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More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 3:14 PM

The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a planned infrared space observatory designed to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. It is designed to observe further than any telescope that exists today. It could potentially detect objects 100x fainter (launched over 20 years ago now) than Hubble and could see details 3x finer. The JWST will be a technological accomplishment that greatly increase our understanding of the Universe.

Congress wants to terminate the telescope because it is significantly over budget. I think a more rational approach would be to fire the current management rather than setting back astrophysics 10-20 years to save 1-2 billion a year. We've already made this mistake before, in 1994 when we canceled the SSC and set particle physics back 20 years (till the LHC came online).

Here is an article talking about the cut.

The Antiscience

I continue to hear about how there is no Antiscience sentiment in this country, but actions speak louder than words. How can we rationalize setting Astrophysics back at least a decade to save 1-2 billion dollars? Where is the sense in that? I understand it's over budget, but we are talking about the cutting edge of technology, you can't budget that perfectly, plus, if you want accountability, doesn't it make more sense to punish the management, not the science?

Two billion dollars represents 0.15% of the 1.3 trillion the U.S. will be in the red for 2011. If I said to you "We can knock off 0.15% off of the deficit next year but it will set heart attack research back 10 years", most people would say "that's crazy and we shouldn't do it". Hell, if I said "We can knock 5% off the deficit next year but it will set cancer research back a decade to twenty years", most would say "no way".

Yet almost 20 years ago we set back particle physics for 20 years to save a billion dollars, which did absolutely nothing over the long term except set back science. It did us no good for the long term because science spending isn't the problem, and everyone knows it, but politicians understand that people don't object to science cuts anymore. Now congress wants to do the same thing to Astrophysics.

I ask you, how can we say with a straight face that there is no antiscience sentiment in the U.S.? How many irrationally damaging actions against science must be taken before we admit it? Where but in a world where people have lost all respect for the sciences do these decisions make sense? How can we pretend to be outraged about our students ranking so low in math and science when we won't fund even the most important basic scientific projects? Do you think China would cancel a project like this?

What is going to happen to the U.S. if it continues to turn it's back on science?

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#1

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 3:31 PM

Roger,

I think this is more a case of incompetent national leaders (politicians putting reelection ahead of the nation's interests) than anti-science. And if the politicians reflect the general public, I would say it's more the public's apathy toward science or not being pro-science than being anti-science.

What is going to happen to the U.S. if it continues to turn it's back on science?

I would say the future for the U.S. would not be desirable.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 3:47 PM

You Wrote:"And if the politicians reflect the general public, I would say it's more the public's apathy toward science or not being pro-science than being anti-science."

I would argue the antiscience, at least in the U.S., is a sentiment that is more than apathy but less then open hostility. Sort of a passive contempt, derision, or aversion. The derogatory term "Ivory Tower" thrown about so often seems evidence it's more than apathy to me.

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 5:53 PM

Okay, fair enough.

I just haven't run into anyone who speaks out against science directly. Their actions may indirectly have an impact on funding science projects and research. I have yet to hear or read where someone comes out and says, "Let's eliminate science curriculum from the schools, we need to do away with science, non-science...good, science...bad".

I do, however, run across many adults and kids who are ignorant of what science has brought to our society and therefore do not appreciate the difficulty and significance of the field.

Perhaps if scientist and those of us closely related to science were more pure then we would not be the object of of society's contempt. Evil scientist are portrayed on movies and TV. Many in the field falsifying research. Granted there are probably an order of magnitude more that do not....but that group doesn't make the news.

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:23 PM

You Wrote:"I just haven't run into anyone who speaks out against science directly."

I have, though they are a minority. The majority seems to lean more towards disdain.

You Wrote:"Many in the field falsifying research."

That's an interesting statement. You used the word "many". Rather than jump on that I'm instead going to ask you what you mean by "many". My interactions with scientists have rarely left me feeling they were of low moral character. Have you had different experiences or is there a particular example you have in mind when you speak of falsifying research.

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#24
In reply to #8

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 7:37 AM

Poor choice of words on my part. I did not use "many" to imply "most", but perhaps it comes across that way. My next statement even says that perhaps an order of magnitude do falsify results implying those who do are in the minority.

Yes, I have seen engineers falsify results while thinking it was for the betterment of the issue. Maybe they were right, but that's not the point. Examples that come to mind are:

  • Ancel Keyes selecting countries which he knew in advance would support his hypothesis on fat, heart disease and cholesterol in the 'Seven Countries Study'. He chose Japan, Crete, USA, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Netherlands and Finland. If he had randomly chosen countries or selected France and Switzerland the study would have shown no correlation.
  • Discovery of UEA manipulating raw climate research data. While not unusual in processing data, not keeping the original data and not being transparent about the process is unprofessional and misleading.

I'm not saying those instances justify the public's disdain (as you put it) for the science community.....but it doesn't help. Perhaps scientists have been brought down to the level of average citizens in the public eye. No longer viewed as being pure in their goal to discover and explain the world around us (I'm not sure they were ever viewed this way).

By the way, if there was such a huge anti-science mentality, would CSI, CSI-Miami, CSI-NY be so popular and have spawned other crime/science shows like Bones, Fringe, and NCIS?

Both incidents do not justify

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#27
In reply to #24

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:37 AM

Certainly, as with all professions, there exist a few unscrupulous characters in science. I'm glad you didn't mean "many" and perhaps meant "a few". I would argue you could say that about all professions, from politicians to medical doctors to priests to people who run charities. In other words, it's impossible for any profession not to have a few unscrupulous characters as long as it's a profession consisting of human beings.

The fact that you listed 5 forensic shows as evidence people don't have a disdain for science seems like a stretch to me. I would think things such as funding, graduation rates in science and math, general polls regarding scientific issues such as evolution and global warming, etc. would be better indicators. I tried watching Fringe once. There were so many holes in the science they were supposedly talking about it was essentially jibberish. I had to turn it off.

But since were talking about shows, I'll point to Big Bang Theory, which though funny, characterizes Physicists as nerdy, essentially mentally challenged (in terms of Sheldon) caricatures. The theme is essentially "lovable misfits".

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#29
In reply to #27

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:45 AM

Graduation Rates Facts anyone?

Milo

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:53 AM

What's disturbing is that many of the graduates with masters and Ph.D.s in physics and chemistry are from other countries, which would be fine if they stayed here (that's the american way, stronger through immigration), but a lot of them are going home now afterwards. Sometimes because we are throwing them out. It's madness.

I was told by my academic "advisors" on my way to my degree in Physics three different times that there were no jobs in Physics or that I should consider other majors. Once by my Physics advisor! I've had a job continuously since I graduated and their are opportunities everywhere for Physicists. When I say the Antiscience is all of us, I'm talking to my fellow Physicists and Chemists, etc. too.

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#54
In reply to #27

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 9:56 PM

I did not mean "many" and I don't know if it's a "few"...i hope so. However, those few tend to grab the headlines. As in other areas, what makes the news is sometimes viewed as the norm when in fact it can be far from it.

I do not disagree with you that the same statement could be said of all professions. But peoples impression of any profession tends to be formed by their exposure to it whether via printed news, TV news, TV entertainment, movies, or personal experience.

The fact that you listed 5 forensic shows as evidence people don't have a disdain for science seems like a stretch to me.

I don't think it's a stretch at all nor do i think the accuracy of the science in the shows makes much difference either. If the general public likes the shows, then it doesn't seem to me to be a stretch to say the do not have a disdain for science and it matters not whether they understand the science or even know if the science is accurate.

The other things you mention (funding, graduation rates, general polls, etc) may be indicators, but not necessarily of disdain, but lack of understanding (ignorance - whether refusing to learn or not being taught). Someone may like science and enjoy it, but be clueless how their vote (locally and federally) affects it...or how they can support it by doing something as simple as volunteering at their local school.

I enjoy watching Fringe despite the science (or bad science). I enjoy the quirky characters and odd plots, but mostly find Anna Torv really hot!!!!

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#60
In reply to #54

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:12 PM

Fair enough. I do maintain that there exists a bias against abstraction as a result of existentialism run amok. Science is being distrustfully viewed as on of these abstractions, but I don't expect everyone to agree with me. It would be crazy if they did since it's something I've essentially put forth myself.

Disdain may be a strong word. Aversion with a sprinkling of distrust? I don't know.

My beef is with my fellow scientists anyway. I'd like to see their existential prejudices fixed first before I worry about the regular public. If we scientists can't love ourselves...

You Wrote:"but mostly find Anna Torv really hot!!!!"

Finally something we can agree on!

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#62
In reply to #60

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:18 PM

Actually, I agree with you on a lot more than Anna.....although it may not seem that way.

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:35 PM

I know. I don't want people to agree with me all the time. That would be boring (and ultimately lead to some sort of disaster ). I'll even go so far as to say I'm sorry I'm so stubborn, but I won't lie to you by saying I'll try to reform my ways. I enjoy being stubborn too much .

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#26
In reply to #5

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:16 AM

Well, who was it that stopped the majority of US Stem Cell Research? Those people have names. South Korea has an incredible lead in this area they were not stymied by bronze age skygod taboos on research...

I have commented on state science cuirricula proposals in Ohio and Texas where the sentiment was, 'since the computers run the machines, the students don't need to know all that physics stuff.'

Here is a link to a blog post covering my response.

http://pmpaspeakingofprecision.com/2010/06/02/6-reasons-why-physics-is-critical-to-contract-machining/

Milo

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#13
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 8:10 PM

I would argue that the definition for anti-science is a malevolent conscious bias against science, the scientific method, the principles of reductionism, and/or the class envy between one group and another regarded as a scientific community.

A general misunderstanding of the subject of science by individuals is simply called ignorance.

I think the vast majority of the general public fall under that definition (ignorance).

However, any coalition or conspiracy can and will use ignorance as a tool for some agenda. Examples of that would be portraying scientific scandals such that it promotes an image that all or most researchers are unscrupulous (the fallacy of Hasty Generalization) to discredit a different research group, etc.

In this last example it is the coalition or conspiracy which is anti-science, not necessarily the ignorant that may be used as a tool against science.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 8:20 PM

The Wikipedia Definition seems quite different from yours. It says:

People holding antiscientific views are generally skeptical that science is an objective method, as it purports to be, or that it generates universal knowledge. They also contend that scientific reductionism in particular is an inherently limited means to reach understanding of the complex world we live in. Antiscience proponents also criticize what they perceive as the unquestioned privilege, power and influence science seems to wield in society, industry and politics; they object to what they regard as an arrogant or closed-minded attitude amongst scientists.

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

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 9:35 PM

Really?

Perhaps the root of the difference is that I called it a malevolent or conscious bias against science.

The Wikipedia definition clearly states the same attributes that I cited, the difference, as I see it, is the characterization of how it is viewed. Wikipedia suggests the word "skeptic", which is a non-believer or doubter.

I guess the key words that I was trying to state was a willful disregard or even disdain for the principles of science.

I am not so sure that the intended definition I proposed is really that far apart form Wikipedia.

Nevertheless, I think we are arguing semantics rather than principles, which I still contend that anti-science implies a conscious disregard for the science, which is not the same as an ignorance of the subject.

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 11:07 PM

The definition looked pretty different to me.

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#70
In reply to #14

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 2:26 AM

Roger-

I have a bit of trouble with the Wikipedia definition you provide, in that I consider any claim by scientists or "objectivity" as being suspect. An observation requires both an observer and observed. The observer can not be purely objective due to the fact that the observer is part of the system (akin to Goedel's theorum). If one expects "universal" knowledge as the result of science, especially when one considers the fact that most experiments isolate a system from external effects (part of reductionism), one is going to be disappointed.

I do not consider myself anti-science by a long shot. I am really disappointed in the Government's attitude toward the Webb telescope- it is a critical tool for finally discrediting the Big Bang concept (personal hope- I have trouble with the time scale that says the universe is only 13.7 Billion years old!). However, I can understand an important difference between medical research and astrophysics from the public perspective- most people can see how medical research may benefit them personally, but few have an understanding of why we really, really need to know what was going on 13.7 billion years ago in an area of the universe we most likely will never visit...

Francis Bacon, in his "Novum Organum" (published some time around 1620, I believe), although a leading scientist/philosopher of his day, equated science with theater, in that both tended to reduce a "story" to something too brief and simple, to make a point. For example, e=mc² is a whole lot simpler, but e=(mc²)/(1-u²/c²)1/2

says a whole lot more about what is going on. Bacon also fretted over scientists wanting to define universal laws based on too few experiments...

I don't thing anyone would consider Francis Bacon "anti-science" (especially since his death resulted directly from his own scientific experiments), yet, by the Wiki definition you provide, he most definitely is.

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#72
In reply to #70

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 9:57 AM

You Wrote:"The observer can not be purely objective due to the fact that the observer is part of the system (akin to Goedel's theorum)."

If we take the sentence you are referencing:

"People holding antiscientific views are generally skeptical that science is an objective method, as it purports to be, or that it generates universal knowledge"

And hold it to it's most precise meaning possible, then yes, any doubt of the purest objectivity would be considered antiscience (by such an absolute reading). However I think the argument wiki is making is more like: "the rejection of any scientific result, no matter how strong, due to the nebulous assertion regarding the objectivity of science." Certainly Bacon wouldn't have doubted a Law with much scientific support, but perhaps Descartes would have. That's the difference.

Certainly no one can be 100% objective, but that's a boring argument because in truth no one can be 100% anything (clever, smart, honest, sincere, etc.).

So either the wikipedia entry is completely insane in demanding that all who support science believe in it's 100% objectivity, or you're being overly strict in your reading.

We are all the Antiscience

Lets face it, no one ever thinks they are ever anything bad, and we all invariably are in one way or another, perhaps no consciously, but certainly unconsciously. I'm suggesting we all carry prejudices that we take to be self evident facts that future generations will recognize as superstition. For instance, "the simplest answer is probably the correct one" has absolutely no mathematical or scientific basis. In other words, it's a superstition. But many scientists would object to it being characterized so. There are other examples I can name. More importantly there are other examples that I cannot and thus am complicit in.

We need to turn our critical eye towards ourselves instead of others and rid ourselves of our own existentialist prejudices. By leading by example we can eventually undermine this growing Antiscience sentiment.

At least, that's how I feel.

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#3

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 4:12 PM

It is just a proposal. Nothing has been cut and as we all know that the world of quantum physics is only surpassed by the world of politics when it comes to not being predictable.

This is not a settled debate.

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#4

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 4:54 PM

It goes all the way to the top.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:05 PM

Two different issues. What does nuclear waste have to do with the James Webb Space project? You did find the word Anti-Science in an article title. The problem with nuclear waste is NO ONE wants it... NIMBY. Maybe you'd like to start a movement to have it stored in your area somewhere. Who knows, maybe you'll find a very positive response to the idea.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:21 PM

Not two issues. This thread, like most everything the OP writes, is about antiscience.............................not a telescope.

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:25 PM

Why don't you post as yourself rather than an Anonymous Poster? Why should we take anything delivered anonymously seriously?

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:43 PM

I was merely making a point. I posted AP because I'm not interested in another mind numbing trip down the antiscience rabbit hole. The enemies of science can be found anywhere, if you look hard enough.......................or become obsessed enough..............they are everywhere.

Signing out.

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#12
In reply to #7

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:43 PM

Maybe you're right. I just don't think the reference about nuclear waste was about "Anti-Science" per se. Defaulting on allowing nuclear waste to be stored where it was agreed to isn't a scientific research project. That is not going to preventing any "knowledge" seeking. It's, as I stated, about NIMBY AND politics. You may find other examples to show Anti-Science "going all the way to the top" in the current administration. I just don't consider the story link you provided demonstrating the same thing RP is talking about. Mr. Fredoso uses the word "Anti-Science" in the title of his short blog, yet the editorial he references is only about the nuclear waste issue. That is NOT anti-science as I understand RP's writing on the subject. If I misinterpret him, I will be glad for him to endorse your link as meaning the same thing he is speaking of. I would be surprised. And, of course, I wouldn't agree with him...

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#9
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 6:24 PM

You can tell how CR4 is going nowadays by the "good" answers found here.

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#15

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 9:17 PM

I think the issues about anti-science are broad and complex. I don't think people -- in general -- are anti-science. Just as an example I did a quick Google search on 'Hubble Space Telescope' and it reported: 'About 5,990,000 results'. There are dozens of other Hubble-related topics a person could search on and likewise get millions of hits.

The dramatic repair of the Hubble and the tremendous photos it has produced has made it probably the most popular science and NASA-related government program since Apollo.

The sad fact here is that over the past 20 years NASA has lost its way, becoming a bloated bureaucracy incapable of forming a strong, long-term, forward-looking plan for space exploration and likewise incapable of holding costs on many of the programs it manages.

I actually agree with Obama's decision to cancel Orion and to allow private space companies to develop spacecraft for NASA use to get men into space. I think the long-term success of the U.S. in space is via the private sector. Maybe this threat by Congress to cancel the Webb telescope will help shake up NASA enough that they will get rid of the dead wood and get some lean operations that can run programs effectively in terms of goals, time and budget. I personally hope they don't actually kill the program.

Back to the anti-science sentiment: There is some anti-science sentiment, but it's not all on the bible-thumping creationist side of the political spectrum. The left -- especially the brain-dead Hollywood left -- that cranks out idiotic 'science' fiction and anti-science movies bears a lot of the responsibility for dumbing-down our society and planting some of the idiotic ideas that new technologies are going to create 'franken-foods', burn holes through the Earth, flood our cities, et cetera.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 10:22 PM

And speaking of anti-science, how on Earth does CR4 justify frequently linking to that idiotic website Gizmodo? I'd like to know what the thinking was in this particular one:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/17318/The-World-s-Most-Powerful-Laser-Will-Create-Tiny-Stars-on-Earth

...Where the Gizmodo article starts off with one of the most moronic statements I've ever seen on a website allegedly having an intelligent viewpoint on technology:

"While CERN researchers are busy potentially obliterating the Earth by creating a black hole in France,..."

WTF??

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#20
In reply to #17

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 11:10 PM

I think it's pretty clear the article's opening paragraph is tongue-in-cheek. It seems a bit much you would suggest that article, if you read it completely, is not relevant for CR4.

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#22
In reply to #17

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 11:50 PM

The Global Spec bloggers aren't subject to the rules as the rest of us are...

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 11:06 PM

I agree that antiscience sentiment is found in all walks of life, including (and in my opinion most importantly) among scientists. After all, if we can't respect and take pride in ourselves as scientists, how can we expect anyone else to.

I think it's ironic that you call NASA a bloated bureaucracy after praising the Hubble Telescope, which of course is a NASA run program that has lasted far longer than originally scheduled.

NASA has had remarkable successes the past 20 year. Besides the discovery of dark energy and dark matter, concepts that are challenging our concepts of theoretical physics, it also produced numerous unmanned spacecraft (To Titan, to Mercury, to Comets, to the Sun, to Mars). NASA landed two rovers on Mars and controlled them for years (A truly remarkable feat).

Of course, the Antiscience demands the vilification of NASA as a bloated beuracracy, even if the facts don't back it up. Such a claim is supposed to go unchallenged and be self evident. I bet you didn't even hesitate in proclaiming it. Didn't even think to examine NASA's record for the past decade to make sure. That is what prejudice is. That is what the Antiscience is. It's a bias, insidious and irrational. That doesn't make you a bad person. I'm pretty sure over 3/4 of the U.S. would agree with your statement for no other reason than it "feels correct". That is the antiscience.

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#23
In reply to #18

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 11:58 PM

Well said Roger. Irrational bias is the very antithesis of a sound scientific approach to anything.

Getting back to the Webb telescope, I agree that instead of scrapping the project it would be better to scrap the management. I realize that the Webb telescope is already over budget and likely not what can be deployed now but tossing out all of the work done now will make this project a great financial waste. Instead a real fixed price for completing the project should be established. If this means that the infrared detectors can only be aluminum clad for thermal shielding instead of the preferred gold plating, then too bad. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to be working.

I see far to often experiments going over budget because a scientist with status wants the best that there can be for their experiment, regardless of the cost. They just have to have that 99.97% relationship. The fact that second best is 99.94% but 200 times less expensive doesn't bother them. They have to have the best for their paper.

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#28
In reply to #23

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:39 AM

You Wrote:" see far to often experiments going over budget because a scientist with status wants the best that there can be for their experiment, regardless of the cost."

I see. Well since you've seen this so often I'm sure you can provide a few specific examples of this. Because that strikes me as a general, unsubstantiated, biased statement against science.

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#36
In reply to #28

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 3:39 PM

WOW you really can quickly contort things to meet your perspective. I work at a fairly prestigious research facility here in the USA as an Electrical Engineer. I've worked here for nearly 24 years. I certainly want scientific research to continue in the USA. I almost moved to Texas to work on the SSC. Over my 24 years I've seen experiments that I felt were gilding a lily, but because a "rabbi" wanted the gilding it was still done. But I am not going to cite for you chapter and verse of any of these rare follies I've witnessed just so you can sooth your ego with either an attack on me, the experiment I cite or any other rant you might choose to twist into me. This would only feed the Anti-Science sentiment you claim to be fighting. Please, just accept the idea that I have seen scientists do foolish things. Or are you trying to imply that scientists are incapable of making bad financial choices?

The point I tried to make with my earlier comment is that scientists forget that they occasionally try to reach too far. When they do try to reach too far it can be better to get what they can with what they have than it is to just insist that more funding and time has to be provided.

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#38
In reply to #36

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 4:18 PM

You Wrote:"The point I tried to make with my earlier comment is that scientists forget that they occasionally try to reach too far."

I think you mean that human beings forget that they occasionally reach too far. That's what you meant right? Or are you suggesting that's a trait particular to Scientists?

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#41
In reply to #38

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 4:55 PM

Your editorial correction is duly noted. But since I wish the observed scientist to remain the object of my comment I would prefer my rephrase to be more like "The point I tried to make with my earlier comment is that like most fallible humans, scientists forget that they occasionally try to reach too far." But come on Roger, if your going to stoop to a semantics argument, then I claim that you are in denial of the merit of my point.

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#43
In reply to #41

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 5:21 PM

Somehow you seem to think it was obvious that you didn't mean scientists were any more fallible in this than anybody else. For me it wasn't clear. In case you didn't know, semantics is when the meaning is clear and the delivery is criticized. You're meaning wasn't clear to me, thus I asked for a clarification. I don't think it would be out of character for you to suggest that somehow scientists were more prone to this sort of mistake than other people. I'm relieved you don't feel that way.

Of course, specifically targeting scientific programs and little else in budget cuts when the flaw we're describing is common to all walks of life seems a bit disproportionate, don't you think? After all, surely more waste must exist in Social Security since it is:

a. run by humans
b. 50 times bigger in budget than NASA

Yet no cuts suggested there. Seems odd, doesn't it? I mean if the goal is actually to reduce the debt without raising taxes. I

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#46
In reply to #43

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 6:35 PM

Well there you go again. Choosing your own definition for a word just to impress people. From the Merriam -Webster definition of semantics:

"Definition of SEMANTICS

1: the study of meanings: a: the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development b (1): semiotics (2): a branch of semiotic dealing with the relations between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth 2: general semantics 3 a: the meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs; especially: connotative meaning b: the language used (as in advertising or political propaganda) to achieve a desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings "

Since semantics is the study of the change of the meaning of words then a semantic debate is about the unclear meaning of the word choice collected into a sentence, not the delivery of the word choice.

I would not say that scientists on average are more or less likely to exhibit any of the individual foibles we all posses, but one. I would say that many scientists are much less likely to accept the revelation of their own error from anyone other than somebody they accept as a peer. I suspect that this is a natural consequence of the brutal nature of peer review.

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 6:58 PM

So your saying that any time someone asks for a clarification because they aren't clear what another person said, they are engaging in Semantics?

Perhaps your right, I don't know. In my experience, when somebody accuses someone else of engaging in "semantics", the implication has always seemed to mean that the person was using a rhetorical devise to avoid the actual issue.

Also, every time someone uses "Well there you go again" in some misguided attempt to echo Ronald Reagan, a little part of his legacy dies. I just feel like you should know this. What's sad about my last statement is it's actually true.

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#48
In reply to #43

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 7:59 PM

Let me get back to the topic at hand.

With the goal being to try to reduce the debt, then the decision about where and how to cut spending begs a few questions to me.

1). Does a specific federal expense increase or cause the debt? If it does, then what percentage of the debt does it generate?

2). Does the specific federal expense return anything positive to US and or global society? If it does, does this positive value merit the expense?

3). Can the specific federal expense, if not paid, cause the US to default on our loans?

When I apply the Webb telescope, then the entire NASA and scientific research budget to these questions, I get similar answers to all three groups of questions.

1). All of these expenses were planned expenses so they should not be considered as a contributor to the debt. Even if they were lumped together and fully attributed as only an unfunded debt then the $66.8 billion expense would not be 5% of the total $1.39 trillion present debt. Surely the bits and pieces of this total lump will be an even smaller percentage. So cutting Science is dodging the problem, not solving it.

2) This question is where Science shines and needs better promotion. All of the dramatic improvements in our lives recently have been from the direct result of one scientific endeavor or another. While every Scientific endeavor has not produced great wealths of knowledge and productivity, these exceptions are not significant. So since Science returns value for the expense this again should not be considered a debt.

3) Most Scientific projects today are actually international projects where we drew in money from many other countries. If we stop our payments to these projects, this will be considered as a form of default on our fiscal commitments.

Now when I apply these criteria to Social Security, I get a different set of answers.

1) Social Security tax revenues for the first time outstripped payments just over a year ago. So the only time that this added to the debt was from March 2010 until now. This cannot possibly be a significant part of today's debt.

2) Social Security offers a bottom line safety net to our society. I believe that this is a very important return to society.

3) The Social Security system is one of the note holders of the federal deficit. If the federal government doesn't pay this back then by definition this will be a default.

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#55
In reply to #48

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:02 PM

That's all very reasonable, I wish more people saw it that way.

Now what I'm about to write is semantics, but I'm only doing it because people reading this might be confused. You wrote: "then the $66.8 billion expense would not be 5% of the total $1.39 trillion present debt." I know you meant deficit, but to be clear:

Our present debt is somewhere around 14.3 trillion. 1.39 trillion is the deficit (the amount we will borrow to meet our spending obligations next year).

I think we probably share a lot of similar feelings of what should be done. I think our difference is that I believe there to be an unconscious bias against science in this country (actually I believe it to be against abstraction as a result of existentialism run amok) and you think that isn't true (which is reasonable). I don't blame you for disagreeing, but I do believe I'm right. No shame in agreeing to disagree on this particular point.

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#66
In reply to #55

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:17 PM

I offer a mea culpa and a clarification. I deliberately switched debt and deficit on the hope that my misuse would be caught as a semantic error.

Now for my clarification. I do believe that there is a disturbingly large, very vocal group here in the US that have a conscious bias against science. [This group both stuns and scares the hell out of me.] They also occasionally swell their ranks with the ones who unconsciously are biased against some sciences. I also agree that a larger group of Americans are uncomfortable with abstractions that do not seem to be lumped together as "common sense". But I do not believe that this country has a dominant anti-science or even an anti-abstraction bias. In total these groups do make up a majority in our country. I believe that most of the country has an apathetic bias against anything and everything they don't understand. These people tend to not make headlines. But these apathetic people are the people who swing elections. Attacking, worrying or worse dismissing this group will doom any minority to obscurity.

Scientists and the Engineers and Technicians that support Scientists will always be a minority in any society. So our advocates should be very careful about which windmills they confront. If Sancho Panza cannot prevent our champion from looking foolish, we may never know of the real beauty of Dulcinea del Toboso.

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#69
In reply to #66

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:57 PM

I understand. I hope you understand that your very reasonable and I believe widespread view is the one I'm trying to fight.

In other words, I think it's too easy to blame the nutjobs. Honestly, who cares about their craziness? I think the problem is exactly what you described, the apathetic middle. However, scientists have been apologizing for knowing stuff for too long and all it's gotten us is hemmed in more and more.

It's a middle class sensibility, not rocking the boat. But when you're born blue collar and you don't rock the boat you die blue collar, so you can understand how I don't buy into the "don't rock the boat" argument. Attrition is no way to die. Scientists need to understand the peril of their positions and start speaking up now, otherwise 50 years from now we may be woken up in the middle of the night and dragged out of our houses while the "apathetic middle" pretends not to notice.

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#35
In reply to #18

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 3:38 PM

Yes, I cited Hubble as a success, to make the point that NASA hasn't had very many since then and to suggest I am not a NASA hater. The Mars Rovers qualify as another resounding program success along with others such as you mention. I am willing to give NASA its due and praise its successes. I witnessed numerous launches when I lived in Florida including seeing a Shuttle launch from the VIP guest facility -- one of my happiest, thrilling memories.

But even NASA insiders criticize the present bureaucracy. Here's an NPR story about a astronaut satirizing NASA's bloated infrastructure.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100346538

The linked video is password protected, but the NPR audio story about it describes how many insiders are critical of NASA and it's inability to innovate due to its bureaucracy; the NPR audio includes clips from the video. http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=100346538&m=100405793

Regarding NASA's Constellation program, The Augustine Committee judged the 9 year old Constellation program to be so behind schedule, underfunded and over budget that meeting any of its goals would not be possible. After eventually spending over $8 billion dollars -- and getting almost nowhere -- it was terminated (or mostly so).

Here are some specific criticism of the Orion and Constellation programs via Wikipedia: The Space Frontier Foundation has asserted that the $3.9 billion initial phase of the Orion contract essentially duplicates the functionality of NASA's $500 million Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Additionally, NASA's contract with Lockheed Martin is a cost-plus contract, a contracting method which has been criticized for being prone to cost overruns and delays, while contractors in the COTS only receive payment for successes. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also critical of NASA, saying, "NASA's current acquisition strategy for the CEV places the project at risk of significant cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls because it commits the government to a long-term product development effort before establishing a sound business case."

An article by Scientific American on why the Constellation Program was canceled: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nasa-budget-constellation-cancel

A link to a critical review of NASA's cost overruns by the GAO: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-844

And there should be no need to mention two Shuttles that blew up at the cost of 14 lives, nor the number of failed programs such as:The Orbiting Carbon Observatory; The Glory satellite; The Mars Climate Orbiter and Deep Space 2; and The Genesis spacecraft just to name a few.

So is my criticism undue? I don't think so. I see good and bad -- and am willing to criticize the bad. Roger, you've got to stop burying your head in the sand about NASA's problems.

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#37
In reply to #35

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 4:16 PM

I'm not the one with my head in the sand here.

First of all, I think it's ridiculous to use the Project Constellation against NASA. For those who don't know, that's the project that resulted when George Bush just randomly decided to proclaim a manned mission to the Moon and then to Mars for political purposes. It was impractical, scientifically irrelevant, I said so at the time (in this forum).

Let's be real. When I see George Bush I will applaud because I feel that any former President of the United States deserves respect, it's a tough job and he did his best. However he was not the greatest of thinkers and Constellation was his bad idea to reinvigorate science in this country. He should have consulted with scientists to find out what science was worth doing.

As to the shuttle disasters. I seem to remember there were disasters even in the 1960s and 1970s. Space flight is inherently difficult and dangerous. Two shuttle disasters out of how many missions?

Here, on the other hand, is a list of NASA successes from the past 20 years:

Hubble Space Telescope
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory
Chandra X-ray Observatory
Spitzer Space Telescope
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
Ulysses Spacecraft
STEREO
Solar Dynamics Observatory
Genesis Spacecraft
The continued operation of Voyager 1 and 2 long beyond their expiration dates
Cassini-Huygens
Dawn-Vesta
Galileo-Jupiter probe
Magellan-Venus probe
MESSENGER - Mercury probe
New Horizons - Pluto probe
Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker probe
Deep Space 1
Stardust Spacecraft
Mars Pathfinder
Mars Global Surveyor
2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft
Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity)
Many Many More (you'll have to look it up)

What NASA has accomplished is nothing short of miracles. You are mistaking your lack of memory and knowledge of their programs for a lack of successful programs. Yes, you remember the few failures because that's all that caught your attention. That isn't a shot at you personally. Unfortunately, in a nation filled with antiscience sentiment, it's the norm. Compare that success rate with what Boeing, Raytheon, microsoft, GE, IBM and all the other supposedly "unbureaucratic" private companies have done over that same time. What a joke this criticism of NASA is. NASA is one of the best run, most efficient and effective, intelligent organizations in the world. The fact that you believe the opposite only demonstrates how strong the antiscience is.

And by the way, you can't prove something is bureaucratic by using the fact that others have called it bureaucratic as your evidence. That's conviction through popular opinion and I've already pointed out that the antiscience exists in science as well as the mainstream.

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#44
In reply to #37

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 5:33 PM

Riiiiiiight.

NASA insiders don't count.

The Augustine Commission doesn't count.

The U.S. General Accounting Office doesn't count.

Other industry experts' opinions don't count.

Face it Roger, you've got your own biased opinions and -- as far as you are concerned -- outside opinions don't count. Only Roger Pink's opinions count.

You're a joke.

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#45
In reply to #44

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 5:40 PM

We all have biased opinions. Take you for example. You're completely not interested in the 40+ successful missions by NASA over the past 20 years. Many of which went far beyond their orginally scheduled mission.

You Wrote: "You're a joke."

That's what the mob always says about the people who pause to think first rather than grab a pitchfork and a torch.

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#50
In reply to #45

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 8:50 PM

See that's why you're such a joke.

You deliberately ignored what I said about my appreciation of NASA while at the same time ignoring (or taking personal affront to) my mild criticisms and the criticisms of NASA by experts in the links I provided. You've imposed you're own exaggerated notions on what I'm talking about.

You've done nothing to actually refute anything I say. You actually practice the behavior you say you dislike: you make wild accusations about me being 'anti-science' while providing no concrete proof (news flash: your own opinions aren't proof).

You've called me names; tried to impugn my character; and have engaged in ad hominem attacks on me and others, which reveals a lack of maturity. I think it is time for you to do a serious examination of how you treat people. You need to lose your inflated opinion of yourself.

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#51
In reply to #50

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 9:13 PM

See, this is where I feel text versus face to face interaction fails. Is there a emoticons for sardonic smile? Let's be 100 percent honest here. You know nothing about NASA, right? You just believe, really as a matter of faith that it is inefficient because it's a government agency. You ignore that most of its missions exceed their targeted goals and resort to the tired argument that there is always waste and thus cuts are always justified. You accuse me of all these terrible things, but the honest truth is its my unapologetic manner that angers you. I don't care, we all know this is how these posts are going to go. I'm going to continue to post examples of these assaults on science, and I'm not going to apologize for doing so. This targeting of NASA is a travesty, and I'm proud to say so.

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#58
In reply to #51

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:09 PM

I'm not sure which emoticon is for a sardonic smile.....but you didn't even attempt to select one. , or would probably fit. If you are afraid to pick one just provide a statement you are being sarcastic in brackets or something like this <<sarcasm>>.

I agree face-to-face interaction works better. Since you are aware the written word can be misinterpreted, it falls on you (or whoever the writer is) to write clearly to make your meaning as unambiguous as possible. I think you generally do this in your blog and when you initially post.

Most of us (you included) tend to be less careful in writing our comments thinking, perhaps, that the idea sounded fine when it left our brain and therefore don't bother to read it carefully before submitting it. A few carefully placed smiley faces help to convey the intended sentiment. If the reader doesn't get it, then it's very easy to support your position by saying, "Hey, lighten up...didn't you see the smiley face...I was being sarcastic...I don't really mean what I said".

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#65
In reply to #51

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:48 PM

You know nothing about NASA, right?

"Nothing"? Not as much as some of my grad school classmates who work at Goddard, certainly not as much as my professors who'd done research as NASA facilities; maybe not as much as my former boss who designed the vibration damping system for the Shuttle main engine controller; but probably as much as any other typical MS grad in astrophysics; which I am. (OH heresy! An astronomer critical of NASA!)

You just believe, really as a matter of faith that it is inefficient because it's a government agency.

Where did I say that? I said it's become bureaucratic -- because expert industry critics said so, and the GAO said so. And anyone with a lick of common sense can see.

You ignore that most of its missions exceed their targeted goals...

Where did I say that? That's an outright lie.

... and resort to the tired argument that there is always waste and thus cuts are always justified.

And where did I say that? Another outright lie.

C'mon Roger. This is really being beneath legitimate discussion.

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#68
In reply to #65

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:47 PM

I don't want to argue anymore. I stand by what I said. I think I made plenty of good arguments demonstrating that criticizing NASA as being bureaucratic is nonsense. If I could characterize your response, I would say that you feel my calling it nonsense is nonsense and I haven't made any convincing arguments that it isn't bureaucratic. Fair enough. Let's agree to disagree. I mean, how else is this ever going to end?

I have a real personal love of NASA. To me, it's something good and right. Something that we pour our hopes and dreams into. An organization which, at least on the surface, only exists for altruistic reasons, to explore and expand our understanding of the universe. An organization filled with good people working damned hard to do something special while the vultures circle outside. Is it perfect? Of course not, nothing is. But it's worth it.

For me, there has to be more to life than eating, drinking, sex, and working, otherwise, we're just animals. Human beings endeavor. We strive. That's what NASA represents. NASA has the potential to profoundly change all of our lives with it's discoveries, but if we're constantly nickeling and diming it, at some point it's going to break. Then all we'll have is eating, drinking, sex, and Reality TV. God help us then.

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#71
In reply to #35

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 2:52 AM

One of the issues with any project is, time is money. If funds are cut this year, and NASA must slow down work on a project, you can almost guarantee that the project will go over budget. NASA has a history of sharing the pain among all their projects, rather than concentrating limited resources on key projects during hard times. This suggests that, in the current environment, one can expect ALL NASA projects to go over budget, and it has nothing to do with demanding gold shielding over aluminum shielding.

This is not limited to NASA. I just recently came into a situation where a small $5,000 project was delayed a couple of years due to financial constraints- resulting in now having to spend more than $15,000 to repair the results of the neglect.

According to reports, NASA has just finished polishing the mirror for the Web. Now what, it sits in storage for an extended period, and ultimately needs repolishing when the government finally feels it has enough money?

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#21

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/07/2011 11:48 PM

This is off topic, I think. But I came across it tonight, and it's a really interesting read.

I figured you guys would like it and didn't think it warranted a new thread.

Here it is.

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#25

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:01 AM

Roger:

I'm with you on this one.

And not only is it the antiscience it is also the antimedicine, antieducation, antitechnology, etc.

Unless the science is 'Star Wars', the medicine is 'Grey's Anatomy', the education is standards test based, the technology is instantly gratifying, etc the sciences will not be given their well earned respected standing in the hearts and minds of the politicos and such persons.

Ask not what is going to happen to the U.S., ask what is happening to the U.S.!

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#31
In reply to #25

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 12:49 PM
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#32
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 1:08 PM

Why is this off topic?

milo

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#33
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 1:33 PM

I guess it's really not. As true as it all is though, for some reason, it's considered blasphemy in some camps.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 2:50 PM

off topic who cares

way out of context, no doubt

take the 1st link fer instance

a news clip from the 08 election, contained within that a clip from when he was in the senate debating environmental policy?

or the clip from last year when drilling in the gulf was suspended, as the oil gushed

or should we just suspend all deep water regulation?

the deep water drilling industry has proven themselves in need of increased scrutiny by example

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#73
In reply to #34

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 11:34 AM

All I know, is that if the US continues on our current trajectory.............we're $crewed.

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#75
In reply to #73

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 12:05 PM

maybe yes

maybe no

as the dollar is devalued

manufacturing here will make more sense

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#78
In reply to #75

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 12:58 PM

Yeah, but I would prefer to not work for the Chinese.

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#39

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 4:29 PM

I recently read of a european telescope, larger than Hubble, that may be a "cheaper" way for all concerned......maybe that was part of the thinking for the cancellation?

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#40
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 4:36 PM

It hasn't been canceled! It has only been the recommendation of the committee to do that due to budget concerns. Or, maybe the Illuminati are secretly conspiring to sap all scientific knowledge from us.

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#42
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 5:08 PM

Yes, because obviously everyone in the U.S. supports science. Except for the world wide climate conspiracy, right AH? And that nonsense about Evolution. And those fat and lazy scientists at NASA who can't get anything right?

See AH, I can use sarcasm too. It's a weak tool.

I guess AH believes that this is simply a political ploy. They don't intend to cut NASA, just threaten it a little. Is this the part where I'm supposed to feel relieved?

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#49
In reply to #42

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 8:36 PM

Get a grip. This is a recommendation only at this point.

I don't know if it lives or dies and I don't have enough information on the subject to really say if the committee's recommendation]/i] is valid or not.

You can make an argument as to why or why not the recommendation is a good one. However, you are throwing so many other red herrings into the argument now that it does nothing to support your argument.

On a personal level I fully understand your frustration with the "system" and the headless NASA. I am just as frustrated. However, I feel that most of this frustration is the work of bad politics and not some broad conspiracy.

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#52
In reply to #49

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 9:49 PM

Hey, thanks for letting me know what I'm allowed to argue.

And as you well know, I'm not suggesting a conspiracy. Just as a person who at 2 years old almost drowns and as an adult has an aversion for water wouldn't be characterized as "conspiring" against water, so too the antiscience is an unconscious societal bias (which includes all of society, even scientists themselves), not a conscious conspiracy.

But at least your streak of misrepresenting my position in threads is intact. Your streak is becoming Gherig-esk.

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#56
In reply to #52

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:03 PM

I just want to stick with the argument and not throw every known type of fallacy into the pot. When you go over the line I will call it as I see it.

We just have two different definitions for anti-science. If it helps, from now on I will assign the word ignorance to your version of anti-science because ignorance implies that one has a bias or prefixed opinion about a subject without the full understanding of the facts.

Just to be clear here, I am not calling you ignorant.

If I use that definition we should be closer to the same page, no?

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#53
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 9:52 PM

Oh, the bit about the Illuminati was a joke. I should have put a smiley face, I guess, but I thought the idea was too absurd to be taken seriously. I am just trying to inject a little levity here because you tend to easily take offense to everything someone else says that does not agree with your point.

This is not a personal thing, you know.

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#57
In reply to #53

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:05 PM

AH, I may have had to learn it the hard way, but I've learned it. I don't trust a word you say. That puts you in a crowd of two on CR4. You and Garthh. Congrats.

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#59
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:12 PM

That would be bordering on paranoia. You have leaned far, far less than you believe about me.

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#61
In reply to #59

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:13 PM

Who cares? You could teach me a lesson by avoiding my posts if you like. It will be tough, but I will try to manage without your backhanded compliments and outright personal attacks.

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#64
In reply to #57

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 10:43 PM

are you abandoning the ivory tower?

you seem to be digging yourself a nice bunker

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#67
In reply to #64

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/08/2011 11:17 PM

Truth be told, I'm looking for a taller tower.

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#74
In reply to #57

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 11:46 AM

Are you married?

If not, please do your future bride a favor and allow her to read your CR4 threads, blogs and posts before the big day.

Just for good measure, I would hook her up to some nipple clips and a lie detector to make diggity darned sure that she's not antiscience.

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#76
In reply to #74

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 12:30 PM

We're all the anti-science.

Hey, rather than have her read through all my posts, why don't I just show her this one, I think it says it all...

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#77
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 12:56 PM

That was a good one.

Show her all of our posts. She'll quickly become convinced that anyone associated with CR4 is not worth the trouble.

Which of course would be a fallacy...................some of us are just a little more disturbed than others.

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#79
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 1:05 PM

True enough. Give any of us enough time and permanent ink and we're doomed.

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#80
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 1:18 PM

Yup. I realise that the roger/kramarat cyberwar is for entertainment purposes only.

I tried to take it seriously for a minute and leave you alone....................................I couldn't do it. I feel a moral obligation to jump into the fray every once in a while and give you the best penguin kick in the head that I can muster.

Like the kids say...................It's all good.

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#81
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 5:41 PM

penguin kick !!!!!!!!!

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#82
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/09/2011 6:07 PM
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#83
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/10/2011 11:03 AM
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#84

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/11/2011 9:12 AM

Coming in late but I just had to add:

The characterizations of NASA here are interesting, if somewhat ill informed. NACA was formed as an emergency measure during WWI to address aeronautical problems. As with most federal agencies, instead of being abolished after its original mission was fulfilled, it grew into the usual federal bureaucracy with politics as a major driving force (See DOE as a more modern derivation. After spending billions over the years, it continues to fail in its mission, propped up by politics.).

In 1958 NACA was abolished and its assets transferred to the newly formed agency, NASA. Not only were the physical assets transferred but also the bureaucracy (with deck chairs rearranged). The NASA Administrator serves at the whims of the current president (ie; usually, political ambition) and tends to be political down to the project heads level. The political infighting within NASA can be intense, to say the least, due to the constant demands of financing and budgeting of limited funds, congressionally mandated (more politics).

Is NASA altruistic, as mentioned somewhere here? Not a chance. IMO, altruism cannot be achieved with the use of public monies as there is almost always political ambition of one sort or another embroiled in its distribution.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-NASA. I thoroughly enjoyed my 12 years at Langley Research Center, and helped accomplish great things. My career there ended when a "political" decision moved my projects to Ames Research Center and I was not willing to move to California.

So, don't try to tell me that NASA isn't political or bureaucratic. I have plenty of direct experience that proves otherwise.

Hooker

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#85
In reply to #84

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/11/2011 3:38 PM

what would work better?

it's difficult to expect someone to put themselves out of work

there are going to be projects who's time has not come

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#86
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/11/2011 6:16 PM

"what would work better?"

Well, that's a great discussion point. NASA does a whole lot more than just space, but since NASA is contracting out ISS launch support (supply delivery) to private industry, they are effectively out of the low earth orbit business except for doling out the money.

About 8000 people just got put out of work with the last shuttle launch, so it isn't too difficult. Case in point, for the last 5 of my 12 years at NASA I was on RIF (reduction in force) lists pending potential congressional budget cuts. None came to fruition but that didn't make my life easier to live over that period.

And, yes, there are "projects who's time has not come", so I would never advocate abolishing NASA. But... some would characterize NASA as clean, pure, altruistic, hell, even heroic. That's BS. There may be some individuals within NASA who rate those honorifics but, all in all, NASA is a federal bureaucracy, with all the baggage that entails. Especially as you move higher up the food chain in the agency. It's idiocy to expect NASA to be otherwise.

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#87
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/11/2011 6:55 PM

You Wrote:"It's idiocy to expect NASA to be otherwise."

I agree. It is idiocy to expect NASA not to be in some way bureaucratic. I'll go a step further. It is the height of narrow minded, short sighted, clueless stupidity and idiocy to expect any organization of human beings not to be bureaucratic to some degree. The implication of targeting NASA instead of other areas is that it is MORE bureaucratic than other branches of government or corporations for that matter. That doesn't appear to be the case to me. In fact, it seems pretty good compared to other agencies and corporations.

Unless of course we expect them to outsource their engineering jobs to China and India. That's what corporations do and don't we all love corporations as the beautiful, masterful, idyllic, symbols of pure efficiency, I mean, unless you actually work for one ("except mine, which is well run and fantastic" I say looking nervously over my shoulder), or are in the process of bailing one out for it's bad decisions (Nice Job GE).

As for Altruism. I meant the goals of NASA. The Hubble Telescope is an altruistic endeavor. It is not for profit. It is not for defense. It is merely for expanding human knowledge. So too our planetary probes. So too the solar and lunar probes. So too the other space observatories. NASA's mission, if not wholly altruistic, is at least a significant part altruistic. If my usage of Altruism is confusing anybody, here is the definition (I'm using #2-for the benefit of mankind).

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#88
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Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/11/2011 7:23 PM

I'll split hairs about your use of altruism, even with the definition provided by MW.

In common use, altruism is an act performed with the voluntary use of some resource. It is my contention (in somewhat of a libertarian mode) that the monies used by NASA are not voluntary and, therefore, its mission cannot be altruistic at any level. The missions are performed by the grace of political will with monies gathered (some would say extorted) from non-voluntary sources; ie, the American public. We have little or no say-so, realistically, how these monies are distributed by politicians. Ergo, not altruistic.

In a similar vein, I quit giving to United Way. They were/are distributing donations to organizations I do not approve of and without me having any input of its use. Some would say UW is altruistic. I would agree if the monies were used as the donor wished, but when the monies are not wholly generated by the supplying organization (investments, sale of product, whatever) the resulting use cannot be altruistic, merely resource redistribution.

If NASA's use of money is altruistic, then, by extension, all use of tax money is altruistic. I don't think so.

Hooker <-- hair splitter

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#89
In reply to #88

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/11/2011 8:20 PM

You Wrote:"If NASA's use of money is altruistic, then, by extension, all use of tax money is altruistic. I don't think so."

I don't agree with that statement even with your revised definition of altruism. Tax money is spent to build bombs, tanks, and bullets. I would not characterize that as altruistic. Money is spent to support despotic regimes so that we can have cheap oil, that is not altruistic.

Please understand me, I'm not saying the above expenditures are wrong. They are national strategic priorities. However, I think they demonstrate that not all tax money is altruistic.

To split a split hair

However, in a way, you do point out the fact that there is no such thing as pure altruism, just some things are more altruistic than others. I'll admit (because I never meant to imply) that NASA isn't purely altruistic, even on missions involving Hubble or planetary probes, but those projects, I would argue are significantly more altruistic than say the development of bullets or bombs.

As for your not giving to a particular charity, that is your right. We should all give to the charities we believe in. No one has the right to tell you who to give to. You trust your conscience. I can understand where you're coming from.

Split Ends Aside

I guess, as someone who is 35 and doesn't receive a dime from the government, I get mad that essentially trillions of the spending we are talking about is going to seniors (Social Security and Medicare). Yet because they are a powerful voting block, cutting that spending is off the table. Yet raising taxes is off the table too. Which basically leaves trying to get blood from a stone. NASA has a budget of 18 billion. Our national debt is 14.5 Trillion. It would seem absurd but our country has gone mad so somehow people find this reasonable. Up is down, hot is cold, and 1.3 trillion dollar deficits are balanced by cutting 1 billion dollar scientific projects.

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#90

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/14/2011 12:46 PM

There was a recent Science News article about the James Webb Space Telescope summarizing the management and budgeting processes through the years, noting the repeated and willful underestimation of the project's cost from its inception.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/71607/title/Star Cents

An excerpt from the article:

"But the problem appears to go beyond mismanagement. Interviews with current and recently retired NASA officials, astronomers and the Government Accountability Office reveal a culture of deception when it comes to estimating the cost of large NASA missions. Given the limited supply of money for new projects, those with proposals are encouraged to underestimate the true price tag, and those who question the estimates are ignored or reprimanded."

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/14/2011 1:21 PM

The article is misleading. The problem is NASA is projecting the cost of something that has never been built before. It can estimate what it thinks it should cost, but it can't know for sure. Are their estimates realistic? Well, given in the real world there are problems that have to be overcome in order to create new technology, then probably not. They should probably include several billion for "unforeseen events".

Now, the problem of course is if you go to congress and tell them you need a few extra billion in this budget for the unforeseen, the immediate response will be a condemnation of waste. So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Fire the management, bring in new management. If you went to a doctor to get a physical, and the doctor was late, did a poor job, and overcharged, your solution wouldn't be to cut physicals out of your budget. That's not punishing the doctor, that's punishing yourself. You should get a new doctor.

The antiscience sentiment in this country makes people say things like "It's NASA's Space Telescope", as though the American people were doing NASA a favor. This telescope is an American Space Telescope that NASA builds and runs. The knowledge gained from such a telescope benefits all mankind, not NASA. So to cancel the telescope to essentially teach NASA a lesson is absurd. Fire the current management if you wan't, but not the science.

And another thing, if you're a chronically cheap tipper, don't be surprised if your service starts to suck. I just won all my fellow former servers over with that last argument.

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#92
In reply to #91

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 3:13 PM

I think we have similar ideals, but our perspective often differs... that being said, GA (just because I'm a former server .... and I happen to agree.)

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#93

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 4:29 PM

This is great, I'm setting a new personal record on this thread. I've had 5 comments that were marked as almost or good comments on this thread and have had them all taken away with "off topic" votes. Seems petty, but kind of funny too.

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#94
In reply to #93

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 5:33 PM

Can you ask a "favour from a friend" and find out who-dun-it? Don't need to publish, but it may ease your mind.

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#96
In reply to #94

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 6:12 PM

Sure, I could easily find out, but what's the point? Am I 10 years old? The idea of reporting a user for such a juvenile act seems beneath me. I trust in karma (the colloquial term for nonlinear consequences of actions and the personalities driving those actions) to settle these matters for me without my involvement.

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#99
In reply to #96

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 6:36 PM

Not saying you should 'report' them, or take any other action. But you brought the fact (of the mass OT-ing) to our attention. If it really doesn't matter to you, why did you bring it up?

Not saying either that it makes you a bad person for being aggrieved - I'd've got the 'ump (and have in the past).

It's difficult to sit back and get slapped without recourse - to hold on and just chalk it up on your karma chart.

Just saying.

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#100
In reply to #99

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 6:38 PM

New Page

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#106
In reply to #100

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 8:06 PM

Jeez, I'm slow sometimes. Couldn't get to sleep for a while. zzzzzzzzzz.

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#101
In reply to #99

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 6:55 PM

There's a difference between bringing it up in a thread in a forum and bringing it to the attention of the administrators. I was just saying it was happening, I really don't want or need the administrators getting involved. It's just good answers.

As for it being a slap, I think that's a bit much. I think it's funny. Think about the kind of internal thinking required to systematically un-good a person's answers. It's almost flattering...almost.

Also, it isn't my karma chart. I don't track these things. I just believe in general if you're a petty person, you end up doing far more damage to yourself than to other people. In a way, I view it as almost picking on someone to turn them in. I only would turn someone in if it was inhibiting my ability to communicate on CR4, which this isn't.

Everything isn't all or nothing. This post was a moderate response meant to indicate that I knew it was going on. Not that I expected anything to come out of it.

I appreciate you're concern, but I recommend just chuckling at it. That's all I was looking for.

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#102
In reply to #101

Re: More Antiscience: Cancelling the James Webb Space Telescope

07/19/2011 7:23 PM

I'll lose no sleep. "I was just saying it was happening ...".

Ni' night.

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