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The Engineer
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The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/29/2009 11:20 AM

I'm tired of writers. I'm tired of politicians. I'm tired of hacks. I know this isn't the best way to "start a discussion" but I'm trying to be honest here. I'm simply tired of people who don't know science talking about science. What set me off? The following article found on CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/05/29/jetpack/index.html

In it CNN ponders where the technologies that were imagined in the 50s and 60s are? Where are the jetpacks? It then confidently procedes to the convenient conclusion that those ideas weren't practical in real life.

Nonsense.

The real answer is funding. Like anything else, you have to pay for science. If you don't fund the research, it takes longer for these things to develop. Consider the following:

Science Spending as a percent of GDP

Wow, so you mean we stopped paying for science and technological development is disappointing?

Give me something for nothing

Nowadays we want everything and bristle at the thought of paying. I wan't safe roads, I want safe food, I wan't a safe country, I want a jet pack. Wait, what do you mean you need money?!! Be more efficient!!!

Science Spending as a percent of GDP

Take a real hard look at that graph above. Do you see how much science spending has been cut as a percent of GDP? Do we really expect something for nothing?

In Conclusion

Lets stop the BS. Let's stop telling ourselves lies that we can have our cake and eat it too. If we cut spending for science for decades, don't expect technological innovation to maintain a breakneck pace. In the end you get what you pay for.

Historically there has been no greater indication of a country about to decline as a decreased spending on science, just ask the turks, or the persians, or the chinese (who seem to have learned this lesson and are now run by Engineers).

The easiest lies to fall for are the ones we tell ourselves, if we don't step up now and start to aggressively fund science, this country will decline.

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#1

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 11:37 AM

If you notice there is always a decline in scientific spending during a time of perceived peace following scientific avancements reaching the general public and/or work place. Look at the long decline in the 1990s when there was a technology boom. When scientific advancements start to flow into the work place most people begin to voice their opinion that such funding might be better spent on social fluff programs like the NEA. However, if you recall one of the issues in the 1990s that scared the hell out of the baby boomers was that they were being laid off for younger more technologically skilled personnel. I work in a large corporation, and have worked for a few previously. The constant I have noticed is that the older personnel tend to think they should not have to stay current (rather current should stay the same as it was 20 years ago) or learn any more to do their jobs, even if our understanding of the science and engineering has evolved. What the real hope, particularly amongst the managers and marketing personnel (though some engineers also), is that such evolution will occur slow enough for them to put in their remaining time and retire with a pension (the old concept of retirement). Funding science drives a more rapid advancement than most of these people want.

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The Engineer
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#3
In reply to #1

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 12:23 PM

You make good points. The problem is that science and technological advancement occur regardless. If we don't fund it here, it will simply occur in other countries.

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#8
In reply to #1

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 1:33 PM

that the older personnel tend to think they should not have to stay current

As an older person, I watched the useless crap that moved in under the umbrella of continuing education - and once in-house, we didn't have to pay for out-of-house anymore. So while I appreciate continuing education - if I have to pay for it anyway, I'll go independent. In addition to taking education of the taxes, I learn knew things banging from contract to contract with different companies.

Roger,

In addition to a general lack of funding (as a society I'm guessing you mean) I was on board with a MNC who also ceased any internal investment.

Decided they wouldn't "develop" product anymore - bleeding edge was too pointy. Now they call themselves a "Systems Integrator" - we lost the top 10% of our engineers within months of the announcement.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 2:07 PM

Edigan,

The graphs I provided were to back up that I believe we are reducing our funding as a society (as you surmised), however I think corporations are doing so as well (I personally blame Jack Welch who to this day gets praised for it). IBM, GE, AT&T used to have giant laboratories dedicated to research and development, then they started doing "productivity improvements" and have shut down and shrunk those R&D programs. It's pathetic and short sighted, in other words S.O.P. for today's businesses.

Google, who has invested in all kinds of R&D has been mercilessly mocked by the financial media for its "lack of focus". I predict Google develops a game changing product that doubles it's money in 10 years. My guess would be online apps to go with their Android OS. If I were Microsoft I'd just be starting to be concerned, but Microsoft is so busy copying Google to try to kill Google that they don't notice Google sneaking up behind them with a spikey club.

Roger

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 2:14 PM

financial media

We used to get the messages from the CEO talking about how much Wall Street loved us, I used to hang in the back of the room and mutter "But Wall Street never ran a successful business"

But if government isn't going to invest in science, and coporations aren't going to invest in science...yeah - your point is taken.

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#61
In reply to #11

Re: The media just doesn't get science

06/01/2009 12:12 PM

historically what you find as the down side to things like bell labs or or Xerox being a better example, the corporations are run by barely literate poorly educated business majors with litle vision for future advancements. Consider where Xerox would stand if their business people had listened to their R&D and developed the Mouse and GUI rather than giving it away. Maybe if companies blacklisted the corporate execs who allowed these horrible business decisions to occur, rather than offering ever increasing wages and benefits. This would mean the execs would be much more concerned, knowledgeable and interested in the R&D products, and in turn have a longer term vision. Alternately, start-ups tend to have better long term visions, since they are typically started by the tech people, it is the later financial institutions that require the corporate exec business people get incoprorated in to the companies. The government could modify the system to favor new advanced start-ups to be much more competitive with the large corporations, by say going after the corporations more aggressively for unfair competitions, intellectual properties infringements, and monopoly. This could lead to more start ups that have a higher level of creativity, flxibility, and vision.

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#58
In reply to #8

Re: The media just doesn't get science

06/01/2009 10:01 AM

As an "older person", I agree with EDignan's obsevation that companies don't fund useful training anymore. When I started at the company where I am currently employed, each division had someone whose full-time job was to track, research, and coordinate training for the people within the division. There were a lot of useful training opportunities. Now it's handled by the receptionist in her spare time. There are only so many MS Word, MS Windows, and anti-harrassment training courses one can take. If one happens to find an outside seminar or training course on his own, there are a lot more hoops, and a lot more signatures one must go through to get it approved. Keep up with technology? That's fine, just do it in your spare time...and at your expense.

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#62
In reply to #58

Re: The media just doesn't get science

06/01/2009 12:27 PM

You are proving my earlier point. As an example, a corporation i previously worked for started a program to train all of the professional staff in a standardized project management program, the training was online, fairly detailed and extensive, in excess of 40 hours minimum. Each section had an online exam to track training progress and demonstrate knowledge of the project management standards. For the senior level PMs and above (through management), the corporation required this training and paid 41 hours for this specific training. For the much cheaper lower level, associate and below, personnel they allowed you to take the training on your own time and expense. What they found almost immediately, was the management was almost fully billed out for the training, but had barely completed 1 to 3 sections of the program, while many of the lower level personnel on their own time and expense had completed the training and passed all the sections. The older personnel expect that they should be paid for any thing related to training to stay current, younger personnel will do such at their own expense in some hopes of advancing their careers. Also, you may want to consider that there is likely a reason the receptionist keeps providing courses in how to properly utilize MS Word. I know a lot of older personnel tend to use it as nothing more than a simple type writer, as this is what they are familiar with and no younger persons have ever operatesd a type writter if they have ever seen one. The responsibility in most corporations for training assignements falls on the manager of that office or above, which can lead to training for younger personnel that is rudimentary for them, but seems advanced for the aging managers. you know the training that starts with a 5 minute discourse on how to turn your computer on.

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#2

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 11:54 AM

Roger, I agree with everything you've griped about. And I think you've answered your own question/rant, in part.

People want it, they want it now, they don't want to pay for it, they don't want to work for it.

The emphasis on science and technology education and achievement in the U.S. has diminished astonishingly in my lifetime. While I try to maintain some faith in the intelligence of my fellow human beings, it gets harder and harder to do when I see that more people vote for "American Idol" finalists than for president. Nobody reads. Nobody thinks. It's too hard.

People come to CR4 expecting their assignments to be completed here, politicians pander to whatever wheel squeaks the loudest (never mind if its the wheel that really is in dire need of grease)...

Science gets the usual short shrift because returns are not seen to be tangible and immediate by short-sighted policy makers who hold the purse strings and other ignorant so-and-sos.

Gee, I sound sour. No way to start the weekend.

</rant>

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 12:27 PM

You're right, the weekend is coming, I should have saved this for Monday.....it's just that CNN article set me off. I agree with your sentiments though.

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#9
In reply to #2

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 1:50 PM

Actually, I think the returns are all to tangible even to the most ignorant of people. The problem is the returns they perceive are a society evolving without them. Science has always been a bit superstitious and scary to the general public. Think of how many movies involve a premise of a scientific advancement being used or accidentally going awry to destroy mankind (or in the common factory worker or low level maagers perspective make their current jobs unnecessary). There is a huge push for the status quo, particularly amongst generations that have seen a lot of scientific advancement during their working lives. Most of these people never see much advantage in the work place to scientific advancements, just the disadvantages of having to learn constantly to keep up and and evolving work-place. For at least 99% of the populus, they just want to show up do the same thing they have done for the last 25 years and receive that pay check, changes in the work place present new opportunities for a yopunger brighter person to overtake their position or for them to be pushed out in favor of the new technology and the young newly educated personnel.

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#15
In reply to #2

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/30/2009 2:24 AM

And the general public expects the government to fix the economy in six months or less or they jump ship.

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#5

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 12:44 PM

Roger,

I think your point is good. I agree with you that a problem exists (the trend rather than the absolute value of R&D/GNP looks like a problem to me), agree that funding is not what it should be, and agree that media misconceptions are part of the problem. I disagree with what I think is your perception that funding is the probable answer (or do you see the funding level as a symptom?). I would suggest instead that rank stupidity might be a more likely suspect and, if that is the main cause, I fear it may be too late to correct. We now have in the pipeline teachers-to-be who are being "taught to the test" who will then think that is proper and will perpetuate that idiocy for perhaps several generations. I doubt we have more than a decade or so left before we can't fix our ignorance.

Did you by chance watch the National Spelling Bee last night? (OK, I lead a boring life, but humor me) Is there some reason that 80% of the finalists were ethnic SE Asian? Do Indian parents know something?

I was recently in a discussion and one of the topics was the Wason Four-Card Test

http://www.socialpsychology.org/teach/wason.htm#top

To me, it seemed ridiculously simple. Anybody who can do simple digital circuits should get this in a flash. Yet, only about 20% of the persons tested could get it according to the referenced book. I suspect that, if I were to go to our local high school (well-ranked, with well over 90% going on to higher education) and asked them the difference between an AND gate and an OR gate, they would stare blankly for at least the 1.27 seconds of their attention spans.

And, I don't mean to blame the students. We, the parents, taxpayers, and voters, created this.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 12:53 PM

I don't blame students. Humans are simple, they want to be rich and important. We've have a great medical system in the United States because Doctors are paid well. It's easy for kids to see "If I become a Doctor I'll be wealthy and highly regarded" so that's what they do. It's not a learning problem, it's a focus problem.

Science doesn't pay as well and certainly doesn't have prestige in this country. However it does pay very well in India and China so you see a ton of people in those countries becoming scientists. When you're an up and coming country you understand the value of science because you are confronted by the inequalities of technology every day. Such technological inequalities can only be overcome by a dedication to science.

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 1:52 PM

Actually I'd expect lawyers to do well.

And I call this trivial, but I get paid to work in requirements (splitting hairs my co-workers call it)

If you could get them to focus, my kids would nail it, but we are a hair-splitting family

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#7

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 1:14 PM

What disturbs me more is the writer mistake of art for science. What an artist's imagination of what the future should look like is just that his imagination. The writer's questioning what happen shows our media's loss of reality of the real world. That they are willing to use their own imagination to create controversy to sell news and themselves.

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#13
In reply to #7

Re: The media just doesn't get science

05/29/2009 2:16 PM

Such is life, "Yellow" Journalism has always had prevalence, since way before the US began, and even throughout the history of the US. Journalism has always been about story telling to convey the opinion of the uneducated journalist, editor, or publisher to the public in a manner that gets attention and entertains the greatest masses of readers. It is only for very short periodic adjustments, when the public substantially loses faith in the truthfulness of articles and begins to not spend money to obtain information (important) but rather for entertainment (not importantant, and subject to the whims of economic circumstance), that there is really any implementation of a concept of journalistic integrity. Much like any other industry, colleges teach a standard of practice, which meets a high standard of integrity, that doesn't translate into corporate society (unless it makes money, without risk of losing more money due to some consequence). This leads to those who are not as technically adept but more willing to adapt to a downwardly flexible ethical standard more favorable for promotion to management within the industry, as they can see things in terms of anything that earns more money as ethically acceptable. As managers, they look for people who are even more ethically flexible than they are (but not so much so they perceive a risk to their own employment or company profitability). So you have this slow downward spiral towards less integrity and ethics that at some major event, scandal, becomes apparent the level of decline and a sudden adjustment occurs (sometimes small, sometimes large).

Additionally, everyone is probably aware that journalism is about as far from science as a student in college can get. It should be obvious then that you have people writing about a subject they are no more familiar with at the core mechanical level, than the common used car salesman (actually probably less). So they look for catch phrases, ways to simplify, and frequently mis-interpret. since they do not really understand science, the subject is boring to them so they must seek ways to spice it up, and do what is needed to tell an intersting story to the greatest number of people.

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#14

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/29/2009 11:20 PM

This country has already started declining. The parallels between modern day US and ancient Rome are stagering. The Romans lost all morality, they quit supporting their military, they elected popular incompetents as leaders, they stopped defending their borders and then fell. Now the morals in the US are in the dumper, we even have hollywood telling us that not only is queer natural it is preferable to straight, we have cut military spending to the bone, we have elected obama-bin-dumbass as president, as for defending our borders, been to Wall Mart lately? Nobody there but Mexicans. All we need now is the gauls. It is over, the fat lady is singing, turn out the lights...

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 2:31 AM

I have read a statistic, I don't know how accurate is, but it said that 10 years ago there were some 45 million Hispanics in the US. Now would be over 100 million. So the Gauls are here. As it happens, I have read the Planet of the Apes, where the main idea (in the movie is not shown), was that the humans became more and more lazy and the apes learned to talk, started to organize and, eventually, they became the society. Would you believe it?

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 9:05 AM

It is interesting how, in a country founded by immigrants (most of them being desperate and poor enough to risk leaving everything behind and venture into the unknown), there can be people who look down upon newer immigrants and see them as threatening their 'culture'.

As is typical of the fearful/ bitter people who feel entitled by birth and not by their merit, you, my fellow guest, don't know your history and are confusing the Gauls with the Goths. Perhaps more disconcerting is that you are confusing the 'Hispanics' with the apes...

I do not see reason to expect the fall of 'Rome', actually. But take heart in knowing that the fall of Rome was not all that detrimental to most people, including the impoverished Roman plebians. Besides, what remained went on to build something better, eventually.

Cheers and don't be so sour, you immigrant.

p_x

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 10:22 AM

Well said! Who was that masked guest?

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 11:33 AM

Here in California we were part of mexico, so things get a bit blurry as to who the immigrants are & lets not forget the Miwaks, inca's, yokutch, santa rosa, chumash.... Who would have a slightly different view of who the immigrants are

Things change, within the "change" there will be winners & losers.

The tax structure has changed over the years to favor short term ROI over everything else...

Consumption taxes, with rebates for longer term stuff [R&D] maybe?

The lack of investment is the symptom.

How bout some conjecture about realistic ways to change....

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#36
In reply to #26

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 7:42 PM

Garthh-

I have been a strong proponent of consumption tax as a replacement to income tax for many years, but it is like whistling in the wind. Pay for what you take out of the common wealth, not what you put in. If people are taxed on what they consume, they will tend to save more, which makes more money available (hopefully in private institutions) to finance research and development...

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#41
In reply to #36

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 11:46 PM

Consumption taxes encourage saving & investment

Probably need some import equalization [tariffs] too

Possibly some rebates [or other incentives] for local value added processes...

proportional representation could help break the strangle hold the powers that be have on our government at all levels.

the world is analog not digital

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#52
In reply to #20

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 6:53 AM

Immigrants in general are not the problem, Most come here for a better life as my grandfather did, he came here to become an American. He did not forget his Italian heritage but it became 2nd to his new American one. Many Immigrants come here complain about or even spit on "Our American values" these are the one that give hard working ones a bad rap. The illegals also most are here for a better life, but they are a huge drain on system and has cost us billions and none of the leading parties are will to do very little to seal our borders. (only because it would be political suicide)

This should be it's own discussion

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#29
In reply to #14

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 3:23 PM

Actually its people like you who are causing the decline, uninformed and bigoted and afraid to stand behind their hateful words so they login as guest.

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#34
In reply to #14

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 6:07 PM

Since my father was a "Queer" combat soldier in WWII who fought honorably for his country using MIs and Brownings in the dirt, and getting one of those metals that go to those who have been in combat, for their country,

Guest, You'll not get much respect from me.

My father was an ethical man who did his best to kill those who tried to kill us.

You probably don't even know the difference between ethics, and morality. You probably don't know the difference between Democracy, and Mob Rule. You probably think you are the smartest most self righteous biggest Ape in the Jungle. I will not miss you if you go where the lights never shine.

I encourage you to find that place and not come out ever again, for you have proved yourself to be an unwelcome guest. P.S. Last time I went to Wal Mart I got some shotgun shells for my shotgun. Go home yourself and turn out your lights, and sit in the dark, Mr. Guest. P.S. 2 to my friends and colleagues of CR4, please forgive me. If Roger Pink has had it with fools, I've had it with bigots.

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#68
In reply to #34

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 2:27 PM

Re: (your) "father getting one of those metals..."

would dat bee wunna dem peezes o' shratnel embeddedded sumwhere?

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#71
In reply to #68

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 3:25 PM

He didn't have shrapnel in his body, but lost some teeth in combat.

Such things happen in hand to hand combat.

The medal is familiar to men and women who have served their country under fire.

Those that have them, respect those that have them, and I respect those that have them.

If you, "Honored Guest", are implying that if my father suffered shrapnel in his ass due to artillery fire in the Hertergan Forest, and that can be some reason to look down on him, I don't understand your logic.

Guests do show up here on this forum, and it has been discussed that to interact with some is like interacting with pigs who enjoy rolling in the mud and are like arsonists who feel powerful, and get all their kicks from the harm they do.

In the Ancient book the I Ching, Pigs and Fishes are not to be reasoned with.

I would only address, and conflict with you out of some slight evidence that human beings, such as yourself, can be caused to change their minds.

There is a Biblical story of such a transformation when Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus.

Comeback as Paul the Guest, and let's see if you can explain String Theory to general audiences, or contribute something actually interesting for those of us here for neck up concerns of a Big Time Species.

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#70
In reply to #34

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 3:11 PM

one point you may want to be aware of: True democracy is actually a form of mob rule. This is actually why the US does not have a democracy, but rather a republican form of government. Democracy went horribly wrong in Athens, and even they had a very limited citizenry that was allowed to vote. Rule by them whims of the general public could get you Brittney Spears for President next week.

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#72
In reply to #70

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 3:51 PM

If Brittney were inaugurated in the morning, there'd probably be an assignation by afternoon . . .

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#35
In reply to #14

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 6:32 PM

"The parallels between modern day US and ancient Rome are stagering. "

I quite agree. Just look:

They were in Southern Europe. We're in North America.

They wore togas. We wear jeans.

They drove chariots. We drive Toyotas.

They had caesars. We have presidents.

They had X fingers. We have 10.

A blind man could see feel the similarities. Thanks for pointing this out.

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#63
In reply to #14

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 12:53 PM

Actually, the romans spent more money on their military during the imperial ages than the republic. They had, long before the fall of the republic, began integrating non-romans into the military in greater numbers, originally it would be the non-citizen latins then eventually greeks and so forth. Also, I am not sure by our standards if you could ever claim the Romans had morality. At the beginning of the empire Augustus as he got older began to rail about the immorality in the society and hit a brick wall, even his own daughter was out having inappropriate sex and public displays of immorality. Through out Roman society it sufferred the slow decline into immorality and the sudden adjustments when there were mahor crises. Bare in mind that by the end of the Western empire there was a Pope in Rome, and they may have been more moral by our standards than they were 400 to 500 yeares earlier. Howvere, by this point there were essentially no romans in the military. Also, long before rome reached its greatest extend, power and wealth, the Romans began to garrison their borders and slowed the wars for expansion of the empire and over competition with local powers like Cathage. Rome garrisoned it borders continuously until they pulled out and the empire collapsed much more extensively than they did during the republic. They just could not garrison the much larger borders effectively against the overwhelming numbers of immigrants coming because of the wealth and life style of the Roman Citizen that the poor immigrants want to get a piece of (the Goths were poor and being bullied by the Huns, so they swam across the river into Roman territory. there are however, amny parallels in the way the US politics works and those of the Roman Republic. Things like the need of the public for false pretense for warfare to justify their moral high ground, the romans practiced this also. As far as the gauls go, bare in mind that they were under pressures from roamn expansion 200 years before the empire, so they came down and invaded, and defeated the romans. The Romans however just kept expanding under a variety of false pretenses they kept taking celtic lands. Eventually by the time of Julius Caesar, Rome had occupied all the Celtic Lands, using the false pretense of coming to their aid, initially, against the Germans that one celtic tribe had invited in to aid in warfare against another celtic tribe. Augustus then tried to occupy the German lands to the north and had he not lost a like three entire legions, they would have kept expanding. After that loss to herminius' german forces, the Roman established a long standing border along the Rhine and pretty much never made any real attempts to expand further into German Territories. They garrisoned the rhine for the next 400 years. I think the imiigrants over running Rome that you are mean are the Goths and Vandals. Bear in mind the Huns were somewhat invited in by rome into the western provinces as mercenaries to deal with the visigoths, so the roman citizens didn't have to fight and die (after all they were christians by this point).

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#17

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 7:36 AM

If money is burnt up in fighting the wars very less is left for research. This is what has happened in U.S.

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#27
In reply to #17

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 11:49 AM

"If money is burnt up in fighting the wars very less is left for research. This is what has happened in U.S." But if that is entirely true, how can anyone account for the huge hump in spending during the 1940 - 1945 period (see original post, second graph)? This was during World War II! Granted, most of that expenditure was likely for the war effort - but in recent years, the military R&D during wars is mostly for longer-term. Far more could be used for, say, medical / surgical help for troops, better armor, better means of detection for roadside bombs, etc., but instead money is being spent on existing weaponry, training, transportation, and outrageous profits to contracting companies with ties to politicians. Meanwhile, the government entity which has probably done the most for science, engineering, and getting the results into the hands of ordinary people has had its budget reduced time after time (NASA). Having recently suffered through an administration which was publicly anti-science / pro Faith has provided a significant setback, too. It is not possible to provide proper support for science if you don't understand what it is, and don't believe in it.

We (the US) have routinely permitted tax credits and other incentives for private and corporate R&D to expire; this is shooting ourselves in the foot AT LEAST as much as the currently low military support.

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 2:29 PM

if i may:

imho :

during the spike , the advances in tech were quantum leaps in the existing tech of the time:

splitting the atom , radar/ sonar/ tv/ breaking the sound barrier/ breaking earth's gravity...

i'm sure i've omitted some...

likely most of those discoveries have been taken to the Nth degree...

So, with " nothing " on the event horizon to spur r & d spending..

and from an other thread, with the focus shifted to short term roi... " what's in it for me ?"

as to the press: Hearst's model sells papers.. used too anyway.. the demographics is shifting to ipod's, iphones..bye~ by paper's except as a rare " nostalgic " old school retro hobby. the events from " Twitter " will shape " our " info gathering , camera on my phone linked to Twitter.. instant live reporting by ahuha ..

will that change editing , advertizing,?..or improve the person's ability to discern what they just viewed?

there's my .02

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#66
In reply to #17

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 1:07 PM

Actually, you are wrong, look at the timing of the scientific research funding and military activity in the US. Funding for R&D drastically increases corollating to the increase in military threat to the country. The largest spending occurred during WW II, followed by peak periods of perceived threts during the cold war era. People want scientific advancements to ameliorate threats. No one feels it is necessary to spend on science when they have no need to advance. The threat of being killed, over run and subjegated drives spending. A small spike occurred following 2001. Why do you think that is. Consider would India have advanced as much as it has if it wasn't feeling constant military pressures from Pakistan and China? Would Pakistan?

If people don't have an urgent need that they feel they must spend money on scientific advancement, they will spend the money on speed boats, sports cars, social programs, arts endowments and such. also, consider Breast Cancer research funding vastly exceed any other health related funding, but it is by far less dangerous than most other threats. It is a disease that afflicts womens vanity, and thus is perceived as a much greater threat to society than it is, and gets much greater funding. sometime public perception of threats are not well conceived, lack longterm perspective, and/or play more to personal vanities that real threats.

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#91
In reply to #66

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/03/2009 6:19 PM

I'd have to diasgree about your point on cancer funding. Colon cancer receives almost as much funding per case as does breast cancer. How many people are vain about their colon?

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#92
In reply to #91

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/03/2009 10:00 PM

I, for one, am quite fond of my colon....more so than my breasts....but, that's just me.

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#93
In reply to #66

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/03/2009 10:21 PM

disease that afflicts womens vanity

This can certainly veer off into another tangent entirely, and I will assume that your sentence was structured in haste. Or that it reflects a man's poor understanding of the nature of terminal disease.

I can assure you that vanity was the last thing on the minds of my friends and family who have succumbed to this form of cancer.

Harrumph.

(stomps off, looking for frying pan and male at whom to launch it)

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#95
In reply to #93

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 8:15 AM

Harrumph.

(stomps off, looking for frying pan and male at whom to launch it)

Bwahahaha!

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#18

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 8:23 AM

Roger-

Do you really want a bunch of politicians defining the "scientific research" to be pursued? That will only lead to more Al Gores and other populists that do nothing to advance science other than come up with all sorts of very, very expensive schemes to fix non-problems (oh, yes- they do create jobs!). The real tragedy is the decline of the private sector financing of basic research- such as was represented by Bell Labs, Lockheed's Skunk Works, 3M, and many others. Put your great universities into the hands of politicians, and you will see Disney merging with Stanford in an attempt to corner the market on science fiction (which generally sells better than science fact).

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#30
In reply to #18

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 3:28 PM

Yes I do want government funded science. Some projects such as the LHC and NASA are too expensive to fund by private industry. Also, government doesn't decide what gets funded, you don't understand how the grant system works. What projects get approved depends mostly on the referee's assessment and they are usually from academia.

It's blind opposition and lack of understanding like this that has led to these funds being cut.

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#37
In reply to #30

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 7:52 PM

Roger-

I agree that in the past, projects like the LHC and NASA's efforts have been government money well spent. What I object to are the current focus where funding is being spent- digitizing medical records instead of improving overall health care; burying CO2 instead of planting trees; chasing century-old technology (electric automobiles) when there is no evidence that the conditions that killed electric automobiles 100 years ago have changed to any significant degree; chasing "alternative energy" options that have very little chance of addressing future needs (biofuels, solar, wind), while ignoring nuclear energy; chasing the wrong fusion energy solution; my list could go on and on- and I am sure there are those that would object to including some of these as chasing pipe-dreams- which is why politicians (which does not necessarily mean government agencies) should not be called on to make technical decisions...

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#42
In reply to #37

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 1:29 AM

Hi CWarner,

Don't worry electric car will meet same fate as they had met 100 years ago. Oil lobby is still strong and the Arabs.

Suresh Sharma.

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#53
In reply to #30

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 7:10 AM

I agree with what you are saying about NASA but , A lot of technology and came from the 60's & 70's Space programs. NASA just grew too big for it's own good or should I say the publics good. Even today a lot science come out of NASA but the cost so much higher.

Jim C

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#59
In reply to #53

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 11:01 AM

"A lot of technology and came from the 60's & 70's Space programs. NASA just grew too big for it's own good or should I say the publics good. Even today a lot science come out of NASA but the cost so much higher."

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget, NASA's budget [as a percentage of the federal budget] peaked in 1966, just when you say it delivered a lot of technology. Since then, its budget has dropped sharply. The last time it reached 2% of the federal budget was 1969, forty years ago; the last time it reached 1% of the federal budget was 1993. It is now approaching the 1/2 of 1% range, less than one tenth of the 1966 share (and then it was probably less efficient, due to it still being effectively a startup agency spending for growth and infrastructure). How can you reconcile " . . . the cost [is] so much higher." with these numbers?

Cutting the fat in government spending is one thing. Cutting the muscle and the bone is quite another, and the resultant diminished returns on our investment are exactly what we should expect. In fact, I'd say that we're getting a better return than we deserve, for such shortsightedness!

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#60
In reply to #59

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 11:50 AM

"NASA just grew too big for it's own good" They grew too big in inefficiency not in % of Federal budget. The became such a top heavy bureaucracy that they could not get anything done.even after the shake up they some years back NASA is too big to run itself. In the 60's the USA had one major driving force, "Beat the Russians to the moon". Every machine shop in our area was doing work for NASA, Many of these small companies where creating new technologies. In such a short time the space race brought on innovation like no other time in our nations history.

WE need to another space race.

Jim C

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#64
In reply to #60

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 12:53 PM

How does that make sense? How can they be a "top heavy bureaucracy" if their piece of the pie has shrunk so much? Aren't you even willing, given the numbers, to consider the fact that they are in fact underfunded as the evidence suggests?

Do you even believe there is such a thing as underfunding? Or do you wan't a space program for free?

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#94
In reply to #18

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 12:20 AM

I like Al Gore, remember?

You Wrote:"Do you really want a bunch of politicians defining the "scientific research" to be pursued?"

You mean like when Kennedy set the goal of getting to the moon? Or did you mean like when FDR started the Manhatten Project? I just want to be clear which of those government defined and funded scientific projects was a failure. Which one?

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#98
In reply to #94

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 11:13 AM

"You mean like when Kennedy set the goal of getting to the moon? Or did you mean like when FDR started the Manhatten Project?"

Setting an definite goal but not dictating the methods (Kennedy) is very, VERY different from the way that typical government and military R&D programs are set up and run. Too often, the defining contract is so structured that when it is discovered that the chosen method CANNOT work, it is still necessary to complete it before being permitted to propose an alternative that became apparent when the roadblock appeared. I have personally seen a year or even two lost on reaching an overall goal because of this. The researchers can become disheartened while continuing known-to-be-futile tasks while being forbidden to look into the promising alternatives. Some quit and start their own company, waiting a year or two to gain control over their idea (non-compete clauses), and the government loses it all: time, money, and intellectual property.

By contrast, only a couple of months after I was hired by private industry to investigate a concept, I found just such a fundamental roadblock. I met with my boss that day, described the problem and the reasoning, and then the alternate path that was only seen BECAUSE I'd gotten that far down a dead-end one. The next day, I was re-writing the project document, and in the afternoon began working on the new idea, while he took the paperwork off to gain financial approvals. A month later, we had a proof-of-concept. A few months after that, we had filed a patent application.

As to FDR, please note that it was NOT he who came up with the project, but Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein, who brought this to Roosevelt's attention.

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#99
In reply to #98

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 11:25 AM

How exactly do you think government grants and funding work? Are you aware that when a scientist submits a proposal, it's fellow scientists not affiliated with the government, not government officials, that evaluate the usefulness and feasibility of the proposal? The government merely takes the highest grades and dishes out the cash to the private institutions where the scientists work (universities or national labs).

Your touching anecdote aside, there is no question there has been a reduction in industrial R&D funding for the past several decades.

As for FDR, it was he that appropriated the funds and facilities. He trusted the scientists and gave them the money they needed.

Let me say that again real clear so that maybe you'll just barely not hear it:

He trusted the scientists and gave them the money they needed.

All I here nowadays is how NASA is biased and Universities are biased and blah blah blah. In such a paranoid environment, is it any wonder science funding keeps getting cut?

It's people like you, with your half remembered history and meaningless personal anecdotes that in no way scale that are undermining our nation by starving our science programs to death.

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#100
In reply to #99

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 12:27 PM

Please observe that I made no reference to government grants & funding, but to government and military research - the sort that derives from CBD RFQs (Requests for Quote from the Commerce Business Daily). I spent several years as a physicist for a company whose main work came from this source. I wrote proposals and worked on projects at the world's largest military R&D base. Proposals made by independent researchers, by universities or other institutions are not part of the same system, or certainly weren't the last time I had direct involvement.

While quotations were always written around our best idea as to how a goal might be reached, this was routinely modified, sometimes drastically, by contract administrators and others on the government side, most of whom were not scientifically trained. Once a contract was signed, deviation from the proposed path was virtually impossible. It may well be that some modifications resulted in improved task descriptions, but I never saw it happen.

As for funding, please note what I have said in other posts regarding the shortsightedness of allowing R&D tax credits or other incentives to lapse, and to cutting NASA's budget. I specifically pointed out how NASA's budget has been cut to under one tenth of what it used to be (as a percentage of the federal budget), and I do not think it possible to read that as approval of such reductions. "Lament" is far closer.

"All I here [sic] nowadays is how NASA is biased and Universities are biased and blah blah blah. In such a paranoid environment, is it any wonder science funding keeps getting cut?" I have no idea why this appears in a response to a post of mine - ANY post, ever, of mine - as it has no connection to views I've expressed here or elsewhere. Are you conflating posts from others with mine?

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#102
In reply to #100

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 1:35 PM

I had a mean spirited post ready, but I ran out of steam. The whole [sic] thing was weak, but I'll let it go.

I did group you with a certain type of people. I played the probability game and was wrong, sorry. Maybe try using caps less.

This thread is about government funding of science, not government funding of the military which then funds science. Part of the problem is that most of the funding for science is coming from the military now. You may not have mentioned grants yourself, but I think in the context of this thread it is perfectly acceptable for me to point out how grants work in my response. After all, you said the following:

"from the way that typical government and military R&D programs are set up"

To say that that statement clearly didn't mean grants is a bit much, don't you think?

As for FDR, yes, that's right, FDR didn't think of Fission himself. He received a letter from Szilard and acted, trusting that the scientist knew what they were talking about. Which is exactly the point, he listened and acted in support of the suggestion.

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#104
In reply to #102

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 3:24 PM

" 'from the way that typical government and military R&D programs are set up'

To say that that statement clearly didn't mean grants is a bit much, don't you think?"

True; but I didn't say that "that statement clearly didn't mean grants". I simply pointed out that I had not even mentioned grants. I had seen no reason to do so.

At a company having about 50 - 75 people working directly on government contracts - most, but not all, military - and with close connections to two competing companies all situated close to the same military R&D base, I had exposure to perhaps 150 - 250 people on 20 -40 contracts at any given time, for over 5 years. I never encountered any grant-funded work. Nor have I, ever, to this day. I don't know what proportion of such work is done directly via RFQs, and what through grant proposals, but my own experiences suggest an immensly lopsided ratio. Perhaps that is simply because I was in such close proximity to that base, and because Commerce Business Daily was required reading (is there a comparable publication for grants and projects so funded?).

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#105
In reply to #104

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 4:00 PM

You Wrote:"...Commerce Business Daily was required reading (is there a comparable publication for grants and projects so funded?)"

No, not that I'm aware of.

Right now there is a feeding frenzy trying to get in front of the stimulus grants. NIH offered about 200 to 250 grants for submission by April and received 10,000 proposals (I wish I was kidding). They don't have to do anything to get participation, Science is so starved for grants we're like Piranha the second they are available.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/Washington-Watch/Washington-Watch/14508

The fear within Science now is what happens when all this stimulus money runs out and the science jobs disappear. Basically the government has just jump started science, but will it follow through? That is the billion dollar question.

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#101
In reply to #99

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 12:30 PM

Technically it was congress not FDR that appropriate the fund for the Manhattan project. Also, he did not trust the scientists, otherwise they would not have had the security they had at los alamos (to watch the scientists). However, you do not have to trust someone to fund their research, you just have to believe that the possibility of the end product being as useful as others say may be true. Szilard conceived of the project but then had to bring Einstein on board to speak to the FDR, because they needed someone FDR might listen to. In additional Military intelligence had already identified parallel attempt to develop nuclear weapons in Germany. So as part of the pitch the letter they sent to FDR indicated that if we were behind the germans on development and if we did not rapidly fund development of the weapon the Germans would jhave one before us and use it against us to win the war. Politically this was a rock and a hard place for FDR, spend a lot on a new weapon that may not work and save millions of lives to end the war early if it does, or don't spend money, possibly lose the war to Germany or lose many more millions of lives fighting a war against an enemy with vastly superior weapons (not much of a chance for re-election once the letter got out if the Germans did get the bomb). This wasn't a hard choice for FDR, since congress is responsible for funding and he was responsible for winning the war.

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#103
In reply to #101

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 1:52 PM

FDR trusted that the scientists understood the science, that's the trust I'm talking about. FDR didn't say things like "scientists don't understand war so I'm going to ignore them", that's the turning its back on science that I'm talking about.

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#106
In reply to #103

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 4:09 PM

The reason they went to Einstein to send the letter to FDR was that he was the best known and popular scientist of the time. The general public trusted him. So they to a degree forced FDRs hand, by making sure he really didn't have a choice because if he had declined it would look like FDR wasn't smart enough to listen to the man the general US public believed was one of, if not the smartest man in the world at that time. Keep in mind he could not believe that the scientist understood the science behind developing a nuclear bomb, since even the scientist were not absolutely sure it could be done. Szilard only theorized such rapid nuclear fission might be possible if the right conditions were present, and Einstein could not see any substantial flaw in his theory (if he even really tried to look for one as he was consumed with trying to disprove quantum theory and develop a theory of everything). The "smartest" man on earth sent a letter to FDR saying it could be done, it would win the war for whoever possessed it, and the German's could have this weapon before we do, no politician has any real choice at that point (not if he wants to run for re-election in 1944).

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#107
In reply to #106

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 4:24 PM

You Wrote:"no politician has any real choice at that point"

You're wrong, he could have chosen to shelf the suggestion. You're enjoying the 20/20 hindsight of living 60 years later. The decision wasn't as cut and dry as you're suggesting at the time. Those were valuable resources, scientific and otherwise, that were being taken away from other projects. Had the atomic bomb turned out to be a pie in the sky, many people would have died from his poor decision.

I think you need to separate the facts from your conjecture. The fact is that FDR HAD a choice, and he made a decision to go with the scientists, and that's the point.

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#109
In reply to #107

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 5:47 PM

Well i guess the contention that he had a choice is true in the absolute. However, there are many choices we have available that no one ever consider real valid options from which to choose. You have a choice not to stab yourself in the head anytime you piock up a knife, and surprisingly this happens extremely infrequently. I would not consider that a real choice. Szilard brought Einstein in to sell the Manhattan project to FDR and congress, because he felt Einsteins celebrity and the general public perception of Einstein would reinforce the importance of the project. He put FDR in a position of either not listening to what the general public perceived as the smartes tscientist in the world and risking the loss of WW II, or going ahead with the project he had no understanding of because the most revered scientists had, in writing, told him was absolutlely necessary. so in a political sense he chose not to politically stab himself in the head and go against the written urgings of Einstein. If the project failed, he had Einstein as a scape goat, but if FDR did nothing and the information leaked he probably may not be re-elected.

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#111
In reply to #109

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 9:26 PM

I don't think it happened quite the way you think it did. Give this article a read.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein-Szil%C3%A1rd_letter

You'll see that action wasn't taken immediately and also that the letter itself far underestimated the power of the atomic bomb.

As I said, looking back things today seem obvious, but that wasn't the case then.

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#108
In reply to #94

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 5:16 PM

Roger-

Valid points. However, I submit that both of your examples were projects where the politicians set the goals, then left the scientists alone to do their work. Harry Truman did not even know of the existance of the Manhattan Project until after he found himself President unexpectedly.

The difference today is that, instead of suggesting that scientists work to solve the energy crisis, the politicians are dictating HOW that should be done- windmills (which typically get abandoned when the government subsidies dry up), burying carbon, electric automobiles, etc.

Politicians should set the goals- ie., "build me a bigger bomb" or "take me to the moon", then get out of the way while the people with the know-how look at the issues...

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#19

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 8:32 AM

A large part of the problem is we are just recycling old money by suing our Nabors to get rich quick. No imagination is needed there. In the US we produce 9 lawyers per 1 engineer. Japan is the opposite. Is science and technology going to grow this way? Funding is one thing but having educated scientist and engineers is a must in order to drive R&D.

I am on my way to my 8th patent and as an individual have spent half of the money that I ever made on R&D. I am not rich, but I made rich people. My thirst is for knowledge, and the joy I get from building a better mouse trap, but the money would not hurt either.

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#22

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 10:23 AM

Thanks a lot, guys.

Now I'm so totally, completely depressed, it hurts.

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#23
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Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 10:33 AM

Perk up!

"It's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine."

The world has ended "as we know it" repeatedly in our lifetimes.

Sometimes my pond gets rocked, sometimes it is the other guy's.

All roughly evens out in the long run - and ain't none of us living through this anyway

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#24

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 10:46 AM

I believe what we're dealing with here is The Law Of Diminishing Returns.

If world population levels had remained at a constant, at any given year in the past, let's say for example, 1950, then I think science spending as a % of GDP would have remained at the 1950 levels too.

But more people (wherever) suck more resources from everywhere, not just from the US, because vacuums suck resources from all over, and that's what drags the highs down to the lows.

Soon, the world will be at one universal level, and that level will be the lowest common denominator.

It's this inbuilt knowledge that drives bankers and politicians to snatch as much bonus as they can while the getting is good, cos they know the day of judgement is coming and they want to have as much resource advantage as possible, for when that day arrives.

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 11:33 AM

OR

humans are the greatest resource we have going forward, and our future is entirely dependent on how well we pull them into harness creating solutions that will determine how "wealthy" our communal future is?

I would argue (and any conversation on investing in research presumes) that real value and growth is based on ideas. Which are the product of humans.

And since I cannot adequately anticipate the problems we don't have yet, my best hedge for the future is to educate as many as possible, as much as possible, and provide a marketplace for the best ideas to come out.

And since education is highly repeatable with a relatively low investment, I would think every society has an "investment" phase followed by a "producing" phase.

Economics isn't my bag, so I probably don't know a better example - but take Korea.

General educational level in South Korea in the late '40s was just around peasant with very few literate. Just over a generation later, Korea competes on level with most other countries, has an admirable literacy level. With a positive GDP.

And the next great ideas may come from some other former backwater.

So ignorant and in poverty - I would agree on Guests assessment of the worlds masses, but given opportunity I don't.

And I won't even go into the "other" benefits of education and higher standards of living, such as lower birth rates, less embrace of extremism of any sort, politics tend toward centrist positions, blah, blah, blah

And bankers behavior is better explained with a very short-term viewpoint of selfishness. Or were the robber barons of our past just confused about when the end was coming?

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#31
In reply to #25

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 3:30 PM

Well said.

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#38
In reply to #25

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 7:54 PM

edignan-

I second Roger's "Well said."

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#32

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 4:39 PM

"Let's stop telling ourselves lies that we can have our cake and eat it too."

You mean we aren't "entitled"?

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 5:54 PM

Entitled to whatever I can produce

OK, what the gov't leaves me of what I produce

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#39

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 9:35 PM

I have watch this thread go in all directions today and I am amazed. I have seen comments on racisms, the lack government and corporate expenditures towards R&D and a whole bunch of anonymous cowards talking crap about the bleak outlook of humanity and more racism and copouts. What a bunch of whiner's

In days gone by it was not big corporations or government that developed the most influential inventions of mankind. It had nothing to do with race creed or color but it was due to individuals with an idea and a vision. Like;

Guglielmo Marconi (Italian pronunciation: [ɡuʎˈʎɛːlmo marˈkoːni]; 25 April 1874 – 20 July 1937) was an Italian inventor, best known for his development of a radiotelegraph system.

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large teamwork to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was an inventor and a mechanical and electrical engineer. Tesla was born in the village of Smiljan near the town of Gospić, Austrian Empire, (today's Croatia). He was an ethnic Serb subject of the Austrian Empire and later became an American citizen.[2] Tesla is often described as an important scientist and inventor of the modern age, a man who "shed light over the face of Earth".[3] He is best known for many revolutionary contributions in the field of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tesla's patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current electric power (AC) systems, including the polyphase power distribution systems and the AC motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

George Alcorn A black Inventor of the Imaging X-ray Spectrometer Not many inventors have resumes as impressive as George Edward Alcorn's. Among his credits, the African-American inventor received a B.A. in physics, a master's degree in nuclear physics and a PhD in atomic and molecular physics. On top of that, Alcorn worked for the likes of Philco-Ford, Perkin-Elmer, IBM and NASA, created over 20 different inventions and was granted eight patents.

I can go on. If most of the people on the planet would get their heads out of your A- H*%$'S, instead of whining you would not be waiting or blaming, government or corporations to invent futuristic jet packs or lead us into the "Star Trek" New Frontier. Or to save our sorry soles.
Yes , governments, politicians , religious fanatics, racist and the media do not know or understand science and engineering, but history tells us they never have.

Individual inventors, scientist and engineers understand. That is all that matters.

It is and has always been up to you. Get an idea, invent something!! Screw the politics, it will change when you change the world.

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#40
In reply to #39

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/30/2009 9:47 PM

masterblaster-

Excellent take on the role of the independent. Much unsung invention in the historical US was the result of isolated individuals with a need who just went out and built it- the good stuff was later moved in to the mainstream. Although I have trouble ranking Edison with the likes of Tesla and Alcorn (Edison was mostly a businessman), Edison's Menlo Park served as a model for the likes of Bell Labs and Westinghouse (in the days of old man George), 3M, and many other independent research organizations. Need is the mother of invention. But if you put politicians in charge of doling out the money, you get political science- like Al Gore.

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#44
In reply to #40

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 8:45 AM

I was reluctant to use Edison as an example as it is true he evolved into a businessman for personal gain and at times at the cost of others. That being said with most successful inventions comes the business.

If I had been a better businessman I may have money from my inventions instead of making others rich. I have been living with fact that they can go bankrupt tomorrow but history will show that I did the work.

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#45
In reply to #40

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 10:02 AM

Here's Masu's take on this subject, from a different thread:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/comment/399899/Re-Future-Energy-Sources-3-1-2-Hydrogen-Hydrides

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 10:41 AM

Garthh-

Thanks for the link- very thought-provoking. To quote Masu:

"...if we do not move forward and address the wasteful and inefficient way we go about our daily lives we are going to be in serious trouble."

This is actually contrary to much of his argument about the pursuit of electric automobiles. In my opinion, we should be looking at those aspects of our society that dictate the need for individual drivers to commute significant distances in inefficient modes. I am not suggesting a ban on personal vehicles or a ban on SUV's, but, rather, addressing those social issues that encourage their popularity. One place to begin is to look at current zoning practices in most communities, which insist on separating jobs from living centers, shopping from homes, etc. I recently read of a nacent resurgence of the idea of planting gardens on normally barren roofs- creating green space in a less-than-natural environment (nothing, unfortunately, about making the roof-top gardens accessible to the general public...).

There is, of course, a down side to creating isolated, totally self-contained communities where one can walk to work or walk to the grocery store- we lose critical interactions between communities. But, rather than trying to replace our current gas-guzzlers with systems that just shift the detrimental aspects further from the environment of the user is NOT a solution...

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 4:09 PM

I was at a renewable energy conference a few months back & was talking to a gentleman involved with urban planning. He suggested that all essential services should be located within a radius that a grandparent & a small child could walk to within 15 minutes. A somewhat self-contained community would decrease personal isolation. Wouldn't it increase regional cooperation?

[present downturn accepted] Energy & transportation costs are going to continue rising. As transportation costs increase regional manufacturing will make more sense.

Well it could work

never happen on any large scale...

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#48
In reply to #47

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 5:33 PM

Some things have gone wrong with my joints in my feet, hands, elbows and knees so that I am pretty much in some level of constant pain.

I agree with the urban planner that everything for a small child and a grandparent ought to be within a 15 minute walk.

Battery Park City in NYC appealed to me.

Actually I thought awful well of Manhattan between 96th St. and Battery Park.

The East Village of Manhattan has schools, places to live, stores, all pretty much within the radius your Urban Planner suggests as ideal.

No wonder anybody who isn't rich has had to move.

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 6:02 PM

He was actually attempting a project in Bakersfield, which woulp be typical of suburban sprawl in California. He was also suggesting a mixture of densities of development no higher than 3 stories...

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#50
In reply to #47

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 9:08 PM

Garthh-

I happen to live in a community where all essential services (grocery, hardware store, pharmacy, Doctor, Dentist, clothing and shoe stores, green space) are within walking distance (5 to 10 minutes). Unfortunately, water, electric and sewer are provided on a larger scale- with less efficiency. Local interface with the neighbors is enhanced, but there is a bit of isolation from other, adjacent neighborhoods in the area (in some cases, the isolation is GOOD...)

It is possible to design cities along these lines. The world is full of them. They just do not fit the American model.

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#51
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Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 10:34 PM

The concepts or implimentation are in no way new & different...

Growing up my father walked to work & came home for lunch, only because my parents made sure to buy a house close to his job. Certainly the exception rather than the rule.

Like the other things I suggested on this thread, not very likely to happen

Hope springs eternal

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#43
In reply to #39

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

05/31/2009 1:40 AM

Hi Masterblaster,

You have really blasted what I was just thinking and posting.You are absolutely right we do not have those genius people who have changed the world. Most of them had spent their own money for their inventions.To-day we need such inventors to be reborn.

Suresh Sharma.

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#54
In reply to #39

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 8:29 AM

"Individual inventors, scientist and engineers understand. That is all that matters"

I'm sure there are many "Individual inventors, scientist and engineers" today go unrecognized because there "employer" owns all they create, many ideas get sleeved never to be used, because of budget cuts or a higher up did not want to pursue it.

very sad.

There will always be great inventions. just not a the Individual notoriety there once was.

Jim C

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#65
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Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 1:06 PM

As a successful independent inventor, when am ask to sign a contract when working for large companies, I always have the contract state that they will only have the rights to inventions that are directly related to their current business within a specific territory for a limited time. I also have them sign a confidentiality agreement stating that I am currently and will continue to working on my own novel ideas that I disclose to them and which they have no rights to. They get what they want from me and I maintain my freedom to create new products. If a totally new idea comes up they still have no rights as long as it is on my time and money.

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#67
In reply to #39

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 1:17 PM

Tesla work for one of the largest corporations in the US.

Though I agree that there is a certain amount of technological advancement that occurs outside of the corporate and governemtn R&D, particularly in the 18th and 19th century during periods when corporations were under pressures from the government breaking them up allowing the development of new start ups. (Edison was a startup that became larger, much like GE at this time of anti trust laws and such.) however, much more of the great advancements have occurred through government and corporate sponsored R&D programs. Consider any major organic or bio-chemical advancement; e.g. nylon or any other plastic; computers and electronics, think WWII and Space Race government funding; aerospace technologies, medical advancements, etc.. Most of these cost a lot of money to conduct the research and require expensive advanced laboratories that common people can not afford to have in thier garages.

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#73
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Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 4:51 PM

RCE reply to #67

What came first the chicken or the egg? If the chicken was the a Corporation and the egg was an Invention then in the world science and engineering it usually starts with an idea that leads to a patent and then if you're lucky a corporation to develop it.

Tesla's research and the development of AC power and Magnetic motors and such were sold to large companies that he had shares in but he sold all of his shares for next to nothing so that he could pursue his dream, the Tesla effect of wireless energy transfer to wirelessly power electronic devices which Tesla demonstrated on a low scale (light bulbs) as early as 1893 and aspired to use for the intercontinental transmission of industrial energy levels in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project. The tower was never completed and Tesla was ultimately ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist.[6][7] Never having put much focus on his finances, Tesla died impoverished at the age of 86.

gdevine's reply to #55 statement "The funding of independent scientific "adventures" is unnecessary in today's business environment." What orifice in the human anatomy did this spew come from? I would like to see were you got your data to back that statement up. If you are just making statements to see how many post you pile up then you might as well send it to the "National Inquire" Although there are some people who believe that rag.

Remember people, we are engineers and scientist, we do quote hear say and rumors as fact. We make a hypotheses and through calculations, and empirical testing we come up with our truth that can be verified, securitized and criticized by our peers.

I am an independent inventor that has been self employed doing R&D at my own expense since 1989. I sell the technology and reinvest the profit into my next idea.

While you are driving past a refinery, marine fueling depot or trucking fuel terminal, pharmaceutical, petrochemical plant and you see a flair on top of a stack burning off vapor from the facility my inventions are stopping that flame from blowing that facility up. "detonation flame arrester". Since 1989 my work has protected property and countless lives all over the world. Some of the users of my patents include Dow Chemical, Rohm & Hass, Imperial Oil, BP, Union Carbide and many more. So you will excuse me if I do not believe in what you say.

It is not necessary for big corporations to develop ideas, they come into play when it is time to market. What is needed besides the obvious education is a good understanding of the need for the product, knowledge of intellectual property and good patent lawyer and contract lawyer.

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#77
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Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/02/2009 11:26 AM

Yes, people can always develop these smaller items and market them to corporations. However, because of certain health and safety needs on some items, pharmaceuticals being a good example, most people can not afford to go through the extensive testing protocols to develop totally innovative new product that have such health and safety or consumer protection regulations. Some patents do not get picked up by corporations, but rather the corporation just start making knock offs. If done early enough, the inventor can not afford the legal battles over patent infringement. I have known a number of people who have patented many odd tool ideas, shovel modifications, etc.. However, never met anyone who patented a cure for any affliction. Some of the big items you just need the money and resources to research, develop and defend.

By the way, Tesla had no shares in Edison and was paid $18 a week as a engineer. He then quit Edison and went to Westinghouse where he promoted AC electricity over Edison's preferred DC electricity for transmission. He developed many patents while working for both companies utilizing their funding for his R&D. Admittedly, he later quit Westinghouse to pursue some fairly crazy ideas for that time, things like Xrays not being the risk but the ozone generated by Xrays is the health risk, etc.. He actually was the kind of person who would get off track on his own and needed a company to assign him problems to solve, else he would try to solve things beyond the technological capabilities of his day, which just makes the task too large many times.

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#78
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Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/02/2009 2:40 PM

I am not talking about medicines. That is a small extreme sample of technology. There is whole world of other areas to deal with. I had to have my detonation flame arresters certified to pass standards, like CSA, FM, UL and the USCG and the European equivalents. I paid for the research, the patents and the certification before I sold the technology. I am not talking about small trinkets either. One flame arrester for 72" Diameter pipe weighed 20,000 lbs. Give it a rest. Individuals can and do develop substantial technologically advanced products.

You are going to twist reality any way that will suit you because you will not admit that 1 person can still make a difference. You probably need to believe this so you do not feel like a failure. That is fine, you will not be in anyone's way. Just stay on side lines, watch and criticize.

This topic is dead to me now.

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#55

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 9:07 AM

The funding of independent scientific "adventures" is unnecessary in todays business environment. If it has a solid foundation then it will be picked up by corporations that have the money and expertise to pursue it. Exploit it, yes, but they will develop it.

Government investment in technology has always been better spent in funding military projects. The technical spin-offs of the multi-million dollar projects of the past are everywhere. Especially in the materials industries.

Funding for education should be the real goal for technical development. Just think how far ahead we would be if those who believe they can cure the worlds energy needs with aluminum foil in a bucket of water could get past this and get on to bigger and better things.

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#56

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 9:18 AM

Interesting graphs and post Roger.

I think a basic problem is that the pace of change is such that ordinary people are afraid because they feel they can't keep up.

A little like the hobo on the park bench - "I was a leading computer designer, then I took 6 weeks holiday and fell behind in my field".

This fear combines with journalistic sensationalism to lend credit to any scare campaign which will discredit science, technology or any industrial development. By painting advances as potentially disastrous, the fears of people are given a vehicle to ride on.

The upshot is that government puts less into science. Industry puts less into R&D.

Essentially, we are coasting on the advances made some 40+ years ago. Simply developing from an old base.

This is comforting to the majority who are afraid of change.

If we approached things with the view that they are going to change and that this change is an opportunity, not a problem, we would see a different result.

The 60's were a time when change and advance were welcomed. Now, any new idea is greeted with "Who is doing it now?" rather than "This has possibilities". Basically, leaders are more concerned with protecting their backsides than leading us forward.

While government funding is important for the development and discovery of new knowledge, they are poor at "picking winners". If they finance research which then becomes public property (after all the public paid for it), and let private industry and individuals develop it from there, progress will still be made.

Why is it that TV shows are about doctors, lawyers and cops, but never about engineers?

Why is it that doctors and lawyers are far more highly paid than engineers?

Obviously society doesn't value us as highly, yet without us, society wouldn't have any where near the present comfortable life style.

If you write a song, copyright protects your interest in that song for 70 years after your death.

If you develop a major invention, patent protection gives you up to about 25 years protection.

Where are our values?

I've raised more questions than answers in this rant, but our fundamental problem as a society is the lack of effective leadership with the courage to direct resources where they will provide the greatest long term benefit to society, not where the various pressure groups point.

The greatest long term benefit to society is by increasing the amount of science and engineering research and development.

All other programs have short term payback, but none have the potential of science and technology to deliver life changing impact over the long term.

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#96
In reply to #56

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/04/2009 9:53 AM

Copyright laws are seriously out of whack today.

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#57

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 10:00 AM

but never about engineers?

Not a Eureka fan?

Perhaps another question is Why are all scientists mad?

Even Eureka, a program that supposedly likes engineers, is off on a bent of the typical evil scientist stereotype.

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#74
In reply to #57

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 8:08 PM

Sorry edignan

Never seen Eureka.

Not sure we get it in the wilds of down under.

Sounds interesting.

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#75
In reply to #74

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/02/2009 6:33 AM

Eureka is one of the few tv programs I will watch. They have full episodes on the web page. Uusally the previous season but who cares if you are a season behind or not.

http://www.scifi.com/eureka/

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#76
In reply to #74

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/02/2009 7:08 AM

Sorry

Eureka

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#69

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/01/2009 2:49 PM

There's one or more Guests on here getting pretty damn snarky without the stones to sign in. If you can't stand behind your words, how 'bout bugging off?

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#79

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/02/2009 11:29 PM

Science will never out pace human nature.

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#80

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/03/2009 12:34 AM

The best indicator of a nation's health is by far the esteem in which it holds its weakest members. This holds true whether the nation in question is at the bleeding edge of technology or is wallowing in a scientific backwater.

But I know what you're saying, and I completely agree. I have the same complaints. The Media seem to have convinced themselves somehow that Everyone Else is just as stupid as they are, if not more so. I might also point out that the media in this country is largely controlled by a very small group of people who probably know each other and who might even have a common agenda. After all, "Educated masses are dangerous masses."

Ever read The Marching Morons?

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#84
In reply to #80

Re: The Media Just Doesn't Get Science

06/03/2009 11:51 AM

This would imply that the British Empire during the 1840s was in horrible condition possibly failing health. It would also imply that the Roman Empire by the time of Augustus was in dead throws. Envision the US at its highest point, immediately following WWII, racism was prevalent and deeply entranched, the homeless were in far worse shape than they currently are (and the general public didn't worry as much about them in public, and actually looked down severely on the homeless). Over indulgence of a nation in social programs actually is a sign of a failing society, this was a sign of the British empire as it began to die in the later 1800s, the Roman empire as it extended more priviledges to the lesser citizens and sought to outsiourse the necessary needs that were beneath the lesser romans in the 4th and 5th centuries. Pick any major society, and you find that as the society declines there is a concurrent level of priviledge and focus on the weakest members of that society, above that investment of other societies of the time. The reality, is that the weakest member contribute very little to the maintenance and advancement of a society, thus the more you invest in them the greater the loss. The society must then compensate for that loss by reducing the necessary levels of advancement and maintenance, thus slowly falling behind and falling apart while attempting to make sure no child is left behind or citizen.

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