Post-normal science

I’ve been reading a paper by Daniel Sarewitz, that was being highlighted by Jane Flegal on Twitter. The paper is called Of Cold Mice and Isotopes Or Should We Do Less Science? There’s quite a lot that could be said about the article, but since I’m trying to keep posts reasonably short, I thought I would comment on one thing.

The article says:

People who care about the quality and legitimacy of science could start insisting at every chance that science conducted and invoked in the post-normal context is not science. Post-normal science is easy to spot. When experts continue to disagree; when advocates continue to use science to advance value-based agendas and to accuse those they disagree with of misusing science; when decision makers don’t take action on urgent issues but call for more research; when action means that there will be winners and losers; when the quality of the science cannot be measured against any agreed-upon end-point—then, no matter how sophisticated the math or complex the scientific instruments, no matter how pure of motive and careful of method the scientists, it’s NOT science, and we should all say so.

Of course, the process of making decisions is not science. Also, the relationship between science and decision making is extremely complex; there isn’t a simple, linear process in which scientific information leads directly to an obvious outcome. However, I have a real problem with the idea that we should regard science conducted in the post-normal context as not science. The validity of some scientific research should not depend on its broader relevance.

The other problem is that anytime science suggests something inconvenient, all you need to do is find some experts who disagree, highlight the value-based agendas, point out that decision makers aren’t taking action, claim there will be winners and losers, and fail to agree upon any end point that would measure the quality of the science. If you can do this, then we’re all meant to say that this is NOT science.

This seems like a cop-out to me. What would be far more useful would be ways for us to assess the credibility of the underlying scientific information. We could develop methods for determining when the expert disagreement is actually significant, rather than it simply being a small minority who refuse to accept the most recent scientific evidence. We could even try to determine if value-based agendas have influenced the scienific research process in some substantive way. All of this would seem useful. Simplistic scenarios under which we’re meant to stress that some science is NOT science, does not seem particularly useful.

Also, why should we judge science on the basis of whether or not decision makers are taking action and if there will be winners and losers? Decision making is complex and shouldn’t really influence how we value the underlying information. Additionally, why should the quality depend on some agreed-upon end-point? There may be some truth to this when it comes to applied research, but a key aspect of fundamental research is that we can’t know the outcome in advance.

Of course, there may well be subtleties that I don’t understand, but if I am reading this right, then I disagree quite strongly with what is being suggested. Rather than helping society better understand how to utilise science in the decision making process, it seems to be providing a mechanism for avoiding making difficult decisions, or for validating information that could be severely lacking in credibility. I fail to see how this could be regarded as progress.

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125 Responses to Post-normal science

  1. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    In response to this…

    When experts continue to disagree; when advocates continue to use science to advance value-based agendas and to accuse those they disagree with of misusing science; when decision makers don’t take action on urgent issues but call for more research; when action means that there will be winners and losers; when the quality of the science cannot be measured against any agreed-upon end-point—then, no matter how sophisticated the math or complex the scientific instruments, no matter how pure of motive and careful of method the scientists,

    You hit on all the basic reactions I had. Seems to me that using those listed criteria as exclusion criteria, there would be, essentially, nothing that could be considered science.

    This reminds me of comments oft’ written in blogs, where the distinction between science and non-science is a function of whether the commenter agrees with the scientific conclusions in question. In other words, what they agree with is “pure science” and what they disagree with is advocacy. I think that the pattern is pretty pervasive, but I also think that we can all recognize that pattern as associated with certain un-named individuals in particular.

  2. Joshua,

    This reminds me of comments oft’ written in blogs,

    A useful rule of thumb might be to consider if what one is suggesting is similar to what is oft’ written in blogs. If it is, it might be worth reflecting further 😉

  3. Steven Mosher says:

    The discussion of chlorine 36 is pretty good ATTP, I have had to come up to speed on this particular issue quickly

  4. Steven Mosher says:

    “Funtowicz and Ravetz’ concept of Post-Normal Science18 provides a conceptual framework for
    understanding the percolation flux story at Yucca Mountain. Post-Normal Science describes the
    metamorphosis that science undergoes when four conditions pertain: decision stakes are high;
    decisions urgently need to be made; facts are contested; and values are conflicting. I would
    add to this list: when there is no agreed upon end-point toward which scientific progress and
    quality can be assessed.
    Post-normal science is born from the expectation that both uncertainty about complex system
    behavior, and disagreement about policy actions to be taken, can be reduced through more
    scientific research of the conventional type. But in the complex systems that are the object of
    investigation for post-normal science, this expectation is backwards. There are always multiple
    ways to characterize and study a problem, there are always facts on one side of a question and
    on another, there is always another cold mouse problem or a Cl36 problem waiting to be
    unearthed. Perhaps most importantly, there are always competing sets of actors who draw
    from the science what they need to reinforce pre-existing self-consistent views of the world as
    they understand it and as they want it to become.”

  5. Steven Mosher says:

    ” The insistence that science is a precondition for rational action in
    the face of political disagreement ends up stifling the democratic imagination, because decision
    makers can just wait around—forever—for the science relating to current options to get
    settled, which it never does. Or they can impose a solution and avoid accountability by claiming
    that the science made them do it. In the post-normal context, the opposite stipulation
    pertains. Given conditions of political disagreement, urgency, system openness, and so on,
    problems and solution paths have to be discussed and agreed upon as a part of the process of
    knowledge creation.”

  6. Steven,

    The discussion of chlorine 36 is pretty good ATTP, I have had to come up to speed on this particular issue quickly

    But I think one has to be careful of drawing broad, strong conclusions from isolated examples. There is a huge amount of work that falls under the basic descriptor of science. I don’t think one should use isolated examples to draw conclusions about something as varied, and broad, as science.

    I also don’t really agree with this

    But in the complex systems that are the object of investigation for post-normal science, this expectation is backwards. There are always multiple ways to characterize and study a problem, there are always facts on one side of a question and on another, there is always another cold mouse problem or a Cl36 problem waiting to be unearthed.

    There might be multiple ways to characterize and study a problem, but if these different ways can lead to very different conclusions, then some of them are probably ill-posed (if we’re talking about actual research, rather than opinion). It’s possibly true that there will be missing pieces to any research topic, but this doesn’t mean that adding these missing pieces would lead us to draw wildly different conclusions.

  7. The insistence that science is a precondition for rational action

    Who insists on this?

  8. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    Post-normal science is born from the expectation that both uncertainty about complex system behavior, and disagreement about policy actions to be taken, can be reduced through more scientific research of the conventional type. But in the complex systems that are the object of
    investigation for post-normal science, this expectation is backwards.

    I’m not sure what is meant by “backwards.” Does it mean that as more complex systems are investigated, complexity increases? That seems much to categorical, IMO.

    Perhaps the goal should not be to reduce uncertainty, per se, but to better quantify uncertainty. Maybe paradoxically, the goal is to more certain about our uncertainty.

    This is like when a climate scientist says that they’ve made progress in understanding sensitivity, even if the likely range hasn’t changed (been narrowed).

  9. Joshua says:

    Anyway, my thinking is that the goal isn’t necessarily to reduce uncertainty (particularly within a dichotomous paradigm) so as to justify oomcieies, but to develop policies to manage uncertainty. Which, imo, parallels this (imo, useful) article :

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00857-9

  10. Joshua says:

    … so as to justify policies….

  11. izen says:

    This list of criteria to judge whether the science is ‘post normal’ would seem to exclude just about every field of research.
    It seems to apply to anything that has a social, political or ideological impact. So most medical research, climate science and anything that contradicts Young Earth Creationists would seem to be subject to constraint.
    An exception perhaps is exo-planet detection …?! (Although that will offend the Flat-Earthers)

    “When experts continue to disagree; when advocates continue to use science to advance value-based agendas and to accuse those they disagree with of misusing science; when decision makers don’t take action on urgent issues but call for more research; when action means that there will be winners and losers; when the quality of the science cannot be measured against any agreed-upon end-point…”

    I find it puzzling that the idea of doing LESS science on subjects that are prone to these problems will improve decision making on the issues.

  12. Pingback: Un pequeño artículo de ‘…and Then There’s Physics’ sobre “ciencia post-normal”. – No sé, no soy científico

  13. Jon Kirwan says:

    I’ve only skimmed over this discussion and mostly just allowed a free flow of thoughts to resonate with what’s here. I was left with the feeling that one element is glaringly missing — that time is simply needed to process experimental result. When I think about the scientific process, I think about a lot of various aspects: (1) quantitative prediction and observation, (2) objective language sufficient for rigorous and shared deduction to specifics by different informed individuals, (3) respect for criticism from others similarly informed, (4) willingness to engage and deal honestly and directly to such criticism, (5) and the time for consensus to develop around an increasingly comprehensive view of experimental result. But note that time is vital to this process.

    When I read the indicated PDF I don’t even find a hint that addresses the need for time. And this makes me “feel” that the author is almost looking at this as a rush-to-conclusions about science itself. For example, you quote, “when experts continue to disagree” but I wonder just how much time the author is allowing before concluding “continue to disagree.” A week? A month? Ten years? (It easily took much more than ten years for Einstein’s special theory of relativity to develop consensus.) Is the author willing to call a spade as his spade, prematurely? Would he rush into such a decision because he’s impatient and wants to conclude something in his own lifetime?

    Another aspect that crossed my mind is that I think almost every scientist recognizes at least some of the difficulties in their published work at a moment in time. There are assumptions they wish they’d had the time and funding to investigate better, for example. There’s always more to do and more that should have been done to improve the work product. Many authors provide some of their ideas on those weaknesses and suggest additional research to help resolve and/or improve things. Science isn’t stand-alone nuggets of knowledge. Instead, science knowledge is an interlocking web, with each experimental result drawing part of its strength from the work of others and lending its strength also to the work of others. That’s actually the singularly unique aspect, I think, which separates the body of science knowledge from other “knowledge” such as tarot card reading or astrology. I can’t say that reading tea leaves does not work (sometimes.) But I can say that it is NOT integrated into a whole system of knowledge. And if someone disproves tea leaf reading thoroughly, it has no impact at all on the belief in, for example, astrology. But science knowledge isn’t like that. It’s highly interwoven. It’s the highly unified nature of science knowledge that separates it. Unlike a low farm wall of pseudo-science, built from cobbled up stones loosely set one to another and with none of them much relating to another, science knowledge is like a an arch with each stone an essential part of the whole — both lending their strength to the whole and at the same time drawing strength from the whole.

    A borrowed phase from US history is “We hang together or assuredly we shall hang separately,” comes to mind. Science “hangs together.” And that’s its strength and power. Non-science hangs separately.

    Anyway, this is just free-running thoughts and I didn’t have the time to make this shorter or I would have. But I’m a little worried about how quick to judgment the author might want to be, let alone other arguments that may also arise. And I’ll stop before this becomes tl;dr.

  14. Steven Mosher says:

    “This list of criteria to judge whether the science is ‘post normal’ would seem to exclude just about every field of research.”

    Nope.

    “Post-Normal Science describes the
    metamorphosis that science undergoes when four conditions pertain: decision stakes are high;
    decisions urgently need to be made; facts are contested; and values are conflicting. I would
    add to this list: when there is no agreed upon end-point toward which scientific progress and
    quality can be assessed.”

    1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values Uncertain.

    Contrast this with the mouse example

    “That’s because drug company researchers, tired of high failure rates in
    clinical trials, decided that maybe the cause of the problem lay in the quality of the science that
    they were depending on to choose potential cancer drugs. When shared values converge
    around distinct endpoints for science, then at least you know what counts as success, so
    reasonably stable criteria of quality can be inferred. “

  15. b fagan says:

    The piece you write about seems to directly contradict itself here: “Indeed, in the recently published paper about nutrition science that I mentioned earlier, Ioannidis suggests that “Resources for some of these studies could have been better spent on unambiguous, directly manageable threats to health such as smoking, lack of exercise [or] air pollution.” This begins to sound a lot like what I’ve been suggesting for the post-normal context: recognizing the crisis in scientific quality not only as a call for reform, but as a reason to creatively search for alternatives, for better, perhaps more direct ways to define and address problems that have refused to yield to science-led solutions.”

    If he’s accepting Ioannidis’ “unambiguous” risks as something we should work on instead of more nutrition studies, where’s the science that’s backing that up, since there has been a lot of the same anti-regulatory and self-interested actions to show an alternate science – especially in smoking and air pollution? Or is he somehow suggesting we should be working on problems (making policy decisions) without bothering to present evidence? It seems to solve nothing.

    I understand there is a reproduceability problem in many fields, with varying degrees of impact, but how broad a brush does he want to apply?

  16. Steven Mosher says:

    “I find it puzzling that the idea of doing LESS science on subjects that are prone to these problems will improve decision making on the issues.”

    His point is that in PNS we are already doing less science in that we are doing something, calling it science, but it’s really not science.

    instead

    “In the post-normal context, the opposite stipulation
    pertains. Given conditions of political disagreement, urgency, system openness, and so on,
    problems and solution paths have to be discussed and agreed upon as a part of the process of
    knowledge creation. Inquiry in the post-normal context is thus an invitation to democratic
    creativity. At the end of a long talk, this is a point to be fleshed out elsewhere, but I will simply
    suggest that there are many encouraging instances, typically at the margins of the mainstream
    research system, that are taking what amounts to a post-normal approach to science.
    Examples include the Toxics Use Reduction Act in Massachusetts, the Regional Integrated
    Science Assessment program at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration,
    and Sweden’s approach to nuclear waste disposal. ”

    I have some more reading to do

  17. Steven Mosher says:

    Since he doesnt make the argument explicit I suppose one place to start is here

    https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/1004786

    Daniel’s no dummy. So I’ll reserve judgement until I understand his position better.

    Thanks for the article ATTP.

  18. Joshua says:

    1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values Uncertain

    All subjective criteria, subjectively evaluated, and subjectively determined. How cutely postmodern.

  19. David B. Benson says:

    What is the Chlorine 36 problem?

  20. izen says:

    @-DBB
    “What is the Chlorine 36 problem?”

    It is used to estimate the rate of water movement through rock at the Yucca (proposed) nuclear waste storage facility.
    Unfortunately the accuracy of the measurement methods are insufficient to constrain the results to a useful range on which to make judgements.
    It is one of those issues where society/politicians want an definitive binary answer, but the best research can do at present is –

    “We don’t know’.

    I doubt the solution is to do less research.

  21. Richard Arrett says:

    Really fascinating issues. More research is definitely in order. But when many scientists have an agenda, will motivated reasoning taint the results? Climate scientists are not trying to figure out gravity – which just is and is not a world ending problem. Many of them are trying to save the world for their grandchildren ad therefore have a stake in the results and want certain things to happen (mostly emit less CO2). This article speaks to these issues.

    Climate science also struggles from the lack of controlled experiments. There is only one Earth and the experiment we are currently running will take 80 years of more to finish.

    Then there is the question of what are we measuring. Annual average temperature? Not quite the same as dropping an apple and measuring the acceleration with which it falls. ECS and TCR are terrible metrics – model based, and not directly measurable. Finally, we keep editing the temperatures of the past – all in the name of good science of course – but always seeming to cool the past and increase the warming rate now.

    We are having trouble reconciling the tide gauges with the satellite data for SLR. The models are so bad we have to result to ensembles of models. None of the models predicted the hiatus and scientists still disagree whether there was even one.

    So this article has a lot to say about the problems outlined as applied to climate science. We should keep doing more climate science – but we should watch out for motivated science and science with an agenda. Like blaming California wildfires on global warming or that global warming is killing the polar bears.These claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

    As usual, I am not saying that the Earth isn’t warming – I think it is. I just still wonder if we really know how much of the warming since 1850 or since 1950 is caused by humans and how much by nature. I also wonder why more people don’t want to create more of our power from nuclear power. We should be doubling, tripling or even quadrupling the amount of nuclear power we generate.

    Bring on the meat!

  22. As I do all too frequently, I’m tempted to go off base. Indulge me (and yes, I know there are volumes that can and have been written about hypocrisy that could be associated with this as well). From Kipling’s “If”

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    The rest of the poem did not appeal and you have to use a heavy distortion lens to make this apply to the question at hand. I’m not exactly sure what I’m getting at here, but … Staying awake is hard. Compromise is easy.

  23. Steven Mosher says:

    “1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values Uncertain

    All subjective criteria, subjectively evaluated, and subjectively determined. How cutely postmodern.

    Sorry my misquote

    1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values in conflict

    I dont think these are all subjective criteria.

    The mouse example is a case in point and illustrates the difference when you have CONVERGING values.

    1. Stakes are high Yes: cancer is a bad thing
    2. Decisions urgent yes, people are dying perhaps needlessly
    3. facts contested of course its science uncertainity is always present in some form
    4. values in conflict Nope, unless you like people dying of cancer.

    The converging value is all cancer drug researchers share the value of finding a cure.
    Contrast that with Chlorine 36, where it is argued that not all researchers share the same values.

    Some want to prevent storage of nuclear waste, others want to store it safely.

    I’m surporised that Joshua would take the position of the typical skeptic ( his argument is essentially that given by willis eschenbach.. good company I expect )

    So lets take the science of exo planets

    1. Stakes are high Nope
    2. Decisions urgent Nope
    3. facts contested of course its science uncertainity is always present in some form
    4. values in conflict Nope.

    Of course you can invent someone who might believe the stakes are high or might assert his values are in conflict, but this would rather prove the point.

    another:
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6435/10

    1. Stakes are high Nope
    2. Decisions urgent Nope
    3. facts contested of course its science uncertainity is always present in some form
    4. values in conflict Nope.

    Of course maybe Joshua wants to argue that these are subjective, but then the onus is on him to demark the objective from the subjective. I suppose one could argue that for the reseachers in question that the personal stakes are high, but it would hard to argue that there is some universalizable stake that is at issue in the extinction of dinosaurs. Is a decision urgent here?
    I suppose you could construct some reason why it might be, but for contrast see decisions about climate science. To clarify we might argue that the values in conflict are subjective, but it would
    be hard to argue that the FACT of conflict is subjective. maybe Joshua will, lets see.

    The other sign that you are in a PNS situation is that philosophers are talking.oh and sci com people are involved. Oh, and there are deadlines.

  24. David B. Benson says:

    izen, thank you.

    On many grounds, Yucca Mt. is the wrong place for so-called high level wastes. If the stuff must be stored, use long lasting salt domes; see IWPP east of Carlsbad, NM.

    But far better is to consume the stuff in a fast neutron reactor; use it at least 60 times over.

  25. Richard,

    Really fascinating issues. More research is definitely in order.

    Did you read the article?

    Steven,

    1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values in conflict

    If people wanted to argue that when these conditions are met, the decision making process becomes very complicated, that the link between scientific information and decision making is not obvious, and that we should be careful about how we should use the underlying information, then I doubt many would disagree. The problem that I have is the idea that if these conditions are met, the associated information gathering/research, is no longer science.

  26. izen says:

    1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values Uncertain

    One field of scientific R&D that seems to meet the criteria of PSN is vaccination to establish herd immunity.

    Like AGW, the science is not ‘settled’ but it is established to the level that the need for policy choices is not contested.
    But while poorer nations are unable to provide a sufficient level of vaccination to eliminate a disease like measles, other places have lost ground as political, ideological and religious factors have shaped policy overriding the scientific understanding. So Italy, US, Indonesia, have gone from almost eliminating such diseases to suffering a significant return.

  27. Steven,
    What if we detect life on an exoplanet? Values in conflict? No longer science?

    As far as I’ve seen the fossil discovery is contested both in terms of the facts, but also the values (although I can’t seem to find the tweets that I saw). Not science?

  28. Marco says:

    …”but always seeming to cool the past and increase the warming rate now.”

    Sigh. No, apologies, I should say “SIGH”, in all caps.
    https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-how-data-adjustments-affect-global-temperature-records
    Once again: adjustments WARM the past.

    “None of the models predicted the hiatus”.

    Key quotes from the IPCC AR5:
    “Figure 9.8 demonstrates that 15-year-long hiatus periods are common in both the observed and CMIP5 historical GMST time series”
    “Furthermore, the timing of internal decadal climate variability is not expected to be matched by the CMIP5 historical simulations, owing to the predictability horizon of at most 10 to 20 years”
    https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter09_FINAL.pdf
    An interesting note included in that chapter:
    “during the 15-year period ending in 1998, it lies above 93 out of 114 modelled trends”. So, much focus on the following 15-year period (“hiatus! hiatus!”), no one interested in the previous 15 years (“much faster than predicted! much faster than predicted!”)

    “but we should watch out for motivated science and science with an agenda. Like blaming California wildfires on global warming or that global warming is killing the polar bears.These claims should be taken with a grain of salt.”

    You don’t take with a grain of salt something that is predicted from a coherent analysis of all the facts. Higher temperatures = more evaporation. Altered atmospheric patterns that will likely bring less rain (or in shorter durations) = reduced moisture content. Prediction: conditions favoring more wild fires. Does it make global warming a cause? No, it makes it a contributing detrimental factor.
    Polar bears use sea ice for hunting and denning. Warming = less sea ice. Prediction is that at one point sea ice conditions seriously hamper polar bear hunting strategies.

    Seriously, Rick, when it comes to motivated reasoning, you managed to pack a LOT in just a single reaction.

  29. People who care about the quality and legitimacy of science could start insisting at every chance that science conducted and invoked in the post-normal context is not science. Post-normal science is easy to spot. When experts continue to disagree; when advocates continue to use science to advance value-based agendas and to accuse those they disagree with of misusing science

    ; …

    Errm, this seems a bit ironic? Isn’t the article providing the politically motivated a mechanism for doing precisely that?

    The legitimacy of science depends on its internal consistency, conscillience with other theories and support from observations and experiment. It doesn’t depend on any of those factors. It might be better to ask about the legitimacy of the politics that uses the science, which seems to me to be far more problematic (as the issues it faces are more complex and less tractable).

  30. SM:

    1. Stakes are high
    2. Decisions urgent
    3. facts contested
    4. values in conflict

    3 is redundant. If you have 1. and 4. you will inevitably have 3., especially if 2. Note that climate skeptics contest even the most basic and well-established facts, e.g. that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic, and an objective observer without a solid scientific background might not be able to see that is a no-contest in science. As soon as you remove 3. there is no scientific component, just politics.

  31. Rick,

    I just still wonder if we really know how much of the warming since 1850 or since 1950 is caused by humans and how much by nature.

    This has essentially been done. We’re confident that it’s extremely likely that more than 50% is anthropogenic. In fact, the best estimate is slightly more than all of it.

  32. Dikran,
    I do find it ironic that an article making grand claims about science says

    To put it in obnoxiously American terms, science has badly cheapened the value of its brand name through relentless marketing and hype.

  33. jeangoodwin says:

    I’m generally unsympathetic to “boundary work” (i.e., arguments about whether some assertion “is” or “is not” science) in public discourse. But I’ve learned a lot from Sarewitz, so I like to not reject what he’s saying right off but see if it can be restated in terms that are easier to swallow.

    Here: What if his talk about “is not science” is less a statement in the philosophy of science, but more a principle of public debate, meant to apply first of all to advocates? Namely, people arguing about Yucca Mountain should stop saying that “science says that the percolation flux is 1.0 mm/year” or “10 mm/year.” His point is that there is no deciding the question of percolation flux under current circumstances, since each side will always be able to poke holes in the methodological approaches of the other side–forcing into question any of the 1000s of decisions made in the process of testing the water. Meanwhile, all the arguing about what the percolation flux science (or “science”) says is not getting us closer to a permanent repository for the nuclear waste we already have–the “agreed-upon end-point” towards which the inquiry is supposed to be headed.

    The “democratic creativity” he refers to at the end might be something like this–the Swedish approach he mentions: Consent-based siting–a process that starts not with a scientific finding that X is the safest site, and then tries to achieve political buy-in (like Yucca Mountain), but one that starts with communities volunteering to be considered, and then screening based on scientific standards agreed upon in advance. E.g., the site must have a percolation rate <X based on Y type testing. I remember Sarewitz writing about consent-based siting, but can't dig up the cite.

    Anyhow, for classic provocations from Sarewitz along the same lines:

    Saving Science (2016), https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/saving-science
    How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse (2004). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901104000620, PDF available if you search

  34. Willard says:

    > Bring on the meat!

    Here you go:

  35. Eabani says:

    Interesting discussion. I’ve only skimmed the Sarewitz article, but am cautious of ‘post-normal science’.

    For the outside, I don’t see major systemic problems with the practice of science, and indeed I wish the sceptical and cautious practices of natural science extended to other areas, including policy. I’ve some concerns such as press releases coming out before peer-review because of institutional pressures, and low-quality and predatory journals, but these seem well-known.

    Surely science rests to an extent not only on data, replicability and reason but also an assumption of good faith? The ‘normal’ methods of science should be tried first in order to achieve clarity, but continuing disputes aren’t new, are they? Scientists have often succumbed to confirmation bias in favour of pet theories, and as Planck put it ‘A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’ Ideological and financial corruption is of course worth exposing, but not neglecting the scientific points at issue.

    Anyway, as Ken has mentioned ‘helping society better understand how to utilise science in the decision making process’ in the context of politically-contested science, I wanted to mention Edenhofer and Kowarsch and the ‘Pragmatic-Enlightened Model’. This is referred to in a 2014 article by Knopf and Geden explaining how statements of fact (in relation to the IPCC) can gain popular and political meaning. At the moment this seems largely to occur by accident: a collection of models of 1.5 °C has (fortunately) become a belief that ‘scientists say we must halve emissions by 2030’. Anywhere, here’s E&K:
    https://www.mcc-berlin.net/fileadmin/data/pdf/Publikationen/Edenhofer-Kowarsch_PEM_article.pdf

  36. Joshua says:

    While I find the article interesting and it looks at issues I think are interesting, I also think that it’s hyperbolic and melodramatic.

    The main problem with the article, as I see it, is that there’s nothing quantitative in it to ground the claim that we’re doing “less science.”

    The practice of science has always been flawed. Throughout history, findings that were considered reliable, and important to society, have later been found to be based on incorrect conclusions due to an inability to recognize confounds.

    If we’re producing more flawed science, does that mean that we’re producing “less science,” or just that along with a growing amount of science produced, there’s a greater amount of flawed science produced – as would be expected? Maybe the ratio of flawed to un-flawed science has always been tipped towards flawed science, in the balance. Has the ratio of flawed to un-flawed science increased?

    From the article:

    Is there an clear and unambiguous demarcation between normal and post-normal science? Of
    course not, but that goes for almost any categorical boundary between related but different
    things.

    So here, Sarewitz directly acknowledges the necessarily subjective nature of the distinction between “normal” and “post-normal” science. Of course, it’s reasonable to say that at the extremes, there’s bad science that can be counterproductive, but IMO, the assignation of specific characteristics, upon which to base his categorical distinctions, are arbitrary; each of the criteria he uses as inclusion into the “post-normal” designation can be applied to much of science that is useful, or that seemed not useful but became useful over time, or that seemed useful at one time but later turned out to not really be useful.

    It’s easy to say that all science conducted in highly complex and uncertain fields is always of questionable value.

    But the problem with that construct is that there are no doubt many fields where science was once conducted in the face of complexity and uncertainty, which because of that conduct of investigation, was later moved from the uncertain and complex category to the certain and well-understood category. It becomes a tautology to say that science conducted in highly uncertain and complex fields, with potentially high societal implications from the conclusions, is potentially harmful, or “not science,” or “post-normal”‘ science.

    When was science “normal?”

  37. brigittenerlich says:

    That is the question! Can Sarewitz and other post-normal science promoters tell us!? If not, why promote such an ill-defined concept as PNS? What is their point? What is it FOR?

  38. Joshua says:

    From the article:

    Here’s probably the best example of what I consider to be problematic about Sarewitz’s thesis:

    But because quality problems manifest as false positives, if we could somehow magically turn poor quality published studies into high quality studies, the result would not be new high quality knowledge, but a mountain of mostly negative findings. It would be as if we had done less science to begin with.

    This assumes a numerical conclusion, with no quantitative support for that conclusion.

    If we are confronted with more false positives from the conduct of more science, are we also not confronted with more true positives as well? Would an costs of more false positives outweigh the benefits of more true positives? Isn’t that assumed in a conclusion that we are conducting “less science?” How would we measure?

    But in a world increasingly challenged to manage the complex conditions of globalization, development, sustainability, and continuous technological change, science is not the solution to everything, and sometimes is even part of the problem.

    “Science” was never the “solution to everything,” and always even a part of the problem.

    Looking this problem squarely on means also being willing to question some of our most cherished beliefs about rationality, action, and human choice.

    This has always been true.

  39. Joshua says:

    Can Sarewitz and other post-normal science promoters tell us!? If not, why promote such an ill-defined concept as PNS? What is their point? What is it FOR?

    Repeated for emphasis.

    These are interesting questions being discussed in the article, by a very good writer.

    I think they should be posed as questions, not presented as conclusions. I think that we should look to manage the uncertainties of the problems discussed, not conclude that we should act, based on unverified and unvalidated conclusions. The dichotomous framework presented, IMO, is rather unhelpful. I get that there is some value on provocation, and in hyperbole, but still,…

    … I do love the irony.

  40. Joshua says:

    The more I look at it…

    Compare and contrast:

    Post-normal science is easy to spot.

    and

    Is there an clear and unambiguous demarcation between normal and post-normal science? Of course not, but that goes for almost any categorical boundary between related but different things.

    hmmm.

  41. Joshua says:

    Sorry for so many comments…but I keep reading….one more dubious excerpt:

    Should we do less science? The answer is: We already are. But we remain in denial about this.

    Citation needed, (for both assertions, actually).

  42. Willard says:

    > What is it FOR?

    Not a Dan fan, but I know the response to that.

    In a nutshell, the concept of post-normalcy is a (imho, clumsy) way to counter complete the idea of normal science. The concept of normal science is central to Kuhn’s model of science. This concept has some relevance for someone who does not hold that science has always been political. The historical context is interesting:

    In 1961 Kuhn became a full professor at the University of California at Berkeley, having moved there in 1956 to take up a post in history of science, but in the philosophy department. This enabled him to develop his interest in the philosophy of science. At Berkeley Kuhn’s colleagues included Stanley Cavell, who introduced Kuhn to the works of Wittgenstein, and Paul Feyerabend. With Feyerabend Kuhn discussed a draft of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions which was published in 1962 in the series “International Encyclopedia of Unified Science”, edited by Otto Neurath and Rudolf Carnap. The central idea of this extraordinarily influential—and controversial—book is that the development of science is driven, in normal periods of science, by adherence to what Kuhn called a ‘paradigm’. The functions of a paradigm are to supply puzzles for scientists to solve and to provide the tools for their solution. A crisis in science arises when confidence is lost in the ability of the paradigm to solve particularly worrying puzzles called ‘anomalies’. Crisis is followed by a scientific revolution if the existing paradigm is superseded by a rival. Kuhn claimed that science guided by one paradigm would be ‘incommensurable’ with science developed under a different paradigm, by which is meant that there is no common measure for assessing the different scientific theories. This thesis of incommensurability, developed at the same time by Feyerabend, rules out certain kinds of comparison of the two theories and consequently rejects some traditional views of scientific development, such as the view that later science builds on the knowledge contained within earlier theories, or the view that later theories are closer approximations to the truth than earlier theories. Most of Kuhn’s subsequent work in philosophy was spent in articulating and developing the ideas in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, although some of these, such as the thesis of incommensurability, underwent transformation in the process.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/thomas-kuhn/

    Most models of science that came out of epistemology have been abused. Since they’re pre-social media, there’s little one can do about it. Bridging the gap between esoteric and exoteric knowledge (i.e. how to connect specialists with noobs) is an important open problem. My money is on specialists adapting their communication efforts, e.g.

  43. lerpo says:

    The link between second hand smoke and cancer may meet the criteria:

    1. Stakes are high – Yes: cancer is a bad thing.
    2. Decisions urgent – yes, people are dying perhaps needlessly
    3. facts contested – of course its science uncertainty is always present in some form. For example https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/12/12/study-finds-no-link-between-secondhand-smoke-and-cancer
    4. values in conflict – The livelihoods of those in the tobacco industry are at stake. Also the freedom of smokers.

    Sarewitz suggest “recognizing the crisis in scientific quality not only as a call for reform, but as a reason to creatively search for alternatives, for better, perhaps more direct ways to define and address problems that have refused to yield to science-led solutions.”

    But (if this is indeed an example) I’m not sure specifically how Sarewitz would alter our approach to the issue of second hand smoke.

  44. lerpo says:

    Maybe a better example is first hand smoking. The author quotes Ioannidis to say that smoking is an unambiguous threat. In that case the link between tobacco and cancer can’t be considered post-normal science. But in the 1950’s it would have met all four criteria. At that point were studies that found a link “not science”? How did we graduate from “not science”?

  45. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Thanks…

    Following your breadcrumbs, I get to this:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/22/jerry-ravetz-part-2-answer-and-explanation-to-my-critics/

    and thus this:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/09/climategate-plausibility-and-the-blogosphere-in-the-post-normal-age/

    (That 2nd one quite interesting in particular for the discussion of Schneider…and ya’ gotta love Willis:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/22/jerry-ravetz-part-2-answer-and-explanation-to-my-critics/#comment-294487

    makes some other shirt-rippers look like puppy dogs).

    Anyway, I didn’t know that discussion existed, and it’s interesting background.

  46. Willard says:

    Somehow related:

    Come to think of it, Dan simply turned “but POMO” into “but post-normal.”

  47. Steven Mosher says:

    “Compare and contrast:

    Post-normal science is easy to spot.

    and

    Is there an clear and unambiguous demarcation between normal and post-normal science? Of course not, but that goes for almost any categorical boundary between related but different things.

    hmmm.

    ##############

    That should not confuse you in the least

    is a mountain easy to spot
    yes.
    is there a clear and ambigous demarcation between a hill and a mountain?
    nope.

    Think of it this way.

    When values (identities) are in conflict, when the stakes are high and Decisions urgent
    all sides will exploit the inherent uncertainty in ‘facts’ in their own particular way to their rhetorical
    advantage.

    “more science” won’t necessarily help. Hence ravetz interest in conflict resolution, his interest in addressing the conflict in values, rather than trying to argue that “more science” is a panacea.

    We knew all we needed to know about the deleterious effects of c02 in 1896.

  48. Jean,

    His point is that there is no deciding the question of percolation flux under current circumstances, since each side will always be able to poke holes in the methodological approaches of the other side–forcing into question any of the 1000s of decisions made in the process of testing the water.

    Except, if it is possible to determine the percolation flux, then it should be possible to do so. So, either it isn’t possible and the uncertainty is actually as large as their results suggest, or some are doing work that is methodologically flawed.

    Consent-based siting–a process that starts not with a scientific finding that X is the safest site, and then tries to achieve political buy-in (like Yucca Mountain), but one that starts with communities volunteering to be considered, and then screening based on scientific standards agreed upon in advance. E.g., the site must have a percolation rate <X based on Y type testing.

    This makes sense, but isn’t this more a different way to make decisions, rather than a different way to do science?

    It seems to me that some of this is based on complex decision making that maybe is not easy to resolve. I’m all for trying to find more effective ways to make decisions. I don’t, however, think that redefining science because of how it interacts with decision making is really the way to go.

  49. brigittenerlich says:

    ok, so we have Kuhn and POMO and PNS ….. blablablab… so what do we do with that? How does this inform, even improve, the practice of science and the practice of decision-making and the practice of linking the two? If it’s just blablabla and tilting at strawpeople why bother? Sorry, I am in a bit of a belligerent mood today.

  50. Eabani,

    I’ve some concerns such as press releases coming out before peer-review because of institutional pressures, and low-quality and predatory journals, but these seem well-known.

    Yes, I agree that these are issues. But, as you say, they are quite well known.

    At the moment this seems largely to occur by accident: a collection of models of 1.5 °C has (fortunately) become a belief that ‘scientists say we must halve emissions by 2030’.

    Indeed, but this is more to do with people misinterpreting the science, than having anything to do with the science itself.

  51. Willard says:

    > If it’s just blablabla and tilting at strawpeople why bother?

    Besides getting another line on one’s CV and flying around the world to give yet another useless talk? Not much. But then I might be biased:

  52. Steven Mosher says:

    “But (if this is indeed an example) I’m not sure specifically how Sarewitz would alter our approach to the issue of second hand smoke.”

    it really wasnt settled by more science was it?

    For most smokers the stakes were not high enough to fight.

    Now, 1 thing that ravetz omits in his definition is the kind of values that need to be at stake
    and the kind of stakes need to be in play.

    hills and mountains and things inbetween

  53. Brigitte,

    If not, why promote such an ill-defined concept as PNS? What is their point? What is it FOR?

    Yes, this is what I’d like to understand better. I had an interesting discussion on Twitter in which someone was pointing out that PNS is aimed at improving decision making. The problem, though, is that it’s not clear how and it’s not even clear that people are defining it in some consistent way. How does it help if people don’t understand what it actually is and if those who promote it aren’t necessarily even promoting the same basic idea?

  54. brigittenerlich says:

    Who says that more science is a panacea and if they say it when do they do and for what purpose?

  55. Joshua says:

    So, I know it when I see it:

    This simple phrase, embedded in a plurality opinion, carries with it many of the conflicts and inconsistencies that continue to plague American obscenity law. In effect, “I know it when I see it” can still be paraphrased and unpacked as: “I know it when I see it, and someone else will know it when they see it, but what they see and what they know may or may not be what I see and what I know, and that’s okay.”

    — William T. Goldberg

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it

  56. Brigitte,
    I’m sure many scientists regard science as important, otherwise why would they do it? I’m sure there are examples of scientists advocating for more research funding. However, I doubt you’d find all that many who think the main way we’d solve societal problems is to do more research. I think most understand that there are many other important things in society and that our values play a key role in our decision making.

    Something I’ve wondered is whether or not the type of argument being made in Sarewitz’s paper is regarded as also applying to social science. Isn’t that also important? Rather than trying to redefine science, why not present convincing research from the social sciences that will also inform our decision making?

  57. lerpo,
    I hadn’t thought of that. How does one determine if something has gone from being not science, back to being science?

  58. b fagan says:

    Joshua pointed out this quote that also doesn’t seem to make sense: “But because quality problems manifest as false positives, if we could somehow magically turn poor quality published studies into high quality studies, the result would not be new high quality knowledge, but a mountain of mostly negative findings. It would be as if we had done less science to begin with.”

    Aren’t negative findings a core part of science? I know he’s talking about a hypothetical situation in this sentence, but still, the magical outcome would be a lot of validly disproved hypotheses – a lot of science, since researchers would then be freed to look elsewhere.

  59. Joshua,
    You’ve – I think – been highlighting an aspect of the article that I decided not to address in the post. Yes, lots of science turns out to be wrong, or flawed, in some way. Would be wonderful if we could reduce this. One way we do so is by simply doing science and learning from our mistakes. Sarewitz, however, seems to be suggesting something more direct, but it’s not clear what, or what might happen if we tried to implement something that actively tried to prevent science from doing research that turns out to be wrong. Who can do this? Should we have committees that decide if something should be done or not? Be more selective in our funding and try to pick winners? Institute some kind of regulation? What about defining appropriate methodology?

    When it comes to fundamental science (i.e., science that aims to understand something, rather than trying to develop a produce) all of these seem to have the potential for unintended, negative consequences. The real question, in my view, is can we develop a different scientific procedure that is likely to be more effective at improving our understanding of the world around us than the procedure we use today? I’m not convinced that we can. This is not to suggest that there aren’t aspects of what we do today that we couldn’t do better, but is simply a suggestion that a pro-active attempt to change the basic scientific process is unlikely to substantively improve how science uncovers information.

  60. brigittenerlich says:

    Hmmm perhaps we are in a phase of PNSS or post-normal social science, a social science that defines science in some ill-defined way as post-normal and thereby makes it difficult to find ways through various decision-making difficulties that one might be able to address by mutually engaging in/understanding normal science….Good night!

  61. Steven Mosher says:

    “That is the question! Can Sarewitz and other post-normal science promoters tell us!? If not, why promote such an ill-defined concept as PNS? What is their point? What is it FOR?:

    Hmm not so ill defined. It’s pretty simple to great exemplars of PNS situations and non PNS situations.

    take one of the simple ones I gave you. or take solar neutrinos as an example.

    1. There were no values in conflict.
    2. There was no urgent decision that had to be made
    3. There were no high stakes

    And the uncertainty over the “facts” persisted for decades. There were no children skipping school
    trying to force an decision about which was right ( the theory or the observations) science lived happily at its own pace, with no deadline submissions ( like the IPCC) and no political fights, etc etc.
    Sure the values of the reasearchers may have been at odds, but there was no call to action DECIDE! quickly quickly. Science puttered along at its own pace and after a few decades nature gave up her secret.

    Contrast that with climate science.

    1. There are values in conflict. And not marginal values but values that are core to folks
    identity. think of your children and their children.. ect
    2. There are urgent decisions that have to be made. what do we have 12 year now?
    Can you name any other science related policy question that had a deadline?
    maybe some shit like star wars, we have X years to build the system.
    3. There are high stakes. Does it get any higher than existential threat? FFS.

    And so how does this color the approaches toward uncertainty of facts.

    Take something as simple as the uncertainty levels around ECS.
    catalogue the response you get to that uncertainty. they will range from “we MUST reduce the uncertainty”, to there has been no progress, to the uncertainty doesnt matter in the end.
    Heck the attention to tails should tell you something odd is up.

    If I said, well wait 100 years years and we will know better you would rightly point out
    that if we waited that long we might Suffer the damage you can predict today. we dont have time
    to wait for science to putter along. That’s odd.

    take any other measure in any other science ( say the speed of light, or any constant ) and ask yourself if scientists have every been told “quickly quickly” reduce that uncertainty. Or hey george we need to rule out that tail!

    What’s it for?
    here is one approach

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/42704725?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    The idea is that more science simply wont get you to a resolution,

    Threshold question is then what additional science could be done to convince a hard core skeptic of climate science? does None ring a bell?

  62. b fagan,
    To be quite honest, I don’t fully understand what you’ve quoted. False positive do occur and we should indeed be aware of the possibility of a false positive emerging from an analysis. There clearly are examples where people should have been more cautious in how they interpreted their results, or were more careful in how they carried out their analysis. I don’t, however, how we can avoid this altogether or why making these kinds of mistakes, and learning from them, isn’t itself part of the process.

  63. Steven Mosher says:

    “When it comes to fundamental science (i.e., science that aims to understand something, rather than trying to develop a produce) all of these seem to have the potential for unintended, negative consequences. ”

    One thing he is unclear abbout is that PNS happens in applied fields.

    Now with respect to the utility of negative results?

    FFS now you want to make negative results into science?

    Think for two seconds, please.

  64. Steven,
    Except that it seems that you’re describing one situation where there really was a lot of scientific uncertainty and many did indeed disagree, with an example where the uncertainty mainly comes from interaction of the science with society and doesn’t really reflect a true scientific uncertainty. I’m not suggesting that the solution is more science. I am suggesting that redefining the science as “not science” is also not the solution.

  65. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “While I find the article interesting and it looks at issues I think are interesting, I also think that it’s hyperbolic and melodramatic.”

    When POMO first reared its ugly head I found it interesting, or at least intriguing.
    However after shallow study I hit bottom and found there was no ‘there’ there.

    It provides no useful insight into how science works well or badly, but just becomes a ‘post-modern’ tool for various interests to dismiss, doubt or deny scientific insights that threaten their pet ideologies. Or econometrics.

    I would admit to a personal bias. After that initial curiosity I now work from the null hypothesis that anything tangentially connected to Ravetz and POMO as a load of self-serving fekin bullocks. I have yet to falsify this assumption.

  66. Steven,

    FFS now you want to make negative results into science?

    Think for two seconds, please.

    I think you’re going to have to explain this.

  67. izen says:

    @-SM
    “FFS now you want to make negative results into science?
    Think for two seconds, please.”

    Takes less than two seconds to come up with examples.
    Michelson/Morley light-speed measurements.
    Failed replication of cold fusion.
    Failed replication of Turin FTL neutrinos.
    Failed replication of homeopathic water ‘memory’.
    Failed replication of C Burt’s IQ herditability.
    Failed replication of Lamarkism in the midwife toad.
    Failed replication of vaccines causing autism.
    Failed replication of …
    Okay I have probably run over two seconds, but Popperian falsification is still a useful epistemological tool while Kuhn has proven to be a passing paradigm.

  68. Willard says:

    > Popperian falsification is still a useful epistemological tool while Kuhn has proven to be a passing paradigm.

    Both tools are still with us, izen, for better or worse. Falsificationnism hasn’t solved the demarcation problem, yet falsification makes sense as a normative principle. The concept of paradigm, however farfetched, has some explanatory force.

    As far as sociology of science is concerned, Thomas won the round. That does not mean falsification or paradigms offer an accurate description of how science is being done. We are science, but probly not everyone the same way.

    I’m all for your “no there there” test, as I think where is science is often a good question to ask. This question can be studied using POMO, i.e. follow the artifacts, the instruments, the colleges, the objectives, the power struggles, etc. I don’t see how we can get more than frameworks with less explanatory force than we’d like.

    This kind of interpretations can be dismissed as just-so stories. They can be used for framing and emanticipation too. Considering the importance of “weapons of massive narration,” I would not dismiss them out of hand.

  69. izen says:

    @-W
    “Considering the importance of “weapons of massive narration,” I would not dismiss them out of hand.”

    I don’t dismiss them, your recent recommendation of ‘How History gets things wrong’ I found very useful and has shifted my views/analysis somewhat from a ‘historical contingency’ framework.

    One discriminator I do find useful is the source and direction of the ‘Just-So’ stories that are constructed.
    Those that cleave as closely as possible to simple descriptions of process observed derived after the fact I tend to give more weight than those that are constructed to ‘explain’ how observations conform (often Procrustinally) to a pre-existing preference or belief.

    @-“As far as sociology of science is concerned, Thomas won the round.

    Yeh, depressing if true. And does much to confirm MY pre-existing belief in the dis-utility of the subject.

  70. Everett F Sargent says:

    So, hmm err, was developing the atomic bomb during WWII post normal science?

    And what about pre normal science (e. g. some arbitrary point in time before the PNS 1990s bomblet)?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superseded_theories_in_science
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_topics_characterized_as_pseudoscience

  71. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    is a mountain easy to spot
    yes.
    is there a clear and ambigous demarcation between a hill and a mountain?
    nope.

    Is what I spotted a mountain or a hill?

    I was once on Goyko Ri in the Himalayas, in a spot where I could see something like three of the tallest mountain in the world (I don’t remember the exact number).

    I was struck that my experience of them as tall mountains was completely shaped by my abstract understanding of what I was looking at. From my perspective (somewhere between 17,000-18,000 feet) they all looked like hills.

    I just watched a clip on TV where Kristjen Neilson was asked if the structures she was putting kids in were cages. She objected to that classification.

    She was then asked if the structures she was putting kids in were like the cages people might put their dogs in, outside.

    She said no.

    She was asked how they differed from those dog cages.

    She said they were larger.

    When values (identities) are in conflict, when the stakes are high and Decisions urgent
    all sides will exploit the inherent uncertainty in ‘facts’ in their own particular way to their rhetorical
    advantage.

    “more science” won’t necessarily help. Hence ravetz interest in conflict resolution, his interest in addressing the conflict in values, rather than trying to argue that “more science” is a panacea.

    I’m cool with all of that. But I have trouble with the path from that to we’re doing post-normal scicne, which is categorically different from non-post normal science, to we’re doing “less science” and to the conclusion that we should reducr the amount of research we fund.

    As Anders days, the option of refining the sconce we do makes more sense to me.

    BTW, I just read your PNS post at Judith’s from back in the day. Interesting that I complimented you on the post.

  72. Joshua says:

    I’m told I could see four 8,000 meter peaks.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokyo_Ri

    They all looked like small hills.

  73. David B. Benson says:

    Everett F Sargent — The development of the so-called atomic bomb was engineering with substantial engineering science development at Los Alamos, where I grew up. Despite the titles of the principal actors.

  74. David B. Benson says:

    George Monbiot is especially cogent today.

  75. Willard says:

    > Yeh, depressing if true.

    Not that depressing if you consider why Thomas won. Sir Karl only had a “logic” for discovery, i.e. modus tollens. This “logic” does not tell how scientists proceed to make these discoveries. Thomas’ model at least tries to say something about what happens between scientific revolutions: clerical book keeping, stacking up theorical problems. The concept of audit shows that the first aspect is still problematic.

    OTOH, that science proceeds in such a “normal” fashion begs to be documented.

  76. Everett F Sargent says:

    David B. Benson,

    Exactly! Almost …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project#Origins
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project#Proposals
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project#Bomb_design_concepts

    An applied science project that, IMHO, meets the four criteria for PNS.

    Is the science of PNS itself falsifiable or simply a paradigm shift? No and no.

    One should also account for the rise of the internets and various virulent social media that begat most of the PNS anti-science rhetoric (today, ironically via Twitter and Facebook).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_World_Wide_Web

  77. russellseitz says:

    Much depends on what you mean by “post.”

    For decades, many postmodern STS theorists have followed Focault in treating science as a social constuct that embodies deeper structures of power, and reifies them by providing political tools.
    As its effects on society and economics are ubiquitous, intersectionalist insist it must be made to serve their agenda instead.

    Which is why it’s getting ever harder to distinguish Nature leaders from Graun editorials.

  78. russellseitz says:

    Joshua

    I highly recommend another point of view- from the Hunza River spur of the Indus valley.
    There’s an inn perched about a kilometer higher than Altit Fort, overlooking six 25,000 foot peaks and Nanga Parbat, not counting the 23,000 foot spire in th lack yard.

    Because the Indus valley cuts down to 7500 feet in Baltistan, the peaks look every bit as tall as they are

    http://eaglesnesthotel.com

  79. Everett F Sargent says:

    intersectionalist
    Intersectionality
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality

    Hmm, probably not exactly what RS meant, exactly, but now that I found it on Wikipedia, I find it very much more interesting than any discussions of The Subintellectual Peons of PNS could, have or will ever be.

  80. angech says:

    “Post-normal science is the activity that occurs when the tools, practices, and expectations of normal science are applied in the dual contexts of system complexity and political disagreement. In post-normal science, problems of quality blend into problems of politics, because decisions that scientists always must make, about experimental design, model assumptions and parameters, data choice, statistical significance, and so on, cannot be kept separate from assumptions about how the world works, or should work. In normal science, the Chlorine 36 problem is a confounding factor and a further source of uncertainty, an opportunity for more research. In post-normal science, the Chlorine 36 problem is another opportunity for competing interests to advance their positions.”
    “I have a real problem with the idea that we should regard science conducted in the post-normal context as not science. The validity of some scientific research should not depend on its broader relevance.”
    It is interesting that the author whose view you disagree with uses the argument to validate making decisions on moral values rather than science.
    In other words since we cannot prove AGW let’s run with it anyway as it is the moral thing to do even if we found out later it is wrong.
    Cue that cartoon.

  81. angech,

    It is interesting that the author whose view you disagree with uses the argument to validate making decisions on moral values rather than science.

    I don’t disagree with the idea that moral values should play a big role in how we make decisions. I do think, however, that we should redefine the information that we’re using to inform decision on the basis of how we might be making, or not, those decisions.

  82. David B. Benson says:

    Everett F Sargent — No, the Manhattan Project was no applied science as there was almost no existing science to apply. It was an engineering project on a massive scale; visit Oak Ridge and Hanford.

    I have no firm understanding of so-called post normal science, suspecting this is just gobbledygook from an untrained mind. Let it rest.

  83. dikranmarsupial says:

    Angech “In other words since we cannot prove AGW let’s run with it anyway as it is the moral thing to do even if we found out later it is wrong.
    Cue that cartoon.”

    The golden rule (‘do unto others…’) suggests that you should interpret the words of others uncharitably only if you are happy for others to interpret your words uncharitably.

  84. Everett F Sargent says:

    Applied science
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_science

    “Applied science is the application of existing scientific knowledge to practical applications, like technology or inventions.

    Within natural science, disciplines that are basic science, also called pure science, develop basic information to predict and perhaps explain and understand phenomena in the natural world. Applied science is the use of scientific processes and knowledge as the means to achieve a particular practical or useful result. This includes a broad range of applied science related fields from engineering, business, medicine to early childhood education.”

    :/

  85. Willard says:

    > it’s getting ever harder to distinguish Nature leaders from Graun editorials.

    Distinguishing Nature editorialists from Graun scientific reports is even harder, Russell. What you seem to portray as a bug looks like a feature to me. Audra Wolfe’s research shows (to those who need receipts) how the industrial-military complex was powered by the Cold War. “Purely” scientific studies has a flip side – it produces pictures that does not represent what’s happening for real:

    Granted, POMO speak is not for everyone. It’s certainly not my cup of tea. There should be way to simplify technicalities. But techno-speak is everywhere. It gets a while to get used to the mores of a field. The first time I read Jim Hansen, I was sreaming at my screen. This reality makes it hard for critic to come from the left field and offer anything constructive. This leads to the “reply guy” phenomenon on teh tweeter:

    The Dank Web illustrates a similar phenomenon – self-help gurus that sell the illusion of scholarship. Not only crap, but crap that has important implications, e.g. Juan Cole’s review of SamH’s crap. Post-normal pseudoscience might very well be the bane of our times.

  86. russellseitz says:

    Willard observes:

    “Distinguishing Nature editorialists from Graun scientific reports is even harder, Russell. What you seem to portray as a bug looks like a feature to me.”

    An echo chamber warning should be sounded when bugs and features begin to sound alike.

    Nature made clearer distinctions between science and polemics when it had an editor who’d worked for both the Graun and the New Statesman, and thus a better sense of where science left off and political journalism began.

  87. Joshua says:

    angech –

    In other words since we cannot prove AGW let’s run with it anyway as it is the moral thing to do even if we found out later it is wrong.

    Alternatively, there is risk, and ignoring the risk, as we may be prone to do, won’t make the risk go away even though it might feel like it does.

  88. Willard says:

    > Nature made clearer distinctions between science and polemics when it had an editor who’d worked for both the Graun and the New Statesman, and thus a better sense of where science left off and political journalism began.

    I’m on record for wishing for more editors, Russell, even if I’m also on record for the idea that there’s no “left off” to leave off, if only because editorial decisions need to be made everywhere, including science deliverables.

    Speaking of which, I need to finish the second part of my chat with Jonathan.

  89. There may be physical limitations to the amount of experimental science we can do, e.g.
    the helium supply crunch: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/PT.3.4181

    Helium is finite and non-renewable and has been typically recovered from fossil fuel reservoirs that trap gas & liquid via structures such as salt domes. But as those reservoirs decline, so does the secondary helium. Sure, there will be new discoveries that will “save” us for the short term, but in the long term, what will be done? The article talks about recapturing and liquefying escaping helium, but that seems not enough.

    Of course, Forbes claims that Helium will regenerate over time, and that it can also be separated when natural gas is compressed for LNG. Not so sure of this.

  90. izen says:

    I am not sure if this is relevant to this thread, although it does deal with the way science research is re-interpreted according to ‘Values’. A feature according to the PSN advocates of non-science.

    The recent paper –
    https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/4/eaav7337
    hindcasting the Pliocene climate 3 million years ago, that reports CO2 levels were comparable to those today, or at least in the next few decades if BAU, has been commented on by Nick Nolte (?!) as clear proof that AGW is a hoax.
    Because humans and SUV were not around then, so the present warming and rise in CO2 is just part of another ‘Natural’ cycle.

    I am sure that (nearly) all commentators here are aware of the egregious flaws in this argument.
    What I found somewhat amusing is that the scientific counter-arguments were conspicuous by their absence from the response to this dismissal of this claim at Breitbart (unsurprising), but there was a significant amount of resistance from those who rejected the idea that there WAS an climate or Earth 3 million years ago without humans.
    Because as every right-thinking Xian knows the Earth is only a little over 6000 years old, and any claims to the contrary are due to the satanic influence of material naturalism and mistaking the effects of Noah’s flood.

    It may be a stretch, but I do have the impression that the POMO, ‘post-normal science is not science’ approach lends at least some spurious validity to this sort of nonsense.

  91. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’m cool with all of that. But I have trouble with the path from that to we’re doing post-normal scicne, which is categorically different from non-post normal science, to we’re doing “less science” and to the conclusion that we should reducr the amount of research we fund.

    As Anders days, the option of refining the sconce we do makes more sense to me.

    BTW, I just read your PNS post at Judith’s from back in the day. Interesting that I complimented you on the post.”

    ###################

    I think Daniel’s phrasing “we are already doing less science” is meant to be provocative.
    clever but ulimately not very helpful.

    WRT my previous post. Thanks! I had a wonderful time with Ravetz and most interesting discussions between an old leftist and libertarian. We could agree on several things
    as long as we focused on finding places where we agree rather than nit picking each other.

  92. b fagan says:

    ATTP said: “b fagan To be quite honest, I don’t fully understand what you’ve quoted.”

    I was focused on this thing Sarewitz wrote: “if we could somehow magically turn poor quality published studies into high quality studies, the result would not be new high quality knowledge, but a mountain of mostly negative findings. It would be as if we had done less science to begin with.”

    I was confused he wouldn’t see a stack of high quality studies with a mountain of negative findings as a lot of science – else why the pressures these days to pre-register expected results and publish more of the “the new drug is NOT better than a placebo” papers. Like having a few people look for the missing car keys – everyone reporting where they aren’t helps people find them faster. Yet Sarewitz, at least from my reading his paragraph, didn’t see value in his hypothetical outcome.

  93. b fagan,
    Okay, I see what you mean. I also found that somewhat confusing. One way we’re trying to fix science is to encourage people to publish their negative results, so why would he regard doing so as doing less science?

  94. In machine learning, it isn’t difficult to find highly cited papers that describe methods that don’t really work in practice. Thorough experimental evaluations that show that things don’t really work ought to be very useful publications, however I know from experience that getting them through peer-review is very, very difficult.

  95. Michael 2 says:

    “The other problem is that anytime science suggests something inconvenient, “

    Science does not speak. People speak. I suspect the phrasing is shorthand for “A person, informed by the results of scientific methods, suggests something inconvenient.”

    Repeated use of the shorthand eventually creates a mythology around “science” itself. It becomes a Person rather than a container; it starts to have motives of its own.

  96. Everett F Sargent says:

    izen,

    “Nick Nolte (?!)” should be “John Nolte” afaik (via search just now).
    https://www.breitbart.com/author/john-nolte/
    I think he should write for the Onion because they all look like Onion titles.

  97. Michael 2 says:

    Steven Mosher writes: “We knew all we needed to know about the deleterious effects of c02 in 1896.”

    We have aged remarkably well.

  98. izen says:

    @-EFS
    ““Nick Nolte (?!)” should be “John Nolte” afaik ”

    That makes it slightly less weird.!

    But it was the comments that I found amusing. Apart from the YEC objection, there were also the full house of;-
    Scientists claim AGW because the funding makes them rich.
    Scientists claim AGW to support the socialist NWO.
    Scientists claim AGW by falsifying the graphs, if only NASA would release the raw data…
    Only half (or less) of Scientists claim AGW, but the media suppresses the dissidents.
    Its about to start cooling.
    There is no warming, its a commie plot.
    Temperature change precedes CO2 changes so cannot be caused by CO2.
    CO2 is plant food and too small a part of the atmosphere to change the climate.
    Warming would be a good thing.
    Science is done by humans who are wrong 99% of the time.
    Governments all lie to control the population so anything they tell us is wrong.
    Scientists claim AGW but in the 70s claimed cooling so its all just a liberul fad.

    There are more variations, but all seem to be examples that POMO/PNS would classify as evidence that there is something ‘wrong’ with the science, rather than something wrong with human reasoning when faced with science that contradicts their religious, ideological, and economic beliefs and interests.

  99. Willard says:

    We are science:

  100. russellseitz says:

    Chill, PP the Russians and the Qatari’s are completing new helium separation plants that together approach the capacity of those in the US, and a whole new kind of resource- He rich volcanic gas from carbonatite lavas has been discovered along the Rift Valley in East Africa

  101. The fact that any helium finds are so isolated indicates the long-term issue.

    One of these cornucopian fellows I recently had a discussion with claimed that helium is a renewable resource and it’s being regenerated via radioactivity at a pace that’s sustainable.

  102. russellseitz says:

    PP, please make up your mind- the supply of helium subsidized and sustained by natural gas exploration and extraction has deeper roots in time than fossil fuel. Inorganic helium in volcanic gases is a resource renewed by tectonics, not the biogeochemical carbon cycle

  103. Steven Mosher says:

    “There are more variations, but all seem to be examples that POMO/PNS would classify as evidence that there is something ‘wrong’ with the science, rather than something wrong with human reasoning when faced with science that contradicts their religious, ideological, and economic beliefs and interests.”

    you have it backwards. theres something missing in human reasoning that more science wont satisfy.

  104. Russel Seitz, Think how fortunate we are that there were such convenient sources of helium in the first place. Can’t even contain helium in a steel cylinder without it eventually all escaping over time. Scientists realize all this and that’s why they are worried.

  105. izen says:

    @-SM
    “you have it backwards. theres something missing in human reasoning that more science wont satisfy.”

    Perhaps we are both wrong to ascribe these errors to human REASON.
    How about; There are processes in human cognition that are not reasonable. The deficit model fails because reasoning from evidence is Trumped by belief or faith in a presupposition.

    That if using reason to derive a conclusion from scientific evidence results in a contradiction with a core belief about economics, physics or religious justifications, then reason is abandoned in favour of denial of the evidence AND the validity of reason to reach a conclusion.

    I think I may be misquoting Mark Twain when I say ‘You cannot reason someone out of an idea they did not use reason to adopt.’
    I still see no reasonable evidence that would justify classifying some science as non-science, or that it is wrong to do more research.
    Although it may be ineffective with those who are dogmatically opposed to using reason as part of their human cognitive competencies. The elements that the POMO crowd are using to classify science as useless would seem to be more accurately described as exposing a defect in human cognition.

  106. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    We are (political) science:

    Courtesy of Rolling Stone…

    Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) may have studied robotics at MIT, but he is now responsible for one of the most asinine moments in congressional history.

    At a House committee hearing Tuesday on “The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security,” the Kentucky Republican thought he could pwn former secretary of state John Kerry. Kerry is an expert on climate change who helped broker the Paris climate accord and recently criticized president Trump for proposing to set up a task force that seeks to counter the scientific consensus on climate change. Massie calls advocates of climate action “alarmists” and believes that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is “plant food.”

    The transcript of the literally unbelievable exchange follows:

    Massie: Sec. Kerry, I want to read part of your statement back to you: “Instead of convening a kangaroo court, the president might want to talk with the educated adults he once trusted his top national security positions.” It sounds like you’re questioning the credentials of the president’s advisers, currently. But I think we should question your credentials today. Isn’t it true you have a science degree from Yale?

    Kerry: Bachelor of arts degree.

    Massie: Is it a political science degree?

    Kerry: Yes, political science.

    Massie: So how do you get a bachelor of arts, in a science?

    Kerry: Well it’s a liberal arts education and degree. It’s a bachelor…

    Massie: OK. So it’s not really science. So I think it’s somewhat appropriate that someone with a pseudo-science degree is here pushing pseudo-science in front of our committee today.

    Kerry: Are you serious?! I mean this is really a serious happening here?

    Massie: You know what? It is serious. You’re calling the president’s Cabinet a “kangaroo court.” Is that serious?

    Kerry: I’m not calling his Cabinet a kangaroo court, I’m calling this committee that he’s putting together a kangaroo committee.

    Massie: Are you saying it doesn’t have educated adults now?

    Kerry: I don’t know who it has yet because it’s secret.

    Massie: Well you said it in your testimony.

    Kerry: Why would he have to have a secret analysis of climate change?

    Massie: Let’s get back to the science of it.

    Kerry: But it’s not science, you’re not quoting science!

    Massie: Well, You’re the science expert. You have the political science degree.

    Post-normal science? How about Post-science normal…?

  107. The Massie incident is complex. Rep Massie is technically smart (EE & ME from MIT) and he himself claims to be the greenest member of congress. He has actually outfitted his home with a custom-modified Tesla battery to provide off-grid power, which looking at the setup must have taken lots of effort.

    So Massie must realize that alternative energy schemes are important, otherwise why would he waste all that time?

    But he also thinks AGW is kind of a joke. Maybe he believes that fossil fuel depletion is the real issue. He is from Kentucky so he must realize coal jobs won’t last forever.

    Or it’s possible he said all that against Kerry just to trigger the libs. That’s what politics is all about in the Trump era. Like many pundits are saying, it really doesn’t matter what you say in public as long as it gets your political base riled up. Trump says he will close the border, even though he realizes that won’t happen. Deniers claim AGW is a hoax, realizing that they never have to provide any evidence to support it. Their political base is always there to support them no matter what they say.

  108. Joshua says:

    Or it’s possible he said all that against Kerry just to trigger the libs.

    This exchange made it to the top of the Fox News website.

    Seems to me that Kerry and Massie are both engaged in an almost formalized signal ritual antagonistic groups. Such rituals seem to me to often be the most easily visualed way through structurally complicated policy spaces: focus on identity, personality politics.

  109. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    So Massie must realize that alternative energy schemes are important, otherwise why would he waste all that time?

    For the same reason that he likes the Republican Party, non-perishable foods, and guns?

  110. Willard says:

    > We are (political) science

    Well, since science has always been political…

  111. Guess I didn’t think of that, that he could be a survivalist or more likely that he attracts those constituents. They may agree with the direction we are headed, but don’t want to be told what to do.

    “On Friday, July 28, Congressmen James Comer (R-KY), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced legislation to remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, which would effectively legalize the cultivation of hemp in the United States. ” https://hightimes.com/culture/the-industrial-hemp-farming-act-of-2017/

  112. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “Such rituals seem to me to often be the most easily visualed way through structurally complicated policy spaces: focus on identity, personality politics.”

    It avoids the difficult and unpleasant possibility that a reasoned analysis of the scientific observations and subsequent understanding deduced, may force you to confront a contradiction between your beliefs/tribal identity and reality.
    (as far as we can determine it to the best of our ability)

  113. Joshua says:

    izen –

    I suppose it would be terribly unfair to suggest I am just a tad singular in my focus, but the longer I watch all of this go on, the more I become convinced that the easy way out for people when confronting these structurally complicated problems is often to point fingers and atomizer and polarize and blame. Unfortunately, methinks that isn’t a productive approach, and I have the sense that the trend may be getting worse in some ways. In the U.S., more and more these ideologically controversial issues are being cleanly cleaved by political identity, which in turn is becoming increasingly cleanly cleaved by race, with a dash of educational levels thrown in as a moderating variable. Of course, that trend needs to be viewed against a background where previous generations embraced open discrimination, often officially encoded in law, against blacks, women, gays, Italians, Irish, Japanese, Chinese, Native Americans, etc.

    https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/04/09/race-in-america-2019/

    A good listen related to that topic: An ex-libertarian’s quest to build the center right.

    https://player.fm/series/the-ezra-klein-show/an-ex-libertarians-quest-to-rebuild-the-center-right

  114. Steven Mosher says:

    “Perhaps we are both wrong to ascribe these errors to human REASON.”

    hmm I dont recall talking about reason.
    my reference was to reasoning… broadly speaking “making sense of things”

    Just to summarise. I think daniel expresses himself in a way that is a bit provocative
    I endorse his line of reasoning, but I would probably not take it as far as he does
    by arguing that we are already doing less science.

    How to put this. I think it is instructive to take a scientific approach to the study of science.
    Observe. what do scientists actually do.

    I’d call it the phenomenology of science with a hat tip to Aron Gurwitsch

  115. The black hole image reconstruction is ripe for deconstruction. Apparently this is a description of the algorithm published a few years ago
    http://news.mit.edu/2016/method-image-black-holes-0606

    That’s quite a bit of signal processing, machine learning, and prior-model inferencing applied to the reconstruction. I would be up at night worrying that a ringing artifact similar to an Airy pattern could create the donut. The fear is that lots of degrees of freedom available to result in such a simple pattern. The problems I am working on are pretty much the reverse — complicated patterns with very few DoF available for a reconstruction. Not to take away the effort and team-work that went into this, but it’s useful to trade insight to apply to related problems.

  116. izen says:

    @-SM
    “hmm I dont recall talking about reason.
    my reference was to reasoning… broadly speaking “making sense of things””

    Okay, I would admit to being somewhat pedantic about such word use. I prefer to restrict reasoning to human cognition that involves reason, or at least thinking that minds it P’s and Q’s.

    @-“I’d call it the phenomenology of science with a hat tip to Aron Gurwitsch”

    I am not familiar with that school of philosophy, I have only a shallow knowledge of the Husserl/Heidegger roots. Is it an influence or component of John Dewey’s pragmatism?

    I think the idea that science is best analysed by looking at its ‘phenotype’ is a good idea. And as in genetics it MAY then be possible to derive some understanding of its underlying ‘genotype’.
    IIRC one of the reasons T Kuhn’s paradigm shift concept had such a short lifespan is because scientists pointed out that actual scientific advances did not fit the ‘model’.

    That Kuhn’s just-so story of heroic overthrow of the old order was like claiming that evolution worked by fundamental mutations causing a significant step change in form, rather than the slow gradual evolution/shift of the form of the population.
    Einstein’s relativity is often cited as a paradigm shift, but as in biological evolution, it had strong precursor forms. Most of it is implicit in the Maxwell equations.

  117. Magma says:

    Rep Massie is technically smart (EE & ME from MIT) and he himself claims to be the greenest member of congress. He has actually outfitted his home with a custom-modified Tesla battery to provide off-grid power, which looking at the setup must have taken lots of effort. — Paul Pukite

    You'd think an engineer might have an inkling about the importance of standards, codes and permits. You’d never guess it looking at that mess.

    Regarding Massie himself, as environmental/climate journalists at Vox pointed out, he’s certainly not actually stupid, but behaving as if he was is the path to success in conservative politics now.

  118. Magma said:

    “You’d think an engineer might have an inkling about the importance of standards, codes and permits. You’d never guess it looking at that mess.”

    Not necessarily for an engineer involved in R&D. The goal there is often to come up with an innovative technology that’s cheaper, better, faster, more efficient. It can always get cleaned up later if it holds some promise.

    Keeping with the engineering theme, the imaging of the black hole was actually part of an EE&CS dissertation at MIT. Getting a degree in engineering doesn’t make one a P.E. automatically, it simply teaches one about the methods and tools involved in innovation.

  119. Steven Mosher says:

    “I am not familiar with that school of philosophy, I have only a shallow knowledge of the Husserl/Heidegger roots. Is it an influence or component of John Dewey’s pragmatism?

    I think the idea that science is best analysed by looking at its ‘phenotype’ is a good idea.”

    #################

    James Edie, a brilliant teacher and Husserl guru would have appreciated you sensing an affinity between Dewey and the phenomenologicla tradition. Affinity is probably the right word to use and not influence.

  120. izen says:

    @-SM
    Polanyi seems to be arguing that Fascism arises because of internal contradictions in unregulated capitalism.

    I was taught (not a view I necessarily still hold) the Fascism was the adopted politics of capitalism to defend itself from the rise of socialism/communism.
    Evidence in support of this would be the success and persistence of the major capitalist enterprise through and after Fascist governments. (Krupps, IG farben BMW, Mercedes, Fiat, and most major banks) and the early privatisation of state enterprises to the benefit of corporations. Along with the early and continued collusion of private enterprises and their owners with the ruling regimes.

    The phenomenology of Fascism appears to be that it embraced corporatism while removing collective social regulation of private enterprise and any alternative economic models from the table.
    I am not sure what relevance you were trying to draw from the Polanyi just-so story on economics and Fascism that relates to this thread topic.

  121. Steven Mosher says:

    I found this interesting

    A country approaching the fascist phase showed symptoms among which the existence of a fascist movement proper was not necessarily one. At least as important signs were the spread of irrationalistic philosophies, racialist esthetics, anticapitalistic demagogy, heterodox currency views, criticism of the party system, widespread disparagement of the “regime,” or whatever was the name given to the existing democratic set-up

  122. Steven Mosher says:

    unrelated to the thread

  123. Steven Mosher says:

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