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Top Advisory Panel Warns Erosion of U.S. Science

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the raise-your-hand-if-you-are-surprised dept.

United States 954

fbg111 writes "From the NYT: A panel of experts convened by the National Academies, the nation's leading science advisory group, called yesterday for an urgent and wide-ranging effort to strengthen scientific competitiveness. The 20-member panel, reporting at the request of a bipartisan group in Congress, said that without such an effort the United States 'could soon lose its privileged position.' It cited many examples of emerging scientific and industrial power abroad and listed 20 steps the United States should take to maintain its global lead."

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Not Surprising (5, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13782904)

Considering how the attack on science by religious conservatives has reached a fever pitch, I am not surprised that fewer people are entering the hard sciences as a career. When every scientific discovery is met by screeches and howls by the religious right, the general public is left with the impression that scientists are just another protected minority who are forcing their views on the rest of society. There is little to no discourse on *how* these scientific discoveries are vetted; but even if the scientific method were explained in detail, the public has shown it still wants to believe in magic.

Biology and any other field of science dealing with the age of the Earth are destined to decline in the US. The balance of power has already tipped decidedly to non-US schools in technical training in these fields and will continue. This report will be ignored because Congress owes too much to the religious right to do anything that advances knowledge in human evolution or radiometric dating.

Any student of history knows that Scopes lost his trial. Things haven't changed that much in the US in nearly a century.

Re:Not Surprising (2, Insightful)

LeonGeeste (917243) | about 9 years ago | (#13782958)

Wait: you're linking Cato, and you're not even mentioning the malign effects of a whole state having to obey religious conservatives, rather than parents being able to send their kids to a private school that reflects their beliefs?

Re:Not Surprising (5, Funny)

cparisi (136611) | about 9 years ago | (#13782980)

Yes, let's pray to God that people come to their senses!

I really don't think thats it (4, Insightful)

Gnpatton (796694) | about 9 years ago | (#13782992)

I really don't feel that religion has anything to do with this. Most people, even the so called religions right are NOT anti-science. Actually, I could easily see any person living in the United States become deeply conserned in loosing its posisition as a top technological and scientific country, even those conservatives you speak of.

Realistically, the reason is the almighty dollar. Everything revolves around it, it always has and always will. In the US $$ speaks more than any religious morals.

Re:I really don't think thats it (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | about 9 years ago | (#13783026)

Realistically, the reason is the almighty dollar. Everything revolves around it, it always has and always will. In the US $$ speaks more than any religious morals

How is it profitable to lose your leading standing in scientific fields? Who would want such a thing? No, I think the original poster was bang-on. Superstition is killing your country.

Re:I really don't think thats it (4, Insightful)

atrizzah (532135) | about 9 years ago | (#13783087)

I don't know if your post was meant to be funny or not. The reason is called short-sightedness, and it's prevalent in pretty much everything our government does, i.e. energy policy, foreign policy, economic policy. Need any more examples?

Re:I really don't think thats it (1)

grub (11606) | about 9 years ago | (#13783116)

How is short-sightedness ruining the US' leadership role in the sciences? I'm not trolling, I'm interested in where you'll take this. (nb. I'm not American but see enough waste within my own government)

Re:I really don't think thats it (1)

MECC (8478) | about 9 years ago | (#13783070)

I don't think its $$ as such - more like universities wanting to be just like corporations. Corporations, remember, only care about ROI, and pure research has a poor ROI. Hang out at a university, and the univ culture conversion to corporate culture becomes fairly obvious.

Re:I really don't think thats it (-1, Troll)

RentonSentinel (906700) | about 9 years ago | (#13783135)

Hahahaha, I'm sorry, you must be new here...

Just blame Bush and the religious fundies and shut the fuck up.

You think you get +5 insightful? Bullshit! Not without hating Bush...

Re:Not Surprising (1, Flamebait)

atrizzah (532135) | about 9 years ago | (#13783007)

Give me a break. The "religious right" doesn't do anything to stop people from researching. And the issues in which morality/beliefs come into play are tiny microcosms of science as a whole. Sure you hear all about the intelligent design and embryonic stem cell research debates in the news, but tell me, how does that affect the bulk of scientific research? It doesn't, so quit whining. What it comes down to is there just isn't much societal or monetary reward for people to enter research fields. It's the same reason the quality of teaching is declining.

Re:Only one course of action remains (0, Flamebait)

RentonSentinel (906700) | about 9 years ago | (#13783033)

Then you can only do one thing. The US is doomed, so you better move to those better European countries and their brilliant scientists.

I hear the Dutch are very forward thinking, they know nothing bad happens when two men have anal sex, so science should be safe there.

So anyway, sell all your US stocks and real-estate immediately people. You need to escape before its too late!

Swim to Cuba! They have doctors!!!

Re:Only one course of action remains (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 9 years ago | (#13783143)

If everyone did that, you would all end up like the New Orleanians. Don't dare everybody to take their ball and go home, because if they do, they're going to want the money they gave you to pay for your silly little war.

What? And join the "intellectual elite"? (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 9 years ago | (#13783039)

Seriously, what other country disparages its "intellectual elite"?

Getting 10,000 new teachers into the school system isn't going to help if they have to teach religion in their science classes. Welcome to the US where 1 in 5 people believe the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Our problem isn't that we don't have enough teachers.

Our problem is that being smarter than the average makes those average people hate you. Most of them don't want to know that what they believe is wrong and they'll oppose anyone who tries to tell them differently. Which is why you see the fight to include things like "Intelligent Design" on the same level as tested and verified scientific findings.

Re:What? And join the "intellectual elite"? (2, Insightful)

TGK (262438) | about 9 years ago | (#13783104)

The People's Republic of China (early on)
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Nazi Germany
Facist Italy
Rawanda about 10 years ago

A real "who's who" amongst nations to be sure. I sure am glad my country ranks amongst them.

Re:What? And join the "intellectual elite"? (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 9 years ago | (#13783130)

Welcome to the US where 1 in 5 people believe the Sun revolves around the Earth.
Even scarier, 2% of us think we are enemies with Britain. I guess they forgot that the Revolutionary War ended a few years ago...

Re:Not Surprising (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | about 9 years ago | (#13783040)

Considering how the attack on science by religious conservatives has reached a fever pitch, I am not surprised that fewer people are entering the hard sciences as a career.

People aren't entering the hard sciences because the pay sucks relative to the investment in education. Why go into student loan debt becoming an engineer when you can get an MBA and have more upward mobility.

Course the real problem is that the US isn't drawing the same kind of foreign talent it used to. Up until Clinton was elected the US had a strong favorable immigration policy towards foreign PhDs and other professionals.

Re:Not Surprising (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783052)

Any "student of history" also knows the Scope's conviction was later overturned.
Any "student of history" also knows that the courts have ruled it is illegal to teach creation science and also illegal to prevent the teaching of evolution.
Any "student of history" also knows that the courts have ruled that teaching "intelligent
design" is tantamount to teaching "creation science".

The courts have had our back time and time again.

The problem isn't that things haven't changed. It's that they have. Fundamentalist nonsense is heavily influencing mainstream Christians. It is influencing the legislative branch of our government more than ever. And now it may influence the Supreme Court as well.

Re:Not Surprising (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783057)

Considering how the attack on science by religious conservatives has reached a fever pitch, I am not surprised that fewer people are entering the hard sciences as a career. When every scientific discovery is met by screeches and howls by the religious right,

When is this irrational nonsense going to end? So some people are talking about introducing 'intelligent design' theories in school and are against not harvesting unborn babies for research and suddenly it's "Oh noes! Teh fundies are out to destroy sciences!!1!1"

Give it a rest. Christians don't control the government. Christians aren't out to end science. The US isn't becoming more and more "Christian" (the reverse has actually been happening for decades, and pseudo-Christianity has been on a steep rise).

Stop trying to blame society's problems on the Jews^H^H^H^HChristians.

Re:Not Surprising (1)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13783068)

Christians don't control the government.


Re:Not Surprising (1)

steveo777 (183629) | about 9 years ago | (#13783075)


When every scientific discovery is met by screeches and howls by the religious right

Every? I think not. Just because you aren't happy with other people's opinions, doesn't mean you should be classifying religious people of anti-scientific movements. It is true that those who believe in a creator, in general, believe that life is a little too precious to be killing humans, cloning, or a few other "borderline" unethical practices. Don't even think to put the blame on religious people.

If you want to blame somebody... blame those in power. ALL OF THEM. Not just political, either. I mean anybody who makes money at or near the top. You're either lining your pockets, or helping somebody out (research, charity, what have you). Blame the corrupt, just because somebody manages to hide behind a faith, doesn't mean they actually believe it. It means the people that follow them are too stupid to see through it or even try (or too scared). Why? They have the money, and the people need it.

Blame greed for non-scientific advancement. If people with the money wanted to invest in stem-cell research or something else that the "religious community" doesn't agree with, they're perfectly welcome. They don't because they don't want to, or don't care.

And, no, I'm not a religious fanatic. I have a faith, but that doesn't matter here. What matters is that there are too many people that are too comfortable just sitting on their collective asses, blaming whoever they don't like, don't understand, or don't agree with for their problems.

Not just the fundies (1)

g2devi (898503) | about 9 years ago | (#13783094)

Obviously, the problem is that our IP laws aren't strong enough.


The problem isn't only fundies. The problem is also that scientists are often forced (either by an outside company or by their greed) to hide parts of their discoveries because they may have IP value. The discoveries that are released (in some industries at least) are sometimes used for their press release value rather than their scientific value. (e.g. Pons and Fleshman, Pharma industry, etc)

Science is a lot depends on a free exchange of honest ideas, so marketing and IP are no less responsible for the erosion of science than the fundies.

Re:Not Surprising (2, Interesting)

Comatose51 (687974) | about 9 years ago | (#13783118)

"The balance of power has already tipped decidedly to non-US schools in technical training in these fields and will continue."

China already produces 800,000+ graduates every year with technical degrees. That's faster than we can produce McWorkers and we wonder why jobs are going overseas. They can say whatever anti-foreign slogan, "Made in America" speech they want. At the end of the day, the jobs will go to the qualified people who can do it the cheapest.

Re:Not Surprising (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783122)

There is little to no discourse on *how* these scientific discoveries are vetted; but even if the scientific method were explained in detail, the public has shown it still wants to believe in magic.

It's not just religious belief--this also points to a certain anti-intellectualism in a country whose public education system has been gutted. Ignorant people don't like people who correct them, and we're in danger of churning out more ignorant people than ever before.

I am surprised (2, Insightful)

tfcdesign (667499) | about 9 years ago | (#13783125)

I didnt think American science was limited to abortions and cloning.

Re:I am surprised (1)

tfcdesign (667499) | about 9 years ago | (#13783148)

I mean stem cell research, not cloning.

Re:Not Surprising (5, Insightful)

kbonin (58917) | about 9 years ago | (#13783134)

I have to agree with the other posters here that this isn't about religion.

I see two problems:

The first is education - the crap that is called "science education" in the schools in this country is raising idiots. They are taught to regurgitate "facts", and the definition of "fact" has changed from "what is provable" to "what we tell you". Critical thinking is discouraged, experimentation has no lab budget, and standards are dropping wildly. I read once (can't find source) that several decades ago most middle school girls could tell you what an aileron was. Today I'd be surprised if more than a few percent of high school graduates have a clue.

The other problem is money and the absolute focus most entities (commercial and educational) now have on short-term profitability. Real science means taking risks, thinking about the long term, spending time on basic science so you can reap the rewards of understanding new principles, then discovering how they may be applied. Today any idea that looks unlikely to be signifigantly profitable within 18 months has almost no chance for funding. This is a good part of the reason why basic progress is stalling in most areas of science that do not have immediate commercial applications.

Fixing either of these requires fundamental changes in the mindset. Neither are likely to happen anytime soon, mostly for the same two reasons...

Re:Not Surprising (1)

Bimo_Dude (178966) | about 9 years ago | (#13783158)

I couldn't agree more.

In addition to the increasing brainwashing and the decrease in critical thinking skills, there is also the issue of unregulated globalization and outsourcing by many corporations. They excuse used by these corps is that "there are not enough educated people in the US," but AFAIK, that is complete bullshit. There may be more people in other countries going to college for technical professions, but that is due to the increased demand in their own countries for people with these skills.

Note that I am not poo-pooing the idea of increasing funding for science-related education, nor am I opposed to the idea of trying to increase interest in these fields. I am only saying that another factor in the decline of interest in these areas of study is that fewer jobs are available in the US.

Now that the rambling is over, I guess I can put it like this:

(Religious_Brainwashing * (Unregulated_Globalism + Outsourcing)) / Apathy = Less interest in science.

yeah we may be slipping in real science (5, Funny)

Mantorp (142371) | about 9 years ago | (#13782905)

but we more than make up for it with intelligent desing

Re:yeah we may be slipping in real science (1)

Mantorp (142371) | about 9 years ago | (#13782977)

doh spelling counts, I suck

Re:yeah we may be slipping in real science (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | about 9 years ago | (#13782985)

" but we more than make up for it with intelligent desing"

But our spellin and grammars without pier.

Re:yeah we may be slipping in real science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783112)

>>But our spellin and grammars without pier.

Without "pier"? I knew this thread wouldn't float.

and aloose it come (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782906)

and aloose it come

Erosion of intelligence in general (3, Insightful)

nokilli (759129) | about 9 years ago | (#13782907)

It isn't just science. It literally hurts to be intelligent today. The kid comes into the world, sees what a great big pile of shit it all is, and then is given two choices: work hard to excel at making it an even bigger pile of shit, or smoke pot and listen to music or play games on the computer all day.

It's red pill vs. blue pill, and now that everybody has seen how the trilogy ends, blue pill wins every time. Want to change it? Take the Nazi out of Amerika and put forward a vision of where this country is going to be in twenty years that doesn't involve killing and torturing innocent people around the world.

Really it comes down to this: the propaganda being dished by The New York Times/CNN works well, but only for the retards. The kids you want to see building tomorrow's superweapons can think for themselves, and therefore see this shit for what it is.

And when you think about it, would you really have it any other way?
You didn't know. []

Re:Erosion of intelligence in general (2, Insightful)

Dante Shamest (813622) | about 9 years ago | (#13783080)

It literally hurts to be intelligent today.

And not just today. They've been calling smart people nerds/geeks for years. The irony is these labels are negative insults towards a positive trait.

I agree, but geeks have NEGATIVE traits also (1, Troll)

Work Account (900793) | about 9 years ago | (#13783138)

Sure, we're smart. But we're also frequently:

- Lazy
- Get bored easily
- Poor at communicating
- Often unattractive physically
- Overvalue intelligence and therefore often judgemental of others

I am confident and can admit these flaws and I personally share some of them.

Just don't get arrogant thinking you are the perfect human because you probably are not.

Re:Erosion of intelligence in general (5, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | about 9 years ago | (#13783088)

work hard to excel at making it an even bigger pile of shit, or smoke pot and listen to music or play games on the computer all day

If you think those are the only two choices, you're copping out. There is a third choice: work hard at making the world a better place. Yes, it can be done. Yes, you can pretend it's impossible, if you want an excuse for not doing anything.

Re:Erosion of intelligence in general (2, Insightful)

JudgeFurious (455868) | about 9 years ago | (#13783136)

You make a few good points here but you lost me with the whole "Take the Nazi out of Amerika" bit. That just tells me you're bright but you don't have the first clue about real Nazis. If you really understood them then you wouldn't even think about drawing that comparison.

  Sometimes I think this world needs another regime like that because so many have forgotten how bad they were. Then I come to my senses and realize that reading a million stupid statements like yours above is a great thing. It's good that you're ignorance is showing on a subject like this.

Step one... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782909)

remove Bush administration...

Re:Step one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783149)

This step doesn't go far enough. We need to vote against the legion of anti-science politicians who permeate all levels of government.

They need to be taught a lesson that hostility towards science isn't a viable political platform.

Teh pain! (4, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | about 9 years ago | (#13782911)

Copied verbatim from TFA:

The 20-member panel, reporting at the request of a bipartisan group in Congress, said that without such an effort the United States "could soon loose its privileged position."

If nothing else convinces you of the magnitude of this problem, consider the fact that The New York Times confused "lose" and "loose."

Re:Teh pain! (1)

Slashdiddly (917720) | about 9 years ago | (#13783065)

But teh spellchecker said it was ok... so it must be!

Re:Teh pain! (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 9 years ago | (#13783141)

When I was in high school I was involved in a creative writing club. We put together photocopier-and-stapler collections of student writing a couple of times a year, selling them as fundraisers. For one of them, we wrote the entire introduction using words that were spelled correctly, but used in the wrong place.

It finished off with "Spatial tanks to <teacher's name>, who taut us awl wee no."

People get scammed now (2, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13783098)

Media in a lot of respects is responsible for the slide into a dumbing down of our society. The venerable Jon Stewart for example may have common sense when it comes to domestic politics and comedy, but he sucks at science. His eyes glaze over whenever a scientific topic comes up, and the jokes are always lame when he's discussing space or discovery.

Hundreds of years ago the most read books were written by scientists like Newton. Now that anyone can write for the world to read it, it only stands to reason that the quality will go down. The problem is that too many people believe the drivel they read, and don't think about it in a critical way.

Stewart had Outkast on his show, and the guy was playing with his PDA the entire time. Stewart obviously made a joke about it. But what saddened me is Outkast was bragging about his new home water filtration system, and was telling Steward how dirty the home water was before he had the filter installed. What obviously happened is that Outkast was tricked by a scam I learned of in University, where tap water is put into a clean glass, and then two electrodes are put into the water where a current is then passed through it. After a while the water becomes cloudy and yucky. The scam artist tells the victim that their water has that junk hidden in it, then he takes "filtered" water and does the same thing. The result in the filtered water is no clouds, because it's distilled water and doesn't conduct the electricity like the tap water does. The clouds are coming from the metal in the electrodes when it interacts with the minerals in the water.

This scam was given to the public at a science/chemistry lecture at the University of Regina in about 2001 on a topic concerning an erosion of scientific understanding at home about "chemicals".

Dear Process Of Erosion; (2, Funny)

mekkab (133181) | about 9 years ago | (#13782912)

Given the United States penchant for spin, as evidenced by its political problems, we feel it necessary to warn you that U.S. Science may infact try to state that you don't exist.

Keep a sharp watch!

Advisory Panel

This *must not* be due to monopolies. (0, Offtopic)

LeonGeeste (917243) | about 9 years ago | (#13782918)

Of course not.

When someone has a monopoly on steel, steel consumers suffer.

When someone has a monopoly on OS's, computer users suffer.

When someone has a monopoly on retail in a community, that community suffers.

But when education is monopolized, that does absolutely nothing to the quality and cost of education.

Re:This *must not* be due to monopolies. (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 9 years ago | (#13782982)

And how exactly is education monopolized? You can do public, private or homeschooling, or you can at some point drop out and do it on your own via a GED.

Re:This *must not* be due to monopolies. (1)

LeonGeeste (917243) | about 9 years ago | (#13783058)

Sure, just as long as you pay for the overpriced public schools for your entire working life, irrespective of the number of children. That sure frees up funds for lots of people to go outside the system and buy private education! Real choice there.

Btw, look up the letters "NEA".

Science is long gone - Bush's Fault (1)

Dragoonkain (704719) | about 9 years ago | (#13782920)



Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's likeReason: Don't use so many caps. It's likeReason: Don't use so many caps. It's likeReason: Don't use so many caps. It's like

Loose a position? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782921)

Odd, possibly Freudian slip. Granted, it's a typo for lose, but in the sense of letting it go?

Apparently (0, Offtopic)

spellcheckur (253528) | about 9 years ago | (#13782922)

It's already loost it's grip on english.

Re:Apparently (1)

Vapebait (728259) | about 9 years ago | (#13782968)

Wow, they fixed that one quick. Now you look like the fool who can't spell...

Top Panel Warns Erosion of U.S. Civil Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782925)

Panel suggests voting for the GOP is a vote for corruption, murder, waste, and erosion of US values.

Who need science... (1, Offtopic)

Dam's (921393) | about 9 years ago | (#13782927)

when a country has god with it...

Re:Who need science... (1)

grub (11606) | about 9 years ago | (#13782983)

When you have a god and jeebus on your side, you can't lose. Oh wait, why does the Vatican have lightning rods? ;)

I find this hard to believe... (2, Funny)

jferris (908786) | about 9 years ago | (#13782931)

Every infomercial I watch talks about how every product is a leading scientific breakthrough for the 21st century. I have a channel on DirecTV that only has infomercials, so I should know. Just wait until Ronco hears about this!

The really sad part is..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782932)

.....that the typo is actually in the original article, too. :/

Expected (3, Interesting)

sg3000 (87992) | about 9 years ago | (#13782934)

The 20-member panel, reporting at the request of a bipartisan group in Congress, said that without such an effort the United States 'could soon loose its privileged position.'

Wait, shouldn't this be "lose" and not "loose"? It's in the NYT article too, and I would assume they can spell.

One major question is why the Panel didn't mention the fact that religious fundamentalists are trying to legislate science out of the classroom, as illustrated by the Intelligent Design lawsuit [] going on in Pennsylvania? If you're not allowed to teach biology in science class, but instead, you must give "equal time" to "creationism", doesn't that tend to degrade science, too?

It's not surprising that the U.S. will lose its scientific dominance. It's a combination of the guns versus butter argument [] , an alarming increase in the politicization of science, and the general retreat of science in the face of religious zealotry in this country. Overseas outsourcing of technical jobs isn't helping either.

I imagine that after three more years of Bush being in office, we should be ecstatic if the majority of the population is still toilet trained.

Fundamentalists *help* science (2, Insightful)

LeonGeeste (917243) | about 9 years ago | (#13783012)

They force biologists to more rigorously prove the case for evolution. If not for this pressure, they probably never would have even bothered to address irreducible complexity issues. Imagine if creationists hadn't mainstreamed discussion of evolution? Then only a (relatively) tiny cartel of biologists would be analyzing the issue. Thanks to creationists, lots of people are poring over the evidence for evolution.

Imagine if the Bible said something about quantum physics (yeah, yeah, I know you can claim it does, but bear with me here). Wouldn't that speed up the demise of bad theories in that field?

Current administration is working on this... (3, Funny)

mobiux (118006) | about 9 years ago | (#13782938)

By labeling "intelligent design" as science.

When the label finally sticks, we'll be in the lead again. YAY!!!
Kansas will be the new MIT.

Re:Current administration is working on this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783034)

They could also relabel Stupid as Intelligent. No need for any other type of reform. Maybe we should also relabel Stoopid as Intelligent just in case..

Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782940)

It's time to open source science and it can only help because thousands of scientists around the world will help US science become better.

loose ist priveleged position (1)

foxhound01 (661872) | about 9 years ago | (#13782943)

it 'could soon loose its privileged position.' not before the editor looses his job....

I wrote this yesterday (4, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13782946)

In response to a radio programme about Intelligent Design, I wrote the following, concerning the potential erorsion of science in Saskatchewan classrooms:

John Gormley of 980 had two guests debate Intelligent Design, and sadly almost 2:1 callers thought that ID should be in the science classroom. Every one that gave a reason why they thought that, presented a flawed understanding they held about a scientific concept. As one caller pointed out, only the United States is looking at this debate seriously, and every country in Europe is laughing at it because it's so stupid. Intelligent Design is an attack on science by Christian fundamentalists who want to get their foot in the secular school door. An understanding of science is a blow to the culture of ignorance that a few of the fundamentalist leaders count on to maintain control over a bewildered and sheep like flock.

        Here's what I wrote to Gormley, but he was only taking calls so it wasn't read on the air:
        Thank you for having a discussion about Intelligent Design today. Your guest Larry Krause put it so well when he said that the effort to insert creationism into the science classroom is a perhaps "well meaning attack on science". Intelligent Design makes no sense in Saskatchewan, where it's apparent that we'll have a half Aboriginal population in a few decades. If we're to require a creator to initiate our earth's development, why should it be a Christian God that puts it all in motion? There are a number of creation theories, and I've seen nothing that the Intelligent Design crowd has put forward that discounts a mythological figure from Aboriginal history being the earth's true creator.
        I don't think it serves our children any better to have Aboriginal creation myths taught in science class than it does to teach them God created your little bits and it wasn't the laws of the universe that did it. But I wanted to make the point that this is about religion, and if someone who's for ID is against Aboriginal creation myth, then they show their true stripes. It isn't about an "intelligent designer" it's about Christianity's God. It isn't about the "science" behind ID [which there is none], it's about injecting Christian myth into a class that our future drug designers, and doctors rely upon to be effective professionals.

Re:I wrote this yesterday (3, Interesting)

spanklin (710953) | about 9 years ago | (#13783151)

As one caller pointed out, only the United States is looking at this debate seriously, and every country in Europe is laughing at it because it's so stupid.

I was at a conference recently where we were discussing the state of science literacy in the US, and a leading authority on the topic (Jon Miller from Northwestern University) showed the results of a survey conducted in the US and in Europe.

I don't have a copy of his numbers, but I recall that his results showed that in the US, approximately 50% of those surveyed believed that evolution really occurs on the Earth. In Europe, using the same survey, the results for the same question were closer to 90% of those surveyed believe that evolution occurs.


Doesn't sound that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782953)

Loosing your position gives you some margin so you can adapt to changes. In no way does that imply that you're going to lose your position.

Looks like we've already lost it... (1)

Exsam (768226) | about 9 years ago | (#13782955)

'could soon loose its privileged position.'
at least as far as English goes.

International Students (5, Interesting)

rovingeyes (575063) | about 9 years ago | (#13782965)

"International students in the United States who receive doctorates in science, technology, engineering or math should get automatic one-year visa extensions that allow them to seek employment here. If these students get job offers and pass a security screening test, they should automatically get work permits and expedited residence status. If they cannot get a job, their visas should expire."

This is sort of already in place. Every international student, who graduates can apply for a work permit known as OPT (Optional Practical Training, I believe). This allows that student to seek employment in a field that is relevant to his/her education and or qualification. It is not automatic but nonetheless I have yet to hear a student get rejected for it. But it ends right there. After the year is over the individual already has to have a work permit or have a petition for it to stay legally in this country. I have personally seen couple of brilliant students leave this country because they couldn't get the work permit in time. Thus this suggestion of "expedited residence status" could be a very benefecial.

But now comes the ugly side of it. I bet the locals will not approve of it immediately, for very good reasons. Now they have to compete with potentially very hard working and probably smarter people for the same job. And I have seen instances where an American has been passed on for an Asian because they believe that person is going to work harder for less pay. But this new suggestion, if it becomes law, tilts the balance in favor of international students a bit. They can bargain for higher pay and will that cause any difference is to be seen. Now, IEEE was really campaigning hard to curtail H1B a year or so ago. We have to see how they react to it.

investment (3, Interesting)

vlad_petric (94134) | about 9 years ago | (#13783010)

If you invest a quarter of a million dollars into a foreign student (that's roughly the cost of a phd these days, at least at my university), sending them back to their countries is plainly dumb. Sure, they may out-compete Americans in the States, but that's still better than out-competing Americans from abroad.

Clasic solution to the perceived shortage (4, Insightful)

nighthawk (6500) | about 9 years ago | (#13782973)

Use the same 20 step solution to the Lawyer and Doctor shortage
1. Pay More
2. Pay More
3. Pay More
4. Pay More
5. Pay More
6. Pay More
7. Pay More
8. Pay More
9. Pay More
10. Pay More
11. Pay More
12. Pay More
13. Pay More
14. Pay More
15. Pay More
16. Pay More
17. Pay More
18. Pay More
19. Pay More
20. Pay More

The free market works. That's why our best and brighest are leaving Science. Dumbsh|ts!

Re:Clasic solution to the perceived shortage (3, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 9 years ago | (#13783110)

Except that regular people don't go out and hire an academic research scientist, like they do a lawyer, so there is no free market at work there. Academic research is a public good just like roads, mass transit, and parks. Some things don't happen without government sponsorship, and fundamental science, by and large, is one of them.

Chicken Little (0, Troll)

RentonSentinel (906700) | about 9 years ago | (#13782984)

Umm... yeah, after Bush invented his hurricane machine, he set about murdering all scientists using creationist goons.

Slashdot: news for Bush haters. *All stories involve Bush(TM)!

I guess the scientists are going to move to Nigeria, where they have a very high "happiness quotient".

Yup. IAAF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13782986)

I am a Fizzisist.

Don't mix the root beer fizzies with the orange fizzies. It's gross. Tenure is great.

The nationalist poison (1)

DisownedSky (905171) | about 9 years ago | (#13782987)

Other than in military arms races, in what sense do nations have any compelling reason to "compete" in science? Science is a cooperative win-win enterprise. Althoughgranted there is sometimes some oneupmanship, I don't see how it benefits science. Why should I care if a Nobel prize winner is a Finn, a Nigerian or a some guy from New Jersey?

Re:The nationalist poison (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 9 years ago | (#13783101)

Because you have patent laws, and lock up everything for the forseeable future.

It's not political. (5, Interesting)

Puls4r (724907) | about 9 years ago | (#13782993)

Let's get something straight. The pending doom of American science has very little to do with our political climate.

It has far more to do with school administrations, culture, and parenting.

#1 Tenure needs to be removed. Peer reviews need to be implemented. Salaries should be review / performance based. Schooling for teachers needs to be DRASTICALLY improved. Remove all the buzzword-techno-political crap that's found it's way into teaching and just TEACH.

#2 Kids who aren't in school to learn need to be removed. Yeah, so be it, some kids don't get schooled. If they nor their parents can put forth the effort, then that's too bad. Sure, we'll hear sob stories about how some are going to get left behind. Let me clue you in to a little secret. If you hold back our best and brightest to make sure no one is "left behind" then you're going to DESTROY the best and brightest. Or at least you'll have managed to severely inhibit their potential.

#3 Parenting. Why aren't parents do "fun" things like having foreign langauge weeks where they all try to speak different languages. Turn the fricken TV and computer off. Interact. Socialize. Take your kid out in the f'in garage and fix the car with him.

Finally, TECHNICAL EDUCATIONS. Go to and read the quote that states not everyone grows up to be rocket scientists. It's true.

Re:It's not political. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 years ago | (#13783119)

It isn't political, it is economic. Other nations produce some absolutely first rate talent, but can offer meager opportunities. That talent moves to where the opportuniites exist resulting in a glut. This depresses the market for home grown capability because of the cheap foriegn talent.

Now wind forward 20 years, and Lo! there are now opportunities to use thse talents at home. And the local institutions are in shambles because their hasn't been a need to develop talent locally.

So where are we heading? Another Sputnik era where the US finds itself challenged by a foriegn power on the field of technology. We have been there and done that during the '50s. So there will be a shock, and then the gears will start churning again.

These things go in cycles. We have seen it before. Can the US meet the challenge again? Well, the track record of re-invention has been pretty good. We shall see if it continues.

Re:It's not political. (1)

grungebox (578982) | about 9 years ago | (#13783156)

#2 Kids who aren't in school to learn need to be removed. Yeah, so be it, some kids don't get schooled. If they nor their parents can put forth the effort, then that's too bad. Sure, we'll hear sob stories about how some are going to get left behind. Let me clue you in to a little secret. If you hold back our best and brightest to make sure no one is "left behind" then you're going to DESTROY the best and brightest. Or at least you'll have managed to severely inhibit their potential.

I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. Educational opportunity should be viewed as a right, not a privilege, in my opinion. Besides, usually the kids that "don't want to learn" are not in the same classes as "the best and brightest," e.g. AP classes and other honors type courses. The US doesn't implement that whole "ginormous super test after 8th grade" thing that India, China, Japan, the Netherlands, and other countries do. I'm sure that would help improve the US ranking, but just keep in mind that while the brightest of those other countries may end up brighter than our best students, their worst students are way way worse than ours. It's all a big tradeoff, and I for one somewhat support the US system. It has its flaws, but again I view access to education as a right, not a privilege. I suppose that's a buzz phrase, though, the kind you rile against in point #1 :) I guess I'm being silly - I'm one of those nuts that likes the Robin Hood law in Texas even though I grew up in a rich suburban city (Plano, near Dallas) that had the most to lose from such policies.

Obvious Tag (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 9 years ago | (#13782995)

If this were Fark, there'd be an obvious tag next to this. The problem is that the same people they're reporting this to are the ones consciously causing the problem. Until that changes, we can look forward to an across the board increase in ignorance.

Link to National Academies press release (1)

MECC (8478) | about 9 years ago | (#13783000)

Here's the National Academies link. []

Better Education is a Must (1)

Evil W1zard (832703) | about 9 years ago | (#13783014)

In my opinion one of the biggest steps we need in general is to have both better educational material (make the subjects not only interesting but fun to learn) and better educators. Looking back at my high school teachers I am sorely disappointed in how poorly their teaching skills were... That disappointment has been further strengthened by some of my friends who are teachers now (Yes they are friends but when I talk to them I am truly amazed that they are allowed to teach...) We need to seriously revamp our educational structure in the US and get people interested early on. Pushing a book in a child's face and telling them to read it is not teaching in my opinion, but it seems that is what happens in a lot of schools today. Interaction, discussion, experiments and etc... are key.

A scientific study was done, results inconclusive (3, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | about 9 years ago | (#13783019)

In response to the need to find out why scientific competetiveness was lacking, a study was initiated to solve this conundrum. However, the study was deemed inconclusive due to the lack of resources, mismatched numerical systems, and little or no understanding of the core problem.

Item #21 (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 9 years ago | (#13783031)

Block all U.S. based access to Slashdot. We've seen the effect it has had on our youth. We could cripple our enemies while at the same time bring up the IQ level here.

They really need to make it more financially (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 9 years ago | (#13783032)

feasible for students to study in the science and engineering fields. As it is now, a student double majoring in chemistry and CS gets the same amount of aid as a student studying comparitive literature. It would be alright if there were enough scholarships targeted towards science and engineering, but then again, the number of scholarships targeted towards only those areas are comparable with the numbers in other fields. Making it even more difficult is the practice of not considering financial need in scholarships anymore....
I had to work my own way through college, and in some regards that taught me some hard, but very valuable lessons. However, while I was working I also felt that I was missing out on some interesting research opportunities etc. I just didn't have time for them between my schoolwork and work. I also got into a lot of debt which is why I am now working instead of in grad school were I could be doing something a bit more productive than my current job.
If they want more students to study math and science, then make it more financialy feasible for them to do so, or students will start looking at other majors that allow them to you know, sleep.......

Ain't gonna happen (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 9 years ago | (#13783035)

I'm old enough to have been in school when Sputnik [] went up.

We had lots of blather from Washington, the school systems got some additional money, the universities went on a building binge, and the actual levels of education and real scientific research didn't move so you'd notice [1].

Basically, this is just too good a pork-barrel issue to let actual results get in the way.

[1] University politics being what it is, every department got its share of the take. The only stuff that went to "hard sciences" specifically was military and industrial research grants, and those were (of course) very heavily weighted towards near-term results.

Indentured servitude vs market-based solutions (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | about 9 years ago | (#13783038)

I notice that one of the recommendations is scholarships for certain degrees, after which the receiver would be obligated to teach for a time to pay it off. I have a better idea: pay the teachers who have those degrees more than others. I know the teacher's unions will have a stroke at this unegalitarian approach, but screw them. The capitalist approach is, when something is scarce you pay more for it or do without. Why should math teachers who actually have degrees in math be any different?

Science takes a back seat to profit (5, Insightful)

keraneuology (760918) | about 9 years ago | (#13783054)

A major part of the problem is that profit is more important than innovation. Pure, unadulterated research for the sake of discovering new and better ways of doing things or even just learning something new is pretty much dead.

How many corporations have scaled back or even eliminated their R&D departments because they won't turn a profit next quarter?

How much money does big oil spend to suppress new technologies?

Overly restrictive patents bar research by all who can't cough up the money to expand on somebody else's work.

Kids are actively discouraged from tinkering for fear of hurting themselves or hurting somebody else's bottom line. Want to experiment with chemistry? Here's some lemon juice and baking soda - but we'll arrest you if you put it into a plastic bottle. Want to play with model rockets? Prove you aren't a terrorist. Want to hack your X-Box and see how circuits work? The FBI'll be knocking on your door. Biology? Take pictures of a worm, but make sure it isn't endangered. Engineering? The city'll come and fine you for not building your treehouse to code.

When you get to college... how many professors actually teach science and how many spend all of their time seeking new grants to ensure the university can afford a new football stadium?

And of the precious little research that actually is happening, how much is classified and never sees the light of day

Give It Up (1)

N8F8 (4562) | about 9 years ago | (#13783060)

It really is disheartening to work your ass off being brilliant and cranking out ideas only to watch some beer swiggging retard get more recognition, higher pay and more promotions at work. Get an Accounting degree instead.

Simple reasons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783064)

  • The competitors have learned their lesson and are more actively supporting science, especially at hip-and-trendy topics.
  • Countries who've been brain-drained by the US are trying actively to get their potential back. This refers both to Europe and to the Asian region.
  • The problems of getting a Visa for US are keeping researchers out of the US. It's even complicated to get a temp. Visa for Europeans. Not to mention the problems of people from less trustworthy regions (China/India).
  • Other countries are now seeing the potential of foreigners and are trying to attract them.

Re:Simple reasons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783137)

couldnt agree more.

i've masters in EE/CS and now working on my MBA degree, been here for 6 yrs and the INS is dicking with my greencard application.

as much as i would like to stay here (and continue to pay top$ taxes!!!) but the way things are looking, i'm probably having to go back to germany.

so - if they want to attract AND RETAIN talented people, someone should give the INS a f*** call!!!

not only will they loose a skilled engineer, but also a whole lot of tax dollars the day my visa is expired!

asta la vista be be !!

10 billion is chump change. (1)

nukeade (583009) | about 9 years ago | (#13783069)

"At a news conference in Washington, panel members estimated the cost of the new recommendations at $10 billion a year, a figure that may prove daunting to Congress in a time of tight budgets."

$246 billion--largely earmarked for 'friends of Washington' projects, e.g. "Help Poor Big Oil Rebuild Their Refineries" 3/1359253 []

$10 billion--to keep the US competitive in science and develop our best talent? No way.

I guess you need to keep a pretty tight budget if your goal is to have as much left over to loot as possible.


hire domestic, build domestic (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 9 years ago | (#13783081)

and you will get folks wanting to be a part. send it all overseas, to destroy the society in order to further enrich the millionnaires, and what's the freaking reason to invest the time in educating yourself?

if Americans are going to be competition for illegal immigrants who will work for half of nothing, they damn sure will not spend two to six years learning skills they can't be hired for, and can't pay the student loans off for.

stop whining and bring the real jobs back home!

Don't read this if you are a Republican (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13783091)

This will not be a problem for our country, because Bush doesn't understand. And anything our President doesn't understand isn't a problem. Didn't you get the memo? I mean, he understands terrorists and taxes, so those are the problems. Arithmetic, however, is out of his mental league, so the debt is out of his league. And all he knows about being jobless is going to Daddy, so unemployment isn't a big deal.

Fortunately, it is my understanding that he understands big, honking space guns and flying cars, so when we get to that point, he'll be all like "I want one!! I want it, I want it!" and then we'll have more science.

decreasing engineer wages !?!? (4, Interesting)

mikers (137971) | about 9 years ago | (#13783093)

From the FA:
"...The cost of employing one chemist or engineer in the United States is equal to about five chemists in China and 11 engineers in India."

And how exactly will increasing the number of chemists, engineers and scientists graduating each year increase the appeal of this career to students currently choosing careers in business and law?

My thesis is that in increasing the amounts of graduates in sciences and "lowering prices" they will fail to actually improve the situation.

Microeconomics [] (oh yeah... THAT natural law) says that increasing the supply of these graduates will DECREASE the price they cost -- in other words by training more... they get cheaper!

College kids are choosing business and law because (a) there are more jobs and (b) they pay better. Decreasing the pay chemists and engineers receive won't improve employment in this area. Why are there less computer scientists these days. Oh yeah, no jobs.

Hence I posit that: Decreasing the cost of engineering and chemists will do nothing to increase the United States' competitiveness in these scientific endeavors


Free college? (1)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | about 9 years ago | (#13783095)

Free college, free books.
Well atleast make it cheaper.
Of course there would have to be constraints as to who would
get money spent on them but really. I'd love to goto school.
A 4 year degree seems way out of my reach.
Any suggestions are welcome, I want a material science or aerospace.

ok fine but... (2, Interesting)

P0pinjay (909846) | about 9 years ago | (#13783113)

the NY times article notes that they graduate a crapton more engineers but don't they have a crapton more people than us as well?? Don't get me wrong, it still appears as though they graduate more per capita, but it might be interesting to note how intelligent they are compared to american grads. Also, when's the last time you saw an american go over seas to get higher education? (aside from Cambridge and exchange programs) That being said, there's an ounce of truth to every exaggeration and I think we should push our education system to be the finest whether other countries are catching up or not.

Give up (2, Insightful)

d_strand (674412) | about 9 years ago | (#13783145)

Give it up USA, You've already lost. It's inevitable, in one generation or so the american supremacy will have gone the way of the dodo bird.

Seriously, I'm absolutely not one of the US-haters common here, but I can see what way your contry is heading. Things like general education has a huge social inertia or whatever you want to call it. Changing the course of a society takes a huge, concentrated effort over a long period of time. Thats not gonna happen, more like the opposite.

(and spare me the comments about my spelling)

Big Shocker (2, Insightful)

B11 (894359) | about 9 years ago | (#13783155)

Anti-itellectualism in the US has finally reached a point where it is really hurting us.

I mean why work hard and study when you see dimwitted athletes on MTV "Cribs" with large houses and expensive cars?

The root of the problem is that we don't value hard work and thirst for knowledge, we value "things." Why is a company going to research a cancer cure unless it can get a patent on it and make a boatlod of money in today's world?

Neo-cons like Bush and their reactionary politics and backwards religious thought is not the reason we are seeing this slow down. DaVinci studied anatomy in spite of the Catholic church's prohibition on using cadavers. I think the fact that neo-cons can dicate scientific policy is a symptom of current enviroment, where anything that is studied has have some sort of financial reward. We even tell our children to go to college, not for personal growth, but so they can get a good job and make lots of money.

Predictions (1, Funny)

RedNovember (887384) | about 9 years ago | (#13783157)

  • 50% comments about how religious nutjobs are taking over the country
  • 5% Trolls about how you're all going to hell
  • 44% Grammar Nazis harping on the misspelling of 'lose'
  • 1% Replies and corrections to this post
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