Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Scientist magazine

Like Flannery, the magazine is popular , but is popularity part of the solution to the brain drain , or part of the problem . Is NS popular amongst the sort of scientists we need to mentor to lead this country to a intellegence led future? What do scientists want more of ?  Are NS readers more interested in the results of science ( technology ) than science itself .  Be serious because  if you want to talk science progress properly  we do want to get distracted by silly superficial stuff.

A few years ago the magazine was unashamedly defending  "PC scientists say " stuff with long features on correct green house gas controls .  But such drama ran short news about the volcanoes and particulate matter and what they were doing to lower temperatures .
NS is , let me put it bluntly , more interested in speculating on the shiny popular and new ,  than what comes out of the old and boring buildings which really should the only place to give the magazine something to talk about .

Many of us have stopped subscribing; stopped being annoyed by its woosiness , its constant promotion of the new, its failure to take science seriously( the  controversial , the cool  and the evidence based )  .
NS is particularly annoying because it feeds the lie that it is "a science magazine " - for scientists  .  We know that popular sciencepromotion  is promoting the drip feed that  is draining sound reseach and practice in our culture ( good science is often too " boring "to the NS audience )
On the evidence : If Australians were serious about science, and NS about science , they might pay them enough to able to afford the  cars that are sold in new scientist?

Science gurus?- Tim Flannery

A lot can be learned from those who dance the tune the pipers are playing .
The ABC need to do a poll of experienced practical  scientists ( the ones we want to grow more of) and see what they think of this man's attempts to represent them ! I know he's "popular",  but maybe thats part of the problem? (Take his popular but highly suspect preoocupation  with the population problem that plays up to popular predjudice and uses the sort of simplistic ecological analogies that give complex symbotic science a bad name . )
The carelessness that often characterizes Tims talks is more symbolic of our times than Jones in the MPC stakes .. He seems so busy trying to move us somewhere quickly  that he is happy to employ any technical sub scientific( short circuits)  means to move us there . He uses and confuses science and technology in a way which is unfortunately all too common in our culture . I Just read another wandering feast by one by Lawrence Money which teels us  little new about Tim ( except that his passion began as a childish one) but allows him to wander across every other scientist's territory with the applom characteristic of emperors . The Biologists with philosophical bent  , in particular,  are serial offenders here . I wonder why?
Typical of many MPC's he's more focused on the goal than he is on the means he uses to get there .
Typical of many MPC's he's promoting short term gain, long term pain .
Sustainable solutions, once discovered, don't need to be propped up .
They may need , going on the evidence all around us ,  protection from whiteanting by fearmongers and mere number , fact and fad crunchers who wannabe in the media .  

Science gurus? - Barry Jones

A lot can be learned from those who dance the tune the pipers are playing .
The ABC should be worried that after decades and decades of rhetoric about their  promotion of science in our culture,  they still promote this classic myopic guru of the school of mere descripton as someone who symbolizies the future of science . Whitehead would be turning in his grave.

Do I need to say more.  Misplaced concreteness.

Where do we start ?

My reason for starting this tribute to AN Whitehead is the sinking ship of sustainability research that has been the terrible toy of politics, and their suspect new vehicles of governance and research, for at least 15 years .
It is absolutely no cooincidence/or surprise  that the Australian Federal Goverenmnet have this last week stopped funding Land and Water Division because the whole focus of environmental research has lost its way .
The drip feeders ( like CMA,s and CRC' and water authorities and local government) in their youthful ignorance and arrogance have been complicit in misplaced concreteness in a grand way thats ground on ground credibility to a halt ; printing maps of problems and things they are monitoring  BUT that they themselves aren't addressing .
Not that the States and other drip feeders  who have allowed this to happen division are soley responsible . Cabinets own priorities in this area are all over the place symbolizing  in turn by their desperation to "do something "( like putting bats in roofs)
The roof bat fiasco will seem like a mere belfrey problem when Australians discover their govts at both state and federal level have been wasting water money in way which beats anything anyone has been doing in their backyards during our dry years( My estimate will be in the hundreds each year for every household - to do what ?  allow our polys to build water infrastructure that only goes rusty -you heard it first on blogger )
What can the thinking person do to relieve the pain ?
I could go on - Here is a few more .  Its now up to you to tell us about your area of research and practice that has been undermined by the quickfixers  .Be part of the solution - sustainability science