March 09, 2009
Scientists Declare that Up is Down; Journalists Believe It

CNN sports the headline today, "Obama moves to separate politics, science." How did he supposedly do this? By removing Bush's limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

On what planet is increased funding for scientific research an increased separation of politics and science?

The facts show Obama did the exact opposite of the headline: he further and more deeply entwined politics and science. The more something is funded, the more politics controls it.

The only way to separate politics and science is to get government out of science. I'd support that. (Of course, this is only a necessary, not sufficient, condition for a seperation of science and state.)

There's a perhaps even more disturbing headline on CNN, below the other: "Researchers cheer vote for science. But it's not a vote for science, it's a vote for federal funding of certain scientific research that many people, for very good reason, find unethical. There's nothing about this that is a "vote for science," or anything like it. If anything it's anti-science because it attaches more strings to the research.

And if you have to ask "what strings?," then you're really not paying attention. These are the same people who claim stem cell research in the U.S. was retarded by Bush's policies. Come on, people think: if you didn't rely on government in the first place, then Bush wouldn't have been making the decision to not fund your research ... are you getting it?

This reminds me of the insane praise that "scientists" gave the court decision that ruled that Intelligent Design is not "science." Whether or not I.D. is science, a court has no business making that determination (and no, whether something is science is not instructive as to whether it's a violation of the Establishment Clause). They applauded the court decision as "for science" just because they agreed with it, when in fact it was anti-science because it installed the court as an arbiter of science.

So when a court comes along and says Anthropogenic Global Warming isn't science, or a President limits spending on science ... if you favored Obama's decision, or if you favored the judge's decision, then don't whine, because you're supporting the system that makes such decisions you disagree with inevitable. Instead, you should be fighting for actual separation of science and politics.

Of course, it's possible that you know exactly what's going on and that you're merely dishonest. Surely some "scientists" recognize it's all political, and are merely exploiting the system to get what you want.

Naaaaaaah.

As Bastiat wrote, "Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of all and gives it to a few -- whether farmers, manufacturers, ship owners, artists, or comedians. Under these circumstances, then certainly every class will aspire to grasp the law, and logically so."

Including embryonic stem cell researchers.

I just wish they would say "we want that money" instead of nonsensically crowing about this being a vote "for science."

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

Posted by pudge at March 09, 2009 02:07 PM | Email This
Comments
1. "Obama also signed a memorandum that directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy "to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making."" ~ CNN article

I agree,Pudge. If anything, the headline and the article are completely contrary to one another. But that's what we've come to expect from CNN.

Posted by: Rick D. on March 9, 2009 02:25 PM
2. As I recall the court decision regarding intelligent design was a ruling about teaching it as "science" in a public school.

When the proponents of intelligent design push the scientific world to regard it as a theory that better explains observations than evolution, then they'll be just fine in the classrooms.

I for one will try and repeat the first experiment they devise that demonstrates intelligent design.

This is different than going to court to have the judicial system make a ruling on competing scientific theories.


Interesting notion that the government should fund no science.

Who do you suggest fund scientific studies of say...earthquakes, hurricanes, communicable diseases, space, marine acoustics, etc, etc?


Posted by: BA on March 9, 2009 02:50 PM
3. BA:

As I recall the court decision regarding intelligent design was a ruling about teaching it as "science" in a public school.

The court ruled it is not science. Problem is, the court is incapable of making such a determination, and scientists should universally be against the government ever trying to define what is, and is not, science.


When the proponents of intelligent design push the scientific world to regard it as a theory that better explains observations than evolution, then they'll be just fine in the classrooms.

That is entirely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. You and the "scientific world" and governors and legislators and school boards can think it is not science all you like. But none of those are not a court of law.


Interesting notion that the government should fund no science.

It is. Who said it? I'd be interested in hearing their rationale.

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 02:58 PM
4. Getting government "out of science"? That has to be the dumbest idea you've ever spewed there, pudge. The advantages the U.S. has in research are the only things keeping us competitive, and you want to discontinue support of that?

Likewise, as there is a pool of federal funding available for research, where that money goes has a definite impact on what research gets done. Some private institutions and state governments have supported stem cell research, but if you have the choice of research projects to pursue, you're going to follow the path that will keep your lab operating and your assistants funded. Don't underestimate the impact this had on research; even if it wasn't a complete clampdown, it tied the hands of researchers. We effectively surrendered green energy technology development to European countries, and nations like South Korea have capitalized on our willingness to place wildly erroneous ethical decisions above research that could save people's lives.

But... sheesh. Libertarian conservatives show themselves to be dumber and sillier fools by the day. I can't understand why you folks hate America so much, since it seems like you're trying your best to destroy it. It's like you have brain damage in that section of your head that would allow you to understand what "public goods" mean.

And in terms of decisions related to Intelligent Design... it is definitely a violation of the Establishment Cause. ID is founded on nothing more than religious hogwash, dressed up to make it seem "respectable", but with absolutely no intellectual merit whatsoever. In the end though, the final arbiter of constitutionality is the court, and *not* you. Whine as much as you want, but that will not change.

Posted by: demo kid on March 9, 2009 03:03 PM
5. @3: Interesting notion that the government should fund no science.

It is. Who said it? I'd be interested in hearing their rationale.

Man... you're quite a slippery fellow, aren't you? Must have been infuriating on your high school debate team.

Never mind, of course, that you stated:

The only way to separate politics and science is to get government out of science. I'd support that.

So you'd get government "out" of science, but continue to fund it? Outline that contortion of logic. I'm fascinated.

Posted by: demo kid on March 9, 2009 03:07 PM
6. @4 demo kid - I'd agree with you except the government should nix all funding for "global warming" research and give that money to NASA.

Posted by: Crusader on March 9, 2009 03:12 PM
7. pudge, you're an drooling idiot. You got a lot of nerve to criticize scientists. You don't even know what science is.

Posted by: bobxxxx on March 9, 2009 03:17 PM
8. give that money to NASA

I had to laugh at that. Might as well pile up the money and make a bonfire, or throw it down a rathole. NASA is a fat, bloated mess. And now, they're going to the moon again! What a joke.

But I agree on the AGW crap.

Posted by: Palouse on March 9, 2009 03:18 PM
9. demo kid:

Getting government "out of science"?

That's what CNN and the scientists and Obama have been talking about, yes. But they don't really mean it.


The advantages the U.S. has in research are the only things keeping us competitive

First, that's not true, and second, that is not because of government.


Some private institutions and state governments have supported stem cell research, but if you have the choice of research projects to pursue, you're going to follow the path that will keep your lab operating and your assistants funded.

Exactly. To say this SEPARATES politics from science is complete nonsense.


Don't underestimate the impact this had on research; even if it wasn't a complete clampdown, it tied the hands of researchers

Yes, that is the point of what I said. Obviously. This is WHY scientists should be against general government involvement in scientific research, because it is better to have anyone other than politicians deciding what gets worked on, and as long as government funds it, politicians control it.


We effectively surrendered green energy technology development to European countries, and nations like South Korea have capitalized on our willingness to place wildly erroneous ethical decisions above research that could save people's lives.

Then you should be against government funding, so such things don't happen.


I can't understand why you folks hate America so much

Yes, that's a given. It's hard to understand things that don't exist.


since it seems like you're trying your best to destroy it

Your logical fallacies are boring.


It's like you have brain damage in that section of your head that would allow you to understand what "public goods" mean.

Again. Logical fallacy. Boring. (And please don't tell me you don't know how it is fallacious. Please tell me you're not that far gone.)


bobxxxx: I accept your challenge. Prove you know more about science than I do. I await your reply!

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 03:20 PM
10. @6: I'd agree with you except the government should nix all funding for "global warming" research and give that money to NASA.

If it's related to carbon sequestration, or any other technologies that only have applications for greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies, I wholeheartedly agree. Climate adaptation, though? Biofuels? Alternative energy? Atmospheric monitoring? Even if it does have a "climate change" sticker attached, there are possibilities for useful crossover.

Posted by: demo kid on March 9, 2009 03:42 PM
11. Astute observations, Pudge. And btw, I object to my tax dollars being used to create human life and then destroy it. Dr. Mengele, anyone?

Posted by: Michele on March 9, 2009 03:46 PM
12. My mistake on thinking you said government should fund no science.

I took your statement that

"The only way to separate politics and science is to get government out of science. I'd support that. (Of course, this is only a necessary, not sufficient, condition for a separation of science and state.)"

to mean that you supported separating politics from science, and that to do that government should "get out of science".

Since instead you support government funding of science, how do you propose to accomplish separating politics from science?

Or, am I misconstruing that as well and the person that wrote the front piece is someone different in post #3?

Posted by: BA on March 9, 2009 04:02 PM
13. Obama's using his 'community organizing' skills to apply some Orwellian thinking to the nexus between politics and science. Counting on the successful dumbing-down of public education, which used to teach some science, he bases his argument on Orwell's principles that Leaders who teach that black = white, truth = lying and so forth, can easily declare that science is to be separated from politics - and mean exactly the opposite.

Of course he's gone beyond Chicago for inspiration, in this case. The founding lunacy for his fib is to be found in the state legislature which voted that pi should be computed as Π = 3.00000000, to spare American citizens the travails of dealing with the obviously crooked Republican number of 3.1415926535. Of course it saves trees too - imagine how many reams it would take to multiply anything by that, using a pencil and paper.

And even the once-respected Scripps Institute of Oceanography has just awarded Al Gore a prize, for 'raising awareness' of global warming. Scripps has no more credentials for rewarding evangelism than the evangelist Gore has for pretending to scientific knowlege, making this action a double travesty. But Scripps sees the writing on Obama's wall, and is licking its chops at a honking big hunk of 'stimulus' money for trumpeting the party line. So much for the separation of science from politics.

For more on the Scripps/Gore travesty, see:

http://www.cbs8.com/Global/story.asp?S=9959463

Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive on March 9, 2009 04:08 PM
14. @9: I have to admit that I have little patience for techno-libertarians that decry government subsidies of research but work in an industry that evolved *directly* out of a taxpayer-subsidized government pet project.

Anyway, I never would disagree that politics enters EVERYTHING. However, advancing science policy that is based on poorly-formed religious beliefs is not reasonable to me, nor is maintaining a political ban on something that a majority of Americans support.

Of course, you still haven't explained your brilliant, grand scheme that defines how government funding of research could end without affecting U.S. efforts to stay competitive in research and development. Unless you favor a faith-based approach to economic development, you're outlining a strategy destined for ruin.

And regarding the "logical fallacies", don't allow flowery language to confuse you. I'm declaring that your arguments betray a complete lack of consideration (or understanding) of public goods. Why is it that conservatives seem to have less of a grasp of fundamental economics lately?

Posted by: demo kid on March 9, 2009 04:11 PM
15. BA:

I took your statement ... to mean that you supported separating politics from science, and that to do that government should "get out of science".

Yes, I do.

Since instead you support government funding of science

No, I don't.

Why is this hard? You used the word "all." I did not. My statement is general. Yours was absolute.

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 04:16 PM
16. @13: The founding lunacy for his fib is to be found in the state legislature which voted that pi should be computed as = 3.00000000, to spare American citizens the travails of dealing with the obviously crooked Republican number of 3.1415926535.

It's funny to engage far-right-wingnuts in debate, because they are laughably dim. :)

You're absolutely right, though! A state legislature DID vote to fix the value of pi. Of course, it was in Indiana, not Illinois... and it was in 1897.

Seems like public education DID dumb some people down... just not the people you expected.

Posted by: demo kid on March 9, 2009 04:19 PM
17. demo kid:

I have to admit that I have little patience for techno-libertarians that decry government subsidies of research but work in an industry that evolved *directly* out of a taxpayer-subsidized government pet project.

And I have little patience for statements such as those which are irrelevant at best and fallacious at worst. Are you saying the Internet would not exist without government? Nonsense. Are you saying that I should avoid involvement in Internet-related fields just because government was involved? Irrational.


Anyway, I never would disagree that politics enters EVERYTHING.

Obviously. And the more government is involved, the more political it is. And Obama is getting government more involved. Therefore ... he is not separating politics and science.


However, advancing science policy that is based on poorly-formed religious beliefs is not reasonable to me

Your question-begging is beside the point.


nor is maintaining a political ban on something that a majority of Americans support.

We have a Constitution that supercedes the democratic will of the majority. Why do you hate America?

Of course, you still haven't explained your brilliant, grand scheme that defines how government funding of research could end without affecting U.S. efforts to stay competitive in research and development.

Um. You just stop government funding, and then fund it privately. It's not hard.


Unless you favor a faith-based approach to economic development

So you deny the centuries of scientifiic advancement made without government subsidy. Why do you hate science?


And regarding the "logical fallacies", don't allow flowery language to confuse you. I'm declaring that your arguments betray a complete lack of consideration (or understanding) of public goods.

Yes, a great example of a logical fallacy. In fact, my view is ALL about the best way to achieve the public good, which is through protecting liberty. By saying otherwise, you are either a. committing a straw man fallacy by saying this is not my view, or b. committing a question-begging fallacy by assuming your unprovable argument, that your path to the public good is the "correct" one, similar to what you did with the irrational and ungrammatical "poorly-formed religious beliefs" crack.

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 04:27 PM
18. How about we get the Govt. out of the military, be just as stupid an idea as the one your proposing.

So you deny the centuries of scientifiic advancement made without government subsidy.

Some of the greatest discoveries of our day were made with Govt. support, just look at the story of the DNA Helix. Teams of scientists around the globe working at Govt. funded universities competing against each other in search of an answer. Good luck getting a private industry to sponsor the search for the structure of DNA in the 1950/60's.

Posted by: Cato on March 9, 2009 05:04 PM
19. Private Research whether, Individual, group or an Institution always, produces far, far superior results for the money invested and expended. Government funded Institutions such as the Universities, Carnegie and others, are not only less effective and generally a complete waste of money, many times their results are counterproductive and just plain Wrong.

You've heard of Junk Scientists haven't you? Guess where they all come from? Government funded Programs! What a Surprise!

Posted by: Daniel on March 9, 2009 05:14 PM
20. Pudge, You're against some, or all, government funding of science - at least that's the best I can glean from your shucking and jiving written word.

If government has any role in funding science, how would you want them to do it?

Or, if government has no role in funding science, pick a few examples of current government funded science and who might pick up that ball?

Centuries of scientific advancement without government subsidy? What about the centuries of scientific advancement funded by governments?

Posted by: BA on March 9, 2009 05:17 PM
21. Minor point Pudge - which sentence in which post did I use the word "all" that you claim I made in your post #15 - I can't find it.

Posted by: BA on March 9, 2009 05:27 PM
22. You just stop government funding, and then fund it privately. It's not hard.

The problem with that is the research doesn't become public domain. To expand on my prior point, assume DNA structure was discovered with purely private financing. The company would likely patented the research, maybe even given a patent for the Helix structure itself.

Due to the information being in the public domain (due to public funding) there are a whole slew of products and research areas that are available based on this discovery. 75% of these products available today may not have been available if the companies had to pay a large fee to the private company that owned the Helical structure or DNA in general.

Posted by: Cato on March 9, 2009 05:29 PM
23. ALL government spending is done so based on appropriations by Congress. Congress is made up of politicians. ALL government funding is a political act, subject to the whims of political need. Whenever government funds something, they tie on strings to the money and to the receipt of future monies.

If the government funds it, there is no such thing as apolitical funding.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on March 9, 2009 05:31 PM
24. Government funded Institutions such as the Universities, Carnegie and others, are not only less effective and generally a complete waste of money, many times their results are counterproductive and just plain Wrong.

Trial and error is the basis for science itself. If you can't grasp that basic concept then you have serious problems.

These Universities often pave the way for private companies to expand on their body of research. Remember the big freak out when people who were crating the gene map of various animals (including humans) were financed being by private companies. People felt they would sell the research off to the highest bidder.

In the end the company released their information to the scientific community for free allowing everyone to benefit from their work. Now private drug companies and their hordes of scientists can pour over the data the same way someone in a Govt. funded lab can. This incredibly valuable and detailed information could have been lost forever had they chosen to make money from their findings.

Posted by: Cato on March 9, 2009 05:40 PM
25. 23. ALL government spending is done so based on appropriations by Congress. Congress is made up of politicians. ALL government funding is a political act, subject to the whims of political need. Whenever government funds something, they tie on strings to the money and to the receipt of future monies.

And ALL politicians are elected by their constituents, at least in the legislature. if you don't like what they're doing, get them out of office. It's your government. When did conservatives forget what representative democracy means? and when did they become so opposed to it?

Posted by: john on March 9, 2009 05:56 PM
26. Not all conservatives oppose government funded research. The Republican party supports it...in the platform.

Posted by: BA on March 9, 2009 05:58 PM
27. Cato:

How about we get the Govt. out of the military, be just as stupid an idea as the one your proposing.

Why do you hate the Constitution? You see, the Constitution says the government should be generally involved in the military. It implicitly says the government should NOT be generally involved in scientific research. Read the Tenth Amendment.


Some of the greatest discoveries of our day were made with Govt. support

And many more, not. And every one -- perhaps with the exceptions of space exploration -- could have been made without gov't support, except for those cases where gov't limited private research (such as in nuclear research).


just look at the story of the DNA Helix

Yes, let's. There's nothing unique to government about the story of Watson and Crick.


Good luck getting a private industry to sponsor the search for the structure of DNA in the 1950/60's.

Yes, because the government was willing to do it. Had it not been, then yes, private industry would have funded it.


The problem with [private research] is the research doesn't become public domain.

No, that is not a problem at all. And also, I find it cute that you believe government-funded research goes into the public domain. Some does, of course. Much does not.


The company would likely patented the research, maybe even given a patent for the Helix structure itself.

The former, perhaps. The latter only if the patent office were completely incompetent or corrupt. Which is, of course, possible, but from my perspective that is an argument against the patent office, not private research.


75% of these products available today may not have been available if the companies had to pay a large fee to the private company that owned the Helical structure or DNA in general.

It doesn't help your case to completely invent statistics, you know. I won't bother addressing your non-point.


Trial and error is the basis for science itself.

Well, no. It's not. It is USUALLY a part of the scientific process, but certainly not always.


Remember the big freak out when people who were crating the gene map of various animals (including humans) were financed being by private companies. People felt they would sell the research off to the highest bidder.

Yes, people illogically freaked out about that.


In the end the company released their information to the scientific community for free allowing everyone to benefit from their work.

And now you are arguing against yourself. Very nice.


This incredibly valuable and detailed information could have been lost forever had they chosen to make money from their findings.

So? Then someone else would have done it. And similarly, how much valuable research has been lost or ruined because we've relied on gov't funding that never came, or a politician got involved with, or somesuch?


Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 06:30 PM
28. BA:

Pudge, You're against some, or all, government funding of science - at least that's the best I can glean from your shucking and jiving written word.

Huh. That's odd of you. I was, in fact, entirely clear. I said, explicitly, that I am GENERALLY against government funding of science, and NOT against ALL government funding of science. This is not hard.


If government has any role in funding science, how would you want them to do it?

Only in connection with the actual enumerated powers of government. So, research connected to military applications, as an obvious example.


Or, if government has no role in funding science, pick a few examples of current government funded science and who might pick up that ball?

I defy you to find an example of government funding useful science that NO ONE would pick up.


Centuries of scientific advancement without government subsidy? What about the centuries of scientific advancement funded by governments?

It was, by far, mostly unnecessary for government to fund.


Minor point Pudge - which sentence in which post did I use the word "all" that you claim I made in your post #15 - I can't find it.

You said, "Interesting notion that the government should fund no science." "Fund no science" is the logical equivalent of "do not fund all science," so yes, you did not use the word, but you expressed the exact idea.

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 06:33 PM
29. john:

And ALL politicians are elected by their constituents, at least in the legislature. if you don't like what they're doing, get them out of office. It's your government. When did conservatives forget what representative democracy means? and when did they become so opposed to it?

We have this thing in "representative democracy" that we call a Constitution. It actually makes us into a republic, that limits the government, preventing democratically elected politicians in the legislature from enacting laws that overstep those limits. So, for example, we cannot democratically choose to enslave everyone who lives in Seattle, as much as the majority might wish to do so. In our system, majority does NOT rule when it comes to matters of liberty and the Constitution.

So when the Tenth Amendment says that the federal government can only exercise the powers delegated to it by the Constitution, and nowhere in the Constitution is the power to generally fund science delegated to the federal government, conservatives note the fact that such funding is therefore unconstitutional.

It's not "when did we become opposed to representative democracy?," it's "when did you become opposed to republican government as implemented by the Constitution?"

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 06:37 PM
30. Hey Cato@24....Your blabbing incoherently. What does this Dumb remark that trial and error is the basis for science itself. Observation is the basis for science and the understanding of most anything else. Trial and error is the basis for experimenting whether it involves science or whatever.

There are occasions when, a University may open a door but, if it wasn't for the much more productive abilities of the private companies of extending and refining a beginning discovery, there would never be a Society serving product for the benefit of Mankind. However, as stated before....Private Research whether, Individual, group or an Institution always, produces far, far superior results for the money invested and expended. Most Government funding and grant money is wasted....PERIOD!

There is an Old Saying; If there is a way to do it Wrong....Government will find the way.

Posted by: Daniel on March 9, 2009 06:45 PM
31. Michele had the immediate, stomach churning point. We are funding research whose end game is to produce human life that gets cut up into bits to create medicine for sick life. There was research out there along the same lines that didn't do this (adult stem cell research). Why do they want to make embryos as fodder so badly? My first reaction is visceral.

Posted by: engineer lady on March 9, 2009 07:10 PM
32. This absolutist argument regarding gov't funding of research is BS.

Gov't has been funding science since before we called it science.

The Egyptians funded their greatest minds to create pyramids and provide free health care to the entire population.

The Romans and Greeks publicly financed many of the great "scientists" of their age, including Pythagorus.

The great princes and kings of Europe funded Da Vinci and other Renaissance thinkers.

Most of the important advances in civilization were a result of gov't funded research into the military applications of science, such as arms and medicine.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw a lot of innovation through private funding of the sciences, but a great deal of what we enjoy today in the way of technology was not developed in that way. Most was a result of either WWII or Cold War gov't funded research.

There certainly is a risk that gov't research can get dogmatic (i.e. AGW), but even that will eventually be reconciled by the facts. As will ID and stem cell research - facts are stubborn things.

Science is too politicized today, but it has been politicized before and overcome it.

Posted by: deadwood on March 9, 2009 10:25 PM
33. deadwood:

This absolutist argument regarding gov't funding of research is BS.

No one is making such an argument.


Most of the important advances in civilization were a result of gov't funded research into the military applications of science, such as arms and medicine

Not true. Some, yes. Most, no. That said, no one is advocating a lack of military "science" funding. I explicitly excepted military research.


There certainly is a risk that gov't research can get dogmatic (i.e. AGW), but even that will eventually be reconciled by the facts.

That's not even the greatest point. The greatest point is that it is NOT THEIR JOB to do it, and when they do things that's not their job to do, they necessarily reduce our liberty in doing it.

Posted by: pudge on March 9, 2009 10:37 PM
34. deadwood@32.....We are discussing the effective funding results here in America. This is a Free Society and the results from a Free Society is far more abundant per dollar invested then, that from a Totalitarian Society of ancient Egypt or any other Society. The results from the Private Sector is much more productive and efficient than, from the Public Sector. Hands Down! So get Real! Let's compare Apples to Apples rather than, Pears to Oranges.

Posted by: Daniel on March 9, 2009 11:18 PM
35. BHO said.."our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values."
How about the science that says government revenues go up when taxes are lowered? The science that says government funding of schools equals less learning. Gun control laws lead to more violent crime? And on and on.
But hey, why would a lefty let the facts get in the way to justify embrionic homicide?

Posted by: PC on March 9, 2009 11:55 PM
36. PC, yes, that quote is more doublespeak nonsense from Obama. Right after calling it a "false choice," he said he understands and respects the opinion of those who disagree with him. So which is it, a "false choice," or is it a respectable moral choice?

It's typical Obama crap. He always does this, says he respects different views, but then says how those views are terrible. He even did this in his State of the Union.

Posted by: pudge on March 10, 2009 12:08 AM
37. @17: Are you saying the Internet would not exist without government? Nonsense. Are you saying that I should avoid involvement in Internet-related fields just because government was involved? Irrational.

Sorry... you're wrong on both counts there. I doubt that very many folks would believe that private industry without government involvement could have constructed the Internet in its current form.

And in terms of being involved in Internet-related fields... well, it's your own prerogative to wallow in cognitive dissonance. Do it to your heart's content, in fact. I'm just saying that techno-libertarians have an inflated and distorted view of exactly who has been footing the bill for the development of the infrastructure they depend on.

Oh... and "a public good", not "the public good". Stop reading that idiot's guide to logic you have within arms' reach of your computer and think for a change.

@35: How about the science that says government revenues go up when taxes are lowered? The science that says government funding of schools equals less learning. Gun control laws lead to more violent crime? And on and on.

False, false, and false. Sorry, but your right-wing spin isn't equivalent to "science".

Posted by: demo kid on March 10, 2009 01:57 AM
38. Demo/commiekid, every time you post you make it difficult for us to tell if your head is in the sand or a lower orifice of your body.

Posted by: PC on March 10, 2009 07:02 AM
39. demo kid:

Sorry... you're wrong on both counts there.

No, I am not. You can say that, of course, but you can't demonstrate it.


I doubt that very many folks would believe that private industry without government involvement could have constructed the Internet in its current form.

In *exactly* its current form? Probably not. In something analogous to it? Of course. People who think otherwise don't know what they are talking about. Of course it could have. And there's a reasonable chance that it would be even BETTER if it had been done privately. Maybe we would have more address space available, maybe we'd have state built in to our basic protocols, maybe we'd have more ubiquitous broadband, etc. Maybe we would have skipped Gopher and gone straight to the Web instead.


it's your own prerogative to wallow in cognitive dissonance.

You have yet to show any such thing exists in me.


I'm just saying that techno-libertarians have an inflated and distorted view of exactly who has been footing the bill for the development of the infrastructure they depend on.

I'm just saying you're making that up. You have no evidence to support this claim. I understand how it's all come together probably as well as anyone else here, including yourself, so you'd have a tough time showing how my views are inflated/distorted/dissonant/etc.

Posted by: pudge on March 10, 2009 07:37 AM
40. @39: In *exactly* its current form? Probably not. In something analogous to it? Of course. People who think otherwise don't know what they are talking about.

You can't prove a historical counterfactual one way or another. However, I'm proposing that the Internet as it exists, which was heavily shaped by investment from the government and public universities, would probably not be the same without those very significant influences. You're proposing that a dial-up service like CompuServe would have evolved spontaneously and turned into something approximating the World Wide Web in both its scope and function, even if there were no initial financial benefits to be gained. You're talking about how we might have completely bypassed steps in protocols, while I'm stating that there's no proof that the infrastructure would even have been there in the first place.

And there's a reasonable chance that it would be even BETTER if it had been done privately.

Absolutely not. We would have ended up with even more conflicting protocols, as each company tried even harder to reinvent the wheel.

Actually, one of the reasons why the Internet is so successful today is that the initial construction was done by university graduate students supported by public funds, who were more apt to collaborate with each other even across national boundaries. If the Internet was solely a creation by Bell, it would be nothing more than a novelty, maybe a system for limited business-to-business communication, not a decentralized network.

I'm just saying you're making that up. You have no evidence to support this claim. I understand how it's all come together probably as well as anyone else here, including yourself, so you'd have a tough time showing how my views are inflated/distorted/dissonant/etc.

You can deny the role that public money played, or downplay it by assuming that private industry would have picked up the slack. I'm arguing, though, that private industry at the time would have NO reason to have picked up the slack in the same way. Sure, you can point to a number of weird or outdated protocols and suggest that private companies bent on profit would have done better, but I'm saying that it's far from likely.

Heck, you're even making my point here in a way. Technocratic exceptionalism avoids a whole mess of historical issues that you can't really ignore.

Posted by: demo kid on March 10, 2009 11:06 AM
41. demo kid:

I'm proposing that the Internet as it exists, which was heavily shaped by investment from the government and public universities, would probably not be the same without those very significant influences

Yes, it would not be the same, it would be BETTER.


You're proposing that a dial-up service like CompuServe would have evolved spontaneously ...

Only if you define the actual evolution of the Internet as "spontaneous."


... and turned into something approximating the World Wide Web in both its scope and function

Absolutely.


... even if there were no initial financial benefits to be gained.

Um. There were such financial benefits to be gained. Without them, the Internet as we know would not exist even WITH government funding.


You're talking about how we might have completely bypassed steps in protocols ...

I never did.


... while I'm stating that there's no proof that the infrastructure would even have been there in the first place.

Yes, we cannot prove what didn't happen would have happened. This is a completely uninteresting claim.


Absolutely not. We would have ended up with even more conflicting protocols, as each company tried even harder to reinvent the wheel.

Maybe at first, but in the long run, unlikely. We've standardized on CPUs and hardware interfaces and many types of networking protocols without government involvement. There's no reason to think the same would not have happened with a government-free Internet.


If the Internet was solely a creation by Bell, it would be nothing more than a novelty, maybe a system for limited business-to-business communication, not a decentralized network.

Utter nonsense. The Internet is only as successful as it is because businesses and consumers decided they needed and wanted its capabilities. The same thing would have happened without government involvement.


You can deny the role that public money played

I never did.


I'm arguing, though, that private industry at the time would have NO reason to have picked up the slack in the same way.

Yes, you're arguing nonsense. I realize this.


Sure, you can point to a number of weird or outdated protocols and suggest that private companies bent on profit would have done better, but I'm saying that it's far from likely.

And I am saying you're spouting rubbish.


Heck, you're even making my point here in a way. Technocratic exceptionalism avoids a whole mess of historical issues that you can't really ignore.

And yet, you've not presented a single "historical issue" that damages my argument in any way. Funny that.

Posted by: pudge on March 10, 2009 11:47 AM
42. I think you all missed the point obfusCATOr accidentally made quite well in his inept little way: The problem with that is the research doesn't become public domain.

This incredibly valuable and detailed information could have been lost forever had they chosen to make money from their findings.

The complaint he and his comrade liberals are making are solely about evil PRIVATE enterprise making a profit via capitalism. That's a no-no in big governments Marxist view.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on March 10, 2009 01:42 PM
43. Quick question for the "pro Government backed science" wing here... How many of you have actually WORKED on a Government sponsored research program? Anyone? Any at all?

I've worked on Government sponsored projects, and I've worked on private-industry sponsored projects doing the EXACT SAME type of research. Specifically fish migration studies around dams. For the Government on multiple dams on the Columbia. For Duke Power and a few privately-owned dam operators in the SE US.

The Government backed studies wasted a LOT more money, took much longer to complete, and took years to be released. The private industry studies went quick, were cheaper (fewer man-hours), and results were used within a year and published.

Multi-year projects were even worse; every year you had to rewrite your entire proposal and pitch it again to the Government agency to continue the funding. Multi-year funding doesn't happen in the Government; you get a single year with the intent to continue for multiple years but no firm commitment. Meaning you have to build in to your estimate the costs of shutting down the program immediately at the end of each year.

Private industry went into the project on a project-wide basis. If it was multiple years, then you got your funding locked in unless something major happened. And you got your shutdown costs covered if you had to pull out early (you know, things like paying off the balance on leased equipment, etc).

Government research moves at the speed of Government with the same financial efficiency of Government - it crawls along at a snails pace dripping dollars left and right.

Private industry research moves much faster and with less waste - time is money and money is money, and the company wants to keep as much money as it can.

So how many of you - demo kid, BA, Cato - have worked both sides and seen the issues first-hand? Or do you just use the "Government is always good" approach?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 10, 2009 02:08 PM
44. Since research for "military purposes" encompasses everything from biological research to oceanography, physics to materials, social relationships to climate change - anything that might affect our collective defense - this exception is big enough to make the initial premise that politics and science can only be separated by government not funding science moot.

ANY scientific research might have military application.

Look back in history and governments funded scientific discovery for "defense" reasons - seeking raw materials or substitute materials, perfecting a better weapon, responding to battlefield trama, understanding an environmental system, etc., etc.

Pudge says that there is no science that wouldn't be picked up by the private sector...sure, as long as the market includes the government.

Who pays for volcanic science? (to use a current topic) i.e. what's the market for that information? Government funds science when the market is ill-defined, or when there is too strong a likelihood of free-riders, or when the transaction costs in the private sector skew the economics until a product is produced.

When there is a profit motive available, like much of the research into many new drugs for example, the private sector has the incentive and government funding isn't necessary.

This was an shallow premise, not thought through well to begin with and any interesting discussion muddled by the author's inability to remember what he wrote when challenged.

Off to something more interesting and productive...


Posted by: BA on March 10, 2009 02:21 PM
45. BA:

ANY scientific research might have military application.

And ANY spending of ANY KIND might benefit the military in some way. So you are arguing that the Tenth Amendment is utterly meaningless, and that are no limits on the federal government.

Not a tenable position. Come on, think a little bit.


Pudge says that there is no science that wouldn't be picked up by the private sector...sure, as long as the market includes the government.

No, because that would violate the Constitution.


This was an shallow premise, not thought through well to begin with and any interesting discussion muddled by the author's inability to remember what he wrote when challenged.

Yes, you should try harder next time. Your incomprehensible arguments completely fell apart in the end and you even started arguing against the Constitution itself.

Posted by: pudge on March 10, 2009 02:30 PM
46. You see, the Constitution says the government should be generally involved in the military

It says a lot of things that various President's and Courts have chosen to interpret differently. It's also been amended several times. Who's to say we shouldn't amend it to privatize the military. They'd get better pay, better weapons, and likely have less offshore engagements (foreign war's are expensive you know, hurt the bottom line).

Had it not been, then yes, private industry would have funded it.

Uh huh, do you have evidence that private companies were poking into the structure of DNA at the time? I don't think you do.

You can say that private comapnies may have invented the internet. That doesn't mean it's true or will happen. Private companies really don't have the money or desire to develop a communications network that could survive a nuclear war. I think most private companies operate on the premises that there's not going to be a nuclear war. Our whole medium here would cease to exist because we let private companies do something that Universities were happy to help out with.

I find it cute that you believe government-funded research goes into the public domain. Some does, of course. Much does not.

Scientific research usually becomes public domain (unless it's funded by private companies), military centered research usually does not.

The latter only if the patent office were completely incompetent or corrupt.

It likely would have been. You're a tech guy, how many stupid software patents are there? Didn't some moron also try to patent Linux?

Then someone else would have done it.

No, because the owners could sue for intellectual property rights or something along those lines. Access to the genenome information would be be quite expensive I'd imagine.

And similarly, how much valuable research has been lost or ruined because we've relied on gov't funding that never came, or a politician got involved with, or somesuch?

How much valuable research has been lost because of corporate mergers, takeovers, and bankruptcies? How research is lost because some crazed environmental or religious group burns down the building. It's the nature of the scientific field.

Posted by: Cato on March 10, 2009 03:33 PM
47. Cato:

It says a lot of things that various President's and Courts have chosen to interpret differently.

Irrelevant. If you'd like to discuss the constitutionality argument, you may, of course, but your non-argument here is a cop out and a fallacy. The argument is: this is unconstitutional. You can either ignore the argument, which makes your argument look weak; or you can address it, arguing against it, or accepting it and saying why it is mitigated by other factors. But to say "well some people disagree with you" is a non-argument.


It's also been amended several times. Who's to say we shouldn't amend it to privatize the military.

Also irrelevant. We are talking about current law. If you amend that law, then we can revisit the discussion in light of those amendments.


Uh huh, do you have evidence that private companies were poking into the structure of DNA at the time? I don't think you do.

Also irrelevant, since even at that time, industry was content to allow government to fund such things.


Private companies really don't have the money or desire to develop a communications network that could survive a nuclear war.

Also irrelevant. Our Internet actually probably couldn't, either. "Survive a nuclear war" is not a prominent or relied-upon feature of today's Internet. What does matter is redundancy in phsyical infrastructure and in the protocols, but this likely would have happened regardless, without DoD involvement, due simply to the physical realities of communication over imperfect infrastructure over long distances.


Scientific research usually becomes public domain (unless it's funded by private companies), military centered research usually does not.

In fact, much research funded by government, but conducted by private companies, takes many many years to become public domain. There's many medications that were funded by you and me that are under private patent, for example (and our federal government has even arbitrarily extended some of those patents). And of course, universities often don't make their research public, for a long time.


It likely would have been. You're a tech guy, how many stupid software patents are there? Didn't some moron also try to patent Linux?

And as I said, this is a separate problem.


No, because the owners could sue for intellectual property rights or something along those lines.

Only if a patent was granted, which, again, is a separate problem.


How much valuable research has been lost because of corporate mergers, takeovers, and bankruptcies? How research is lost because some crazed environmental or religious group burns down the building. It's the nature of the scientific field.

Yes, so you agree with me that this was not a valid argument to be used against my view. I was not using that argument you quoted against govt funded research, I was using it against the argument that "potential for lost research" is a reason to have the research funded by govt.

Posted by: pudge on March 10, 2009 04:14 PM
48. Hey obfusCATOr and Slavery Party Failed Abortion,

I'm sure you're in a daze now that your Obamassiah just signed into a LAW a PROHIBITION on the use of embryos for scientific research.

Go ahead, blow a gasket. Let the condemnations as backward, puritanical, and anti-science come forth from you on your Slaver Master!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 13, 2009 08:00 PM
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