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October 31, 2010

Control of Science by Politicians

Even though Geology, Archeology, and Paleontology, can now provide Anthropologists with the context required for an understanding of humanity’s place, both in History and the Cosmos, our species still faces daunting challenges. The most pressing of all are obviously related either directly or indirectly to Science: its unending cornucopia of modern technology, our outmoded religious beliefs, and our unchecked population growth are all in conflict. Unfortunately, many humans can’t agree and we may be running out of solutions that could minimize environmental damage and reduce human suffering

One way of framing the issue may be to point out that empirical Science itself does not appear to have been a divinely preordained phenomenon, which was probably why the leading religious authority of Galileo’s era found it necessary to brand him a heretic and place him under house arrest. The same conflict is still in evidence: the most useful scientific theories often seemed completely improbable when first introduced. Over time, however, those that have endured not only offered better explanations of known phenomena when first proposed, and were also validated by later discoveries. For example, Darwin could not have anticipated the double helix postulated by Watson, Crick (and Franklin) in 1953; however, the molecular structure of DNA is the optimal mechanism for explaining the Evolution he first intuited in 1832 and subsequently fleshed out by 1959. When combined with Continental Drift, (derided in 1903 when Wegener suggested it but later confirmed by undersea discoveries in the Sixties). CD also helps explain how humans have adapted to weather cycles, how those cycles may have impelled our early hominid ancestors to leave Africa, and the dangers implicit in our current appetite for fossil fuels.

Perhaps the most important revelation of my nine year ad hoc study of cannabis users relates to human behavior under stress and the fact that of all Medical specialties, Psychiatry is the only one bereft of an objective nosology: we are still clearly struggling with the mind-body duality that has puzzled human thought from well before Plato and well beyond Descartes. One step that might help is recognition of the damage done by false assumptions, especially when codified by authoritarian regimes that force Scientists to shill for their pet theories; In that sense, Nazi racial doctrine, Communist ideology, and America's drug war are brothers under the same skin.

In that context, he results of next Tuesday’s election, both in California and in the nation, take on considerable significance.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 31, 2010 07:32 PM