Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American Science Deserves More Funding

The new administration is to be commended, so far, for not hiding behind the cover of 'religion' as an excuse for not funding scientific research. Whether the issues are the health-care of children, researching stem cells or funding contraception the idea that federal legislators can, in the name of 'religion' stop peer-reviewed scientific research is very disturbing to me.

Religious beliefs vary widely and should be separated from scientific progress, especially as far as legislation is concerned. Science works in spheres outside the purview of religion. Religion should be about love, relationships, the human spirit and our beliefs. Science need not be feared if it adds useful knowledge. It can definitely enhance our world view and religions in ways we cannot and have not been able to predict.

While I am religious in my own way, I don't like the idea that scientific progress can be stopped for 'religious reasons'. Now I know that some scientific, especially medical research can be inhuman, as happens in wartime, for example, and that would be wrong, I agree.

As an example, in this article in The New York Times, about a just-identified Nazi doctor who committed medical atrocities, whose identity and location has just been breaking news, it says that:

In an interview in the family’s villa in Baden-Baden, Mr. Heim, 53, admitted publicly for the first time that he was with his father in Egypt at the time of his death[in 1992].

It would appear his son hasn't been punished and should be, in my view, as he must have known his father was an internationally 'wanted' criminal. Perhaps with new technologies we have today, that doctor might have been located sooner. He and his son might have faced the consequences.

We really need new technologies of science and the sooner the better. Odd that with all the current bailout money being thrown at bankers and insurers, so little is given to scientists. They toil long hours for little pay or public recognition yet can have the most impact for improving our lives.

Indeed, where would we be without scientific innovations we take for granted now? Many of them had sources in research seed money from the federal government. As for private junkets to lavish 'recognition events' in tropical resorts, well, scientists usually find scientific achievement more satisfying and schedule travel visits to dorm rooms at universities for educational improvement and, yes, grudging respect from their peers.

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