I forgot something, Was: Why nobody speaks? Was: CANADIAN COUSIN , HONESTY ABOUT SCIENCE

Arthur E. Sowers arthures at access.digex.net
Wed Jun 5 15:24:34 EST 1996

When I answered this post earlier today, I forgot a couple of things. I
also generally include most if not all of the previous post for the sake
of maintaining the context. See near end.

On Wed, 5 Jun 1996, Arthur E. Sowers wrote:

> On 5 Jun 1996, Bert Gold wrote:
> > Why are our Canadian colleagues able to be so honest about the state
> > of Science, while we down here in the states are not?
> > 
> > Ricardo Moro's frank disclosure this morning that PEER REVIEW sucks,
> > and that the process of scientific publication is more about 
> > justification of funding than dissemenation of information,
> > appears right on the mark to me.
> > 
> > But Ricardo Moro is from Vancouver.
> > 
> > I know that there is much wonderful science (particularly genetics)
> > going on in British Columbia, and generally in Canada, but do our
> > colleagues up there have a patent on wisdom?
> > 
> > Last year there was an enormous strike at the University of Manitoba,
> > over issues having to do with academic freedom. Biologists
> > were in the forefront, leading the strike...
> > 
> > Here in the states Academic Freedom is slowly but surely becoming
> > lessened; but aside from the Yale Graduate Students (who garner
> > little or no support from their faculty colleagues), I see no
> > protests.
> > 
> > Can someone help me understand the conundrum of why Canadians have
> > taken to speaking out, while American academicians appear
> > to have given in?
> There are many reasons: i) most academics are "doing OK" (meaning that
> they are "scraping by" off the bottom of the barrel, but are not out of
> the barrel, or out of the frying pan and into the fire), ii) it is not
> anywhere near as common of an event in this country as it is in Northern
> Ireland to have "explosive" events happening very often to call attention
> to matters of social concern, iii) a substantial fraction of underlings,
> which are under the overlings (in heirarchical systems), don't even
> realize that anything like a "revolution" or "protest" or "organization"
> (as in unions) might be a creative and useful answer to the exploitation
> they are experiencing, and iv) we here in the USA are living in probably
> the most virulently capitalist-imperialist country in the world. HOWEVER,
> managers, administrators, and related kahunas well understand the power
> that they wield, being that they have their hands on the valves controling
> the flow of money and the push-buttons controling executive decisions, iv)
> this arrangement insures that risks will be reallocated to the underlings
> and the benefits will be reallocated to the overlings (a variation on the
> theme of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"). 

The three things I forgot to mention as having a negative effect
particularly on the science business (and even more particularly on the
basic research business) are: i) the end of the Cold War, ii) the
globalization of economies (where USA money & jobs become transfered to
other countries where the payscale is much lower), and iii) substantial
political concern with downsizing federal government and federal budgets.
And, I don't think any one of us little guys can do anything about any of
those three items. I really think that, although our technology will
continue to advance (computers, internet, communications), the scientific
component of our society will be stagnating or shrinking in the future. 
..signed, Art.
> Now, anyone else have any comments? And, Bert, did that help any?
> Or would you like to come back with an antithesis to my thesis?
> > Bert Gold
> > San Francisco
> > 
> Art Sowers

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