It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Sabotage of science in the US

page: 1
1

log in

join
share:

posted on Jan, 12 2007 @ 02:14 PM
link   
Many science experts are warning that the failure of Congress to pass budgets have put Americas lead in science research at risk. By capping the budgets at FY2006 levels inflation means that those budgets in effect are suffering from a 3-4% reduction in funds. With funding in jeopardy, and program delays looming, many government scientists may soon be out of work.

 

www.nytimes.com[ /url]



The failure of Congress to pass new budgets for the current fiscal year has produced a crisis in science financing that threatens to close major facilities, delay new projects and leave thousands of government scientists out of work, federal and private officials say.

“The consequences for American science will be disastrous,” said Michael S. Lubell, a senior official of the American Physical Society, the world’s largest group of physicists. “The message to young scientists and industry leaders, alike, will be, ‘Look outside the U.S. if you want to succeed.’ ”

Last year, Congress passed just 2 of 11 spending bills — for the military and domestic security — and froze all other federal spending at 2006 levels. Factoring in inflation, the budgets translate into reductions of about 3 percent to 4 percent for most fields of science and engineering.




Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Why am I posting this in the Political News forum, as opposed to "Science and Health"? Because the matter is political in nature, and it concerns the failure of the Congress to pass the budget for 2007. Agencies are operating on the "Continuing resolution" basis, which caps the funding at the 2006 level (which in many cases was insuffucient to properly fund many areas of scientific research). Given the rising costs of health insurance to the employers (contractors of the US govt) and other inflationary pressures, it is also guaranteed to lead to layoffs in some of the more important projects in the US.

In the field of science, losing hundreds of qualified professionals and delaying projects by years (and losing international support for these in the process) is something that we won't be able to undo. In my opinion, this is a direct sabotage of science in the US, which our shortsighted policymakers aren't willing to put an end to.



[edit on 12-1-2007 by Aelita]

[edit on 12-1-2007 by Aelita]

[edit on 1/12/07 by FredT]



MBF

posted on Jan, 12 2007 @ 08:53 PM
link   
It will take a long time to make up what we lose. The field of science must be put on the front burner for us to keep our position. I think that Japan graduates something like 5 times the engineers than the US does every year. It's a disgrace.



posted on Jan, 14 2007 @ 06:58 AM
link   
The sad reality is that America over the past 30 years or so has become increasingly ignorant, and not just about science either.

The culprits I believe are the conservative drumbeat lie about taxes and how there just isn't enough money to go around to fund educational programs such as science in school, or the arts and music, but also conservation and social programs as well. But of course is always enough money to buy another big toy for the pentagon and more tellingly, another big tax break for the already wealthy.

Then there is the trend in education to teach to the test at the expense of everything else. Education is far more than just the ability to take a test, there are also the skills needed to process and analyze information logically, to be able to reason and write coherently, to understand metaphors and to think symbolically (a key component to reasoning) all skills that are not quantifiable is such linear processes such as test taking.

Then there is the influence of radical fundamentalism and its attack on science in general. In my humble opinion science is not a threat to faith. many of the greatest scientists were men of deep and profound faith who felt that their work in science enriched faith by by exploring the complexity of God's creation. Does it really matter if we were created in 7 days or we evolved? the mere fact that we are here at all is a miracle beyond words. Religion is at its core our attempt to approach the ineffable mystery of creation, by its very necessity a matter of metaphor, symbolism and (with a nod to Van the man) the inarticulate speech of the heart, and is best understood that way. Science deals with the nuts and bolts of how this miracle of creation, works and why. Blow hards like Richard Dawkins not withstanding, matters of faith are outside its preserve.

How ignorant we as a society (to our determent and peril) about science have become is abundantly clear when you read some of the attacks on such topics as evolution and global warming posted here. I will not point any specific examples out because I do not want to embarrass anybody but there are some on here whose ability to reason, much less scientifically, is sorely lacking. For the record the terminology of science breaks down as follows:

hypothesis: A hypothesis is an unproven idea (hunch, concept, suggestion etc) about how something works that has not been subjected to a series of REPEATABLE (by other scientists aka peer review) tests to determine its validity. Every aspect of the hypothesis is subjected to tests and if at any point, some part of it fails to hold up to scrutiny, the whole hypothesis has to be reworked until it is consistently reproducible by whomever examines it. Then and only then can it be called...

A theory. A theory is a stable hypothesis. By that I mean that the core assumptions of it are solid and hold up to scrutiny. That does not mean that it cannot be fine tuned as it were, again by the repeated tests under peer review. A good example of this is the theory of evolution. Despite creationists assertions to the contrary the theory of evolution is not under attack within the scientific community. There is a strong consensus concerning its validity. However there are debates concerning certain details. For example; Darwin asserted that the process is a slow steady one that progresses at a set pace. Other scientists have since proposed that its progress is not so stately. Stephen Jay Gould for one has suggested that it speeds up and slows down according to the need to adapt to changing environmental (and possibly social) conditions. This is of course questioning a component of Darwin's theory but it does not, I repeat does not throw the whole thing into doubt. As it stands, the core arguments of the theory of evolution are remarkably stable.

Only after long and consistent observation and review can a theory be called a "law", and there are precious few of them with the law of gravity probably being the most famous. basically to call a theory a law is to say that it is a given and no longer open to debate. It can be studied, observations of its effects can be made but the core argument is stable and can be subjected to repeated test and will hold up to scrutiny.

THAT is the scientific method in a nutshell.

[edit on 14-1-2007 by grover]



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 12:37 PM
link   
Nice dissertation Grover, but you seem to have wandered off the track a bit. The start of your reply is great--it's relevant to the original topic, it's concise and well stated--the ending is off on a tangent about the scientific process. What was the point your were trying to make there?



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 12:49 PM
link   
I don't know Astronomer70, I tend to think it is right on target. How can we discuss the sabotage of science education in our country when so many people (even many on here) have profound misunderstandings about what the scientific process actually is? I think that to understand what is at risk, and what exactly we are talking about when we use the term science, it has to be spelt out in no uncertain terms. After all the hard core right wing and the fundamentalist attack on science relies specifically on that uncertainity.



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 01:13 PM
link   
Your last post is right on target and would have been great if it preceeded (or followed) your discussion of the scientific process. But..., that's only a personal opinion so don't take it wrong. Personally, I like the way you seem to think and always enjoy reading your replys.



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 06:42 PM
link   
Thanks I apperciate that.



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 06:52 PM
link   
Unfortunately, the gov't always has dictated what projects are important and which are not. There are always projects that get funded and those that don't. In any case, it is unfortunate, that many budgets will be cut, but scientists will have to do what scientists have done... adapt or go out of business so to speak.

The trend, as the OP indicates, is that most funding is being directed towards 'defense' related projects these days. This is no great surprise either... a significant portion of products we have today are the direct result of defense spending... the PC being one of these. If it weren't for the ENIAC and later EDVAC, both of which were largely 'defense' projects, we wouldn't have computers today.

This isn't to say that what's happening is okay, and in fact, it affects me directly, as most of my salary is paid off of gov't grants.... just that it's not necessarily unprecedented. There are ebbs and flows in gov't funding just like everything else.

Time to rewrite those grant proposals to reflect the defense-related capabilities of any particular project, which is often not that difficult to do.



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 11:49 PM
link   
kallikak losing research scientists is not an easy thing to make up. If forced to leave, or abandon their projects, they generally end up working for the DoD or on someone else's project and they don't come back for years--sometimes never. Imagine for a moment what would happen if suddenly the entire NASA budget were cut. A greatly talented pool of dedicated people would disperse and this nation's capability to operate in space would largely be gone. If, the following year, the budget was suddenly restored, it would be too late. The people to make it all happen would be gone--many for good. That would be a problem for the entire country for many years.

Now I realize a 3-4 percent budget reduction doesn't sound like much (and in the larger scheme of things it isn't), but as you must know, it isn't like all the projects take an equal 3-4 percent cut, some just don't get funding at all. Therefore, on a smaller scale than my NASA example, talent pools evaporate.

[edit on 17-1-2007 by Astronomer70]



posted on Jan, 18 2007 @ 08:26 AM
link   

Originally posted by Astronomer70
kallikak losing research scientists is not an easy thing to make up. If forced to leave, or abandon their projects, they generally end up working for the DoD or on someone else's project and they don't come back for years--sometimes never.

Look, I'm not saying this is okay. I'm saying it's reality. There are lean times and there are bountiful times for scientists, just like any other industry. It's the way new ideas and projects, etc. that are deemed important are ushered in and/or maintained, and other ideas and research projects are phased out. Again, I'm not saying it's good... just that it's reality.

I don't know if you've ever worked in science or not, but 'losing' research scientists is a dodgy issue. I've worked in science for quite some time, and I've moved from job to job. Grants come and grants go, and when you're dependent on such funding for your income, the realities of job insecurity can be very much, in your face. IOW, most scientists are acutely aware of the pitfalls of competing for and working under grant money.

I worked for a company that not only lost a grant, but actually had their funding cut in the middle of the project. You collect your notebooks, and start looking for other avenues... it's the reality of the industry. It's not sabotage.

BTW, scientists that lose their grant money don't generally end up working for the DoD.


Imagine for a moment what would happen if suddenly the entire NASA budget were cut. A greatly talented pool of dedicated people would disperse and this nation's capability to operate in space would largely be gone. If, the following year, the budget was suddenly restored, it would be too late. The people to make it all happen would be gone--many for good. That would be a problem for the entire country for many years.

Perhaps, but that's not going to happen. They're not going to cut the entire NASA budget, and it's not realistic to propose it. Those aren't the type of programs that are going to be cut. And when their budgets are reduced, they cut the scientific staff last. The projects and the people that are going to be most affected are not large mechanisms like NASA... it's less of the small change kind of stuff... 200 million for studying the cancer mechanisms, as opposed to 300 million in the past... It's the same game for the scientists really... but the competition has just been increased. Additionally, when scientists lose federal funds, there are other options. They don't just give up and walk away... There are lots of rich people looking to give away money, and a lot of scientists do recieve private funding.

All I'm saying is it's budget cuts, and a reality that scientists are somewhat accustomed to, it's not sabotage or some conspiracy.

And it's not like these scientists would just disappear. They just move on to different things. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, the Universities are cranking out Ph.D.'s much faster than the job-market can keep up; it sucks to have to apply for a job, knowing full well, that literally 1600 other Ph.D.'s are also going to be applying, but it's reality, even if it sucks.


Now I realize a 3-4 percent budget reduction doesn't sound like much (and in the larger scheme of things it isn't), but as you must know, it isn't like all the projects take an equal 3-4 percent cut, some just don't get funding at all. Therefore, on a smaller scale than my NASA example, talent pools evaporate.


Hmmm... I didn't say anything about the cut not being much... I just said it's the name of the game... basically. But you're right some projects just aren't funded further... but talent pools don't evaporate... talent or scientific expertise is just redistributed within the same field. When some scientists source of funds dries up, and doesn't mean they're going to pack up and leave the country, it means they need to find a new job.



new topics

top topics



 
1

log in

join