A Disconcerting Turn of Events

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by tetra, May 21, 2002.

  1. tetra Hello Registered Senior Member

    Because of the various proposed legislation of late and the concept of religious resurgance in the Western World, I believe that there is a major academic drain heading away from countries with a traditionally religious culture, such as the West, and towards the more agnostic nations such as China, Japan, and much of the Pacific Rim.

    Evidence to back this is everywhere. A major example is our (US) elected leader's tremendous support for a ban on all human cloning, whether the clone is brought to term or is simply an arrangment of human sex cells. Despite the widespread opposition to this (a slim majority in recent polls), there is still a significant portion of the United States populace that supports the religious right and legislation influenced by the group.

    A second example of this which clearly emphasizes the shift to agnostic states is China's recent plans to build a base on the moon by 2010. They plan to do this with technology tried and true, but are not reluctant to risk lives in experimental technologies in space. Of course, the United States reached the moon almost half a century ago, but industry leaders and politicians focused on short term goals have all but shut down the American Space Program. NASA no longer makes spacecraft, they make paper.

    Other examples of this drain to agnostic non-Western nations can be found in a range of fields from fusion physics to biotechnology. It is clear to me that if current trends continue, the West will soon be replaced by Japan and China as the world's leaders in technology.

    This is of course extremely disappointing for me, and I can see no way of improving the situation without a major revolution. History tells us that waiting reforms more often than not results in horrific failure. As cliche as it sounds, we must act. If this influences anybody in any way with a background in political science or sociology, please remember what I have said. Workers may have controlled the means of production a century ago, but things are different now. The populations of the West are largly literate and scientifically inclined. I think a revolution is possible.

    If you have any questions or comments, please post away.
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  3. Counterbalance Registered Senior Member


    But before we "act," do you have more evidence than observations of history and personal opinion and/or concern?



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  5. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    Japan and China are very superstitious/religious places. At least according to friends and associates who have travelled there. And the Asians here seem quite superstitious, at least some of them.

    Is Western society becoming less acadamic, is it all moving to Japan or wherever? I know my university is full of students from Asia who wanted a decent education, better than can be had over there.

    China wants a moonbase by 2010? Their space programme (which I think is great, more nations should be doing it) is a tad retro. They have problems with quality control.
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  7. goofyfish Analog By Birth, Digital By Design Valued Senior Member

    Viva la revoluciónes!!
  8. Voodoo Child Registered Senior Member

    Science has always been held back by superstitious, sentimental opinion. eg. Heart transplants, autopsies. All things being equal makes sense that secular nations would have an advantage in scientific research, but these pointless superstitions are not just religious in nature.
    Eg. My quite secular country has a rod up its ass about nuclear power and genetic engineering (due mainly to the public's value based concerns). The uncertain stance of GE in NZ is sure as hell not going to encourage native scientists to stay or attract overseas scientists.

    Is there an actual point to landing on the moon and making a base?
  9. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

    Unbounding the Future

    In a democratic society, only a few people need an in-depth understanding of how a technology works, but many people need to understand what it can do. In his book How Superstition Won and Science Lost, historian John C. Burnham tells of the century-long retreat of scientists from what they once saw as their responsibility: presenting the content and methods of science to a broad audience, for the public good. Today, the culture of science takes a dim view of "popularization." If you can write in plain English, this is taken as evidence that you can't do math, and vice versa.

    Americans, so often in the forefront of science and technology, have a curious difficulty in thinking about the future. Language seems to have something to do with it.

    If something sounds futurelike, we call it "futuristic." If that doesn't stop the conversation, we say that it "sounds like science fiction." These descriptions remind listeners of laughable 1950s fantasies like rockets to the Moon, video telephones, ray guns, robots, and the like. Of course, all these became real in the 1960s, because the science wasn't fiction. Today, we can see not only how to build additional science-fictional devices, but–more important, for better or worse–how to make them cheap and abundant. We need to think about the future, and name-calling won't help.

    Curiously, the Japanese language seems to lack a disparaging word for "futurelike." Ideas for future technologies may be termed mirai no ("of the future," a hope or a goal), shõrai-teki (an expected development, which might be twenty years away), or kûsõ no ("imaginary" only, because contrary to physical law or economics). To think about the future, we need to distinguish mirai no and shõrai-teki, like nanotechnology, from mere kûsõ no, like antigravity boots.

    Unbounding the Future:
    the Nanotechnology Revolution

    Eric Drexler and Chris Peterson, with Gayle Pergamit
    William Morrow and Company, Inc.
  10. Lesion42 Deranged Hermit Registered Senior Member

    I think that we're all gonna' die anyhoo, so it doesn't matter at all really.

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