'Science' gets dumb, dumber

For those who wonder whether science, like everything else these days, has been perverted by political agendas, I give you two of the dumbest "scientific" research studies conducted at Oregon's major universities. Each carries it's own "political agenda" disguised as "scientific fact." The first is a recent study by an Oregon graduate student designed to bolster the case against logging — even logging of burnt out forests. As reported by the Oregonian:

"New research by another OSU grad student released Monday backs up a key point of the earlier work: Logging and replanting forests after wildfires makes them likely to burn more severely in fires over the next few decades than forests left on their own." The article goes on to note that the OSU researcher cannot say exactly why, but it leaves the reader to believe the solution is to not cut the dead trees and replant new ones Let me try to help with the answer. Of course a forest replanted will burn more severely than one that is left barren. Fires need fuel and replanted forests have more fuel than dead, barren, burnt out forests. I just drove across Santiam pass again last week and while everywhere else was green and lush from the snowmelt and spring rains, not the remnants of the B&B Complex fire of 2003. It is dead, dead, dead. You couldn't start a fire there if you had a blowtorch and all weekend.

The difference between a student researcher and a practiced veteran is made clear by Michael Newton, an OSU professor emeritus. In the Oregonian article, Newton said he is not surprised by the finding that replanted forests are more susceptible to fire. He notes that young trees planted close together will burn intensely in the heat of the summer. But Newton notes, "The way you manage it can make the difference between a healthy stand and a thicket. The best way to grow big trees in a hurry is to plant them far apart and control the fuel beneath them." You know, just like the forest product companies do with the trees on their private land. Plant them, groom them, take care of them. A simple formula that the government, which controls most of the forest lands, steadfastly refuses to do.

But the OSU "scientific study" pales in comparison to the latest dribble from the UO. The Oregonian reported last week, "Using brain-scanning technology, University of Oregon researchers have found an unlikely force at play in the minds of people paying taxes: Pleasure.

"Paying taxes can make people feel good," said William Harbaugh, UO economist and co-author of the study. Previous research had established that voluntary giving stirs activity in the brain regions that process feelings of reward. The UO study, published today in the journal Science, is the first to show that involuntary payments can evoke the same reaction." There it is — the agenda. "Paying taxes can make people feel good." What a load of guano!

Here's how the study was conducted. Nineteen female volunteers (read 19 female college students) were each given $100. They were then told that they could give the $100 to the food bank, or the $100 would be taken from them (like a tax) and given to the food bank. (Those were the only two choices; they couldn't keep the money, pay a bill or buy a new dress.) In both instances, brain scans detected a "warm glow." From this, these "scientists" concluded that paying taxes makes us feel good. One of the problems of university life is that it seldom reflects reality, and this research confirms that.

So let's introduce a little reality. First of all, 19 female college students hardly reflect the general population or maturity. Second, real people are not "given" money, they earn it. Try the experiment with 19 people who are forced to work a hard day to earn the $100 and then take that from them and see how much of a "warm glow" you get. Finally, giving money to the food bank is about as far from the reality of paying taxes to the government as you can get. The food bank uses all of its money to feed the poor; the government uses most of its money to feed the public employee unions.

While some pointy-headed professor might like to convince Oregonians that they will feel good by paying more taxes, Oregonians themselves are too smart for such bunk. Over 60 percent of Oregon's adult population twice rejected tax increases just four short years ago.

Put that in your academic Meerschaum and smoke it, professor.

Larry Huss is a lawyer, political consultant and former telecommunications executive. E-mail him at LhussWilsonville@aol.com.

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