Science and The System

When we where young we thought about how days where filled with wonder. The Space Age began as Mercury and Apollo rockets tantalized our minds about the future. Many watched “The Jetsons”, Sci Fi, and Star Trek. (The UK Doctor Who. In US 1978 WOR-tv Channel 9.)
There where documentaries in black and white about futuristic societies and in the 1970’s books and movies such as Future Shock.
By the 21 Century we imagined a more Utopian society with technologies and new buildings where people lived in peace and progress.
So what happened? The Republican war on science.
As inconceivable as it would have been to Jefferson–and as dismaying as it is to growing legions of today’s scientists, large swaths of the government in Washington are now in the hands of people who don’t know what science is. More ominously, some of those in power may grasp how research works but nonetheless are willing to subvert science’s knowledge and expert opinion for short-term political and economic gains. That is the thesis of The Republican War on Science, one of the few. His book is a well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing’s assault on science and scientists.In the, 1970s with Richard Nixon and picked up steam with Ronald Reagan. But both pale in comparison to the Bush administration, which in four years has: Rejected the scientific consensus on global warming and suppressed an EPA report supporting that consensus.
* Stacked numerous advisory committees with industry representatives and members of the religious Right.
* Begun deploying a missile defense system without evidence that it can work.
* Banned funding for embryonic stem cell research except on a claimed 60 cell lines already in existence, most of which turned out not to exist.
* Forced the National Cancer Institute to say that abortion may cause breast cancer, a claim refuted by good studies.
* Ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove information about condom use and efficacy from its Web site.
The modern conservative movement, and it is seen coming to fruition recently with that movement’s total control of the Republican Party and of the government. Here we have a movement anchored in, among other things, fear of the future. And of course a lot of science is funded by government, and a lot of science takes place in government agencies. This is also a movement that has plausibly been accused of having anti-intellectual tendencies, that thinks big universities and the academic elites are biases.
Most importantly you have ignorant politics, or catering to backward constituents. With the conservatives. We have industry, which is coming up against science all the time, and religious conservatives, who come out against science any time,it conflicts with their moral view of the world.
There are competitive risks in the sense that, for example, using questionable science to support restrictions on embryonic stem cell research can help contribute to a situation where other countries gain knowledge and business at the expense of the United States. And then there’s science education, where undermining the teaching the theory of evolution clearly has massive ramifications for scientific literacy.
We’ve lost the Office of Technology and Assessment which was a really good, reliable source that made its information publicly accessible. But the Gingrich Republicans got rid of that.
If I where to serve in office I would demand a creation of an Office of Science, technology, and human Advancement with a major science academy. Only 3% of the National Budget goes to science while 52% to 54% goes to the Military.
Conservative extremist have a history of hate and fear. In 1600, on the seventeenth of February, Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, was ceremoniously burned at the stake in Rome’s Flower Market by the Roman Inquisition. His end is brutal to modern sensibility but not exceptional in the early modern period. But Bruno’s death stands out, mentioned in passing in most popular and even academic surveys of the emergence of modern science. Specifically, Bruno was linked to modern science by his advocacy of a version of Copernicus’ heliocentric planetary hypothesis and the idea that our universe is infinite, with many suns and planets. A few popular and academic texts go so far as to identify him as the first scientific martyr, an incendiary example of the inevitable collision between rigid theological dogma and freedom of speculation within natural philosophy—the precursor to modern science.


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