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Sounding The Alarm For Basic Science Research Funding

This year’s Nobel laureates and more have sounded the alarm bell on funding basic science research.  We talk to them.

Karolinska Institute's Chairman of the Nobel committee for physiology or medicine Juleen Zierath talks, as images of James Rothman and Randy Schekman, of the US, and German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof are projected on a screen, in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, as they are announced as the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine. (AP)

Karolinska Institute’s Chairman of the Nobel committee for physiology or medicine Juleen Zierath talks, as images of James Rothman and Randy Schekman, of the US, and German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof are projected on a screen, in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, as they are announced as the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine. (AP)

A big American haul of Nobel Prizes in science again last week.  The United States, not alone but surely again the envy of the world on the Nobel stage.  But when those Nobel winners turned to speak of their prizes, there was a remarkable consistency in their theme:  America, wake up.  The great basic science research that won us these prizes, they said, is not going on in the way that it did in the USA.  It’s about leaner times.  It’s about imagination.  It’s about commitment.  They’re saying change now or it won’t be us on that stage soon.  Up next On Point:  Nobel Prize winners on American science now.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Bruce Stillman, President and chief executive officer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, member of the Board of Scientific Advisers of the National Cancer Institute and of the Board of Life Sciences of the U.S. National Research Council.

Dr. James Rothman, professor of biomedical sciences and chemistry at Yale University, chair of the Yale Department of Cell Biology and shared winner of the the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2013.

Arieh Warshel, distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Southern California and a fellow of the National Academy of Science, shared winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2013.

From Tom’s Reading List

Science: NIH Details Impact of 2013 Sequester Cuts — ” The bottom line is as grim as expected: The agency’s overall budget will fall by $1.71 billion compared to 2012, to $29.15 billion, a cut of about 5%, according to an NIH notice today. That is essentially what NIH predicted as part of the 5.1% sequestration. (Including transfers to other agencies and other adjustments in the spending bill funding NIH in 2013, the total reduction is $1.71 billion or 5.5% compared to 2012.)”

Mother Jones: Could This 2013 Nobel Prize Winner Afford College Today? – “When Randy Schekman attended the University of California-Los Angeles in the late 1960s, getting a good college education was unimaginably cheap. Student fees were just a few hundred dollars; room and board was a few hundred more. ‘I could work a summer job and pay myself for the whole school year,’ says Schekman, now a cell biologist at the University of California-Berkeley.”

Wired: How The Shutdown Is Devastating Biomedical Scientists and Killing Their Research — “I don’t think the public realizes the devastating impact that this has on scientific research. Scientific research is not like turning on and off an assembly line. Experiments are frequently long-term and complicated. They involve specific treatments and specific times. You can’t just stop and restart it. You’ve probably just destroyed the experiment. You also can’t necessarily recover. You can’t begin an experiment all over again. If you do, you’ll be set back months — if there’s even time and personnel to do it. But often, science moves rapidly, times change, and you can’t re-initiate the experiments. It’s an enormous loss to scientific research, an enormous loss of time and personnel.”

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  • JGC

    .

    • hennorama

      JGC — TY for sharing the link.

  • JGC

    Clinical Trials, Your Healthcare Insurer, and Obamacare: About clinical trials, there is a mishmosh of state laws concerning insurance coverage if a person is in a clinical trial. From the American Cancer Society: “Clinical trials are an important part of cancer care. In most cases, when a patient volunteers for and enrolls in a clinical trial, the cost of tests, procedures, drugs, extra doctor visits, and any research related to the study itself is covered by the group that sponsors the clinical trail (such as the National Cancer Institute, a drug company, or some other agency).

    Sometimes a health insurance plan may define the care of a patient in a clinical trial as “experimental” or “investigational”. When this happens, insurance may not even cover the costs of what is really routine care. This routine care includes costs for things like doctor visits, hospital stays, and tests or treatments that you would have needed even if you were not taking part in a clinical trial.”

    From Aetna: EFFECTIVE 1 Jan 2014, the ACA requires if a qualified individual is in an approved clinical trial, the plan CANNOT deny coverage for related services. This includes a plan may not deny coverage because a member is participating in an approved clinical trial conducted out of state in which the member lives.

  • ThirdWayForward

    The radical conservatives hate science and the critical attitudes it engenders – empirical facts get in the way of their ideology. A majority of Republicans don’t believe in evolution. That says a great deal about a significant chunk of our electorate. Many of them really could care less if science is slowed down. In that way it’s very much like the government shutdown.

    Things have been very bad for science and scientists in the US since George Bush became president in 2001. The chances of getting an NIH grant are less than 1 in 10, it can take 2-4 person-months to prepare a grant (including preliminary data — doing the experiments one proposes), and it takes on the order of a year to get a decision.

    To put things in perspective, each year NIH (biomedical) gets about $30 billion, NSF (rest of science & engineering) $7 billion, defense ~$700 billion including $90 billion for the Afghan war. The Iraq and Afghan wars have cumulatively cost us $4-6 trillion.

    When funding gets really tight, innovation is the first thing that suffers. If only the top 5-10% of grants are going to get funded, but the top 25-30% are sound scientifically, the decision to fund becomes a matter of how “enthusiastic” the reviewers are about the proposal — one lukewarm review and a proposal is dead in the water. This means that no remotely controversial grant proposal gets funded — the system becomes completely incapable of innovation.

    At that 5-10% funding line, the decision comes down to a social game. Only those scientists who are both competent and well-connected get funding (and even many of them are finding it hard to keep their labs going). A basic social problem in funding science is that those who are already funded serve on the panels that determine funding (it is a self-selecting body of people, so it is not surprising that they come to feel that only those with scientific values like their own deserve funding). One of today’s NIH panels would have called Darwin’s voyages “fishing expeditions” and they never would have been funded.

    This has a very negative effect on innovation — very hard to get funding to test a non-orthodox theory. Given the way the funding system works, we should not be surprised at the sheer volume of incremental work vs. the comparative rarity of paradigm changes.

    One of the other problems in the biomedical sciences is that grant sizes have been allowed to increase, and there is no advantage in terms of funding probability for a smaller, cheaper grant. The effect is to concentrate grant funding into the hands of a smaller and smaller proportion of labs, and to discourage smaller scale, potentially more innovative pilot studies. There needs to be a better mix of small vs. big science, of innovation vs. incremental investigation.

    On one hand people bemoan the relatively small proportion of American students who become scientists and engineers, but these are difficult and risky professions that require years of specialized training. As in other parts of the American economy, good, stable jobs are disappearing. More education for science and engineering will not help us if there are not sustainable jobs for American scientists and engineers.

    • fun bobby

      the thing is that Darwin made all of his discoveries without government grants at all. he once got a $70,000 grant to publish a series of books. otherwise he was a spoiled rich kid with rich friends and that’s how his work was financed

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Are you saying that is the way we need to go? Leave it up to the crumbs falling from the tables of the rich?

        • fun bobby

          just pointing out that your example was silly since all of Darwin’s work was conducted without NIH grants.
          I am saying that research can and does happen without being funded by American taxpayers. Darwin is a perfect example. the paradigm shifting research you lament the lack of does not happen with government funding for the reasons you identified so increasing funding would not change that paradigm anyway.

          • jefe68

            Wow. Thanks. You proved my hypothesis.

      • LinRP

        That is simply a STUPID comment. Period. What the hell does that have to do with ANYTHING?

        As an MIT trained scientist with a PhD, I’d run a litany of discoveries done under the auspices of grant funding, put that won’t fit with your narrative so you’ll just ignore anyway.

        PERFECT illustration of the mindset that holds so much in this country back. Honestly, wake up.

        • fun bobby

          at MIT did they teach you to read what people were replying to or just read a reply and then spout off about it?
          Tell me more about my narrative. Tell me more about my mindset.

          • StilllHere

            Maybe his PhD was in mind-reading?

          • LinRP

            Her PhD

        • jefe68

          Here, here! Well said. Will this man shut up? Nope, he’ll dig a larger hole.
          Case in point.

      • John_in_Amherst

        Psst, FB, it is the 21st century, not 1850!

        science has come a long way from the taxonomic studies Darwin did that inspired his theory. Lots of the basic research done by people like Lavoisier, Pasteur, etc. in the 19th century was basically your “rich kids” tinkering. And that sort of thing still pays off occasionally. But one of the things that research has done is to illuminate better ways to do research, and the results indicate that tinkering has its limits.

        • fun bobby

          yet you already clearly identified the grant process as the reason why only incremental research gets funded

          • John_in_Amherst

            how about putting your snide sniping on hold and listen to the laureates make the case?

          • fun bobby

            what sort of laureate are you? what make you think I am not a laureate of some sort?
            perhaps with you wonderful alliteration of “snide sniping” you could be a poet laureate

          • TFRX

            Sniping?

            I really don’t know that his stuff today qualifies as sniping.

          • jefe68

            He can’t. It’s sad really. He’s consumed by regressive right wing dogma.

      • ThirdWayForward

        When funding levels get really tight, as they are now and have been for 11 years, the critera for funding get much more restrictive and innovation-averse. Starvation funding changes the nature of the science that gets done, and the willingness of scientists still in the system to engage in what others might perceive as risky projects.

        It’s not that bad science is now being done now, far from it, it’s excellent incremental science. We need to restructure the way that funding is allocated, make it more predictable and innovation-friendly, IN ADDITION TO modest increases in funding levels.

        Even incremental science advances science, but not as fast as paradigm shifting work. It keeps the infrastructure going, but the situation is suboptimal — we could be doing better.

        We face some daunting health problems as our population ages (e.g. Alzheimer’s, diabetes), and science can make a large dent in how we cope with those diseases. People can be healthier longer into their old age. Even a small advance in treatment of one of those is a huge cumulative difference in the cost of maintaining Medicare.

        • fun bobby

          any advance that keeps people alive longer will increase the costs

  • Shag_Wevera

    Hmmm. Tax dollars for science in America… Good luck to you. A culture that embraces ignorance and know nothingism isn’t likely to jump at this kind of investment.

    • northeaster17

      It’s a great country. A big problem we have is nobody wants to pay for it. Cheap bastards. Kind of like eating at a pricey restaurant ant then bolting for the door before the check arrives. Pretty sad.

    • jefe68

      And the ignorance is worn as a badge of honor.
      Which I’m sure we will see today. Why there are already a few from the regressive right who are pontificating in the negative.

      Witness one Supreme Court judge, Anton Scalia who has recently admitted he believes in the devil. And here’s a man that sits on the highest court in the land, and he admits to believing in mythological beings who can do magical things. What?

      http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/10/13/Scalia-and-the-devil/UPI-76941381649400/?spt=rln&or=1

      • Ray in VT

        It does seem a bit odd to me, but many, many people do indeed believe in any variety of mythological or supernatural beings, and I’m not going to criticize such beliefs. As long as he isn’t saying that the supposed words or actions take precedence over the laws of the land, he can and should believe whatever he wants.

        • jefe68

          And in that lies the rub. I hope that Judge Scalia does think like that. But that interview where he goes on about the devil is pretty weird.

          • Ray in VT

            I remember hearing a story regarding the case law regarding sampling and how the judge did not cite copyright law and fair use, but, instead, cited the Ten Commandments (thou shalt not steal). That is the sort of thing that concerns me.

          • jefe68

            That would be a mistrial, no?

          • Ray in VT

            I guess that it didn’t get appealed maybe. This summarizes a bit of the situation:

            http://www.alankorn.com/articles/sampling.html

            The speculation that I have heard is that the music industry isn’t currently going after people doing the sampling because they are pretty sure that they would lose if it went to court again.

      • fun bobby

        he is a catholic, that’s what they believe. should papists be banned from the high court?

        • jefe68

          I know a lot of Catholics. And not one of them believes in the the devil as real construct, as far as I know. There is a huge difference in having religious beliefs and taking the bible and the devil as reality.

          When I hear elected officials talk about the end times, I for one get nervous.

          • fun bobby

            oh? you ask all your catholic friends if they believe in the devil? The Catholics still perform exorcisms. You are just nervous about the end times because you don’t have any guns.

          • jefe68

            Oh boy. Well in a word yes. Because we have conversations about this very topic. You know when people get together and engage in discourse using their brains.

          • fun bobby

            most people consider it rude to discuss religion and politics. how many Catholics have you surveyed in this manner?

  • arydberg

    A long time ago someone told me “there are no big problems. there are only little problems that turn into big problems”.

    These congressmen that are holding the country hostage think it is a little problem but it is becoming a big problem faster then they realize.

    The tea party is not the party of this country. These people are working to destroy the USA. The best that can be said about them is that they are completely ignorant of what they are doing.

  • fun bobby

    5% oh no. I hope the 95% that gets retained included the study on why lesbians are fat.

    • StilllHere

      There’s also the gov-funded study to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior.

      • fun bobby

        seems like the majority of BUR voters do not want to know why lesbians are fat

        • JGC

          Do you think you are just a wee bit cranky because the Nobel in economics went to Fama, Hansen and Shiller instead of Fama, Hansen and fun bobby? Yes, it is a disappointment, but that is no reason to take it out on fat people.

          • fun bobby

            not cranky, just disappointed. I am looking out for the fat lesbians. what if they find a solution but it involves making love to men? since we pay for their healthcare liberals might want to force them to make love to men so we can reduce the costs of obamacare incurred by their fatness. no one wants to see that happen

    • hennorama

      fun bobby – you continue to write about “the study on why lesbians are fat.”

      As explained to you fully six months ago, this is not only perpetuating a stereotype, it is inaccurate.

      “the study on why lesbians are fat” is only partly accurate, since the study is also about obesity risk in heterosexual males.

      The Abstract of the study indicates

      “…we seek to uncover how processes of gender socialization may exacerbate obesity risk in both sexual minority females and heterosexual males.”

      The Atlantic Wire did a decent job of telling the WHOLE story of “… an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s that’s examining the “interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities.”

      “S. Bryn Austin, the Harvard-based project leader for the NIH-funded study, wrote in a statement to The Atlantic Wire:

      “The obesity epidemic is a major public health problem for our country, and no communities are immune. To stop the epidemic, we need to understand what all the causes are, and the causes and solutions to obesity are likely different for different parts of our society. Lesbian and bisexual girls and women make up almost 5 million Americans. In terms of sexual orientation and obesity, lesbians and bisexual girls and women – along with heterosexual men — seem to be the hardest hit. Why is that? We don’t know, but our study is designed to find out so we can come up with better ways to combat the epidemic for these communities.”

      See:
      http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/03/nih-lesbian-fat-study/63007/

      http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=8324507&icde=15499915

      • fun bobby

        for the record I don’t care why men are fat either. in both cases the problem could be solved by reduced calorie intake and/or increased exercise.

        • hennorama

          fun bobby – TY for your response.

          Your singular cares are hardly a reasonable basis for making decisions on research topics and funding.

          Perhaps you’d prefer research on firearms and violence associated with firearms, as you seem to be quite interested in the topics.

          Happily, such research can again be undertaken by the CDC, after having been effectively blocked for nearly two decades. This news is a result of President Obama’s executive actions earlier this year.

          Happy days!

          • fun bobby

            the last time such studies were funded their methods were so flawed and conclusions were so absurd they had to be retracted. they were so bad all funding for future research was retracted by congress. Will they be similarly flawed and biased this time? that’s a perfect example of why the feds should not be funding research in the first place. some idiots are still quoting that retracted research. it would be funny in a pathetic way if it were not an important civil rights issue. do we need look any further than Chicago to see gun control schemes are a failure?

          • hennorama

            fun bobby – Thank you for your response.

            Please be more specific about your claim that “the last time such studies were funded their methods were so flawed and conclusions were so absurd they had to be retracted,” as I am unaware of the specifics of your claim and therefore unable to cogently comment.

            Please note that I wrote not one single word about “gun control.”

            The absurdity of the restrictions on information sharing has led to such things as the ATF being prevented by the Tiahrt Amendment from releasing firearms trace data connected to Fast & Furious. Sticking one’s head in the sand is seldom advisable, and silencing and blocking research and information sharing on important topics is wrong-headed.

            The important issues surrounding the use and misuse of firearms cannot be properly considered without up-to-date information and research.

          • fun bobby

            what did you mean by violence associated with firearms? is your hypothesis that guns cause violence?
            do a little research, its an interesting story about what led to the funding for gun control research being pulled. I also lament the lack of good information. I would like if the FBI data on homicides was broken down by legally obtained and illegally obtained guns.

          • hennorama

            fun bobby – TY again for your response.

            Apologies in advance for my petulance, but why is is so difficult for some to respond to a polite request to supply basic information supporting their positions? Such refusal, reluctance and reticence does nothing to further the argument or the discussion.

            I have no “hypothesis.” I am simply interested in up-to-date information and research on the issues surrounding the use and misuse of firearms, plain and simple.

            As to “violence associated with firearms.” – it’s fairly self-explanatory.

            In January 2013, President Obama “directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other relevant federal agencies, to immediately begin identifying the most pressing firearm related violence research problems.”

            A recently released document, titled “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related. Violence” indicated the following:

            “The research program envisioned by the committee, which is designed to produce impacts in 3-5 years, focuses on

             the characteristics of firearm violence,
             risk and protective factors,
             interventions and strategies,
             gun safety technology, and
             the influence of video games and other media.

            The committee identified potential research topics by conducting a survey of previous relevant research, considering input received during the workshop, and using its expert judgment.”

            See:
            http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2013/Firearm-Violence/FirearmViolence_RB.pdf

            Thanks again for your response. I look forward to information supporting your claim.

          • fun bobby

            its because the interweb makes things so remarkably easy to look up. yet if I were to do so then there is the frequent tactic of criticizing whatever the source is. so I like people to do their own web searching. its funny that after you chastise me for not enlightening you then refuse to elaborate on the phrase I asked for clarification on. why do research on “gun violence” and not “violence”? what difference does the means make? i would like to prevent violence and would support research to discover the sources. that research is not done because inevitably a scientific inquiry would conclude we could reduce violence substantially (even though it is trending downwards for a while now) by ending the prohibition of natural drugs. when we ended the prohibition of alcohol the murder rate dropped 99%. other logical ways to prevent violence are empowering people to prevent and resist domestic violence and to improve mental health care and substance abuse care.
            BTW what do you think the data would look like for homicides with guns if it were broken down by legal and illegal?

          • hennorama

            fun bobby – it’s difficult to interpret your refusal as anything other than a dodge, making further comment pointless. My elaboration about the research envisioned by the CDC was intended as explanation. Sorry if you misunderstood.

            As to your ultimate question — I’m not a fan of guesswork.

          • fun bobby

            one might think providing links would change peoples opinions about things but in practice they do not. I can’t help it that you don’t know what you are talking about, deciding not to comment further is a good choice.
            .you could call it formulating a hypothesis if that is something you are a fan of.

  • John Cedar

    How does our spending on “basic research” compare to the spending of other countries? 30 billion on basic research sounds pretty generous to me. The US spends another 400 billion on R&D according to the great Wikipedia. By far, more than any other country.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Except with the Sequester, and now with the Shutdown, all government funded research is messed up. Long running experiments are ruined, and people are going unpaid.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    A longer term problem is that in many states (Texas for example) are essentially sabotaging science education. They deny evolution, and they deny climate change.

    We cannot have scientists without basic science education. And you can’t have workable policies while ignoring reality.

    • fun bobby

      the state of Texas denies evolution?

      • jefe68

        Well the people in charge of the education system do. It’s worse in Kansas.

        • fun bobby

          when did they say they denied evolution? Kansas is not as important since they do not determine the content of textbooks

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            If they distort how they educate their own students, that hurts all of us. Ignorance of actual science is a big problem.

          • fun bobby

            meh

          • jefe68

            Meh back to your overt ignorance.

      • John_in_Amherst

        worse. The board that controls the TX purchasing of textbooks denies evolution. So the dumbing down of pupils will reach beyond Texas and distort education across the nation.

        • fun bobby

          have they released a statement to that effect? if that is the case it would have far reaching consequences because they do determine the content of textbooks to a large degree. do you have a link?

          • Ray in VT
          • fun bobby

            if creation science was to become scientific it would be a fine addition. having 6 out of 28 on the board be evolution skeptics is not the same as the board rejecting evolution

          • Ray in VT

            Then it would need to be science, but seeing as how it rests on religious views that lack scientific underpinnings, then it doesn’t belong in science class. Intelligent Design is just creationism in a cheap suit.

            The main tactic has been to attempt to spread doubt about the credibility of evolution as a scientific theory and to open the door to allow teachers the “freedom” to incorporate supplemental materials of their choosing, which may or may not be scientifically based. Take the materials described here:

            http://www.tfn.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6509

            It’s all about undermining evolution and bringing in belief.

          • fun bobby

            if they did some actual research then it should be fine to include it. you saw me use the word “if” right?
            I understand what some people are trying to do but its clearly not a majority even in Texas

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Creationism is based on faith. So called Intelligent Design is also dependent on some outside creator – and therefore it can NEVER be science. You can’t dress it up or make it into something that it is not.

            It is not and will never be science.

          • fun bobby

            all that is required is that they follow the scientific method. what if they find some evidence of their claims using scientific research methods?

          • TFRX

            Don’t keep scraping the bottom of your barrel. It’s been empty on this subject for awhile yet.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Scientific methods exclude magical thinking. You cannot wish away the problem.

            Obviously, your knowledge of the principles of science is lacking.

          • fun bobby

            obviously you reading comprehension skills are lacking. I never suggested anything but the scientific method

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You are suggesting that creationism can be turned into science by doing some experiments. But, that is absurd – because creationism assumes that there are things for which there is no answer. Creationism is faith-based, and as such – it can never be turned into science.

            Hence my conclusion that you are engaged in wishful thinking.

          • fun bobby

            if it assumes things then those things should be subject to rigorous scientific inquiry

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            If it assumes that some supernatural being is involved, then it is not scientific, period, and no one would waste their time responding.

            Unanswered questions is what science is about. Unanswered questions lead to more research – and if someone just concludes that God has a hand in it – that is simply not testable – and therefore it is not science.

            Geddit?

          • fun bobby

            your inability to come up with a testable hypothesis does not preclude others from doing so.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Are you just making stuff up as you go along? I’ll keep it simple…

            Q: How would a scientist test for the existence of God?

            A: It can’t be done, because God cannot be “proved” OR “disproved”.

            Hence, creationism is not and will never be science.

          • fun bobby

            actually god could be proved. more accurately evidence of Gods existence could be found. its just impossible to prove a negative. I look forward to theoretical physics providing evidence supporting the existence of God.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You’re deluding yourself.

          • fun bobby

            clearly you are not a theoretical physicist.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            It comes down to the definition of God.

            There are some who define God not as a storybook character, but as an abstraction.

            For example, the Name of God (as revealed in Exodus) can be rendered in modern English as “Becoming” (or “The Process of Becoming”).

            Philosopher/Logician, Raymond Smullyan, specializes this to the facet of Becoming that applies to the Noosphere: The Process of Enlightenment.

            As a scientist, I am interested in studying such aspects of the Process of Becoming as:

            1) The Process of Creation in Cosmology

            2) The Process of Evolution in Biology

            3) The Process of Enlightenment in Psychology

            These are divinely wonderful and awesome processes to reckon and to apprehend.

          • Ray in VT

            If they find unicorns, then they can put them in the bio books to, but until they do, then keep them in the fairy tale books. They’ve already been able to do a fair amount to undermine science education as it is.

          • fun bobby

            that’s what I was saying ray. how has science been undermined and who are “they”?

          • Ray in VT

            By introducing non-science, spreading doubt, and the they is pretty clear. The people supporting such changes on the board and those who support them.

          • fun bobby

            doubt is essential for science. the 6 out of 28 seem like a minority to me

          • Ray in VT

            Doubt pushed for the purpose of undermining science in favor of faith is not.

          • fun bobby

            the source of the doubt is irrelevant

          • Ray in VT

            The validity of the doubt certainly is, as is the agenda behind it. Questioning when and how various changes to species over time has occurred and why has valid scientific underpinnings. Suggesting that dinosaurs and cavemen lived simultaneously because the Earth is only 6,000-9,000 years old is not.

          • fun bobby

            seems like an easily testable hypothesis

          • Ray in VT

            But some doubt it, so why not chuck that one in too?

          • jefe68

            Wow. Are you for real?

          • fun bobby

            yes I am for real. I am for not making fake claims like the folks here claiming the Texas board has rejected evolution just because a small minority of their member have.

          • jefe68

            Actually the state of Texas did reject the creationist curriculum be included n science education. There is a very strong creationist lobby that has been nipping away at this. They have demanded that creationism be included in science text books. In Kansas an anti-evolution group is suing the Kansas State Board of Education for instituting a science curriculum that teaches evolution.

            This is going on day in an day out in some states down to towns.

          • fun bobby

            its been going on since at least Scopes and I still have not seen a science textbook with creationism

          • John_in_Amherst
          • fun bobby

            6 out of 28 does not sound that alarming

          • John_in_Amherst

            so kick back, shut up, and enjoy the Luddite march toward the dark ages

          • fun bobby

            who does not love captain ned?

  • JGC

    (To federal employees including U.S. military personnel who are affected by cashflow problems caused by the furlough: If you are a customer of TD Bank, they have launched a program called TD Cares, which includes waiving of fees (monthly account maintenance, overdraft protection, insufficient fund, credit card late fees,etc.) and they are also willing to discuss mortgage/line of credit considerations. It will be in place at least until Nov 2, if the shutdown lasts that long. Enroll at your local TD Bank branch. http://www.tdbank.com/govalert

    There are other banks offering their own versions of relief, including Sandy Spring Bank and Customers Bank. There are probably more getting their programs in place. Be sure to ask your bank if you are in the squeeze, Do not miss a mortgage payment.

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming…)

    • fun bobby

      also TD bank has free coin counting so they can bring in all their jars of pennies and cash them in

      • JGC

        I forgot you all still have pennies down there. We got rid of ours earlier this year. Don’t miss them at all. Harper is taking the millions in savings from penny production and handling, and applying it to paying down the deficit. Or maybe he is applying it to programs to keep Canadian scientists from directly speaking to the public. Possibly both.

        • fun bobby

          yeah good luck eh. pennies will still be valuable well after the paper currency is worthless. see if you can round up a few grand worth. its probably legal to melt them and Canadian pennies are copper well into the 90s

  • John_in_Amherst

    It seems that politicians have become almost incapable of thinking beyond two year election cycles, and the public loses interest in infomercials longer than 2 minutes.

    There are several angles to this discussion in light of the sequester and shut down. Leave cultural trends (a complex topic with roots in the anti science bias of fundamentalism, the distractions of celebrity culture, the wholesale abandonment of the teaching of the scientific method in favor of prepping students for standardized exams, etc.), out of the discussion. Looking at only the sequester, the cuts in basic research will end up costing us more, both in terms of competitiveness and absolute dollars.

    Take medical research as an example. With the sequester cuts, much basic biomedical research has been curtailed. This includes fundamental research, the intellectual “building blocks” on which future breakthroughs rest, as well as more pragmatic, immediately applicable research. For example, studies of how physicians could use LESS medication, or cheaper alternatives to treat patients have been put on hold. The research that continues is being done by pharmaceutical companies which continue to pump money by the billions into clinical trials for new – and often exorbitantly expensive – new drugs. Pharmaceutical companies ARE NOT going to fund research on how patients can get healthy with smaller doses of cheaper medicines. So innovations that could reduce medical costs languish. We save a few millions now and spend billions more in years to come.
    This is not a hypothetical case. It is the view held by many of the top medical research teams in the world. Our faux frugality is tragic. Fifty years ago, lasers were the subject of theoretical research. They have now become ubiquitous, largely because fundamental research into them was funded by the government, and are found from fiber optics to CD players, surgical devices to cat toys. What developments are we choking in their infancy now? Time will tell. And we will probably be buying their offshoots from China or Japan.

    • fun bobby

      yeah like the Chinese and Japanese are capable of innovation. without us inventing things they will just have less to copy

      • John_in_Amherst

        Change is the only constant. China was locked in famine and Japan just produced cheap junk in 1950. Your glib retorts show a profound shallowness of understanding.

        • fun bobby

          what great inventions have come from china or japan in the last century?

          • Ray in VT

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Japanese_inventions#Technology

            Given where Japan was 100 years ago and the progress that China has made in recent decades, I think that the likelihood that they’ll begin making some significant contributions is pretty high.

          • fun bobby

            I did not follow your link. seems like you were not able to come up with one significant invention from china or japan in the last century.

          • Ray in VT

            Then maybe follow the link and see for yourself.

          • fun bobby

            if you don’t care enough to list one then I do not either. the Japanese are good at refining things we invent.

          • Ray in VT

            I cared enough to do a search, which is apparently more than you care to do. If you don’t want to look where people point you, then why ask the questions?

          • StilllHere

            You could have come up with one thing instead of typing the same thing over again.

          • Ray in VT

            Yeah, but I am stubborn, and why should I just drop one when there is a whole list there?

          • fun bobby

            I looked at your link. turns out I was right. thanks

          • jefe68

            Wrong. And an out right lie.
            Next you’ll be saying the same things about the Scots.

          • TFRX

            I know that (aside from Andy Murray) the Scots are the “worst tennis players on earth”.

          • Ray in VT

            That’s why my people invented golf.

          • jefe68

            They invented a lot of things.
            The pedal bicycle, pneumatic tire, overhead valve engine, tubular steel,
            first iron-hulled steamship, coal-gas lighting, hot blast oven, wire rope (think Brooklyn Bridge), steam hammer, the telephone, the telegraph, the first working TV and color TV, radar.
            To name a few things.

            Logarithms: John Napier
            The theory of electromagnetism: James Clerk Maxwell.
            The theory of Uniformitarianism: James Hutton (1788): a fundamental principle of Geology the features of the geologic time takes millions of years.
            The MRI body scanner: John Mallard and James Huchinson.

            I could go on, the scientific discovers and innovations are off the charts.

          • Ray in VT

            Have you read Arthur Herman’s book How the Scots Invented the Modern World?

          • jefe68

            No, I should though. When you stop to think about it, for a small nation, or region of GB, they sure do have the lions share of what has shaped the modern world.
            It’s amazing.

          • Ray in VT

            Yeah, there is some interesting historical debate as to why x or y occurred here or there. I have often seen France and England compared and discussed when it comes to why various things happened, taking into account such factors as environment, resources, geography, culture, etc.

          • jefe68

            Can you figure out why anyone would bother to put a downward arrow on a book recommendation or historical facts?

          • Ray in VT

            Someone who doesn’t like me and/or facts is my guess, although it could be someone who didn’t like that particular book. I’m inclined to think that it is the former, though.

          • jefe68

            A few Japanese inventions that have changed the world, a lot.
            The Compact Disc
            The High-Speed Passenger Train
            The Quartz Wristwatch
            The Portable Music Player
            The Pocket Calculator
            The Camcorder
            The Video Cassette
            The Digital SLR Camera
            The Floppy Disk
            The Flat-Panel Display

          • fun bobby

            all based on things invented in america

          • jefe68

            Not true. High speed train technology was invented and develop in Japan.
            As was the the first portable cassette player.

            The world’s first quartz wristwatch was revealed in 1967: the prototype of the Astron revealed by Seiko in Japan, where it was in development since 1958. It was eventually released to the public in 1969.

            The floppy disk is one invention that is a little foggy. IMB claims it invented it but for some reason they came to an nonexclusive patent agreements with Yoshiro Nakamatsu in the late 1970s to avoid conflicts.

            Believe what you want, stay ignorant.

          • fun bobby

            like I said they are great at refining things. a high speed train is just a faster train jefe. a portable cassette player is just a smaller tape player.

            The first quartz clock was built in 1927 by Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories.
            a quartz watch is just a smaller quartz clock jefe.

            “The earliest floppy disks, developed in the late 1960s, were 8 inches (200 mm) in diameter;[1] they became commercially available in 1971.[2] These disks and associated drives were produced and improved upon by IBM and other companies such as Memorex, Shugart Associates, and Burroughs Corporation.[3] The phrase “floppy disk” appeared in print as early as 1970,[4] and although in 1973 IBM announced its first media as “Type 1 Diskette” the industry continued to use the terms “floppy disk” or “floppy”.

            In 1976, Shugart Associates introduced the first 5 1⁄4-inch FDD”
            wow. let me know if the Japanese come up with any more revolutionary advancements. maybe you should check out Wikipedia sometime

          • jefe68

            The level of your belligerence is amazing.
            A faster train, indeed.

          • fun bobby

            hardly belligerence jefe. I see those sad examples were the best you could come up with. why not just concede the point since you have given up arguing it and are now just making inaccurate ad hominem characterizations?

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Note that the underlying research for these transformational technologies was originally carried out in US research labs, such as Bell Telephone Laboratories (where the transistor was invented in 1947).

            But for a variety of reasons dictated by the US government, the domestic development of these technologies was restricted, lest American corporations grow into dominant monopolies.

            Japanese corporations had no such restrictions, and so the Japanese brought consumer electronics to the American marketplace where domestic corporations (like Western Electric) were legally prevented from competing.

      • StilllHere

        Japan’s got a $4,000 toilet that can tell when you are approaching and lift the seat up for you. Perfect for lazy Americans! I suspect they will sell billions.

        • jefe68

          Can it get you and the other regressives to shut up?
          If so I’m buying one.

      • jefe68

        Japan is one of the leading nations in the fields of scientific research, technology, machinery, and medical research with the world’s third largest budget for research and development at $130 billion USD, and over 677,731 researchers. Japan has received the most science Nobel prizes in Asia.

        Keep digging that hole of ignorance and intolerance.

        • fun bobby

          and what have they invented that is not simply a refinement of our technology?

    • hennorama

      John_in_Amherst – apologies in advance for getting all fact-y and science-y, but the following may have something to do with your first sentence, about the “Short Attention Span Theater” aspect of politics today:

      The average adult attention span has declined 33% in just the last 12 years, from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2012. As a comparison, the average goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.

      Hold on a sec – I’m getting a tweet … OK now what were you saying? Oh yeah – science and stuff, right. Moving on …

      The simultaneous consumption of various multimedia appears to be overwhelming our brains, and perhaps even changing our brains so that we have difficulty picking up on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.

      According to a contributor to the Harvard Business Review’s blog “Digital Natives Are Slow to Pick Up Nonverbal Cues.” FTA:

      “Research on the brain’s response to electronic media is fascinating, and not a little disturbing. On the plus side, it suggests that digital natives have higher baseline activity in the part of the brain governing short-term memory …”

      AND

      “…research suggests that excessive, long-term exposure to electronic environments is reconfiguring young people’s neural networks and possibly diminishing their ability to develop empathy, interpersonal relations, and nonverbal communication skills.”

      Sources:
      http://themrsite.com/blog/2012/04/the-challenge-of-the-digital-brain/

      http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/03/digital-natives-are-slow-to-pi/

      • TFRX

        I started off strong, but then I drifted away after “attention spam”, then I thought you were trying to sell me a home refi.

        Can you make it shorter?

        • Steve__T

          LOL

        • hennorama

          TFRX — Sure, no problem:

          WAKE THE FLOCK UP AND TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!

          (Sung to the tune of the Monty Python Viking song “Spam, Wonderful Spam,” in honor of your “attention spam”)

  • andrewgarrett

    These days everybody from the “progressive” left to the Christian right challenges science with fake science and myths to back up their own world view. They try to “teach the debate” where there is no scientific debate: GM crops, evolution, human caused climate change, etc.

  • hennorama

    80 percent of Nobel Prize winners who are currently employed by the Federal government are on furlough.

    What an inspiration to young people!

    • JGC

      David Wineland, Nobelist in physics: “They can’t stop us from thinking.”

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Ya’ gotta’ eat to be able to think…

        • StilllHere

          The prize is worth more than $1 million; that’s a lot of Ramen.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            How do you eat while you are waiting to win the Nobel prize? What if you do not get it?

          • JGC

            You can always apply for a grant from the David Koch Foundation. I believe he supports research in prostate cancer and gout. As long as you can somehow tie your research project to one of these two subjects, you’re in.

          • Ray in VT

            You can probably get a grant if you think that you can disprove that formaldyhyde is a carcinogen. Lacking evidence, maybe they have a grant for spreading doubt.

          • fun bobby

            that is when he is not financing studies that show global warming is occuring

          • StilllHere

            Gout causes global warming, or vice versa; we need a study.

          • fun bobby

            is that an inconvenient truth?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            The concern being discussed is *general* science research.

    • OnPointComments

      Both of them have been furloughed? Oops, I mean 4 of them have been furloughed? I wonder why the 5th Nobel Prize winner wasn’t furloughed; he must be writing the algorithms for the NSA. I bet those 4 Nobel Prize winners who have been furloughed are still thinking.

      Rule of thumb: when they give you percentages, ask for the number count; when they give you the number count, ask for the percentages.

      • OnPointComments

        I guessed wrong about the 5th Nobel Prize winner being the NSA algorithm writer, although the 5th Nobel Prize winner is the person who has expanded NSA snooping. The 5th Nobel Prize winner is President Obama. Wouldn’t it be far more effective propaganda if it could be stated that 100% of Nobel Prize winners currently employed by the Federal government are on furlough?

  • JGC

    “The National Cancer Institute is looking for bold new approaches to answer 20 perplexing scientific questions identified by the community. Themes include cancer prevention and risk, mechanisms of tumor development, tumor detection,diagnosis and prognosis, cancer therapy and outcomes, clinical effectiveness.”

    provocativequestions.nci.nih.gov

    • hennorama

      “Due to the lapse in government funding, the information on this web site may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the web site may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted. Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at USA.gov.”

      • JGC

        : (

  • Coastghost

    If Nobel prizes are “lagging indicators”, we may be in much worse shape than today’s program suggests: NO American has won a
    Nobel prize in Literature in twenty years.

  • beeste

    You have to be crazy to pursue academic research at this point. You really have to decide that there is no alternative you can live with. I’m a 3rd year postdoc and the Tea Party right has forced me to read the tea leaves: I’m going into Biotech to make enough money to raise a family. After a 6 year PhD and now in my 3rd year of postdoccing, I just can’t afford to continue. People don’t get faculty positions until they are in their late 30s/early 40s because it’s too hard.

    BUT, there’s another problem. The entire PhD/Postdoc process in the US is completely broken in ways that have nothing to do with financing. It’s a horrific system of mentoring, limited guidance on what’s required for success, abusive uses of trainees with workloads approaching slavery (ie $40,000 stipend / 80 hours a week =$10/hour WITH A PhD and NO OVERTIME). It’s a broken system from the top on down.

    • beeste

      Meanwhile Postdoc advertisements in Switzerland are advertising ~$100K.

    • beeste

      I think I didn’t express my point exactly well. Hard work is necessary, it just has to be reasonably supported. You have to love the job to continue to faculty, but when NIH cutoffs are at 5% of grants, you have to be a little crazy to think that you are going to succeed. It’s not just quality, it’s name and reputation. There’s a negative feedback loop that gets much worse with an absence of funding.

    • beeste

      So a scientist in training shouldn’t complain about minimum wage work because they should be more passionate about their work?

    • ThirdWayForward

      If you don’t have a tenure track position by the time you are 40, you may be able to support yourself through soft money for a while, but that’s really unreliable in the long run — there is a high likelihood that funding for your job will dry up at some point or another. It means that you may not be able to stay in your field, or even in science, and it means that your family may need to deal with long financial dead periods when funding gaps arise.

      There then comes the point where you have many publications and experience in your CV, but then you are too experienced and “overqualified” for lesser lab jobs. It’s very similar to what skilled workers in other sectors of the economy face, and it’s a waste of talent and experience.

      There is rampant age discrimination in academia — they won’t look seriously at anyone over 40 for an entry-level tenure track post. It’s completely illegal, but everyone does it and nobody enforces those laws (Martha Coakley, are you listening?).

    • ThirdWayForward

      Save up those nuts while you can gather them.

      I know several really smart people in biotech who had good-paying jobs into their 50′s, but eventually, there is some managerial shakeup in the company, and their salaries look too big vis-a-vis younger scientists, and they find themselves out looking for jobs.

      Some land on their feet, others never manage to find a job anywhere near as good as the one they had.

      Again, this is typical of what other kinds of skilled workers face in our economic system.

      Scientists and engineers generally don’t have the same kind of professional protections that health and law professionals and tradespeople enjoy. When you lose your funding or position in a company, it is hard to find related work that pays a little less. It would not be such a problem were it not for age discrimination and a preference for young, cheap, malleable workers straight out of college or grad school.

    • brettearle

      Are you not also saddled with the following politics, of it all? (And some of what I point out, below, is implied by your comments, I would certainly think):

      Mustn’t you–indirectly, directly, subtly, or overtly–conform to the visions and approaches of your supervisors, instructors, and mentors, even though you may possibly embrace an especially creative or original approach?

      Mustn’t you navigate through subtle, and not so subtle, biases–including personality clashes or personality quirks?

      If all you say, above, is a close approximation of the Truth, even though it does not surprise me, it is also FULLY outrageous…..

    • DrTing

      “Cutting edge science
      is a harsh profession and only a deep love of the topic and process can get one
      through the daily tumbles.” from “Dr. Jeff Browning, http://www.studentvision.org

  • DrTing

    Need to inspire homegrown science workforce in USA.

    How to inspire kids & students of all ages to fall in love with science?

    • fun bobby

      Bill Nye?

    • geraldfnord

      How about keeping excellence in the relevant subjects from being the occasion of continual and vicious abuse from other students?

      • fun bobby

        nerd!!!

    • Rick Evans

      .Kids tend to start off loving science but are trained out their love by the education system. Even in the Sputnik panicked 1950s my K-6 NYC public school teachers avoided science like a plague.Only from 7 to 12 where science was a regular, separate subject was my thirst addressed.

      • Ray in VT

        I like some of what I have seen regarding my kids and their early science education. Some of the big topics began to be addressed very early on, and I’ve seen the kids getting out, mucking around and getting their hands dirty in order to see how things live and develop.

  • Liz_in_Iowa

    Congratulations to the new Nobel laureates! I would like to ask if they have opinions on how the state of basic research in the US relates to women’s experiences in the STEM fields. My background – I’m a second-year post-doc in a neuroscience lab, and I’m expecting my first child next year. In the meantime, I have a fellowship application that’s held up because of the government shutdown canceling grant reviews at the NIH.

    My impression is that, as one of the guests has said, to get tenure in academia takes a lot of work and guts because of decreased funding for science, and it’s getting harder for women to go through that process if we also want to have a happy and successful family life.

    There have been several news articles in the last few months that mention young scientists, and especially women, who are leaving science early in their careers. One article on slate.com was titled “Rule No. 1 for Female Scientists: Don’t Have a Baby.” Not very encouraging! I would love to hear any thoughts the panelists have.

  • TFRX

    I swear I heard a local newsreader last night refer to the “NO ble” prizes, not the “no BELL” prizes, just awarded.

    I hope that’s just a one-off, instead of a telling indicator of what our press knows about science.

    • Coastghost

      Nota bene: NO Nobel prize is awarded for journalism, such a deserving profession.

      • TFRX

        What does that have to do with my post?

        • Coastghost

          Your prior post is like this show: we need to focus resources and attention on science and applied technology? Well yes: but–if our educators and news managers are a bunch of dolts, why bother? Also: it’s the case that whatever wonders a Nobel laureate gives birth to, it will not be understood at any pedestrian level by any streetwise American: not as long as we’re compelled to have to rely on our class of professional news managers and news aggregators. This show is not dealing with “bridging any gaps”: it’s only about appreciation of the sweeping vistas and perspectives to be had at high altitudes.

          • TFRX

            I’d like to think that 50 years ago (say) a local newsreader in suburban TV land would know how to pronounce “Nobel” without it being phonetically spelled out.

            I’m trying to chalk that one incident I heard to a “cold read”. And I’m trying to not wonder what percentage of newsdesk personnel know what “twerking” is, compared to a year ago.

      • JGC

        There is the Pulitzer, but are you talking about an international award? Why don’t you start one yourself, “The Coastghost Prize” for excellence in journalism? Somebody here was just saying the other day that we need more prizes on this site…

        Who would you award it to? Does the Poynter Institute do anything like this?

    • hennorama

      TFRX — when the pronunciation of “nuclear” is unapologetically bastardized by a U.S. President, no bell should be left unrung.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Jimmy Carter?

        Was he a peanut farmer or a nuclear engineer?

        • hennorama

          WftC — this particular Presidential mispronunciation has a long tradition, as indicated in the linked article, going all the way back to President #34, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who at least had the excuse of learning the word in middle age.

          However, repeating a wrong over and over doesn’t make it right.

          See also “Going Nucular” by Geoff Nunberg, “Fresh Air” commentary, October 2, 2002:

          http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/nucular.html

          FTA:

          “…it isn’t always easy to tell whether an error is a typo or a thinko. Take the pronunciation of nuclear as “nucular.” That one has been getting on people’s nerves since Eisenhower made the mispronunciation famous in the 1950′s. In Woody Allen’s 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Mia Farrow character says she could never fall for any man who says “nucular.” That would have ruled out not just Dubya, but Bill Clinton, who said the word right only about half the time. (President Carter had his own way of saying the word, as “newkeeuh,” but that probably had more to do with his Georgia accent than his ignorance of English spelling.)

          “On the face of things, “nucular” is a typo par excellence. People sometimes talk about Bush “stumbling” over the word, as if this were the same kind of articulatory problem that turns February into “febyooary.” But nuclear isn’t a hard word to pronounce the way February is — try saying each of them three times fast. Phonetically, in fact, nuclear is pretty much the same as likelier, and nobody ever gets that one wrong. (“The first outcome was likular than the second”? ) That “nucular” pronunciation is really what linguists call a folk etymology, where the unfamiliar word nuclear is treated as if it had the same suffix as words like molecular and particular. It’s the same sort of process that turns lackadaisical into “laxadaisical” and chaise longue into chaise lounge.

          “That accounts for Eisenhower’s mispronunciation of nuclear, back at a time when the word was a new addition to ordinary people’s vocabularies. And it’s why Homer Simpson says it as “nucular” even today. But it doesn’t explain why you still hear “nucular” from people like politicians, military people, and weapons specialists, most of whom obviously know better and have been reminded repeatedly what the correct pronunciation is. The interesting thing is that these people are perfectly capable of saying “nuclear families” or “nuclear medicine.” I once asked a weapons specialist at a federal agency about this, and he told me, “Oh, I only say ‘nucular’ when I’m talking about nukes.”

          • Labropotes

            I think nuclear is the only three syllable word in English with an accent on each syllable. This is partly why the word is so frequently mispronounced.

            Coy is a Saxon “mispronunciation” of Latin quiet(us). Should we return to the original, as to the withdrawing room?

          • hennorama

            Labropotes — Thank you for your response.

            I have no objection to the evolution of language, nor do I desire any return to Middle English, Old French, or Latin. Rather, I prefer that simple errors be corrected, especially by those in the public spotlight.

            But that’s just me.

          • Steve__T

            No you are not alone.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Dr. Teller asks for your forgiveness.

          • hennorama

            WftC — I seriously doubt that, as he’s been dead for more than 10 years.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    With Republican religiosity at war with science why is it surprising that investing in science in a consistently logical manner is not happening.

  • beeste

    Congratulations to the new laureates. How about this novel idea? Cut the number of grad students and post docs in half, double the financial and time commitment to each, and carefully nurture and grow the scientists of the future. Medical students are guided and their careers are organized and planned out at least through residency. Similar nurturing should exist for scientists.

  • bmad2012

    “No jobs in chemistry” I was told by a an executive at a major pharmaceutical company working out of their facility in
    Kendal Sq. in Cambridge. We were speaking about future jobs for our kids. One reason – much of their basic research is now being done in China, some in Germany. The Chinese company doing the research had set up a front company in California to get around legal controls / regulations.
    Why would this well known company do this? Short term gain. In the financial/career interest of managers to reduce costs by having research done overseas. The managers / execs got ahead by not having work done in the U.S.This executive was not happy about this. Realized that long term this worked against the interest of the company, this country, our kids.

    • Rick Evans

      So we pay Romney prices for drugs developed by Chinese workers earning McWwages.

    • fun bobby

      multinational corporations have little use for nationalistic goals

  • geraldfnord

    I think the fundamental problem is that in post-Carter America the value system of scientific research is at odds with the promulgated American value system.

    Knowing things for the sake of knowing is denigrated, interest in things about which most people don’t care is deprecated…there is adulation of those who can make fortunes of the fruits of research, but research itself is kind of…un-American.

  • http://TimeArc.us/ Frank Paine

    The Conservative movement has taken an adamant anti-science stand. They are pro-creationism (see: http://bit.ly/1ghC9q6), deny Global warming, and even anti-choice.

    The best example of their anti-science policy is Fusion Research. The result of a $30-50 Billion dollar ten-year program, is disruptive technology that can phase out fossil fuels. This was originally proposed in the 1970s (see: http://1.usa.gov/Z8N6jc) and if we started the program any time in the past 20-30 years, we would have fusion by now and fossil fuels would be phased out within a generation. No energy crisis and ever-increasing costs of oil, and the major source of carbon dioxide and the cause of global warming would be on the DECLINE.

    • fun bobby

      I hope you supported Newt Gingrich. he was the only candidate proposing a moonbase by 2020. that’s where all the fusion fuel is

    • Labropotes

      There is no shortage of science denial across the political spectrum. As an example of science denial common in left-leaning Vermont, 40% of parents don’t permit their children to be properly vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the country. The science backing up the safety and effectiveness of childhood immunization is orders of magnitude more certain than mankind-caused global warming (not that I’m questioning it).

      • Ray in VT

        I think that your numbers may be a bit off there. I did read that in places the number got up to 40%, but the most recently released state figures say that 87% of Kindergarteners have had the full slate:

        http://www.benningtonbanner.com/localnews/ci_23873238/vermont-health-department-releases-immunization-rates

        The issue of vaccines, though, has been in the news, and I do personally know a couple of people who are convinced that all of the bad stuff that you hear about vaccines is true (they also believe in some other weird stuff as well). I’m not really sure what is driving this, though.

        • Labropotes

          Thanks Ray. I was basing my comment on this from the VT Health Dept website, “only 60 percent of young children in Vermont received all of the doses for all the vaccines recommended and available for their age group.” You’re right, I don’t know what’s driving the avoidance, whatever the rate. I think strange beliefs are a major driver in VT. I also think 5-year olds are more likely to be fully up-to-date than older kids.

          • Ray in VT

            I know that my wife was really ticked off last year when her mom was advised to not visit us, as her doctor was concerned about her potentially spreading whooping cough to our new daughter, after she was potentially exposed via a co-worker.

            I’m not quite sure what it is. There is that persistent belief in the supposed link between vaccines and autism. That might be a part of it, although I don’t know why that has legs. I wonder if Vermont is perhaps more prone to non-vaccinations due to more people wanting to live a “natural” life. Vermont has also traditionally allowed types of exemptions that other states have not, at least that is my understanding. Ironically my daughter got a couple of her shots this morning.

          • Labropotes

            Hi Ray, I think this conversation may have expired but I read the new Economist last night and there is a big article on bad science. One good reason Vermonters have their doubts about vaccinations is that there is so much BS science, and there are so many “scientists” working for organizations that care more about profit or notoriety than honor, so pay more for “useful” than for accurate science. Too much like all of us in that respect!

          • Ray in VT

            Like with all things one must be cautious and critical when reading and consuming information. Considering the source is always very good, although certainly some bs gets dressed up pretty fancy and is well sold. I’ve also noticed recently that old topics pages are getting closed for comment. That is new, I think.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Viable fusion was 20 years away in the ’70s. It stayed 20 years away for decades. Now, with the ITER boondoggle it is 40 years away and will probably never be commercially viable. It is just too darn expensive and complicated.

      The central planners almost never get it right. Fortunately, there are many private fusion researchers. Perhaps one of those projects will pop.

      But, if you are so concerned with CO2 emissions, it is the killing of fission research that has increased the CO2 emissions since the ’80s. Imagine the progress we could have made with LFTR (’60s technology) or IFR that improve safety and nuclear waste. More poor central planning policy choices.

  • Jim

    Greed will always beat science,… always. if you do not believe it ask those guys who recently graduated from college and chose wall street over silicon valley.

    • fun bobby

      plenty of cash in silicon valley. their products make money

  • geraldfnord

    Here’s a hint: if in your culture ‘professor’ is linguistically equivalent to ‘sir’ or ‘doctor’ or ‘master’, you might have an advantage over people in whose culture it is often used as an insult, from the schoolyard to the campaign trail.

    • TFRX

      I think that includes Germany (h/t “The Blue Angel”).

      Which others do so?

  • Coastghost

    Wrong topic, Tom Ashbrook: try again soon with a program devoted to “Science and Egalitarian Democracy”.

  • Lee_on_Norfolk

    The lack of funding for science is all about taxes- and the drive since Reagan to lower taxes on the wealthy. This lack of funding will hurt us all in the long run, just like having kids who don’t go to Headstart hurts us all in the long run.

    • fun bobby

      scientific research shows no advantage from headstart programs

      • Ray in VT

        A number of studies have shown some very significant long term outcomes for kids who participate in Head Start, such as the study referenced here:

        http://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/education/education_topics/learning/article_18b8f2e6-5aab-597d-a379-63ad6e9ee3bd.html

        • fun bobby

          “In the final phase of a large-scale randomized, controlled study of nearly 5,000 children, researchers found that the positive impacts on literacy and language development demonstrated by children who entered Head Start at age 4 had dissipated by the end of 3rd grade, and that they were, on average, academically indistinguishable from their peers who had not participated in Head Start. The new findings, released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are consistent with an earlier phase of the study which showed that many of the positive impacts of Head Start participation had faded by the end of 1st grade.”

          http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/early_years/2012/12/head_start_advantages_mostly_gone_by_third_grade_study_finds.html

          • Ray in VT

            http://www.nber.org/digest/aug01/w8054.html

            In Longer Term Effects of Head Start
            (NBER Working Paper No. 8054),
            authors Eliana Garces, Duncan Thomas, and
            Janet Currie find that Head Start
            generates long-term improvements in important outcomes such as schooling
            attainment, earnings, and crime reduction. They find that disadvantaged whites
            who had been enrolled in Head Start were more likely to graduate from high school
            and to have attended college than siblings who did not. White children of high
            school dropouts also had higher average earnings between the ages of 23 and 25 if
            they attended Head Start. African-Americans who attended Head Start were
            “significantly less likely to have been booked or charged with a crime” compared to
            siblings who did not participate in Head Start. Finally, the authors find that male
            African-Americans were more likely to complete high school and to participate in
            the labor force if they had attended Head Start.

          • fun bobby

            I am going to have to go with the government research on this one

          • Ray in VT

            Which does not look into the sorts of effects that have played out over decades long studies. However, if one chooses to ignore such research, then certainly one may come to the conclusion that it is a program that does not have benefits.

          • fun bobby

            its a great example of how one can use scientific research to advance almost any argument. often I think it would be better if the news did not even report on scientific research since they inevitably distort/ misreport the findings and even in the best case scenario most people will read into the results. people just remember the headline and don’t really look at the way the research was conducted if that is even in the article. I don’t really have any problem with head start in theory just the federal funding for it.

    • cg9

      I’m just reading (Harper’s Nov. 2013, p.13) about the huge proportion of Republican legislators who have signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. When you “outsource” your critical thinking faculties, there’s not much that can be done — under any circumstances….

  • Rahul

    Hello Tom,
    Thanks for a discussion on this aspect of scientific research.
    One of the issues that has not been covered in your show so far has been the immigration policies. Statistics show most of the people joining the research come from outside US. However, the difficult path of getting a Permanent Residency is notably a hindrance in seeking the NIH funding that we have been talking about. Not only the funding but even getting an H1B visa that is required for continue working in US is getting expensive and difficult to get as lot of universities are trying to stay away from sponsoring these visas.
    I will like to hear your guest’ thoughts on this issue.

  • fun bobby

    [The author permitted to see the grand academy of Lagado. The
    academy largely described. The arts wherein the professors employ
    themselves.]

    This academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation
    of several houses on both sides of a street, which growing waste,
    was purchased and applied to that use.

    I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to
    the academy. Every room has in it one or more projectors; and I
    believe I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.

    The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and
    face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several
    places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour.
    He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out
    of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed,
    and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me,
    he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to
    supply the governor’s gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate:
    but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me “to give
    him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since
    this had been a very dear season for cucumbers.” I made him a
    small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose,
    because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see
    them.

    I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being
    almost overcome with a horrible stink. My conductor pressed me
    forward, conjuring me in a whisper “to give no offence, which would
    be highly resented;” and therefore I durst not so much as stop my
    nose. The projector of this cell was the most ancient student of
    the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands
    and clothes daubed over with filth. When I was presented to him,
    he gave me a close embrace, a compliment I could well have excused.
    His employment, from his first coming into the academy, was an
    operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by
    separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it
    receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scumming off
    the saliva. He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a
    vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol
    barrel.

    I saw another at work to calcine ice into gunpowder; who likewise
    showed me a treatise he had written concerning the malleability of
    fire, which he intended to publish.

    There was a most ingenious architect, who had contrived a new
    method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working
    downward to the foundation; which he justified to me, by the like
    practice of those two prudent insects, the bee and the spider.

    There was a man born blind, who had several apprentices in his own
    condition: their employment was to mix colours for painters, which
    their master taught them to distinguish by feeling and smelling.
    It was indeed my misfortune to find them at that time not very
    perfect in their lessons, and the professor himself happened to be
    generally mistaken. This artist is much encouraged and esteemed by
    the whole fraternity.

    In another apartment I was highly pleased with a projector who had
    found a device of ploughing the ground with hogs, to save the
    charges of ploughs, cattle, and labour. The method is this: in an
    acre of ground you bury, at six inches distance and eight deep, a
    quantity of acorns, dates, chestnuts, and other mast or vegetables,
    whereof these animals are fondest; then you drive six hundred or
    more of them into the field, where, in a few days, they will root
    up the whole ground in search of their food, and make it fit for
    sowing, at the same time manuring it with their dung: it is true,
    upon experiment, they found the charge and trouble very great, and
    they had little or no crop. However it is not doubted, that this
    invention may be capable of great improvement.

    I went into another room, where the walls and ceiling were all hung
    round with cobwebs, except a narrow passage for the artist to go in
    and out. At my entrance, he called aloud to me, “not to disturb
    his webs.” He lamented “the fatal mistake the world had been so
    long in, of using silkworms, while we had such plenty of domestic
    insects who infinitely excelled the former, because they understood
    how to weave, as well as spin.” And he proposed further, “that by
    employing spiders, the charge of dyeing silks should be wholly
    saved;” whereof I was fully convinced, when he showed me a vast
    number of flies most beautifully coloured, wherewith he fed his
    spiders, assuring us “that the webs would take a tincture from
    them; and as he had them of all hues, he hoped to fit everybody’s
    fancy, as soon as he could find proper food for the flies, of
    certain gums, oils, and other glutinous matter, to give a strength
    and consistence to the threads.”

    There was an astronomer, who had undertaken to place a sun-dial
    upon the great weathercock on the town-house, by adjusting the
    annual and diurnal motions of the earth and sun, so as to answer
    and coincide with all accidental turnings of the wind.

    I was complaining of a small fit of the colic, upon which my
    conductor led me into a room where a great physician resided, who
    was famous for curing that disease, by contrary operations from the
    same instrument. He had a large pair of bellows, with a long
    slender muzzle of ivory: this he conveyed eight inches up the
    anus, and drawing in the wind, he affirmed he could make the guts
    as lank as a dried bladder. But when the disease was more stubborn
    and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows were full of
    wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient; then
    withdrew the instrument to replenish it, clapping his thumb
    strongly against the orifice of then fundament; and this being
    repeated three or four times, the adventitious wind would rush out,
    bringing the noxious along with it, (like water put into a pump),
    and the patient recovered. I saw him try both experiments upon a
    dog, but could not discern any effect from the former. After the
    latter the animal was ready to burst, and made so violent a
    discharge as was very offensive to me and my companion. The dog
    died on the spot, and we left the doctor endeavouring to recover
    him, by the same operation.

    I visited many other apartments, but shall not trouble my reader
    with all the curiosities I observed, being studious of brevity.

    I had hitherto seen only one side of the academy, the other being
    appropriated to the advancers of speculative learning, of whom I
    shall say something, when I have mentioned one illustrious person
    more, who is called among them “the universal artist.” He told us
    “he had been thirty years employing his thoughts for the
    improvement of human life.” He had two large rooms full of
    wonderful curiosities, and fifty men at work. Some were condensing
    air into a dry tangible substance, by extracting the nitre, and
    letting the aqueous or fluid particles percolate; others softening
    marble, for pillows and pin-cushions; others petrifying the hoofs
    of a living horse, to preserve them from foundering. The artist
    himself was at that time busy upon two great designs; the first, to
    sow land with chaff, wherein he affirmed the true seminal virtue to
    be contained, as he demonstrated by several experiments, which I
    was not skilful enough to comprehend. The other was, by a certain
    composition of gums, minerals, and vegetables, outwardly applied,
    to prevent the growth of wool upon two young lambs; and he hoped,
    in a reasonable time to propagate the breed of naked sheep, all
    over the kingdom.

    • Coastghost

      The 300th anniversary of the launch of Laputa approaches! (The Grand Academy of Lagado will be suitably festooned for the celebration of one of its enduring successes.)

  • Labropotes

    Look at NPR reporting on the unemployment rate. It would certainly not be an exaggeration to say that there have been 20 articles over the past few years in which a change in the unemployment rate is analyzed as either a change in the numerator or the denominator. It’s a ratio, and NPR covers its “complicated” derivation as if it were truly difficult to understand.

    Indeed, whenever NPR covers anything to do with arithmetic, they frame it as a voyage into intractable abstraction. Listen for the phrase, “Well it’s complicated…,” before an innumerate reporter boggles the explanation.

    Maybe if we selected our educators based on the quality of their understandings rather than their “identity” as defined by gender, race, economic background, etc, we’d better educate our population. Americans would then better understand and value science.

  • truegangsteroflove

    One reason science funding might be in decline is the law of diminishing returns. Relative to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire, the REAL marginal benefit to society relative to cost of scientific research may be decreasing.

    A perfect example is the Nobel Prize for Economics. The three honorees received high praise for their theories about how asset markets work. It’s all fine and grand, but what the world really needs is a theory of loaves and fishes, of how we can break all our resources in half and produce twice as much, enabling our infinite growth economy to indeed grow forever, or for at least grow for a very long time.

    Scientific research on how to turn garbage into raw materials would be good. We can start such research by declaring it something we really need to do. Research into benign population reduction might have occurred to some funder or other. How about an economist or three studying the beneficial aspects of economic democracy? The esteemed Nobel committee is likely not even aware of the work of Steady State economist Herman Daly. Limits to growth is not on establishment radar.

    “Science” is not indivisible. Though there can be serendipitous benefits to society from research that is tinkering with ideas, in the future it may be necessary to have scientific research directed towards defined social goals.

    • andic_epipedon

      This has been an argument that has been around for a long time. As a scientist who is no longer able to practice, I would say that funding for both applied and basic research has been defunded. I practiced applied science and am no longer able to do so.

      If you ignore basic research you will eventually have nothing to apply.

  • tbphkm33

    Part of the larger issue is that the average person does not understand scientific research. In part by the feeling from school that science is “hard,” and in part from popular culture. Movies and TV shows illustrate characters making phenomenal breakthroughs in the span of little to no time. A lack of understanding leads a lot of people to decry basic research as “wasteful.”

    Reality is that there are few BIG breakthroughs, scientific advancement (and by extension technological breakthrough) is based upon small incremental insights. Building upon what came before. It is not glamourous, but is time consuming and requires patience.

    Without the hard work of scientific researchers, the public would today not have smart phones and all the rest we take for granted in modern society.

    On a national level, not investing in scientific research translates into negating future economic growth. If the Germans make a scientific breakthrough, what nation do you think is going to reap the financial and economic gain from that breakthrough?

    Scientific research monies is another form of economic development. If as a nation, the U.S. fails to invest in its economy, the country only has itself to blame as it increasingly falls behind other nations. Further cementing the status of the U.S. as a 2nd world nation, sidelined from the marvels and advantages of a 1st world nation.

    • Labropotes

      This is a great comment.

      We have to make hard choices about where to spend our money, but our political leaders and we ourselves always take what looks like the easy way out.

    • J__o__h__n

      Actually the majority of Americans (52%) opposes cuts to science. 56% of Republicans support cutting it (35% of Democrats. It is the anti-tax, anti-science party to blame not all Americans. http://www.gallup.com/poll/145790/americans-oppose-cuts-education-social-security-defense.aspx

    • LetsGetReal

      At least the U.S. can be proud to be #1 in godbothering and denying one of the most powerful theories of science: Evolution,

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    This topic reminds me of the demise of Bell Labs — the research arm of AT&T. For decades Bell Labs was a prolific inventor and producer of basic research — from the transistor to the Unix operating system. Society was the primary beneficiary.

    Yes, monopolies are problematic. Oh well. We can still mourn our loss.

    • tbphkm33

      Oh, there you are – posting a comment at the same time as I’m wondering where you are.

      - I think you will find plenty of well developed postings to attack today. You have your work cut out for yourself. Keep on writing like this and the Koch brothers will have problems paying you :)

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Ah, you missed me. I feel loved.

        • StilllHere

          Not love, it’s validation. He’s pathetic, though not the worst. Just ignore.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I know. Replying just delayed me from cashing all my Koch checks. :)

    • tbphkm33

      By the way, I agree, society does lose without Bell Labs and a number of other corporate research labs that used to be in existence. Lets not forget that Xerox invented the mouse.

      • jefe68

        GE ruined Bell Labs.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          GE? How so?

          • jefe68

            They made all the R&D people punch time cards. Created some bad work conditions and as a result a lot of engineers and scientist left. The ones that stayed, I know of one, were never happy working for GM, but did so due having a family and being of a certain age that made it difficult to leave.
            This man has passed away, but his tale is interesting. and speaks to how Jack Welsh through his ignorance destroyed a R&D department.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I’m having trouble keeping up with your alphabet soup — GM/GE.

            Bell Labs was the research arm of AT&T before the breakup.

          • jefe68

            You know what you’re right. I have the wrong R&D lab. It was RCA and Raytheon.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            LOL!!!!

            That Sarnoff dude was downright evil.

          • tbphkm33

            Irrespective of what acronym it was, the reality is that too many corporations have gotten out of the research game.

            Another big problem is that corporations often move the resulting manufacturing overseas. As happened with TV, invented in the U.S., manufactured in Asia.

            Apple is starting to bring some manufacturing back to the U.S. If I remember right the price of a U.S. manufactured iPhone is only some $17 higher than the Chinese produced version.

            I believe companies are failing to realize that within the U.S., there are millions of consumers that are willing to pay 1% to 5% more for the same product if what they are buying is actually manufactured in the U.S.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Bell Labs died in the wake of the breakup of AT&T.

            But even before the breakup of AT&T, the inventions coming out of Bell Labs were restricted to applications within AT&T’s authorized line of business: voice telephony. AT&T (and Western Electric) were prohibited by Federal law from entering the consumer electronics market and the computer market.

            And so the Japanese jumped into the consumer electronics market and came to dominate it.

            According to the philosophy of the Federal government, this was preferable to letting AT&T capture the consumer electronics market in the wake of the invention of the transistor.

          • hennorama

            Barry Kort — pssst … “Bell Labs – the research organization within Alcatel-Lucent” is still in existence.

            See my post above, or

            http://www3.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal/belllabs

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Not really. It’s a tiny remnant of the Bell Labs that existed half a century ago, when AT&T had the resources to hire thousands of top scientists and engineers.

            At that time, Bell Labs was the premier R&D organization of the face of the planet.

            Today, it’s barely a blip on the R&D map.

          • hennorama

            Barry Kort — it’s certainly true “the Bell Labs that existed half a century ago” is not the same as today’s Bell Labs.

            It’s also certainly true that Bell Labs is not “dead.” Wouldn’t you agree?

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Bell Labs died around 1990, after having been mortally wounded in 1984.

          • hennorama

            Barry Kort — stubborn facts overcome stubborn humans, wouldn’t you agree?

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Sometimes. It doesn’t appear to be true for politicians.

          • hennorama

            Barry Kort — as a courtesy to a fellow orange avatar, I respectfully decline further comment.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            One would indeed be wise to tread gingerly. ;)

      • John Cedar

        Big William Shockley fan are ya?

        More than a few decisions in the corporate world, are strongly influenced by US tax policy.

        Does “test marketing” count as research?
        Are the publishers of Consumer Reports publishing the results of research?

      • hennorama

        tbphkm33 — indeed, but “PARC, a Xerox company, is in the Business of Breakthroughs®” is still in existence, as is “Bell Labs – the research organization within Alcatel-Lucent.”

        See:

        http://www.parc.com/about/

        http://www3.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal/belllabs

        Also, don’t forget that in 1975, Steven Sasson, an engineer at KODAK, invented and built the first digital camera. KODAK’s patented technologies are incorporated into many of today’s digital cameras.

        Unfortunately for KODAK, they completely failed to take advantage of being the first with the technology. This is not surprising, since digital camera technology threatened to destroy their core film business.

        It’s akin to IBM initially failing to recognize the potential of the PC. The difference is that IBM adapted, while KODAK did not.

        • fun bobby

          Kodak still exists. great examples of what kinds of breakthroughs are possible without any government assistance

          • hennorama

            Indeed KODAK still exists.

            However, it has just emerged from bankruptcy and is but a tiny fraction of the company it was at its peak. Employment in Rochester, NY, where the Eastman Kodak Company was formed in 1892, is expected to total about 700, just barely over 1 percent of peak employment.

            The company was originally a partnership between George Eastman and and Henry Strong (who was literally a buggy-whip manufacturer) called the Eastman Dry Plate Company, which began on January 1, 1881.

            Failure to adapt and to take advantage of its own technology led the company to its present state.

          • fun bobby

            yes it did cause them a setback and now they have emerged from bankruptcy a stronger more viable streamlined company

  • tbphkm33

    Hmm, is it a national holiday in India today? “worriedforthecountry” is not on here at all. He must be getting paid to troll other discussion boards today.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      You are working hard at being a bore. Then again it might just come naturally.

      • tbphkm33

        I might be a bore, but I bet that I do generate more “up votes” or “likes” than all the Tea Baggers combined :)

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Whatever floats your boat :)

          Watch out though someone said there was a vote-bot lurking on this board. Although they thought the bot was only down voting.

          • tbphkm33

            You have to be logged in to vote down, so that would not be a bot. I don’t think a bot can vote up either, as the system would recognize a high number of hits from the same address over a short amount of time.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Au countraire. A piece of cake for a clever bot programmer to surmount all those issues.

            Not every programmer is as limited as those who designed the Obamacare portal.

          • jefe68

            Warning, warning, regressive right wingers approaching!

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Dr. Smith, is that you?

          • hennorama

            Regardless of the topic, the image of the Class M-3 Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot cracks me up every time.

        • Labropotes

          Which increases the gratitude we must feel for Worried’s good natured, not unsupported, constant disagreement with the prevailing tone here at on point comments.

        • pete18

          That you would spend time counting up votes is very telling.

      • StilllHere

        I wouldn’t take his bait, he’s a waste of time. Stay strong.

        • tbphkm33

          “stillhere” – you are just jealous that “worriedforthecountry” has more than one discussion board that he is paid to post comments to :)

          “worriedforthecountry” must be the better business person :)

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    And for some good news:

    “Anyone who thinks America’s best days are behind it should take a close look at the latest Nobel haul.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303376904579135283429301854.html

    • John Cedar

      Because we have more of the chosen people?
      “Why is Europe such a Nobel laggard? In hindsight, evicting and killing most of its Jewish population was perhaps not the best idea—a lesson that still goes unlearned, considering the feverish efforts on European campuses to boycott Israeli academics.”

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        From the article:

        “A more interesting case is Israel. The Jewish state should be a Nobel powerhouse, given that Jews, 0.2% of the world’s population, have won 20% of all Nobels, including six prizes this year alone. But while Israel can claim nine living laureates, three of them live and teach mainly in the U.S.”

    • hennorama

      WftC – Did you notice that the photo and caption accompanying the Wall Street Journal article completely omitted Robert Shiller, the third Nobel Prize winner in economics for 2013?

      One hopes it was simply an oversight, and not a deliberate snub of Mr. Shiller, who correctly anticipated both the tech bubble and the housing market bubble.

      See:
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/14/us-nobel-economics-idUSBRE99D07F20131014

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/business/3-american-professors-awarded-nobel-in-economic-sciences.html

      (all three winners are pictured in both links above)

  • marygrav

    To understand what happened and continues to happen not only to science but also to education in America can be traced back to 1999 and George W. Bush’s dependence on Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalism combined with racism and racialism.

    Bush needed the Religious Fundamentalist and the Orthodox Jews in order to run for President. This is what Slater and Moore write in The Architect . When the Christian Fundamentalist gained power in D.C. they “helped” Bush determine that science was the Devil’s Work. Bush even brought in the Pope to help him make their point.

    American Science is a dodgy statement because there was no American modern science until Operation Paperclip brought over the captured Nazi Scientist. Germany before the Nazis had the best education system in the world and most if not all Nobel Prizes went to Germany. This can be researched in Hitler’s Scientist by John Cornwell. Education was so important until a lot of mixed Jews and also Jews were willing to risk their lives in order to get their degrees. The Universities were controlled by the state and all the teaching staff were civil service employees.

    Americans seem too concerned with overturning Affirmative Action at the University level than to bother with education. Note that the University of Michigan case is now being revisited in the Supreme Court as part of it first session. The Court will rule in the favor of the plaintif. But what is wrong with this is that with demographics being what they are the White population will be before the Court trying to reinstate Affirmative Action by mid-cenutury. Karma is always a bitch.

    Education is all its truthiness has never be at the center of the American psyche. Religion has always been at center because it is easy to believe in the “pie in the sky by-in-by,” which will keep the masses in control. Lasse-faire Capitalism depends on this and Slave Labor to make the rich richer and the poor, regardless of race, in their assigned places. Racialism keeps the White population in its place by making them believe the Affirmative Action does not benefit them. The greatest benefactors of Affirmative Action have been White women and therefore their children.

    The United States is falling into a 2nd rate power because of hubris. This happen once before when the Russians launched Sputnik. WE The People were told that we were the smartest people in the world and the Russians were too dumb to ever catch up with US. We were wrong then and soon will be wrong when it comes to Asia, especially China.

    Education cost and soon American science will go the way of heavy industry–farmed out to the Third World. Then we will see a reversal in who is first in the world, and who has fallen to third.

  • Jellogum

    The new patent law has really changed everything for society. The patent system now rewards the ownership of an invention to the first entity to file, not the first to invent. What will be the depth and breadth of the change, the pros and the cons? Will this new change invoke more, or less, discoveries and inventions? Will individuals increase their patent requests, or will a few titanic institutions? Who will own information in the future when access to fresh discovery, and new patents, will require access to patented foundation tools? How will education change? What kind of personalities will dominate in this new business market? Will the new law increase or reduce peer review and the free exchange of ideas horizontally over a given time? Who will write the book: Future Shark, Win the Race and Profit, Competitive Methods to Find and Process Patents Ahead of the Pack?

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      I have been asking the news media to cover this matter for over one year now and have never gotten a response. I have asked this show to address the matter of whether or not the AIA is even constitutional and whether it should be challenged in the courts but apparently even attorneys have little interest in this question. We should keep on asking that the news media and all those concerned about the future of innovation in this country, thoroughly investigate who was behind the AIA and why it was so quickly adopted and signed by the President (who is supposed to be a constitutional scholar).

  • pete18

    Good points about the debt….

    “How bad has it gotten? In the past two years, the debt limit has grown twice as much as the economy. Can that go on forever? I doubt it very much.

    As Niall Ferguson notes, while politicians crow that the deficit has dropped — from super-enormous to merely really, really gigantic — every year that we’re in deficit adds to the debt. And the long-term trends are bad: “A very striking feature of the latest Congressional Budget Office report is how much worse it is than last year’s. A year ago, the CBO’s extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year’s long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.’ ”

    Great proposed solution…

    “An across-the-board cut of 5% in every government department’s budget line. (You can’t convince me — and you’ll certainly have a hard time convincing voters — that there’s not 5% waste to be found in any government program.) Then a five-year freeze at that level. Likewise, a one-year moratorium on new regulations, followed by strict limits on new regulatory action: Perhaps a rule that all new business regulations won’t have the force of law until approved by Congress.

    This approach would drastically cut the deficit, and as the economy grew, our debt-to-GDP ratio would improve over time instead of steadily worsening. (And, with a guarantee of reduced spending and regulation, economic growth would probably also take off.)”

    Hopefully my Koch checks will start coming in now.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/10/15/government-shutdown-washington-column/2976849/

    • Doubting_Thomas12

      Best weight loss strategy ever: take a knife, and cut off the top half inch of each body part. We’ll watch the weight just disappear before you know it!

      • pete18

        Here’s a much more appropriate analogy, eat 5% less at each meal. You will be guaranteed to lose weight without starving or missing the required nutrients that the body needs.

    • Eliza_Bee

      Basic research funding is already cut to the point of severe negative effects. To add to the anecdata, I know someone who is at the peak of a very successful career in science and beginning to shut down his research program due to lack of funding.

      Think about how technology impacts your quality of life every day and has generated prosperity for our nation. Look at how much the government is spending to fund the basic research that is the source of those technologies. You’re talking about throwing away the source of our greatness and future prosperity to save a relatively small amount of money.

  • cypress

    Tom Ashbrook – When interviewing a scientist, ask a question and shut your pie hole. You ruined this interview, at least for me, by constantly cutting off the speaker to interject your biased agenda. The cotton gin remark was more than I could take and was the end of the interview for me.

  • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

    I like how Stillman takes credit on behalf of his set for inventing the Apple iPhone. On that note, I will take credit on behalf of my set for inventing online shopping from the research and development at Telaction. Al Gore might want to chime in and take credit on behalf of his set for inventing the internet.

    • Eliza_Bee

      The point was that the technologies in cell phones grew out of basic research. For example, look up the history of GPS, lithium batteries, the integrated circuit, liquid crystal displays–all available in Wikipedia.

  • andic_epipedon

    Tom. Thirty minutes in this show started to go in a weird direction. I didn’t want to wallow in the chaos that is now science. I wanted to hear some of the guests ideas on how to fix the problem or weather what one of the guests described as a steady state system instead of a growth system.

  • the anti-Emily

    Competency in STEM subjects can be objectively measured to a large degree, so GPA and GRE scores count a lot more.

  • the anti-Emily

    *Research is not being funded.
    I think that’s what you meant to say.

    Innovation is what happens when that research yields something that is economically beneficial. What may be happening is that we’re facing diminishing returns where the money and time investment required for useful innovation is too high for it to be economically beneficial. Many places in the world, have gotten around this by taking a long-term view in terms of investment, while many in the West adhere to short-term investment models.

  • the anti-Emily

    When science says things that are deeply upsetting to our deeply held beliefs, we tend to deny it. Our beliefs, both secular and religious, stop us from making the best of use of what we have now, so how can further growth of scientific knowledge be of any use if we filter out so much of what exists even now?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    These scientists seem to have stumbled upon their own double standard. When a young scientist called in to complain about how hard it is to make a living as a scientist today, they chided him for basically “wining” too much and maybe not being tough enough, or having the “right stuff” necessary to make it to the “big leagues”, like they were able to do. But before that remark, their whole point was to say it was MUCH EASIER in the past to get tenure, grant money and make a good living as a scientist. So, WHICH IS IT? Could they still make it today?? Maybe had they started working today, they would never have become Nobel Prize winners at all!!! They treated the caller with a great amount of disrespect, without knowing anything about the man – how rude was THAT?

    • the anti-Emily

      I don’t think a double standard would be the right term to use to describe navel-gazing of the established and successful on the un-established and the unsuccessful–which happens just about everywhere.

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        They were arguing that “they” had an “easier time of it” but that the “new guy” was just “wining” to much about having it a lot tougher than they appear to have had it, in not being able to grants, or a salary sufficient enough to support his family. For being such terrific scientists, their pretty severe criticism (of a guy they didn’t know at all) seems to defy simple logic (i.e don’t bash the guy that is AGREEING with your assessment of the present situation).

        Remember what one of guys (forgot which one) who won the Nobel for their discovery of DNA said about Blacks and other races (based on their “extensive research” of other races)??

  • the anti-Emily

    I’ll say it and I’ll say it again :today’s problems are much more difficult to solve than yesterday’s because–let’s be blunt here– we’re fighting the law of thermodynamics. How can an energy-intensive and resource intensive civilization be sustained with less energy availability and fewer resources?

    • GuestAug27

      It’s pretty simple: (1) control population growth (i.e. free, easily available contraception and abortion); (2) consume less (we need to end the obsession with economic growth before it turns the earth into a toxic waste dump). “You shall not over-consume” (anything from SUVs to McMansions) needs to become the 11th commandment in all religions.

    • ExcellentNews

      The laws of thermodynamics haven’t changed AFAIK since life appeared on Earth. I would chance to say that the life of the common man in medieval England or revolutionary China had more challenge from “the laws of thermodynamics” than yours or mine today. Nevertheless, we do face a big problem in the sense that decisions about demographics, economy, resource allocation…etc. are not made on a rational scientific basis. Unless science becomes the basis of governance, there is little hope for better future for our descendants (if any).

  • the anti-Emily

    I don’t think that anyone can become a good scientist with a 2.0-3.5 GPA because the process to become a scientist is competitive. The processes of acquiring internships and research positions are competitive. The process of becoming a scientist is competitive because resources devoted to purely scientific endeavors has not been expanding are not increasing as quickly as we would like. The resources devoted to purely scientific endeavors has not been expanding are not increasing as quickly as we would like may be for economic reasons. Non-scientists want to see a positive roi on research within a reasonable time frame. There are signs that we’re facing diminishing returns and if that’s really the case, then more scientists is not always going to be better.

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    To the poor dejected young PhD that called in:

    “We’re GREAT” … “You sound like a whiner and born LOSER”

  • ExcellentNews

    Wow, so many angry anti-science comments below. Maybe those who wrote them should pause and consider that their ability to write comments on the Web while sipping a double latte granola frappuccino free of deathly pathogens in a sheltered heated room safe from barbarians who would jump you and cut your throat IS THE RESULT of scientific and technological progress underpinned by rational humanism.

    For me, it’s a no brainer. The single most important investment we can make for the future of mankind is into R&D and into a general education that fosters rational thinking. The single biggest mistake we can make is to ignore the scientific evidence – not just in uncontroversial areas such as physics or medicine, but especially in areas related to environment, demographics, or economics.

    Looking at our country lately, it seems that we have been doing precious little investing and too much ignoring.

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