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Nature: Keep shouting to save science

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Sure. That’ll work. From Nature:

Keep shouting to save science: As political leaders on either side of the Atlantic set out contrasting positions on science funding, researchers everywhere need to ensure that their voices are heard.

It is the best and worst of political times for science. … The US government has always been one of the largest and most reliable backers of basic science, but that would clearly change if Trump controlled the purse strings. Many scientists draw hope from the fact that he does not, and it’s already quite clear that Congress — which allocates funding — takes a different view of things. The NIH saw its 2017 budget increase in the deal announced in late April, and the EPA saw a manageable 1% decrease.More.

Shout if you want. But consider:

Squabbles over money come and go. A prosperous economy alleviates them because, in that case, for most politicians, what’s a million? Why get into a career-limiting fight about it?

The United States was generous with science in the last century because, fundamentally, it had money. For example, NASA is currently funding some silliness about supposed religious fears of ET. Probably a wrong use of funds, but no one in the United States is starving to make it happen. Hence no big outrage.

The best way to get money for science is to promote prosperity. And if you have a problem with prosperity, ascetic religion may be a better choice of vocation.

The most serious problem for science right now is the gradual leak into the disciplines of post-modern culture. Ideas such as that Newtonian physics is politically oppressive poison science in a way that cannot be confronted by shoutin’ and marchin’. They make the basic principles behind science meaningless and turn it into an instrument for causes unrelated to understanding nature.

Will Nature have the courage to confront that stuff?  Stay tuned.

See also: Nature advises scientists concerned about the marchin’, marchin’ to shout louder

and

Keep marchin’ marchin’: Newtonian physics is oppressive

7 Replies to “Nature: Keep shouting to save science

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    The best way to get money for science is to promote prosperity.

    And a good way to do that is to invest in science. How are politicians going to hear this message if scientists don’t promote it?

  2. 2
    asauber says:

    How are politicians going to hear this message if

    Dropouts
    Paid Marchers
    Freaks In Silly Hats
    Tree Huggers
    Snowflakes
    Internet Evo Trolls
    Conceptual P*nis Enviers
    Warmists
    etc…

    don’t promote it?

    Andrew

  3. 3
    News says:

    Bob O’H at 1 and asauber at 2: People who were willing to listen with respect to Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Jonas Salk don’t know what to make of a parade of freaks in silly hats marching and shouting downtown on Saturday.

    A “Shout Louder!” contest will not change their minds.

    For example, pussyhats encourage rather than denounce claims that the most basic science values are oppressive.

    And what does Nature think about that? Do they say boo about it? Seriously?

    Maybe the public is stupid. But not quite so stupid as to miss the difference between Marie Curie and some academic dingbat who claims that physics is oppressive.

    Face it. Science organizations need to rethink their overall values, their strategy, and their PR*.

    * Getting Bill Nye, the “Pee Wee Herman of popular science,” involved was, um, a blunder. And not because he is white. A willingness to see his ethnicity as the problem demonstrates just how out of touch the current leadership is.

  4. 4

    The best way to promote science is to stop lying to the public that pays for it.

  5. 5

    The so-called March for Science was a joke, and Bill Nye was the perfect clown to lead the event.

    I regularly read (and enjoy) Science and Nature. Both are a/mat rags, but they usually contain some good empirical science. You just have to hold your nose past the dreadful a/mat philosophizing.

  6. 6
    News says:

    Truth Will Set You Free at 5: Granted, Science and Nature are good publications.

    But their editors seem unwilling to see and address the Pussyhats for Science movement for what it is: an intellectual movement that will do for the science faculty what it has done for the arts faculty.

    They have to decide whether science is worth the confrontation.

    The public sees what they don’t or won’t.

  7. 7
    Bob O'H says:

    News – “shout louder” does work. It worked for the Science is Vital campaign in the UK. It also worked for th civil rights campaign in the US in the 60s. This is how politics works – it gets press coverage, which is important, and it gets people involved, so other forms of lobbying become more effective because you’re not just a guy with crazy hair & a lab coat(*), you’re someone with people behind you.

    (*) not that Einstein ever used a lab coat for work, of course.

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