Bad Biology & Its Adherents

Worth a read, how neoliberals’ ignorance of science allows them to wilfully misinterpret it to support their selfish pathologies, how social Darwinists are a fraud and chimps like to hug, (the author is rather too rosy in his views of some historic leaders but those are tangental items anyway to his main points). (ht2 James)

How bad biology killed the economy

An unnatural culture of greed and fear has brought the global economy to its knees. We need to start playing to our pro-social strengths, says Frans de Waal

The CEO of Enron – now in prison – happily applied ‘selfish gene’ logic to his human capital, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Assuming that the human species is driven purely by greed and fear, Jeffrey Skilling produced employees driven by the same motives. Enron imploded under the mean-spirited weight of his policies, offering a preview of what was in store for the world economy as a whole.

An avowed admirer of Richard Dawkins’ gene-centric view of evolution, Skilling mimicked natural selection by ranking his employees on a one-to-five scale representing the best (one) to the worst (five). Anyone with a ranking of five got axed, but not without first having been humiliated on a website featuring his or her portrait. Under this so-called ‘Rank & Yank’ policy, people proved perfectly willing to slit one another’s throats, resulting in a corporate atmosphere marked by appalling dishonesty within and ruthless exploitation outside the company.

The deeper problem, however, was Skilling’s view of human nature. The book of nature is like the Bible: everyone reads into it what they like, from tolerance to intolerance and from altruism to greed. But it’s good to realise that, if biologists never stop talking about competition, this doesn’t mean that they advocate it, and if they call genes selfish, this doesn’t mean that genes actually are. Genes can’t be any more ‘selfish’ than a river can be ‘angry’ or sun rays ‘loving’. Genes are little chunks of DNA. At most, they are self-promoting, because successful genes help their carriers spread more copies of themselves.

Like many before him, Skilling had fallen hook, line and sinker for the selfish-gene metaphor, thinking that if our genes are selfish, then we must be selfish, too. He can be forgiven, however, because even if this is not what Dawkins meant, it is hard to separate the world of genes from the world of human psychology if our terminology deliberately conflates them.

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Friday! Mark Steel- Darwin

” Are you calling me a chimpanzee you soft evolutionist ponce?”
Geordie Creationists…possibly.

Part 2 & part 3

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The Consultation Scam- RoboCop II

In two recent cases the government’s consultation process has been shown to be an utter sham, an illusion of democracy where entrenched elites, the corporate lobby and their views override evidence & us-

Gordon Brown will call for an acceleration of nuclear power today in a speech to business leaders designed to show he is focused on the long term and will not buckle in the face of negative headlines. During his annual address to the Confederation of British Industry, the prime minister will also give his personal endorsement of the third runway project at Heathrow. He will tell business leaders: “Long-term reforms will intensify and be stepped up. We must leave behind the old policies of yesterday and plan for new long-term policies which will serve us better tomorrow. There are no answers to be found in old and outworn dogmas.”

Dogmas like..erm, truth, fairness and democracy apparently-

Greenpeace accused the Government of acting illegally by failing to consult properly on its nuclear power plans before giving them the go-ahead. Upholding their complaint, Mr Justice Sullivan criticised the consultation exercise, which lasted only 12 weeks as “seriously flawed”, “misleading” and “procedurally unfair”. The consultation document gave every appearance of being simply an “issues paper”, he said. It contained no actual proposals and, even if it had, the information given to the public was “wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response”, added the judge.

They must be on drugs, oh yes-

An influential Home Office-backed committee raised serious doubts about the consultation process behind the 10-year strategy which will be unveiled in April. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) described the process as ‘self-congratulatory and generally disappointing’ and questioned the credibility of much of the evidence presented to government.

the council said: ‘We consider that an opportunity has been missed to address the public health problem relating to drug misuse and the balance with law enforcement and the Criminal Justice System…The consultation would benefit from extending further to the wider social harm of drug misuse.’ It also said: ‘It is of concern that the evidence presented, and the interpretation given, are not based on rigorous scrutiny. It is not acknowledged that in many cases the information is uncertain and sometimes of poor quality.’

Steve Rolles of think tank Transform, which advises the UN on drugs policy, said: ‘The consultation process behind the new strategy has been woeful.’ Last month Transform branded the consultation process a ‘sham’, saying the government had already made up its mind to continue with its current strategy. (ht2 D-Notice)

Which means they will be ignoring this yet again-

The designation of drugs in classes A, B and C should be replaced with one more closely reflecting the harm they cause, a committee of MPs has said. The Science Select Committee said the present system was based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment.

The alternative system was prepared by Professor David Nutt, a senior member of the Committee that advises the government on drug classification, and Professor Colin Blakemore – chief Executive of the Medical Research Council.

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Of course there is money in them thar prisons- £300 million on one contract alone, 11 private prisons and drug related offences make up a large proportion of the prison populace (65% test positive for drugs at arrest, inmates for drug offences 13% -in 2000- and rising). And corporations involved are usually fingering lots of other privatisation pies, some steaming with war OF terror juiciness.

And treatment is a hard sell to the tabloid felch even though it works-

Initial results from a London pilot scheme where addicts inject themselves with heroin in a clinic suggest it has reduced drug use and crime.

Trial leader Professor John Strang, of the National Addiction Centre, based at London’s Institute of Psychiatry, told BBC News that about 40% of users had “quit their involvement with the street scene completely”.

BBC correspondent Danny Shaw said initial results suggested the experiment was having a profound effect on hardened heroin addicts. Many were leading much more stable lives and were enjoying better family relationships because they were no longer in and out of prison, our correspondent added.

The cost of the treatment, including providing heroin, is between £9,000 and £15,000 per patient – about three times as much as a year’s course of methadone.

And what does prison cost-

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So why RoboCop II? The MacGuffin was a drug called ‘nuke‘. Whereas the MacGuffin here looks like capital and institutional traditionalism. It took Semmelweis, Wendell Holmes, Nightingale, Pasteur years to get the medical profession to wash their frickin’ hands and thus stop killing their own patients and that is an educated & scientific grouping (and they are so fucking dumb we need to be taught it all over again, even if some of the patients are drinking the stuff, jeebus). The obstinacy of institutions to accepting change and judging new evidence fairly is mind destroyingly frustrating, the influence of greedy entrenched interests, moralists and opportunistic corporations compound the consultation process into a farce. Which leaves me even feeling pity for the poor politician dealing with it all, or it would if they showed any sign they were fighting these demons and not leaping into bed with them for that revolving consultancy/directorship treacly goodness. What is the point of finding what works or innovating when it all gets binned in favour of the same old comfortable shite and mutual back scratching corruption from the usual cast of pigly ‘business leaders’ whose second, third and fourth homes are never anywhere near the industrial centers workers call home. No wonder drugs are such a bleedin’ popular getaway.

Christian, Scientists

An influential inquiry into the future of Britain’s abortion laws will begin today amid controversy over an apparent attempt by faith-based organisations to skew the balance of evidence presented to the committee of MPs.At least eight submissions of written evidence have come from medical professionals who have not disclosed their membership of Christian groups opposed to abortion on faith grounds. Six of the doctors are members or activists with the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organisation that has given its own evidence to the inquiry.

Suspicion that contributors had not been transparent about their affiliations has led the clerk of the committee to take the unusual step of writing to all those who gave evidence asking them to disclose their links to any relevant organisations.

Evan Harris MP, the Liberal Democrats’ science spokesperson, said: “This inquiry is specifically about the scientific evidence not moral or religious arguments and our witnesses need to be evidence-led not ideologically or theologically driven. The CMF risk undermining the inquiry by getting people called as expert scientific witnesses when they are not.”

Professor Wyatt, who sits on CMF’s public policy committee, said: “I’m basically giving this submission as a private individual not a representative of any organisation. It doesn’t seem to me helpful in a way to wish to diminish the impact of evidence according to the personal beliefs of the people who present them, unless one is going to do that across the board … what we are asking is for scientific evidence to be considered on its merits and avoid a sort of polarisation which so easily comes into this field.”

He added: “The idea that people can give information without people finding out where they are coming from – that there is some attempt to hide – is surely ludicrous in the age of Google.”

Well here’s a list of his articles on the CMF site courtesy of Google and here’s the CMF’s beliefs, including-

The Holy Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour.

Since the fall, the whole of humankind is sinful and guilty, so that everyone is subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.

The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God’s just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.

What a shame we wouldn’t have known this if the clerk of the committee hadn’t been so nosy, the faithful should be proud of their work, I can’t imagine why they were hiding their light under a bushel. Oh and Google, thanks for the tip Prof.

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Knowledge Vs. Capital

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The Climate camp began their 24 hours of mass action at noon Sunday, indymedia’s news ticker is here. Keeping track of the camp has become rather addictive, beats soaps or ‘reality’ teevee plus the potential for some good to come of it. Certainly their organisation and tactics have been impeccable.

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Best Joke Ever About Science, Religion & Humanity.

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It’s close to my favourite silly joke, which is –
What’s the difference between a Dog? One of it’s legs is the same.

Oh suit yourself.

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