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KQµårk 死神 On November - 2 - 2009

528-52When a poll came out that said only 6% of scientists were Republicans I was very proud of my scientific community but I was not surprised with the findings for one attosecond.  Republicans despise science and do everything they can to manipulate science to fit their ideology.

One of the greatest failures of the Bush administrations was it’s disdain for proper science. Time after time Bush put ideology over good scientific inquiry and results to develop wrongheaded policies. From restricting states rights to enforce their own air quality and emission standards to never really accepting climate change the Bush administration acted like the three monkeys , see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil when it came to scientific understanding. Scientific results should drive pubic policy. Public policy should not influence scientific results. In no small way Bush set back science at least a decade and worse set a mindset where fewer people accept scientific theories like evolution and climate change than they did a just a little while ago.

Of course because Bush never valued science he never funded worthwhile scientific research or education for that matter. Any government official will tell you, ask me where you put your funding and I will tell you what you really value. We all know Bush talked allot about how he valued education but he never properly funded his own pet education project. The truth is Laura Bush valued education and Bush’s education legislation was something he did to just placate her.

The heart of anti-science movements are always rooted in people putting their religious beliefs before science. Limiting funding for stem cell research is just one way beliefs have hindered scientific progress for the betterment of our species. A favorite graphic that I came across the web is a visual depiction of how overly conservative religious thought during the Dark Ages hindered scientific progress. The results expressed in the image are probably not totally accurate but I think it does make a good point. During the Bush years I think we have had a mini-Dark Age where scientific understanding has been hindered at the very least.


Moving towards a science based society not only has huge technological implications but also social implications. It’s not a coincidence that the Age of Enlightenment’s secular humanism rekindled the Scientific Age. The more society embraced science in the past the more open it was to concurrent social change. In effect human secularism and scientific discovery are synergistic components where the product is far greater than the sum of the two factors. The drastic slope in the previous graph shows how scientific and social improvements accelerate overall progress exponentially. There is a relatively simple reason for this. Logical arguments ultimately lead people to more progressive positions. For example if you discard the religious arguments and just use basic logic policies like DADT and the DOMA make no logical sense. There are few logical arguments why openly gay people cannot serve in our military. Forcing gay service people out of the military is downright illogical because many of the service members outcast in the past provided highly skilled services the military needs like Arabic languages interpreters. I am positive DADT will be repealed before long.

The Obama administration has already changed the way this country is governed regarding incorporating proper science into policy making.  From lifting the ban on stem cell research, hugely expanding investments in green energies, pushing for a real energy and climate change policy, setting real emission and fuel mileage standards for automobiles, embracing science based informatics to improving the educational system, properly funding the NIH to actually cure disease not just have us live with them, funding a new energy grid, funding rural broadband, funding high speed rail projects, funding electronic medical records keeping, letting states freely legislate and practice their own medial marijuana policies etc. etc.   THCIn terms of advancing science and putting the money needed into those scientific investments I cannot be more pleased with what the president is doing. He has greatly exceeded even my high expectations. I would love to hear your thoughts on the sciences and what progress you would like to see being made. I will probably do periodic scientific articles related to one of my real life passions.

Categories: Featured, Health & Science

Written by KQµårk 死神

My PlanetPOV contact is [email protected] Proud Dem whose favorite hobby is cat herding. The GOP is not a political party, it's a personality disorder. Cancer, Heart Failure and Bush Survivor.

120 Responses so far.

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  1. PepeLepew says:

    I don’t like to get too personal, but I have a daughter who wants to be an astronomer, so this is an issue that’s very near and dear to my heart. While I’m mostly goofy on HuffPost, where you can see me get the most deadly serious is on the science threads (evolution, stem cells, etc.) I’m also a huge believer in the separation of church and state. It has also been such a struggle to get good science education in the local schools and to make sure that school boards aren’t somehow trying to sneak Intelligent Design into their curricula. They are under *constant* pressure by very well organized and vocal group of parents to teach Intelligent Design. It is a never-ending battle.

    • kesmarn says:

      We were watching “Inherit the Wind” the other day. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen that Spencer Tracy movie (1960), that deals with the 1920’s “Scopes Monkey Trial.” I remarked that when I saw that film years ago, I thought: “Thank God, we’re long past those dark days, when religious fanatics rejected so much of science--especially the theory of evolution.”

      Hah. Little did I know!

      • PepeLepew says:

        Yeah, last year this group of crazy parents went to our local school board demanding that Intelligent Design be taught. Thing is, the Montana State Supreme Court has ruled that it cannot be taught because of separation of church and state and these loonies essentially said, “Defy the Supreme Court!” These people are relentless.

  2. PepeLepew says:

    I do love going toe-to-toe with the Creationists/Anti-Science types at HuffPost … if you’re allowed to on an unmoderated thread. Their points are just so ridiculously easy to blow out of the water.

  3. Bitsko says:

    One of the things that really irks me about HuffPo is that for every SHOCKING piece they run that deals with science, they have at least a hundred extolling the virtues of homeopathy and who knows what other kind of pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo. Screwy!

    • SeeknDestroy says:


      Howdy Mister.
      Huffpo is playing both sides of the street trying to drive traffic and attract people from both sides..Clicks mean ad revenue, Bitsko…
      Good to see you, Bits….

    • kesmarn says:

      And Lord help you if you challenge their authors on the voodoo science they push @ HuffPo. You will be instantly vaporized.

      But on a happier note…Bitsko! It’s good to see you here. Are you gonna have that Howdy avatar up and running soon?

  4. AdLib says:

    Your feedback requested:

    Some members requested that we reduce the font a little so more can be read without as much scrolling.

    How does this size font work for everyone…or did you even notice?

  5. Kalima says:

    Well I have been a lady of luxury and do-nothing since my hubby left for Europe last week, now I have to clean up this house before he returns today. Serves me right!

    Have fun and hope to see you later. Take care.

  6. Grabamop/Obama20082012 says:

    By the way Kquark, excellent piece. I love science so much I married a science teacher!

  7. Grabamop/Obama20082012 says:

    My greatest fear is that after 8 years of the idiocy we just suffered, it may be too late to stop the ravages of global climate change. Especially since it looks like there are going to be some victories tomorrow for the trolls. It’s making me sick. I don’t think I will be watching much TV, and I certainly won’t be on HP tomorrow.

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      I dropped in over there a couple of times today and saw nothing and no one worth commenting about. Not to mention those trashy new ads they’ve gotten.

      As for climate change, it’s not our planet, it’s all creatures planet. We overall will adapt far better than many creatures who won’t survive. But then again, I grew up when people were touting the oceans as the great grocery stores for the future, and look how quickly man emptied the shelves. I have great difficulties with the stupidity of the deniers.

      • Grabamop/Obama20082012 says:

        What I notice is much more troll traffic. It’s getting very boring. And I have noticed the ad’s as well. Nice. I am sure the right wing sites are posting pro Dem ads. I know it’s all creatures planet. My favorite animal is the polar bear! I literally sob when I read articles about what’s happening to them. They won’t have time to adapt. I remember how it was said that the oceans had an endless supply of food. Now look at it. I have the same difficulties with the deniers too, I was talking to one this weekend. I pointed out to him that it’s his grandchildren that are going to suffer much more than he or I will.

  8. FeloniousMonk says:

    @BDM You could consider doing characters from “Ice Age” for the Nativity Scene. Now where would that squirrel fit in?

  9. Kalima says:

    I have just one request of science and that is to find cures for all the many diseases that cripple (me), take so much from one’s life (you KQ) and of course all the others in between that come to snatch our loved one away before their time. A tall order I know, but you asked.

    • BigDogMom says:

      Let’s hope the advances in Stem Cell research can get us closer to that…wouldn’t that be wonderful..I have lost too many family members to cancer and have seen them and others suffer not only from the diease but from the suposed cure….

      • Kalima says:

        A little to late for me but great hope for millions of others would be wonderful.

        Same here about the cancer as you know and your own cure for one disease bringing on another is burned in my mind as you also know.

        Ok is it me or has the font shrunk, with these eyes iI can never be sure what I’m seeing, has it shrunk in the last 5 minutes?

  10. KQuark says:

    Science doesn

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      All I ask is for wisdom from all, KQuark. That’s why I took exception to the statement on the Manhattan project. We were at the stage someone would have done it. And Hiroshima was probably necessary. Nagasaki probably wasn’t.

      We can’t stop discovering things, we are by nature a curious creature. But we should push for human emotional development to try to keep up with the changes. As I said below, the teabaggers are a symptom of fear, and unless we overcome that fear, we are at risk.

      I will, though, debate on whether we should always chose to do something just because we can. I grew up in the race for space, but now I believe that deep space exploration can wait a couple of years, it’s not like space is going away. And if the International Space Station is such a good thing for research, then we ought to tell industries who will benefit the most to ante up some of the costs.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Respectfully, may I suggest that as the United States did not experience a single attack on civilian areas on native soil throughout the entirety of WWII, we may not be the best ones to judge whether or not Hiroshima was “necessary”.

        • Kalima says:

          I for one strongly believe that the instant annihilation of over 140,000 innocent people in Hiroshima and over 77,000 in less than 3 days after, was not at all necessary and quite frankly barbaric.

          Then there were those in their thousands who later died of their horrific burns and the radiation.

          Maybe there should be sponsored field trips to the Atomic War Museum in Hiroshima, I know that going there changed my life and my perspective of atomic bombs and WMDs.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            Hi Kalima,
            I agree that the more people go and reflect upon the incalculable agony that was, and continues to be, experienced by thousands of people, most of whom had nothing to do with the odious acts of those cruel men who were acting in their name but not for their purposes, the more we will begin to reconsider the “necessity” of ANY war. And the more we think about THAT, the better off we all shall be.

            • Kalima says:

              Hi there wts, yes that is always the case, the innocent die for the deeds of the people controlled by the masters.

              My mother-in-law’s cousin had just returned to Hiroshima to have her baby, 8 and a half months pregnant, 19 years old, she perished on that dreadful morning. If we stop and think of how many lives were ruined in those 3 days and the suffering of each of them, nothing can ever excuse the action, nothing.

      • KQuark says:

        Actually I have a long opinion about the Manhattan project I won’t go into now. The scientific understanding was already their for the atomic bomb and it was going to be developed by some nation at some time. I for one think the German chemist Heisenberg is a hero for discouraging the Nazi leadership from developing the atomic bomb. The only thing WWII did was enable the development of the technology at a much faster pace in human terms. The Soviets for sure would have developed the atomic bomb after WWII especially if the US was weakened by the Pacific operation for months if not years.

    • AdLib says:

      That’s not true, science killed me.

      I got better.

  11. BigDogMom says:

    Kqark, wonderful article, I truly believe, like your post, that we are scientifically ‘retarded’ due to our govt’s christian based policy making.

    I think our children’s education has suffered the most during our ‘dark ages’ and that is why, I think, that we are not producing the scientist, designers, inventors that we need to move technology and science forward…now maybe things will change.

    I’m an organic gardener, so I have some bias when is comes to messing with nature by using chemicals…Our Lobster and Shellfish industry has suffered tremedously from over use of lawn and garden chemicals..and it has been documented that this is what caused the die off.

  12. javaz says:

    Imagine where we’d be if the Catholic Church hadn’t forced DaVinci to flee Florence and the papers he burned were saved.

    • AdLib says:

      We’d be sitting in traffic in our hover cars cursing the Cold Fusion energy companies for raising prices our total annual energy cost to $27 a year.

      • FeloniousMonk says:

        Sorry for the negative side but we could have also destroyed the world far sooner. IMO, man has not progressed past the point of non projectile based hand weapons. As soon as we were able to step away from our adversary, killing became much less personal. The further away, the less personal it becomes. Consider that the military does major psychological research into all sniper candidates in order to find people who are close to being sociopathic because of the personal nature that the scope brings back to the marksman. When you’re grappling with someone who has a knife in his hand, it’s very personal and real, you smell their sweat, you see their fear, you know it’s a human life. But once you step back to even spear distance, it changes.

        Now look how little we’ve really changed since the 1950s, when you examine the rise of the Teabaggers. And sadly, they actually may be more civilized than people in certain other groups throughout the world.

        Do I think we were ready then for the atomic age? No. Were we lucky to have made it through the Cold War? Absolutely. And then you have the terrorists…

        • escribacat says:

          Well said.

        • AdLib says:

          Excellent piece. I agree that there is a section of the human race that should be kept heavily sedated but that is the dichotomy of progress.

          Each new discovery holds the potential for being corrupted into something destructive.

          However, I think the prospect of enlightenment is also possible with progress. We certainly can’t become a more enlightened civilization by remaining at the status quo.

          • FeloniousMonk says:

            Nor would I want it but progress is feared by many. Remember it wasn’t the brutality of the Shaw of Iran that led to his downfall as much as it was the modernization push coming up against the mullahs and the clinging to the past.

            We can’t drag the right into a better new world, we have to work them to it.

            I’ve been lucky to work with some near state of the art stuff along the way, but I also appreciate classic craftmanship. But I’m also dead set against the luddites.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          Agreed. And from the perspective of every other species on the planet other than humans, one could easily assume that if they had any decision in the matter, they would have preferred to keep we humans stuck in our Dark Ages, rather than wrecking the planet. Add that to the fact that the best science training a university education could offer turned out the chemists who produced the napalm used to torture Vietnamese farmer families, and I think all scientific triumphalism must be tempered.

          • KQuark says:

            Many more scientist go into areas of science that benefit people’s lives than take people’s lives.

            While I totally agree scientific progress needs to be tempered with social progress, I think the example you used represents very few members of the scientific community as a whole.

            BTW I agree that humans are at war with Gaia. The real problem humans represent to the world is our population growth. It’s a Catch 22 because we have not learned how to balance making life better for people and then not using those technological advances only to produce more people to make the problem worse.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              I agree with you that the majority of scientists go into training with the intention of benefitting peoples’ lives. I also believe that you could probably say the same about the majority of people who enter the clergy. I think you and I agree on so many things. And I too am no fan of organized religion. But I think that the spirituality from which it arose is just as important to human survival as the search for knowledge that led to both amazing scientific progress and environmental destruction and WMD.

            • Questinia says:

              Nicely put, wts. We can’t look at all social constructs, like religion, through the distorting lens of this country.

            • BigDogMom says:

              @Kwark..that’s what I would like to see more of, the use of science for developement of products that are more enviromentally friendly, I applaud your work, thank you.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              I’m reluctant to go along with a blanket statement like “All people go into the clergy to pimp religion”. I can’t get into peoples’ heads anyway, so perhaps that point is moot? And it’s different in Japan, where you don’t have much in terms of proselytization and you see monks all over the place. On another note, I appreciate your personal story.

            • KQuark says:

              I don’t believe it’s a good analogy because ALL people go into the clergy to pimp religion.

              While many scientists go into the various scientific fields to make the world a better place. I’m a little sensitive to this issue because I’ve had liberal friends and family question the career path I chose being a chemist in the paper industry. But I know personally that I have had a bigger positive impact on the environment than they will ever have. Yes I worked in the system but it gave me the opportunity to convert a whole line of chemical technology used by paper manufacturers that are much safer products for the environment. I used progressive European studies and regulations as my guide for developing more environmentally sound products.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              Do you really want to go towards the population discussion? I got really beatdown at HP for talking about optimum population sizes, especially when the right wing got into their “we got to breed more of us” mode in order to counter more of “them”. Ever increasing populations put a drain on many resources and, with the continued advances in technology, have less and less of a place in the world, but there are some who think we should just breed to extinction.

            • KQuark says:

              Good point. We should have that discussion some day even though there are serious contradictions to be overcome.

      • KQuark says:

        We are closer to using fusion power than you think. Actually plasma induced fusion. Scientists and engineers are working on a project to get net positive energy from plasma induced fusion now.


        • AdLib says:

          Very cool! Some futurists propose that the next great leap forward for civilization and technology is dependent upon the development of massive and inexpensive energy sources.

          Bring it on! I want my hover car!!!

  13. AdLib says:

    It’s really amazing to think of all the progress the human race has made despite the historic persecution and demonizing of those who pursued scientific discovery.

    To think, in the 5,000 years the Earth has been around, human beings have gone from riding dinosaurs to driving hybrid cars to protests opposing stem cell research.

    We’ve sure come a long way!

    • SeeknDestroy says:

      Did anyone see where I parked my velociraptor?

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      That’s 6,500 years, you progressive. Haven’t you read the journals of investigation? You know HP wouldn’t allow any remarks about dinosaurs being in the fields and around the manger? Let alone any jokes about aliens. (only kidding on the first part!)

      Question adLib, this weekend before the time change, the postings were sh,owing what then was the correct time for me. Is it that you’re in the Pacific Zone? Because since I’m in Arizona, I did have Pacific Zone time for the summer.

      {I’m blaming the keyboard for all spelling mistakes today, sorry)

      • AdLib says:

        I’m not bright enough to understand intelligent design but I’m too smart to believe in dumb luck.

        Yes, we are on sunny California time, here at The Planet.

        Sunshine and breast implants for everyone!

        • FeloniousMonk says:

          How tittilating! Sorry, I’ve lived there before, too, including a brief employment stint again last year in Long Beach and it’s just not for me. I remember the Costa Mesa weather report every morning, “overcast and burning off around noon, highs around 75” I remember when there were still orange groves in Orange County, just like we used to have them in Phoenix.

          • AdLib says:

            The Costa Mesa Weather Report:

            “Winds from the right wing throughout the day, rain in the late afternoon due to God’s anger, with flurries of teabagging throughout the night.”

            Hope you got up to civilization in L.A. occasionally. Our weather is much better, we send our bad weather down to Orange County along with our defective science books.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              Besides the touristy things, I did come up for a few restaurants, plus I got an invitation to the Magic Castle. If you’ve never been, it’s fantastic, good food and great magic, close up.

              Always liked watching people at Venice Beach, the girls, the musclemen, the homeless, the tourists. Life at its fullest.

            • AdLib says:

              If I want to freak out visitors to L.A., I’ll take them down to Venice Beach and tell them all of L.A. is like this.

              Glad you spent some time up here, Orange County can be a bit claustrophobic unless you’re at the beaches.

    • KQuark says:

      Sister Sarah dinosaurs were not around 5,000 years ago. 😉

      • AdLib says:

        Sorry to contradict you but I saw it at the Creationist Museum. Just before it closed due to bankruptcy…for some reason.

        Guess it just couldn’t evolve with the times.

      • FeloniousMonk says:

        Oh yes they were, Mary rode a stegasaurus to Bethlehem. Slow, dependable, good ride.

        • SeeknDestroy says:

          Stegasaurus to Bethlehem…..excellent line..

          • FeloniousMonk says:

            @SeeknDestroy Everyone should put a couple of dinosaurs in their Nativity Scenes this year.

            In fact, get some of those inflatable ones (remember the Sinclair Dinos?) and put them in the local Babtist living Nativity Scene for realism.

            • AdLib says:

              Maybe we could dress up a raptor as “Santa Claws”?

            • BigDogMom says:

              @Monk, I’m real creative…I could build a Creche, have the usual…Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and instead of the regular animals, have dino’s in their place…and of course you got to have the three wise men…they could come in riding dino’s!

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              @BDM If you could get a pregnant woman maniken and dress it in period and then place it on the critter, it would be even better.

            • BigDogMom says:

              I think I’ll do that.. put it right in the front yard, instead of those stupid reindeer with lights that everyone has..

        • AdLib says:

          And great mileage!

          • BigDogMom says:

            Now there’s an energy saving vehicle for you…and you could probly burn their poop for cooking…wouldn’t mind some for my garden…LOL

            • AdLib says:

              New from Martha Stewart Publishing, “Cooking with Dinosaur Poop…it’s an Eeew Thing”.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              My mother grew up in Oklahoma in the 1920s and, in environments where there weren’t a lot of trees, dried cowpies were used for heating and cooking.

              As they say, no shi..

            • BigDogMom says:

              Stop, LOL, I love Martha…and if anyone could figure out the uses for dinosaur poop, she could!

              And make money!!!!

          • SeeknDestroy says:


  14. choicelady says:

    Hi KQuark -- long a fan on HuffPo and led here by you. I totally agree with one caveat. Science can produce outcomes that ought to be mulled over quite seriously by all people. I have the A-bomb in mind. Very little of “pure” science exists anymore, and we need to unpack the applied aspects very carefully. I agree that policy should not drive science (nor faith -- 400 years to “pardon” Gallileo is absurd) but we all are part of the mind of public policy and should have a voice in the fundamental morality of science applications. Would you agree that this is a proper place for our voices?

    • KQuark says:

      I think the problem is scientific understanding has accelerated far more quickly than social progerss. The fact that our society cannot handle scientific discoveries and wants to use them for destructive purposes are not the fault of science. We simply need to push social progress and the ethics of how we use scientific discoveries will flow logically from that.

      Your point is 100% valid.

  15. javaz says:

    Excellent article!
    And love the graphics within.
    I bow to your expertise.

    I agree with almost everything you say, and here’s where we’ll find out if opposing views are welcome.
    I disagree with the climate change bill for several reasons, but the main one is cost.
    I understand the importance of paying now to save the future, but there has to be a better way than what has been proposed.

    With our economy the way it stands, and so many people out of work or struggling to make ends meet since taking pay cuts and/or forced to take time off without pay, I cannot support any bill that will raise the cost of power and water.
    “The Navajo Generating Station -- a huge coal-fired power plant outside Page, Arizona supplies a fraction of Arizona’s electricity demand, but its role in moving water to the state’s largest cities has thrust it into a growing battle over the cost of cleaning up air pollution.
    The new EPA rules, if adopted by the agency, would force owners of the plant to install complex new air scrubbers that use ammonia to break down the pollutants. Navajo’s owners say the systems cost too much money and could push power rates out of reach for the plant’s users.” http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/11/01/20091101water-ngs1101.html
    Navajos generally always side with environmentalists, but in this case, they are against the proposed plan because it will simply be too expensive and they will be forced to close the plant.
    Closing the plant will put several hundred people out of work and force Arizona to buy water from another source at even higher rates that will be passed to already struggling consumers, including farmers and orange growers.
    There has to be a better way.
    My 2 cents.

    • KQuark says:

      I just think when you look at the long term costs, including the environmental impact, of burning dirty fossil fuels a little investment now will far outweigh the long term costs to society later. The only bad parts of the energy and climate bill is how it has been scaled down because of costs in my opinion.

      • javaz says:

        I understand what you are saying, but it’s not a little investment, it would be a huge investment that would hurt many people.

        Then again, people were never meant to live in the desert as we do now.
        It goes back to man messing with nature, such as damming portions of the Mississippi and then forced to deal with the floods.

        • KQuark says:

          Even though China is fighting cutting down on green house gasses it is investing massive amounts of money into green technology. We need to create a worthwhile green energy technology manufacturing sector to replace some of the manufacturing jobs we have lost.

          I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

          • javaz says:

            I do respect your opinion and do understand.

            (my husband wants to know how to download an image to the Planet for a thumbnail!- thanks!)

            • AdLib says:

              Here’s how to add the thumbnail/preview image:

              ADDING A PREVIEW IMAGE —

              You must also include a preview of your image with each post, this is the image that appears with your post on the Home page.

              To do this, scroll down to the

            • javaz says:

              That is what we did!
              The image did come in, but at the bottom of the post instead of the top.
              Is there a way to move it once it does that?

            • KQuark says:

              I use FireFox and they have plenty of screen capture addons. FireShot is a good one.

            • javaz says:

              He says okay, but how do you upload it to the Planet?
              (I have no idea about any of this and is it in the directions from the FAQ?)

  16. FeloniousMonk says:

    It’s not just scientists, KQuark. I remember back in the Reagan administration researchers in the social sciences who were seeking federal funding being asked what the outcome of the research was going to be before it was done, and if your predetermined conclusions didn’t fit their agenda, no funding. Example: The effects of birth control on younger women, desired conclusion for funding, abstinence is best. Or, What is the effect of lower crop prices on farm families, -- no funding, the farmers are getting too much sympathy already.

    As an engineer, I have seen the opposite dynamic. Many of the engineers I have known have been staunch conservatives. But then again, I worked for companies like Boeing and was on military programs a lot. But even there many weren’t risk takers and stepping outside the box wasn’t a comfortable thing for them.

    • KQuark says:

      I’ve worked with many Chemical and Paper Science Engineers in my career and no doubt they tend to be more conservative. I appreciate what engineers do tremendously because the products I developed in my career would not have gone anywhere with engineers producing them and applying them to the field. But engineers and scientists do have different mindsets, at least in the areas of natural science I’m familiar with. Scientists tend to be more creative and open to new ideas while the engineers I’ve know are concerned about the practicality of implementing the new technology. In many ways engineers play the Devil’s advocate to new ideas which is a very important part of the creative process. Believe if some of my research colleagues had gone unchecked it would have led to some financial and physical disasters.

      For example, I had one chemist I worked with determined to use massive amounts of sodium hydride to synthesize the novel compound he had developed. Sodium hydride burns when it contacts water spontaneously. It’s usually only used in small amounts as a catylist for some reactions. I kept on telling him it’s just not practical to make the compound that way. Low and behold after several fires in our lab he was directed to use another synthetic pathway by our chemical engineering group.

    • choicelady says:

      Very good observations. As the director of public policy for a very large, progressive faith organization, it is my job to move people to speak out, but it is MORE my job to give them correct information so that stupid policy such as abstinence-only for dealing with unwanted teen pregnancy is not the outcome. I cannot do that well without really solid information. As far as your experience with conservatives, I do think there is a huge gap between science and engineering. I posited this conundrum above in response to KQuark’s outstanding observations. It will always be at the boundary between science and its uses that policy MUST intervene. The old “just ’cause you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD’ -- fill in the blank. Because you CAN split an atom, does this mean you should do so over Hiroshima? It’s where morality does come into the picture. And we in the progressive community must be there to counteract the engineers and other conservatives who always want to do the worst things possible. It is the foundational part of democracy to be thus involved I think.

      • KQuark says:

        There is a related responsibility to what scientific progress brings. Not all progress is good for society but I believe not knowing and not making decisions based on proper science has proved to be much worse.

      • FeloniousMonk says:

        For this one I’m caught on the fulcrum. Contrary to popular arguement, Hiroshima is not a good example. Nagasaki is. The reality in some areas of science is that development is often being done in unknown parallel by multiple parties. For example, the telephone and the airplane both had inventors neck and neck. There are a lot of ugly things that are developed because a) someone just had a curiosity, or b) someone wanted something to use against someone else. It is why we should always insist on morality in those who make the decisions to use these things.

        And it isn’t even the WMDs of each era you have to worry about. I have qualms about the use of Predator drones and the accidental “colateral damage” that seems to always occur.

        Engineers don’t want to do the worst things. Many don’t. And many do fine application work on many things. It is often where those with the power and money direct it, as is in the case of say, a Werner Von Braun, who, although labeled a scientist, was more engineer and project manager than scientist, IMO. And he both created devastation and helped mankind reach into outer space.

        • KQuark says:

          You should like the last paragraph in the post I left below this one. I talk about a perfect example about how good engineers are so necessary.

      • nicole473 says:

        But WHO decides that we should?

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