The Death of American Science

The Last Crusader
The Last Crusader | Source

Defunding Research

What will the consequences be for America as we deny science and embrace ignorance? Fortunately, for humanity the quest for knowledge continues unabated in other countries. If the science denial crowd wins the debate in the US, we may still be able to buy the next innovation from China or India or even Europe. At present, the US, is still the world leader in the pursuit of science but there are pressures leading us to abandon our lead and embrace ignorance as the way forward.

Two situations are working to setback science in America. First and simplest to change is taxes. Scientists and Universities depend on the government to fund their research. When a scientist wants funds for research, he/she must apply for grant money either from the government or from private sources. The government supplies as much as 65 percent of all of the university research dollars. The grant process is laborious and fraught with pitfalls. If the scientist makes a trivial mistake in the grant form, the grant will be rejected automatically. For those grant applications that make it past the front door it will be given a percentile grade. A grade of 2 percent means that it was considered more promising than 98 percent of the proposed projects. The higher percentile score your project receives means there will be a lower chance of being funded. Now enters our budget deficit, Uncle Sam wants to spend less, politicians are insisting that budgets must be cut, food assistance to children? Cut. Defense Department civilian employees? Cut. Wildfire prevention? Cut. Basic scientific projects are being defunded and universities are losing federal money. Now we add "Sequestration" this harmless and victimless government-funding debacle has defunded even more projects. The result is bad news for science in the US. Scientists are scrambling to find funds, many projects have already been abandoned, test animals have been euthanized and labs shuttered. We are no longer looked at as the country to go to for scientific research and innovation. Some scientists are moving to places which have more favorable atmospheres for scientific pursuits. It has happened more than once already, a scientist, educated in an American university loses funding. The Chinese, sitting on a pile of American cash, have been enticing American taught scientists to work for them. What is the benefit to Americans? We get lower taxes and we may get to buy new technologies from China.

The answer to this part of the anti-science debate is simple. If we want to remain at the forefront of technological innovation, we will have to pay for it with taxes. If we are not willing to pay for scientific advances we will have to be satisfied to let China lead.

College dropouts like Rush and Glenn, funded by big oil spread anti-science disinformation
College dropouts like Rush and Glenn, funded by big oil spread anti-science disinformation | Source

Leon Festinger

"A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger

The Enlightenment

If there is something you know, communicate it. If there is something you don't know, search for
If there is something you know, communicate it. If there is something you don't know, search for | Source

Bill Nye

God was the answer to all the big questions

Three hundred years ago, before the Enlightenment, battle lines were already drawn. Before the Enlightenment, believing in God was the answer to all the big questions of life. God controlled everything. If your crops failed, you must have sinned. If you became ill, God must be exacting revenge. God, either angry or pleased, brought about droughts and floods, famines or feasts. Even when we couldn't figure out what God was trying to do, everything worked out according to God's plan. As they say, "God works in mysterious ways", and that's all you needed to know.

During the Enlightenment, working on foundations built during the Renaissance and as far back as ancient Greece, Europeans found their world was getting bigger. Philosophers, scientists and artists were abandoning traditional ways of understanding the universe and turning to a deductive way of understanding nature based on experiments, observations and repeatability; the scientific method. The authority of the Church was threatened. Earlier, during the 16th and 17th centuries, fear of heretics spreading teachings and opinions that contradicted the Bible dominated the Catholic Church. They persecuted scientists who formed theories the Church deemed heretical and forbade people from reading any books on those subjects by placing the books on the Index of Prohibited Books. During the Enlightenment, people shook off the strictures of the Church. Eventually, the Catholic Church found accommodations with science and decided that the scientific method was doing nothing more than revealing how God worked in the world. Scientists can say "Big Bang" but we say, "And God said let there be light".

VANISHING OPPORTUNITY

Source

UNLIMITED POTENTIAL, VANISHING OPPORTUNITY

Nearly 20 Percent Of Scientists Contemplate Moving Overseas Due In Part To Sequestration

"In the summer of 2013, ASBMB and fifteen other scientific societies conducted a survey of scientists asking questions regarding cuts to nondefense discretionary spending by Congress since 2010. Over 3,700 scientists from all fields of research responded.

Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity compiles the data from the survey into an easily understandable report that chronicles the difficulties of scientists trying to secure federal funds for research".

http://www.asbmb.org/Advocacy/advocacy.aspx?id=22422

The Truth About Global Warming - Science & Distortion - Stephen Schneider

American Science as it was

Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburg where he first developed the Polio vacine
Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburg where he first developed the Polio vacine | Source
Measles and vaccines in the US
Measles and vaccines in the US | Source
I don't see any climate change
I don't see any climate change | Source

The Un-Enlightenment?

Today, certain Evangelicals, politicians and radio talking heads want to return to the beliefs of pre-Enlightenment Europe, rejecting science and answers based on examining evidence. Faith in God alone will provide answers to any problem created by people. God didn't tell us that he used evolution to develop species so it didn't happen. Dragons were real animals in Biblical times. (Maybe Solomon kept a dragon as a pet.) The Earth is only six thousand years old and scientists are just too stupid to figure out the earth's real age. Dinosaurs and people walked the land at the same time, ("I saw the footprints and they look just like a person's footprint"). Vaccines? Vaccines don't work and they cause autism. This is in spite of the fact that Smallpox has been wiped out by vaccine worldwide. Measles is very rare in the US but it still exists in countries where children haven't been vaccinated. The movement in this country may actually bring measles back to America as our kids don't get vaccinated but good parents don't believe in science and don't care about evidence.
We're afraid to drink tap water so millions of us drink bottled water contaminated with BPA. We pay as much as 9 thousand times as much for bottled water as we do for tap and 25 to 30 percent of bottled water comes straight from municipal tap water systems. Bottled water is required to be tested less frequently than tap water for bacteria and chemical contaminants, and FDA rules for bottled water allow for some contamination by E. coli or fecal coliform bacteria. The EPA is charged with keeping our water supply safe but the budget cutters want to defund the agency and the sequestration has already cut into the EPA budget.

Many of us believe Global Climate Change doesn't exist. Wait, years of rising temperatures have convinced some to admit the climate is changing so maybe Global Climate Change is happening but people had nothing to do with it. With a world population of about 7 billion souls, we are adding about 88 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every day yet there are those who believe that we are not affecting the planet. Even the most remote places on earth show signs of human pollution yet we are not responsible for any of it, and, even if we are responsible, God will fix it for us.

GOP must "stop being the stupid party"

Funding for climate change denial
Funding for climate change denial | Source

Exxon Mobil

Are you being duped by Exxon Mobil? This PDF report "identifies how strategies and tactics used by ExxonMobil mirror the well-documented campaign by the tobacco industry to prevent government

regulation by creating public confusion about the link between smoking and disease".

The danger of science denial

John Shimkus

God will fix it
God will fix it | Source
The map illustrates just how much warmer temperatures were in the decade (2000-2009) compared to average temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980 (a common reference period for climate studies). The most extreme warming, shown in red,
The map illustrates just how much warmer temperatures were in the decade (2000-2009) compared to average temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980 (a common reference period for climate studies). The most extreme warming, shown in red, | Source
Line plot of global mean land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with the base period 1951-1980. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the five-year running mean.
Line plot of global mean land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with the base period 1951-1980. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the five-year running mean. | Source

"Global warming can't destroy humanity

"Global warming can't destroy humanity
because flood won't kill mankind
",
said GOP Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), who opposed cap and trade
legislation because God would not allow the Earth to be destroyed by global
warming. This fellow must be reading a different Bible from the one I
have. I thought the Bible said the God would not destroy humanity with a flood.
I don't think the Bible says that we won't damage the environment ourselves. Shimkus is making a typical strawman argument.

It is impossible to find any authority saying global warming will destroy
humanity. They are however warning us that sea levels will rise making many cities
uninhabitable, droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires
and less winter snow may turn fertile plains into dust bowls, and if water for irrigation
disappears, golden waves of grain may revert to prairie grasses. Humanity
however is expected to survive, unlike the many animal species we destroy. It is nice though to be assured by Shimkus
that God will come along and clean up the mess we made. Pollute as much as you
want, God, is now a cosmic chambermaid and he will clean up after us.

Global Warming Facts

Do you know more about science and technology than the average American?

"Take our 13-question quiz to test your knowledge of scientific concepts. Then see how you did in comparison with the 1,006 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine".

http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/science-knowledge/

The results of this quiz are appalling, at the bottom only 20 percent of us know which gas makes up most of the atmosphere and more than half of us think that lazers focus sound waves.

So, How did you do?

Will China Lead?

Perhaps Chinese scientists will lead
Perhaps Chinese scientists will lead | Source

Consequences

For right now, the good ol' USA is still at the center of science and technology. Do we really want a generation of people that deny the advances of science? Who will be the engineers in this brave old world? If we do nothing, because we have lost faith in education, science and evidence, we give an advantage to our rivals. Perhaps we can buy the next technological advances from China or India or Europe where they still embrace progress.

The climate change debate has become a polarized political battle that changes an important issue into an irrelevant circus with religious aspects. Waiting for catastrophe and denying the evidence from science and your own senses is not a solution, it is placing a religious faith in talk radio and politicians funded by big oil.

Copyright Lee H Raynor

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Comments 12 comments

HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

The Republican party and their corporate benefactors have suddenly become anti-science because it suits their economic wants. They are also able to link with far right religious fundamentalists and appeal to their religious dogma. It is incredibly dangerous because science and knowledge have made our economy and country great. Now with global warming threatening our planet, these ignorant narcissists do nothing and block action. Our children will surely suffer. Excellent Hub, Chefsref.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

Wonderful hub about a critical problem in the U.S. I can't believe that we've taken such a backward slide in this country, and hope that we can pull out of it before it's too late. Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 3 years ago from Southwest England

Wow, you have covered a lot of issues here. We certainly need to step up levels of education and scientific reasearch for all throughout the world. I don't think it matters about world leaders and all that, the important thing is that research is done for the right reasons (i.e. humanitarian and environmental) and is shared by all.

Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking hub :)


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx HS

I couldn't agree more


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx mperrottet

Yes, it amazes me that so many people embrace ignorance in spite of evidence and science.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx mperrottet

Yes, it amazes me that so many people embrace ignorance in spite of evidence and science.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Hey Imogen

I agree completely. Here at the University of Florida we have seen labs closed due to lack of funding and scientists leaving for greener pastures. It's tragic.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

This is very alarming. America is beginning to lose its scientific edge and that is very saddening. Schools are teaching creationism and intelligent design instead of evolution which is based upon scientific evidence. Then there is the issue of stem research which could be highly beneficial in terms of disease. This newly American anti-scientific ideology is further retarding progress and is putting America behind that of many developed nations in the world. Being anti-science is doing nothing but harming us in the long run.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx GM

Yes, it's sad but true. Maybe we should all learn Chinese


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

By the year 2040, we may HAVE to in order to survive and thrive in the coming, future economy.


Mark Johann profile image

Mark Johann 3 years ago from Italy

I like your views here. I agree with some of your thoughts. Later, surviving will be our next preparation. So it just like when the times before old stone age.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx Mark

I'm afraid that we may have embarked on an era of high tech feudalism. The "haves" will be those with education and high income and the "have nots" will be the uneducated, working for McDonalds and waiting for God to intervene

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