Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Election UK: UKIP's Science Policy Fail

The Guardian has been getting some of the UKs top science writers to posts questions to the political parties on their science policy. This time it was the turn of the UK Independence Party - answered by their denial science spokesperson 'Screaming' Lord Monkton. This sounds like fun - and it is!!! Let's dive into UKIPs pool of stupid... They start off answering a question about Britain's science budget by banging on about global warming - or "global warming" as Monkton refers to it:
To restore a fair balance in science funding, all funding connected with "global warming" research will cease until a Royal Commission has heard the evidence on both sides of the case, with all the rigour of a court of law, and has substantively reported.

OK, so to pander to those who think global warming is a fascist NWO communist plot, he'd have a big public event to debate it's merits. Very open minded of UKIP? Except that though out the rest of the questions the 'open minded' UKIP approach is on display:
There must be an immediate halt to needless expenditure on the basis of a now-disproven hypothesis [of global warming]... The correct policy approach to the non-problem of "global warming" is to have the courage to do nothing.

Why hold a Royal Commission into a 'now-disproven non-problem'? There's either a logic-fail, or political manipulation going on here. It suggests that the intention is to bias the outcome before it has even begun. Very fair and balanced. Not. But not only that, but Monkton falls into a mutated version of the 'God of the Gaps' fallacy - the assumption that where doubt might exist, it must be proof of one hypothesis rather than being ... well, doubt:
The remit of the Royal Commission would be to decide: Whether and to what degree the IPCC has exaggerated climate sensitivity to CO2 or other greenhouse gases;

What if they have underestimated climate sensitivity to CO2? If the figures were found to be wrong (and Monkton has been shown that his figures are bunkum) what's to say they are wrong in a way that supports the denial view?

As proof of Monkton's scientific credibility (i.e. zero) the answers of the other questions are also great fun: On the issue of public health campaigns, Monkton shows us it laser-like understanding of human biology (which matches his knowledge of climate science, i.e. zero) in regard to too much salt in the diet:
Consider the prolonged campaigns to tell the public that salt is bad for them. There is little sound scientific evidence for any such campaign, since any excess salt is merely excreted harmlessly via the kidneys.

Except that an expert on the issue, Stephen Havas, M.D., a professor of epidemiology, preventive medicine, and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine says otherwise:
The medical community has reached a consensus that diets high in sodium are a major cause of high blood pressure as well as pre-hypertension, or blood pressure just short of high blood pressure. This significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

In answer to a question about Genetic engineering/Stem cell research, Monkton gives a priceless answer...
Wherever stem cells can be obtained by means other than the killing of very small children, it is ethical only to obtain the stem cells by means that do not involve the loss of little lives. On this basis, there is no reason why Britain should not play a leading part in stem cell research.

WTF?? There is a trashy but fun sci-fi thriller from 1990 called Dark Angel (or in the US I think it was called 'I Come in Peace') starting Dolph Lundgren where evil aliens go around killing people and harvesting biological compounds from their brains at the point of death. This seems to be how Monkton views Stem cell research - as a fictional cross between Dark Angel and the child-catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Very scientific.

The Guardian's analysis of the UKIP science policy calls it 'bizarre' and concludes:
On science, Ukip is dire, with no credibility in the scientific community and candidates who have a demonstrably poor grasp of basic scientific principles, which perhaps explains its general disarray and flip-flopping in areas such as health.

Ukip is the only significant party to support homeopathy, and the only party apart from the BNP still in denial over climate change. The appointment of Viscount Monckton as a science spokesman adds to the air of a party of old British eccentrics.


Woeful and bonkers.

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