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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  November 2011

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE November 2011

Subject:

Re: Why doesn¹tAmerica like science?

From:

Jim West <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 10:14:12 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (127 lines)

Since when does anyone not like science?  It is global religion, unfortunately 
politicized and corrupted.

Jim West
http://harpub.co.cc

===
Why doesnt America like science?
><http://www.ft.com/>
>By Gillian Tett
>
>Just three Republican candidates have declared that they believe in the
>scientific basis for evolution
><< Some 40,000 scientists have now joined a lobby group called Science
>Debate, which was founded four years ago with the aim of getting more
>scientific voices into the political arena.>> Has anyone on SftP Listserv
>hooked up with this Science Debate group?
>Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, does not often hide his views. When 
he
>recently addressed an international economic forum at Columbia University,
>on the seemingly �dull� topic of science and politicians, however, his words
>were incendiary, even by his standards.
>�We have presidential candidates who don�t believe in science!� he 
lamented,
>referring to the current field of people jostling to become Republican
>candidate for the 2012 elections. �I mean, just think about it, can you
>imagine a company of any size in the world where the CEO said, �oh I don�t
>believe in science� and that person surviving to the end of that day? Are
>you kidding me? It�s mind-boggling!�
>It is a comment that many observers might echo, particularly among the ranks
>of American scientists. For while Bloomberg did not specify whom he
>considers to be �mind-boggling�, the list of targets is long. Thus far, just
>three of the eight potential Republican candidates have positively declared
>that they believe in the scientific basis for evolution. The rest have
>either hedged, or � like Rick Perry � claimed that evolution is just �a
>theory that is out there... [but] it�s got some gaps in it�. Meanwhile,
>Michele Bachmann, another contender, has actively called for creationism to
>be taught too, since she has similar doubts about the evolutionary science.
>Newt Gingrich has cast doubt on the virtues of stem cell research, Herman
>Cain has questioned whether there is any scientific evidence behind
>homosexuality, and most of the candidates have queried climate change
><http://www.ft.com/indepth/climatechange> . Indeed, whenever any 
candidate
>has defended evidence-based science, they have suffered a backlash: 
witness
>the travails of Mitt Romney.
>In some senses, this is not surprising. A recent survey by the National
>Science Foundation found that 45 per cent of Americans support evolution
>(barely more than those who actively reject it). There is similar scepticism
>about climate change.
>The views that Bloomberg considers �mind-boggling� are not outliers, or not
>outside the coastal areas such as New York, where he resides.
>But common or not, the spread of this sentiment is leaving many American
>scientists alarmed. Last month, New Scientist magazine warned in an
>editorial that science is now under unprecedented intellectual attack in
>America. �When candidates for the highest office in the land appear to spurn
>reason, embrace anecdote over scientific evidence, and even portray
>scientists as the perpetrators of a massive hoax, there is reason to worry,�
>it thundered. Some 40,000 scientists have now joined a lobby group called
>Science Debate, which was founded four years ago with the aim of getting
>more scientific voices into the political arena. �There is an entire
>generation of students today who have been taught that there is no 
objective
>truth � who think that science is just another opinion,� says Shawn 
Lawrence
>Otto, co-founder of Science Debate, who told me that the �situation today 
is
>much worse than in 2008�.
>This is paradoxical. Historically, science has commanded respect in America.
>It was Abraham Lincoln, after all, who founded the National Academy of
>Sciences, and during the cold war, there was heavy investment in science, as
>America reeled from its �Sputnik moment� (or fears that it was being
>outflanked by the USSR). Innovation continues to be worshipped, particularly
>when it produces entrepreneurial companies and clever gadgets (think 
Apple�s
>iPad).
>Nothing causes more fear among American politicians than the idea that
>America is �falling behind� countries such as China in science. And another
>recent survey by the National Science Foundation shows that more than half
>of Americans consider scientists to have a �prestigious� profession, a
>higher rating than bankers, doctors, politicians and priests. Only
>firefighters command more respect.
>Why? Some observers might be tempted to blame this paradox on the rise of
>the religious right: while the craft of science might be respected, its
>conclusions are not. Others point to powerful commercial concerns (such as
>oil companies), who have a vested interest in twisting debate, and attacking
>science they dislike. Another line of thinking blames the polarisation of
>the media and political class: when there is an emphasis on partisan
>shrieking, there is less room for reasoned debate.
>But Otto of Science Debate likes to blame another factor: the impact of
>social sciences. Since the 1960s, he argues, society has been marked by a
>growing sense of cultural relativism, epitomised by anthropology. And as
>post-modernist ideas spread, this has undermined the demand for scientific
>evidence. Today, any idea can be promoted as worthy, irrespective of facts 
�
>and tolerated in the name of �fairness�.
>I suspect that this overstates anthropology: the discipline has been
>somewhat introverted and has little political power. But leaving aside that
>quibble, it is hard to disagree with Otto�s basic point � that in today�s
>political climate there is far too little evidence-based, reasoned debate.
>In that spirit it is worth noting that Otto himself is now urging scientists
>not to shun the Republican Party. On the contrary, �I am encouraging them 
to
>join�, to influence the debate, he says. It would be nice to think � or hope
>� it could make a difference. Maybe Bloomberg could donate some cash.
>
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>Sent from Sam + Rosemari's iPad
>
>
>

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