Hugh Pickens writes:
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame writes on his blog that science's biggest fail of all time is 'everything about diet and fitness':
I used to think fatty food made you fat. Now it seems the opposite is true. Eating lots of peanuts, avocados, and cheese, for example, probably decreases your appetite and keeps you thin. I used to think vitamins had been thoroughly studied for their health trade-offs. They haven’t. The reason you take one multivitamin pill a day is marketing, not science. I used to think the U.S. food pyramid was good science. In the past it was not, and I assume it is not now. I used to think drinking one glass of alcohol a day is good for health, but now I think that idea is probably just a correlation found in studies.
According to Adams, the direct problem of science is that it has been collectively steering an entire generation toward obesity, diabetes, and coronary problems. But the indirect problem might be worse: It is hard to trust science because it has a credibility issue that it earned. "I think science has earned its lack of credibility with the public. If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?"
In the part of his Farewell Address that's never quoted, after his comments on the Military-Industrial Complex.. even though he was just as prescient about the Science-Political Complex:
"In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."
I do not live in the US, but I am a scientist. I get a bit uneasy when I read this. What exactly is his point here?
Things that are mentioned:- science becomes more costly, and the government is paying for that (which he seems to be implying is bad).I do not think any scientist wants to do costly research. It is just that a fancy project proposal with expensive machines looks good. This may sound crazy but as soon as you propose to do something simple, nobody seems interested. Well, that and it is obviously nice to dream about what you could do if you had the money. But the current system (that is made by politicians) exactly rewards this kind of high-profile, lots of $$$ to few people, projects. It is not something that science is doing, it is what "the people" are pushing.
- a government contract becomes a substitute for curiosity..what are you smoking dude...Curiosity does not feed a family. In the past, scientist got a nice, well paid, permanent job and good social standing. Currently, they have to make do with short temporary contracts and move all over the world. I know nobody who is doing science for the shitty contracts. Those people leave to industry. You need the shitty contract just because you love your curiosity too much.
-domination of scholars by employment (what does that even mean?) and power of money.Yes, we are soo dominated. Know any billionaire academics (that made their money using this Federal employment contracts you speak off)?
-public policy becoming a captive of a scientific eliteCompared to it being captive of ruthless capitalists? This would be a blessing.
All in all, I do not think he had anything insightful to say here...