There was an interesting ‘scientific event’ in early November 2014. You’d be forgiven for not hearing about it, even if it was reported as ‘science news’. Not that the event was under-reported so much as the science being effectively trumped by politics replete with a controversial attack upon ‘male misogyny’.
The accusations of misogyny were levelled by ‘terro-feminists’ in the media against Dr Matt Taylor, a team leader at the European Science Agency (ESA) due to his attention-grabbing shirt. You could be forgiven for losing sight of the fact that ESA just landed a satellite probe onto a passing asteroid. Interpretation of the data is expected to offer some clues as to the nature of the universe, its formation, and the origin of water, gases and possibly life on the Earth. It’s good that there are scientists who care about these questions because the taxpayers who stumped up the $1 billion funding might be distracted by the ‘priceless’ misogyny story.
This story is bigger than it might otherwise appear, and news reporters have failed to see the depth of it, or even the intent of Matt Taylor. The media has taken a very narrow perspective upon the story. Perhaps they have backed away from the issue in shame, as they are increasingly doing with climate change. The breadth of the issue extends to science funding, science promotion, government priorities, as well as social values, both as they pertain to the humanities and prosperity. It is a lot to cover in a single article, however I will endeavour to do so because ‘science is the centrepiece of this controversy’, until the PC brigade made it about ‘their needs’ as women. Paradoxically, Matt and perhaps his colleagues were only trying to help women by promoting science. Like most government programs, it backfired. On this occasion, the space program ‘succeeded’ if you care only about ‘success’ and not about the underlying efficiency of the expenditure.
It is rather amusing from a ‘detached’ perspective to see video footage of this event because the team leader for this program is wearing a very ‘loud’ shirt depicting scantily clad women. The paradox is remarkable because:
- You had this ‘macho’ tattooed ‘scientific team leader’ who was projecting images of scantily clad women.
- You have science event where science was supposed to be the issue
- You have a male dominated field where most of the interviewees are women. Interestingly, they weren’t wearing bikinis, but then the UK was not as hot as Brisbane Queensland, where a journalist was conducting interviews in a bikini. It seems ‘G20 politics’ is as sexy as science. Is not!!
The scientist concerned is clearly a guy who likes to express his ideas. He literally wears his thoughts on his body. This was his proudest day as a scientist. It ought to say something that he tattooed the likeness of the ‘probe landing’ on his body. Many people find tattoos attractive, and other people find them intimidating. It is the reason why some corporations don’t allow staff (like Air NZ) to have their tattoos exposed during working hours. Increasingly however some people are being allowed to dictate what others express. This story shows how such ‘censorship’ can descend into a witch hunt.
It should be the sponsoring agency, whether the European Space Agency or Air New Zealand’s choice to decide what is appropriate attire for their organisations. Sadly government departments were never very good at anticipating problems – until they realise there is a problem. Then they are not every good at finding the cause of problems, so they basically are one source of constant problems. When society becomes so regulated, and governments become overarching standard bearers for society, you can expect governments to pervert all standards. This is the case for education, where the only difference between private and public education is not the teachers, but the aspirational parents and the ‘excess’ school fees they pay which flow into sporting facilities.
Dr Matt Taylor was really being blamed because a ‘non-media-savvy’ government agency didn’t know how to handle a ‘media event’. Rather than blame his ‘monopoly employer’, Dr Taylor essentially assumed the blame for what was the folly of the agency. He didn’t break the law by wearing the shirt. It was the responsibility of his employer to achieve the goals, and paradoxically, they failed the ‘earth-based’ objective of ‘landing science’ on credible funding. Their ineptitude resulted in a fire storm of negative media attention castigating Dr Taylor as a ‘misogynist’, when it was the role of ‘any’ of the governments involved to plan the strategy to articulate the desired values. It begs the question of why people have any faith in government, when there are a multiplicity of governments involved. Any one of them could have questioned the adequacy of the program. But we should already know ‘accountability’ or performance’ is not ‘strong suite’ for governments.
People’s experience of science
Most people don’t ‘experience’ science. Consider that most of what passes for science does not directly affect people. Even in countries that ‘practice’ science like Australia, where 70% of exports are mineral wealth, only 3-5% of the workforce are employed in mining-related industries, and it’s performed in the isolated rural areas, where people don’t see it applied. It is the same for the logistics of raw material movement to ports and the manufacture of products. Most people’s experience is only the ‘service-based’ retail experience of product marketing. Large infrastructure is ‘hidden’ to make the process environmentally pleasing. This is because people don’t appreciate minerals unless they are direct investors or employees of the companies involved; and this is true for only a small number of people. Most people don’t even realise that their fund managers actually invest in mining companies that supply minerals to make the cell phones they require, or the medical equipment that sustains their lives. Otherwise they feel entitled to dictate what other people can do with their lives because it offends their sensitivities. People are therefore encouraged to live in bubbles. This raises several problems:
- Most people have little regard for property rights. If they did have such a regard, they would cite issues of property rights every time some liberal activist wanted to attack another person’s career pursuits or personal expression because it offended their ‘sensitivities’.
- Most people don’t seem to make the connection between ‘mineral ore’ and ‘cell phone’. i.e. They don’t seem to realise that cell phones are comprised of metals, and that without access to those metals, cell phones would not exist, or they would be 10x the price because we’d be restricted to utilising recycled metals from an ‘ancient era’ when property rights were respected.
- Most people don’t seem to understand the value of science, and yet because government is the central repository of decision-making for science and a great many other ‘social values’, the prospects for appreciating and funding science depends on government’s ability to sell it. But governments don’t proactively sell anything. They spend their lives defending the indefensible. Governments don’t really care about science unless their constituents do. So politicians don’t care about science, and few people want to be scientists (unless they are really passionate about science like Dr Matt Taylor). In the 1980s, rather than promote science, government’s simply lowered their matriculation standards to enter science. Two decades later these same scientists are global warming propagandists. Clearly voters and politicians don’t care to differentiate between “good and bad science”. The problem is:
- Vast amounts of resources are destined to be wasted on fear campaigns like global warming that sells newspapers. It’s easy to find evidence of global warming if you make it up. Climate variability is anomalous by nature. It’s similarly easy to find ‘poor scientists’ who will make up ‘pseudo-science’ to acquire a standing that they can’t intellectually ‘earn’ if you give them funding. Politicians are inclined to promote those types of scientists. Good ‘critical scientists’ care about facts rather than popularity. This is one reason why governments are destined to deliver a ‘confirmation bias’ in science.
- Less funding is destined to be directed towards government programs like CERN that politicians struggle to see the value for, since their constituents will not likely consider the value of it. There is simply no attempt by the media or politicians to promote understanding or appreciation. Of course science should be seen in a broader perspective where a large number of agencies have an interest in thinking. Unfortunately that responsibility is assumed by government, since governments have assumed the role of ‘standard bearer’, and it’s a low standard.
The appreciation of science
There is something that needs to be recognised about physical sciences like physics, geology and even chemistry and maths. Women are not attracted to these ‘logic’ based subjects. We might ask why? Well, it might be a good idea to wonder why they are attracted to biology. This video of a Miss World model might suggest why. This science aspirant is seeking to solve the world’s health problems. That’s a more ‘nurturing’ maternal role that might engage women. There is however more to this travesty than you might expect:
- What industry is free of misogyny?
- What industry is free of ‘unbridled competition’
Law, public relations, journalism and biology are probably among the least competitive ‘professional arenas’ not dominated by misogynists, and in any respect, they are ‘rich pickings’ for women to find a husband, settle down and have children. This might explain why there is a dispensation for ‘disempowered’ people to end up in non-competitive government departments and retail roles where they can nurture. But the rest of us can remain in the lower rungs of corporations or confronting ‘statutory imposition’ by forging our own careers, in the hope that someone or some politician will give us a break. There are of course a litany of politicians offering hopes, but too few delivering. The plum roles in life come ‘pre-packaged’, whether it’s an American Idol or Miss World contest. The reason why they universally appeal is because they scantly resemble people’s lives. The human science is in why.
The problem with the verbal assault upon Dr Matt Taylor was that it was so poorly conceived by all parties. Most scientists are socially awkward and will humbly express feelings of inadequacy aside from their careers, and Dr Matt Taylor conveys that here. Scientists are attracted to physically attractive women like everyone else, even if they are themselves not physically attractive, and worse still, socially awkward. The reason why they are socially awkward is because, whilst they might be good at what they do, there is for the most part little appreciation for what they do. They are therefore invalidated by:
- People’s pre-conceptions about the worth of people
- People’s pre-conceptions about the value of certain careers or the functional roles they serve
- Society’s affirmation of negative pre-conceptions
Their awkwardness and social failures become a ‘running joke’, not just among themselves, but now through the powers of comedy, through TV series like ‘The Big Bang’. The TV comedy series depicts this very well, with the character ‘Howard Wolowitz’ ably characterising the scientist’s life. Understandably they might stumble into pornography and fantasy. They are not without efficacy or ability, however it is narrowly compartmentalised towards their career path. It is partly why they care so much about what they do, and why they do it, despite the poorer pay associated with poorly executed, monopolised government programs. They didn’t play a part in the structuring of finance funding. They simply loved science. The poor pay comes from the fact that such programs:
- Offer long range benefits that are not appreciated by short range politicians and business people
- Are the first to be cut when governments are sabotaging the capacity of business people to make money, as well as raising risk premiums attached to borrowing money.
- Rely on people’s love of ideas or knowledge, when governments are undermining people’s love of anything, and most of all abstract ideas, whether philosophy (i.e. ideology) and ‘abstract’ science with long term payoffs is under-appreciated and their exponents invalidated as ‘impractical’, or even uncommercial.
The social alienation and resulting ‘fantasy’ voyageurism of scientists is apparently not strictly limited to their behaviour. Consider some of the ‘serious’ concepts used in geology. I well remember in my ‘boys only’ private school geology class the humour that arose when the teacher embellished science with mineral names like ‘tantalite’ (mineral ‘tantalum oxide) and ‘cummingtonite’ (the complex silicate Mg2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2). It was the running joke at university that if there were women in geology, they were destined to be ugly ones. The exemptions seemed to be foreign interns. In my class, the “best looker” among the “10%” was a ‘solid Army reservist’. They were clearly committed because they loved the science despite these attitudes. It is interesting how embedded these attitudes can be. Another experience that was key was a Japanese female geologist team leader in a mining camp. Now, far from being a stereotypical polite, non-expressive Japanese woman, she would prove to be a very aggressive, unreasonable person, apparently compelled by a need to ‘demand’ respect from her colleagues. Clearly the 1980s was not an inspiring time for women.
Science interest and funding
Clearly Dr Taylor is a man who takes a lot of pride in what he is doing. Consider the controversy the media created around global warming which saw a lot of money wasted on ‘earth science’, and contrast that over-funding with the corresponding decline in funding or ‘neglect’ for other scientific programs because of it. The positive side is that awareness of science has blossomed, but insofar as people are being drawn into science to ‘save the planet’, we can conclude that the IPPA and complicit governments are presiding over a ‘pump & dump’ exercise that is destined to see a lot of people graduate in science and struggle to find jobs in ‘impractical theoretical roles’. More serious however is the outlook for ‘good science’ when the ‘bad science’ is destined to be applied as a measure of the utility of science. Our governments have not just desecrated scientific integrity, they have deeply a ‘sceptic’ perception of science that could bring about a new wave of tyranny and global destitution akin to the Middle Ages. People will not see it coming. That is unless the broader community come to see some practical value in science. This is highly unlikely when governments fail to offer any intellectual foundation for good science or any prospect for appreciating it.
Based on the language used in this interview with Dr Matt Taylor, one might construe this interview as a ‘PR campaign gone wrong’, and that ESA (or Taylor) was attempting to convey that ‘science is sexy’. He appears to be even using ‘sexy words’ like “thrust” and “extra push’’ to convey the ‘sexiness of science’. I can’t help thinking that this was precisely the problem for feminists, and not simply the shirt. If this was not intended, then you might wonder whether physicists are even more ‘socially awkward’ than geologists, or whether they are inadvertently acting on subliminal ideas.
We might even construe the global warming debacle as an immense ‘pump & dump’ scheme intended to give science greater exposure. This prospect does not sit well with the ‘respect for facts’ that we would expect from science, but given the lower matriculation standards and ‘easy money’, it is a plausible source of ‘confirmation bias’. Had these ESA physicists looked to ‘dire scenarios’ (like global warming) rather than ‘sex’, it might have been a different story. Had they conjured up a hypothesis for an asteroid colliding with the Earth, or the prospect of the probe proving ‘alien life’ on asteroids, they might have secured a decade-long funding commitment from government or business leaders. Fear of asteroid impacts has blossomed since 1908 when a modest meteorite struck Siberia, devastating the region. Of course such ‘pseudo-science’ would be a lot easier to discredit than global warming, but at least they would raise some money.
The problem is not simply community attitudes to scientists, but also to the science programs that are funded mostly by governments. The problem is simply that politicians have no interest in funding programs that don’t directly benefit them. These are programs funded under ‘top-down’ agendas rather than by ‘bottom-up’ appreciation of science. At that level, there is less competition for funding because you have contributions from many governments for a raft of programs. This does not make them ‘good investments’, and neither does it build interest in science, or private support for science. The implication is:
- Science funding does not reflect the amounts going into ‘real science’
- Getting ‘real science funding’ is difficult if you don’t have a good PR campaign that demands some insight from corporate PR agencies.
- Science faces funding constraints because it is overly reliant on governments for funding
- Science funding is a competition in itself because there are multiple competing priorities for limited funds. Political agendas like ‘global warming’ are stealing the lion’s share of science funding.
Here is the problem: If politicians don’t think that the community cares about science, then politicians are going to be reluctant to back it.
That is not to say that global warming has not produced some great data sets, however if the intent of that research was to prove ‘global warming’, it was probably the most expensive political mistake since the Iraqi War. I would argue that everything the government funds is a waste in some respect, if only in relativist terms. i.e. Any good they achieved would have been better if pursued by the private sector. More importantly, taxpayers would not be paying for the mistakes of poor ‘private’ custodians of people’s money. Only those who could afford to waste money would be doing so. Most people at this juncture simply conclude that governments are more cost-efficient because they don’t need to make a profit margin. That is precisely the problem, or the source of their largesse. Profit margins are a source of fiscal discipline and technical innovation. When you don’t have a profit margin, you have a government program that is always obliged to meet its budget, or risk losing it. So what loses in the battle for dollars? It’s ‘non-sexy’ science.
It is rather telling that the Telegraph does not offer a category for science videos on their website. Is science not interesting? I think there is a market not tapped here. There was a great interest in geology when I was at school. Science is the ‘big idea’ with practical outcomes. If people are not being raised on these ideas, or otherwise other ideas like ‘risky investment’ then they are simply outsourcing the foundations for ‘modern society’, and through compartmentalisation, we are destined to see the decay of society. This prospect of course depends on the expect not just of the retained intellectual efficacy of people, but their capacity to broadly employ it. This would not be a dire predicament if we had a life affirming political system in place we could trust. CMG is vested in the belief that there is no reason for such trust.
The women who are persecuting scientists like Dr Matt Taylor are really the ‘terro-feminists’. Their ‘political correct’ agendas are shaping political discourse to an extent as impressive as the terrorists in the Middle East. They aren’t blowing up or raping people, however they are destroying people’s intellectual independence. There is a characteristic of ‘terrorists’, whether of the Middle Eastern or ‘PC’ persuasion, and that is that they are emboldened by displays of intellectual weakness. They are mindless in equal measure. On that rare occasion you see forthright, resolute, coherent and deliberate foreign policy from the United States, observe how quickly the terrorists disappears. The reason why Hamas persists killing Israelis, whilst placing Palestinian school kids in harm’s way, is because the PC brigade keep defending Hamas, despite the fact that they initiate the fighting and deny their own people rights. Consider that we don’t receive a flood of stories from Palestine because for Westerners its a ‘no go zone’. The same is true for science. As long as compartmentalised sciences have no regard for the philosophical underpinnings of evidence and proof, then they do science a dis-service and they preside over the destruction of science. This however is ‘a different story’.
In our communities, the media gives the PC brigade a sanction they do not deserve. They are not exponents of ‘higher standards’, they are haters of humanity. They want to subliminally to bring down all that is good. They seek evidence that humanity is bad. When they want to fix the world, let’s see these humanitarians go to Palestine and show us how welcome they are. Show us how much Palestinians appreciate Western values (besides our guns) with ‘Western appreciation classes’. If the PC brigade can perform that mission, and last more than a week without being killed or raped, I’d say it was a job well done. If they do indeed return, and it’s hard to believe that these terrorists think so long range not to be tempted by the desire to ‘indulge themselves’, then I’m certain they will return realising how empty their lives have been, and how gravely they misguided their values, and the values of terrorism. In Israel, Palestinians can teach peace, but they are not permitted to incite or commit violence. That is ‘peace’, not a repudiation of it.