Science & Society

Science and Society and how they get along.

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Location: Santa Barbara, California, United States

I'm a physicist and science consultant specialized in optics, lasers and optical engineering. This blog, StarkFX, looks at what applications physics is finding today. Or, if you are looking at my StarkEffects blog, it displays my views about and interest in the interface between society and science.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

World Science?

I recently subscribed to a newsletter. I found it advertised on my website, and had to check it out. It is called "World Science". It claims to send you science information weeks before you'll see it in the newspapers. It is entertaining. Unfortunately, the only newspapers you'll ever see these stories in are the supermarket tabloids.

The first story was great! A genetic defect that turns back the clock on evolution. There was even a video clip showing a victim of this defect. The poor woman was walking around on all fours and babbling some primitive language. I suspect, since the video was supposedly from Turkey, that English would have sounded just as odd to her as her language did to me.

Reading "World Science" is not going to be one of my habits. I'm already less intelligent than I would have been had I skipped the first reading of "World Science" and just read some more spam.

Troy Stark

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A New Phrase

I just learned a new phrase from Michael Shermer's "Skeptic" column in Scientific American. The phrase is Japanese: "Baka ni tsukeru ku suri wa nai" translated, There is no cure for stupidity. It is true! An entire industry -advertising- is built on taking advantage of that. OK, not every advertisement is big fat lie taking advantage of stupid people, but you'll find that even to move a product with real value, advertisers have to use the principles of the psychology of the masses. Shermer's article this month talks about Kevin Trudeau's new book about natural cures. Kevin is the quintessential advertising expert. He knows that people will buy a book that tells them there is a conspiracy against them and powerful people who studied science are really no smarter than them. Apparently one of the things Kevin says in the book is that we would be surprised at how motivating power and money are. Quite a cute twist.

The point I'm worrying about is that people really enjoy hearing that science doesn't and scientists don't really know any more than the quacks that come up with the cures in Kevin's book. As a society we have quite a bad attitude about those evil people that went to the trouble to learn and get an education. Those evil monsters actually dare to question our societies actions, beliefs and norms. Evil science geeks should have just stayed home and watched sit coms with the rest of us, then they'd be normal.

Without a major shift in our attitudes toward knowledge, we are destined to lose our place as a world power.

With Worry,
Troy Stark