Is Science Progressing? (featuring Richard Lindzen)

 

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7 Responses to “Is Science Progressing? (featuring Richard Lindzen)”

  1. karolinakurkova Says:

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  2. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Since Lindzen is one of the few people who says reasonable things about the relationship between climate and carbon dioxide, I expect that he says reasonable things about this question, too. Not being able to watch the video, I can’t say much else about it.

    However, the question of whether science is advancing is interesting and important, so I can’t resist addressing it.

    The answer is… yes and no.

    On the one hand, the interface between science and engineering is advancing. Rapidly.

    We are building ever more amazing things. Computers and communications keep getting faster and cheaper. We can now assemble nanostructures, atom by atom. We can create living things by assembling custom-designed DNA from inert chemical precursors. We are learning how to regrow lost or damaged body parts using stem cells. And so on.

    On the other hand, the deep metaphysical and ontological questions are no longer being addressed, except by a few isolated individuals, who are viewed as cranks. Very little money is available to support the research of such “impractical dreamers,” but truckloads of cash are thrown at anyone who can build a robot that runs faster than a man.

    Scientists respond to this state of affairs by adopting a world view that makes a virtue out of necessity. Richard Feynman put it this way:

    “Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it be like that?’ because you will get ‘down the drain’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.”

    David Mermin’s curt reply to students who ask about the real meaning of quantum theory is…

    “Shut up and calculate!”

    And, indeed, we have developed techniques that permit extremely accurate calculations to be made. But then, the Ptolemaic system of epicycles permitted extremely accurate calculations of the observed positions of the planets in the night sky, even though it was based on a model that put the Earth at the centre of the universe.

    Just as the accuracy of Ptolemy’s calculations made it possible to ignore – for centuries – the evidence that his model was wrong, the accuracy of our present calculations is leads us to downplay the importance of the foundational questions which remain unanswered and thus to ignore the mounting evidence that our models are still wrong in crucial, fundamental ways.

    This state of affairs can be seen in all modern disciplines – most notably in fields like physics and cryptology, which bear directly on the global balance of power – and very obviously also in fields like psychology and sociology, which have immediate practical applications in the control of public sentiment and opinion – and increasingly also in fields like climatology and economics, where ever more sophisticated mathematics are used to formulate models that are not just wrong, but deliberately crafted to mislead the public in support of the globalist political agenda.

    These modern techniques are so complex that it takes many years to learn them, and by the time a person has mastered them, so much time and effort has been invested that the ability to see things in new ways has been impaired and the motivation to support the status quo is very strong.

    To make matters worse, science has advanced to a point where it is virtually impossible for anyone to maintain a grasp of the “big picture,” so specialization is forced on almost all working scientists. The process of earning a Ph.D. is now described as “learning more and more about less and less.” As a result, most scientists are actually laymen in every field but their own very narrow specialty.

    Meanwhile, those who disseminate science to the general public tell us that reality is created by the act of observation, those who pass for philosophers claim that truth and morality are social constructs, and those who pass for teachers declare that bona fide education has no value and only vocational training and social skills matter.

    All this seriously undermines the average person’s world view and makes it difficult for people to think for themselves. Most people simply give up and accept – on pure faith – whatever the “scientific consensus” tells them. Just as bad money drives good money out of circulation, scientism has replaced science in popular thought.

    And this in turn opens the door to politically-motivated pseudo-science and the rise of a secular priesthood composed of so-called “scientific experts,” which is worse than the ecclesiastical priesthood ever was, because it is more insidious.

    Thus the perception of science by society as a whole is being subverted into a tool of control exactly as religion was once subverted.

    Today, arguments between those who believe what scientists tell them and those who believe what priests tell them are generally indistinguishable from disputes between different religions.

    These disputes are endless because both sides are based on pure faith.

    Of the two, scientism is the more dangerous, because it does a better job of masquerading as rationality.

    It doesn’t take a degree in applied mathematics to find the logical flaws and question the miraculous claims of organized religion, but that’s exactly what it takes to find the flaws in the pseudo-science touted by climate change alarmists.

    Thus, while science is advancing in so far as it permits better control of the physical world and the social sphere by a select few, the truly fundamental questions that don’t directly contribute to that goal are being increasingly ignored. And the masses are being shut out and mislead by concentric layers of increasingly sophisticated pseudo-scientific sleight of hand.

    In short, modern science is structured exactly like an ancient mystery religion.

    And it plays exactly the same role in society.

    The only difference is, the “forbidden knowledge” at the core of modern science really does give its possessors great power.

    • xanthippa Says:

      A well-thought-out comment, as usual, CodeSlinger!

      Dr. Lindzen says a little bit of a similar thing – though he focuses on the current incentive structure of grants, the unbridled growth in administration and the negative impact this has on scientific work.

      Like you, he notes that ‘pure thinking’ is mostly out…

  3. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Yes, the detrimental effect of political and corporate influence on science, through targeted funding of research and calculated neglect of teaching, is the primary mechanism underlying the decay of modern science into a secular mystery school.

    This effect was noted with alarm by every honest and conscientious scientist and educator who saw it happen. Edwin T. Jaynes, perhaps one of the finest physicists of the 20th century, unburdened himself about it in an article he wrote when he retired in 1993. He reminds us that

    “For centuries, universities recognized only the teaching function and ‘research’ was an unknown word. Teachers were not an economic liability to the university; they were paid directly by the students and their income reflected directly the quality of their teaching.”

    Jaynes refers to a 1957 paper by David Webster, which begins with the observation that “it is about 15 years, now, since research men at MIT began to talk lightly about their budgets in terms of a new unit, the ‘megabuck.’”

    This led to a fatal imbalance between research and teaching. Jaynes describes it as follows:

    “The researchers proceeded to gain influence very aggressively; they created the folklore that a person cannot be a good teacher unless he is first a good researcher. … in about 1920 the policy was adopted, very quietly, at several universities including Stanford, that henceforth faculty appointments and promotions would be based solely on research productivity, not on teaching ability or performance.

    “… what an economist would call an ‘exogenous variable’ appeared and took control of the situation. It was the really big research grant sponsored by various alphabetized government agencies (ONR, AFOSR, AEC, NSF, DOD, etc.). This created the situation that a researcher with the right connections – whether competent or not – paid his own way many times over in the money he brought into the university; while a good teacher became, from the standpoint of the administration, an economic liability. It was easier to get a million dollars for a big research project than it was to get a thousand dollars for upgrading of the educational facilities.

    “… there was a steady stream of small changes in the departmental rules, each one cutting down a little more on the amount of course work, language requirements, and the level of general competence required of graduate students. They received less and less education while spending more and more hours manning the vacuum pumps.

    “…

    “This government intervention (always, of course, held to be essential for national defense and beneficial to the university) has through this unforeseen side effect done more damage to the cause of advanced science education in the United States than has any other factor in the past 40 years.

    “…

    “But it must not be supposed that our problems arise only in advanced science education;
    they commence already in kindergarten. From the educationists one hears constantly
    such phrases as: ‘skills for effective living’, ‘socially desirable responses’, or ‘adequate
    social behavior’. Why is it important to be literate? Not because one will need to read
    with comprehension; but rather because ‘personal adjustment demands some speech and
    reading facility’. Why is it important for a child to learn arithmetic? Not because he is
    going to have to know how to add and subtract numbers correctly for all the rest of his
    life. Of course not! It is important that he learn arithmetic because ‘a sense of failure here
    might affect his personality development’. This is not material for stand-up comedians:
    every one of these quotations was found in course catalogs for Schools of Education. Such
    phrases as ‘adequate knowledge’ or ‘rational behavior’ do not occur at all. We need look
    no further to understand what needs to be corrected in American elementary education.”

    With this final paragraph, Jaynes makes the connection between the deterioration of science and deterioration of education in general. He is only a hair’s breadth away from making the further connection which is obvious to us from our current perspective:

    All this damage was done by funding provided by the same people who funded the Frankfurt School research which created cultural Marxism.

    It’s all part of one big, sweeping, coordinated attack on Western civilization.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Yes, CodeSlinger – exactly so!!!

      While Dr. Lindzen does not go as far as you do in specifying the problem, he does highlight its effects and calls for objective investigation with the aim to restore scientific teaching to its proper roots in hopes of regaining its integrity!!!

  4. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Well, I agree with Lindzen, as far as he goes.

    But you can’t kill the Hydra by lopping off one head at a time. You have to strike at the heart.

    The problem is, any attempt to describe the true nature of the heart of the problem is met with blank stares of incomprehension and disbelief.

    For example, Ron Paul is completely correct when he says that solving the problem requires completely defunding and dissolving the federal Department of Education.

    However, as soon as he says that, people stop listening. They take the most important parts of his message as proof that he is a nut.

    However, now that the enormity of the NSA’s malfeasance is dawning on the general public, perhaps they will begin to believe that the Department of Education can be involved in equally enormous wrong-doing.


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