Thursday, October 27, 2011

‘The Daily Show’ reveals what science is really up to

| »

Last night’s Daily Show featured an awesome segment exposing the sort of narrow-minded (non-)thinking that fuels the anti-science sentiment that’s so prevalent amongst the Right (and also present, albeit much less overwhelmingly, in the Left). It’s all arrogance of ignorance, the bold certainty often held by anti-reality gomers that gut feelings and “common sense” should be trusted rather than the actual discipline of knowledge. They even brought in a Republican strategist who throws all this into sharp relief without even realizing how gob-smackingly retarded she sounds. The full segment, below:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

[my emphasis]

JON STEWART: Global warming real. You win this round, science. But what do you really want? What’s your endgame? Aasif Mandvi has more.


AASIF MANDVI [v.o.]: Science claims it’s working to cure disease, save the planet, and solve our greatest mysteries. But what’s it really up to? From global warming …

HERMAN CAIN [footage]: I don’t believe global warming is real.

MANDVI [v.o.]: … to evolution …

RICK SANTORUM [footage]: Absolutely not, I don’t believe in that.

MANDVI [v.o.]: … to the HPV vaccine.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN [footage]: Her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.

MANDVI [v.o.]: It seems science is up to something.

GOV. RICK PERRY [footage]: There are[sic] a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects.

MANDVI [v.o.]: Could these Republican candidates be right? Tonight, we answer the question: Science – What’s It Up To?

To get the cold, hard facts on science, I sat down with Republican strategist Noelle Nikpour.

NOELLE NIKPOUR: Scientists are scamming the American people right and left for their own financial gain.

MANDVI: Now, do you have any – I don’t wanna say “evidence” – not “data” –

NIKPOUR: I think every American, if they really thought about it, would have a gut feeling that some of these numbers that the scientists are putting out are not right.

MANDVI: I knew it. I knew it! I – I mean, I didn’t know it … but I knew it!

MANDVI [v.o.]: One of the most notorious swindlers is Columbia biology professor, Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Martin Chalfie. I caught up with him in his luxurious palace of science.

[interview in small laboratory/office]

MANDVI: I’ll play along, here. What are you “studying”?

DR. MARTIN CHALFIE: I use the nematodes [???] to study nerve cell development.

MANDVI: So. The oldest grift in the book, right? The old nematode switcheroo.

DR. CHALFIE: That’s a funny grift. […] How come no other occupation has so many people questioning what they do all the time and demands that you confirm the experiments?

MANDVI [v.o.]: But even that’s a neat little trap.

NIKPOUR: Scientists are the only people qualified to comment on scientific theories. This is what raises doubt with not only Republicans, but Americans.

MANDVI: It’s like, why are surgeons the only ones allowed to perform surgeries, and other surgeons are the only ones who get to say whether or not this surgery is necessary or not? Right?

NIKPOUR: Absolutely.

MANDVI: Doesn’t make any sense.

NIKPOUR: It never makes any sense.

MANDVI: And the only other people that can check to make sure that they’re not manipulating –

NIKPOUR: Are other scientists.

MANDVI: They’re very smart, these scientists.

NIKPOUR: That’s what I’m saying!

MANDVI [v.o.]: It’s all too obvious once you know the scam.

DR. CHALFIE: It’s not really a scam. All that we do in science is subjected to a process called peer review.

MANDVI: But who are your peers?

DR. CHALFIE: The peers are other scientists.

MANDVI: Bingo. It’s like you went on trial for rape, and the jury is full of rapists. I mean, how are you different from a rapist?

DR. CHALFIE: Definitely not a rapist.

MANDVI: That’s what a rapist would say. Tell me how you are not a rapist.

DR. CHALFIE: [looking to the side] Am I really supposed to answer this?!

MANDVI [v.o.]: The worst part is, the rapists are coming for your children.

DR. CHALFIE: Thousands of elementary school students, high school students, do science fair projects, and they do a spectacular job.

MANDVI: You’re a sick f[bleep]ck. You’re not gonna get away with this.

MANDVI [v.o.]: With our most vulnerable at stake, I went undercover to a national science fair to try and save them from science.

VALERIE DING: I investigated LED materials using quantum physics.

MANDVI: Jesus, what have they done to you?

MANDVI [v.o.]: I needed to open their eyes.

NATHAN HAN: I did a computer simulation of dark matter effects on galaxy rotation.

MANDVI: I know. You’re just a bright-eyed kid, stepping off the school bus, just wanted to know how the universe works, right?

HAN: Yeah.

MANDVI: [to Justin Barber] Who told you that this data is true?

JUSTIN BARBER: My brain got me these results and this conclusion.

MANDVI: Stop listening to your brain. Start listening to your heart.

MANDVI: [to Valerie Ding] Years from now, a video of this pops up on the Internet, and you’re gonna break your parents’ hearts.

DING: My parents support me. They think science is good.

MANDVI: [to Nathan Han] Pretty soon, you’re hooked on that grant money, looking for the next big score. That’s how it works. Is that what you want?

HAN: Yeah.

MANDVI: Sorry, what?

HAN: Yeah, this is – taught me a lot.

MANDVI [v.o.]: What I witnessed was heartbreaking. And sadly, whether science is peddling quantum physics or evolution, the corruption of our children happens every day right under our noses.

NIKPOUR: It’s very confusing for a child to be only taught evolution, to go home to a household where their parents say, “Well, wait a minute, you know, God created the Earth.”

MANDVI: What is the point of teaching children facts if it’s just gonna confuse them?

NIKPOUR: It confuses the children when they go home! […] We, as Americans, we are paying tax dollars for our children to be educated. We need to offer them every theory that’s out there. […] It’s all about choice. It’s all about freedom.

MANDVI: I mean, it should be up to the American people to decide what’s true.

NIKPOUR: Absolutely! Doesn’t it make common sense?

MANDVI [v.o.]: Tragically, the future offers little hope.

MANDVI: [to little boy] You wanna be a scientist?


MANDVI: This country is in big trouble, and it’s all because of people like you!


MANDVI [v.o.]: “Sorry” is not good enough.


STEWART: Aasif Mandvi. We’ll be right back.

Science denialists: It’s all about truthiness. If it feels true, then Gawd-dangit, don’t you let no scientificians ever tell you diff’rent!

How can it be that troglodytes like these still exist in such an age of scientific accomplishment and enlightenment?