Three Charts on Education in America


Do you still think more money will help?

It’s Not About Me


Mistrusting Science?

scales-of-justice-tippedImagine this: You frequent a shop where they sell jelly beans by the pound. After your third or fourth trip, you begin to notice that the bag seems to be a little less full when you get home. Being a reasonable person, you suspect maybe the jelly beans are getting smaller and heavier, or something — but out of curiosity, you decide to weigh the bag.

You find the jelly beans in the bag weigh 15.5 ounces, rather than 16.

The next week, you return and purchase another pound, take it home, weigh it, and discover it weights 15.25 ounces. This continues week by week, each week the bag weighing less. Finally, when the bag of jelly beans weighs only 14 ounces, a full 2 ounces short of a full pound, you check with a number of different scales you — the post office’s scale, a local food store, your own kitchen scale, a scale your son uses in science class at the local school, etc. Finding they all agree, you decide to confront the man selling the beans.

“Why am I only getting 14 ounces of jelly beans?”
“Do you see this certification,” he says, pointing at a white label on the side of the scale he uses to weigh the beans out.
“Yes, but I don’t care, I’m only getting…”
“That label is placed there by an inspector who tests this scale using a very scientific method. The scale is tested once a month, and was just tested yesterday. Let me see that bag!”
So you hand over the bag, which he weighs at 16 ounces even. “See, I told you so!”
“I don’t trust that scale — my scale says something different!”
“I see — you’re saying you don’t trust science!”

Would you buy from this seller of jelly beans again? Who are you going to believe, the variety of scales against which you tested the previously purchased bags of jelly beans, or the seller’s scale?

This is precisely the situation the modern conservative finds himself in. Because the scales don’t match his experience, he calls the bluff and challenges the seller — the progressive liberal establishment that is telling him global warming is a fact, guns kill people, vaccines can never do any harm, birth control is completely safe, homosexuality is completely genetic, and all the rest.

And the answer? “You’re telling me you don’t trust science!”

The conservative is thrown out of class for questioning the standard issue rape on college campus statistics, and is called a denier for asking for evidence rather than models in the global warming debate.

What should the conservative say to the jelly bean man?

It’s not that I don’t trust science, it’s that I don’t trust you.

It’s not science that people are getting tired of, it’s the tired old resort to “because science,” whenever anything doubts a single word of anything a progressive says or does. It’s not science that people are losing their trust in, but the “scientific establishment,” which is apparently overrun with people who spend their time finding all the proof they can that reality isn’t real.

Science is a perfectly fine thing, so long as it doesn’t get too big for its britches, overflowing into the belief that we can build a practically perfect paradise if we can just figure out how to modify the behavior of enough humans (or rather, so long as we treat humans as just another animal resulting from the random banging together of enough randomly generated particles for long enough, leaving us wondering exactly why we’re supposed to trust our randomly created minds to explain the randomness which created them).

The problem isn’t science, just as the problem is the scale, or the tests, or the person certifying the scale.

The problem is the folks selling nonsense that’s easily refutable and clearly wrong headed in the name of science — those who go around selling ideas that promote their political power “because science.” The problem is folks who go around telling us we must report the amount of water we use in the shower while we’re in a hotel so we can “save the planet.” So long as they get to sell the monitoring device, and grab the data to improve their odds of selling you soap, that is. The problem is folks who go around saying that marital relations are improved when you participate in “chorplay,” when the “science” actually says nothing of the kind.

Conservatives aren’t “anti-science.” They just don’t trust the guy selling the jelly beans.

Is it Global Warming?

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