to hope for a conference committee decision in the telescope's favor. Of course, the way things are going in Washington lately, that could be a long way off.

The Salt Lake Tribune: Budget casualty: state botanist position scrapped
The Salt Lake Tribune
Budget cuts have prompted the state to lop another science position from the payroll — this one for the lone botanist who kept a statewide list of rare and declining plant species.

Elimination of the position comes the month after the state antiquities program — also citing a budget crunch — eliminated three archaeology positions.

Amy Canning, a spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said her agency offered M.A. “Ben” Franklin another position in the agency when federal funding for his position dried up. But he opted to retire instead, she said.
Consider this to be a follow-up to an article I quoted in Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 1--Utah fires its state archaeologists.

And now, two stories about an anti-science politician, his anti-science solution to a sustainability issue, and how that worked out for him, which ties into Sustainability news from national commercial sources for the week ending July 2, 2011 and Hot enough for you?.

Daily Kos: The Hadley cell is growing ... Perry's Plan: Pray for Rain
by jamess
Dust Bowl 2: Drought detective predicts drier future for American Southwest
by Seth Shulman, -- Aug 12 2010
[If you're one of the tens of millions of people who live in the southwestern United States, get ready for drier weather.] That's the message from Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The American Southwest, says Seager, is soon likely to experience a "permanent drought" condition on par with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
"Permanent drought" otherwise known as "the New Normal".

Welcome to the 21st Century people.
Now, a response from the same source a little later that day.

Daily Kos: God doesn't listen to Rick Perry
by blue aardvark
Joe Rahm at Think Progress: Texas Drought Now Far, Far Worse Than When Gov. Rick Perry Issued Proclamation Calling on All Texans to Pray for Rain

Finally, a pair of articles from the same source about people who lack empathy and what that means on a practical level.

Science News: BOOK REVIEW: The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty
By Simon Baron-Cohen
Review by Erika Engelhaupt
July 30th, 2011; Vol.180 #3 (p. 30)

IBOOK REVIEW: The depths of human cruelty are often summed up in one stark term: evil. But definitions of evil are frustratingly circular, since evil is as evil does. “For a scientist this is, of course, wholly inadequate,” writes Baron-Cohen, a developmental psychologist specializing in autism. He suggests that “evil” is more properly defined as a complete lack of empathy, the ability to imagine and respond emotionally to another person’s thoughts. Empathy, he argues, is distributed througout the population as a bell curve, with those at the low end of the curve populating psychiatric categories such as psycho­pathy, narcissism and borderline personality disorder.
In case "Baron-Cohen" looks familiar, Simon is Sasha's cousin.

Science News: Narcissists need no reality check
Despite inflated egos, they evaluate themselves with unexpectedly clear eyes
By Bruce Bower
Web edition : Friday, July 15th, 2011
Narcissists make spectacles of their supposedly awesome selves, but they don’t see the world entirely through rose-colored glasses.

These sultans of self-regard accurately appraise their own personalities and reputations, say psychologist Erika Carlson of Washington University in St. Louis and her colleagues. Carlson’s team unexpectedly finds that narcissists acknowledge their own narcissism and assume that their arrogant strut gets frowned on by others.

In a further reality check, narcissists tend to realize that they make good first impressions that rapidly turn sour, the researchers report in the July Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (in a paper titled “You Probably Think This Paper’s About You”).

Narcissistic traits include arrogance, feeling entitled to special treatment, lack of concern for others’ feelings, exaggerating one’s intelligence, and expecting to be recognized as superior in all situations. Extreme cases get diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder.
I told you I wasn't in a mood to be nice tonight.

Consider this post to be part three of this week's sustainability news linkspam following up part one and part two. There will be a part four, which will be the second in a series that began with Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 1. Yes, I really did run into that many archeology articles with a sustainability slant in one week.

No comments:

Post a Comment