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Thread: Is science in our society IN DECLINE?

  1. #1 Is science in our society IN DECLINE? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    If it is, it would indicate that our society itself is in decline. It would not mean that there is less to learn and that science NEEDS to "wind down."

    What is commonly thought of now and is in the Science news magazines is TECHNOLOGY. It is applied science. It is science that is exploiting the great discoveries of the 19th and early 20th century. The greates science of our age was Einstein and his best discoveries were in 1905.

    What I am referring to is known as "pure science" as against "applied science." We need BOTH.

    So, what has happened? I propose that we have become so materialistic and consumer oriented that commercial exploitation of scientific knowledge is so appealing to scientists that they are not guided to pure research in the same way there are no longer any Mozarts and Rembrants. We are scientifically winding down. Our civilization is in decline.

    What are we to do about it?

    charles http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com


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  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman Boomerang's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Here in the UK Science is in the agenda, it is indeed in decline and according to one report on a national newspaper the weekend just gone, one of the reasons why it is in decline is with regards to teaching, laboratory experiments are being replaced with video lessons, hence the lack of "hands on" lab science experiments making it “boring” for students.

    When I get home later on I shall do a bullet point of the report so we can all discuss it and exchange some comments or ideas.

    Regards,
    Boomerang


    "Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem"
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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Charles,
    you argue that there was little pure science after the early twentieth century:

    1) Contrary to popular belief the current theory of evolution is not Darwin's Theory of Evolution: he just started the ball rolling. The current theory is a major variant of the Modern Synthesis, which itself was only put together in the late 1940s.
    2) The Earth sciences were turned (literally) on their heads by the theory of plate tectonics - a child of the 1960s.
    3) Cosmology and the recognition that there was more than just a single galaxy were products of the second quarter of the century.
    4) Primate behaviour was either ignored, or improperly studied until the late 1930s, and then only by one or two individuals. It did not gain recognition and a measure of understanding till the 1960s.

    Similar examples can be found in every major science. Your basic premise is flawed.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    ORPHOLYTE gives good examples of mid-20th century advances in science that can be considered pure science. The subject is a difficult one. Are these many examples not "coasting" on the brilliance of Charles Darwin---as so much other science is coasting on with Einstein's discovery. So, we are left to solve the problem of what is "pure" and what is "applied" science. And even then, even with the genetic code, the examples you give were some 40 years ago.

    Let me ask you what YOU believe? Do you think science in general is doing as well as it did 40 plus years ago? Do you think it can when voters have been voting in born-again believers into high (conservative) political positions?

    BOOMERANG thinks he as found the cause of this apparent decline of science. But he needs to explain why his "causes" exist and are not being delt with. He needs to put it in the wider, whole picture. There are multiple cause and effect processes going on. I have explained many of them in my web page.

    charles, http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com
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  6. #5  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Are these many examples not "coasting" on the brilliance of Charles Darwin---as so much other science is coasting on with Einstein's discovery.
    I do not believe it is coasting at all. In many ways Darwin would not recognise what has become of his theory. The volume of the work, the significance of the insights, the precision of the conclusions, all distance the current view from the original Darwinian concept.
    Note that it was in the 1970s and 1980s that probable significance of punctuated equilibrium was first postulated and validated. The role of developmental biology (evodevo) has been increasingly appreciated through the nineties and into this century. Epigenetics may come to transform our understanding of the mechanisms of evolution in profound ways. No coasting in site.
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    And even then, even with the genetic code, the examples you give were some 40 years ago.
    I've pointed out above that there are more recent examples. Moreover, it is only with the advantage of hindsight that we can distinguish what is important and seminal, from what is minor, or just wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Let me ask you what YOU believe? Do you think science in general is doing as well as it did 40 plus years ago?
    It is doing much better. While I do not confuse volume with quality, the number of scientists at work today is providing information at an accelerating rate. Our greatest challenge is in assimilating these data and transforming them into insights. If we can master that the advances will be even more spectacular.
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Do you think it can when voters have been voting in born-again believers into high (conservative) political positions?
    Sarcasm alert:
    The US may have more Nobel prizes than any other country today, but that will change. The rest of us will be better off once the ultra-right have reduced the US to a bible thumping, illiterate, superstitious rump who are so inward looking they leave the rest of the world in peace.

    Seriously, your remarks might be relevant to the US. They are not relevant globally.
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  7. #6  
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    I was unaware that a political office had a specific persuasions--to me, it was always the person in said office.
    Let me warm up first....don't want to pull a hammy.
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    Forum Freshman Boomerang's Avatar
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    charles brough,

    You need to read my post again, i was merely stating what science experts wrote on a national newspaper.

    according to one report on a national newspaper
    and it is not stated that it is the cause here:

    one of the reasons
    Boomerang
    "Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem"
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  9. #8  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Ophiolite: ". The rest of us will be better off once the ultra-right have reduced the US to a bible thumping, illiterate, superstitious rump who are so inward looking they leave the rest of the world in peace. "

    Sarcasm? Perhaps, but you do know, don't you, that the current Administraion in power in Washington is a closet-type Bible-Thumping bunch and they are certainly not leaving the world in Peace. Next, we are headed for war with Iran.

    You think world science is accellerating. I think this is an illusion similar to being unable to see the forest because of the trees. You did an excellent job of supporting your belief. I have merely stated mine. I know in the long history of the world, many civilizations had their science-secular-technical ages which were followed by an age or religious reaction and decline. None were scientific when they came to an end. Belief in the growth of its importance and thus with faith in its never-ending growth. It distorts our ability to judge even though it has to defend itself on stem-sell research, on "creationism" in the schools, etc., that is, even though old-religiousness is on the rise. How can both science and superstition both be growing? Possibly so, but not for long. It is one or the other. . .

    charles http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com
    Brough,
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  10. #9  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Sarcasm? Perhaps, ......
    I identified it as sarcasm to minimise the offensive of the statements to those (and remember there are many) who support, endorse and even relish the stance Bush et al have taken on a variety of issues. I suspect our views on this matter are rather close.
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    You think world science is accellerating. I think this is an illusion similar to being unable to see the forest because of the trees. You did an excellent job of supporting your belief.
    Thank you. I believe I could expand this into a book length exposition on the topic. However, I suspect this would still not convince you, so I'll save myself that chore. 8)

    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    It distorts our ability to judge even though it has to defend itself on stem-sell research, on "creationism" in the schools, etc., that is, even though old-religiousness is on the rise. How can both science and superstition both be growing? Possibly so, but not for long. It is one or the other. .
    Again, you may be correct for the US. So what? Well, if you are a US resident it is definitely important. If you are a citizen of India, China or Europe, then who gives a toss? A relative decline in US technology will only boost their share of world trade.
    Do you think China is going to give a damn about the ethics of stem cell research? Do you think a pragmatic, secular Europe will fail to find a way around the ethical obstacles?
    The US is arguably already a spent force. (However, that is a separate argument, so lets not get sidetracked.)
    If your thesis is US science is on the decline, I would conced that it may have plateaued. If you you ask is science in decline then the answer has to be an emphatic NO.
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  11. #10  
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    People do not seem to care as much about science as they did in the 1950s. We need to get back to it. Carl Sagan referred to science as the "candle in the dark."
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  12. #11  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Yes, science is in the decline because it has become more and more based on the competition model.
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  13. #12  
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    NO it is not, if it seems that way it's because people think of the 19th century as the golden age of science, (during which time much of the newly discovered science was displayed as 'magic' like radioactivity glowing in the dark,) today it is more about consolidation of that work, but science is alive and well everywhere you look. Almost every new discovery in science actually asks more questions than it answers prompting yet more science. This is my opinion.
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  14. #13  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Actually I prefer the research quality of the second half of the 19th century. It's much better than the first half.

    The main difference with modern research is that research could be done properly. The basics could be covered. It could take time.

    You also see the most ridiculous research ever. It's good fun to read the old journals.

    for instance a repost from sciforums:

    J Anat Physiol. 1869 May; 3(Pt 2): 257–261.

    ON IRREGULARITIES IN THE ARTERIES AND MUSCLES OF AN IDIOT. ByE. CARVER, M.A. M.B. F.R.C.S.

    THE following peculiarities in the disposition of the arteries and muscles observed in an Idiot subject in our dissecting room last winter seem to me worthy of being related. The number of varieties occurring in one person, and that an idiot nearly, if not quite, from birth, is remarkable; and I am not aware of any other instance in which the dissection of an idiot has been recorded.
    I must say that I haven't heard of such a case either.

    There were also certain peculiarities in the skull, such as a wormian bone, on either side, between the lesser alsm of the sphenoid bone and the orbital plate of the frontal bone: an unusual thickness of the walls: unevenness of the internal surface: the edges of the sutures both internally and externally were thick, raised and rounded: the oblique diameter from the
    left side of the occipital bone to the right side of the frontal bone was long, at the expense of the opposite diameter. I forbear saying more respecting the skull, as it may form the subject of a future communication by another person.
    I just can't wait till that paper comes out.
    At the same time I found around the same time the perfect article on narwhal teeth to use as a reference in a manuscript. I couldn't find a proper one in modern journals.
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