Thursday, August 24, 2006

But its not about the science!

The stem cell debate, so-called, is not a discussion that has much to do with science. It is more about the political power commanded by two different world views: scientific and fundamentalist. Whether the science is "right" under any of its usual self-imposed criteria of ethics, power of explanation, repeatability or enabling of beneficial medical and engineering applications is not material to the struggle. Science only advises political power and its seeming power depends entirely on whether the holders of political power have sufficient education and imagination to seek and make effective use of that advice. Against that, and very much threatened by that is the much less structured and less acknowledged ways in which fundamentist and other religious world views seek to promote their "advice" to our leaders...as if they knew anything about the problems the science was developed to address.

It does not matter how many hoops the biotechnologists jump through. Until the preachers and acolytes yield their science policy jobs to real scientists and are demoted back to their pulpits, we will suffer a near standstill of progress. That would be both technical progress, and the humanitarian progress it enables. The trend of American administrations away from seriously taking impartial scientific advice into consideration began with the election of a figurehead president who had never studied a word of any science and by the time he entered office at age 69 may have forgotten what he had learned of economics back in 1932. [One wonders if the onset of his Alzheimers actually dates to the 60's when he forgot labor and new deal politics he had spoken for in his first fifty years. Seriously! In a free country we can certainly change our minds but clinically, this looks almost like a personality change.] We know Ronald Reagan could not do the figuring in his head. Clinton reversed this trend briefly. Bush resumed it and took it to its often bizarre anti-science extreme. Our nation is now lead by the blind: a party without one expert who could give you a rudimentary explanation of the mainstream science behind a strictly physical phenomenon like global warming is none the less setting our goals for [not] tackling problems that will strangle our economy or leave us as diseased as we were a decade ago.

8 comments:

Davo said...

One wonders where the Anti-science pro-life "fundies" were ..
when Fermi and Bohr were "doing their thing".

Kurt Reply said...

Thanks for bringing these articles which I find important to my attention. I don't subscribe to or have time to read thru everything so it's great to have run into them here.

GreenSmile said...

Davo:
I think the mindset was much the same then as it is now but electronics and communication advanced to the point that the big audience was no longer the exclusive turf of the name-brand culturati, scientists, authors, artists, financiers. The fundies were in their revival meeting tent when fermi deduced that there must be such a thing as a neutrino. It was invisible, it could pass clear through the entire planet unscathed and undetected. the scientists however "believed" the theory. most of a billion dollars has been spent turning vast undergound grottos into "detectors" and over 50 years elapsed before convincing proof of their existence was in hand. The fundies finally got their own radio station, learned how to read too. ONce they could read, the advertisers regarded them as the equals of the subscribers to scientific journals and so pretty soon creationism and a lot of other crap was out from under its rock and demanding the same kind of respect the scientists have earned and repeatedly demonstrated is due them. creationism may be entitled to a different kind of respect but not to be equated to ideas that matured in a whithering hail of examination, proof and competing alternatives and stand solely on logic and fact.

Kurt:
Your entirely welcome...didn't cost me a nickle. I am starting to cache whole articles because I know newspapers hide there stuff away after a week or so,rendering my posts slightly broken to non-subsricbers.

JahTeh said...

Greensmile, have you caught up with another aspect of global warming, that of the sea becoming more acidic which will dissolve the carbonate shells of the animals at the base of the food chain. I'm reading the research at the moment but haven't had a chance to really get into it.

GreenSmile said...

Jahteh: I was unfamiliar with the research but there appears to be quite a bit of it. There are three gases we burn into the sky that can form acids:
C02, NOx, SOx. The sulfur and nitrogen are much stronger acids and tend to become fertilizer to the plankton. They are a minor component.
I have seen [Science News cover story as much as 10 years ago] reports that iron is the limitng nutrient: if you sprinkle a bit of powdered iron into a random patch of ocean, it blooms green with micrscopic plant life that can suddenly use all the other things: the C02 and the sunlight. The reason I mention this is because the major acidifier, the carbon dioxide, can be absorbed in the ocean in two very diffent ways: by biological uptake which sequesters it and does not acidify as much, or by simple inorganic dissolving which does up the carbonic acid concentration.

An bleaching of coral reefs, the Great Barrier reef in particular, has been accelerating.

Kurt Reply said...

GS,
This troubles me. Living in the US and being trained as a biologist with a basic Darwinian understanding, I've been sad and alarmed to see things progressing toward ID and Creationism over the past several years. Now I read this in the Guardian about Brits, who I thought had more sense and education and ... well, I'm speechless. Just thought you might want to see it. Oy.
http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1844478,00.html

GreenSmile said...

Kurt: by now you may have seen this international poll on the level of acceptance of evoloution in different coutries: UK still sits comfortably near the top of the list [6/37] where as my peasant nation only beats out Turkey at 36/37]. It is truly alarming.

Davo said...

and the "Fundies" are in control of the button of their very own fission bomb.

Any more "righteous rapture" and it will really become MAD.