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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:08 PM

Boo-hoo. "Scientists are increasingly viewed as advocates aligned with the Democratic Party".

"In 2009, I contributed a chapter to an edited volume that was a first attempt on my part to dig deeper into the the normative and ethical dimensions of science communication, particularly many of the questions that had been raised by the growing attention to communication research over the decade and the correlated attention to the role of scientists in high-profile political debates over stem cell research, climate change, evolution and other policy controversies. In doing so, I drew on on my experience in discussing and giving talks specific to the role of framing in science policy-debates. I also drew on the contributions of science policy scholars, most notably Roger Pielke Jr.'s and Daniel Sarewitz's work on "politicization" and the different roles that scientists and their organizations can play in managing policy conflict.

Four years later, attention to the valuable contributions of communication research and the policy sciences to understanding the social dimensions of science controversies has only grown, as evidenced by last year's very successful "Science of Science Communication" Sackler Colloquium organized by the National Academies. Moreover, as policy debates continue over climate change, the teaching of evolution, biomedical research, food biotechnology, and other issues, the role of scientists remain front and center, most notably raised last week in the pages of Nature magazine by Dan Sarewitz and further discussed by Roger Pielke at his blog.

Both argue that as scientists are increasingly viewed not as honest brokers, but as advocates aligned with the goals of the Democratic party, scientists and their organizations risk losing public trust and only likely contribute to polarization on hot button issues like climate change. As their commentaries suggest, for all the attention that science communication research has deservedly received, what is still missing from this discussion is careful analysis, understanding and application of normative and ethical principles to how experts and their organizations can effectively engage the public and policy makers."

http://theenergycollective.com/breakthroughinstitut/171296/america-s-honest-brokers?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=The+Energy+Collective+%28all+posts%29

Is anyone else getting a little tired of this "it's all about framing" BS? Scientists are viewed that way because they challenge Stone-Age religious tenets and profit-driven political agendas which are nourished by the media. We have a policy debate about the teaching of evolution, when we should be having a policy debate about the teaching of religion.

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Boo-hoo. "Scientists are increasingly viewed as advocates aligned with the Democratic Party". (Original post)
wtmusic Jan 2013 OP
pangaia Jan 2013 #1
PamW Jan 2013 #5
Jim Lane Jan 2013 #7
PamW Jan 2013 #8
Viking12 Jan 2013 #9
Jim Lane Jan 2013 #10
PamW Jan 2013 #11
Jim Lane Jan 2013 #12
PamW Jan 2013 #13
Jim Lane Jan 2013 #14
PamW Jan 2013 #15
raouldukelives Jan 2013 #6
Buzz Clik Jan 2013 #2
Demeter Jan 2013 #3
Viking12 Jan 2013 #4

Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:10 PM

1. It is really just the opposite..

Democrats are advocates aligned with science.

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Response to pangaia (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:57 AM

5. Not all scientists...

The Democrats are aligned with the climate scientists.

However, unfortunately, it is the Republicans that are aligned with the Physicists and Engineers,
both of which overwhelmingly support nuclear energy, which the Democrats do not.

PamW

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Response to PamW (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 03:23 PM

7. Democrats generally don't dispute scientific conclusions on non-scientific grounds

You're right that many physicists or engineers support nuclear energy (I don't know whether or not it's overwhelming). The difference is that Democrats who oppose nuclear energy on policy grounds don't make up their own science. Nobody says that controlled fission doesn't produce heat, which would be comparable to what we've seen from the climate change deniers.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 07:56 PM

8. You've got to be kidding!!!

Jim,

First, the support of physicists and engineers for nuclear energy is overwhelming; it's over 99%.

You have to be kidding that Democrats who oppose nuclear energy don't make up their own science. Shall I give you a partial list:

1) I've had Democrats tell me that heavy water is radioactive. It's not. Heavy water is made with non-radioactive deuterium, as the isotope of hydrogen.

2) I've had Democrats tell me that nuclear power produces less energy than the energy it takes to enrich the fuel.

3) I've had Democrats tell me that nuclear power produces more greenhouse gases than does coal.

4) I've had Democrats tell me that 97% of the greenhouse gases emitted by the USA is done to support nuclear energy.

5) I've had Democrats dispute the fact that humans have a DNA repair mechanism that counters damage due to radiation.

....

The climate change denier Republicans are pikers compared to the absolute BS I get from anti-nuclear Democrats.

PamW

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Response to PamW (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 08:18 PM

9. LOL. Next I suppose you can provide links to the leading Dems continually repeating these things.

Right? I mean if they're pikers compared to the Republican climate deniers such links would be easy to find. Books like Inhofe's?
Hyperbole at best. Dishonest bullshit at worst.

How about an article where the chief Dem opposes nuclear? Oops
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/20/obama-doe-fund-modular-nuclear-reactors/1717843/

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Response to PamW (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 08:37 PM

10. You make a bad comparison

You don't give any links, so you appear to be recounting casual statements made to you, as opposed to, say, published op-ed pieces, speeches on the floor of Congress, websites of notable advocacy organizations, and magazine articles. In all of those places you'll easily find climate change denialism. I don't recall ever seeing one item on your antinuclear list in any such source.

The closest thing on your list would be Item 2, which is a garbled version of a legitimate point that has been raised. You write: "I've had Democrats tell me that nuclear power produces less energy than the energy it takes to enrich the fuel." I've never seen such a claim, but I have seen the point that assessment of nuclear energy should include the total energy cost, notably the mining, transporting, and enriching of uranium. (And, yes, I know that breeder reactors wouldn't be subject to this problem, but AFAIK there are no commercial breeder reactors operating in the United States today.) I don't find it implausible that a published piece making that valid point was misunderstood by one reader, who misinformed a friend, who then said something to you that was a further distortion.

I could easily see a similar garbling as to your Item 1. You write: "I've had Democrats tell me that heavy water is radioactive. It's not. Heavy water is made with non-radioactive deuterium, as the isotope of hydrogen." That's true as far as it goes. If, however, heavy water is used in the production of nuclear energy, as has sometimes been done, then some of the deuterium will be converted to tritium, a different isotope of hydrogen and one that is radioactive. I wouldn't be surprised if some people were confused on the point and thought that the heavy water was radioactive because it contained deuterium rather than because it was used in the nuclear power plant. Again, though, I don't think you'll see this kind of confusion given the kind of status in the anti-nuclear movement that climate change denialists give to their scientific knee-slappers.

ETA: Just after writing this reply I happened upon a post by DUer hue at http://www.democraticunderground.com/101653191 linking to this article in The National Memo: "5 Anti-Science Congressmen On The House Science Committee". Can you find five Democrats in Congress, whether or not on the science committee, who've made comparably stupid statements in the course of their opposition to nuclear energy?

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 10:56 AM

11. Listen to Helen Caldicott, and Arnie Gundersen if you want to hear nonsense

Jim,

You state,
I've never seen such a claim, but I have seen the point that assessment of nuclear energy should include the total energy cost, notably the mining, transporting, and enriching of uranium.

I agree that one should consider all costs including mining, transporting and enriching uranium. But one has to do this quantitative; that is just saying that nuclear power requires mining, and coal requires mining, so they are equally bad is just plain wrong. Nuclear reactions get their energy from the strong nuclear force, one of the basic forces in Physics. Chemical reactions, such as burning coal, get their energy from the Coulomb force, the same force that provides electric attraction / repulsion of charges.

The strong nuclear force is MILLIONS of times more powerful than the Coulomb force. If the military drops a 2,000 lbs bomb; it will destroy a building. However, if the military drops a nuclear bomb of equivalent size / weight; it will destroy the whole city. That's because pound for pound, we get MILLIONS of times more energy per pound of fuel from nuclear reactions than we get from chemical reactions such as combustion.

Another way of saying this, is to say for the same amount of energy; we need one-millionth the mass of nuclear fuel as we would chemical fuel.

Therefore, we need to mine, and transport less nuclear fuel than mining, transporting chemical fuel; and by a factor in the MILLIONS.

So if we switch from burning coal to nuclear power, the pollution due to mining and transportation will go down by a factor in the MILLIONS.

You also state:
then some of the deuterium will be converted to tritium, a different isotope of hydrogen and one that is radioactive.

Again you are WRONG here too. Under intense neutron bombardment, some deuterium can be transmuted to tritium; but this is a relatively rare reaction, and NOT how tritium is produced in nuclear power plants. Tritium in nuclear power plants is produced starting with boron. PWR reactors use boric acid in the coolant water as a control poison. BWRs use large blades that contain solid boron as a control poison. Under neutron irradiation, boron transmutes to lithium via the (n, alpha) reaction:

5B10 + n --> 3Li7 + 2He4 ( the Helium-4 nucleus is an alpha particle )

Irradiation of the Lithium produces this reaction:

3Li7 + n --> 2He4 + 1T3 + n

So the whole confusion with heavy water being radioactive or being a significant precursor to radioactive material is just plain nonsense.

As for Congressmen making stupid statements about nuclear power; try Rep Edward Markey of MA and Bernie Sanders of VT

PamW


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Response to PamW (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 05:43 PM

12. About tritium and trivia

As to your technical point, I wasn't addressing the overall question of tritium production, and how much of it comes from neutron bombardment of deuterium. I was addressing the specific point that you introduced into the discussion, namely radioactive heavy water. The point is that heavy water can be radioactive after its use in a reactor because of deuterium being converted to tritium. That tritium is also produced in other ways is irrelevant.

I agreed with your point that heavy water in general is not (significantly) radioactive. In return, you appear to concede my point that it can become radioactive. Someone who casually reads an article in the popular press might get these points confused and not realize that deuterium and tritium are two different isotopes. My point is that this kind of mistake is not propagated by the important anti-nuclear sources, the way comparable mistakes are propagated by climate change deniers.

That brings me to the second part of my subject line -- the trivia. As far as I can tell, you're reacting to casual observations, some of which may be in personal conversations or blog posts. These are trivia. They contrast with the institutionalized anti-science of the climate change deniers. I gave you one link, citing five such deniers; many more are available. What I've seen from anti-nuclear leaders, such as the four you mention, is not comparable.

Now, I don't doubt that, somewhere along the line, Caldicott, Gunderson, Markey or Sanders might have garbled something (or, of course, been misreported). The issue, though, is whether the anti-nuclear movement persistently misrepresents scientific conclusions. An incidental mistake by one person, not central to the argument and not widely adopted, doesn't count.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 10:14 AM

13. NOPE!!

Jim,

First, the whole discussion of heavy water with regard to power reactors in the USA is moot. Power reactors in the USA don't use heavy water.

NO - "heavy water" is NEVER radioactive. From heavy water, you can make "heavy, heavy water" which has tritium and is radioactive.

However, if the material is truly "heavy water", then it is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER radioactive.

There is a popular misconception that radioactivity is "contagious"; that is if a non-radioactive substance is exposed to any radioactive substance, it "catches" or "inherits" the radioactivity. That is just plain WRONG. Professor Richard Muller points this out in his book, and states the myth comes from the portrayal of radioactivity by Hollywood:

http://books.google.com/books?id=6DBnS2g-KrQC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=Muller+radioactivity+contagious&source=bl&ots=_0mZTDzryv&sig=eIpDeChay-vwCk9Uxd5EhLw25po&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3xX4UMiXCcHNiwLw_YCIBQ&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Muller%20radioactivity%20contagious&f=false

I don't give Caldicott, Gunderen, Markey, or Sanders the "pass" that you do that they got "something garbled".

NO - they are just plain propagandists. Caldicott was on a talk radio program in my area and stated some scientific nonsense. I called in, identified myself as a scientist from a local scientific institution, and corrected the nonsense she said. However, I've heard her later making the IDENTICAL claims.

If someone got "something garbled", when the error is pointed out to them, they look into it and see if they are correct or in error. Upon finding themselves in error, they should not spout the same erroneous information. Not with the anti-nukes I've listed. Even when their errors are pointed out, they go right on spouting the same propaganda.

The truth is important to me. The truth is NOT important to them. They have their agenda, and they will further that agenda, and truth be DAMNED.

PamW

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Response to PamW (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:44 AM

14. YUP.

You write:

First, the whole discussion of heavy water with regard to power reactors in the USA is moot. Power reactors in the USA don't use heavy water.


I know that, which is why in my post #10 I wrote, “If, however, heavy water is used in the
production of nuclear energy, as has sometimes been done....” For example, the CANDU
reactors operating in Canada are of this design. The context is the consideration of your totally
unsupported allegation that some people have erroneously said that heavy water is radioactive. I
was pointing out that heavy water has sometimes been used in reactors; that such heavy
water becomes radioactive; that people (even Americans) might have read about this, what with
Canada not being all that far away and what with the design also being used in several other
countries; and that this might be the source of any confusion that does exist, i.e., people thinking
that heavy water is always radioactive.

NO - "heavy water" is NEVER radioactive. From heavy water, you can make "heavy, heavy water" which has tritium and is radioactive.


You’re really splitting hairs here. Is iron radioactive? Generally, no, but iron that’s subjected to
the intense neutron bombardment of a nuclear reactor becomes radioactive. The analogy to your
logic would be that the material is not truly iron but must be called "heavy iron" or "radiron" or some such.

We seem to be in agreement on the facts: Heavy water is not, simply by virtue of being heavy
water, radioactive (except negligibly); if you take some heavy water and use it as a reactor
coolant for a while and then test it, you will find nonnegligible radioactivity in the coolant
substance. If you want to say that the coolant substance was once heavy water but no longer is,
you can say whatever you want. Again, I’m just mentioning this as a possible explanation of why
some casual readers of the popular press (NOT serious anti-nuclear activists) might have told you that
heavy water is radioactive.

There is a popular misconception that radioactivity is "contagious"; that is if a non-radioactive substance is exposed to any radioactive substance, it "catches" or "inherits" the radioactivity. That is just plain WRONG.


Straw man. Some people probably do think that, but I don’t. What I wrote (in post #12) was:
“heavy water can be radioactive after its use in a reactor because of deuterium being converted to
tritium.” This, I explained, was because the tritium “comes from neutron bombardment of
deuterium.” The source you quote -- the book Physics for Future Presidents at http://books.google.com/books?id=6DBnS2g-KrQC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=Muller+radioactivity+contagious&source=bl&ots=_0mZTDzryv&sig=eIpDeChay-vwCk9Uxd5EhLw25po&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3xX4UMiXCcHNiwLw_YCIBQ&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Muller%20radioactivity%20contagious&f=false -- states that radioactivity “is not contagious–at least most of the time, for most kinds of radioactivity.” Oh, wait, there’s some wiggle room after the dash? Yes, indeed there is. On the very next page of your source we find:

There is an exception–a kind of radiation that can make you radioactive: neutrons. ... Objects
exposed to intense neutrons do become radioactive. That happens in nuclear reactors ....


In other words, your source confirms exactly what I said, about the neutron bombardment that
occurs in nuclear reactors. Thank you.

I don't give Caldicott, Gunderen, Markey, or Sanders the "pass" that you do that they got "something garbled".


Well, frankly, I wasn’t giving them a pass. I was giving you a pass. You had cited
precisely zero instances of any factual error by any of your four targets. Nevertheless, I was
charitably prepared to assume that, at some point, at least one of them had made some sort of
mistake. I’m a lawyer and I know the law in my field pretty well, but sometimes I momentarily
confuse two similar concepts or I misunderstand a question or I lose track of what the antecedent
to a pronoun is (“You didn’t build that”) or whatever. The result is an occasional garbling, not
an indication that I’m an incompetent who should be disbarred. Your four targets, being human,
are subject to the same issues. I was contrasting this kind of thing with the pervasive,
institutionalized deceit of the climate change deniers.

Conclusion: My bottom line is that, if anti-nuclear activists were really as hostile to science as
the climate change deniers, which is your contention, then it should have been easy for you to
find and cite a few examples. Again, I don’t mean some random blogger; I mean notable
organizations or advocates, like the Nuclear Information and Resource Service –
http://www.nirs.org for your ready reference.

Anyway, I’ve already spent too much time responding to your vitriol about anti-nuclear activists.
Probably no one is still reading this thread except the two of us. You may now have the last
word.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:53 AM

15. ACCURACY - is NOT "splitting hairs"

Jim,
You’re really splitting hairs here. Is iron radioactive? Generally, no, but iron that’s subjected to
the intense neutron bombardment of a nuclear reactor becomes radioactive.


You evidently don't understand the Physics. When you expose Iron, say Iron-56 to neutrons in a reactor; it doesn't become radioactive Iron-56. In actuality, it becomes Iron-57 and Iron-57 is NOT RADIOACTIVE.

What you are missing is that in order to turn something radioactive you have to TRANSMUTE it into SOMETHING ELSE.

That's the part that you are missing in reading Professor Muller's book. When you make something radioactive in a reactor; you are transmuting it into something else. It is no longer the same "stuff" that you had. That's the critical point that you keep missing. Additionally, I should add that irradiating something in a reactor doesn't automatically make it radioactive. It may make it radioactive; but not all materials that are so irradiated become radioactive. For example, some materials just don't absorb neutrons very well. We say they have low capture cross-sections. Additionally, there are materials, like my example of Iron-56 above, that even if they do absorb a neutron, as Iron-56 absorbing a neutron and becoming Iron-57; the resultant nuclide is still not radioactive. Same thing with the light water coolant in a US reactor. Hydrogen can absorb a neutron and become Deuterium; but Deuterium is not radioactive. Additionally, Deuterium is one of those materials that has a low capture cross-section and doesn't readily absorb a neutron. That property is why Deuterium in heavy water is used in reactors like the CANDU. CANDUs because they run on un-enriched Uranium have to be very frugal with their neutrons. Therefore, in order to be frugal with your neutrons, you don't want them absorbed unproductively in the coolant. So you use heavy water with Deuterium that has an extremely low affinity for absorbing neutrons.

Additionally, you have the mechanism whereby tritium can be produced in nuclear reactors. The principal way tritium is produced is NOT from Deuterium; but from the boron that is used as a control poison. The boron is transmuted to lithium under neutron irradiation, and the lithium subsequently under neutron irradiation can be transmuted to produce tritium. B-10 + n --> Li-7 + He-4 and Li-7 + n --> He-4 + T-3 + n

That's why Iron-56 is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER radioactive. If you want a radioactive nuclide, you have to transmute it into something else.

Let's take the simple case of water. There are three hydrogen isotopes; Hydrogen, Deuterium, and Tritium. Both Hydrogen and Deuterium are stable, and Tritium is the only one of the three that is radioactive.

If you make water with light Hydrogen; it is called light water or ordinary water and is not radioactive.
If you make water with Deuterium, it is called "heavy water" and is not radioactive.
If you make water with Tritium, it is called "heavy, heavy water" and IS radioactive.

So if you have "heavy water"; it is NOT radioactive.

If you have water that is radioactive, then you have "heavy, heavy water"; and NOT "heavy water".

In science, we have specific names for specific things. We have a specific name for non-radioactive D2O; "heavy water". We also have a specific name for radioactive water made with Tritium or T2O; and it is called "heavy, heavy water". You can also call this "tritiated water", but scientists call it "heavy, heavy water".

It's as if you said, "Sometimes dogs are rather small, and they have pointed triangular ears, inverted triangular noses, and very sharp retractable claws. I have a friend with a dog like that".

Well, you may have a friend with a pet that fits the above description, but we don't call such a pet a "dog"; it is called a cat.

If you want organizations that eschew science in their pursuit of opposing nuclear energy; then the litany would include Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Nuclear Information and Resource Service...

As I said; the four examples I gave are people that aren't making occasional errors as you describe; they make the same errors and tell the same lies over and over and over, repeatedly. Even when they've been called on it, and shown to be in error; they ignore the science in pursuit of their political agendas.

PamW


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Response to pangaia (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 12:01 PM

6. In some cases, unless they are more aligned with Wall St.

Then they just become the cheerleaders for the corporations, who fund the majority of the climate deniers, who lead us into more deregulation, which leads them to more money, which leads us to more corporate friendly politicians.

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:11 PM

2. I agree fully with the italicized text at the bottom of the post.

When, as a group, the extreme right spends a lot of time attempting to discount the science that disputes their claims and preconceived notions, they will not change their opinion of scientists until science demonstrates that Jeebus rode a dinosaur to church.

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:14 PM

3. As Stephen Colbert Has Pointed Out



"Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:06 PM

4. I don't waste my time with Nisbet or Pielke amymore. Sarewitz is always a worthwhile read.

Last edited Tue Jan 15, 2013, 08:54 AM - Edit history (1)

Edit to add: The entire premise of Nisbet's argument assumes good faith actors on all sides of the debate. As we all know, there's an extremist element that is not interested in honest discussion. As such, the appearance of party affiliation is of little consequence.

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