Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I see a nice little "White House censoring science!" article on the NYT frontpage featuring something called the Union of Concerned Scientists. A little news-googling gives me this article, which while obviously is something of a partisan hack-job ("green version of the Inquisition"), does help one determine that this Union of Concerned Scientists, when it isn't hectoring politicians, is busy blackening the name of heterodox Danish scientists. Take that as you may. They also seem to act as a factoid-generating body for environmental editorials. Now, don't get me wrong: I don't particularly like SUVs, either, and would like to see them one with the ages. But that isn't exactly the mark of a, hrm, neutral voice in the scientific debate, now is it?

I see that the spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was speaking about WMD, environmental science, health issues and medical research, was not, as one might expect, an expert in any of those areas. Instead, he was a retired physicist - oh, I'm sorry, "Professor emeritus". First rule of evaluating statements by scientists? Look real close if they're talking outside of their areas of expertise. I call it the Pauling Principle. Elsewise, you very well might find yourself gorging your sorry self with useless megavitamins.

So, I went to their website to see how extensive their "backbench" was, on the theory that they sent their most telegenic member and not their most authoritative one on the subjects in question. Of course, that website is on an overloaded server, probably due to the press release. How very "professional" of them. How lame is it to get "slashdotted" by the New York sodding Times? If you're airing a press release in a large national forum, be goddamn prepared for the expected goddamn traffic, you fucking pikers! Here's an alternate site, off-server. Which leads... right back to the parent site, on the affected servers. Pikers!

Still googling for a board list, or membership list... Oh, look at this description of the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Scientists and citizens working together to reduce air pollution, prevent global warming, protect endangered species, reduce nuclear arsenals, and ensure safety of our food system.

"And citizens", is it? Not so much of a "union" anymore, are we? And look at that list of causes. Betcha these guys were part of the late, unlamented Nuclear Freeze movement, back in the bad old days of virtuous, righteous Popular Front defeatism. Here's some more, along with some outdated ranting about the dangers of population growth. Yeah, that's an example of sage prognostication.

Googling, googling - hey! Here's the half-assed morons who created the Union of Concerned Scientists' under-powered website. Well, perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh. Perhaps they didn't know that the UCS was going to put their site on a dusty 486 stuffed under the secretary's typing carousel.

Hmm - here's an article talking trash about the UCS. Calls them a "A radical green wolf in sheep’s clothing". According to the author of that article, the Union's pronouncements are based on clever push-polling of unsuspecting scientists, who then are portrayed as members of the organization, concerned about whatever sky is falling on that particular day. Ooh - the UCS is also fond of ranting about "Frankenfoods", based on nothing more than unsupported bluesky speculation. My favorite flavor of quackery!

In 1999, UCS joined the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and the Defenders of Wildlife, in petitioning the EPA for strict regulation of corn modified to produce large amounts of the bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin. Bt is a naturally occurring insect poison that protects plants from pests like the European corn borer. UCS’s letter was part of a major scare campaign to convince the public that Bt corn posed a risk to the Monarch Butterfly.

Agh! They were part of the stampede on the bt/Monarch mess! We were on the other end of that debacle, cleaning up after their scare-mongering and wackjobbery!

Well, I've given up waiting for the UCS website to recover from its self-inflicted case of slashdottery. I think I've gotten all I need on the subject. Short form? Union of Concerned Scientists is a fraudulent organization of leftists, environmental activists, and blowhards masquerading as a professional group. They have a decades-long history of piling it wide and deep for the benefit of easily-bamboozled reporters. Who gives a damn what they think?

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