Friday, September 3, 2010

Let's stop spending (wasting) money on science!

The flood of news from our enlightened nation makes it clear that we are wasting nearly all the money we spend on science (except for helping Hollywood develop better ways to do computer animation, and  chemists find substitutes for Botox).  In spite of the masses of convincing evidence, somehow, after all the billions spent on collecting that evidence and on teaching it in the schools, a lot of our fellow citizens (if Glenn Beck's rally this past weekend can be our guide) have decided that evolution is not true, that Darwin is to blame for 'progressivism' and thus racism and eugenics, and probably the climate change believers as well.  Apparently, we need our nation to 'return to God' (presumably Mr Beck doesn't mean commit suicide).

And these people actually have votes!

If this is how effective teaching is, let's do away with it.  Anyway, it would be much much cheaper to distribute a free taxpayer subsidized copy of the Bible to every American (but just the real ones, the ones born here), cheaper than expensive research studies of evolution whose net effect appears to many just to reinforce their conviction that this is a devil-driven mission of secular humanists to send everyone to Hell.

Then, after we've saved all that money currently wasted on researching and teaching evolution, let's move on to another big money waster.  Why all the investment in studies of climate change and global warming?  After all, those who already know better about evolution have also seen through this as just a (that is, another) ploy by universities to garner grant funds to support their soft heathen (that is, left-wing) lifestyles.  Despite all the research we invest in with taxpayer funds, climate change is widely viewed as yet another misinformation plot, by people who want to take away everyone's SUV or extended-cab pickup.  Those lefties want us to eat, rather than burn, corn.  There's already a movement afoot to reform the UN's disinformation body on the subject of climate change.  But, our enlightened, educated citizens say: why stop there?  Why not do the truly right thing, and abandon studies of climate change entirely?  Don't spend another penny on this heathen (that is, left-wing) conspiracy!

It's high time we in science fessed up to what we're actually doing, give up our hold on resources, stop confusing people and start telling the truth -- oh, and stop trying to make people stop eating bluefin tuna.  And, above all, pray for another major oil strike.

Yes, there are problems with science, especially in controversial areas.  We're fallible and have egos and weaknesses.  That is part of the reason for the UN climate change story.  But caving in on this is also catering to vested-interest Luddites, too -- or mainly!

The news these days doesn't lead one to have much confidence in the value of education to our society.


Jennifer said...

I was wondering just yesterday if the creationists who don't believe in studying science and the big bang and evolution, ever wonder about stuff like photosynthesis, or gravity or good nutrition affecting one's health or even fun stuff like using dry ice to make a simulated volcano in the kitchen. What about basic biology that teaches us medicine? Or saves their children from infectious diseases? But those people don't read your blog.

Anne Buchanan said...

I think of it as like the anti-vaccination people -- the fact that vast majority of the population has their kids vaccinated gives these people's kids the advantage of herd immunity (which is when there aren't enough people susceptible to a given disease to maintain it in a population) so, it turns out they're protected, too. If enough people aren't vaccinated, there'd be trouble (such as in the UK, when enough people rejected MMR vaccines because of the reported autism link, measles incidence went way up in the late 90's), but when it's a fringe minority, not such a problem.

Photosynthesis happens, whether or not science rejecters understand it, and they get to eat green leafy vegetables just like the rest of us.

I think it's fair to say that the practical effects of science ignorance are, so far, not significant for the rest of us. We all still have the benefits of good medicine and so on. So far it's a symptom of the continuing culture wars. But that's why it's important to keep teaching real science in the schools.

Ken Weiss said...

Antiscience is part of our culture battles these days, that we often characterize as right vs left. Creationists, at least the sincere ones rather than those using it as a demogoguic political wedge issue, fear allowing any metaphoric wedge to cast doubt on a sacred text that is comforting and provides hope for a better future existence, etc. If humans could be shown to be out of evolution's reach, there would be far less objection to it.

Acknowledging climate change would mean changing how we live, including that we live with less (much less?) consumption. For many, for whom Wal-Mart consumption big TVs and pickup trucks are, so to speak, the kind of thing that gives many people their only sense of equity about the world.

So to me the issues are complex. But all politics aside, the point is that 'education' only works to some extent and in some ways. And unlike dry ice and photosynthesis, the closer it strikes to home perhaps, the less 'take' it has on people.

Anne Buchanan said...

Right, education won't end the culture wars. But good, rigorous science teaching does take -- on kids open to learning it.

Holly Dunsworth said...

well said.