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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  August 2011

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE August 2011

Subject:

Re: From the NYT Science Section Today

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 9 Aug 2011 23:29:49 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (366 lines)

Though the population of citizens was a minority of residents, 
nevertheless Athens offers the best, or rather the only, 'model' for 
democracy. And of course I agree with Herb that there can be no 
democracy under capitalism. When Rosa L proclaimed "socialism or 
barbarism" she meant that both were possible; that there were no 
certainties in history and barbarism might well be our permanent 
condition. Ellen Meiksins Wood's title is perhaps an even better way to 
put it: Democracy against Capitalism. I also like theanswer Marx gave a 
reporter who interviewed him in his old age. At the end of the interview 
the reporter had one more question:

Reporter: What is/

KM: (After a pause so long the reporter thought he had fallen asleep) 
Struggle.

Carrol

On 8/9/2011 9:40 PM, herb fox wrote:
> How to get scientists into the body politic.
>
> So there i was one day in the Physics department about a year or more
> ago bellyaching about the unrepresentative nature of the congress when a
> colleague proposes that we shouldn't have elections. Instead all
> citizens are on a list from which they are called at random to serve
> much as is done in picking a jury. What an interesting idea thinks i and
> repeat it to a better informed friend who responds that that is what
> John Dewey proposed. Later upon reflection i realize that there are
> problems in that, although in the long run we get on average a
> representative congress, in the short run, say a lifetime, we can get a
> very unrepresentative sample. Proposed modification: Use the
> jury-selection process to pick, say 10, candidates. Use a survey of the
> population they are supposed to represent to obtain a list of, say, ten
> key policy questions. Require the chosen ten to develop responses to the
> questions, and require TV, radio and press opportunity for the responses
> to be put before the electorate. Make it a criminal offense punishable
> by fifty or more lifetimes in solitary for any attempt by any entity,
> person or corporation to comment on or in any way attempt to influence
> persons' responses to the candidate's statements. Have an election among
> the ten. Whether or not this is a good idea, it is not achievable under
> capitalism, but may be appropriate under socialism.
>
> Why is it not achievable under Capitalism? Because the Capitalistic
> structure of representative government has been shaped to conform to the
> real underlying structure of a class dictatorship. So let us face the
> reality. We do not live in a true democracy. We live in a society such
> that i can shout "Fuck the President" and not be arrested and tortured
> in jail; but i have no opportunity to vote with any chance of success
> for a candidate that represents the working class. I think the student
> poster of 1968 French uprising said it all in the following conjugation
> of the French verb/participer:/
>
> I participate We participate
> You participate You (pl) participate
> He, she, it participates They decide
>
> Stanley Moore wrote that the best political system for Capitalism is
> Democracy. Democracy conforms to the concept of freedom of choice and
> thus is entirely consistent with the concept of the market wherein
> freedom of choice regulates. It follows then that Dictatorship disguised
> as Democracy is the best form under Corporate Capitalism wherein
> apparent freedom of choice in the market is actually determined by
> advertising budgets and the products by which the monopolies can make
> the greatest profits.
>
> Conclusion: This is the best of all possible worlds. Not only do we have
> noses so that we can hold up our glasses; we also have Democratic
> dictatorship so that we can imagine we are free.
>
> herb
>
> On 8/9/2011 2:12 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:
>> In 1970 what was the ratio of Science-for-the-people members and the
>> entire number of scientists in the U.S.? Or what was the ratio of MLA
>> Radical Caucus members to the entire membership of MLA?
>>
>> I don't know the answer to either question -- but I would guess that
>> the ratios would show that a Congress made up of scientists and
>> humanists would not be any better than the present Congress. Didn't
>> Chomsky once say he would rather be governed by the first 30 people
>> one met on a Boston sidewalk than by the Harvard faculty?
>>
>> :-)
>>
>> Carrol
>>
>> On 8/9/2011 9:22 AM, Larry Romsted wrote:
>>> All:
>>>
>>> A little light on the idea of science for the people.
>>>
>>> Larry
>>>
>>>
>>> August 8, 2011
>>> Groups Call for Scientists to Engage the Body Politic
>>>
>>> By CORNELIA DEAN
>>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/cornelia_dean/
>>>
>>> index.html?inline=nyt-per>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> When asked to name a scientist, Americans are stumped. In one recent
>>> survey,
>>> the top choice, at 47 percent, was Einstein, who has been dead since
>>> 1955,
>>> and the next, at 23 percent, was ³I donıt know.² In another survey,
>>> only 4
>>> percent of respondents could name a living scientist.
>>>
>>> While these may not have been statistically rigorous exercises, they do
>>> point to something real: In American public life, researchers are
>>> largely
>>> absent. Trained to stick to the purity of the laboratory, they tend
>>> to avoid
>>> the sometimes irrational hurly-burly of politics.
>>>
>>> For example, according to the Congressional Research Service, the
>>> technically trained among the 435 members of the House include one
>>> physicist, 22 people with medical training (including 2 psychologists
>>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics
>>>
>>> /psychology_and_psychologists/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> and a
>>> veterinarian), a chemist, a microbiologist and 6 engineers.
>>>
>>> Now several groups are trying to change that. They want to encourage
>>> scientists and engineers to speak out in public debates and even run for
>>> public office. When it comes to global warming
>>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html?
>>>
>>> inline=nyt-classifier> and a host of other technical issues, ³there is a
>>> disconnect between what science says and how people perceive what
>>> science
>>> says,² said Barbara A. Schaal, a biologist and vice president of the
>>> National Academy of Sciences<http://www.nationalacademies.org/> . ³We
>>> need
>>> to interact with the public for our good and the public good.²
>>>
>>> Dr. Schaal heads the academyıs new Science Ambassador Program in which
>>> researchers will be recruited and trained to speak out on their areas of
>>> expertise. The effort will start in Pittsburgh, where scientists and
>>> engineers who specialize in energy will be encouraged to work with
>>> public
>>> organizations and agencies.
>>>
>>> ³We are looking for people who are energy experts and who have a real
>>> desire
>>> to reach out,² Dr. Schaal said.
>>>
>>> Separately, a five-year-old nonprofit group called Scientists and
>>> Engineers
>>> for America<http://www.sefora.org/> , or Sefora, offers guidance and
>>> encouragement to researchers considering a run for public office ‹ from
>>> local school boards to the House and Senate. With more scientists
>>> involved
>>> in the legislative agenda, the group maintains, there can be better
>>> decision
>>> making in things like research financing, math and science education and
>>> national infrastructure problems.
>>>
>>> ³Just get involved, the country needs your expertise, your analytical
>>> thinking and your approach to issues,² Vernon Ehlers, a physicist who
>>> came
>>> to Congress in 1993, says in a video on the Sefora Web site. ³If you can
>>> learn nuclear physics, you can learn politics.²
>>>
>>> In a telephone interview, Dr. Ehlers, a Michigan Republican who
>>> retired this
>>> year, said he thinks a kind of ³reverse snobbery² keeps researchers
>>> out of
>>> public life. ³You have these professors struggling to write their
>>> $30,000
>>> grant applications at the same time there are people they would never
>>> accept
>>> in their research groups making $100-million decisions in the National
>>> Science Foundation or the Department of Energy,² he said. He said it was
>>> ³shortsighted² of the science and engineering community not to encourage
>>> ³some of their best and brightest² into public life.
>>>
>>> Until this year, Dr. Ehlers was part of a three-man physics caucus in
>>> the
>>> House, along with Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, who was elected to
>>> Congress in 1998, and Bill Foster, Democrat of Illinois, who won his
>>> seat in
>>> 2008 but lost it last year to a Republican with Tea Party
>>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/t/tea_party_mo
>>>
>>> vement/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> support.
>>>
>>> This year, Dr. Ehlers and Dr. Foster formed a bipartisan political
>>> action
>>> committee they called Ben Franklinıs List, whose goal was to offer
>>> engineers
>>> and scientists the credibility and money they need to win office.
>>> ³Scientist, politician, patriot,² Dr. Foster said of Franklin. ³Itıs all
>>> on-message.²
>>>
>>> Ben Franklinıs List was to be modeled on Emilyıs List, a group
>>> organized in
>>> 1985 to advance the cause of female candidates who supported abortion
>>> <http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/surgery/abortion/overview.html?inli
>>>
>>> ne=nyt-classifier> rights. But Ben Franklinıs List would have no
>>> ideological litmus test.
>>>
>>> In a sense, however, the project is suffering from its own ethos: Dr.
>>> Foster, its major organizer, announced in May that he was a candidate
>>> for
>>> Congress again and therefore would have to withdraw from the effort.
>>>
>>> ³Thereıs no way I can run a nonpartisan organization the same time I am
>>> running for Congress,² he said.
>>>
>>> Dr. Foster, a onetime physicist at Fermilab, said he feared his
>>> departure
>>> for the campaign trail would be ³a mortal blow² to Ben Franklinıs
>>> List. But
>>> Dr. Ehlers would not declare it dead, even though the project is more
>>> than
>>> he can run himself, especially since he is out of Washington now. He
>>> said he
>>> hoped others would embrace the idea.
>>>
>>> ³I would be willing to join forces with them,² he said. ³I am happy
>>> to help
>>> out.²
>>>
>>> Generally, hopes for technical bipartisanship rest in part on the
>>> belief ‹
>>> widespread among researchers ‹ that the nationıs engineers, as a
>>> group, tend
>>> to be Republicans while its academic scientists tend to be Democrats.
>>> And in
>>> theory, as Dr. Foster put it, if people on both sides of the aisle
>>> can agree
>>> on ³the quantitative facts² of an issue, policy differences need not
>>> inevitably lead to bitter partisan gridlock.
>>>
>>> In other efforts, the American Association for the Advancement of
>>> Science
>>> offers fellowships
>>> <http://fellowships.aaas.org/02_Areas/02_Congressional.shtml> that
>>> put new
>>> Ph.D. researchers into Congressional offices and federal agencies.
>>> And the
>>> Aldo Leopold Leadership Program<http://www.leopoldleadership.org/>
>>> offers
>>> environmental researchers training in how to communicate with the
>>> public and
>>> policy makers. One of its founders was Jane Lubchenco, a marine
>>> scientist
>>> who left a research position at Oregon State University in 2008 to
>>> lead the
>>> National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
>>>
>>> Sometimes finances are an issue. ³Itıs difficult to monetize
>>> something like
>>> this,² said Brian D. Athey, a professor of biomedical informatics at the
>>> University of Michigan Medical School and the chairman of the board of
>>> Sefora. And he said Sefora did not know how many of the scientists and
>>> engineers who have attended its workshops have sought ‹ or won ‹ elected
>>> office. ³We need informed members of Congress, we need informed city
>>> mayors,
>>> we need governors who understand science and engineering,² Dr. Athey
>>> said.
>>>
>>> There is plenty of scope for these efforts, said Dr. Foster, who cited
>>> ³glaring instances of technical ignorance on both sides of the
>>> aisle.² He
>>> recalled a fellow Democrat (whom he would not name) as advocating
>>> greater
>>> use of wind power ³because windmills poll so well² ‹ which is not, Dr.
>>> Foster said, a sound basis for energy policy. And then there was the
>>> Republican who praised the development of GPS technology as an
>>> example of
>>> innovation unfettered by government, apparently unaware that the
>>> technology
>>> is a product of government-sponsored research.
>>>
>>> Whether these various efforts can succeed is an open question.
>>>
>>> Daniel S. Greenberg, author of the 2001 book ³Science, Money and
>>> Politics²
>>> (University of Chicago Press), said in an interview that he thought
>>> the odds
>>> of success were ³pretty poor,² in part because of the widespread
>>> belief that
>>> such activity is inappropriate for serious researchers or taints their
>>> objectivity. He pointed to the presidential election of 1964, when
>>> scientists organized opposition to Barry Goldwater, the Republican
>>> candidate. Goldwater was defeated, but, Mr. Greenberg said, the
>>> effort left
>>> many researchers feeling ³we have sullied science.²
>>>
>>> Even today, when researchers enter the political arena, ³the scientific
>>> establishment holds that against a scientist to some extent,² Dr.
>>> Holt, the
>>> New Jersey congressman, said in a telephone interview.
>>>
>>> Alan I. Leshner, a psychologist who heads the American Association
>>> for the
>>> Advancement of Science, agreed. He recalled learning as a young
>>> scientist in
>>> the 1960s that people who engaged in issues outside the lab ³were
>>> wasting
>>> <http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/muscle-atrophy/overview.ht
>>>
>>> ml?inline=nyt-classifier> time and a sellout.² Young researchers
>>> today want
>>> their work to be ³relevant, useful and used,² he said, but ³they
>>> still get
>>> that message from their mentors.²
>>>
>>> Some researchers are concerned that if they leave the lab, even briefly,
>>> they will never be able to pick up the thread of their technical
>>> careers.
>>> But Dr. Foster said he had had no shortage of interesting job
>>> opportunities
>>> in science after his two years in Congress. And, he added, such risks
>>> were
>>> built into public service.
>>>
>>> ³If you are a businessman, your business goes off the rails,² Dr. Foster
>>> said. ³If you are a lawyer, your practice will degrade. You are asking
>>> people to make a sacrifice, no question about it.²
>>>
>>> In an interview last week, Dr. Foster compared what he called political
>>> logic with scientific logic, citing the debate over the debt ceiling
>>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/n/national_
>>>
>>> debt_us/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> . ³The political logic is
>>> Œwhat I
>>> can get away with saying that people will believe,ı ² he said. ³The
>>> scientific logic is Œwhat are the best estimates for the relevant
>>> numbers.ı
>>> ² When the two collide, he said, ³the political logic is overwhelming.²
>>>
>>> Still, he plans to break away from his Congressional campaign this
>>> week to
>>> address a conference at Brown University organized by the American
>>> Physical
>>> Society, the nationıs major organization of physicists. He developed the
>>> outlines of his talk when he was working on Ben Franklinıs List. His
>>> topic:
>>> being a scientist in Congress.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> More in Science (3 of 33 articles)
>>> An Economist for Nature Calculates the Need for More Protection
>>> <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/science/09profile.html?src=un&feedurl=htt
>>>
>>> p%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fscience%2Findex.jsonp>
>>> Read More ğ
>>> <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/science/09profile.html?src=un&feedurl=htt
>>>
>>> p%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fscience%2Findex.jsonp>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>

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