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Physicspowerpoint

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  • By safeguarding science, I do not mean to ask the question, “If you throw a politician out of a window at a height of 1000ft, at what speed will he hit the pavement?” Rather, this presentation will attempt to shed some light on the status of the scientific community within the political arena.
  • You may be asking the question of why I’m focusing on the physics and politics and how this relates to Pseudoscience. Philosophers were first prompted to speak about science within other disciplines (specifically religion) with the appearance of pseudoscience. Some examples of possible pseudoscientific discoveries include, but are not limited to, the French discovery of the N-ray, Alfred Wegner’s Continental Drift, and the Flat Earth theory created in—of all places—Illinois. I mention these because all are not false. Wegner’s Continental Drift hypothesis may have seemed false at the time, but is now a widely accepted paradigm. Newton and many others pursued their craft for the sake of religion. To him, all of the great laws of physics which he discovered, were the laws of God that testify of his design Now, more than ever, scientists are pursuing their crafts for political, rather than religious reasons. And junk scientists “employed” by industries must be debunked for the power of scientific authority to be maintained. For these reasons scientists and historians must shift their attention to science in the political sphere.
  • There are some laymen who believe that “major scientific discoveries are often the products of amateur minds,” or that they are simply found on accident. When the reality is that most developments are now brought about by organized teams or committees; think of the transistor and of Lunar exploration. For this reason I think it is useful to not Thomas Kuhn’s demarcation of science. He divides science into Normal Science and Revolutionary Science. In this scheme, it is the organized teams of scientists who gather facts within the accepted paradigm, who at time find anomalies in that paradigm, while it is the revolutionary scientists, often seen as finding buried treasure that put to rest these anomalies and create a new paradigm or model.
  • If we expand Kuhn’s demarcation of science to include the interaction of physics and politics we have a slightly different demarcation. J. R. Ravetz and Silviio Funtowics, two notable scientists have created three definitions which they present in a biaxial graph. On the x-axis they mark the uncertainty of the system, be that scientific or political uncertainty and the importance of the decision or “Decision Stakes” In their system there are three demarcations of approach to scientific problems within the political arena: applied science, professional consultancy, and post-normal science.
  • I happen to view their system slightly differently. I see it as a pyramid where there is a great number of scientists who approach problems from the viewpoint of applied science, and then progressively less people pursuing the approach of professional consultancy and post-normal science when dealing in other disciplines In my view, Applied science is within Kuhn’s demarcation of normal science, while professional consultancy and post-normal science tend to be examples of revolutionary science. Another way one could view this demarcation would be to think of what each approach produces. Applied science produces an “army of technicians,” professional consultancy produces innovative guardians, while post-normal science produces high stakes problem solvers for better or worse.
  • In order to better look at these three categories and their corresponding relationships I have chosen three case studies. First, the Superconducting Supercollider, secondly the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository, and finally Global Climate Change, note the emotionally persuasive depiction. The Superconducting supercollider is a somewhat well know failure in of science within the political sphere.
  • John Marburger, the science advisor to the president at the time of the SSC’s collapse, has stated. So, then, what can we learn from it?
  • “ By exploring higher energy levels, physicists hope to expand the model by discovering certain particles and phenomenal that have so far existed only in theory” Comparably an electron has a mass of approximately .51 mega electron-volts/speed of light squared
  • Such phenomena raise an extremely difficult issue for the future. Specifically, how can the nation stick with a decision that has scientific and technical merit before and after the potential economic benefits for individual regions of the country are determined? This issue is especially vexing for projects like the SSC, which require a long-term congressional commitment. It is further complicated both by the turnover of elected officials--which cripples institutional memory and commitments--and by the existing annual budget process, which encourages constant second-guessing of political decisions. Finally, there is a lesson to be learned about public support for fundamental science. The super collider never captured broad support from the American public, in no small part because its scientific promise was difficult to understand even by those who are scientifically literate. As studies have shown, science education in the United States lags far behind that of other industrialized nations. This suggests that a key to sustaining U.S. excellence in basic research will be aggressive efforts to improve scientific and technical literacy at every level of education.
  • Medium Dec. Stakes Important to the advancement of the standard model unimportant to political stability Low Syst. Uncertainty Needs to be predictable Big Science Difficult to differentiate between normal and revolutionary Quasi-industrial forms of research are almost always a type of normal science
  • One reason that we are at a point where we must question scientific authority stems from James Frank to Leo Szilard, a post-normal scientist of the time of the Manhattan project.
  • It is situations like Global Climate Change where strong leadership in the science is needed to debunk industrial scientists.
  • Low Decision Stakes The United States, has historically placed global climate change on the backburner even though it has the highest number of climate research laboratories. High Syst. Uncert. Atmospheric modeling has been known to be highly unpredictable. Junk Scientists, inspired by corporate interest oppose. Rising Stakes As the U.K. and other Kyoto Protocol signatories place pressure on the U.S. the weight of Global Climate Change decisions will increase significantly
  • Knowledge is tied to power. How does knowledge circulate and function within political entities? Knowledge is non-neutral. Can political entities affect the outcomes of scientific studies? Knowledge is not universal. If knowledge is tied to the context in which it is created (the case) and applied ( the approach) , can we make comparisons?
  • -The fluidity of these demarcations aspires to the view that boundaries are social constructs. -The constructs presented above are idealogical, but useful. -They allow scientists to argue for their own objectivity and for their need for autonomy
  • Transcript

    • 1. Physics, Politics and Pseudoscience Safeguarding Science from Political Skepticism Courtney Bonney 1000 ft v = ?
    • 2. Why Physics and Politics? Pseudo-what?
      • Historically, scientists often pursued science for religious reasons
      • Pseudoscience leads to the separation of science from religion.
        • Other possible demarcations:
          • Science and Art
          • Science and Politics
      • Now, more than ever before, science and politics are merging
    • 3. Normal Vs. Revolutionary http://www.possest.de/sascha_is/learning_about/the_limitation_of.html Scientific Endeavors Normal Science Revolutionary Science Problem Solving Within the Accepted Paradigm Leads to Paradigm Shift Solves “ Normal Science” Anomalies
    • 4. A New Demarcation Science and Politics J. R. Ravetz Silvio Funtowicz Decision vs. Uncertainty
    • 5. “ Army of Technicians” “ Innovative Guardians” “ High Stakes Problem Solvers” A Novel View on Approach Where does Science and Policy Meet? Revolutionary Science Normal Science Post- Normal Science Professional Consultancy Applied Science
    • 6. Three Case Studies Applied Science Professional Consultancy Post-normal Science The SSC Yucca Mountain Global ??? Change
    • 7.
      • “ Every morning I woke up asking
      • myself what I could learn from this
      • experience; on most days the answer
      • was nothing.”
      • - John Marburger-
      • science advisor to the president
    • 8. Applied Science The Superconducting Super Collider
      • Goal of the SSC
        • “ To investigate the basic nature of matter without the expectation of any near-term results.”
        • Observe the Higgs Boson
          • Validate the “Standard Model”
          • Determine it’s mass ~114.4 GeV/c 2 – 153 GeV/c 2
      • Who Benefits?
        • U.S. becomes a leader in high energy physics
        • 2,200 high energy physicists (3% of physics researchers)
        • 600 graduate students (0.6% of science Ph.D students)
        • Technologies
    • 9.
      • What went wrong?
        • Miscommunication
          • “ There is a high risk that the SSC will experience cost increases” –DOE Budgetary Report (1998)-
        • Cost Escalation
          • The Energy Saver – 64% above initial estimate
          • Fermi Lab’s Tevatron 1 – 122% above initial estimate
          • Isabelle Accelerator at Brookhaven – Abandoned
          • Trevatron II – Minor cost escalation
          • Stanford Linear Collider – Minor cost escalation
          • Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – Unknown
        • Lack of Support
          • Public – Lack of science education
          • Political –High turnover of elected officials
          • Scientific – Push for international collaboration
    • 10. Big Science Difficult to differentiate between normal and revolutionary Quasi-industrial forms of research are almost always a type of normal science Low Syst. Uncertainty Needs to be predictable Medium Dec. Stakes Important to the advancement of the standard model unimportant to political stability
    • 11. Professional Consultancy The Nuclear Repository at Yucca Mountain
      • NIMBY – Not In My Backyard
      • 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA): Creates Three Possible Sites
        • Deaf Smith Salt Mine, Texas
        • Basalt Site, Washington
        • Yucca Mountain (Volcanic Tuff), Nevada
      • 1987 NWP Amendments Act (NWPAA)
        • Limits selection site to “Yucca Mountain unless…site found unsuitable.”
    • 12.
      • DOI employee, Joseph Hevesi, charged with falsifying documents
      • Difficulties
        • Reliability of scientific fact
        • Uncertainty in modeling
        • Extension of final date from 1998 – 2017
        • Crowding repositories across the country
    • 13.
      • “ The endless merry-go-round of
      • deciding upon a final resting place for
      • nuclear waste has been studied for
      • more than two decades, has cost
      • taxpayers more than $9 billion and
      • has actually been solved.”
      • - James Finch-
      • 19 September 2006
    • 14. Medium Decision Stakes The United States, in order to meet it’s policy objectives of “fulfilling the federal government’s moral and legal responsibility for stewardship of waste” must follow through. Med. High Syst. Uncert. A consensus has been reached for nuclear waste disposal; bury it deep underground, but uncertainties still exist over the location of such a repository and over the authority of the scientists making predictions about the proposed site. Socially Controversial Strong scientifically based results will be needed to counter social doubts about the project.
    • 15.
      • “ Scientists as a class believe
      • that their scientific reputation
      • is a proof that they are also
      • experts in political reasoning.”
      • -James Frank to Leo Szilard-
      • 21 May 1961
    • 16. Post-Normal Science Global Climate Change
      • Post-normal science is not…
        • Pseudoscience
      • Post-normal Science is…
        • Falsifiable
      • The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
        • Raised the stakes by calling Global Climate Change the 2 nd Nuclear Age.
      • New ideas in Global Climate Change
        • New Proof: Change in length of day
        • Aggressive “big science” technologies
        • Aggressive political atmosphere
    • 17. Low Decision Stakes The United States, has historically placed global climate change on the backburner even though it has the highest number of climate research laboratories. High Syst. Uncert. Atmospheric modeling has been known to be highly unpredictable. Junk Scientists, inspired by corporate interest oppose. Rising Stakes As the U.K. and other Kyoto Protocol signatories place pressure on the U.S. the weight of Global Climate Change decisions will increase significantly
    • 18. Why Question Scientific Authority?
      • Knowledge is tied to power.
        • How does knowledge circulate and function within political entities?
      • Knowledge is non-neutral.
        • Can political entities affect the outcomes of scientific studies?
      • Knowledge is not universal.
        • If knowledge is tied to the context in which it is created (the case) and applied ( the approach) , can we make comparisons?
    • 19. Finding Answers
      • Boundary-work:
        • Instances in which boundaries, demarcations, or other divisions between fields of knowledge are:
          • Created
          • Advocated
          • Attacked
          • Reinforced
        • Encouraged by Ravetz and Funtowicz
        • Creates “Extended Peer Communities”
      • Boundary Organizations:
        • The key
    • 20. Boundary Organizations
      • Example: Office of Technology Assessment
      • http://www.wws.princeton.edu/ota/
    • 21. The Legacy of the OTA
      • Addressed questions of scientific and political authority
      • Decreased politicians ability to influence scientific studies.
      • Encouraged circulation of technological knowledge
      • Opened up a dialog
      • Global Change Research and NASA’s Earth Observing System, OTA (Nov 1993)