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A Fundamental Disconnect
Updated 18 Jan 2007

"My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?"
--Letter from Galileo Galilei to Johannes Kepler

And this is true today in the good old USA! The Neocons and the present Administration emulate the Pope when they toe the Born-Again line. Further, the US is among other things a legalistic society.

"When the law is on your side, pound the law. When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When neither are on your side, pound the table."
An old lawyer, quoted by Poulos in "A mathematician Reads the Newspaper."

Science is the ultimate search for truth. Even when it provides only a tentative answer, science still "explains" nature and the characteristics and origins of humanity better than does any religion. Copernicus, Tycho, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Darwin and Mendel arrived at explanations of how the heavens go; they said nothing about how to go to heaven and how nature works. Yet Galileo was subject to house arrest by the Pope for the last decade of his life.

Would that the Intelligent Design folks cast a glance through the "microscopes" of Evolution. Have the Born-Again-Christian Fundamentalists studied and thought about what they see in the microscope? Some things never change.

Let's analyze this: On the one hand we have a group of people motivated to discover the present and hopefully to better cope with an unknown future. They are accountable only to themselves and their in-house critics who can and do test their ideas in their own ever refined quest for deeper insights. These people seek ever more-precise knowledge with which to clarify reality. Science thus has an effective set of checks and balances built in--and it works. The efforts of scientists, gathering steam from the days of Copernicus and Paracelsus, have brought humanity unparalleled control over and ability to live with nature. Science has the remaining time of our earth's ability to sustain life as its horizon. "Go forth and multiply" is already encountering the limits of the biosphere.

On the other hand we have the politicians, motivated by their individual needs for power and control--like the pope in Galileo's time--what was his name? Politicians may or may not be accountable to their own people:

  • in democracies, the citizens elect their leaders;
  • in theocracies, the religious sects select the Popes and Caliphs;
  • inheritance governs who the monarchs are;
  • coups emplace dictators;
  • vested money interests elevate their candidates in plutocracies, which America has largely become.

Only in true democracies is there any built-in set of checks and balances. It is not surprising therefore that emancipation of the common citizen has primarily occurred in democracies.

Politicians, driven by their lust for power, have very short time-horizons, even in democratic nations. Scientists and politicians are often at odds with each other. Issues that science defines clearly with events and policies designed to contain or limit "damage" or achieve "progress" are too often lost on the short-sighted politicians if solutions lie beyond their time-horizon. And sadly, that can be so even when the horizon is close in.

There is a need to reform society. Consider:

Terrorism: decades of dedicated effort will be needed for resolution, perhaps generations. Present policies are mere band-aids, bound to fail, and very apt to take our very greatness down with them; a process that has already begun. Instead, we need to research the basic causes and follow up with action--what this website is focused on. See: Authoritarian Personality.

Nuclear Genie: with the cat out of the bag for some six decades now it is very late to even try putting the genie back into the bottle. But try we must, for there is no alternative. Only the UN has the legitimacy to achieve this. The US and UN member states must work together. See Baruch Plan, Nuclear Terror, and Counter Terror.

Global warming: Mr. Bush walked away from the Kyoto agreement with the lame excuse: it would be too costly. Again we are in the eleventh hour, but try we must. A recently recognized feature of climatology may make forecasts so far optimistic. Present policies ensure a sea level rise of one meter or more this century; it has already become measurable and a trend. In present dollars, that event will cost Florida alone a half-trillion dollars. In comparison, the EU expects the cost of Kyoto to be 0.1 percent of its gross domestic product by 2010. This is a no-brainer, except to "born-again" politicians. If there was a lesson in Katrina, it is that we had better get a move on toward climate control. Hurricane intensity and duration--how damage is done--are increasing in step with global warming. That happens to be a fact, and it is a fact this administration has ignored far too long. Fortunately, several states with wise citizens have essentially adopted the Kyoto goals.

We are clearly and deeply into three world crises. Yet this Administration is still in denial--applying Band Aids where painful surgery is needed.

In fact this Administration is actively attacking science from several directions in addition to the above. Mr. Bush has:

  • Stacked administration advisory committees with cronies, members of the religious right, and industry representatives. Real scientists need not apply.
  • Begun deploying a missile defense system without any evidence that it would, or even could, work reliably. Does this illustrate a misperception or what? Well not completely, it will attract funding and some votes--the whole point of the exercise.
  • Banned funding for embryonic stem cell research, except for the few lines existing before the order. The good folks from California have a much better sense of the new realities.
  • Ordered the Center For Disease Control and Prevention to remove information about condom use and efficacy from its web site. This in the face of overwhelming evidence that condom use is a vital first line of defense against STD's. They have not been able to substitute any alternative even close to being as effective.
  • Forced the National Cancer Institute to say that abortion may cause breast cancer when many sound scientific studies show otherwise.
  • Endorsed challenging evolution in the class room, when evolution is thoroughly established as factual. In fact evolution is the central theme of biology. It can be no other way, and even the Catholic Church now officially agrees.
  • Denied much too long that Global Warming is enhanced by human activities.

Where is our logic, as voters, in dealing with these issues?

One place to start might be: Marshall Institute. "Our mission is to encourage the use of sound science in making public policy about important issues for which science and technology are major considerations."


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