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The Engineer
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The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/26/2011 2:03 PM

Astronomy getting squeezed

Astronomy is facing a lean decade. That was the message handed down by senior representatives of the federal agencies that fund much of the field's research in the U.S. during "town halls" with scientists here at the semiannual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Science agencies are facing flat or declining budgets, and in that environment new astronomy initiatives will often be possible only at the expense of existing ones. "We can turn off the old to enable the new," NASA Astrophysics Division director Jon Morse said in a May 23 town hall discussion. "That's where we are from a budgetary standpoint." NASA funds space-based projects in the U.S., whereas the National Science Foundation funds terrestrial telescope projects. (Continued Here)

Golden Age of Astronomy

This is especially sad since we are essentially in a golden age of astronomy.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/gamma/groot.html

NOVA: People say we're in the golden age of astronomy. Do you agree?

Groot: Absolutely. It could become even more golden, but if you compare to, say, 50 years ago, the opening up of different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum has been very, very important in developing astronomy in the last few decades. [For a self-guided tour of the electromagnetic spectrum, see Tour the Spectrum.] We used to be able to see only optical light using normal, ground-based telescopes. Then radio telescopes became available, allowing us to look at the universe in radio waves. After that it was X-rays and submillimeter and infrared. Now basically the whole electromagnetic spectrum has begun to open up. Soon we may even be able to work with gravitational waves, which would be completely different from anything that we do at the moment.

Tragic

So here we are. Once again squeezing a billion here and there out of science. Is it worth it? I don't think so, but then I'm a scientist.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#146
In reply to #144
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Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

05/31/2011 4:37 PM

packrat561,

As a follow on to your example... a somewhat contrasting view.

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#157
In reply to #146

Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

05/31/2011 7:41 PM

Tried the link but it wouldn't load. I actually think that Hoover had the misfortune of bad timing more than anything . From the little that I know of him, he seemed to be an honorable , intelligent and pragmatic man. I and the other denizens of S.Florida are safer today because of the dike constructed around Lake Okeechobee; a project initiated by Hoover and named in his honor. His laizzer faire approach to the '29 stock market crash and economic downturn was not politically astute. On the other hand things might have eventually sorted themselves out. Compare this to Roosevelt, who was an excellent politician,but may have , through his policies, been responsible for an economic downturn in the later part of the thirties, actually prolonging the depression. Public perception, Hoover : cold, distant, uncaring; Roosevelt: comforting, paternal.-----------------------This an excellent illustration of the three principles that form the axis that the political world spins upon, namely: TIMING, PRESENTATION and LUBRICATION.-------------------------------------------I don't think Carter completed Navy nuclear engineering school before he left to work in his families business.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#181
In reply to #157

Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

06/02/2011 1:40 AM

Yes, I started to not put that link. It took forever to respond when I first tried to access it. But after a few tries it came through.

I think most Presidents have a mixed bag legacy. Some inspirational and some really dud decisions.

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#148
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Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

05/31/2011 5:00 PM

Hmm bribery. would buying drinks in a bar to convince constituents to vote for you be a form of bribery? It seemed to work well for Davey Crockett.

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#149
In reply to #148

Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

05/31/2011 5:17 PM

liqour has been part of and is well in grain in our politics ..... going as far back as our founding fathers.

And maybe, we should return to that.

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#151
In reply to #149

Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

05/31/2011 5:35 PM

Of course when Jackson wanted Crockett out, his party sent people out to buy more liquor than Crockett could and thereby buy more votes for his opponent. Good for the goose good for the gander type thing. If it works for the good guys the bad guys could also employ such techniques, or vice versa (i guess it depends on who you consider the good guys and the bad guys).

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Anonymous Poster #2
#153
In reply to #149

Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

05/31/2011 6:47 PM

Oh, yes. providing "spirits" to potential voters has been around since the beginning. And, sorry to say, if that makes you vote for someone, then that explains the mess our country has fallen in to. But truly speaking, that fell under the category of being hospitable in those days. It wasn't secretive. Insidious bribery is usually done in secret.

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#175
In reply to #153

Re: Precedent regarding Presidents Agarn!

06/01/2011 2:00 PM

oh......i was thinking more of self endulgance.

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#139
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 2:49 PM

However, seeing your example this first hand recently, it isn't the people we blame who are actually the ticks, and as a society we are afraid to address the parasitic behavior os some. Example, I recently went to a medical care group that was on my insurance plan. I found out this group is owned and run by nurses who contract doctors to come in ever few days a week and provide medical professional support. The nurses and assistants would require a urine sample just for me to talk to the Doctor about my xray results (he actually told me that sounded ludicris but he wasn't in-charge of the practice). They would take my weight and height everytime, even though i was in there every few days for pneumonia. Every visit had a charge, and every little thing required a formal visit. Xrays were not done in-house, but I had to come in after a visit for another visit to receive a referral to get xrays, then come back a few days later for xrays results, etc. for blood results. BTW the doctor told me he would call me to explain the blood results when they came in rather than the office visit (and associated co-pay charges), but I heard from a friend who works there he got in trouble for telling me that. The charges you get are for all the nurses, assistants, billing people and so forth. However, no one wants to face off against the nurses union. I had a dentist who minimized his staff (no hygienests), his rates declined, and he felt he provided better service by being able to check teeth while cleaning them himself (more hands on). The problem is the unions have made us feel like unionized labor is undervalued an not contributing to the higher cost for less productivity we see. However, if you look at industries where you see a public perception of poor or mediocre productivity/quality, you will tend to note a correlation with the amount of unionized labor involved in that industry (prisons, law enforcement, education, medical services, etc.).

Also, maybe if you don't pay politicians they will use their office to seek other means of financial support outsie of their job as a politician (selling votes to large unions, criminals, and wealthy corporations possibly), or they are so wealthy anyways they won't need the money to survive. Ask the question why would a Lawyer who can earn twice as much in practice, become a politician? Maybe it is all the off the books income and potential for future incomes for votes now that we need to address.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#140
In reply to #139

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 3:36 PM

So... are you saying 1) It is hopeless, 2) We should start over, 3) Fill in the blank?

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#142
In reply to #140

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 3:57 PM

Well, hopeless would mean do nothing. Start over would mean complete revolution. Or work with in the current system to make little changes and improve the system. Maybe the problem is the hopelessness of most people. People don't feel they have a large enough impact. Maybe their expectations need to be lower. No one can ever see another side to their arguments anymore, and try to redress the issues perceived by the other side in an attempt to get somewhere positive. Plus everyone seems to think their ideas should have world altering influence, and get down when the world doesn't change because they believe a tree somewhere specific should be saved or dam removed. Maybe if people lead by example more often, rather than talkign about doing things they actually did something and stayed with it, things might get accomplished.

So in summary: work within the system, lead by example daily, don't expect instant gratification, and set your objectives realistically.

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#143
In reply to #142

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 4:13 PM

This is related to working within the system, but it is a fundamental that most people forget about democracies in general; nobody gets everything that they want. As Henry Clay said, "A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied..."

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#147
In reply to #143

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 4:58 PM

And the problem is that everyone wants everything they want becaasue they bleieve they are right and the other side is wrong. They don't just believe they are right though, but many time to the point of absolutes where they are right beyond any doubt (usually while lacking any substantive evidence let alone sound scientific support, and actually the less support the more ardently they believe). they also tend to believe that others who may have any opposition are absolutle wrong adn with underlying villainous intentions (in essence inhumanly evil). How many times have people referrred to opponents are being like Hitler or Stalin, or even a Nazi (sometimes even when the political position would be diametrically opposed to the concepts of faschism and nazism at it core). Espouse how evil your opposition is but how good your ideas are, creates an image for public support that your ideas are good, and the oppositions are bad by extension because they are so bad. (Of course they can do the same thing, so now people vote based on their feeling about the proponents, rather than the topic). No one is ever happy in the end, and they are all extremely polarized against each others politcal positions to the point of being irrationally emotional about it.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#155
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 7:01 PM

O.K. Roger isn't interested. (Although a couple or more years service to the country is all I'm suggesting -- not a career.) So, RCE, you sound level headed (and probably have a scientific and/or engineering background)... how 'bout it?

See, this is what I mean. You might have heard how a lot of single women lament, "All the good ones are taken." Similar analogy. All the good ones are too busy living normal lives and have no interest in serving in the capacity to help govern. (Well, most, not all.) It's too bad we can't fill the halls of Congress with competent people who really want no part of it. How else will the train get turned around? By a "Nation of Sheep?"

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#156
In reply to #155

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 7:15 PM

I have chemistry and engineering, and thus know better. I went to school with a guy who is now a congressman, you could tell he was a politician in college. I have family members in a variety of public elected offices. There is a certain type of personality needed to convince the local masses that you are a the guy who will support each special interest groups in the districts agenda. The closest thing i can equate it too, is that guy who is a leader in a fraternity in college, gets all the new recruits in the hospital comnstantly gets the frat thrown out and then claims he had no idea this was occurring, and some people believe him. You have no chance of competing in a democratic election against such car salesmen. Athens demonstrated such when alcibiades whipped the masses into a frenzy to attack syracuse for conquest and gold, and nicias tried to be a voice of some reason agaisnt going to war with Syracuse. Subsequently alcibiades got in trouble ran off to the enemy, Sparta, nicias had to lead the war effort against syracuse and had his entire army wiped out. notice hopw the level headed guy became the fall guy tasked with completing the job (he didn't want to do anyways), and the politician changed sides at the first hint of trouble. You have to be one heck of a convincing liar and appeal strongly to peoples emotions, which I am not and can not.

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#158
In reply to #156

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 7:54 PM

You have to be one heck of a convincing liar and appeal strongly to peoples emotions, which I am not and can not.

The perfect breeding ground for a dictator.

In this country and in yours, a sheep dog has more agility and purpose than the politicians running the show. They have a meadow which is surrounded by forest and that is full of wolves. No shepherd in sight just two ends of the meadow.

The wolves will strike again, Ky.

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#172
In reply to #158

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 11:34 AM

Actually many dictators in the past have not been convincing liars and salesmen, but rather were fairly honest and had the support of the military. Only a few arose through politics, most have been military leaders who believed strongly in a direct honest response with little consideration for others opinions outside of their military circles. The dictators overthrow the government when the public loses confidence in the elected government to accomplish their objectives (assuming the elected government is self serving) or when the public lacks the means to resist a military coup (one of the reasons for the right to bear arms).

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#178
In reply to #172

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 5:31 PM

I could do a packrat #160 on you and ad humor and wittiness but that'll take too long.

If we were the sheep and could see the trees for the forest we have to move as one. It's still our meadow so we can roam free. No dictator (shepherd) will stop the wolves (Banks, too high taxes, not enough money for science, you fill in) from hitting the meadow once in a while.

The dictators overthrow the government when the public loses confidence in the elected government to accomplish their objectives.......

I am used to not having enough funds to go in big leaps and don't care who would assist.What I am saying is that I would or might as well live under a dictatorship it would not change what I think and what I produce. The chances of my research coming to fruition are slim in any scenario.

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Anonymous Poster #4
#162
In reply to #147

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 3:14 AM
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The Engineer
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#167
In reply to #162

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 9:37 AM

Thanks for the link. It was funny and led to this wonderful link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum

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#141
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Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 3:45 PM

You Wrote:"Run Roger Run...

You're not talking to me, right? I have no desire to be a politician, who would want that thankless job?

Your constituents constantly blame you for what's going wrong and if you try to fix it they get mad that your asking for sacrifices in order to fix it. Taxpayers basically want solutions that require no sacrifice from themselves and use words like "inefficient" and "pork" and "crooks" to imply it's possible when it really isn't.

Meanwhile, all you have to do to gain their love is lie to them and tell them that we can fix everything without any sacrifice on their part and they lionize you and reelect you.

To put it bluntly, I'm too honest/opinionated to be a politician. While running I'd tell them that evolution and global warming are real, we need to both raise taxes and cut spending to fix the debt, and we need to invest more in science. I'm not sure I'd even vote for me. I might be the first person with zero votes...nah, my mom would vote for me, my dad always votes republican so I wouldn't get his vote though.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#145
In reply to #141

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 4:34 PM

That was my point, Roger. Better to have someone who would run away from the job doing it. He'll probably apply better reasoning -- certainly, less selfish -- to solve problems.

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#150
In reply to #145

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 5:30 PM

I'm too unreasonable and uncompromising. Besides, I was born to do science. Science makes me happy in a way that no other job could. I'm sure that there are people born for politics who feel the way about politics as I do about science. Let them be the politicians. Everyone has their own thing, right?

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Anonymous Poster #2
#152
In reply to #150

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 6:29 PM

Surely, Roger.

But I would still submit that if you (or any other sane person with a good mind) could be coerced through the idea of societal responsibility to "serve" the public good, you would have less of a selfish ax to grind, so to speak, than most who ardently seek it, precisely because you DO NOT seek it. Kind of like the signature of Apothicus, attributed to Edmund Burke (for a long essay...), "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (The last link is my correlation, not the author of the quote.)

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#159
In reply to #152

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 9:09 PM

In order for a Republic to work, with all it's conflicted interests, compromises must be made. Are some politicians opportunists? Sure, but you can say that about many fields. I think that many politicians are just people, like me and you, doing the best they can (which for any human being means being imperfect) for the constituency they represent.

What does it gain us to villify politicians? The defining virtue of a politician is compromise, yet when they display this virtue we call them unprincipled. That's unfair. What we say we want, and what we actually want are two different things. They have to navigate that line where we have our cake and eat it too, because if they don't we toss them out of office. The electorate is fickle, tempormental, and hypocritical. If they seem, through their compromises inconsistent, it is only because we ourselves our inconsistent.

And of course I would be selfish as a politician. Not selfish for money, because money isn't what motivates me, but selfish for discovery, for scientific innovation and exploration. But that isn't all there is in life and I would favor it selfishly, disproportionately, because to me that is what is most important. Others might prefer music, dance, sculpture, painting, hiking, charity, etc. Would I be just when I undersold these for science? No, I would be selfish. My virtues are better suited for science.

I've read Plato's "The Republic". It is a bit too "Ivory Tower Elitist" for me (I just choked a little as I typed that but it is the truth). One doesn't have to love science to be a good politician, nor be completely logical. If our government seems gridlocked and a mess, good, that's exactly what it is supposed to be. You know what is a wonderfully efficient form of government? Dictatorships. Empires. Of course the problem is the founder always dies eventually, and as efficient as it can be for a good ruler, it is equally efficient for a bad ruler.

So rejoice in our gridlock. Our compromising politicians. Our petty squabbling. Our regional partisanship. We're a Republic. Our government is working exactly like it's supposed to.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#173
In reply to #159

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 12:20 PM

So-o-o... you're O.K. now with the antiscience funding issues?

All of the meandering posts (mine included) that were precipitated by your original post still reduce to US.

What I get from all the responses that this kind of topic produces, is that most people would like to see the system work better... MUCH better. And as the study I cited resonates with an innate sense that it is mostly true, the solution is better leaders. Which is why I started with a first response of the idea that there isn't enough logical reasoning in government;i.e., better leaders. Which I do think could come from the scientific ranks.

Data from "analyzing" our system(s) isn't the uppermost criteria in "How can we make this better?", with our current regime and system. Scientists and engineers tend to think that way more as a matter of training. We may find other, accompanying drawbacks we wouldn't like, but I'd be willing to suffer through a "session" or two of a majority of Spocks in Congress -- can't lie and ruled by logic.

As to your selfish interests and the others you listed, the funding for those are perennially so low as to be nothing more than a blip. You could double them all and no one would cite any of them in a budgetary review.

Nope. The sad truth is that there are a lot of good people that could help straighten out the "mess" you now seem contented with, but the sacrifices are real and it does take somewhat of a heroic mentality to be stirred, somehow, to accept that sacrifice.

In my past I have regularly, made phone calls to, written letters and, emailed representatives, both congressmen and senators about issues I care about. Most of the time I've gotten form letters back thanking me for contacting Rep. so and so or Senator Blowhard. That's when you know you really don't count as much as the special interests, consisting mostly of corporations.

As I've also posted in a couple of other threads, Socrates made a sad observation, that the masses seem helpless.

For all the levity that has accompanied some of the posts here, in all seriousness, I say, "Thank heaven for those who are blinded to this "truth" and are willing to tilt at windmills. By their efforts lives are improved despite the odds." WHO is willing to make such a sacrifice?

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#174
In reply to #173

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 1:38 PM

You Wrote:"So-o-o... you're O.K. now with the antiscience funding issues?"

Of course not. I want more funding for science. I just don't blame the politicians for our faults as a people.

I've said before and will say again that I believe there is an anti-abstraction sentiment in this country that is growing to extremes. I detail my ideas in my posts The Antiscience I and II.

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/12160/The-Antiscience-Part-I

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/14562/The-Antiscience-Part-II

Hopefully that clears things up.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#176
In reply to #174

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 2:40 PM

Your conclusion leads somewhat to the sentiment expressed by Socrates. You bemoan The Antiscience, and say it is pervasive in society:

"Maurice Meleau-Ponty had presented existential arguments that are commonly used by deniers of evolution, global warming, and the scientific establishment itself. These groups, however, are the fringe. Existentialism is a mainstream philosophy. Thus, although the above is used to discredit science directly, it also pervades society and is subtly undermining science in the mainstream."

You have, obviously given considered thought to the problem, but in the end, see it difficult to change on any individual level. But I would point out that you attribute these very "societal views" to influences of individuals such as Satre.

Politicians are members of society. It is not a question of blaming them. It is a question of finding "outliers" of society that represent what, I think, you would see as a more "enlightened" viewpoint. To do nothing is to contribute to continuation of The Antiscience. If nothing else, maybe send your representatives your Antiscience article and plead the case for abstract knowledge. Maybe you can provide the influence you would like to see. You don't have to be a Ghandi. As you say, be content to contribute a small part, rather than aspiring to be an Einstein. But do contribute.

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#177
In reply to #176

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 3:40 PM

Part of what I was saying was that we all are burdened with the prejudices and superstitions of existentialism and if we want to begin to change the anti-abstraction sentiment, we have to start with ourselves.

The job of a politician is filled with abstractions. They have to constantly compromise to make progress for their constituents while at the same time continue to keep the government running. When these very necessary compromises are made we treat them as turncoats and call them names. Of course if they didn't compromise our government would fall apart, so what choice do they really have?

I may be misunderstanding, but it seems to me that your argument is that politicians for the most part are unscrupulous opportunists. I think that broad generalization is probably incorrect.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#179
In reply to #177

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 8:20 PM

Yes and no.

Unscrupulous is just unprincipled. Principles are guidelines. Greed is a principle in a strict sense. Opportunists? I don't think that is necessarily the word I would use.

You referred me to your essay on Antiscience. I would refer you back to the study cited in my first post. I think it provides an insight in to the type of personality that seeks political or any kind of domination over meeker souls. Was Bernie Madoff an opportunist? I would submit domination can manifest in subtle ways, such as, "I know this is a selfish act, but (the dominance of my personality means) I can probably get a way with it." Bullying is an extreme manifestation of dominance.

My understanding of your essay/presentation is that the culmination of Existentialism has led to, in simple terms, "What's in it for me?"; i.e., if research doesn't lead to some useful technology then it is not important. You, on the other hand, would argue that knowledge for knowledge's sake IS important because it can lead to better understanding of Reality.

Is that so different from making the observation that children who tend to try to take control of a group have some selfish motive, whether it be power or money or just the rush of emotion that goes with controlling. The implication of the study is that the people who innately try to take "control" are likely to seek that control as a career that offers it in large measure -- politics. And they were the best children at lying. Is that the ideal character of a leader?

Books and articles have been written in recent years about how we have become a nation of liers. Cheating in school is more common. Deception in resumes is also common. You may link this to Existentialism if you wish. But since corruption in politics has been part of the game way before Existentialism ever existed, I think it is more of a contribution, but not the cause. Surely you don't think that corruption is rare in governing? I wasn't making a broad generalization. It only takes a few. You could cite examples from history as well as me. (This one for example.)

Truly speaking, I think we are actually not discussing quite the same thing. Your OP was lamenting that abstract thought rejection ("The Antiscience") was responsible for cuts in astronomical research funding. And you may well tie problems like the mortgage crisis, or the bank failures to the ascribed "laissez-faire" attitude that you argue is due to the influence of Existential thought. (I don't know if you are familiar with the historian, Page Smith or not. He was influenced a lot by Eugene Rosenstock-Heussy. You may find his book, "Out of Revolution", interesting.)

My responses have tried to address the, somewhat more general, issue of why we have the huge national debt mess in the first place. I am submitting it is because the leaders of our government, having the most powerful positions, have demonstrated "wrong thinking" (to be kind), or have just plain been self-serving CYA'ers (to be more blunt). And money in politics IS a corrupting influence. In either case, my suggestion was that people who aren't seeking political office might in fact apply better (in your terms, non-Existential) reasoning when decisions are being made. I happened to choose people with a scientific outlook as fertile candidates - pun intended -- precisely because of a more abstract reasoning process. Of course, human nature might allow anyone to succumb to the perks that come with being a public servant as it currently is practiced. That is why I also suggested removing the incentives from serving that encourage less than idealistic behavior.

My feeling is that less ambitious people might make better leaders and have led to better reasoning, which might have kept our messes of the past from being so messy (not to mention lives being saved), leaving more money for the kinds of pursuits you are speaking about. That is the relevance of my posts to your lament.

Ultimately, it does comes down to US. I've already posted that thought. We seem to agree on that. And I agree wholeheartedly with "starting with ourselves." Starting with ourselves can have multiple facets -- overcoming meekness for starters. Government is participatory. I am arguing that there are many, already, who have better capabilities and higher ideals than many who are in government. But as the study seems to indicate, they do not seek positions of control. Like you they are very happy to pursue whatever there passion in life is and not suffer the stress of political life.

Can you see the catch-22 here? From your perspective what is the solution to your diagnosis of the problem? If the ONLY action any of us can take is to "start with ourselves" then there was no point in posting your original lament.

No. The Civil Rights Act didn't happen in a vacuum. People rioted and died for the cause before it finally reached the national conversation. And Johnson, knowingly, changed the Democratic party's constituency for at least "a generation" as he put it, by twisting arms and wheeling and dealing, to get the legislation passed. Throughout history individuals have been the motive force behind real shifts in the collective consciousness. To whom do we owe our current understanding of Physics? To a handful of scientists, not a collective shift in consciousness of society.

My last response included the suggestion to you that YOU can do other things in addition to working on yourself. They aren't mutually exclusive. Posting your disagreement with the decisions being made in government on CR4 is somewhat useful, only to the degree that it inspires others to action. But it is also just "preaching to the choir" in a sense. You are much more likely to just get head nods by readers here, rather than if you made a formal presentation that you could send (or make in person) to the people who can more directly make the changes you would like to see.

True "individual reform" is extremely important but is a whole other subject.

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The Engineer
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#180
In reply to #179

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 8:26 PM

I think it's naive to believe that a plurality of people in any field can be unscrupulous when the majority of people we meet in life are at worst conflicted.

I think a better question for you to ask is, what need is satisfied in a person if they choose to believe those who hold power over them are all corrupt?

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Anonymous Poster #2
#182
In reply to #180

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 3:10 AM

Well, you can be a hard person to communicate with, as well as an artful dodger. Your responses to my post are at best oblique... certainly not in the spirit of true discussion, in that you did not address any comments specifically to the ideas expressed.

If you are implying that it is my viewpoint that ALL people in power are corrupt, then you don't seem to be a careful reader. I neither said "a plurality of people" nor did I say "those who hold power over them are ALL corrupt." What I did say is, "It only takes a few." -- the connotation being, I don't think it is a majority. I would invite other readers to compare their take on what I've stated vs. yours.

As a matter of fact, in an earlier post (#141) explaining why you wouldn't want to be a politician you included this statement: "Meanwhile, all you have to do to gain their love is lie to them and tell them that we can fix everything without any sacrifice on their part and they lionize you and reelect you." Sure seems like a negative generalized characterization of people in the field of politics on your part, as well as a negative, insulting view of their constituents. And it's also, an endorsement of the implications of the study I cited. Well done. Are you naive? Or satisfying some need? I'm just being clever, of course.

I did ask what your solution would be to the problem you've called our attention to. And I asked, is "start with ourselves" the sum total of it? Does that mean you, as well, need to exorcise the Existential demon from your viewpoint? That becomes conflicted, as you say. I would reiterate: I'm not sure why you posted the complaint in the first place. Coy, maybe?

And I finally suggested to you (a second time) that you, personally, might perform actions besides "starting with yourself" (which you did not detail as to what precisely we are to do) that might serve to change the outcome of what you are complaining about. You did not respond to that suggestion either.

I'm looking for a little sincerity here, not just cleverness.

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Anonymous Poster #5
#183
In reply to #182

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 3:35 AM

I'm looking for a little sincerity here, not just cleverness

Good luck with that

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The Engineer
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#184
In reply to #182

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 9:03 AM

Please don't insult me. I called the idea naive, not you, but it was a poor choice of words. I should have said "an over simplification". People are unfamiliar with that usage of "naive" (and I should have known better). Certainly I hope you can see how my calling an idea an "over simplification" isn't an attack on the person putting forward the idea (yourself). That was the intention of my original post, which I failed miserably in delivering and now I suspect has set you off a bit.

With regards to your postings

You several times have mentioned this study: http://psp.sagepub.com/content/20/3/312.full.pdf+html

It's title is (for people too lazy to click on the link):Dominance and Deception in Children and Adults: Are Leaders the Best Misleaders?

I wrote: I think it's naive to believe that a plurality of people in any field can be unscrupulous when the majority of people we meet in life are at worst conflicted

Basically I equated "Best Misleaders" = Unscrupulous. I still think that was reasonable. So I did in fact read what you wrote and responded as I really believe.

You Wrote:I did ask what your solution would be to the problem you've called our attention to. And I asked, is "start with ourselves" the sum total of it? Does that mean you, as well, need to exorcise the Existential demon from your viewpoint?

Well said, that's exactly what I believe.

You Wrote:And I finally suggested to you (a second time) that you, personally, might perform actions besides "starting with yourself" (which you did not detail as to what precisely we are to do)

When I wrote the Antiscience I said to myself "what ideas do we hold today that will be laughed at in the future as superstitions? To figure it out I looked at older ages (enlightenment, Romantic, etc.) and found their superstitions that we laugh at now and asked myself, why did they hold these superstitions? then I said "what age are we in now and what ideas are directly related to that age's beliefs", in other words, "what are existentialist superstitions". The first and most obvious one I came up with was Occam's Razor being misused as a proof, ie - if a hypothesis is complicated then it is likely untrue, that's not was Occam's Razor says, just what we in our day and age believe. That I think everyone should do the exercise to improve their critical thinking.

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#185
In reply to #184

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 12:08 PM

Why would you automaticaly assume that people highly capable in misleading others are unscrupulous? What if they were misleading you for your own good or to protect your feelings (what we call white lies). What if they had the understanding that the most ethical course of action would require some degree of misleading the general public to get them on to that course? What if they were misleading you for the greater good? which the general public is frequently a little slow to progress towards unless there are immediate returns for them. Misleading doesn't necessarily mean directly lying even, it could just mean withholding some information to create a different perception.

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The Engineer
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#186
In reply to #185

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 1:10 PM

You Wrote:"Why would you automaticaly assume that people highly capable in misleading others are unscrupulous?"

I guess that's a valid point. However the study was cited to be used as evidence that we need a different type of politician. If we used your definition of misleading (misleading for your own good, etc.) then why would we need to get rid of them.

So look, being in the weeds right now, I'll state my belief as straight forward as possible:

I believe most politicians are trying to do the right thing as they understand it the best way they know how and replacing them with anything short of Gandhi's, Mother Teresa's and Martin Luther King's (three people of extraordinary character for those not getting what I'm saying here) will make no difference.

If that's what you guys are saying too, I apologize for misunderstanding. If you'e saying something different, then that's good, we know where our different ideas are. I have no desire to put words into anyone else's mouth or misconstrue their arguments and if I have done so, I apologize.

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#188
In reply to #186

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 3:02 PM

Well not really my definition, just nother possibility of misleading, they could mislead for many different reasons, some for self interests or protection, some for beenfit of others or to avoid conflicts, some for personal gain or to avoid personal loss.For instance we typically expect people to mislead in some situations, such as talking a person about to atttempt suicide off a ledge. We might tell people things will get better, or that people care. Some people may think they are misleading for the greater good, but they are not knowledgable or well informed and thus are misleading only for the good of a few they perceive represent a plurality. They may be attempting to mislead for the perceived benefit of their constituents being unable to see that in the long run they would not benefit their constituents and maybe the truth early on would have brought this fallacy in their rationale to light.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#187
In reply to #184

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 1:46 PM

It wasn't my intent to insult... just elicit more of the type of response you gave this time, rather than a terse two-line response. Thank you for that. In your mind you thought you responded to my much longer post, but WAY too much was left in your mind. It was almost the minimal response one could give. Minimalism may be good in math but in communications it so easily leads to misinterpretation. It is always better to flesh thoughts out.

Also, to clarify, I did not put forward the idea you are saying I did; namely, "a plurality of people in any field can be unscrupulous when the majority of people we meet in life are at worst conflicted." That is your phrasing, not mine. I don't think that statement was made in the paper either. And I'm referring to the use of the word plurality. That's jumping to a conclusion that wasn't stated.

I wasn't "villifying" politicians as an exercise. I was suggesting that engineers and scientists might provide a more dispassionate analytical approach to solving society's problems.

One thing I do know is when a horse has finally been beaten to death. And, at least for the discussion in this thread, I think my contribution (if any) has reached that point.

There are plenty of comments in your Antiscience essay and in your posts that could provide fodder for other threads/discussions... maybe in the future.

But I would like to add a couple of ending thoughts:

You have a good mind. To be direct: Have you ever called or written anyone in government -- either representatives or agency officials -- to express your thoughts on issues like the one you brought up here? That is what I was wanting to hear you say you would do. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll get sucked in to a never ending morass of the obfuscation I keep mentioning. There are a lot of sincere folks in government. And as you have pointed out, they end up tap dancing on eggshells much of the time. But no effort=no result/success. Just like your signature says.

And finally, even though I was being somewhat facetious regarding your "running," and you, in response, were being self-deprecating, suggesting you might be the first person to receive 0 votes... based on the brief sketch you laid out of some of your views, I'd certainly consider voting for you. Being opinionated doesn't seem to preclude your understanding for the need to compromise. So it isn't a fatal flaw for you. Besides, in our current system, it would be almost impossible for you to selfishly get everything your way. (Unless, of course, you became chairman of a powerful committee in Congress... just being a little facetious; although not completely. )

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#189
In reply to #187

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 4:29 PM

You Wrote:"You have a good mind. To be direct: Have you ever called or written anyone in government -- either representatives or agency officials -- to express your thoughts on issues like the one you brought up here?"

Yes. I have written letters to my two Senators knowing it would do nothing but did it anyway. Plus I've also sent the form letters APS sends it's members to send to their representatives every time science is cut.

Ultimately however I think that's nickle and dime stuff. Placebos to make us feel like we're doing something when really we're doing little. As long as we hear adults taking pride in not knowing math, as long as "common sense" is considered somehow better than years of dedicated study, as long as the pejorative "ivory tower" exists, as long as academics are characterized as "head in the clouds", as long as people believe the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, etc. then its only going to get worse.

In the end, after all the compromises, it's always science getting cut. Why is that? The most straight forward answer is it's the least valued by both parties so it's where they can meet.

But why is it so badly valued? I believe that lack of value is rooted in an anti-abstraction vein in society at large. To fix the problem we have to change that mentality. The problem is that mentality exists Within the scientific community itself as well.

So writing letters is good, but we have to treat the disease, not the symptoms, and that means reevaluating the values we hold as self evident and finding an alternative outlook to existentialism.

Existentialism Represses the Human Instinct to Conceptualize

Now as for alternate approaches, I have one I use myself when looking at the world. I believe that repressing aspects of human nature leads to problems that manifest into bad things so we should instead build systems around them (by systems I mean governments, capitalism, etc.). I'm basically suggesting a Freud approach to the species (instead of to an individual) with our evolved traits playing the part of the subconscious, if you guys follow what I'm saying.

I believe when we call something "Human nature" we are referring to traits that are inherent in ourselves that have come from billions of years of evolution. I use this argument for analyzing many things, for instance with regards to communism; I say that we are animals that instinctively form hierarchies and any system of government (like communism) that tries to suppress this instinct is doomed to fail. I tell cynics that altruism and empathy are instincts, not ideals, and thus shouldn't necessarily be discounted or distrusted when they appear.

I believe the current failing with existentialism ultimately is it is trying to suppress the human instinct of abstraction out of fear of the horrors abstraction can cause (the master race abstraction causing the systematic slaughter of over 10 million people, the abstraction of nationalism causing 100 million deaths). It was a reasonable reaction in 1950, but it's time to move past those fears now. Those things weren't caused just by abstraction and repressing our abstraction instinct is starting to cause irrational behavior. The search for abstraction gives meaning to a finite existence. Man reaches out for something permanent. The existentialists understood this and acknowledged "existential angst", believing it was the sacrifice needed to suppress the bad side of abstraction. But they misunderstood human nature. Existential angst is what happens when you try to suppress an intinct and it can't be done. Just as when you try to suppress something as an individual your subconscious acts out and finds a work around, in the same way when you try to suppress a human species instinct weird unexpected things start happening (Exhibit A, the Roman Catholic church abstinence rule leading to bad things). What is happening now is that society has abstracted anti-abstraction. They've turned it into an ideal. It would be really funny if it wasn't causing so many problems.

Neanderthals buried their dead 100,000s of years ago with jewelery. Consider the profoundity of that. Even they had abstractions (why else do that sort of thing?). It is in fact a defining feature of hominids. We develop new tools, paint cave walls, tell creation stories, etc.

Existentialism has made it almost a social more to talk of abstractions in public. It has gone too far. I believe Existentialism run amok is the disease and that's what we should be treating.

Ok....sorry about going on like that and I dread how the above might be misread but hopefully people kind of get what I'm saying or at least see some truths in it.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#191
In reply to #189

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 8:04 PM

O.K. I thought I was done. Like me, I think you have certainly made your point of view, in both your essay and in this post. You probably agree. And maybe that is why you are lukewarm in posting lengthy replies.

You write (concerning sending letters, etc.): "Ultimately however I think that's nickle and dime stuff. Placebos to make us feel like we're doing something when really we're doing little." You are obviously, just as cynical about government's ability to respond to people as most here. And that is precisely why I jumped to the larger remedy of picking leaders who think differently... actually those who think ideals matter. I happen to think better leaders are part of the solution;i.e., to "lead" to a new mindset, as you hope/wish for. You also said earlier, we "should rejoice in our gridlock." If we do we'll never see change as we would like and so desperately need. It's a mixed message... you want change, but we should be happy with the status quo.

Even if you think each of us changing ourselves is crucial, the best way to speed the process is to become a spokesperson, as in writing essays, like you've done, etc. to promote your ideas. But I would still submit that posting on CR4 is preaching mostly to the choir. For your goal to not also become "nickle and dime stuff" you will have to search for a larger audience somehow. I don't think you can depend on a geometric progression of web surfers sending links to your essay to their friends and then to their friends, etc. Unfortunately, most people don't care. They're too busy trying to cope with the stress we have allowed our leaders to put us in.

And please don't take this personally. I think all the time of how, over the centuries, many great books have been written, and you have read quite a few of them. But how many of them have sparked a revolution in the thinking of the masses? Because of their wisdom, truly speaking, we should be better developed as a species by now. And how many books are being published in the modern era "defining what the problem is?" Many. There is no dearth of analysis. Just solutions. The sad truth is wisdom comes by living, not so much by reading. When our experiences resonate with some "wisdom" we might have read in our past, then it truly becomes wisdom. I would even say, then becomes a "truth." Before we lived it, it was more idea than reality. Experience is the kiln where mud becomes brick. And the same old ignorance of youth doesn't listen to age and has to repeat the process all over again, each generation.

Writing can be utilized for analyzing and characterizing what one perceives as the problem. But when that problem reduces to changing human thought and/or behavior, methods for doing so aren't usually given. So what is the specific solution for change? In this last long post of yours, as well as your detailed essay, I don't see any specific practical remedy. I'm not blaming you for lack of one. PLEASE understand. I'm not criticizing. I'm analyzing. I'm on your side. I'm just trying to point out that your observation/definition of the problem still lacks a specific solution. My point about most books not making much change in our behavior is because it is much easier to define problems with human nature/behavior, as you describe them, but where's the METHOD for doing so? This is the real quandary.

I am hesitant to offer this as an exception, but the Bible, as a book, did change things. Not because of its content, per se, but because it represented the breaking down of the wall of a priesthood being the only keepers of wisdom and purveyors of salvation. That unleashed the idea of the importance of individuality. The Reformation laid the groundwork for what you would consider the failings of Existentialism. It would be a mistake to throw the baby out with the bath water, though. Individuality DOES matter. At it's best it is constructive. At it's worst, destructive. It just shouldn't trump the advancement of the herd. And of course, another quandary... whose definition of advancement?

Who knows? You MAY end up extending the ideas of your essay into a book that WILL have a large impact on mass thinking. That would be very commendable. That would be accompanied by the "expected" book/speaking tour to promote it, with the opportunity to now give talks about the problem. But alongside such an effort, trying to get better leaders who value truth enough to look beyond the immediate can only help. It isn't an exercise in futility. That is why I suggested people who think like engineers. Engineers are "fixers" by nature. Politicians rarely are because fixing can sometimes require a complete redesign. Human "systems" are usually too sacrosanct for drastic measures.

So I am sorry to post so much after saying "I'm done." I'll do my best to pin my hands down somehow no matter how tempted I might be (by succeeding posts) to post more. Changing others thought processes is very, very difficult. You have to be realistic and practical. Just by reading your ideas very few people will automatically start thinking as you would like them to. Planting seeds are probably the best one can hope for. That is how I look at it. I ask myself a often (even at this instant), "Why did you bother to take the time to post, THAT??" I doubt seriously if much good comes of it. But we care. So we do.

Good luck in WHATEVER efforts you make.

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#193
In reply to #191

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 8:33 PM

I'd laugh at the irony of this sentence taken from your post if it didn't honestly hurt me so much:

"truth is wisdom comes by living, not so much by reading"

Please don't get mad at this self indulgent response. I will respond to the whole of your response a little later when I can respond in detail

...it's just that... reading that sentence makes me feel like I'm just not getting across what I'm trying to say about existentialism since that is so obviously an existential prejudice (I understand you probably disagree).

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#194
In reply to #191

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 10:46 PM

You Wrote:"And maybe that is why you are lukewarm in posting lengthy replies."

The honest truth is I'm lazy.

You Wrote:"You are obviously, just as cynical about government's ability to respond to people as most here."

No. I believe that the government is doing what the people want. That's why I'm saying we have to change what the people want.

You Wrote"And that is precisely why I jumped to the larger remedy of picking leaders who think differently... actually those who think ideals matter."

And my response above explains why I think it will make hardly any difference.

You Wrote:"I happen to think better leaders are part of the solution;i.e., to "lead" to a new mindset"

It is my belief, in a republic such as ours, the constituents tell the representatives what they want, the representatives don't tell the constituents what they should want (not if they want to be elected). Thus I don't believe one can lead from government in a republic. One's job in government is to execute the will of your constituents to the best of your ability, and that's what they do.

You Wrote:"I happen to think better leaders are part of the solution;i.e., to "lead" to a new mindset"

Change always come in the U.S., just much more slowly than people want, and that is a good thing. That is what I mean by "rejoice in our gridlock". It protects us from the mob (blue mob or red mob, it makes no difference).

You Wrote"But I would still submit that posting on CR4 is preaching mostly to the choir."

The majority of the audience of CR4 are over 40. If you look at the political beliefs of those over 40 compared to under 40 you'll quickly see I'm not preaching to the choir here.

You Wrote:"For your goal to not also become "nickle and dime stuff" you will have to search for a larger audience somehow. I don't think you can depend on a geometric progression of web surfers sending links to your essay to their friends and then to their friends"

You are absolutelly correct. I'm going to try. This is just sparring for me. Practice to formulate my ideas as thoroughly as I can.

You Wrote:"Unfortunately, most people don't care."

I only need the intellectual leaders to believe, the rest will simply follow.

You Wrote:"I think all the time of how, over the centuries, many great books have been written, and you have read quite a few of them. But how many of them have sparked a revolution in the thinking of the masses?"

The Koran, The New Testament, The Organon, PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Newton), Critique of Pure Reason (Kant), Atlas Shrugged, and many, many, many others. It happens all the time.

You Wrote:"Because of their wisdom, truly speaking, we should be better developed as a species by now."

We are. We have come a long way in just the last 50 years alone. Existentialism itself did wonderful things. The abolishment of segregation, the civil rights movement, the promotion of democracy, etc.

You Wrote:"And how many books are being published in the modern era "defining what the problem is?"

I don't blame people for not seeing the problem. It's hard to recognize the source of the current problems because the current problem is us. It is difficult to admit to ourselves how much of our thinking is borrowed.

You Wrote:"The sad truth is wisdom comes by living, not so much by reading. When our experiences resonate with some "wisdom" we might have read in our past, then it truly becomes wisdom. I would even say, then becomes a "truth." Before we lived it, it was more idea than reality.

This is existentialist doctrine and it is true only in a very narrow sense and mostly untrue. (I don't have to write "in my opinion after everything right? It's implied that I'm expressing my point of view here. Just wanted to soften this response a little)

You Wrote:"And the same old ignorance of youth doesn't listen to age "

You mean, as long as that older information doesn't come in book form, right? You mean older people, having existed longer, have more common sense, right? Again, my answer is the same as my previous one.

You Wrote:"I don't see any specific practical remedy."

My remedy is to admit we have a problem. Like alcoholics, except our drug is existentialism. Until we do that, there is nothing will change. I will explain further in a later section of this response.

You Wrote:"PLEASE understand. I'm not criticizing. I'm analyzing.I'm on your side."

Yes, we both want funding for science, but that isn't the discussion we are having now, right? In this discussion you are not on my side, we are in fact disagreeing right now, but that's fine. I don't mind dissenting views, as long as they're honest, and yours are completely honest so in no way am I taking this personally and I hope you won't either. It's a good debate from my point of view.

You Wrote:"but the Bible, as a book, did change things. Not because of its content, per se, but because it represented the breaking down of the wall of a priesthood being the only keepers of wisdom and purveyors of salvation.""That unleashed the idea of the importance of individuality"


That is the existentialist take. Think about it, if what you were saying was true, why did we have a Roman Catholic Church for 1500 years before Protestantism? What are Sacraments doing in Christianity if it is about individuality?

Certainly it makes sense in light of existentialism's emphasis on the individual applied to christianity. This is what I mean when I say that existential prejudices/beliefs are insidious in our society. We're not aware of them even as we express them.

You Wrote:"Who knows? You MAY end up extending the ideas of your essay into a book that WILL have a large impact on mass thinking. That would be very commendable. That would be accompanied by the "expected" book/speaking tour to promote it, with the opportunity to now give talks about the problem."

Believe me, I'd just be happy to be able to say these things out loud and not have 3/4's of the people who hear them think I'm insane. I'd settle for that.

You Wrote:"Engineers are "fixers" by nature. Politicians rarely are because fixing can sometimes require a complete redesign. "

Again, I believe the problem lies with the people, the politicians are just doing their jobs, swapping in new politicians will make little difference.


An Analogy: British Imperialism in India: Why Did Gandhi's Approach Work?

I tried to be thorough in my responses above. To clarify my position that the politicians are irrelevant, it is the culture that must change, I present the following analogy.

Why was Gandhi's nonviolence approach so effective? I suggest to you that the British Public had changed after two world wars and no longer implicitly believed in Imperialism. When the public doesn't believe in something, it doesn't last long.

Why did Winston Churchill oppose India's independence? Was he a bad person? No, he was just from a different time with a different view of imperialism. In the 1800s Imperialism was a source of pride for the British public. By 1950, it was a source of shame, not because India was run any differently, but because the people of Britain had changed. Winston Churchill, one of the greatest speakers of all time, couldn't even slightly change their opinion on this.

I suggest to you, that had Gandhi attempted to do in 1850 what he accomplished in 1950, he would have spent his entire life in jail and no one would have cared. Not because Gandhi wasn't extraordinary, he was, but because in 1850 the people of Britain viewed the world differently than 1950.

So when I say that changing the politicians won't do anything and the real problem lies in how we Americans/Europeans look at the world, I really mean it. The Antiscience is us. Until we reevaluate our values and beliefs, nothing will change because we won't let it change. Just like no matter how extraordinary Gandhi was, the British of the 1850s would have never let India go. They just would not reacted the same way as they did in 1950.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#200
In reply to #194

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 3:30 PM

I do think you are missing my point, still. Maybe not missing, but unwilling to acknowledge that leaders are part of a tandem in change. And they can be the pivotal ingredient (in science and politics). And I don't agree that BOTH are always required. You have a more "trickle-up" perspective, that if the majority of individuals change, the leaders of the future will naturally come from that pool and therefore change has occurred. That can happen, too. It's just not the only way. As you point out that can be VERY slow. Using both means, change is likely to happen more quickly.

Your examples at the end encompass what I am saying. I think we actually agree more than you seem to think, you just weight things differently. Also, you say, that if society isn't at a point to support a radical change it will not last. That may be true in some cases, but in others not.

India's independence came about by BOTH cultural changes AND Ghandi. Ghandi, as a leader, played a crucial role in the shame British citizens felt, by organizing the non-violent protests. It was the British overreaction, especially by violent means, that was shameful. Had Ghandi tried it in the 1850's... we can only speculate. I could speculate that without Luther, Calvin and other leaders, the Reformation could easily have failed. Why did we have a Roman Catholic Church for 1500 years? I would say, bad, selfish, leaders (in the church) and the lack of leaders (until Luther and others came along) to "lead" the masses to change. Read about ANY revolution and there is someone tagged as a "leader"or one of several leaders of that revolution. Without the rebel rousers in Colonies, there would have been no organization to the simmering feelings of discontent.

And of course, this change in British thinking or society did not propagate or migrate to the States. On the contrary, Ghandi inspired MLK. And of course, Ghandi was inspired by Thoreau. The culmination of our struggles with slavery and race was a combination of black leaders speaking out, which helped incite the riots and then finally, Lyndon Johnson pushing the Civil Rights Act through Congress. Make no mistake, it was "pushing" and a following, resentful, adherence to the change in law. That following generations do view race differently resulted from this forced change. All accomplished with Existentially influenced minds.

You simply can't dismiss leaders being important to change. Period. All of the books/authors you list were leaders because they acted. As one hoping to "show" people that they need to recognize the need for change, you will be a leader.

You can put any label you want on the idea that experience is what turns "knowledge" into wisdom -- which is, I agree, a somewhat vague term. But I think most people would say they "know" what that means, and would agree. If you label that Existentialism and also label knowledge verification via experience as a flaw that needs to be corrected, then I do disagree. That is how science works. Our thinking, as a species has had flaws throughout history, under any systematic label you wish to apply.

As to your method: "My remedy is to admit we have a problem. Like alcoholics, except our drug is existentialism. Until we do that, there is nothing will change. I will explain further in a later section of this response." (I will comment further, also.)

Using your analogy of alcoholism, "admission" of a problem is only the first "step." It is PART of the AA paradigm of treating the condition. (It is also a general "truism" within psychological circles.) I'm sure you know AA uses group support/therapy LED by a counselor. (When people work in groups, organization of labor is desired for efficiency of effort. Which is why people in groups have "leaders" emerge. And, suddenly, we're back to the study of children, demonstrating that.) It's part of how humans as a species operate.)

You would say these leaders have to come from a pool where thinking has already changed, for the leaders to provide effective, lasting change. I disagree. I have cited the Civil Rights movement as a case in point. Without the, sometimes, destructive riots in the streets the issue might have lingered for another generation. Arms were twisted by Lyndon Johnson to get the laws (which most Southerners did NOT want) passed. The National Guard helped people "accept" the change. We are an extension of Nature. Nature has had enormous, sudden, cataclysmic changes -- not the slow steady geological changes presupposed by many earlier geologists. And contrary to your argument that this kind of change isn't lasting, so far, in the case of civil rights it hasn't failed.

Back to science for a minute, though. To me it seems that most large shifts in scientific understanding came about because of a few (or solitary in a lot of cases) individuals whose thinking was contrary to their peers. And sometimes, their "ideas" were stubbornly opposed. Were they not leaders? And did they require an accepting "group" (or fertile minds) for the truth of their "ideas" to result in large shifts of vision?

More on your method... Is recognition all that is required? Again, using your analogy of alcoholism, addictions require much more than just a recognition. You are aiming at using your analysis to "convince" people there is a problem -- the steps after recognition. What sorts of followup or therapeutic actions do you recommend to treat the addiction? Recognition is not sufficient. (Not to incite readers, but there is an interesting story about Vitamin B-3 therapy for alcoholism. And before people go into a tirade about it, I know... it's anecdotal.)

Here is how I would describe what you are saying. We have all fallen under the sway of a flawed perspective, labeled Existentialism. You feel that this should be corrected for further progress of humanity. So let's apply some of the concepts of this discussion to the problem as, I think you have framed it. Currently, we have a massively, collective disease of Existentialism, which by your analysis and conclusion, needs to be cured or changed. You are proposing "recognition" of the problem as the primary component of the solution. How does recognition take place? There has to be a "few," who by writing, speaking... acting in some way "get" people to realize the problem, and then also, themselves ACTING to manifest the change. Now, I would submit, that by definition, these "few" (of which you are striving to be) are leaders. You may not be a political leader, but as one who "emerges" out of the group and acts to effect change, you are "leading." I have been suggesting you could also do this as an elected official. Certainly not necessary, but suppose you had a twin who thinks just like you but has an innate burning passion to serve as an elected official. Would you tell him NOT to espouse his views about Existentialism? You would say he probably couldn't get elected in the first place. But almost any reading of history, though, has examples of political leaders who made "unpopular" decisions, both in respect to their peers AND the public, who effected change. I think the Lyndon Johnson example falls in that category. Just because political means don't suit your nature, doesn't mean it isn't an effective means of change. Why did so many young people vote for Obama? The expected change.

It is also relevant to point out that getting people to recognize something as a problem would be facilitated by an understanding or study of human behavior. Even given the advances in neuroscience, we still, to a large degree, are a mystery to ourselves. In your effort to get people to change, you would at some point rely on your "instinctual" understanding or sense of human behavior. To me, that means from your experience. (Not all knowledge gained from experience leads to bad results.)

As I have said, I think we've beaten this horse enough. I think AND feel you are being TOO cerebral about the human condition. Human behavior is probably governed more by feelings than thinking. Crimes of "passion" are a stark example. Is Greed just a thought process, or is it more a "feeling" -- the "desire" to have something. People don't seek wealth because it appeals to philosophical analysis. Wealth and power are desired because they can lead to further indulgence in sense pleasures, not freeing oneself for contemplation of the Universe.

You see this as honing your debating points for being able to convince others to get to the recognition you think is needed. My Existential mind (from my experience, that is -- and I don't mean this as cynically as it sounds) thinks you will do better in your pursuit to change minds, by distilling your arguments to a shorter version. Most people don't want (or need) the formal deductive case you lay out. And you have to explain the better way to think. You leave it to readers to assume it to be the ceasing of Existential thinking to a large degree in your essay. You may think it obvious, but remember, you won't be dealing with scientific minds, for the most part. At least not scientific minds unsullied by Existential influences. (Dang, if we could just get more of the "cured" in government, you might not find such a deaf ear.) I would cite myself as an example. I consider myself reasonably intelligent (infected, though my thinking is). And look at the difficulty you are having convincing me that leaders aren't important. So be prepared. Again, I think Socrates observation (as written by Plato -- sorry for the repeated link from an earlier post) about the masses is astute. Leaders are necessary and do emerge naturally.

We could have a never ending, pedantic, discussion/debate about the definition of the root cause a decrease in astronomical funding (as an instance). What if it isn't so complex. We found funds to get to the moon in the '60's. It could be simple. As in, our leaders put us in such debt and a therefore a lot of scientific research budgets are suffering -- not just astronomical research. And in the end, that means leaders are VERY important.

In the end, what we post here will have very little effect on the problem, as you see it. I am very content to not prolong this discussion. We both keep making (or at least trying) the same points over and over. And I don't want to succumb to the popular definition of "insane." -- You did mention insane in your post. And if you aren't willing being thought of as insane by espousing your views, stop now. Your statement about that is an observation that society is not ready yet for you to lead them to this recognition. Our "debate" is like Exhibit "A" supporting my guess that you've got a tough task in your endeavor.

You want to improve on your Antiscience presentation and "convincing" skills. I have offered my brief suggestions. But you can also invite posters to shift to that topic? Although, the original threads -- The Antiscience Parts I and II, should have provided that already. Maybe a thread "Poll." But most likely, you should have plenty of feedback to take the next STEP.

(To all: Please forgive typos, extra/missing words. In such a long post I always find errors after submitting that I didn't see in my proof-reading.)

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#203
In reply to #200

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 6:05 PM

We're at an impasse. Let's just agree to disagree. I appreciate your patience and discussion. I disagree with just about everything you said in your last post, but these things happen.

You seem intelligent and articulate and it serves you well.

Thank you for the discussion,
Roger

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#204
In reply to #203

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 7:41 PM

Likewise.

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#274
In reply to #200

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/09/2011 6:53 PM

And you have to explain the better way to think. You leave it to readers to assume it to be the ceasing of Existential thinking to a large degree in your essay. You may think it obvious, but remember, you won't be dealing with scientific minds, for the most part. At least not scientific minds unsullied by Existential influences.

A related difficulty is that many scientific minds demand more that an cursory treatment of a topic such as existentialism, and scientific minds see a great many influences that can only be very loosely grouped under some much broader term like postmodern, (rather than attributed to one philosophical trend of that age). There exist summaries that make a better case for several postmodern trends (and traditionalist trends that are reactions to postmodernism... but which occur in postmodern times) being antiscientific in combination than roger makes for existentialism being the single big contributor.

Existentialism is often said to have peaked in the late 1960's or the 1970's. We had loads of scientific funding back at the peak of existentialism. On the face of it, that seems to refute Roger's basic argument. So to make the case, he would have to provide far more real data and more insight. The religious right has gained great political influence since that time, and "creation science", etc surfaced or resurfaced (mainly) since that time. So those influences are hard to ignore if one is to be taken seriously.

So, yes, he would need to provide a better way to think, but he would first have to make the case that existentialism is the cause of antiscience.

Roger seems to treat people with fundamentalist beliefs (although he doesn't define what he means by fundamentalist) as being problematic. But 66% of American people believe that creation occurred essentially as described in the bible (and that humans have been around for less than 10,000 years). That view is fundamentalist, in the sense that Christian fundamentalists believe in:

  • the inerrancy of the Bible
  • The literal nature of the Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ's miracles, and the Creation account in Genesis.

Although Roger claims to be able to have beliefs that contradict science by keeping beliefs and science in separate "boxes", many (most?) people cannot do that. So a creationist is not likely to support a lot of science, because so much of it contradicts the Bible's stories.

But in any case, there are many forces at work that have led to reduced science funding and antiscientific thinking (and many that have led to pseudoscientific thinking). Perhaps one could make the case that existentialism is the central force behind these many factors, but Roger did not do that.

In his conclusion, he says that "Existentialism is a wonderful philosophy that promotes values and lessons beneficial for those who take the time to learn it." (So much for the intellectualism and esoteric, nuanced presentation he advertises in his blog intro.) He eventually writes: "only when we start to reject the tenets of existentialism in their most extreme forms, only then can we stop the Antiscience." Perhaps, had he defined each of these tenets in their extreme form, and directly showed how rejecting each would reduce antiscientific beliefs, then he might have an argument worth talking about.

Existentialism rose. Science funding rose.

Existentialism fell. Science funding fell.

It would require a much more thorough, scientific, thoughtful treatment to convince many people that existentialism is "The Antiscience".

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#276
In reply to #274

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/09/2011 9:58 PM

GA from me. I think a good summary. I agree that adopting "science" in opposition to "existentialism" seems to limit ones view of our existence in this massive, beautiful and, ultimately, mysterious universe. Science is a wonderful tool to probe into the unknown and to put those findings into a coherent and consistent system, but not all things in our universe can be quantified and put in its appropriate hole. Experiences like love and relationships defy known quantities, but almost everybody would feel like something was missing if that was not in our life. We are defined by our relationships, both to other people and the world around us. I admire Roger's steadfast approach to envisioning the world through a purely rationale eye, but I think that it is ultimately a kind of faith, for the stuff we know about our universe ultimately pales compared to what we don't know.

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#277
In reply to #276

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/09/2011 10:35 PM

Roger envisions the world through, "His", rational eye. He is persistent, but, "Anti", can be thrown behind anything.

I like bridges...............they are falling apart...............not enough funding..............badda bing badda boom..........The Anti Infrastructure Strikes Again.

Why do they hate bridges, don't they know we need them? They are stupid!!!!

Follow up with a convoluted diatribe about how people came to hate bridges. Yawn.

No offense intended Roger. Just sayin'

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#282
In reply to #277

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 10:00 AM

Beautiful.

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#215
In reply to #194

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 12:52 PM

Movie about invading Canada.

Done.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109370/

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#216
In reply to #215

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 1:18 PM

I've seen every John Candy movie. One of the most underrated comedians of all time in my opinion. He's the king of supporting acting comedians. Look at his resume:

Plains, Trains, and Automobiles
Brewster's Millions
Spaceballs
Canadian Bacon
1941
Stripes

Just awesome. Died way too young.

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#192
In reply to #189

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 8:15 PM

Ok, not sure I understand the whole abstraction rant. It seems that we have expanded the abstractions in our society since WWII, especially since you consider the valuation of money and everything in economics is an abstraction, as are all political classifications (which have propigated since WWII to a greater level), and most everything on the internet. We now create conceptual classifications and categories for everything in mutliple layers. The concept of a Terrorist is an abstraction that came about after WWII. Maybe abstraction are a problem, consider that we spend more time in our media creating abstraction than just looking at individuals and things as what they really are completely. We group some people and things (or even abstract concepts) in some categories as good other as bad, but then forget all the other characteristics that may not be good. I am not sure I have ever heard anyone complain about using abstractions except when they are applied in a manner that they feel could marginalize them, their income, or their resources. Hmm, even income and resources are abstractions.

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#154
In reply to #150

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

05/31/2011 6:49 PM

Plus, I meant it to have the double meaning of "RUN, Roger, RUN!!.. in the other direction.

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#163
In reply to #154

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/01/2011 6:41 AM

Yes, I know.

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#160

Anti-science solution

06/01/2011 1:44 AM

Where to start? As a member of the American Public I feel qualified to respond to certain things touched on by the OP. Is science under attack? Of course it is. Many persons have suspicions about science (for the purpose of this discussion I am lumping together the different fields of study, disciplines and scientists as a single entity called SCIENCE). Referring to the historical record, one can find with the most cursory of research many benefits brought to mankind by science; the germ theory of disease, vaccinations, relief from pain, an improved Diet, corrective eye surgery, plastics, speedy travel, near instantaneous communication, safe& productive workplaces and comfortable homes. On the other hand, science has brought us nuclear weapons, many forms of pollution to our environment, constant monitoring& loss of privacy, wars fought on an industrial scale and the Shakeweight. It only takes one "aw, S**T" to wipe out a bunch of "At a Boys". In addition, many believe, among other things, that: vaccinations cause autism, using aluminum pots leads to Alzheimer's, cell phones cause brain tumors, the theory of evolution is not valid, any gene research or cloning will lead to a Frankenstein- like abomination and numerous other disproved notions. For whatever reason many will ignore or discount information from scientists, possibly because they feel the scientists have a vested interest in supporting the views that are financially beneficial to their corporate sponsors. I say, "F**k 'em", a lot of them are the same boneheads who believe in ghosts, spirit mediums, suppressed carburetors that run on water, over unity machines and A reasonable and prudent person is going to get nowhere fast when debating these dolts about their primitive, superstitious beliefs. Instead turn their intellectual disability into tool to further a beneficial goal. If these zipperheads believe in aliens, fine. All one has to do is to convince the dullards that the aliens are not the cute, adorable ones from "E.T." and "Alf", but are in actuality, are the terra-speciecidal, anal-probing, collective bargaining, monsters from "Alien", "Predator"& "Independence Day", intent on invading Earth to collect specimens for their inter-galactic zoo and to steal our women for their depraved, twisted amusement at the pleasure spaceport they are right now constructing on the asteroids of Rigel 6. Are we going to sit back and wait for these alien invaders to arrive on our planet, building up their strength so as we will be fighting them in our cities, in our neighborhoods in our schools and our bowling alleys. I think not. Did our forefathers wait for the Canadians to attack us in 1812? No, we invaded and proceeded to burn Toronto. Did we wait for the Mexicans to overrun us in 1846? No way, Jose, we invaded and sacked Vera Cruz, thereby keeping America free of Mexicans ever since. Did we wait for the Vietnamese to invade us in 1963? No siree, we went over there and,,,uh, um,, never mind. But it is essential we take the fight directly to their hives. In the past when scientist wanted to do some cool sciencey stuff they hitchhiked their desires on the back of a military program. When Werner von Scientist wanted to fly rockets to the stars, he might of let it slip out while palavering with JFK in the Rose Garden, that he had heard that the Soviets were building a missile base on the dark side of the moon. Faster than you can say, "Waste anything but time, we have to beat the Russkies to the moon", the space program was awash in funds. So if your interest is in advancing astronomy, the hot real estate for parking your gamma detectors, x-ray telescopes, neutrino sniffers, what have ya, are the La Grange points, geo-synchronous, outside the plane of the elliptic (cuz unlike movie aliens, real aliens can move in at least three axis and are capable of swooping in on any tangent) and also behind the moon so as to put mass shielding between outward looking detectors and earth. This brings to another point. Back in the day, we had hardware with some throw-weight, the Saturn 5 for example. It wasn't stuck floundering around just above the atmosphere, it flung some serious mass out to the moon and back. What have we been stuck with for the last 3 decades? The international space station, the shuttles, Skylab, all them wheezing along at few hundred miles altitude, for crying out loud, no wonder no one gives a damn. The shuttle can't even get out of earth orbit. Going from the Saturn 5 capability to the shuttle, is analogous to introducing the Boeing 707, flying it to points around the world for a few years, whetting everyone's appetite for the next progression, the SST, then sayin', never mind, we're going to cancel the SST, but we are going to remove most of the 707's wings and have it wallow around in ground effect on the taxiways. One step for man, three steps back for interest and excitement. We shouldn't have stepped back from project Orion; projected 8,000-ton throw weight! If we hadn't dropped the ball, we would be colonizing mars and exploring the asteroid belt now. I believe we are suffering from a smallness of vision, we need to look to the near past for inspiration when we had big, capable rockets and Captain Kirk, exploring the galaxies, protecting the Federation, always vigilant in his search for sexy, alien babes to hook up willing to go where no man has gone before, if you know what I mean. Let us return to those glorious days. Thank you

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#161
In reply to #160

Re: Anti-science solution

06/01/2011 1:57 AM

Can we call you "Eric Blair"?

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#164
In reply to #160

Re: Anti-science solution

06/01/2011 7:46 AM

Dear Mr. packrat561

I found your rant quite amusing.

Just wish to add a correction to where you say "always vigilant in his search for sexy, alian babes to hook up to willing to go where no man has been before"

Sorry old bean but if you had ever worked in Africa you would have written "to bravely go where most men have been before you"

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#165
In reply to #160

Re: Anti-science solution

06/01/2011 9:22 AM

Epic & strangely on topic

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#166
In reply to #160

Re: Anti-science solution

06/01/2011 9:33 AM

I do believe "collective bargaining aliens" might scare the hell out of everyone.

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#171
In reply to #160

Re: Anti-science solution

06/01/2011 11:22 AM

Of course you are talking about balancing the cost of studying Xrays at the edge of the universe (or the potential for ETs on a moon of Jupiter) against starving children adn old peoples retirements. So my question is how much do you think retirees would be willing to accept in their loss of retirement to fund this, or how many dead children? This is always what you have to consider as the competition for funds, immediate highly emotional and frequently self serving needs of individuals against some potential distant long term public good that in truth may not be all that beneficial to mankind ( or at least has no substantial perceived benefit for at least a few generations). Kill some babies today and make a huge leap in scientific knowledge in 200 years may not be the best approach to marketing scientific endeavors to receive public funding. Even worse would be talk more of some union retirement fund to make a huge leap in scientific knowledge in 200 years. Afterall it is a democratic republic, the representatives have to be responsible to the most influential constituency. Now if you could tell people that you could regenerate their joints within the next 10 years, get rid of cancer, or make them look 25 you would have a huge seller, especially with the public aging.

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#233
In reply to #160

Re: Anti-science solution

06/06/2011 2:11 PM

Is there a kitty to contribute to so pakrat561 can buy a new keyboard with a working "Enter" key?

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#234
In reply to #233

Re: Anti-science solution

06/06/2011 2:28 PM

Thank you for your concern.

I apologize for the difficult to read post.

Since posting it , that nice young man , Garthhh, explained to me how to make a

paragraph.

There is no stopping me now.

Signed,

ratboy

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#236
In reply to #233

Re: Anti-science solution

06/06/2011 3:29 PM

Shall we move on to RCE then?

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#190

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/02/2011 6:45 PM

You can also put it this way:

Was the crisis (or what we want it to be named) written in the stars? If yes, why we couldn't anticipate on it? Or did we and actions were not taken? Did astronomers not tell? Did others not listen? Or was there not enough funding to find it out?

Or is this just a funny or tragic remark? No offense meant. Maybe we need more regulating economic science? A different cut of the pie, if a pie is still affordable.

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#195

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 12:07 AM

Hey Roger,

First of all, I'd like to commend you for posting this on the open forum. It's good reading, and I've enjoyed the posts........................all of them.

Well, I haven't read every one, but I'm glad to see them standing.

One thing occurred to me today, and I don't know if it's been mentioned. That is the military industrial complex.

I haven't delved into it, but aren't the major defense contractors, pseudo government entities?

My line of thinking here, is that I believe that these contractors may have been deemed, "too big to fail", long before GM, the banks, or anything else that hits the news.

What do you think? Am I on the right track? Is the so called private defense industry sucking billions of dollars from the coffers that should be used to fund pure science?

Truce?

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#196
In reply to #195

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 12:38 AM

For certain the defense contractors were the first "too big to fail" (just look at Boeing through the years).

Here's my opinion...The defense contractor system is a means of having at least some competition while having a measure of reliability/dependability. The alternatives to the current contractor system seems to be:

1. Create a government branch that does what they do. This would be terribly inefficient compared to what the contractors do.

2. Allow a purely free market approach for the contractors. This potentially could be disastrous. Lets face it, if we actually did this our tomahawk missiles would be made in China. Not good for national security.

So I think the military industrial complex found a middle ground of Pseudo-competition or as you put it pseudo-government entities.

The unfortunate side effect seems to be that the government must create a continuous demand in order to keep these companies in business which means going to war, a lot. Or at least that's the theory behind a Military Industrial Complex which seems to be true.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for defense spending, and I'm especially in favor of spending lots of money on developing a defensive missile shield (if China or Russia announced tomorrow that they had a fully functioning missile shield, and we didn't, we would basically be at their mercy). But the wars are getting out of hand. We are currently engaged in three separate military engagements. That is not acceptable.

I don't pretend to know the solution, but one thing I would like to stop doing is hiring independent contractors (mercenaries) like Blackwater...hang on, I'm hearing a chopper overhead and now my windows are breaking, whala..f..aad.sfm. ,sd dslfasjf

BLACK WATER IS AWESOME AND IS DOING A GREAT JOB.

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#197
In reply to #195

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 12:42 AM

Actually, now that I think on it, what we now have with the banks is essentially a Federal Reserve Industrial Complex. The Federal Reserve is constantly keeping interest rates artificially low in order to keep the Banks in business. Except instead or never ending wars we get never ending inflation.

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#198
In reply to #197

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 7:17 AM

Yep, the federal reserve is a joke.

There really is no good answer for what to do with the defense contractors. A missile defense shield is a good thing. Having one contractor is no good, we need more than one.

It's a tremendous amount of money though..........lots of civilians with top secret clearances, working on weapons projects that we may or may not need.

I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask the countries that have come to depend on the US military for their defense to start helping to defray some of the bills.

It sounds like protection money......................and I guess it is, but defending the entire planet from the bad guys, and financing it ourselves, is just another thing we can no longer afford to do.

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#199
In reply to #198

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 8:57 AM

I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask the countries that have come to depend on the US military for their defense to start helping to defray some of the bills.
I think we have one of those it's called the UN, which we pay the lions share of the bills

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#201
In reply to #199

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 5:00 PM

I assume you're being sarcastic. The American taxpayer has been paying for a lot of things, here, and around the globe for quite some time. Now that we're having to borrow money to continue, it's becoming apparent that things are going to have to change.

I'm just keeping my little toe in this thread, because for once, (and it may be the only time), I tend to agree with Roger "lightning rod" Pink.

As much money as we squander, science funding shouldn't be one of the first things to come up for cuts................not saying it won't happen, it has. It is a shame that the people that we've elected have brought us to this point.

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#232
In reply to #201

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/06/2011 12:00 PM

It is a simple issue, apparently immediately tangible results, or long-term deferred and intangible results. The funding people need to see something that benefits their connstituents within about 2 terms (less than 1 term would be even better). It is a question of marketing. Science is a very broad term amongst the general public and even some "scientists". So the idea of funding scientific endeavors becomes convoluted with all these different perspectives on what constitutes science and what should just be funded. A scientific endeavor is like any other when it comes to funding by the general public. They have the same responsibility to the general public to define a result that can be attained in a reasonable amount of time that will benefit the constituence paying the bills. All too often the public has seen "scientific" research that was absurd and funded by the US government, with no tangible results identified. There needs to be a bit of marketing on the part of the hard sciences where beneficial results are likely, and some effort to define the results people will see. This would generate the support needed. Additionally, they need to segregate themselves away from the soft sciences that don't generate the hard results people can depend on with the highest level of confidence, so they dont get dragged into the muck and haze. Not every project that claims to be scientific research is worth funding, but how do the people tasked with funding the projects know this? Afterall, everyone associated with every research project obviously believes theirs is highly valuable. So how are the decision-makers supposed to know what to fund, as half the government agencies are involved in "scientific" research. Some agencies just have a better track record in the past 25 years for developing and publicizing more publicly perceived tangible results from their research (or of publicly perceived higher benefit), with fewer highly publicized disasters costing billions. If those responsible for funding don't understand what they are doing, then ythey look to fund those agencies that have had apparent results that benefit their constituents (hopefully before the end of their term), and who have a good track record for performance (this differs from social endeavors as those are entitlements or luxuries depending on perspective that a significant or influential portion of the constituents believe they can realize at some point in the near future ).

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#205

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/03/2011 11:25 PM

Okay, I unsubscribed for awhile, mainly due to all the wordy posts about existentialism, made my head hurt, wasn't sure what it meant, looked it up on Wiki, had read none of the writers except Camus, which fits as he was included in the category as an ''absurdist'', right up my alley.

As far as this existintchelbimblism, seriously, we were discussing SPACE BASED ASTRONOMY, enough already.

I have just been made aware of a threat to our American way of life. From space. C'mon feed me Mandrake , the redcoats are coming. It may not be too late.

link:-----http://www.ironsky.net/site/film/about/

Speaking of books, have you read'' Is God a Mathematician?''?

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#206
In reply to #205

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 12:19 AM

I haven't read Is God a Mathematician but I have read The Golden Ratio: the story of PHI by the same author. Mario Livio is a good writer so the book went quickly. I read the back cover and it sounds like it would be an interesting read. It's probably worth the read more for the history of mathematics than it is for the philosophical question being presented (is mathematics an inherent property of the universe or is it a construct of man to comprehend the universe).

Did you like it? Is it worth a read?

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#207
In reply to #206

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 12:56 AM

Yes I liked it, Even though my math abilities are limited, I found it a good read, as you said, more for the history.

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#223

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 2:36 PM

When I was a kid there was at least one corporation that conducted research that was not required to produce an immediate payback to the public or shareholders.

Bell labs. These scientists made some discoveries that lead eventually to the creation of radio astronomy.

Business and society have changed since then, I don't know if the current outlook of American citizens and business, would allow for such indulgences.

I feel that the contraction of the American space program, is analogous to the Chinese rulers of the 16th (?) century turning their back on world exploration and commerce. This insular path would seem to lead to loss of innovation in the long run.

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#226
In reply to #223

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 3:09 PM

These scientists made some discoveries that lead eventually to the creation of radio astronomy.

Accidents happen

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#227
In reply to #226

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/04/2011 4:19 PM

you say, ta-maughto,

I say, toe-ma-toe,

you say, accident

I say, serendipitous.

Let's call the whole thing off.

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#235
In reply to #223

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/06/2011 3:01 PM

Actually, many discoveries at Bells Labs did have direct and fairly immediate returns for the American public. This in part is why AT&T thought it could be spun off into a private company, a little over a decade ago, to make a profit. the p[roblem was that Bells labs could not generate the finaical resources on its own, as the costs were accrued during the research stage, but the returns were too far in the future to maintain that model under the business climate of immediate returns. There is also a cost of financing to consider when you look at thing paid for now with returns in the future. Under AT&T Bell Labs could be financed in house, and thus there was not real financing cost to the company except money that was tied up and unavailable for other more immediately lucrative ventures. I think part of the problem is that now in a world where technology appears to continuously change rapidly, the expectations are for investments in technologies to have similar rapid returns. There was a time when an investment now might not see any real returns for a couple of generations through one family. Significant technological advancements occurred over a century or more. Th rate of advancement ahs been accelerated, thus the returns on investments in such things are expected to be rapid also. Knowing this about the investing public, should drive towards better marketing programs to get stronger investor support (in this case the american public).

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#237

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/06/2011 9:19 PM

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110606/us_yblog_thelookout/armchair-astronaut-mars-video-goes-viral

Now that there is a causa belli, it is the time to proceed with all due haste. Yes, the aliens lodgement is small, but if we do not act now to initiate a program of developing and deploying inter-planetary capable vehicles, there is a very real possibility of these monsters creating an insurmountable Mars habitat gap.

I know that I do not have to tell you that the next thing that would follow , is that the aliens would rain kinetic weapons down upon us. Then the aliens would swoop in and deploy community organizers, teaching the citizens of earth to look to their governments for help, thereby sapping our essence, after that, earth people would have no resistance to any socialistic idea the Dem,,, whoops, sorry, aliens present.

Our course of action is clear, we must act now in a united front to defeat these aliens.

Obviously, after conquering this threat, we will need astronomical observatories on Mars to continue our vigilance against the possibility of another alien orchestrated Pearl Harbor.

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#238
In reply to #237

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/06/2011 9:25 PM

Packrat561, you're right, we must act quickly if we are going to stop this alien threat. I think 100 million in funding for NSF and NASA ought to be a good start.

(Sadly this is the approach that probably has the best chance of getting science funded)

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#239
In reply to #238

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/06/2011 9:29 PM

;)

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#240
In reply to #238

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/06/2011 10:46 PM

I think the aliens are already here

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#254

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 7:07 PM

Unsubscribing. This isn't a debate it's just insults and personal attacks. What's the point? CR4 is becoming disgusting.

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#261
In reply to #254

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/08/2011 11:37 PM

Staying Subscribed

I always find it interesting when someone feels the need to throw a general insult out, while complaining about personal attacks

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#284

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 2:33 PM

A few examples of where the science funding is going.

http://www.dirtyspendingsecrets.com/

Sorry for the antiliberal slant. I'm sure plenty of this stuff applies to all of them.

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#285
In reply to #284

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 2:43 PM

Of course the study on college females drinking and sexual promiscuity could be construed as a scientific study under some peoples definitions of science. It appears thought that you just have to market a project/study to the government properly. A good thing to find out would be what was the promised beenfits to be gained from such investments?

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#287
In reply to #285

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 3:34 PM

Um, I think the benefits of finding out at what point college girls become promiscuous while drinking is fairly obvious. At least to me.

It's things like this, that the government has no business spending money on, and the untold billions wasted on who knows what, that incline me, if not to totally agree with roger, to at least understand where he's coming from.

I wish we could get our hands on a list of every single one of these, "little", hidden expenditures that they spend our money on.

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#288
In reply to #287

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 4:22 PM

Hmm, I guessing can not see the various perceived benefits to public health, psychology, human behavioral stuff. Just the legal concepts of date rape and conscious decision-making can be connected back to the findings of such studies. In turn this could have a more immediate impact on society and by extension humanity. If sold correctly they could easily demonstrate some benefits from such a study, to women's health, the law, etc.. So then the thing with pure science, physics and chemistry, is to show tangible (or perceived as tangible) benefits.

The value of those "wasted" $ may not be apparent to you, but to some people investment in breast cancer research is also not apparent, but their is a large influential sector of the population that think it is paramount to the continued existence of society that we end breast cancer as a threat to them.

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#289
In reply to #288

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 5:06 PM

That's where we differ. Cancer research and drunk coeds have nothing in common.

The government has no business in how we behave. If we decide to break the law, we can go to jail. People need to be responsible and accountable for themselves. This entire concept is being lost unfortunately, even with the morons we vote for, as has been so aptly demonstrated with this Weiner mess...............and every other one of them that gets caught with their pants down.

Is this truly the government that you trust to do studies on human behavior and how we act, followed by enacting laws to make sure we comply. That's sad.

I'll look out for myself, thanks. When my daughter gets to college, she will understand that if she gets drunk, there's a good chance that someone is going to try to take advantage of her. Why? Because I will explain it to her and she will have respect for herself and her body. This stuff is basic, I don't require the government's help with any of it.

Jeez, how did our grandparents possibly make it.

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#290
In reply to #289

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 5:23 PM

The research can play a role in determinations to what state is sex consentual and when it is not. It could also be utilized in determining the increased risk for STDs. It might be used in teaching people about at risk behaviors, which in turn can be demonstrated to reduce associated health costs to society. It is really about perspective and who it impacts, breast cancer was just an obvious choice because it is really only a minority of society, but they are extremely militant about it and very well marketed. There are far wose things than breast cancer that can not be mitigated as easily with so little impact to the capabilities of the people affected that receive far less attention or care. The priority far outweighs the actual impact.

BTW as of Wednesday over 50% of the constituency oof that Weiner guy were in favor of him remaining in congress, so his whole mess apparently hasn't dissuadesd his constituents, which is the only people he is really supposed to be concerned with.

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#291
In reply to #290

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 6:53 PM

RCE I will be happy to carry this on when I get back. I'm off on vacation for a week, and I didn't want you to think I was rude.

That little fish under my avatar represents something of true import to me. I will spend the next week tempting and teasing a variety of species onto my hook.........................hopefully.

Take care of yourself, fight the good fight, and I will be back a week from Sunday.

Be good everybody!

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#292
In reply to #290

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 10:04 PM

Weiner rolled the dice & hoped it would go away

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#293
In reply to #292

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/10/2011 11:47 PM

Speaking of not that, but 'payback' out of investment going to new funding.

Did/does anyone else notice the first thing "scientists" do on making a new discovery, is form a company to exploit the resultant advance.

Oddly most of these discoveries are the result of university funding and industry research grants.

So the question is why would you invest in science, when (though it's good PR & a tax deduction), anything good out of it simply starts up new competitors and/or dilutes potential equity?

Maybe it's not the "Science" that's the poor investment - but the "scientists" and their 'value system'.

Recent example; New Battery Design Could Give Electric Vehicles a Jolt

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#294
In reply to #293

Re: The Antiscience Strikes Again!

06/11/2011 8:18 AM

here is some flow technology from your neck of the woods

http://www.redflow.com.au/

there isn't really a good model for the funding of what is best described as speculative research is there?

Because developing new technology is expensive & speculative, it makes sense to encourage such ventures on better terms than Venture capitolists [VC's] offer

if there are low/no interest loans or grants there should be a retained interest

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