A Dark Age for Science?

read an interesting article

pretty pursuasivly states how the bush administration is trying to alter the face of science. I dunno I get nervous when a man who can’t pronounce nuclear and hasnt made up his mind on evolution directs the science of a nation.

Ummm…he doesn’t. So you can set your mind at rest.

My considered opinion is that you are reading wayyyy too much into that article. George W. Bush does not “direct the science of a nation”. I don’t even see where you got that. Just from the fact of the Bush administration’s cutting off funding for a couple of programs? That doesn’t prove anything. “Pretty persuasive”? Nope.

But it’s always amusing watching Brits pontificate about American culture. Probably the Brits find it equally amusing to watch Americans pontificate about British culture.

And, for about the umpteenth time, the fact that a person does or does not mispronounce “nuclear” has absolutely nothing to do with his overall intelligence or his fitness to govern.

And I know some pretty sharp thinkers who “haven’t made up their minds about evolution”, either, and that has absolutely nothing to do with their overall intelligence or their fitness to govern.

cutting off funding to state of the art science matters, cutting off condoms to AIDS plagued contries matters, distorting children’s conception of science matters. Sooner or later all these things add up to the point where the US is a backwater of the western hemisphere.

Well, I am optimistic that science will survive this conservative assault on it…even an assault by the President. However, it is indeed disturbing. One particular note of concern is Bush’s politicization of appointments to scientific advisory committees, as explained in this editorial reprinted from Science magazine and another article on the subject.

I think the US will survive Bush’s alleged medieval assault on science. Nice to know, though, that the Brits are so worried about us. We better get some monks busy copying scrolls so we don’t lose our knowledge. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight…

Where do you see any signs of our becoming a “backwater” of the western hemisphere, for that matter for the western world?

[ul]:cool: [sup]Oh hell, make it the whole world![/sup][/ul]

Funny :slight_smile:

As someone who works in the genetics field, can I say that Bush has had very little effect on the field in general. While federal funding has a large impact on the public institutions, like colleges and some of the public research institutes, they have almost no impact on the research being done in private labs. Private labs, incidentally, are where most of the work is being done (the last conservative study I saw had the public sector about 10 years behind the private sector in this area.)

As for allowing (or forcing) public schools to teach alternate views on the beginnings of life, it is a good idea. All to many times I have talked to students who believe that just because it was written in their biology books it was true - FACT. A little dissenting opinion will be good for them. Think about it, how many times have you heard the phrase “I believe in the theory of evolution”? Do you have any idea how uncomfortable that phrase should make any good scientist? You don’t believe in a theory. You can be convinced, you can defend the theory against other less supported theories, but you don’t believe a theory.

Concerning HIV/AIDS and the use of condoms, have you ever looked at the failure rate of a condom even if you use it correctly? If memory serves correctly there is a 3% failure rate associated with condoms. This means that out of 100 acts, 3 of those will result in a pregnancy, and regardless of whether or not the virus is smaller than the pores in the condom(I honestly don’t know), if sperm can out so can the virus. The only study that I recall which looked at this is:
De Vincenzi I. A longitudinal study of human immunodeficiency virus transmission by heterosexual partners. New England Journal of Medicine 1994;331:341-346

In the study, though they do promote condoms acting as a barrier, their test group is too small to convince me it is a representative sample and so their study is a little suspect (only 123 people). Please also note that this study is from 1994, which makes the information dated anyway.

Face facts, positions in the government have ALWAYS been given due to political motivation. This is nothing new and the scientific community will survive. Also remember, science advances far faster that the laws do. I think it is refreshing for an administration to at least try and keep pace, regardless of whether I feel they are misguided (and I do).

John F. Kennedy (and his entire family) always said “nucular.” (he also callded Fidel Castro’s island “Cuber.”). So did Jimmy Carter, who worked closely with Hyman Rickover, the father of America’s nuclear navy.

Were you equally worried about THOSE guys? If not, relax.

JFK prevented a nuclear war he can pronounce it anyway he wants.

I didn’t mean to come off like I was freakin out because I read an article. Or that if Bush is rightfully booted out of office in 2 years the nation wont recover. The campaign against good science that this administartion is running now though will come at a high cost though.

That is a matter of opinion, of which mine, for one, is the opposite.

Failure to embrace at least some general concepts within the “theory” of Evolution is a show-stopper for me.

Bush can pronounce nuclear however he wants, too

Why is that word so hard to pronounce?

Personally, I think it isn’t hard at all. It is a matter of culture, and it reflects a bias against all those science guys, and their big words.

Politicians flow to the level of least resistance. If you pronounce nuclear correctly, the electorate will think you are some sort of intellectual. Can’t have that.

It’s sad.


“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.” ~ Hypatia of Alexandria ~

isn’t this nuclear pronunciation thing pretty pointless?

I would say that a person’s not having made his or her mind up on evolution does not necessarily signify stupidity, but it does signify a certain ignorance of the subject (or, in Bush’s case, perhaps an attempt to please the theocratic right).

My more recent (2002) Human Sexuality textbook lists it as theoretical effectiveness as 98%. The 2% comes from manufacturing errors that causes the condom to tear. The user effectiveness is around 70%.

My Human Sexuality professor, who works as a clinical psychiatrist, told us some interesting horror stories of how some people thought condoms should be used. People who blow it up like a balloon and then put it on or people who don’t use it every time make the user effectiveness 70%.

The sperm and HIV viruii do not get through the latex barrier without a tear. Lamb skin condoms do not prevent against HIV.

I think lots of politicians are against science. I mean if people started reading instead of watching Who Wants to Marry a Psychotic Serial Killer… we might actually start voting.

Wrong. It means that out of 100 acts, 3 will result in sperm in the vagina.

This alone does NOT equate to pregnancy. For one thing, you need at least one egg.

I wouldn’t classify anyone that “hasn’t made up their mind” about evolution as a pretty sharp thinker, at least concerning biology. And frankly, I *do * think it reflects on their overall intelligence. I place those who haven’t made up their mind on evolution in the same category as those who still have doubts about chemistry, and those who are not too sure about astronomy, even those who are struggling with the concept of a spherical earth.

Citedy cite. I work in the public sector, in a basic science lab (in genetics as well). Sure, most of the pharm work and heavy duty stuff with direct profitable motive is ahead in the private sector. But the vast majority of science still comes out of us doing NIH funded research in public institutions. Most of the groundbreaking stuff, most of the stuff which takes the private sector in new directions, most of the peer reviewed research (which is the coin of the realm) comes from publicly funded research. Genetics especially – the public labs can afford to throw much more money and much more staff at problems with little prospects of profitability. Where would Celera be without the HGP publicly funded initiative? They certainly wouldn’t be in the black, and I can guarantee that they wouldn’t have a working draft of the human genome yet…

Sure, dissenting opinion is one of the hallmarks of science. Sure, the word “fact” becomes troublesome when one talks about science. But there are no dissenting scientific theories on evolution, just like there are no dissenting scientific theories on universal gravitation. Since all the evidence we have and all of the evidence generated from week to week points towards evolution (just as it does with universal gravitation), we consider evolution as near a fact as we can get in science. Since high school science class is where one should learn the foundations of science (as opposed to the foundations of world religion), there is only one theory on the origin of the diversity of life on this planet that should be taught.

This is kind of a hijack of the thread – if you want to debate the scientific dissention over evolution, please please start a new thread where we can debate it in an undistracted fashion.

As to the OP, it is more than disconcerting. While my particular field has not been affected by Bush’s actions, he has appointed a head of the NIH basically solely because of a pro-life anti-stem cell position, he has directed the study of a major field of biological research (stem cell work) in a fashion largely dependent on religious views, he has totally politicized the issues of birth control and family planning to the point where very silly actions are being carried out by US programs around the world. In the book The Bush Dyslexicon (which is written by Mark Crispin Miller, who is far more liberal than I), he argues that Bush’s campaign and subsequent presidency has been based on an anti-intellectual slant prevalent in the Reagan revivalism. While many of Miller’s other conclusions seem like he is stretching to demean Bush, this one rings true on many levels. I am fearful, not only for what may be done before Bush leaves office, but also because of the long term damage committed now as well as the dangerous precedents set with these policy decisions.

Which is a pretty scary problem in itself, I’d say. I have some real questions about the fate of science when its dominated by closed institutions with incentives very different from scientific community as a whole.

I’d say that it is an outrageously anti-liberal science idea. Teaching something because of a political demand, instead of teaching the best practices and current consensus of scientific field? No way. Kids can learn about alternate ideas in “alternate idea” class. Not in “science” class.

See Rauch’s Kindly Inquisitors for a more detailed attack on this idea.

I agree. One of the real failings of public school education is that it misses out on the presentation of at least some sense of how controversial and exciting REAL academic work is. However, you seem to be talking not about dissent within science, but dissent from people who reject the normal methods of scientific inquiry.

In what way do you feel they are “trying to keep pace”? They are being accused of appointing political ideologues and industry hacks instead of people respected as being knowledgeable in their fields.

The article is truth, why should truth bother you. Evolution is a disputed theory and should be taught as such.