The latest pop fad in the (pseudo?)scientific “resistance” movement is to set up “alt” or “rogue” Twitter accounts, then claim scientific credibility in the role of some anonymous knight in shining armor. Well, here was one example, and my open and public response on Twitter.
Muzzling of scientists is wrong, and I have expressed that concern many times on many fora. However, these fake Twitter accounts strike me as misguided (at a minimum) for many reasons, the biggest among them being trust. That is the over-arching issue and here are some specifics behind it:
- Hand in hand with trust goes authenticity. A fake EPA, NOAA, NPS or other pseudo-governmental account, by its very nature, is inauthentic!
- How do we KNOW that the people behind the accounts are who they say they are? They could be anybody, current or former employee, disgruntled grudge-holder, complete and total poser with no connection, maybe even a false-flag operative (more below). Anonymity undermines credibility.
- Many of these accounts are mixing in politics and social issues with science. That also undermines their credibility. Stick to the science if your account claims to be scientific. Otherwise you’re behaving no differently than some dweeb in a basement pretending to be someone else.
- Spelling, grammar, usage, and other English writing errors are powerful indicators of questionable credibility or complete inauthenticity.
- The snarky attitudes and tangential posts of some of these “alt” and “rogue” accounts only can undermine the causes of the legitimate accounts.
- Plenty of degreed, real-world scientists are standing behind their names and saying what they want to say. I always do. So can others. So can you. Therefore these accounts serve little practical purpose but to deliberately annoy and irritate, while satiating some desire to vent, and/or to masturbate one’s own ego to the thrill of sycophantic adulation from the like-minded.
- Who is held accountable for inaccurate statements made from these accounts, and how?
- What if some of these are false-flag accounts run by people building name lists of opposition? Whoa … … … bet you didn’t think of that possibility, did you? Hmmm…better think twice. In this crazy world, you can’t rule that out either.
Courage necessarily involves taking risk. The following I mention, not to brag, but to establish personal credibility in this subject for those who don’t know me. For over 25 years, I have been speaking out on the Internet about many issues in my science (as well as otherwise), both here in this BLOG since 2005 and in stand-alone HTML web pages before that. I do so on my own time and equipment, not on the job, which keeps it all legal and untouchable under Amendment 1, United States Constitution.
My name is Roger Edwards in Norman, OK, and I take full credit and blame for everything I post, including this. Look for yourself, both in this BLOG’s archives and in those web pages. I have spoken out openly about it all — not hiding behind fake identities in a timorous fashion. I have criticized Republicans and Democrats alike, including our current President, who has been both at various times in his life. All those pages are still there, and so are those BLOG entries. I stand firmly and resolutely behind all of them as they were written based on the insights I had at the time, and get this: with my true identity attached. I have the guts to stand behind my ideals, back down from no one, and suffer no fools. Let that set an example.
If you are a government scientist, and you want to speak your opinions on anything in particular, the solution is clear: keep your opinions off official social-media accounts. That’s not what they’re for anyway. They’re for official business. Do not use official time and equipment to express your concerns — only to express the science itself that’s relevant to that account. If you are punished for doing it by the letter of the rule, fight that through all available legal means!
For opinionated activity: use your own personal accounts and equipment, and do so unfettered. Say what is on your mind. The First Amendment applies to all of us, and does not contain the words, “except” or “unless”. Could you be hated? Sure. Could trolls say mean things? You bet — grow a thick skin and deal with it. Could you be passed up for a grant or promotion? Yes, butt-hurt bureaucrats can and do act like that, and sometimes will retaliate in unprovable ways. I know, I’ve been there. We just have to be ready, even though it’s wrong and we don’t like it. That’s the price we pay for having convictions and the courage to express and act upon them.
If you are a media member, you owe it to journalistic integrity to verify your sources and the information they provide, independently. Journalism 101…never, ever, ever take someone simply at their word. That’s the fastest way to undermine your own credibility and that of your employer, as I also have discussed openly and publicly on this BLOG for the world to see. Vet your sources and their information, thoroughly — and yes, that takes time. So be it. Better to get it right than get it first!
If someone doesn’t have the guts to put their name on the line, to stand behind their claims, that’s just so much cowardice and hollow posturing with no credibility or authenticity to back it up. The greatest measure of the importance of your ideals is in your willingness to stand behind them with your real identity.
In the previous and penultimate post of this six-part series on the 2016 election, I covered the more necessarily (and needed) aspect of the fallout: left-wing self-examination, with trails of hope leading to what I hope is a hill of humility for the left wing. Alas, more recent events (one tip of iceberg, and another) leave me highly skeptical such humility is prevailing over bitterness and resentment. It’s as if two wrongs (Trump’s online dishonesty and insults, followed by the left’s) do make right?
Regardless, the passage of time will reveal a lot more about both Trump and the left, and we’ve got four years to address such. In the meantime, I want to take a relatively brief, final look at the election through the lens of subnational initiatives, specifically those in Oklahoma. A few of them are most interesting and have both Okla-centric and possible regional ramifications.
As a social conservative and spawn of the inner city, where the problems derived from alcohol abuse were numerous, obvious and devastating in surrounding streets and households, and who has dealt directly with the destruction caused by drunk drivers, I’ve long stated that I would eliminate all alcoholic beverages with the snap of a finger, for ever and ever, if I could. Not blessed with that power, we have to decide what to do with them.
In time, government has proved to be a terrible legislator of alcoholic beverages, with Byzantine, illogical, inconsistent (in space and time) and sometimes unconstitutional rules for them. Even nationally, the vacillation has been ridiculous; witness the 18th Amendment designating Prohibition, only to be followed by the 21st Amendment’s repeal of the Prohibition. That’s embarrassing on the world stage, not to mention a massive waste of time and tax dollars, to amend then un-amend one’s own Constitution on the same subject, in short order. Get it right the first time or don’t bother!
Ultimately I realize that the responsibility for responsible consumption is up to the individual. Laws against drunken behaviors exist for a good reason and should be enforced with fierce rigor. In Texas, full-powered beverages long have been sold in grocery stores, unlike Oklahoma, and liquor stores (much to my dismay) still exist and thrive after all these decades.
When I first got to Oklahoma and learned of the horrendously complicated Blue Laws and varying regulations revolving around 3-point vs. full-strength beer, and in what sorts of stores each may be sold, and on what days at what hours, my first thoughts were: “What kind of hopeless and stupid labyrinth of rules is this? Who does it benefit? Liquor stores and their lobbyists of course — certainly not consumer choice! What does it prevent? Certainly not drunk driving, which is a notorious problem here! ” My vote:
Over three decades too late, but better late than never, voters resoundingly approved this state question, which the liquor-store industry fought against even putting before The People. The fact that The People weren’t trusted to exercise the sovereignty of The People over themselves and their government told me all I needed to know about how to vote, aside from my objections to the stupid rules themselves.
While the change did not go far enough toward simplifying liquor laws and leveling the playing field between types of businesses, it’s great progress. The worst part is the timing — not until 2018! That’s crap. It should take effect immediately. Damn the liquor stores and their hollow victimhood-whining and booze-sale-funded lobbying. They should have seen this coming and been prepared years in advance, using successful Texas counterparts as templates. Foresight, foresight, foresight…
These collectively changed a variety of low-grade drug crimes to misdemeanors from felonies and redirected incarceration savings to rehab and mental-health treatments. For similar reasons as above, I hate the fact that mind-altering drugs, including pot, even exist. Their very use outside medical purposes is selfish, often destructive and expensive to society at large, and immoral; and I would make them disappear in an instant if I could. But that’s not happening, and we need to concentrate law-enforcement efforts on the supply side with education and rehab opportunity in mind to reduce demand. My vote:
Prison overcrowding is a major problem here as well, which was a motivator behind this and another part of the proposal that increases the monetary level of some property crimes needed to trigger a felony. I’m glad this passed also. The most appealing part is a surprising bit of ingenuity (for here anyway) that prison-cost savings could be claimed by privately run rehab organizations. Good move.
This measure would have increased some of the already highest state and local combined sales taxes in the nation another penny to THE HIGHEST IN THE NATION (see previously linked graph and compare at the 9.77% level). Why? Supposedly to fund public education. First of all, the current education-funding problems were brought about by a lack of rainy-day foresight over many years on the part of the legislators and both Democrat and Republican governors. And we’re supposed to pay the price for the shortsightedness of these dolts? Then came all the pleas to emotion and whiny sob stories designed to psychologically manipulate voters into supporting “the teachers” (when actual benefit to teachers would be minimal). My easy vote on this:
Go back and do it better, and smarter, than this knee-jerk, regressive crapola. One place to start: low-population Oklahoma has over 500 school districts for 77 counties! Ridiculous! They’re not still running the Pony Express north of here, nor do we get around on horse-drawn carriages and convey fastest messages by telegraph. There’s no good reason, in this era of instant communication and online education, to have more than 10 counties or school districts. Consolidate school districts and eliminate all that repetitive overhead and bureaucracy. Then go from there toward taxing mineral revenues at levels comparable to similarly oil-endowed, socially and fiscally conservative states like Texas and North Dakota.
Furthermore, why does anybody trust the state government to get this right, be honest and allocate such funds as stated–much less those who are most often hotly critical of state government for being untrustworthy? Remember how the state lottery was supposed to save education and ended up way oversold and offset by cuts elsewhere? Why is anyone so naive as to think this would be any different? Give a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians an inch, and they’ll take a mile.
There’s a good reason a lot of rank-and-file teachers (as opposed to their dues-collecting unions or out-of-state meddling busybodies) opposed this measure. Their own taxes, and those of their friends and loved ones, would have increased as well–and regressively in the form of a sales tax, no less.
Last Words on 2016 Election
Finally, as promised, I chose the most conservative down-ballot legislative candidates; nationally those choices won, statewide there were no senators up for election in my district, and my most-conservative state-representative candidate did not win (likely since this is a slightly left-leaning university town). So that goes.
Whatever else happens with Trump and the G.O.P. Congress, good or bad, I can take some consolidation the confidence in the most important legacy action (aside from the dealing with the national debt, which likely will be avoided): Supreme Court nominations. The more strictly Constitutionally constructionist and originalist, the better on this, since the Constitution is the first, last, and only binding legal word from the great Founders themselves on the role of Federal government.
While even Scalia and Thomas sometimes wandered too far off the literal words of the Constitution for my taste, they have represented the closest possible in the modern era to the true purpose of our highest jurists — not to interpret the Constitution, but to apply it. The two terms are not synonymous, and the Constitution’s black-and-white words are quite straightforward. Those words don’t need interpretation; they need application to problems of governance and federalism. With conservative and relatively originalist justices, we can shift the Court back off its dangerous, falsely fluid-Constitutional, trend- and fad-based, subjective, social-whim-based, interpretive leftist slant, hopefully for the remainder of my lifetime with a couple of justices roughly my age currently under consideration.
In the most recent installment of this series, I discussed the massive and vocal cadre of sore losers and sour grapes on the left.
[Again, I voted for neither Trump nor the Clintons, and as such, stand independent of partisanship here; indeed, in an earlier post, I condemned a sore-winner element in the ranks of so-called conservatives.]
In fairness, however, not all left-wingers were such bad sports about the fact American democracy worked as designed. Other liberals admirably took to self-analysis and introspection, looking inward and at themselves and one another, collectively, in the search for what went wrong, instead of reflexively and emotionally blaming the omnipresent other. These leftists I respect and uphold as aware and analytic thinkers, even as I disagree vehemently with their opinions on issues. To wit…
The rise of someone as outwardly onerous as Trump rightly compels the left do so some soul-searching in many ways. One is with the direction of the Democrat Party, where a leftist analog to the Tea Party, rooted in the far-left/socialist, more ideologically pure Sanders/Warren wing, already is gaining groundswell support against the Goldman Sachs wing that dominates the party. For laughs I’ll call this insurrection the Latte Party.
Do you expect the same leftists who decried the rise of the Tea Party on the Republican side to behave similarly toward the Latte Party revolt in their own ranks? I doubt it, except for those few who truly buy fully into the corporate/globalist model of neoliberal leftism, which really is an ideological self-contradiction if ever there was. At least the Latte Party nee Sanders socialists are genuine in their ideals, instead of sellouts to the system like Obama, the Clintons, and their political sycophants.
I actually support the Latte Party ideal in principle, even as I disagree with damn-near everything they stand for issues-wise, because they do agree with Trump’s campaign talk on one of the few substantial ways I also do: the swamp needs to be drained. The globalist Bilderberg puppets and one-world-governance sellouts need to go — from Republican and Democrat parties alike.
THE INTROSPECTIVE LEFT
Finally! It took long enough. The best thing the left wing can do is what too few already are: looking inward and blaming themselves for their own bigotry and intolerance toward the right, and toward the ignored minority of working-class Rust Belters who ultimately made the difference in tilting just the right states Trump’s way. Unsolicited advice: for your own sake, liberals, listen to those few who have a clue what really went wrong and what to do about it.
For starters, you can find no clearer voice than Nicholas Kristof in this remarkably introspective and brilliant column. Take note, too, it may be the only time I ever compliment Kristof on anything. Then take heed and understand what he is trying to tell you! The fact that a majority of left-wing academics in one peer-reviewed study would engage in overt religious discrimination in hiring (a Federal crime, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964!) should go against everything for which “progressivism” has struggled; yet there is the cancer, right in liberalism’s own gut.
When just one single Princeton faculty member and a janitor contributed to the Romney campaign in 2012. So much for “diversity” on campus. Is it any wonder the “intellectual elite” is seen as distant, detached, unrealistic, insular, ivory-tower, and (ironically) ignorant? Complain about that perception all you want, but it exists for a reason. Fix that reason.
Then given the often ferocious pro-Hillary partisanship involved, the condescension, dismissiveness, and glib invalidation of others’ concerns are but a mild terms for how the media behaved leading up to this election! This column, also from the left, offers motivation to return to balance, impartiality and treating opponents like they are worth hearing. As the author rightly alludes, the left has been masterful at preaching empathy but wretched at practicing it with regard to the right, evangelical Christians, and poor whites. Fair-use excerpt:
Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid. It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing. There’s been some sympathy from the press, sure: the dispatches from “heroin country” that read like reports from colonial administrators checking in on the natives. But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness. … We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. … That’s the fantasy, the idea that if we mock them enough, call them racist enough, they’ll eventually shut up and get in line.
Clearly the Trump voters (and again, I was not one) did not react as desired by the left when told to shut up and get in line. Instead they turned out en masse, motivated as never before, to install a President even less qualified than Barack Obama (something I thought impossible eight years ago).
These ladies have a point. Remember, I did not vote for Trump. Yet I sympathize with the plight of the great majority of those who did, who are non-racist, non-sexist, who just want to have a better life, who don’t want government interference in their personal and business issues, nor Federal theft of their hard-earned wages to subsidize sinful causes and waste and bureaucratic inefficiencies. I don’t think Trump will provide that, but after the last eight years of a failed radical-left-wing Presidential experiment, the most extreme leftism this nation has known in the White House, I don’t blame Trump voters for their desperation.
For all of these corrective behaviors and nuggets of wisdom directed by a minority of seeing leftists toward their foaming brethren, my expectations that they have turned a leaf and will seek compromise with the right are low, given life experience and given the deep-seated core of anti-conservative resentment simmering or boiling (see above) from so much off the blue side of the sociopolitical spectrum. This includes the anti-conservative bigotry that motivates false-flag crimes and hate-crime hoaxes framed to look like they came from the “right”.
An election was won or lost, depending on your perspective — or mine from the third-party view, where we lost regardless. Yet life does go on. Get over it. Grow a thicker skin. Acquire a sense of humor. Enjoy the entertainment as your favorite pundits trample all over Trump and his surrogates for their buffoonery, tomfoolery and general ineptitude. Most importantly, get about improving your nation and loving your neighbor (even if it means tough love). Don’t just say stuff on social media, actually spend a chunk of your life to serve your society and country in some way.
The final chapter of this series of essays will cover select state (Oklahoma) and local (Norman-area) ballot selections and their implications.