15 October, 2010

Some Things of Especial Note

Whilst you're waiting for me to get my arse in gear on the whole Discovery Park geo thing, here's some lively links to keep you busy.

Callan Bentley's moving!  He'll be joining the new American Geophysical Union's new blog consortium by the end of the month, so watch his space for directions to the new digs.  Congratulations, Callan!

(Ye gods - will we all be assimilated into networks?!)

Our own George W. has a fascinating post up on the powers of 10.  My mind, it is blown!

Marcelo Gleiser explains why science matters.  If you missed it the first few times it made the rounds, don't dare miss it now.

Carl Zimmer explores where e-Book publishing might take us.  Those who believe writing and reading are dead, take heart!

And (dum-DUM-dum!) Readers Beware!  Which says everything that needs to be said to arrogant asscrunches who think bloggers are unwashed, untrustworthy little pissants sullying the fine reputation of journalism.


Silver Fox said...

Resistance - is futile? (re: networks)

Woozle said...

I have a bit of a bone to pick with Marcelo Gleiser, the "Science Apologist". Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that far from defending science, he effectively damns it with faint apologies (and Sarah Palinesque mystical babble) -- to accusations that are mostly straw men in the first place.

The case against science, according to him, is largely based on a "sense of betrayal":

1. new incurable diseases discovered for every one cured
2. technology should make life easier, but we spend more time working
3. the pace of technology causes a generational divide
4. we can send a man to the Moon but still have widespread hunger and poverty
5. higher tech causes faster depletion of resources and devastates the environment

#1 is a bizarre accusation. "Oh noes, you mean we will never conquer all disease? Then what's the point of trying?"

And further: what the frack is he talking about? How is it bad to discover new diseases? You can't cure them until you discover them, you know.

...unless he's trying to imply (without saying it openly) that science somehow created those diseases, that they didn't exist before science "discovered" them, that science is somehow making more disease rather than steadily reducing the number of incurable diseases towards zero.

#2, #4, and #5 are -- say this with me, slowly -- political problems. If government was run scientifically, you better believe we'd have these problems solved in short order. Science tries hard to fix them, and sometimes succeeds, but there are too many players whose interests are best served by keeping the process from becoming too rational. Hence the Tea Party, the abortion "debate", the evolution "debate", the global warming "debate", the vaccine "debate", the Iraq/Afghanistan war, the "war" on drugs, the "war" on terrorism -- when we should be building solar power satellites and spending all that "war" money on schools and infrastructure.

I've been working on that problem, but there hasn't been much interest so far. I've even been told that politics must always be irrational because there is no such thing as the common good (supposedly because the idea of common good somehow requires the idea of a "universally compelling argument", which is supposedly impossible) so politics will always be about turf-wars and rhetoric.

This strikes me as nonsense, but have a lot of reading material to get through before I can mount a comprehensive reply.

#3: Get over it. Kids are going to play on your lawn, and you might as well enjoy it instead of trying to turn it into a Grass Museum.