Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Atomic Anxiety and the Tooth Fairy: Citizen Science in the Midwest (2014) (theappendix.net)
26 points by samclemens 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

"The atomic testing of the 1950s raised unsettling questions. If the detonations in the South Pacific were sickening Marshallese people and killing Japanese fish stocks, were they also exerting milder effects as far away as the United States?"

Good to know that it wasn't "unsettling" until the possibility that it might have an effect on the United States was raised. Seems that we were as unconcerned by an "international uproar" then as we are now.

On a less sarcastic note, I wonder if the decline of trust in science in America has something to do with the current lack of a common enemy.

> On a less sarcastic note, I wonder if the decline of trust in science in America has something to do with the current lack of a common enemy.

Perhaps more to do with its ubiquity. In the atomic age, one could see new advances attributed breathlessly to the ingenuity of scientists, and so was led, at least indirectly, to think of scientists as people who actively contributed to the good of society.

People nowadays are encouraged, roughly speaking, to think of their iPhones, say, as magic devices, not to think of the engineering and scientific wizardry that goes into their design. Why do we need scientists, if our lives are made so comfortable by devices that, for all we are encouraged to know, just work?

The modern day lack of trust in science (home schooling, religion and so on) doesn't have a whole lot to do with embracing the fundamentals of a powerful weapon (nuclear explosives) that deters agression, and engages a perception of righteousness prevailing over some abstract economic system.

Atom bombs and nuclear science, and the threat of their malicious use, weren't the last peg to pin proof and evidence above superstitious preferential belief.

The weirdness surrounding creationism versus evolution has more to do with the perception of birth control (and all its varieties, not just abortion which attracts the most extreme responses) and modern medicine tampering with the family structure as well as introducing crushing economic damage, while failing to protect from chronic diseases or stave off or explain other conditions like all the auto-immune and endocrine problems floating around.

There's also big companies out to push their capacity to profit from the indiscriminate toxic effluence of whatever it is certain companies might be producing. This story starts with leaded gasoline, moves on through climate change, and covers electronic waste and so much more. Companies know that an educated public can harm their bottom line, so pushing misinformation regarding trans-fats, refines sugar, pharmaceutical side effects, sewage contamination of improperly disposed medication, plastics accumulation in garbage and so on, are all swept under the carpet, and media encourages everone to think less deeply about such things.

Meanwhile flat earth conjecture is a mutant troll meme born of the internet in it's new misinforming hey-day, captivating mostly just the legit crazies.

It all plays together to the point that the polarization reflects a schism in either buying what medicine and science will sell you as you go about your daily routine or maybe not so much. This affects the companies you buy from and the stores you shop at, and thus, where wealth collects to reinforce itself.

You either trust in what medicine can teach you about yourself, or you eat fast food, and buy the cheapest comforts at the store with the lowest prices, and exert the lowest cognitive load that challenges this behavior.

The downside in all this is that neither side is totally incorrect. Modernity really does have some harm to deal, and modern medicine isn't always good for you. Just look at all the performance drugs and synthetic opiates no one will do anything about. Quite the opposite, in fact.

While the political polarity against science does produce some laughable beliefs, embracing it leads tons of people into dark realities of negative psychological misery, pushing amphetamines on kids because their grades are low, or leaving kids in depressing situations at public schools that make them absolutely miserable, and then offering pills to cope, without acknowleging that the place they're forced to go to every day, really would depress anyone. So, is it "science" or moreso the general way society leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many?

Science has become so politicized it was inevitable for it to become viewed as an enemy. Ask a hard core liberal for concrete evidence that carbon dioxide directly causes global warming and you will be called a bigot and worse. I'm sure there is equivalent for conservatives

Would you like said evidence? I can put you in touch with someone.

Yeah I've yet to see a causal effect determined. Link a paper if you have one, I'd be happy to read it

Are you really interested? If you can compile fortran I can link you to some of the climate models, as well as some papers, and you can run them yourself.

This isn't a trivial undertaking though.

"If you can compile fortran" - if this is requirement to understand a model I already don't believe it.

I bet I can create a model for you that shows global emissions in developed nations have reduced because of the increased popularity of Goldendoodle.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact