Ken Cuccinelli is on a witch hunt

The Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is on another witch hunt.

When Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II on Monday revived his anti-climate science crusade with a new, 30-page civil subpoena demanding boatloads of documents from the University of Virginia, we wondered what he might have discovered recently about the work of former U-Va. researcher Michael E. Mann, the object of the probe, that would justify further investigation. The answer: essentially nothing.

Slapped down once by a Virginia judge in his effort to investigate Mr. Mann, the attorney general is trying again with a screed that rehashes a lot of the old arguments about Mr. Mann’s findings, including the complaint about his famous “hockey-stick” graph in 1998, which shows a spike in world temperature during the 20th century. What Mr. Cuccinelli doesn’t discuss is a 2006 inquiry from the National Academy of Sciences on reconstructing historical temperature data, which found that Mr. Mann might better have used some different statistical techniques but that his methods weren’t unacceptably poor. Instead, the academy stressed that his basic conclusions appear sound.

As I’ve said before, people like Cuccinelli don’t have the qualifications to read, understand, and appreciate scientific papers. It’s frustrating when jokes like this guy go out and attack good science out of political and economic ideology.

Oh, and the cost?

To defend itself from Mr. Cuccinelli’s investigation into the distribution of a $214,700 research grant, the University of Virginia has spent $350,000, with more to come, and that doesn’t count the taxpayer funds Mr. Cuccinelli is devoting to this cause. Sadly, though, that’s the smallest of the costs. The damage to Virginia’s reputation, and to its universities’ ability to attract and retain top-notch faculty and students, will not be easily undone.

Almost sorry

There is an excellent post over at The Stranger by Dan Savage. A listener to his radio show wrote him complaining of the way he placed responsibility on bigots for what happened to Tyler Clementi.

As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man that took his own life after being humiliated by people who should have known better. I think you need to be aware of your own prejuduces and how they might play into your thinking. At best I think your comments were hypocritical.

If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preferance, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)?

I’ll get to Savage’s response in a second, but he didn’t directly address the listener’s question, so I want to tackle that first.

What is the difference between judging a group based on sexual orientation and judging a group based on any other reason? That question is a non-starter since it’s so incoherent, but the listener does give the specific example of faith. So how is that different? This isn’t that hard. Even though people probably adhere to the same religion as their parents, people do have a choice in their religion. They do choose to have faith, the idea that belief without evidence is a virtue. They choose to base their lives on certain doctrine and dogma. Sexual orientation, on the other hand, is entirely different. That same level of choosing simply does not exist. I can choose to be gay no more than a gay woman can choose to prefer men.

But I like Savage’s response better:

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.

No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: fuck your feelings.

Being told that they’re sinful and that their love offends God, and being told that their relationships are unworthy of the civil right that is marriage (not the religious rite that some people use to solemnize their civil marriages), can eat away at the souls of gay kids. It makes them feel like they’re not valued, that their lives are not worth living. And if one of your children is unlucky enough to be gay, the anti-gay bigotry you espouse makes them doubt that their parents truly love them—to say nothing of the gentle “savior” they’ve heard so much about, a gentle and loving father who will condemn them to hell for the sin of falling in love with the wrong person.

I wish we could see a lot more of this in the political realm. Of course, that would require honesty.

Things that conflict with science

Here is a short list of things which clearly conflict with science.

  • Miracles
  • Guided evolution
  • A belief humans are not animals
  • Belief in prayer
  • Naturopathy
  • Big business interests
  • Religion
  • Teabaggers
  • An intervening god

Chief scientist of Ed. Ministry fired for right reasons

Gavriel Avital was the chief scientist of the Education Ministry in Israel. But over the past year he made a lot of stupid comments, so now he’s gone.

Sources familiar with the affair said Avital was fired over past statements he had made, in which he questioned evolution and the global warming theory.

Avital, who was named chief scientist in December 2009, said Darwinism should be analyzed critically along with biblical creationism.

“If textbooks state explicitly that human beings’ origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don’t believe the evolutionary account is correct,” he said.

He’s at least right that there are many people who don’t accept evolution. He just forgot to mention the part about how those people aren’t qualified to participate in scientific discussion.

Thought of the day

I saw a seagull get hit by a car today.