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U.S. Science Council - Removing the Executive Stranglehold

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posted on Feb, 20 2007 @ 01:31 PM
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Howdy all,

I wanted to test the waters on an idea.

In a nutshell, the world of science has become too diverse, too complicated, and far too important to be left up to the opinion of one person whom hasn't even so much as a bachelors of science. In my opinion, the reason we face the threat of global climate change, have no defense against an end-life event (such as a comet impact), experience rampant pollution, and our dependance on fossil fuels, are all the direct result of putting what should be scientific decisions in the hands of a partisan beaurocrat.

Emprical Data, NOT the personal views of the executive branch, should dictate scientific fact.

What I feel we need is an independant council of some sort to measure scientific merit to determine the national stance or standard towards a matter of scientific importance.

For instance, Global Warming (or, more accurately, Global Climate Change). Part of the reason there are still people around who can say, with a straight face, that it doesn't exist, while at the same time demonstrating a complete lack of understanding as to what it means, is because there is no centralized, qualified body of scientists in the U.S. to review the evidence and deliver a national stance. Let's be frank, the vast, vast majority of people in the world are not qualified to make that kind of assessment. Most aren't even capable of reading someone else's assessment and understanding it. Hence the value of peer-review, and scientists who actually collect and analyze emprical data.

Now granted, there will be a great deal of debate among the scientific community about the specifics, but for the most part their views will not be based off something they read in a magazine, or what a shock-jock or TV talk show host told them to believe. Most scientists are capable of reading and respecting data, and while they may never fully agree with each other on specifics, they can usually arrive at a decent ballpark figure or temper their degree of accuracy with a percentage margin of error.

The difficulty is in trying to determine how to implement such a council. As best as I can determine, the options are thus:

  • Create a Federal Court of Science. As with all federal courts, the judges would be appointed by the President as a lifetime position.

    PROS: Legal ability to enforce scientific consensus.

    CONS: Science changes rapidly, much much more swiftly than law. Lifetime appointees not only lack new blood in a field that demands it, but places the fate of science for generations in the political hands of one person.


  • Create a bipartisan council by congress.

    PROS: Not lifetime positions, greater degree in variance.

    CONS: Partisan control, token importance, increased workload for already overwhelmed congress.


  • Pass a Constitutional Ammendment creating an elected body of scientists, giving equal weight to each state, with regular elections timed with the house or senate.

    PROS: Each state's individual scientific interests get represented, ability to fluidly move with the times, public accountability for the results.

    CONS: REALLY hard to pass a constitutional ammendment, and voter apathy.


    Anyway, I'm curious about y'all's thoughts and questions, both about the idea itself, and how to implement it, the measure of power they would have, etc.




  • posted on Feb, 20 2007 @ 01:58 PM
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    here's my take on it

    a science council is great
    as long as it is removed from:

    elections
    federal/state appointments by the executive branch
    federal/state appointments by the legislative branch
    federal/state appointments by the judicial branch

    basically, as long as science isn't democratized, i'd be fine with it

    also, i think this should actually be something that is international, because many of the world's leading scientists aren't american

    requirements should include easy standards, such as a legitimate doctorate (diploma mill graduates like kent hovind should be excluded)



    posted on Feb, 20 2007 @ 02:35 PM
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    Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
    a science council is great
    as long as it is removed from:

    elections
    federal/state appointments by the executive branch
    federal/state appointments by the legislative branch
    federal/state appointments by the judicial branch


    Now, out of curiosity, how would someone get into the council if they aren't elected and aren't appointed?

    I'd thought elections would be a good way to ensure fair turnover and representation of state's interests. If you have another way to ensure that, though, I'm absolutely all ears.



    Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
    basically, as long as science isn't democratized, i'd be fine with it


    Ahhh, I think I see. Please allow me to clarify.

    It's not so much that the science would be democratized, but rather the scientists within the council. For instance, Oregon might elect a biologist that specializes in forestry. Texas might elect a geologist. Florida might elect a marine biologist. This would allow for a wide variety of scientific skills, viewpoints, and considerations, while at the same time maintaining the state's interests. The idea being that when they have to consider the scientific rammifications of Situation X, the effects can be predicted and analyzed across a broad spectrum of effects, from bottom of the ocean to the outer limits of space, and everything in between that is of importance to the nation.


    Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
    also, i think this should actually be something that is international, because many of the world's leading scientists aren't american


    As much as I agree with both counts, two problems arise. There's already one in existance run by the U.N., and there's still a proportionally large number of Americans who will never be willing to allow sovereign domestic policy to be dictated by non-Americans. The excuse provided would be that "Science X" was forced upon our nation by outside forces. The exclusion of it being a solely American-based body would lend more legitimacy while at the same time providing incentive for more scientists in the United States.


    Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
    requirements should include easy standards, such as a legitimate doctorate (diploma mill graduates like kent hovind should be excluded)


    I agree. A doctorate would be a must, or a similar level of achievement (such as being nominated for a Nobel Prize). I think a minimum number of peer nominations would be required as well. Those who made it to the council would have to sever any corproate ties until such time as they retire.



    posted on Feb, 20 2007 @ 02:43 PM
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    thelibra, i'm completely against having elections for scientific representatives in any way
    even if they're sending specialists in, it will become polticial

    and then there is this little problem:
    a recent gallup poll showed that 53% of americans wouldn't vote for a qualified atheist candidate for the white house

    yet the majority of the top scientists in america ARE ATHEISTS

    even if it's the legislatures electing them, the constituants may be highly religous and ask for only religious people to serve

    people like robertson and falwell will mobilize their armies of "god warriors" to make sure that people that support things like "intelligent design" get elected to these positions

    i think universities should be the ones handling these things



    posted on Feb, 20 2007 @ 03:03 PM
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    Interesting... have the Universities decide who gets in and who doesn't.

    So how would they determine the fairest method? Does each University get one vote for state candidate? Does the board of the State University appoint their council member? Does the State Governor appoint their own head of science?

    I mean, someone, at some level, effectively votes for a candidate, somehow, otherwise it's strictly an appointed position by one person, which is far more dangerous, IMHO, than running the risk of a religiously inspired vote. At least in the latter chance, the majority of voters would have had their voice heard, even if it wasn't what the rest of us agreed with.

    I'm not arguing so much as expressing the difficulty in setting up a viable system.



    posted on Feb, 20 2007 @ 03:15 PM
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    i think that the universities (both public and private as long as they aren't religiously affiliated) should each send a delegate from each of their scientific departments

    that seems simple enough for me



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