PSA: Evidence-Based Science on Google+

PSA: Evidence-Based Science on Google+

Some scientific facts aren’t up for debate in our science community. As scientists, we follow where the evidence leads, and the overwhelming evidence supports anthropogenic climate change, the efficacy of vaccines, the soundness of evolutionary theory, and the safety of GMO. There is vigorous debate within various scientific disciplines on how these settled areas of science work and what future outcomes of (for example) climate change or evolution will be. However, debate over mechanisms and outcomes should never be considered debate over the basic facts of a subject. A person claiming, for example, that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax is making an extraordinary claim against a huge body of peer-reviewed evidence, and barring extraordinary, credible, peer-reviewed evidence to support that claim, a post making such a claim will be removed from this community. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

The focus of our community is on research trying to address these issues, and not to rehash or debate the evidence. Unlike politicians, we don’t take positions to win votes or gain popularity. Rather, we ground our positions in the best evidence available to us, recognizing that scientific evidence may be incomplete but is constantly self-correcting. 

What is scientific consensus? :  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Scienceongoogleplus/posts/5LRg4oTFAFU

Cartoon credit: http://joyreactor.com/post/805720

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76 Comments


  1. True, but your moderators are quite arrogant sometimes in their views on what science is. I had a post removed that beautifully tied together chemistry, quantum physics, consciousness, etc. You have to realize how you are holding back progress with that stuff.

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  2. There are quite a few bizarre claims about Tesla, but overall he deserves some fandom more than Edison did IMHO.


    And as for GMO that is a very complex debate where the opposing sides insist on talking about different things. The pro-GMO side mostly talks about GMO products being safe as food, and I think we can agree on that as long as tests are done properly. The anti-GMO side are more concerned with either the safety of letting the GMO crops or insects loose in nature or the economic juggernaut that Monsanto is. Two aspects that the pro-GMO side seems less inclined to debate. It would be nice if both sides could engage in the same discussions.

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  3. Self-correction & constant improvements in our scientific knowledge is inherent to our scientific bedrock. The problem we have is that science and technology become abused by a minority to oppress & subjugate. It removes our natural human instinct to explore, query and question all things, and instead simply accept what is told to us. The common problem is often referred to the “consumerist mentality’, a dangerous trend that should be rectified as it creates “unthinking global citizens”, creating a laziness to learn, adapt and change (evolutionary fitness being the essence of all viable systems – e.g. human beings; our social systems; our natural environment, etc.). 

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  4. Its just silly thinking about your trigger happy mods judging what is and what is not science… especially when the paradigmatic science, physics, pretty much openly admits they really have no clue what’s going on. All the more reason to discuss some of the things I tried to discuss, but they got deleted.

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  5. The thing about the golden rice was that it wasn’t ethically tested.  They just gave it to human children in china.  Sure it turned out aright but it might not have done.  There is also the issue of cross pollination/contamination with regular crops with any GMO plant.  We don’t know what that is going to do to an ecosystem in the future and it needs to be studied.  

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  6. Huw Evans discussions on ethics and ecological effects are always welcome and relevant. However, keep in mind that singling out one technology, GM, from many others used to generate engineered crops, including advanced crop breeding technology (radiation mutation, protoplast fusions), is not scientifically defensible. 

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  7. That’s great Mr. Science.  Couldn’t agree more.  I think it’s usually the pesticides, herbicides and excessive fertiliser that often come as part of the GM package that are the real problem.  In any case I think it’s great that you are making clear that these topics are not acceptable here.  I just saw that one and thought that there are still some important issues to be addressed in that area.  

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  8. Huw Evans Replace “pesticides” with “chemicals” and your argument shows what it really is: chemophobia. Pesticides are usually very selective and rarely bad for non-target live forms if applied correctly. See for example here: http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.full.pdf


    Agriculture is about producing food for humans, not about producing food for often invasive pests. So when we engineer a plant to produce an effective pesticide that is non-toxic to humans, that’s a good thing. Same when an applied pesticide (like glyphosate) is a lot less toxic than previous ones. Besides, that’s been practice before GMOs were introduced and is non-specific to the breeding method anyway.


    Also, did you just make the “excessive fertilizer” part up? GMOs don’t require more fertilizer. Unless they yield more. Duh. More input = more output. And that’s also not excessive.


    So much for the “problems”.

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  9. I’m talking about ecological impact here.  I’m not for a moment trying to argue that these chemicals pose an immediate danger of poison to humans.  


    The problem with certain pesticides is that they also often harm other insects.  Here in the UK we have a big problem with a declining bee population.  


    This is the problem with fertiliser as taught to me as a 12 year old.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fertilizer-runoff-overwhelms-streams/


    There is also the valid argument that in terms of climate change making fertiliser (for example by the harbour process) is essentially an greenhouse gas making process which is not fully offset by the plants the fertiliser nourishes.  The same issue exists for the production of pesticides.  They are rarely carbon neutral.  


    These are genuine issues.  I have no problem with these scientific/engineering advances per se but we do not live in a self correcting gea system as was once believed.  We have to be careful what we engineer or we may become extinct.  

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  10. Huw Evans you bring up valid issues but they should not be conflated with genetic engineering, which as you know, is a technology and a tool. Pesticide management should be an independent topic of discussion. 

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  11. I depise GMO’s from the legal aspect. Science aside The Con-Agg is driving small farmers out of business buy suing them for saving seed to replant. That if it is found that a farmers crops have cross pollinated they can sue the farms and take their livelyhood. So science says they are safe to eat ,Farmers are not safe .


    My other issue is all fine and good the super foods are resistant to pests and disease, if it tastes like nothing ,who wants to eat it ? I know I don’t. Remember what a real tomato tastes like,or corn? Please use the science to preserve what everyone likes about food : The way it should taste.


    And what about the Bees? Don’t we need them to produce the food we need.More and more scientific evidence points to pesticides being the problem in the declining Bee population . For without the bees there will be no food and you can’t eat science and that is a fact.

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  12. amy campbell yeah this is something that deserves a spotlight, I agree. The Newtonian level of matter is probably like Lego’s to the criminal elite by now. We need to keep a close watch on known criminals meddling with the molecular structure of our food.

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  13. It’s hard to keep politics and personal opinions out of science, as with anything else, but we must try. Hate big corporations? Then don’t buy their shares and exercise your preference with your wallet and your vote. But don’t muddy the waters of a specific technology, like recombinant DNA. You’re just giving ammunition to those who feed on ignorance and spread fear and mistrust.  

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  14. amy campbell​ there are a lot of myths about the biotechnology industry. For example I work for Monsanto and can tell you that we have never sued a farmer for pollen drift coming onto their farm. Genetic engineering has not changed the taste of food. Now traditional breeding to make food last longer for shipping probably has changed the taste. But the insertion of a few genes has not. The actual most likely culprit in bee decline is the varroa mite not neonics. Here is great article on the problems with the Harvard study that has been widely touted by activists http://scientificbeekeeping.com/neonicotinoids-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-science/

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  15. David Nicholl is right on! It’s conventional breeding that has bred convenience and marketability into fruits and vegetables, at the expense of flavor. As consumers, we want our exotic produce all year around, to ripen on demand, and without blemish. We only have ourselves to blame for bloodless and bland tomatoes, and massive sprigs of cilantro with no fragrance (my pet peeve)! If we voiced our support for flavor and nutrition with our wallets, I’m sure corporations and plant breeders would listen. 

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  16. Are you suggesting that the “science” emanating from “big pharma” should not be taken with a large pinch of salt.


    =============================================


    2012: GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3 billion for illegal marketing of Paxil, Welbutrin and downplaying safety risks of Avandia


    2009: Pfizer pays $2.3 billion for marketing fraud related to Bextra, Lyrica and other drugs


    2012: Johnson & Johnson will pay anywhere from $1.5 to $2.2 billion for illegal marketing of Risperdal


    2012: Abbott Laboratories settles for $1.6 billion for aggressively promoting their seizure drug Depakote for off-label use in elderly dementia patients, despite lacking evidence of safety or effectiveness.


    2009: Eli Lilly pays $1.4 billion for promoting Zyprexa for off-label uses, often to children and the elderly.


    2011: Merck settles for $950 million to resolve fraudulent marketing allegations related to Vioxx.


    2005: Serono (now Merck Serono) paid $704 million after pleading guilty to two felony charges for fraudulent marketing related to a growth hormone to treat wasting in HIV patients.


    2007: Purdue Pharma paid $634.5 million for fraudulently misbranding Oxycontin, and suggesting it was less addictive and less abused than other painkillers.


    2010: Allergan paid $600 million for aggressively pushing Botox for unapproved uses.


    2010: AstraZeneca settled for $520 million for trying to persuade doctors to prescribe its psychotropic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD to sleeplessness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


    2007: Bristol-Myers Squibb paid $515 million for illegally promoting its atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify to kids and seniors.


    =============================================

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  17. Jeff Green I assume that you, like other rational human beings, take medication upon the advice of your physician? They are the result of science (no quotation marks), being done by scientists in industry. We refer to theories that vaccinations are sold by big pharma solely because of profit. We refer to conspiracies that big pharma will not find a cure for cancer because they prefer to keep people sick. Don’t let our mods like Chad Haney hear you peddling conspiracy theories about scientists, whether in academia or industry, because it ticks him off.  

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  18. Jeff Green​ I think the distinction is between marketing and science. The science that was done for the approved uses is sound. It is the marketing that was done WITHOUT the science to back it up is where they got into trouble.

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  19. Logan VanCuren – I don’t think any reasonable people deny the importance of Tesla’s work – there’s a reason why he had a unit of measurement named after him. The problem is that some unreasonable people also like to get into conspiracy theories for why he hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves. It goes over the top at times.

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  20. Are you trying to tell me that Evolutionism is a scientific fact now? Be cause I can counter that in an instant making it just a theory. Therefor, it is bad science based on your standpoint.

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  21. Ian Evans yes, evolutionary theory is a well established scientific tenet. Science Vocabulary 101: A theory is not a disputed idea that is yet to graduate into a law. In science, a theory is an explanation for a collection of facts and it will always be called a theory no matter how strong the evidence that supports it: like the theory of gravity or germ theory of disease or the atomic theory. See the wonderful explanation here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+sciencesunday/posts/4fo1FmBej36 

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  22. Science on Google+ This community is over-moderated. The moderators are quite arrogant and snobbish. There is certainly is lack of ignorant and uninformed posts, unfounded claims, bad science, and superstitions, but a lot of good posts are deleted as well.

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  23. The guidelines for posting are prominently displayed at the top of the community, McAllister Pulswaithe . Do check them out. Posts that are deleted are link only, churnalism, plagiarized/unattributed. If you dispute deletion of a specific post, simply tag one of the mods or the SoG+ page and we will respond. 

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  24. McAllister Pulswaithe oddly, you are not a member of the Science on Google+ community, you do not follow our Page and there is no trace of your posts or comments on our community! In the absence of evidence supporting your claim, we hypothesize that you may be a troll 😉  

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  25. Is there any other community where people can post sciencey stuff that is not as likely to be subjected to unnecessary censorship? And I don’t means items on your list, but “popular” science.

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  26. Jim Slater it is a humorous hypothesis. As for your other question, we’re pretty sure that you may convene a “Jim Slater community” on your own G+ stream where you can post anything you consider to be “sciencey stuff” and “popular” as long as it does not violate Google’s TOS. 

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  27. I have posted messages in this community about quantum erasure (a DIY experiment based on a Scientific American article), sphere packing (based on the Kepler Conjecture), the Ishihara Color Blindness test (results from the Colblindor site), spherical trigonometry as applied to astronomy and astrophysics, and a few others. They all followed the scientific method faithfully, and they were ALL deleted. This was an insult to my intelligence, what there is of it. I am in fact a scientist myself, but not a specialist in any of the above categories.


    It seems I can’t even use casual language here without having it thrown back at me in quotation marks. Your suggestion that I start my own community was more dismissive than it was helpful. There is a community called “I fucking love science.” I go there to post my “sciencey” and “popular” stuff. I must admit though that I enjoy visualizing the supercilious sneers of the moderators here when they dispense their judgments on lesser mortals.

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