February 22, 2018

Trump's war on science tracked

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I worry that science is getting hammered from all sides. The GOP has its obvious frontal assault on swaths of research they don't agree with. And the social scientists are flanking the biology departments. The various "studies" departments flat out claim they want to overthrow western society along with biology and any human behavior they don't like. I don't know how you say "tabula rasa" in Chinese, but you can bet the Maoists did. Is that hyperbolic? Maybe. Doesn't change the fact that religiosity and ideology are BOTH destructive enemies of what we call science.

During the Bush years, it used to be that you could at least recall that republicans quietly put more funding into their science budgets than the democrats did and try to carry on. But now Trump is dropping the bar EVEN lower than the Democrats. Oi.

And in addition to the two front lines from the political left and right is the internal rot from the prestigious places like physics.

Physics and cosmology readily admit they haven't had any real advances since before Carl Sagan died. Hell, since Einstein published. What's "Dark Matter" or "Dark Energy"? "We don't know, they're ad hoc nonsense to explain away fatal holes in relativity... but take a look at this math you don't understand and give us some more funding". The electrical engineers have some good ideas. And the computer scientists are the only ones making real, tangible progress that we feel in our lives. Of course all the work is being done by industry. But physics is supposed to be at the heart of all of it. And they're just throwing more people and resources at bullshit. How can society take it seriously when they don't?

Studying or applying good science is a dangerous, rebellious act these days. It's god damned bitter sweet. But then, it's always been like that, hasn't it? I don't know why we should think that the social pressures brought to bear on Galileo would have magically disappeared since his time.