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The Forum > Article Comments > How can we usefully make judgments about science? > Comments

How can we usefully make judgments about science? : Comments

By Don Aitkin, published 19/8/2014

Very few scientists are in any real sense across 'science' as a whole. Science has become so large there are millions of experts, but they are expert only in a minuscule part.

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Science is mostly a con.

Scientists try and assure us that they are respectable and necessary, but most are hugely self-centered and go wherever they can make the most money.

About 50% of scientists in the world are involved in developing new weapons, and scientists have also developed everything from cars that kill many people and consume a huge amount of resources, to power stations that spew out a range of pollutants to fill the atmosphere.

So how to make science accountable should be the question.

Like a politician, a scientist should be asked how they would like to see the world in the future.

That is then compared to what has occured in the past.
Posted by Incomuicardo, Tuesday, 19 August 2014 9:21:00 PM
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Incomuicardom, I really hope you were aiming for satire there.

Now back to my lair to perform some more evil science experiments while the millions continue to roll in, mwhaha ha ha.
Posted by Stezza, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 2:26:25 AM
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Stezza,

There is no jest.

While a number of scientists say the world is declining due to over consumption, just as many, or more scientists are involved in increasing consumption.

While a number of scientists say the world is in danger of war or nuclear holocaust, just as many, or more scientists are involved in making new weapons.

What is needed is not more scientists, but scientists who actually think about the world.

It shouldn't be too hard for them.
Posted by Incomuicardo, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 8:03:41 AM
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Don
When Marie Curie discovered that, pitchblende altered the conductivity of the nearby air, she had no idea that what she had discovered, would lead to nuclear bombs, power stations, or x-rays.

Allocating funds for a pure science research from a cost benefit analysis is not practical. The rewards for any piece of science research can not be predicted in advance. The payoff if there is one is a matter of pure chance, so what should be funded is not critically dependant on one's knowledge of the science.

However where knowledge of science is required is in the application of science to industry and government policy. It is vital to acknowledge what we know and assess the risks and benefits of any chosen course of action.

It is Government policy that is so ill informed by a lack of understanding of science at present. The risks being taken in order to preserve the current fossil fuel based economy far out weigh the risks of moving to a cleaner and more sustainable economy.
Posted by warmair, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 10:21:36 AM
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I don't really get the point of this article. Is Don trying to pretend to be our communal grandfather, sit us on his knee and recount his exploits and convince us of his qualifications?

This article seems to trying to 'convince' and not 'convey'. What exactly it is trying to convince us to believe, I am not certain. I guess Don will say, if I am not certain, then I can be ignored.
Posted by Bugsy, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 2:58:45 PM
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Warmair,

A good deal of research money still goes to what you might want to call 'pure research', where the criteria are excellence of the proposal and the applicant, and a kind of intrinsic interest in the possible outcome, or sometimes in the proposed method. If applications follow that is wonderful. This is the so-called linear model. Another large part of research comes because there is a problem (real or proposed) and someone wants an answer to it often called 'applied research'. Here the criteria are much the same, but the point of it all has already been determined. There's always been a mix of these two strategies, at least in my time. As I said somewhere else, they are both sensible, according to whether or not you agree with the point of the applied research.

Bugsy,

I wrote the piece and its sequel because so many commenters seem not to know how these decisions are actually made. If you know all this, then the essay wasn't really for you.
Posted by Don Aitkin, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 8:00:35 PM
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