The appointment of National Research Council president John MacDougall in Canada — effectively the country’s top scientist — is being received by scientists the way James Watt was received by environmentalists in the Reagan Administration as head of the national park system. Like Watt, MacDougall seems antagonistic to the field that is supposed to be fostering with federal funds. Recently, MacDougall announced that “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value.” It turns out that all of that stuff by Galileo was just academic crap.
Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, announced that the NRC will shift its focus away from basic research to “large-scale research projects that are directed by and for Canadian business.” That will mean little or no funding for basic research under the $900 million annual budget. It is part of the conservative governments shift toward industry despite protests from leading scientists that the approach is simplistic and shortsighted. Those commercial applications are built on a foundation of basic research.
McDougall’s bio says that he began his career as a petroleum engineer and ultimately became the owner of an international engineering consulting firm.
The shift in funding and policy is a major blow for universities in Canada and will hurt both the scientific and educational communities in Canada. It is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of science — a type of science philistines, people who are “guided by materialism and . . . disdainful of intellectual or artistic values.”
59 thoughts on “The Rise of The Science Philistines: Canada’s Chief Science Regulator Announces That “Scientific Discovery Is Not Valuable Unless It Has Commercial Value.””
Hi there this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
Any help would be enormously appreciated!
What’s up, just wanted to tell you, I liked this blog post.
It was helpful. Keep on posting!
Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your websites are very cool. I will be impressed by information that you’ve here. It discloses how perfectly you perceive this kind of subject. Saved this web site, will come back to get more articles. A person, my pal, ROCK! I found exactly the info My spouse and i already explored all over the place and simply couldn’t come across. Exactly what a perfect web-site.
Beyond Love It Or List It, most of us Americans pay too little attention to what is going on north of the 49th Parallel. The Harper Government has been doing immense damage to Canadian democracy for the past several years, largely under the influence of Alberta’s oil and gas interests. Official suppression of honest discussion about science, and especially about the environmental impact of Tar Sands oil by Harper’s cronies is much worse than what John McDougall seems to believe. Harper’s Conservatives have also engaged in rigged districting and other corrupt election practices in ways that would make our Tea Partiers red with envy. AND they have much the same mentality as our Tea Partiers. The Liberals and New Democrats don’t have half the organizational intensity of the Conservatives but are finally starting to pull it together. I just worry that the alliance between OUR corrupt Right and THEIR corrupt Right will damage all of us before we put a stop to it.
Well if they want to follow the Americans footsteps of falling behind innovation because of low scientific awareness then by all means, go ahead. I would still prefer a toyota or VW over a ford any day of the week. I’ll still have it in perfect working condition ten years down the road with very little input and far less fuel consumption.
Neil wrote, “He was trying to express the idea that if the government is going to spend tax dollars on research, the discoveries derived therefrom should be commercially marketable, so that the tax payers can, at least in theory, get their money’s worth out of it. This is simply prudent and responsible stewardship of public funds, which, despite what some may tell you, are in fact limited.”
Would you believe there’s this thing called “taxation” which enables the government to collect public funds?
See, we can use this “taxation” thing to fund scientific research. And, well, you know, perhaps it’s possible that scientific research creates more than enough economic growth that the resulting increase in tax revenue more than pays for the scientific research, even if the immediate results from the government-funded research itself wasn’t commercially marketable.
But, then again, one would actually have to understand something about science, technology, economics, and public finance to understandt hat argument, so we’ll just forget about it.
Where is Thorstein Veblen now that we need him?
Bruce — now that is scary!
TP: “Climate change is not what you think it is.”
And yes, you are being followed by members of a secret, international security force in unmarked, black U.N. helicopters, It doesn’t matter if you are paranoid — they are out to get you.
Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Global Revolt Against Corporate Domination
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 09:20 By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Truthout
“Using the friendly term, ‘partnership,’ the administration is negotiating a sweeping free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could potentially involve the entire Pacific Rim as well as a sister agreement with European nations. This is being done largely in secret and in a way that subverts the democratic process.
Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who now has a lucrative job in the private sector advising transnational corporations for the law firm Gibson Dunn, said that if people knew what was in the TPP, there would be no way to get it signed into law. As he told one interviewer, if the text were made public negotiators would be walking away from the negotiations because they would be very unpopular.
The new US Trade Representative, Obama’s classmate Michael Froman who worked at CitiGroup, and the more than 600 corporate advisers involved in writing the TPP, have direct access to the text of the treaty, but members of Congress have only limited access and the public and media are excluded. Recent calls for transparency by members of Congress have been denied, so the extent of what we know comes from leaks.
We do know that the TPP is less about trade and more about entrenching corporate property rights. It will establish a judicial system that gives corporations greater power than sovereign nations and bypasses the democratic process. The TPP will affect the global economy so that corporations control all aspects of our lives from wages, food safety, the price of medications and our rights to clean water and air to Internet freedom and more.”
By The Associated Press
Click to enlarge
BALTIC, Ohio — In parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania where horse-drawn buggies clip-clop at the pace of a bygone era, Amish communities are debating a new temptation — the large cash royalties that can come with the boom in oil and gas drilling.
In some ways, Amish attitudes toward hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are as different from the outside world as their clothes and traditions. Instead of worries about air and water pollution, they’re focusing on people’s souls.
“Amish are no different than anybody else. The power of big money can bring spiritual corruption,” said Jerry Schlabach, an Amish resident of Berlin, Ohio.”
Climate change is not what you think it is.
Want to direct people to the DVD video, Why in the World are They Spraying? It has the data pulled together of Weather Modification, its origins, the military uses for warfare, and now the commercial use for controlling crop success or failure and the profits to the commodities futures markets and to Monsanto which provided the seeds of GMOs which are developed to be productive in “unusually wet or dry conditions”. This video is fundamental to understanding what is happening to our weather, how and why, and by whom.
I don’t know about the commenters here, but I seem to recollect government monies (my tax dollars) being spent on some pretty dubious “science”.projects. While I agree that science for profit sounds a bit harsh, I’d take that over some of the crap that passes for research these days.
“Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research and founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, says while these studies might make us laugh—and possibly wonder how we can stop paying the taxes that fund them—there might be more to the story.
“Sometimes almost everybody is constrained to do the worst thing” regarding scientific funding because of the bureaucratic system in place, he says. “Something that might help break that kind of logjam is a study that steps up and says, ‘The emperor has no clothes,’ and now we can start talking about it.” In fact, he says, oftentimes everybody knows the emperor is nude, but the official record can’t reflect it until a study “proves” the obvious.
Then there might be the opposite. Perhaps the prevailing wisdom might say A is true, but it’s actually B. “Somehow, the prevailing wisdom has grown up to be wrong,” he says. And it takes a study that seems obvious in hindsight to fix the problem.
Of course, there’s also a third type—the utter junk. “There’s the extreme—the big cesspool of studies where I don’t think there’s anybody except the people who did the study who know why anybody spent a minute on it,” Abrahams says. “Some are long and detailed and have many graphs and numbers—and they mean nothing.”
He places much of the blame for at least the first two types of obviousness squarely on the shoulders of the science-funding system. “The whole system of getting grants has gotten strange and Byzantine, and sometimes you just have to do the obvious in order to get money to do research,” he says. “The big problem with science—especially in the United States—is it’s much easier to get funding for something people already know. It’s not risky.”.”
If I was Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan I would challege this . There is no reason they should have to do a debate with a bunch of Liberal Democrats asking all the Questions. I would tell them 4 debates with 2conseratives on the panel and 2 Liberals or no deal. the same for Ryan too.
“And secondly the US Government ended up baling out the greedy bankrupt railroads…”
They bailed out the railroads that they initially subsidized.
Thanks OS, I’ll try this again…
bron wonders why we bother studying the mating habits of snail darters. There are a number of very good reasons why we study species like the snail darter and others which appear to have little relevance to society.
First, we study snail darters for what they can tell us about water quality; in other words, they are an indicator species akin to the proverbial canary-in-the-coal-mine. Snail darters require clean water; clean water is essential to human health and survival; therefore, if you manage (an ecosystem) for snail darters, you’re liable to achieve high water quality. The direct economic benefit in that case, is that the higher the quality of water, the less it costs to treat before it can be used for human consumption.
We study mating habits in order to try and take the “noise” out of the data; we need to determine if there is something other than water quality that is affecting populations, something inherent in the mating habits that make the species sensitive to disturbance or water temperature during the mating season.
Secondly, we study the mating habits of threatened or endangered species like the snail darter to ensure we continue to have them around. Snail darters provide a valuable service to society, an eco-service if you will, by helping control populations of snails and insects that otherwise require the application of expensive and hazardous pesticides to control, which again would create an added expense in the form of still costlier treatment before consumption. There are many vital functions snail darters perform in the ecosystem; losing them might be like losing a lynchpin in the environment.
And you probably thought we cared about them because they’re cute.
For a so-called “top scientist” MacDougall clearly has no idea how science works.
im laughing to hard to even comment. thanks to all comics on the blog today. you took my of pain and turned it into laughter
Comments are closed.