People who are convinced of the absolute righteousness of their single cause on any issue are as enjoyable to have a conversation with as discussing the actuary table with an insurance agent.
It’s a long, slow boring march into the obvious with the chance of being distracted by the obtuse and miscellaneous.
There are few exceptions to this rule. Zealots of any brand, whether religious or otherwise are among the least enjoyable people to be around on the planet.
Politicians in Washington D.C. are the poster children for this sentiment – and I care little if we’re discussing the far left or far right.
This past weekend scientists marched for common sense in several cities across the country – not convinced of the righteousness of a single cause – but convinced the country shouldn’t abandon the process of scientific research – you know the research which in the past has given us every technological, medical and other advance we hold dear to our heart.
This is far different than being convinced the earth is warmer now than in the past. This is different from being convinced the earth revolves around the sun. This is defending the process by which you evaluate situations which lead to factual understanding of the universe.
It seems like a no-brainer to me. But what do I know? Let me apply the scientific method to the problem and get back to you.
Meanwhile on the occasion of Earth Day, President Trump issued a statement in which he defended science and research.
“My administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species,” The President said.
He plans to do this by reducing “unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies,” and says “rigorous science is critical to . . . efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection.”
At the end The President said that “rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”
For those who believe we’re already through the looking glass and in a Bizarro World where up is down, down is up and “Us love ugliness,” I can offer you little solace.
As people marched across the country this past weekend, the President who has slashed the EPA, scientific research and muffled the voices of those who warn about global change, praised science, research and robust debate – as long as it agrees with him I suppose.
By Monday the problems with science were long forgotten in the White House press room as the controversy with General Michael Flynn again reared its head, the president spoke about tax cuts many think will only help the richest Americans, and the commerce secretary levied a 20 percent tariff on imported Canadian soft lumber – which may or may not cause new house prices to rise and which may or may not create more jobs in the United States.
At this point it is extremely difficult to discern fact from fiction – idea or appearance from reality. With apologies to T.S Eliot – life indeed seems long but I don’t think there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.
That time is now.
The battle against science is disturbing on many levels – but it is the subversion of a process by which we understand our universe better that is the most frightening of all considerations.
Those against science prefer to frame the argument as a battle of absolutes – and that isn’t the case.
The battle to accept scientific thinking isn’t a case of religion versus science. It’s a matter of education and understanding versus ignorance and fear of the unknown.
Religion isn’t the enemy of science nor is science the enemy of religion.
“I am convinced that solving the problems before us requires robust public support for research. And, I will participate as an expression of my Christian faith,” Tim Ritchie, the president and CEO of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose California said of the March for Science.
Scientific research and the scientific method face a continuing challenge as those who manipulate the language for political ends do so to stifle scientific research while preaching the needs of scientific advancement.
Last week President Trump enthusiastically encouraged NASA to get to Mars before the 2030 deadline his administration has already set for the event.
If you continue to slash research budgets how do you anticipate we will get there – in a rubber band powered glider?