Sunday, March 17, 2013

'Scientifically untrue things'

Over at Reason, Ronald Bailey has a piece, "Why Do People Believe Scientifically Untrue Things?," that points to various antiscience tendencies on left and right. I think he's too kind to the GOP on guns (pressure to have the CDC refrain from studying gun violence has been a GOP cause, sadly), and I question whether nuclear power boils down to a science/antiscience or left/right issue as easily as he suggests (consider some libertarian thinking on the subject). But it's a worth-reading piece nonetheless.

1 comment:

Ray Haupt said...

There are a lot of interesting points in those articles.

I challenge the notion that the upfront cost of a nuclear power plant is truly so significant as to make the project forever unprofitable. A nuclear plant and a coal or gas plant have similar characteristics in that power generation is ultimately accomplished by steam engines turning generators. The only real difference, a major difference, is the source of the steam.

I suggest that the high startup cost of the nuclear steam generating apparatus is in large part caused by delay and interminable lawsuits. Investors for good reason have a fear of the history of nuclear power plant development but with decent regulation and control of ideologically driven law suits that picture could be changed for future development. Much of the upfront physical construction costs can be resolved today by employing "off-the-shelf" nuclear technology; especially that of "inherently safe" reactor designs.

America, and the world, needs industrial strength power generation not likely to be satisfied by boutique technologies such as solar power. To electrify America primarily by solar power would be an ecologic disaster in terms of land essentially paved over with solar panels.

On the matter of gun control I have long been skeptical of the argument that the 2nd Amendment rightly extends to rapid fire weapons with large capacity magazines. Those weapons have a place in the military and police SWAT teams, but not even the ordinary police officer should, in my opinion, be routinely equipped with such weaponry.

I challenge the value of gun ownership for home and self defense. Possession of a weapon is not very useful for those purposes unless it is literally in hand ... it is useless in a gun cabinet. I suspect that widespread gun ownership would impel criminals to engage in more ferocious initial attacks.