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Old 07-13-2016, 06:44 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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Most politicians are shockingly ignorant

http://www.vox.com/2016/7/13/12159000/mike-pence-sorry

Matt Yglesias writes this as an apology to Mike Pence, because he had originally thought Mike Pence was a moron and found out that he's one moron in a chamber full of them. It's not that these people aren't smart, it's that the way they see their jobs gives them little incentive to actually know anything about policy.

Quote:
Today, more than a decade removed from the first time I met Pence, I can say that it’s actually quite common for members of Congress to have no idea what they’re talking about.

There’s a real problem here, but it doesn’t relate to Pence personally. And it doesn’t particularly even relate to individual members of Congress personally. It’s a deep institutional problem that is both a cause and an effect of Americans’ entrenched cynicism about Congress, politics, and governing elites.
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What now surprises me is when I come across a member of Congress who really does understand a particular issue in detail. And this sometimes does happen. Little pockets of expertise are scattered hither and yon all throughout Capitol Hill — especially when members dig in to work on idiosyncratic pieces of legislation that are off the radar of big-time partisan conflict. But on most issues, most of the time, most members of Congress are more or less blindly following talking points that they got from somewhere else and that they don’t really understand.

Members form identities as a certain kind of politician — a New Democrat or a progressive, a leadership ally or a rock-ribbed true conservative — and then they take cues from how a politician like that ought to respond to the controversy of the day, and their staff hastily assembles some stuff to say about it.

And the problem here isn’t that the members are dumb, as I used to think. It’s that Congress hasn’t set itself up for individual members to be well-informed. Staff budgets are generally low, and a decent share of staff effort has to be put into constituent service and answering the mail. Senators, who have larger staffs, are generally competent to discuss a wider range of issues. And committee staffs have more policy expertise, so committee chairs and ranking members are often fairly knowledgeable about the subjects under their jurisdiction.

But typical members have little chance to build in-house knowledge on policy issues, and as matter of economic necessity skilled staffers have to be looking for their next job. Nor do the members themselves exactly have a ton of time to delve into issues and talk to policy experts. They’re expected to commute back and forth to their home districts, show up routinely at community events, and spend vast amounts of time raising money in small increments.

A consequence of this is that members become dependent on interest groups not just for money but for actual knowledge and information. The typical member of Congress, faced with some arbitrary policy issue, has neither the personal nor the staff capacity to actually research the issue and come up with a fair-minded and independent judgment about the merits of the issue.

This tends to leave Congress members dangerously dependent on lobbyists (or at times pure hucksters) for analysis, which fuels public contempt of Congress, which makes it all the more unthinkable for Congress to try to vote itself the extra money for staff and expertise building that could fix the problem.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:49 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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I don't thikn he's totally right about the staff thing though. If your staff knows things, that doesn't mean you know things and it certainly doesn't mean you understand anything. Matt Yglesias didn't become a policy wonk by hiring a staff. None of our best Dopers have a staff. The purpose of a staff isn't to teach you things and I thikn it says a lot about how bad things are that we're resigned to politicians beingless knowledgable than your average Doper.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:00 PM
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"Not being set up for individual members to be well-informed."

I should be pointed here that the Republicans under Newt Gingrich made a lot of that current setup possible.

http://io9.gizmodo.com/a-key-reason-...ien-1575132934
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In 1995, Congressional Republicans shut down the Office of Technology Assessment. For 23 years, this agency had published reports that provided legislators with nonpartisan analyses of science and technology issues. Last week, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) tried to reopen the agency with minimal funding.

He failed.

The legislation—a proposed amendment to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act that would have provided $2.5 million for the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) —was defeated in the House by a 248-164 vote, with 217 Republicans opposing and 155 Democrats supporting.

Holt, a former research physicist, has been a longtime advocate of reopening the office. In a recent press release, he noted:

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OTA was an agency dedicated to serve Congress. When Newt Gingrich came to power in the 1990s, he eliminated OTA to cut costs. But this turned out to be a foolish move, as OTA had always saved taxpayers far more money than it cost. An OTA study on Agent Orange, for instance, helped save the government $10 million. Another report recommended changes in computer systems at the Social Security Administration that saved more than $350 million. Studies on the Synthetic Fuels Corporation helped save tens of billions of dollars.

Although in ending OTA Gingrich said Congress could get help elsewhere, that hasn't worked. When OTA shut down, technological topics did not become less relevant to the work of Congress. They just became less understood. And scientific thinking lost its toehold on Capitol Hill, with troubling consequences for the ways Congress approaches all issues— not just those that are explicitly scientific.
IIRC Newt later claimed that the reason was that it was not needed to have an internal group to analyze issues that involve science, because they now could find their own experts furnished by the interest groups they consult.

What could go wrong?
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:03 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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I agree with Holt there, but that's not knowledge either. Looking something up doesn't make you understand anything. True understanding of issues comes from being involved with and thinking about those issues, often outside the box, for years. We elect older people to office because presumably their lives have involved learning about these things. Instead, they rely on 20 year old staffers.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by adaher View Post
I agree with Holt there, but that's not knowledge either.
He was a scientist too so I would think he had knowledge.

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Looking something up doesn't make you understand anything. True understanding of issues comes from being involved with and thinking about those issues, often outside the box, for years. We elect older people to office because presumably their lives have involved learning about these things. Instead, they rely on 20 year old staffers.
The point as Iglesias said is that:

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Pence may well have been dumber or more ignorant than your average member of Congress, but most fundamentally he was an integral part of a larger institutional framework that cultivates and promotes ignorance. That system, more than anything about Pence himself, is what’s really scary.
Knowing how inadequate that framework is it means that there should be offices that would help reduce that ignorance in congress. Because unless we become a technocracy we will continue to have congress critters that are ignorant and with staffers that are also.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:27 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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He was a scientist too so I would think he had knowledge.
No, Rush Holt has knowledge. He's one of the genuine geniuses in Congress.

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Knowing how inadequate that framework is it means that there should be offices that would help reduce that ignorance in congress. Because unless we become a technocracy we will continue to have congress critters that are ignorant and with staffers that are also.
But that won't make much of a difference because they don't CARE. Being knowledgeable does nothing for their political career. Serving the interest groups they need to please in their district or state is where their expertise lies. There are some exceptions. We call them "mavericks".
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:32 PM
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BTW, before this was as important as it is now noted, staffers and even congress people had a chance to ask questions directly to the experts in the science office. They got direct explanations about issues dealing with science.

One reason why the Republicans did not like it is that many times they did not confirm the biases they were bringing with the Newt revolution. So Newt and others decided to vote for ignorance. And then we started going on this path in congress. And the rest is history.. that should not had been there but thanks to ideology.

As I saw once an expert that was interviewed for the Ebola emergency say: "eventually politics has to yield to science". Following interest groups has limits when the use of the manufactured contrarian information from lobbyists does harm to all.

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Old 07-13-2016, 07:38 PM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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I don't thikn he's totally right about the staff thing though. If your staff knows things, that doesn't mean you know things and it certainly doesn't mean you understand anything. Matt Yglesias didn't become a policy wonk by hiring a staff. None of our best Dopers have a staff. The purpose of a staff isn't to teach you things and I thikn it says a lot about how bad things are that we're resigned to politicians beingless knowledgable than your average Doper.
But do you think that Congresspeople have the amount of time to discuss the issues on message boards that the average Doper does? We may know more intricacies about issues not because we've done the grunt work and research, but because we all bring our areas of expertise together and someone who is an expert in a field may make an argue and cite a website, giving us information we wouldn't normally have...

Hmmm... that kinda sounds like what Congressional staff does .
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:42 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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You can't be universally knowledgeable. You can't be deeply knowledgeable on more than a handful of issues. There simply isn't enough time in a day. Congress has never been a cadre of subject matter experts, not at any time in its history.

I'm doubtful about how much of an expert Matt Yglesias is on those issues you consider him a policy wonk on. I used to read him regularly when he was at Slate. He had strong opinions, but I disagreed with much of what he said, not on ideological grounds but because they were poor, half-thought-through remedies.

He only has one thing to do with his time. Congress is supposed to deal with hundreds or thousands of the most complicated issues in the world. You expert better of them than him?

GIGObuster is correct. Congress had better internal non-partisan sources of information at one time. They were eliminated because reality has a liberal bias. Non-partisan facts are normally antithetical to conservative ideology. If you don't like what Congress has become, look in a mirror.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:47 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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Congressmen have something much better than message boards:

1) Life. In 40-60 years, these folks should have learned an awful lot, both from their usually high level of education and also with valuable life experiences and their careers. I just don't get how so many of these folks come in as mostly blank slates. Oh wait, they are often lawyers who didn't even practice. They have no life experience worth talking about, they have no career experience other than politics. But in theory, there are a lot of people who could bring a ton of valuable knowledge into Congress: teachers, police officers, accountants, IT professionals, military, doctors, financial experts, scientists, etc. Very few politicians come from those backgrounds.

2) Study. A lot of people love learning stuff. I would hope that the next generation of politicians actually has spent a lot of time on discussion boards like this one, writing a blog, and being kept up at night because you just thought of a way to fix the Agriculture Department and you can't wait to flesh it out more fully and run it by people who are also interested in how to fix the Agriculture Department. And when they explain to you why your idea sucks, you'll learn a lot of new things you didn't know in that process.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:50 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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You can't be universally knowledgeable. You can't be deeply knowledgeable on more than a handful of issues. There simply isn't enough time in a day. Congress has never been a cadre of subject matter experts, not at any time in its history.
That's a great point too. But there are some things you HAVE to know to be a good legislator, and the example Yglesias points out, "moral hazard", is one of them.

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I'm doubtful about how much of an expert Matt Yglesias is on those issues you consider him a policy wonk on. I used to read him regularly when he was at Slate. He had strong opinions, but I disagreed with much of what he said, not on ideological grounds but because they were poor, half-thought-through remedies.
Well yeah, because he's a young guy and most smart young guys think they are smarter than they are. But that quest for knowledge leads to real understanding down the road, which is why Matt Yglesias at 50 would probably make a heck of a Senator. What will actually happen is he'll be a staffer, because if you have brains that's what you do in Washington. Or go work for a think tank.


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GIGObuster is correct. Congress had better internal non-partisan sources of information at one time. They were eliminated because reality has a liberal bias. Non-partisan facts are normally antithetical to conservative ideology. If you don't like what Congress has become, look in a mirror.
That's part of it, but the other part is simply that most Congressmen probably didn't care. Knowing about science doesn't win you votes. Knowing that there's a lot of anti-vax sentiment in your district is important though. The other part of that is that one doesn't have to UNDERSTAND the views of your constituents, you just need to know what they are. Most scientific subjects cannot be legislated on simply based on a report you got from some experts. It's better than nothing, to be sure, but aside from Rush Holt, no one's going to read one of those and actually be able to write a climate change plan the next day. And even Democrats aren't interested in a scientific climate change plan. Democrats are interetrd in a climate change plan that works POLITICALLY.

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Old 07-13-2016, 07:56 PM
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Another aspect of REAL knowledge is knowing who to ask and what questions to ask. An ignorant person might say, "Okay, I want to fix climate change, I'll consult climate experts." A person who actually knows what they are doing will say, "I need to consult climate change experts, then I need to consult economic experts since we're trying to change economic incentives here and we don't want to hurt the economy, then I need to consult government experts to see what challenges will be faced in implementation." And that's just what I know and I'm a dumbass who just reads and thinks a lot. I'm sure there are a lot more people who need to be consulted that I'm not thinking of. Oh yeah, such as "how did climate change plans in other nations work?"
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Old 07-13-2016, 08:23 PM
Johnny Ace Johnny Ace is offline
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But do you think that Congresspeople have the amount of time to discuss the issues on message boards that the average Doper does? We may know more intricacies about issues not because we've done the grunt work and research, but because we all bring our areas of expertise together and someone who is an expert in a field may make an argue and cite a website, giving us information we wouldn't normally have...

Hmmm... that kinda sounds like what Congressional staff does .
A Congresscritter could do worse than to have a staffer or two who were covert members of the Dope, lurking or initiating topics. Of course, they'd have to be Democrats...

$2.5M is petty cash. It's sad that they couldn't open the purse-strings that little bit.

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Old 07-13-2016, 08:27 PM
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That's part of it, but the other part is simply that most Congressmen probably didn't care. Knowing about science doesn't win you votes. Knowing that there's a lot of anti-vax sentiment in your district is important though. The other part of that is that one doesn't have to UNDERSTAND the views of your constituents, you just need to know what they are. Most scientific subjects cannot be legislated on simply based on a report you got from some experts. It's better than nothing, to be sure, but aside from Rush Holt, no one's going to read one of those and actually be able to write a climate change plan the next day. And even Democrats aren't interested in a scientific climate change plan. Democrats are interetrd in a climate change plan that works POLITICALLY.
Now that is a bit ignorant indeed. The IPCC has gone for advising us to not go cold turkey, and not just for political reasons, but because they do not want to sent us back to the stone age indeed.

Too bad that the Republicans in congress do think that the whole thing is a hoax.

Regardless of the Democrat plans, even scientists do know that the weakest link are the Republicans that are in the way of effective legislation.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...limate-change/

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Old 07-13-2016, 08:39 PM
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Another aspect of REAL knowledge is knowing who to ask and what questions to ask. An ignorant person might say, "Okay, I want to fix climate change, I'll consult climate experts." A person who actually knows what they are doing will say, "I need to consult climate change experts, then I need to consult economic experts since we're trying to change economic incentives here and we don't want to hurt the economy, then I need to consult government experts to see what challenges will be faced in implementation." And that's just what I know and I'm a dumbass who just reads and thinks a lot. I'm sure there are a lot more people who need to be consulted that I'm not thinking of. Oh yeah, such as "how did climate change plans in other nations work?"
If you were aware of what is going on, you should know that the Republicans avoid to ask the proper experts at all the levels you mentioned.

Even economic experts are willfully ignored. In the next link William D. Nordhaus who later became president of the American Economic Association had to explain how misinformers got his study wrong. Misinformers that BTW have been found more often than not to be paid shrills by conservative think tanks helped in turn by fossil fuel money. Many of those have been used by Republican congress people as "experts" in congressional hearings no less.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012...ics-are-wrong/

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Old 07-13-2016, 08:58 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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That's part of it, but the other part is simply that most Congressmen probably didn't care. Knowing about science doesn't win you votes. Knowing that there's a lot of anti-vax sentiment in your district is important though. The other part of that is that one doesn't have to UNDERSTAND the views of your constituents, you just need to know what they are. Most scientific subjects cannot be legislated on simply based on a report you got from some experts. It's better than nothing, to be sure, but aside from Rush Holt, no one's going to read one of those and actually be able to write a climate change plan the next day. And even Democrats aren't interested in a scientific climate change plan. Democrats are interetrd in a climate change plan that works POLITICALLY.
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Another aspect of REAL knowledge is knowing who to ask and what questions to ask. An ignorant person might say, "Okay, I want to fix climate change, I'll consult climate experts." A person who actually knows what they are doing will say, "I need to consult climate change experts, then I need to consult economic experts since we're trying to change economic incentives here and we don't want to hurt the economy, then I need to consult government experts to see what challenges will be faced in implementation." And that's just what I know and I'm a dumbass who just reads and thinks a lot. I'm sure there are a lot more people who need to be consulted that I'm not thinking of. Oh yeah, such as "how did climate change plans in other nations work?"
Could you explain your point in one syllable words? I don't understand what you're saying or even what you think you're trying to say.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:13 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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Politicians prioritize poiltics even when they know better.

You cannot learn enough about issues just by consulting people or Googling, no matter how good the sources.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:43 PM
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Politicians prioritize poiltics even when they know better.

You cannot learn enough about issues just by consulting people or Googling, no matter how good the sources.
That is why there are experts out there. The problem is when a politician denies even that reality and thinks that science is just pick and choose an "expert". And then one should wonder if that kind of congress does represent what even their constituents do want.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/201...onsensus-real/
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That’s been changing, however. Last March, some 64 percent of adults said they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55 percent at that time last year. According to the Gallup poll, concerns about global warming have increased among all party groups since 2015. Moreover, activists are pushing to unveil what they describe as decades of misinformation campaigns funded by fossil fuel interests. Indeed, it’s been widely reported that secret donor networks have funded groups that attack peer-reviewed scientific research.

Meanwhile, 59 percent of the Republican House caucus and 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and humans caused it, according to a recent analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. That means more than six in 10 Americans are represented by someone in Congress who denies climate change.

Adam Frank, professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester, said that disconnection between the consensus and politicians is worrisome. “We are a nation whose national treasure is our prowess of science,” Frank, who wasn’t part of the study, told ThinkProgress. “Once you start downs this road of pushing against science because it has political ramification, then all of science opens up to it.”

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Old 07-13-2016, 09:52 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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But that's why the pick and choose "experts". If your knowledge of basic scientific principles wouldn't win you $1000 on an episode of "Are you Smarter than a 5th grader", then you have no way of analyzing the information you get.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:23 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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What about knowledge of transportation issues? Of infrastructure issues? Of trade issues? Of banking issues? Of gun issues? Of abortion issues? Of poverty issues? Of education issues? Of budgets and national defense and terrorism and ecology and farm subsidies and Native American reservations? Repeat ad nauseum for the several thousand issues that Congress must deal with.

Of course politicians prioritize politics. Have you just suddenly realized it? Has something just changed in reality? That's why I'm asking you what your point is. What world have you been living in? Why are you saying this now?
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Old 07-13-2016, 11:05 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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The point is that most poilticians are ignorant and most people don't really understand this. And we tend to reward politicians who can recite the talking points rather than politicians who actually give thought to weighty issues. Perhaps one out of 100 can form an original thought.

It's important for voters to know this even if we don't know how to make it better. And no, funding a Congressional research thingie to issue papers they won't read doesn't make it better. It's not as if Congress was a font of intelligent discussion and scientific knowledge before it was defunded.
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:03 AM
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The point is that most poilticians are ignorant and most people don't really understand this. And we tend to reward politicians who can recite the talking points rather than politicians who actually give thought to weighty issues. Perhaps one out of 100 can form an original thought.

It's important for voters to know this even if we don't know how to make it better. And no, funding a Congressional research thingie to issue papers they won't read doesn't make it better. It's not as if Congress was a font of intelligent discussion and scientific knowledge before it was defunded.
This is just piling ignorance upon ignorance. The reality was that more responsible legislation came of it. And it helped even Reagan and Bush father to get congress to approve international treaties. It also helped in the approval of nationwide bills about acid rain, ozone layer gases control and other issues.

https://www.wired.com/2016/04/office...-killed-tutor/
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Of Course Congress Is Clueless About Tech—It Killed Its Tutor

When the draft version of a federal encryption bill got leaked this month, the verdict in the tech community was unanimous. Critics called it ludicrous and technically illiterate—and these were the kinder assessments of the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” proposed legislation authored by the offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr.

The encryption issue is complex and the stakes are high, as evidenced by the recent battle between Apple and the FBI. Many other technology issues that the country is grappling with these days are just as complex, controversial, and critical—witness the debates over law enforcement’s use of stingrays to track mobile phones or the growing concerns around drones, self-driving cars, and 3-D printing. Yet decisions about these technical issues are being handled by luddite lawmakers who sometimes boast about not owning a cell phone or never having sent an email.

Politicians on Capitol Hill have plenty of staff to advise them on the legal aspects of policy issues, but, oddly, they have a dearth of advisers who can serve up unbiased analysis about the critical science and technology issues they legislate.

This wasn’t always the case. US lawmakers once had a body of independent technical and scientific experts at their disposal who were the envy of other nations: the Office of Technology Assessment. That is, until the OTA got axed unceremoniously two decades ago in a round of budget cuts.
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These were precisely the kinds of concerns raised in the 1960s when interest in a special tech advisory body first emerged on Capitol Hill. The Office of Technology Assessment was created in 1972 by an act of Congress during the Nixon administration, when lawmakers expressed alarm that they couldn’t understand and properly legislate complicated science and technology issues.

Former Senator Edward L. Bartlett bemoaned that policymakers were often easily swayed by special interests as a result. “Far too often congressional committees for expert advice rely upon the testimony of the very scientists who have conceived the program, the very scientists who will spend the money if the program is authorized and appropriated for.” The OTA was designed not only to educate lawmakers but also to serve as a counterweight to the biased experts the White House trotted out in support of bills it wanted lawmakers to approve.

At its peak, the OTA had an annual budget of about $20 million and around 140 permanent staffers who were supplemented when needed by subject-matter experts from outside. All of them together provided detailed research on everything from acid rain and sustainable agriculture to electronic surveillance and anti-ballistic missile programs.

The reports the OTA produced over the years were known for their rigor. “There was a lot of effort to make sure that the reports were really solid and had been vetted,” says Andrew Wyckoff, who managed the OTA’s Information, Telecommunications and Commerce program before the OTA’s demise. The OTA was so revered that the Washington Times once called it “the voice of authority in a city inundated with statistics and technical gobbledygook.” Other countries, such as the Netherlands, even sent representatives to DC to learn how it worked so they could replicate it back home.
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Although the OTA never made policy recommendations, its reports played an important role in influencing policy, from limiting employer rights to give workers polygraph tests, to encouraging lawmakers to extend Medicare coverage to older women for mammograms and pap smears.
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:24 AM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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Another aspect of REAL knowledge is knowing who to ask and what questions to ask. An ignorant person might say, "Okay, I want to fix climate change, I'll consult climate experts." A person who actually knows what they are doing will say, "I need to consult climate change experts, then I need to consult economic experts since we're trying to change economic incentives here and we don't want to hurt the economy, then I need to consult government experts to see what challenges will be faced in implementation." And that's just what I know and I'm a dumbass who just reads and thinks a lot. I'm sure there are a lot more people who need to be consulted that I'm not thinking of. Oh yeah, such as "how did climate change plans in other nations work?"
Where exactly do you think these experts work? By and large, they work at lobbying firms. They may have used to work for government agencies which did technical research, but those agencies got slashed in budget cuts. So you are saying Congresspeople should ask the lobbyists?
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:28 AM
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ISiddiqui I think you're rather ignorant to not recognise the difference between the words "most" and "all".

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Old 07-14-2016, 11:42 AM
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This is why term limits is a bad idea. Yes we have lawmakers that aren't well versed in a lot of subjects. With time in office, they learn what they need to learn. Forcing the seat to turn over after two terms just means that all the time, at least half the chamber is clueless.
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:46 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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The point is that most poilticians are ignorant and most people don't really understand this. And we tend to reward politicians who can recite the talking points rather than politicians who actually give thought to weighty issues. Perhaps one out of 100 can form an original thought.

It's important for voters to know this even if we don't know how to make it better. And no, funding a Congressional research thingie to issue papers they won't read doesn't make it better. It's not as if Congress was a font of intelligent discussion and scientific knowledge before it was defunded.
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Originally Posted by The New York Times
After a characteristically brilliant speech by Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956, a supporter is said to have bellowed, “Every thinking American will vote for you!”

Legend has it that Stevenson shouted back: “That’s not enough. I need a majority!”
Voters understand very well that most politicians aren't intellectuals and they prefer that. They famously want a president they can have a beer with, like your sainted dolts and dullards Reagan and Bush. This is equally the case at every lower level.

This has been true and obvious since before you were born. You haven't answered my question: Why are you suddenly bringing this up now? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with your Republicans nominating a world-class idiot like Trump, could it? You've been defending the party in the Stupid Republican Idea of the Day thread for years, so you didn't care that your party is full of dangerous idiots until this moment. You and your party got exactly what you've been screaming for over the past couple of decades. But now the puketastically anti-science Congress is to blame? What's really going on?
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:27 PM
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Voters understand very well that most politicians aren't intellectuals and they prefer that. They famously want a president they can have a beer with, like your sainted dolts and dullards Reagan and Bush. This is equally the case at every lower level.
Ambassador to the UN
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You can accuse 41 of a lot of things, but a dullard he was not.
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:41 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Ambassador to the UN
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You can accuse 41 of a lot of things, but a dullard he was not.
He was father to 43, though. Dance, dubya, dance.
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:47 PM
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Yeah well there's a throwback every once in a while.
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Old 07-14-2016, 02:29 PM
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According to people who know/have worked with her, Hilary Clinton is shockingly well-informed about the details of policy:
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People in Washington do not expect those in power to be particularly attentive to their work or curious about their past, and Clinton uses this to her advantage.
http://www.vox.com/a/hillary-clinton...ership-quality
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:28 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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This is why term limits is a bad idea. Yes we have lawmakers that aren't well versed in a lot of subjects. With time in office, they learn what they need to learn. Forcing the seat to turn over after two terms just means that all the time, at least half the chamber is clueless.
Yes, one of the drawbacks is that it makes the permanent shadow government even more powerful: the lobbyists, the bureaucrats, the staffers, etc.

But the reason there's always a lot of support for term limits is that a lot of people stay there a very long time and only really get good at the political side of things.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:30 PM
adaher adaher is online now
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Voters understand very well that most politicians aren't intellectuals and they prefer that. They famously want a president they can have a beer with, like your sainted dolts and dullards Reagan and Bush. This is equally the case at every lower level.

This has been true and obvious since before you were born. You haven't answered my question: Why are you suddenly bringing this up now? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with your Republicans nominating a world-class idiot like Trump, could it? You've been defending the party in the Stupid Republican Idea of the Day thread for years, so you didn't care that your party is full of dangerous idiots until this moment. You and your party got exactly what you've been screaming for over the past couple of decades. But now the puketastically anti-science Congress is to blame? What's really going on?
I've brought up many times that most politicians aren't too bright, even the ones that sound intelligent. You can only really judge the knowledge level of a politician through wide-ranging, unscripted interviews. And even then you have to sift through the stuff that sounds smart but is actually just well rehearsed talking points.

I just posted this thread because now a Vox writer has said it too.
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:36 AM
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Why do you expect politicians to be experts in all fields?
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:58 AM
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I don't. I just expect voters to know that they aren't experts in any fields.
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Old 07-16-2016, 08:18 AM
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But that's why the pick and choose "experts". If your knowledge of basic scientific principles wouldn't win you $1000 on an episode of "Are you Smarter than a 5th grader", then you have no way of analyzing the information you get.
No. You're making it sound like it's impossible for Congress to ever have sound scientific advice. That isn't true. All that is required for a legislator to have sound scientific guidance on policy is the minimal intelligence to be able to distinguish good scientific sources from bad ones. Most countries have trusted national science bodies established specifically to be policy advisory bodies -- the US has the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and the first of those, the National Academy of Sciences, is a world-class advisory body on numerous scientific topics like climate change. Internationally, the IPCC is a trusted and reliable source of information on climate change.

It's not hard to know what the reliable sources are for sound guidance. It seems to be a lot harder for politicians to separate reality from politics, and it seems to me that the Democratic side has historically been far more likely to embrace science and reality and to provide scientific funding, and the Republican side far more likely to have contempt for science and attribute events to God, conspiracies, and the devil.
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Old 07-16-2016, 08:42 AM
adaher adaher is online now
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It's not impossible for Congressmen to get sound scientific guidance. All that is necessary is that they have a college level understanding of the sciences, which nearly all of them would have if they paid attention in class. That level of knowledge is sufficient to be able to analyze advice from scientific experts.

However, if you're science literacy is elementary school level, you're going to be lost no matter how good your advisors.

Then there's that same attitude that may students have: "What does this stuff do for my career?" which politicians carry into Congress. THe science says A, but your campaign contributors and base say B. Which one is better for your career?

Last edited by adaher; 07-16-2016 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 07-16-2016, 09:59 AM
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It's not impossible for Congressmen to get sound scientific guidance. All that is necessary is that they have a college level understanding of the sciences, which nearly all of them would have if they paid attention in class. That level of knowledge is sufficient to be able to analyze advice from scientific experts.

However, if you're science literacy is elementary school level, you're going to be lost no matter how good your advisors.

Then there's that same attitude that may students have: "What does this stuff do for my career?" which politicians carry into Congress. THe science says A, but your campaign contributors and base say B. Which one is better for your career?
You are just restating the problem and think that that is a refutation of the solutions.

As for a career for the politicians, you should realize that you stumbled on one of the main reasons why places like the Straightdope came to be. You are also not noticing properly what just following what is politically convenient does not lead to things that will benefit the whole nation or the world too. IMHO what most Republicans are doing nowadays is that they are not just ignoring science but they are also ignoring what is the point of a Republic. It is supposed to not just rely on the tyranny ignorance of the majority from their neck of the woods.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/neil-d...ence-literacy/
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BILL MOYERS: The proverbial alien from outer space must be scratching his bug-eyed head over that one. In 21st century America why should our most noted astrophysicist have to defend the science classroom against the intrusion of religion?

Two reasons: Over the past few years, the number of Americans who question the science of evolution has gone up. Look at this Gallup Poll. Forty six percent of the country embraces the notion that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years…”

Perhaps less surprising, a Pew Research survey found that almost two thirds of white evangelical Protestants, the bedrock of the Republican Party, reject altogether the idea that humans have evolved. So while acceptance of evolution has increased among Democrats to 67 percent, among Republicans it’s fallen to 43 percent. That’s a huge partisan divide.

Something else is happening, too, and no one is certain exactly why. Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, calls it “educational stagnation.” Consider this, PISA tests, tests that measure critical thinking in science, math, and reading among high school students in different countries, show that our students aren’t doing so well.

In math, students in 33 other countries, including Ireland, Poland, Latvia, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, did better than American students. In science, students in 24 countries including Poland, Ireland, and the Czech Republic were ahead of ours. And in reading, our best subject, kids in 21 countries outdid the Americans.

The hard truth, says Secretary Duncan, is that the United States is not among the top performing comparable countries in any subject tested by PISA. That’s bad news for our students and the country.

All fodder for my last round with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s the director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, he’s also the narrator of a mesmerizing new show at the planetarium called Dark Universe, and this spring he’ll appear as the host of a remake of the classic PBS series “Cosmos.” You can see it on the National Geographic Channel and Fox TV. Welcome.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: Let's talk politics for a moment.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Go for it.

BILL MOYERS: All right. According to the Pew Research Center, back in 2009, a comfortable majority of Republicans accepted human evolution as a fact. But now, a plurality rejects it. So I ask you, politics can trump science, can't it?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, in a free, elected democracy, of course. You vote who you want on your school board. There is no provision in the constitution for the government to establish what's taught in schools. That's all relegated to the states. Hence, we speak state to state about what's in their science textbook versus another.

And so that's the country we've all sort of bought into, if you will, or born into. I think it's a self-correcting phenomenon. Nobody wants to die, okay? So we all care about health. But above all else, among the Republicans I know, especially Republicans, nobody wants to die poor, okay?

So educated Republicans know the value of innovations in science and technology for the thriving of an economy and business and industry. They know this. If you put something that is not science in a science classroom, pass it off as science, then you are undermining an entire enterprise that was responsible for creating the wealth that we have come to take for granted in this country. So we're already fading economically. If this, if that trend continues, some Republican is going to wake up and say, "Look guys, we got to split these two. We have to. Otherwise, we will doom ourselves to poverty." And so I see it as a self-correcting, I don't know when it'll happen, but they know.
I'm not as optimistic as Degrasse Tysen here, of course part of the self correction is all of us Americans. If the Republicans are choosing to go into the night we have to tell them "no thanks" at the ballot box.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 07-16-2016 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 07-16-2016, 05:03 PM
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adaher, I agree with most of what you've said in this thread, including that when it comes to addressing global warming it's important to understand the economic impacts as well as the climate science, and this means consulting experts in a variety of fields. And it would be great if our leaders were having policy debates based on the best information available to us.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the Republicans in Congress have pretty much made this impossible, because instead they choose to demonize the scientists and accuse them of lying if they don't like what the scientists are telling them. True, the Congressional Democrats are often not as informed as they ought to be either, and are also too willing to overlook research that doesn't align with their views, but I haven't seen remotely the same level of outright hostility towards science, nor the same sort of attempts to persuade the general public that scientists can't be trusted even to speak honestly about their area of expertise.

I'm not likely to vote Republican anyway so long as the party is so in bed with the religious right, but even if that weren't the case, this sort of thing would be a deal breaker for me. Aren't you a Republican, though? Why is this not a deal breaker for you?
  #39  
Old 07-17-2016, 12:12 AM
adaher adaher is online now
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Democrats aren't a whole lot better though. They are happy to use the science of climate change as a cudgel against Republicans, but they don't actually want to follow scientific recommendations anymore than Republican do, because that would mean defeat in the next election. Politics always trumps science. Always. Because a) it's what politicians understand, and b) it's what wins votes.
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Old 07-17-2016, 12:58 AM
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Democrats aren't a whole lot better though. They are happy to use the science of climate change as a cudgel against Republicans, but they don't actually want to follow scientific recommendations anymore than Republican do, because that would mean defeat in the next election. Politics always trumps science. Always. Because a) it's what politicians understand, and b) it's what wins votes.
As usual you seem to rely on the echo chamber from the conservative Republicans. The reality is that there is a disconnect on what even the majority of Republicans are thinking about the issue.

http://climatecommunication.yale.edu...spring-2016/2/
Quote:
An increasing number of registered voters think global warming is happening. Three in four (73%, up 7 points since Spring 2014) now think it is happening. Large majorities of Democrats liberal (95%) and moderate/conservative (80%) think it is happening, as do three in four Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and the majority of liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points).

By contrast, only 47% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening. Importantly, however, there has been a large increase in the number of conservative Republicans who think global warming is happening. In fact, conservative Republicans have experienced the largest shift of any group an increase of 19 percentage points over the past two years.

...

Across party lines, over half of registered voters say corporations and industry should do much or
somewhat more to address global warming (74% of registered voters; 88% of Democrats, 74% of
Independents, and 56% of Republicans).
Years of looking at the issue show me that the media (that is not really liberal because if it was this issue would constantly be in the news and as a more important election subject) and the Republicans in power are the weakest link here.

http://climatecommunication.yale.edu...spring-2016/5/


And if politics had always trumped science then there would not be an explanation on why there were laws and regulations made to deal with pollution, acid rain, lead in gasoline and paints, phosphorus in detergents, DDT, etc. Because politicians also learn (sometimes after bad things have happened, but eventually do) that people also vote for clean air, water and other things.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 07-17-2016 at 01:03 AM.
  #41  
Old 07-17-2016, 09:42 PM
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It's not that these people aren't smart, it's that the way they see their jobs gives them little incentive to actually know anything about policy.
I think it's more egregious they don't actually seem to know much about history. Democrats seem to think the party has always been a bastion of liberalism. And just about the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard is when Republicans start talking about being the "Party of Lincoln." The fact of the matter is that the "Party of Lincoln" was essentially considered to be composed of foaming-at-the-mouth left-wingers. That's why they were called "Radical" Republicans. That Republican Party advocated the "government handout" (e.g. the Homestead Act) and "big government" (e.g. Radical Reconstruction, federal interference into so-called States' Rights). The traditional left-right axis when considering only institutional change (left to right):

Radical -> replace existing institutions with new institutions
Progressive -> keep existing institutions but replace old ideas with new ideas
Status Quo -> maintain existing institutions unchanged
Regressive -> keep existing institutions but replace new ideas with old ideas
Reactionary -> replace existing institutions with old institutions

The Republicans were deemed radical because most of them believed in abolition (i.e. replacing the existing institution of slavery with a new institution of basic freedom). They were also called "destructives" because of this.

Last edited by dreamregent; 07-17-2016 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 07-17-2016, 10:23 PM
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It seems to be a lot harder for politicians to separate reality from politics, and it seems to me that the Democratic side has historically been far more likely to embrace science and reality and to provide scientific funding, and the Republican side far more likely to have contempt for science and attribute events to God, conspiracies, and the devil.
Only since around January 1981. Previously, the crazy was more evenly distributed across US political parties. Bush 41 made a reality-based critique of supply side crackpottery for example: he called it voodoo economics when he was running in the GOP primary. (He recanted afterwards after becoming VP.)
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You can accuse 41 of a lot of things, but a dullard he was not.
He wasn't a dullard, but Nixon thought he was a lightweight. Nixon was correct by the standards of the day. Afterwards Bush got a lot more experienced and a little better, while GOP standards basically nose-coned. Exapno Mapcase was presumably referring to 43 though.

Last edited by Measure for Measure; 07-17-2016 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 07-17-2016, 10:31 PM
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my grandpa always said teddy Roosevelt was the last true republican...........
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:19 AM
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It seems to be a lot harder for politicians to separate reality from politics, and it seems to me that the Democratic side has historically been far more likely to embrace science and reality and to provide scientific funding, and the Republican side far more likely to have contempt for science and attribute events to God, conspiracies, and the devil.
That depends on the degree of "historically" you're talking about. The folks you're describing are Social Conservatives. This is a generalization but, especially before 1964, those folks were probably Democrats, not Republicans. The electoral strength of Social Conservatism has always been based in the southern states, particularly the states of the Old Confederacy. This region was called the "Solid South" because it generally voted Democrat for nearly 100 years following the Civil War. Their vote was primarily driven by the perceived need to maintain the socially Conservative policies of Jim Crow. Until 1964, Republican Party platforms contained planks calling for equal rights for black people so the south basically operated under a one-party system where only Democrats were supported. Agitation had been building for some years but significant changes to this political paradigm did not begin to occur until 1964.
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:26 AM
adaher adaher is online now
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It's not so much that Democrats are pro-science, as the facts have a liberal bias. For now. When the facts do not have a liberal bias, most Democrats oppose the facts as well as any Republican.

Not only that, but since all politicians put politics over science, in places where yuppie anti-vaxxers and anti-GMO types are strong, such as in California, they infect liberal politicians with their irrationality.
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:53 AM
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It's not so much that Democrats are pro-science, as the facts have a liberal bias. For now. When the facts do not have a liberal bias, most Democrats oppose the facts as well as any Republican.
How can "facts" have a "liberal bias"? And when did objectivity become an ideological thought process? Is objective reality no longer that which is the same for everyone? I'm not questioning the notion Democrats can ignore facts as well as a Republican, only the idea that actual "facts" are ideologically biased.
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Old 07-18-2016, 02:23 AM
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It's not so much that Democrats are pro-science, as the facts have a liberal bias. For now. When the facts do not have a liberal bias, most Democrats oppose the facts as well as any Republican.

Not only that, but since all politicians put politics over science, in places where yuppie anti-vaxxers and anti-GMO types are strong, such as in California, they infect liberal politicians with their irrationality.
Now, lets see. If you were correct then their irrationality would be a winner and Democreats in power would be following that ignorance. Right?

Wrong.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/edito...201-story.html
Quote:
California's new, more stringent law on childhood vaccinations, SB 277, doesn't fully kick in until July 1. But it started protecting the public months ago when parents heard from schools and doctors that they would no longer be able to claim a "personal belief exemption" from immunizations if they wanted to enroll their children.

The proof is in the numbers. The percentage of fully vaccinated kindergartners entering the state's schools in 2015-2016 was the highest in a decade: 92.9%, up from 90.4% last year. State health officials say the measles outbreak at Disneyland a year ago might have scared a few parents off the vaccination fence, but SB 277, combined with another bill from 2012 that required parents to talk to a pediatrician before obtaining an exemption, had more to do with it.

It's a relief to see an immediate boost in immunization rates after the nasty political battle last year. Legislators faced fierce opposition from a small group of people who believe that vaccinations can harm children and even cause autism.
Sure, the anti vaccine people got concessions before, but once trouble comes politicians have to yield to science.

Again, it may happen that politicians put politics over science, but as Tyson told us we have to make an effort to be the self correcting system, and that is not impossible as we have seen several times already. And even in the example you presented. (that was for the anti vaccines, the GMO issue is more bipartisan)

There are times were the politicians in power are at odds on what the majority thinks and sometimes that matches what science is reporting and the Republicans are becoming experts on not giving a hoot. Regarding climate change the Republicans in power are acting in favor of their big fossil fuel contributors and not the majority of the people they represent, with the exception of course of the places were fossil fuels are a big source of employment. In that case one should had seen years ago an effort to help the people change livelihoods but the Republicans are also not much willing to pay for it.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 07-18-2016 at 02:28 AM.
  #48  
Old 07-18-2016, 12:36 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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How can "facts" have a "liberal bias"? And when did objectivity become an ideological thought process? Is objective reality no longer that which is the same for everyone? I'm not questioning the notion Democrats can ignore facts as well as a Republican, only the idea that actual "facts" are ideologically biased.
It's a reference to a joke from Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.
Quote:
I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.
Since then it's become shorthand for pointing out that conservatives have a penchant for denying facts when they don't fit their ideological beliefs. adaher, a conservative, of course wants to say that "Democrats do it, too." IMO, a false equivalence, but I will agree that it can happen, though they don't make denial a fetish of inclusion into their ranks.

If you don't understand something this basic about modern political discourse, you're going to have some problems here.
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:16 PM
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It's not so much that Democrats are pro-science, as the facts have a liberal bias...
I disagree. Facts have no bias. Facts are facts. How you present them may have bias.
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:19 PM
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If facts were all the Democrats relied on, they would be pro-free trade and pro-nuclear power.

Regards,
Shodan
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