With All The Suffering in the World, Why Invest in Science?

"I am looking at the future with concern, but with good hope." -Albert Schweitzer

As you all know, the most ambitious interplanetary mission ever attempted -- Mars Science Laboratory -- successfully landed its Curiosity rover on Mars earlier this week. Last night, I had the opportunity to go on my local news and speak a bit about it, and as always, it was an absolute pleasure.

(Video credit: KGW / Ben Lacy / Carey Higgins / Steph Stricklen.)

Of course we got to talk about the rover itself and its science potential, and exactly how much more sophisticated it is than any of its martian predecessors. The sheer fact, alone, that it carries 72 kilograms-worth of science instruments (compared to a mere 5.5 kg for Spirit and Opportunity) should speak volumes. Indeed, the science that we'll get from Curiosity (it's already starting) may wind up teaching us more about Mars' geologic and atmospheric history than all other prior missions combined.

The family of Mars Rovers

Image credit: NASA / JPL, of the scale of Spirit, Sojourner, and Curiosity.

But it was a question that I walked into the studio unprepared for that I really wanted to highlight for you today. When I mentioned the possibility of a future manned mission to Mars, this is what happened:

Steph: Well, ok, now that makes me have to ask you, because to send a manned mission to Mars, you're talking about tons of money. And NASA, continually, year-after-year, has to fight for every penny (and I think it lost another 2% of its budget, or something like that, just in the past year). Why is it so important that we invest precious dollars towards this, given some of the other financial difficulties this country's facing.

Me: You know, they asked this same question to NASA at the height of the Apollo program in 1970 (when NASA's budget, by the way, was eight times* what it is now, comparatively), and they said, 'Listen. There was a Count in Germany, a very benevolent Count, hundreds of years ago, who was really good to the impoverished people, and spread most of his wealth around, and helped fight disease, and all sorts of great things. But there was someone in the village who was working with magnifying glasses, and was able to see new things, at a smaller level, than anyone was able to see before. And when the Count heard about it, he thought it was wonderful and delightful, and invited him into the home to live with him and do his research. And people were irate, because this is money that he's spending on something that's just a lark, from their point of view. Well, of course it didn't happen in his lifetime, but people used that technology and that technique to eventually invent the microscope, which was the greatest boon to modern medicine, ever.'

I can't tell you right now what we're gonna get out of sending a manned mission to Mars. But we have got to have a long game, too. There is something worth investing in for more than the next six months, the next quarter, the next (even) few years. We have a long-term society to think about and grow, and that's what a manned mission to Mars is for, and that's why it's worth investing in.

Mars Panorama from Pathfinder

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Mars Pathfinder; the first Mars rover mission.

Now, admittedly, we have a long way to go and a lot of investing to do if we want to go from roving robots on Mars, which the photograph above comes from, to a human mission (or even a human colony) on the Red Planet, as is envisioned by Mars One, below.

First Martian human settlement, as envisioned by Mars One

Image credit: Mars-One.

But what about that story I told, about the German Count? Where did that come from? Believe it or not, back in early 1970, shortly after the first Apollo landing, a nun working in Zambia, Africa, Sister Mary Jucunda, wrote to NASA asking how they could justify spending billions on the Apollo program when children were starving to death. If one pictures these two images side-by-side, it hardly seems fair.

Juxtaposition of Apollo 11 with starving (Angolan) children

Images credit: NASA and WFP / Q. Sakamaki.

Ernst Stuhlinger, then the Associate Director of Science at NASA, responded by writing the following letter, reprinted in its entirety, below. (It's long, and it only contained one picture, but it's arguably even more relevant today than it was in 1970.)

Your letter was one of many which are reaching me every day, but it has touched me more deeply than all the others because it came so much from the depths of a searching mind and a compassionate heart. I will try to answer your question as best as I possibly can.

First, however, I would like to express my great admiration for you, and for all your many brave sisters, because you are dedicating your lives to the noblest cause of man: help for his fellowmen who are in need.

You asked in your letter how I could suggest the expenditures of billions of dollars for a voyage to Mars, at a time when many children on this earth are starving to death. I know that you do not expect an answer such as "Oh, I did not know that there are children dying from hunger, but from now on I will desist from any kind of space research until mankind has solved that problem!" In fact, I have known of famined children long before I knew that a voyage to the planet Mars is technically feasible. However, I believe, like many of my friends, that travelling to the Moon and eventually to Mars and to other planets is a venture which we should undertake now, and I even believe that this project, in the long run, will contribute more to the solution of these grave problems we are facing here on earth than many other potential projects of help which are debated and discussed year after year, and which are so extremely slow in yielding tangible results.

Before trying to describe in more detail how our space program is contributing to the solution of our earthly problems, I would like to relate briefly a supposedly true story, which may help support the argument. About 400 years ago, there lived a count in a small town in Germany. He was one of the benign counts, and he gave a large part of his income to the poor in his town. This was much appreciated, because poverty was abundant during medieval times, and there were epidemics of the plague which ravaged the country frequently. One day, the count met a strange man. He had a workbench and little laboratory in his house, and he labored hard during the daytime so that he could afford a few hours every evening to work in his laboratory. He ground small lenses from pieces of glass; he mounted the lenses in tubes, and he used these gadgets to look at very small objects. The count was particularly fascinated by the tiny creatures that could be observed with the strong magnification, and which he had never seen before. He invited the man to move with his laboratory to the castle, to become a member of the count's household, and to devote henceforth all his time to the development and perfection of his optical gadgets as a special employee of the count.

The townspeople, however, became angry when they realized that the count was wasting his money, as they thought, on a stunt without purpose. "We are suffering from this plague" they said, "while he is paying that man for a useless hobby!" But the count remained firm. "I give you as much as I can afford," he said, "but I will also support this man and his work, because I know that someday something will come out of it!"

Indeed, something very good came out of this work, and also out of similar work done by others at other places: the microscope. It is well known that the microscope has contributed more than any other invention to the progress of medicine, and that the elimination of the plague and many other contagious diseases from most parts of the world is largely a result of studies which the microscope made possible.

The count, by retaining some of his spending money for research and discovery, contributed far more to the relief of human suffering than he could have contributed by giving all he could possibly spare to his plague-ridden community.

The situation which we are facing today is similar in many respects. The President of the United States is spending about 200 billion dollars in his yearly budget. This money goes to health, education, welfare, urban renewal, highways, transportation, foreign aid, defense, conservation, science, agriculture and many installations inside and outside the country. About 1.6 percent of this national budget was allocated to space exploration this year. The space program includes Project Apollo, and many other smaller projects in space physics, space astronomy, space biology, planetary projects, earth resources projects, and space engineering. To make this expenditure for the space program possible, the average American taxpayer with 10,000 dollars income per year is paying about 30 tax dollars for space. The rest of his income, 9,970 dollars, remains for his subsistence, his recreation, his savings, his other taxes, and all his other expenditures. You will probably ask now: "Why don't you take 5 or 3 or 1 dollar out of the 30 space dollars which the average American taxpayer is paying, and send these dollars to the hungry children?" To answer this question, I have to explain briefly how the economy of this country works. The situation is very similar in other countries. The government consists of a number of departments (Interior, Justice, Health, Education and Welfare, Transportation, Defense, and others) and the bureaus (National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and others). All of them prepare their yearly budgets according to their assigned missions, and each of them must defend its budget against extremely severe screening by congressional committees, and against heavy pressure for economy from the Bureau of the Budget and the President. When the funds are finally appropriated by Congress, they can be spent only for the line items specified and approved in the budget.

The budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, naturally, can contain only items directly related to aeronautics and space. If this budget were not approved by Congress, the funds proposed for it would not be available for something else; they would simply not be levied from the taxpayer, unless one of the other budgets had obtained approval for a specific increase which would then absorb the funds not spent for space. You realize from this brief discourse that support for hungry children, or rather a support in addition to what the United States is already contributing to this very worthy cause in the form of foreign aid, can be obtained only if the appropriate department submits a budget line item for this purpose, and if this line item is then approved by Congress.

You may ask now whether I personally would be in favor of such a move by our government. My answer is an emphatic yes. Indeed, I would not mind at all if my annual taxes were increased by a number of dollars for the purpose of feeding hungry children, wherever they may live.

I know that all of my friends feel the same way. However, we could not bring such a program to life merely by desisting from making plans for voyages to Mars. On the contrary, I even believe that by working for the space program I can make some contribution to the relief and eventual solution of such grave problems as poverty and hunger on earth. Basic to the hunger problem are two functions: the production of food and the distribution of food. Food production by agriculture, cattle ranching, ocean fishing and other large-scale operations is efficient in some parts of the world, but drastically deficient in many others. For example, large areas of land could be utilized far better if efficient methods of watershed control, fertilizer use, weather forecasting, fertility assessment, plantation programming, field selection, planting habits, timing of cultivation, crop survey and harvest planning were applied.

The best tool for the improvement of all these functions, undoubtedly, is the artificial earth satellite. Circling the globe at a high altitude, it can screen wide areas of land within a short time; it can observe and measure a large variety of factors indicating the status and condition of crops, soil, droughts, rainfall, snow cover, etc., and it can radio this information to ground stations for appropriate use. It has been estimated that even a modest system of earth satellites equipped with earth resources, sensors, working within a program for worldwide agricultural improvements, will increase the yearly crops by an equivalent of many billions of dollars.

The distribution of the food to the needy is a completely different problem. The question is not so much one of shipping volume, it is one of international cooperation. The ruler of a small nation may feel very uneasy about the prospect of having large quantities of food shipped into his country by a large nation, simply because he fears that along with the food there may also be an import of influence and foreign power. Efficient relief from hunger, I am afraid, will not come before the boundaries between nations have become less divisive than they are today. I do not believe that space flight will accomplish this miracle over night. However, the space program is certainly among the most promising and powerful agents working in this direction.

Let me only remind you of the recent near-tragedy of Apollo 13. When the time of the crucial reentry of the astronauts approached, the Soviet Union discontinued all Russian radio transmissions in the frequency bands used by the Apollo Project in order to avoid any possible interference, and Russian ships stationed themselves in the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans in case an emergency rescue would become necessary. Had the astronaut capsule touched down near a Russian ship, the Russians would undoubtedly have expended as much care and effort in their rescue as if Russian cosmonauts had returned from a space trip. If Russian space travelers should ever be in a similar emergency situation, Americans would do the same without any doubt.

Higher food production through survey and assessment from orbit, and better food distribution through improved international relations, are only two examples of how profoundly the space program will impact life on earth. I would like to quote two other examples: stimulation of technological development, and generation of scientific knowledge.

The requirements for high precision and for extreme reliability which must be imposed upon the components of a moon-travelling spacecraft are entirely unprecedented in the history of engineering. The development of systems which meet these severe requirements has provided us a unique opportunity to find new material and methods, to invent better technical systems, to improve manufacturing procedures, to lengthen the lifetimes of instruments, and even to discover new laws of nature.

All this newly acquired technical knowledge is also available for application to earth-bound technologies. Every year, about a thousand technical innovations generated in the space program find their ways into our earthly technology where they lead to better kitchen appliances and farm equipment, better sewing machines and radios, better ships and airplanes, better weather forecasting and storm warning, better communications, better medical instruments, better utensils and tools for everyday life. Presumably, you will ask now why we must develop first a life support system for our moon-travelling astronauts, before we can build a remote-reading sensor system for heart patients.

The answer is simple: significant progress in the solutions of technical problems is frequently made not by a direct approach, but by first setting a goal of high challenge which offers a strong motivation for innovative work, which fires the imagination and spurs men to expend their best efforts, and which acts as a catalyst by including chains of other reactions.

Spaceflight without any doubt is playing exactly this role. The voyage to Mars will certainly not be a direct source of food for the hungry. However, it will lead to so many new technologies and capabilities that the spin-offs from this project alone will be worth many times the cost of its implementation.

Besides the need for new technologies, there is a continuing great need for new basic knowledge in the sciences if we wish to improve the conditions of human life on earth.

We need more knowledge in physics and chemistry, in biology and physiology, and very particularly in medicine to cope with all these problems which threaten man's life: hunger, disease, contamination of food and water, pollution of the environment.

We need more young men and women who choose science as a career and we need better support for those scientists who have the talent and the determination to engage in fruitful research work. Challenging research objectives must be available, and sufficient support for research projects must be provided. Again, the space program with its wonderful opportunities to engage in truly magnificent research studies of moons and planets, of physics and astronomy, of biology and medicine is an almost ideal catalyst which induces the reaction between the motivation for scientific work, opportunities to observe exciting phenomena of nature, and material support needed to carry out the research effort.

Among all the activities which are directed, controlled, and funded by the American government, the space program is certainly the most visible and probably the most debated activity, although it consumes only 1.6 percent of the total national budget, and 3 per mille [less than one-third of 1 percent] of the gross national product. As a stimulant and catalyst for the development of new technologies, and for research in the basic sciences, it is unparalleled by any other activity. In this respect, we may even say that the space program is taking over a function which for three or four thousand years has been the sad prerogative of wars.

How much human suffering can be avoided if nations, instead of competing with their bomb-dropping fleets of airplanes and rockets, compete with their moon-travelling space ships! This competition is full of promise for brilliant victories, but it leaves no room for the bitter fate of the vanquished, which breeds nothing but revenge and new wars.

Although our space program seems to lead us away from our earth and out toward the moon, the sun, the planets, and the stars, I believe that none of these celestial objects will find as much attention and study by space scientists as our earth. It will become a better earth, not only because of all the new technological and scientific knowledge which we will apply to the betterment of life, but also because we are developing a far deeper appreciation of our earth, of life, and of man.

Earthrise from the Apollo 8 mission

Image credit: NASA / Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders.

The photograph which I enclose with this letter shows a view of our earth as seen from Apollo 8 when it orbited the moon at Christmas, 1968. Of all the many wonderful results of the space program so far, this picture may be the most important one. It opened our eyes to the fact that our earth is a beautiful and most precious island in an unlimited void, and that there is no other place for us to live but the thin surface layer of our planet, bordered by the bleak nothingness of space. Never before did so many people recognize how limited our earth really is, and how perilous it would be to tamper with its ecological balance. Ever since this picture was first published, voices have become louder and louder warning of the grave problems that confront man in our times: pollution, hunger, poverty, urban living, food production, water control, overpopulation. It is certainly not by accident that we begin to see the tremendous tasks waiting for us at a time when the young space age has provided us the first good look at our own planet.

Very fortunately though, the space age not only holds out a mirror in which we can see ourselves, it also provides us with the technologies, the challenge, the motivation, and even with the optimism to attack these tasks with confidence. What we learn in our space program, I believe, is fully supporting what Albert Schweitzer had in mind when he said: "I am looking at the future with concern, but with good hope."

My very best wishes will always be with you, and with your children.

Ernst Stuhlinger (L), with Wernher Von Braun.

Image credit: Walter Sanders / Time Life Pictures, of Stuhlinger with Von Braun.

The response from Sister Mary Jucunda?

Thank you - from now on, I firmly believe in the profound value of the space program.

I like to think that everyone in the world would share Stuhlinger's vision, and shares that same commitment to not just invest in the Earth's short-term future, but in our long term prosperity. Stuhlinger dreamed of a manned mission to Mars as early as 1958, and advocated for increased investment in science and exploration throughout his entire life. He passed away, at the age of 94, back in 2008, as one of the last surviving members of Operation Paperclip.

With all the suffering in the world, why invest in science? So that future generations never know, firsthand, of the sufferings that afflict us today.

* -- For what it's worth, I did get one detail wrong: NASA's budget today (as of 2011 data) is 0.52% of the national budget, which means that in 1970 it was just over three times larger than it is today; not eight times.


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Great post, as always, Ethan.

By Brian Shiro (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

To the question "why not feed the hungry kids instead" I ask "why doesn't their government feed them?" Relief operations have great value in times of natural catastrophes such as drought, eathrquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods, and so on but when the primary problem is due to humans causing the catastrophe then aid alone will not do. There are many societal problems which the global population in general is not addressing adequately, and until we do develop some programs to deal with these problems effectively we will always have large numbers of people starving and dying and numerous refugees.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

Ethan, you headed a post last year with AIR's "Talisman".

Reading this post, I had "New Star in the Sky" as the backing track in my mind's ear.

By Caleb Fennell (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

That was a nice letter to convince a simple soul, but science does good and it does bad, it is not like a religion where it is all good. Apollo has also given us long range nuclear missiles, chemistry has given us tons of pollution, it cuts in both ways, science is as often the cause as it is the cure, also in the case of povery. Going to Mars is only about the fun of exploration, basic curiosity.

Oh get lost you vapid troll.

Well Chell, you might think Science is not your thing, but clearly History isn't easier. Long range nuclear missiles have never deliberately killed anybody, but in a single good year violence inspired by religious belief has killed more people than science managed with the only two two atom bombs used against people. If the efforts humanity has expended down the millenia in grovelling before their gods had been used to help others, and the intellectual efforts devoted to trying to reconcile the early Iron Age morality of a Bible story with the concept of an all loving God had been devoted to actually try to understanding the workings of the world we live in, then Humanity might have progressed a bit more.

> "Oh get lost you vapid troll."

I just thought it was funny how Ethan used the same fairy-tail answer for the 'dumb-blond' female journalist, as the other guy used for that 'gold-digger' non. There is something about girls and how easy they can be brainwashed by starting a story with: "There was a Count ... "

You don't think, troll. You troll.

"You don’t think ..."

You are right.

Have fun!

This is an incredible article Mr. Siegel! Thank you for sharing the letter of Ernst Stuhlinger; I will be sharing that on my blog as well.

Good letter! Thanks for posting it in its entirety.


That was a nice letter to convince a simple soul, but science does good and it does bad, it is not like a religion where it is all good.

I'm so amazed someone would say this that I have to ask: do you really believe religion is all good, or were you just speaking rhetorically?

science is as often the cause as it is the cure, also in the case of povery.

If that were true - if it were causing as many problems as it solved - then the average lifespan would not have improved over time. The infant death rate would note be going down, kids would just be dying from different things.

Lifespans have increased and infant mortality has decreased. People may be dying from new problems, but its pretty uncontrovertible to say that they are dying in less (per capita) numbers than they were from the old problems.

The thing is that people always want an instant solution to whatever problem raised.
You can put any problem to them and they start to shout without even knowing anything.
However people don´t have have a broad view. They tend to see narrow mindedly.
But duh.
I´m going to wait for amazing things to come.
Whatever they might be.

Damn you Ethan that letter put a lump in my throat.

I was born a year after sputnik was launched. Like all boys in the 60's I wanted to be an astronaut, I watched Armstrong live from the Aussie bush, saw a bunch of Hippies abolish the draft and shut down a war, etc,etc. I also recall the last of the Chinese famines which occurred around the same time as the letter.

The picture of course is famous, it kicked off the modern green movement. Even as a child it had an impact way beyond a plastic globe in geography class. By the time I reached HS I had figured out I was an astronaut, unfortunately stuck on a ship that cannot change it's current trajectory without killing everyone on-board. Besides, Elton John made the job of astronaut sound a lot less appealing.

Troll food:
You have a point. I also recall the other technological race the super powers were running that was intimately tied to space flight in the form of ICBM's.

However your point is rendered moot by the fact that science has given my grandchildren double the life expectancy of my grandparents.

This argument is called a false dichotomy. A non argument. There is literally zero reasons we can't do both. That's it. That's the end of the discussion.


I was just making the comparison that people pray to God for good things to happen, in that sense God is all about good things that will happen. Here in this letter there is a similar presumption that Science will do nothing but good, that it is always about a noble cause, while in practice it is mostly an occupation that is driven by wanting to know, being the first, getting a patent and making money, doing good doesn't always comes in to the picture.

Yes medicine tries to look for cures, but nuclear science has given us the bomb, but nuclear research just keep on steaming forward with harder faster and bigger, and it's not just for the good of mankind but pure curiosity, there is an unstoppable drive, you could look at the benefits of a power plant and electricity, but around the corner there is always that immense destructive force. There's a darks side to science that we like to ignore, forget and prefer not to talk about especially in the field of high-energy particle collisions what is there still to discover, what energy release is there still to unveil, and what effects would such a new thing have?

And I agree that thanks to science our lifespan has increased and it has brought us a lot of luxury, and there is still a lot of great improvement going on. But the industry that comes along with the science, has put a lot of pressure on some regions in the world, where people strive for ownership over commodities, many wars have been fought. There's also a big part of the Rainforest that's being chopped to grow gene-manipulated soya, science has caused overfishing, drugs addictions, enormous pollution … Also look at satellites and the army that is spying upon us. I know that I sound like a paranoid troll, but some science is a cold ruthless business with no compassion for the little people.

I don't want stigmatise 'Science', I just wanted to point out that Ethan's fairy-tail is only one side of the coin, and if you want to educate people than I find that you have to tell them like it is.

So I'm all for flying to the Moon and to Mars and other exotic far away places, and there should be much more money to sponsor these endeavors, but that doesn't mean that all of science is divine and will heal the suffering in the word, in a way the the tittle of this blog-post is very hypocritical.

The mars rover cost two billion dollars while the Olympics this year cost over fifteen, not to mention all the money and equipment given by sponsors. The only thing that they really benefit is tourism in the hosting city. I think the world spends its money foolishly on many things and the space program is one of the least. Not many Olympics in Africa to say the least

Great post ethan, as always :) And the letter is a great addition.

While I can show empathy to the sister's letter, and also share the view of the NASA's director, the other side of the coin is that she should have sent it to Vatican also. Why not sell couple of the chandaliers or crosses and staffs inlaid with diamonds and other precious stones i.e.? Of course, this is a rhetorical question. We all know the answer.

If more reach people would follow the examples of Bill Gates and others and give more to humanitarian causes, the world would be a better place and nuns wouldn't have to write to nasa for funding.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink

I'm assuming the story about the count and the scientist is based in fact. What were their names?

By KSWarzala (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink


"I just wanted to point out that Ethan’s fairy-tail is only one side of the coin, and if you want to educate people than I find that you have to tell them like it is."

Perhaps you think that this kind of statement makes you evenhanded and fair, but to me this communicates false equivalence and lack of understanding of what science is.

Science is not a result or a product, but a methodology. You say that science brought us thermonuclear weaponry, but it didn't. Claiming that "science" gave us the bomb is no different from claiming that language brought us the bomb. Language is just a means to communicate meaning, and science is just a means to discover facts. Science (when applied properly) weeds out spurious correlations, personal biases, and imagined phenomena. It separates out true causal relationships and real factual events from the background noise. This is ALL it does. Blaming science for the invention of thermonuclear weapons is no different from blaming language when someone cusses you out. Language didn't cuss you out and science didn't invent the bomb - in both cases it was human intent, operating through the tools that humans have created, that brought about the (allegedly) undesirable result.

"But the industry that comes along with the science, has put a lot of pressure on some regions in the world, where people strive for ownership over commodities, many wars have been fought."

The problems you cite here are sociopolitical ones that have zip to do with science. People were fighting wars over resources long before the scientific method was devised and long before the industrial revolution. Clear-cutting rainforest was happening long before any soy genes were manipulated. In fact, all of the issues that concern you so much are sociopolitical ones with antecedents far back in history. If we could go back in time and somehow wipe out the invention of the scientific method, about the only issue you name that would not still exist is the satellite peeping into your back yard. Instead it would be your neighbors.

Maybe you think of yourself as a science skeptic, but the essence of skepticism is a willingness to be proven wrong. You have not demonstrated any such willingness. Your distrust of scientific discoveries and the scientific process seems to be entirely knee-jerk and no amount of reasoning with you or presentation of evidence will ever change your mind. Please stop presenting yourself as a voice of rationality in the wilderness - you are not one.

" it is not like a religion where it is all good"

Gotta be a Poe.

By William George (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink

"The problems you cite here are sociopolitical ones that have zip to do with science."

ok, so when we land on the Moon it is all about science, but building a long range nuclear missile has got 'zip to do with science'. Let's say building a machine that destroys our planet is a interesting scientific achievement, only pushing the button is a 'sociopolitica'l issue, what are you, the Joker?

@Ethan: Very nice post and letter. I just had this same argument put on me when i simply said, "You hear the mars landing was a success?"

@ skeith: You gave the exact argument I was preparing to give.

Chelle just likes to stir the pot. ( don't get so worked up WOW, your way too smart to play into his hand so easily.)

He just starts typing and never stops to reflect on what he has just said. Its simply a vomitious discharge of poorly constructed 'half-thoughts' and 'semi-ideas, spewing forth at a velocity so great it renders the use of logic impossible.

Chelle (If your objective is to troll, disregard the following statement, b/c your doing a great job if thats the case; If your not here simply to troll then continue reading), after you type your next mindless comment, pause before you click "submit comment", take a 15 min break from your computer, come back, re-read what you just wrote, and think about it for another 15 mins, then try writing it again with a little more care and a splash of reason. It will do wonders for you in your real life as well as the reception of your comments on this blog. Perhaps then you wont have to defend your 1st comment with 15 other ones. Inevitibly you end up digging yourself a pretty deep hole of stooh-pidity.

Poe: A person who writes a parody of a Fundamentalist that is mistaken for the real thing. Due to Poe's Law, it is almost impossible to tell if a person is a Poe unless they admit to it.

"The Bible is true because it's the inerrant word of God! I know because the Bible says so! Glory!"

"Is this guy serious? He's got to be a poe."


"Chelle ... just starts typing and never stops to reflect ... "

Why should I reflect when it is all clearly in front of me, or are you the same type of person like 'DavidL' who comes up with an argument: "Long range nuclear missiles have never deliberately killed anybody ...", do you also need to see the axiom proven first e.g. the button being 'deliberately' pushed and blast enforcing the 'kill', so you can scientifically reflect on wtf just happened? I certainly don't, or am I the only crazy psychic here? Such type of arguments makes me wonder if it isn't just me, a normal person, who has jumped into a pool of trolls, that refuse to reflect upon what some parts of science have done in the past, and keeps on doing, building machines to create havoc. Look at Wernher von Braun a Nazi demon designing V-2 rockets to spread terror on London, and a few years later a bright scientist genius that helps to put the first man on the Moon. And it is you 'crd2' that tells me that I 'never stop to reflect', perhaps it is time for you to start stopping, and reflect here for a moment, to understand my logic.

Nope, that was knee-jerk again.

I wonder if this thread was designed to get chelle the antiscientist buffoon out of the undergrowth, so we can see all her spotted plumage.

Note: why 'him'? Women can be just as dumb, ignorant and ill bred as men.

The Poe is something on the listener side. It can't be deliberate, because that's trolling. It has to be someone who genuinely thought they were parodying some group or position, but someone (who is the one who has been poed) took it seriously.

To be a genuine poe, the OP has to say in a suprised voive something on the lines of "hey, I didn't mean it seriously, guys!". But if someone says "I just poed you", they're backtracking from their genuine position. For obvious reasons, this pretty much never happens on blogs, but can in real conversations face-to-face or long-term identifiable blogging.

@ KSWarzala

I tried searching the net but couldn't really find it.

The lenses have been known for hundreds of years before the time of the story. During the period of story (400 years ago).. so roughly 16th century, there have been many people who "played" with lenses.

As far as I know the first person (maybe not THE first, but amongst them) to propose using lenses to see small things was Rodger Bacon in 13th century, and yes he was also an alchemist ;) But in the 16th century there was (according to wiki) Dutch spectacle-makers Hans Janssen and his son Zacharias Janssen are often said to have invented the first compound microscope in 1590. But they were Dutch and not German. And shortly after them came of course Galileo and the Medici counts of Italy. I don't think that the NASA director mixed Italians and Germans, but maybe he did.

Maybe Ethan knows who the person in question was. But like I said, during that time both in Italy in western europe, people were experimenting with lenses and their practical applications. Really hard to say who was first. Galileo is sure the most famous one. After all there isn't much difference between a telescope and microscope, other than focal lenght.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink

"ok, so when we land on the Moon it is all about science, but building a long range nuclear missile has got ‘zip to do with science’."

Landing on the Moon utilized scientific methods (and could not have been done without them) but it was done for sociopolitical reasons. We landed on the Moon because we wanted to beat the Soviets (and everyone else) there, because we wanted to give the American people a boost of morale and pride, and because we discovered that the process of going to the Moon created a lot of excellent by-products which have made all of our lives better. Going to the Moon was, among other things, a proof of concept - yes, if necessary we can get off this planet and go somewhere else. But humans did not go to the Moon because "science" somehow forced us to do it. We did it because Kennedy made it an American goal, and then he was assassinated which turned his goal into a sort of secular crusade.

Clear-cutting rainforest doesn't even require scientific advances, and neither does war. Both have been engaged since time immemorial. Your insistence that science is to blame for these things demonstrates only your own bias and has nothing to do with "educating" people about the "other side." The other side is all in your head.

Science is value-neutral. Try to absorb that concept.

As above, it's a false dichotomy.

Indeed, starvation does not happen on this planet today because of an absolute lack of food or resources. It happens because of politics, trivially. Look at any country affected by famine and you'll see the same problem; instability, corruption and war consume all surplus production leaving nothing for when natural disaster strikes. If we canceled the entire science budget and diverted it into aid, it would be unlikely to change much; most likely much of it would end up in swiss bank accounts.

Meanwhile, military budgets exceed science budgets by orders of magnitude, of course.

I would even go further; it can be suggested that giving aid to countries whilst turning a blind eye to the politics that leads to the requirement for aid actually makes things worse. After all, if you absolve the ruling elite of a country from the requirement to feed their populations and provide basic amenities such as water and housing, you remove even the most basic check on their behavior. A European medieval baron may not have respected human rights very well, but did at least have to keep the peasants alive and productive or he had no income. Thanks in part to aid agencies, a third world warlord has no wider responsibilities at all. Of course, the fact the banking system also allows said warlord to avoid having to invest in his own country makes things worse.

Here endeth the rant..

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink

> "Science is value-neutral. Try to absorb that concept."

Agh, cut the crap, here is an older post from Ethan on the same subject : http://startswithabang.com/?p=1574

The people (scientists) that work on scientific & military enterprises are both the same, doing their job and wanting to be first, and many don't give a rats ass about ethics or ending the 'Suffering in the World'. After Apollo they started to work on weapons such as Cruise Missiles and B-2 Stealth Bombers. These people do NOT care, not now, not yesterday, never, they only care about themselves and there own project and tribe.

'skeith', you are here only trying to BS your way out of it, being a coward about taking up moral responsibility, it is the same argument that "guns don't kill people, people kill people". Fine to all of you, but don't be hypocritical about it and end a topic with saying:

"With all the suffering in the world, why invest in science? So that future generations never know, firsthand, of the sufferings that afflict us today."


Yes, people are good and bad but SCIENCE is neutral! There is a difference between scientific progress, science as a discipline and people who use it. It's a tool, nothing more. How it's used is up to people. You choose to compare it with guns, how creative of you. Why not compare it with penicillin? If you abuse it, you will die, but use it properly and it will save millions of lives.

Chelle, can you name me a single thing that hasn't been abused by someone in our history?? You say belief in God?! HAHA! Don't make me laugh!!! More man have been slain "in the name of god" than V2 rockets ever did. I say there isn't a single thing we haven't abused in morally wrong way, in our history. So by your analogy, everything is bad.

It's not! There is a ton of good for a ton of evil. If you still can't accept that there are bad people in the world and blame science for it... ok, you're at that stage of comprehension. For every good we do, we do 10 bad things. It's how we are as a species. Like it or hate, u can't change it. Many more will die and many more attrocities will we commit during our evolution. It's a price we pay for not being more aware. But science as a discipline has been IMHO one of the greatest achievements we discovered. And the benefits to humanity far far outweigh the bad things it was used for.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 09 Aug 2012 #permalink

My favorite excuse for the “neutrality” of “science” is the same as that for protecting one’s right to shoot other people. Scientific Method doesn’t kill people, people kill people. Method is applied by people and people are motivated by who knows what. See, that works with guns. Lenin taught us that machines are a beneficent neutrality. The railroad offers another lesson (see Thoreau on the “sleepers” in chapter 2 of Walden–paragraph 17 ), as does the automobile (see Tarkington, and Welles, depicting the alteration of life in The Magnificent Ambersons), as does the drone (that hovering, spying, moral neutrality of murderousness).

Now, “proof” or evidence or determinative causation does seem a valuable way to think about things so I’m not arguing that applying a particular method to your madness is wrong. I’m simply saying that madness applies the method. And I am determined always to focus on that madness as our reality and that method as our “beneficent” illusion.


"Yes, people are good and bad but SCIENCE is neutral!"

Let me help you here with understanding what 'Neutral' means:
1. not helping or supporting either of two opposing sides, esp. countries at war
2. having no strongly marked or positive characteristics or features
3. an impartial and uninvolved country or person
Science is NOT neutral because it is the act of doing something that can have a negative or a positive consequence.
Let me bring up some more history, and add a quote from Robert Oppenheimer in regards to building the H-bomb:

"The program in 1951 was technically so sweet that you could not argue about that. The issues became purely the military, the political and the humane problems of what you were going to do about it once you had it."

He as a sensible scientist stayed 'Neutral' and didn't want to build it, because he knew the consequences.

The H-bomb was build anyhow by some other scientist who couldn't resist making it, he wanted to make a name for himself, continue the rat-race. Just like how we currently crank up the LHC and generate high-energy particle collisions with a frequency & density that is 10^9 higher than in nature, and 100 000 times hotter than the heart of the Sun. Are we doing this to solve all the Suffering in the world, nope; are we considering the consequences of what might happen when an energetic chain-reaction would be induced, nope; so why are we doing it, there is only one answer, it is the egoistic ambition of a few scientists along with the same curiosity that killed the cat.

"Science is NOT neutral because it is the act of doing something that can have a negative or a positive consequence."


You might as well whine that breathing is not neutral because it allows you to exist long enough to do bad things.

I think we know now where chelle gets her idiotic antiscience brain from.

Fundie religiosity.

> "I think we know now …"

Yes, you know.

Have fun!


Still you don't understand the difference between a field and and people.

sci·ence [sahy-uhns]
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation...

As such it's neither good or bad since it's knowledge. How one applies it is a totaly different matter. A not so subtle point you can't seem to grasp.

Yes, atomic bomb is BAD, it was never suppose to have been made in the first place. No one is saying otherwise!! To counter that you have computers, internet, medicine and other things which are a direct result of our study of atom and it's structure. Good and bad. Both. Why can't you understand that??

Want to live without all that.. fine, that's great. Who's stopping you? Throw away your comp., cell phones car and all else. Sell your house cause science made it, also the clothes, that too was cause of scientific progress, and go live in the nature with nothing but cave tools. Why don't you?

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 09 Aug 2012 #permalink

> "Science ... Good and bad. Both. Why can’t you understand that??"

Read my first comment in this thread (August 8, 12:16 am):
"... science does good and it does bad"

Well, I just cried a little bit ;( Awesome post, Ethan.

Don't misquote me Chelle!

Not science! People! people make good and bad things with the knowledge. But knowledge is neither good nor bad! Science doesn't do bad. People do!

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 09 Aug 2012 #permalink


"The people (scientists) that work on scientific & military enterprises are both the same, doing their job and wanting to be first, and many don’t give a rats ass about ethics or ending the ‘Suffering in the World’."

Upon what evidence do you base this assertion? I assume that you have some kind of study, some numbers, or at a minimum some personal experience with a large number of scientists which allows you to state this with a reasonable expectation of accuracy.

I await a link to the study upon which you are basing this, or if it is research original to you I will accept the data and methodology you used to reach this conclusion.

I ask for this because at the moment I have formed a hypothesis about you, namely that you have formulated your beliefs about scientists from watching movies and other forms of media. I base this hypothesis upon your apparent belief that every issue has two (and only two) sides and that both are always of equal value, your unsolicited reference to the Joker, and your persistence in slotting scientists into a small number of movie-friendly archetypes. However, I am willing to be proven wrong, so please present your sources to do so.

Chelle's view is not informed by anything other than her temper tantrum at science having no truck ill-thought flannel pretending to be science.

Maybe her "ground breaking" paper on a hurricane universe isn't getting anywhere. Must be those soulless bastards, the scientists...

> "Upon what evidence do you base this assertion?

You could have followed one link Ethan gave:

And von Braun's associates included:

Arthur Rudolph, chief operations director at Nordhausen, where 20,000 slave labourers died producing V-2 missiles. Led the team which built the Saturn V rocket. Described as "100 per cent Nazi, dangerous type".
Kurt Debus, rocket launch specialist, another SS officer. His report stated: "He should be interned as a menace to the security of the Allied Forces."
Hubertus Strughold, later called "the father of space medicine", designed Nasa's on-board life-support systems. Some of his subordinates conducted human "experiments" at Dachau and Auschwitz, where inmates were frozen and put into low-pressure chambers, often dying in the process.

All of these men were cleared to work for the US, their alleged crimes covered up and their backgrounds bleached by a military which saw winning the Cold War, and not upholding justice, as its first priority.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4443934.stm

Times may change but people hardly change, just switch on the news, many people only think about themselves and keeping their own job, you do it, I do it, we all do it ... competition.

Perhaps you could also ask Sinisa for a study about good and bad people.

I don't think it is so that people have the intention to do good or bad, its just that we all flow into projects/jobs that turn out to have some concequences that turn out to be possitive or negative for others, but because the possition provides an income to support our families we don't like to jeopardize the job and be to critical about the concequences and we prefer to just keep on going, go along with the herd.

btw if one of the herd wants to go into an other direction, he or she gets to be kicked (back) around by idiots like 'Wow' so we all continue following the path to 'success'. These people don't have a clue what they are doing, they just like to be in charge. A normal shepherd knows the way, but for science no one knows what dangers lie ahead of us.

I used to work with a "Chelle" - he made the same statements about scientists being lacking in ethics and having questionable motives.
He also believed in crystal healing, fairies, the Mayan calendar, etc, etc, etc.
I eventually figured out where he got his science-hatred from: Rudolf Steiner. Steiner schools actually teach children that science is bad and stuff you just make up is much better.

Chelle sounds like a Steiner victim.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 09 Aug 2012 #permalink

Anyway, back to the starving children: personal responsibility. If people lack the resources or the industry and motivation to care properly for themselves, they are being absolutely reprehensible in inflicting their poverty on children.
What they need isn't food handouts, but contraception and good kick up the arse.
Children have been starving in Africa ever since I was old enough to read the newspaper. Nothing the charities have done in the time since then has changed that fact, so I don't see the point of donating to charities that have proven they are unable to solve the problem.
Yes, it's sad they are starving, but, no, it's not my responsibility, which means I don't want to see my tax dollars wasted.
Remember Sun Tzu: reinforce strength. Science is our strength. African famines are a lost cause.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 09 Aug 2012 #permalink

Science is not a disembodied force or person [maybe chelle is used to thinking this way about life-- everything has a spirit--animism-- or something]. It is method. Just like carving can produce a bowl or a spear. It is up to the carver. The method called "science'can be USED to make a wide variety of things. These things can then be used to hurt or help. "chell"sems to have a reading comprehension problem or some type of bias to not be able to "get" what so many have explained so well that a five year-old could understand it. Too bad.

My apologies for the terrible editing above.

I like how Chelle tries to spin it like we just stumbled onto some plans for the LHC, had 0 knowledge of physics, built it & then flipped it on with absolutely no clue what would happen and just hoped for the best. That's not how science works, perhaps in the universe you live in, but not in this one. In fact, it seems as though you feel this is how all science is done. Maybe in the beginning it was like that when our knowledge base was extremely limited, but not these days.

IMHO, we know (or could figure it out if we wanted/had to) what we could do to help starving African nations, or any nation for that matter, its just no country is willing to bare the political & financial burden without some form of kick-back. Besides, once you go in and remove the regime that is the major contributor to the problem(s) there is no guarantee that another group wont step right in. Big investment and high risk for little or no gain. Not trying to sound harsh but this is how countries and their governments look at these situations. I don't necessarily agree with that view. Its not pretty, its just the world we live in.

"I like how Chelle tries to spin it like we just stumbled onto some plans for the LHC, had 0 knowledge of physics, built it & then flipped it on with absolutely no clue what would happen and just hoped for the best. "

How did you get that idea, it is the other way around, a slow process of always cranking up the energy. We are just like those frogs that comfortably stay in water that is continuously being heated until the point that the water starts to boil and they die. Try to put them straight in boiling water and they immediately jump out. This is our issue, scientists are in the comfort-zone, numbed out, while the frequency & density  level is now a billion times higher than cosmic rays in nature, and nobody moves, except this froggy, and it won't let itself be soothed by them 'wise' old groggy froggies that are already long time in this boiling pot, and who laugh with a big smile all the warnings away.  

I know my history, and I know that nuclear science can take it one step too far, causing immense suffering rather than solving it. We build everywhere around the world holocaust museums not to forget the brutality, but at the same time we also build nuclear missiles and temples, a strange situation where it is 'only the people' who can be vicious, not the 'science' we can produce, no sir, it is neutral; a gun is a gun, matches and sparks are what they are, and a scientifically ignited forest fire is what it is, neutral.

Buffoon, there are a lot more scienists working today than Braun's mates number.

'Most" you said.

Maybe you don't understand what the word most means.

PS, Vinny put a sock in it. You're clueless about poverty, just want to blame others so you can keep on doing what you like.


> "Science is not a disembodied force ... "

Doing scientific tests on frogs isn't that an application of force?

> "Buffoon"

'That, of course, is the great secret of the successful fool - that he is no fool at all.'

Isaac Asimov


".. namely that you have formulated your beliefs about scientists from watching movies and other forms of media..."

I think you may be right. The frog thing is straight out of Dante's Peak. Plot summary: the hero just "knows" the volcano is going to blow and wipe out the town, but his heartless boss wants scientific evidence first, and anyway, insists evacuating now will ruin a massive investment deal.


You name 3 people. There are millions of scientists. Three out of millions hardly justifies your label of "many." It definitely doesn't justify your sweeping statement that all scientists are "the same."

Josef Mengele was a medical doctor. By your reasoning, this means nobody should ever see a medical doctor because it is known that one of them was evil. I hope you take this lesson to heart and stay away from those scary doctors!

"many people only think about themselves and keeping their own job, you do it, I do it"

I'm willing to concede that you only think about yourself if that's what you wish to claim, but please refrain from speaking for me. I would not make the same claim.

"Perhaps you could also ask Sinisa for a study about good and bad people."

You're the one who made this claim, and you're the one who needs to back it up. If you can't back it up, then I will have to conclude that you have no evidence whatsoever and your statement was a total invention with no backing.

"I don’t think it is so that people have the intention to do good or bad, its just that we all flow into projects/jobs that turn out to have some concequences that turn out to be possitive or negative for others, but because the possition provides an income to support our families we don’t like to jeopardize the job and be to critical about the concequences and we prefer to just keep on going, go along with the herd."

Aside from being a run-on sentence, this is a very interesting statement about you. In the guise of "we," you tell me a great deal about yourself here.

So let me tell you something about myself: I am not like you. And I know a lot of people who are not like you. This next statement may be shocking to you, so be sure you're sitting down: some of them are scientists. In fact, none of the scientists in my acquaintance are like you.

You may feel like a herd animal, but I assure you that "we" are not like that, so don't assign your failings to everyone else.

However, I can now amend my hypothesis: not only do you gain your information about scientists by consuming the archetypes and stereotypes in popular media rather than by interacting with any actual scientists, you feel very trapped and insufficiently assertive and you assume that everyone is exactly the same as you.


I hope that your analyses at your work are better than your biased dissection of my words. I wrote:

"The people (scientists) that work on scientific & military enterprises are both the same, doing their job and wanting to be first, and many don’t give a rats ass about ethics or ending the ‘Suffering in the World’.”

A. This doesn't mean that all scientist are the same, but that the work they 'both' do is the same, be it developing a rocket to fly to the moon, or one to carry a nuclear bomb, making a biological weapon or a biological cure it is all scientific research and technology, the scientific method is what we both learned at school and it is 'the same'.

B. I said that many don't care about ending suffering, everyone has got enough problems of their own, so that doesn't necessarily includes you and your friends, but I presume that you and your friends do care about keeping your own job when push comes to shove.

C. In regards to references and examples for Ethics and how people behave, you might want to read this book by Michael J. Sandel: What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

btw if you would have read the link that I gave you, you would know that it weren't 3 but "700 others spirited out of Germany from under the noses of the US's allies". And once again I do not say that all of science is bad, I am here talking about some fields of science that produces hazardous machines, such as nuclear bombs and high-energy particle accelerators.

Chelle, the problem is that you, (someone who thinks religion is ALL good, and asks "Why should I reflect when it is all clearly in front of me?") think you are the one to define good and bad science. The German rocket scientists were bad people, but very good scientists. Their crime was not developing weapons, but their involvement with working tens of thousands of people to death in slave labour factories. Probably more people died making the V2s than were killed by using them.

And as for hazardous machines, motor cars kill around a million people a year, orders of magnitude more than all the worlds military put together. Do you drive?


Many of the people in car accidents got killed because someone drove too fast, and that is the same problem with the LHC, it has a frequency & density collision rate that is higher than cosmic rays in nature, it is simply too intense, to be safe. I hope you can now understand what the issue is.

What? People are driving inside the LHC?

Not really, it is a know scientific fact you can check it here:

Chelle, youtube videos are not a good source for scientific facts unless the expertise of the poster is known. Have you a scientific reference to confirm this fact? All I can find are comments that it is an urban myth based on a nineteenth century experiment that cannot be reproduced in the lab today.

PS did you find that video after you watched Dante's Peak?

Chelle, the issue seems to be that you , with apparently no scientific background at all, think know more about the reactions of fundamental particles than the thousands of scientists who have spent their careers studying them. Nothing in the world is "safe". Absolutely everything you do is at some small risk to yourself and others. Very few people have the knowledge to even make a guess at quantifying the risk involved with operating the LHC, and I doubt you are one of them.

You are right, and no I haven't seen Dante's Peak, I checked the wiki page and it says; "Al Gore used a version of the story in his presentations and the 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth to describe ignorance about global warming." I might have gotten it from there although I'm not sure, thanks for letting me know.

"Very few people have the knowledge to even make a guess at quantifying the risk involved with operating the LHC, and I doubt you are one of them."

You have the right to doubt me, as I have the right to doubt the 'experts'. The problem for me is that these collisions are judged as single events, while the whole frequency and density part is neglected. If these events would happen in a vacuum that is in fact empty than I would agree, but the vacuum is not empty, it is filled with Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Higgs Ether and this turns empty space into something like a liquid. If you do a splash now and then you'll never shake up anything seriously, but if you increase it at a rate that is 10^9 times higher that you could imho start to disrupt the processes in neighboring atoms, I would have appreciated that this type of disturbance was included in the safety report but it isn't. Now can you blame me for putting up some big questions regarding safety, a combustion process can be witnessed on a daily basis even in the motor of your car, but nobody considers this even when we are using the most intense ignition system in the Universe.


" but the vacuum is not empty, it is filled with Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Higgs Ether and this turns empty space into something like a liquid."

Please show how this is and how it affects LHC... oh great one! Not with some analogies but precise scientific and experimental data.

I think I finally know what's wrong with you... it even has a name:

but don't worry.. it's treatable.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 10 Aug 2012 #permalink

and even a dash of

"Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in misperception or rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others to restore consonance."

sounds a lot like you dude...

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 10 Aug 2012 #permalink


Thanks for the advice, but I'm fine. I do have a very imaginative mind, but for this I'm just looking at the facts. I see lots of sparks flying around, so I compare it to how a fire works, and on an atomic level and it is pretty simple; a far above normal heat vibration shakes the chemical bondings loose, setting off a chain-reaction. So my original question was simply if the same thing isn't possible at a sub-atomic level, with an Aether as vibration carrier, that transmits the vibes created by the collisions into the hearth of atoms breaking up their composure. This idea isn't too far fetched, so for me it would be no more than logic that it was addressed in the safety report, but they only talk about Mini Black Holes and Strangelets, stuff that is actually weird, a combustion process is very much more down to earth. If you think that it is not possible, cool, than I will accept your position, but you can't deny that my proposition is technically a perfect sane one. 

"you can’t deny that my proposition is technically a perfect sane one"

yes i can, and so do others here... it's not perfect, it's not sane and it's not technical (there are no sparks flying and there is no Eather carrying vibrations! It's all in your head!!!!). Like I said before... cognitive distortion with dissonance.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 10 Aug 2012 #permalink

> "there are no sparks flying and there is no Eather carrying vibrations! It’s all in your head!!!!"

Ok, fair, now let's do some simple fact-checking:

A. 'there are no sparks flying' - Well a spark is described as a small bright object or point, now what are those detectors build for, and what are the jets that flash out of these collisions? It are all kinds of particles (*sparks*).

B. 'there is no Aether' - Well there is since the 4th of july definite certainty that there is a Higgs field, and proof also starts to pour in for Dark Matter & Energy what Ethan describes as a 'liquid' and what interacts gravity wise, it isn't numb. Now we could argue about the name Aether, but the proof that there is something filling up empty space is there.

C. 'It’s all in your head!!!!' - Well yes those facts and the mechanism are all in my head, but you don't seem to be able to put them in to yours (grasp the idea), how come, the proof is there. I guess you'll just need some time to digest it.

I'm just at the point where I have accepted that people will always go out of their way to increase the pain and suffering of other people so whether or not the money gets spent for exploration and science there will always be that sort of thing going on. For example, when Curiosity was doing its thing look how many people couldn't look past their limited lives and were lining up to buy chicken sandwiches because they wanted to make sure that everyone knew that they felt that people they don't know couldn't marry the person they want. The dung ball that killed those people in Wisconsin wasn't a lone outlier, he was part of a movement. On the other hand, the police officers who responded and exchanged fire with him were incredible in their dedication to the public welfare, that's a job that a lot of us would never take. There's nothing that we can do about that stuff, but we can try to make the world better in other ways. People have mentioned medical research.
As for Chelle, is there any way that there can be something implemented to deal with this sort of thing? It seems like blogs are really far behind what we had in Usenet. In the old days, I'd just plonk him/her into a killfile, or if there was a thread I'd just set it to ignore the thread. I don't want to read the replies either but I wouldn't killfile those posters. We seem to be going backward in technology in this regard.

"As for Chelle, is there any way that there can be something implemented to deal with this sort of thing?

If Ethan doesn't like me commenting here any longer, than he can ask me to stop doing so, and I will respect his decision, it is his place. If you personally have an issue with what I have to say than you can address me, or ignore me, it is that simple. It is kind of lame to come here waving that I should be put in a 'killfile', while all I have been doing is defending my opinion, as did all the rest who stood up for their opinion.


"A. This doesn’t mean that all scientist are the same, but that the work they ‘both’ do is the same, be it developing a rocket to fly to the moon, or one to carry a nuclear bomb, making a biological weapon or a biological cure it is all scientific research and technology, the scientific method is what we both learned at school and it is ‘the same’."

Despite your extremely poor self-expression here, I think I might actually understand what you mean. Are you telling me that you finally grasp that science is a value-neutral methodology and not a nebulous quasi-sapient force that coerces scientists into doing bad things?

Even if this is what you are trying to express here, you are once again laying the responsibility for war on the doorstep of science. I am interested in your evidence for this. Please provide me with documentation that war was invented by the Hellenist Greeks and by the Chinese, that it died out totally in Europe during the Middle Ages and only came back around the time of the Renaissance, and that early cultures knew no war until the scientific method was introduced to them. I'm sure this will make for a fascinating literature review and I eagerly await a list of your sources.

"B. I said that many don’t care about ending suffering, everyone has got enough problems of their own, so that doesn’t necessarily includes you and your friends, but I presume that you and your friends do care about keeping your own job when push comes to shove."

I would honestly appreciate it if you would not presume anything about me or my friends and family. You've already demonstrated that you are ready at any moment to project your own personality problems onto everyone else in your view, and I'd appreciate it if you would refrain from doing so in my direction.

I'm not going to address C because I'm not interested in researching your position. Defending your position is your job, not mine.

"it weren’t 3 but “700 others spirited out of Germany from under the noses of the US’s allies”."

I know that it was more than 3. However, even if you can name all 700, this still doesn't prove anything for you. Because I am at heart a nice person, I will explain exactly why your broad extrapolations about science and scientists - while I'm sure they seem plausible to you - are meaningless fabrications.

The behavior and attitude that you routinely ascribe to "scientists" (and sometimes erroneously to "science") can be reasonably categorized as antisocial personality disorder, which is also known as sociopathy. The incidence of sociopathy in the general population is roughly ~2%, and for any sufficiently large randomized population you can expect about 2% of the number to be sociopaths.

For your assertions about scientists to be plausible or meaningful in any fashion, you would need to demonstrate that the incidence of sociopathy in the sciences is greater than the incidence of sociopathy in the general population by a statistically significant amount.

At last known count there were over 2 million pure scientists in the US and over 1 million additional engineers. This means that you can isolate and name up to 40,000 sociopathic scientists and 20,000 sociopathic engineers and you have =still proven nothing=. The only thing you've accomplished by all that data collection is to demonstrate that scientists and engineers are actually human beings and not robots or aliens.

Honestly, if 700 is the best you have, then science is looking pretty good right now.

This, incidentally, is why we say that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." This is exactly the kind of egg-on-face error that science is designed to help you avoid.

Chelle, the point is that everyone should be able to decide for themselves like we used to be able to do 15 years ago. I gave up on Pharyngula and Bad Astronomy years ago because someone would say something and way too many people would all start posting about how stupid that person was and why they hoped that it was a "Poe". It would have been nice to have been able to skip those threads, if they were able to be grouped in threads. It's not science and it's definitely not even close to interesting. Instead I just gave up on those blogs. I tried ignoring the comments for a while but sometimes there were people making valid points about the post in question, but most of the time it was the same drivel. It was easier to just drop those blogs. I'm hoping that it doesn't start here. It's also just amazing to me that the technology has gotten so far behind what it used to be. There aren't any blogs that arrange things into threads and allow you to do anything with the ones that you have no interest in so that you can see stuff that actually matters.


Yes, that makes a lot of sense.

Technology-wise, I like the selection system of a dutch technology blog, everyone can vote, and the best comments actually turn into green, also threads are slightly seperated by using indents. So when you pass by you can quickly check out what is interesting, and follow up. It is a pretty sufficiant method for a blog with sometimes over 200 comments, you can check it out here:


" you are once again laying the responsibility for war on the doorstep of science. I am interested in your evidence for this."

The invention of a new weapon thanks to science, gives you the tool and advantage to gain power over someone else. History is full of it, regarding this topic; having long range missiles gave the US the advantage, in response to the high precision of those rockets the USSR build the Tsar Bomb that was more brutal, we humans have always been in a race of bigger and better technology (science) to get the advantage, its evolution. Even in pseudo wars like sports, doping (science) has been used to gain power, and there you have your proof of how honest people are. One athlete starts doing it and win and next all the rest followed, people just want to win and keep up with the herd, fair play is in real life often an illusion, when money and power is involved, just like the LHC our ultimate weapon to gain knowledge; we simply avoid the safety aspect of frequency & density levels, cause we want to win. Wake up out of your idealistic dream world.

btw regarding our German Count don't you think he was interested in these optics simply to have a better view to see what his enemy was doing, not giving a rats ass about the stars in the sky, or to see some funny little germs, people who keep themselves busy with those things don't become a Count, it are those who engage in warfare.

I wonder if chelle somehow is leaning toward this thought pattern? http://www.psmag.com/politics/the-comforting-notion-of-an-all-powerful-… Or is chelle a fan of conspiracy theories? http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/belief-in-conspiracies-linked-to-m… Either way there is some type of distorted thinking going on that seems to have no cure in this context.

If you remember that the German count in the story above was the benefactor not the inventor attempting to see small things. Not everyone [every scientist] is out to hurt others, you know. This idea that everyone is out to hurt or manipulate others is a projection of Machiavellianism [mentioned in the articles above]. I would maybe do some introspection to see if you are not paranoid; thus skewing your perception of the nice explanations of what science is and is not that the scientists above have been attempting to make simple to you.

Mena, chelle isn' a Poe, she's our resident lunatic who now seems to have gone postal.

Chelle, I guess that your "revolutionary" new paper is in review, given you have so much more time to post here.


"Mena, chelle isn’ a Poe, she’s our resident lunatic who now seems to have gone postal."

Wow, don't you get it? Look at what you have been doing since I made my first post here, and you just keep on doing it; this is what he's addressing; it is not only about what I have to say, but perhaps even more your unstoppable urge to spew out gibberish about me. Try to keep your focus on ball (content), instead of whining about the player.

"someone would say something and way too many people would all start posting about how stupid that person was"

What you've been doing since your first post here has been whine and complain about how science is all wrong and now on this thread, about how all science is teh ebil.

Because you're our resident lunatic, as we found out a few months ago.

PS if Ethan has a problem with how I treat you, you lunatic, then he can say so. It's his blog, right?


I don't mind you calling me a 'lunatic', it is normal, I'm just way ahead of you, they say the same thing about Usain Bolt, but it doesn't add any value to the debate do try to focus on the science (content). Good luck!


I like how you avoid acknowledgement of the numbers I gave you, as though they didn't exist. Those were back-of-the-envelope calculations, too, which were extra-favorable to you. A serious study about sociopathy in the sciences would additionally have to account for the fact that the numbers of scientists and engineers in the US has almost certainly gone up since the last numbers were tallied, the fact that sociopathy is not evenly distributed by gender but occurs 3x more often in males than in females, that the sciences are still much more heavily weighted toward men than women today, and the fact that you can deviate somewhat from the expected percentages in your sample before you start to reach statistical significance (size of sample is a big factor there). All of those factors raise the number of sociopaths that you could find in the sciences before you could claim that you were onto something. The 40K and 20K numbers are in fact very lowball, and yet even that extremely low bar has shut you up completely.

"The invention of a new weapon thanks to science, gives you the tool and advantage to gain power over someone else. etc. etc."

This may perhaps be a good time for me to point out to you that your reflexive insistence that the invention of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons was a bad thing betrays your total lack of understanding of international relations and the recent (250~ year) history of the world. If you think that the world would have been absolutely better off if those types of weapons had never been invented, you don't know your history at all and/or you haven't thought very deeply about the matter.

It is not an accident that we "enjoyed" either 3 or 4 world wars (depending on how you define a world war) prior to the invention of Teh Bomb (tm) and zero since then. It is not an accident that the most devastating and bloody regional wars during the 20th and early 21st centuries have taken place either between two or more non-nuclear states/nations, or between a nuclear state and a non-nuclear state.

Not only is science not to blame for war, and your attempts to do so remain puffery and not fact, your puffery reasons for trying to blame science for war are not even knowledgeable and well-reasoned once. They proceed from a position of complete ignorance and non-thought.

And Chelle resorts to cribbing not only another person's thoughts, but also their words.

Do you have ANYTHING original in your head? Anything? Any thoughts original to you? Or are wafty platitudes, gut feelings absent facts, and arguments from ignorance all you got?

" I gave up on Pharyngula and Bad Astronomy years ago because someone would say something and way too many people would all start posting about how stupid that person was and why they hoped that it was a “Poe”."

Yep, that's happening here now thanks to Wow's childish name calling.
Wow, if you have answered the points you disagree with and the response is not to your liking, then you are just being a troll by writing messages containing name calling and nothing else.

By fred flint (not verified) on 11 Aug 2012 #permalink

Boo hoo, flint.

You don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Wow, chelle demanding that ANYONE ELSE has to stick to the science.

Hits a 100 out of 10 on the irony scale.


You present a whole assertion about 'sociopaths' in science, you are missing the point. All those people that worked on nuclear weapons aren't sociopaths, THAT is the point, it are all just regular normal people caught in a race. Just like those German scientists; first they worked for the Nazi's, than for the Americans, they are all regular guys focused on creating something powerful, so they are first, so they are in charge, so they win the war, they participate. It's the same case for the LHC and high-energy particle collisions, the race is on, and it are the same type of very smart and sane people who are taking care of business, historic recurrence ... a mad man hasn't go the means (network) to make such things.

It is clear that Lise Meitner saw this through and didn't want to participate, she saw that it was all about scientists creating destruction and death. I thought that you would have understood and accepted it now by reading those quotes from other people who have far more scientific credibility than I do. I have been saying the exact same things here with my own original words, but I get to be told that I am no smarter than a five-year-old. What do you want me to do, if you and others are not listening to me, nor to the ones with all the credentials? Are you going to keep on saying that scientists are not to blame, while it was in fact them who came up with the idea, cause they were in competition with other scientists, so they chose to make it, and had it dropped on a bunch of innocent people, and they kept quit that the radiation caused leukemia.

Of course we didn't start the fire, but it have been the scientists who learned to control it, making TNT, and now up on to the level of a nuclear bomb, and what energy are you hoping to control with the largest ignition system in the Universe (LHC and beyond), perhaps setting of the biggest bonfire of them all?

btw Bon Scott had the biggest balls (content) ever, and guess what happened to him, yep, people die from overconfidence and pure stupidity, even the greatest ones.


"All those people that worked on nuclear weapons aren’t sociopaths, THAT is the point, it are all just regular normal people caught in a race."

I'm glad to see you admit that all your rants about science and scientists were just so many red herrings. Regular normal people doing regular normal people things are everywhere, even in the unthinking, knee-jerk corps where you live. Science has nothing to do with it either way.

Now we've finally drilled down to what your real issue is: you don't trust people, you don't trust the human intellect, and you don't think that people are in general morally good and professionally competent. Given what you've (somewhat inadvertently) stated about yourself - that you only care about you and that you are too cowardly to stand up for yourself - this is maybe understandable.

So I guess you're going to have to either take it on faith that not everyone is like you and has the same moral and personal failings that you do, or you'll just have to accept that you're going to live a life full of paranoid terror about the LHC. I have no stake in your decision so do whatever makes you happiest.

However, it would be best for all involved if you would stop trying to present your paranoid terror as "the other side" that "needs to be heard." It doesn't need to be heard because your "side" is fact-free, evidence-free, rationality-free and paranoid, and you have not yet provided me with any reason to discard my hypothesis that your "side" is heavily informed by movie pseudoscience. Nobody "needs" to hear that kind of nonsense.

Indeed, most of the worst acts are done by people believing that a sky fairy told them.

An example of religion "which is all good":

Genesis 38:7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.

"It doesn’t need to be heard because your “side” is fact-free"

Sure, there are no explosions to be seen in space.


"Sure, there are no explosions to be seen in space."

Your point with this is ...?


I thought that trolls like you only existed in the movies :mrgreen:

"Your point with this is …?"

... that you can only see them in the movies.


One of the major problems with the Abrahamic religions and several others is the total reliance on authority. In these religions, X is true because God (allegedly) said so, and Y is true because a revered holy leader said so.

People who think in those terms have a big issue with science, because they think that science works the same way and they don't recognize the authority of notable scientists. Your attempt to duel with quotations and fall back on the credentials of others has this issue written all over it.

Science is not an authority-based system like religion. Scientists don't say that general relativity is good science because Einstein was a revered authority figure. They say it is good science because anyone with the right information and equipment can test it and verify for themselves that the theory works and provides consistent results.

"… that you can only see them in the movies."

I've seen psychotic breaks in movies, too. Are you having one now?


I'm not a religious person, but where I live there are a lot of universities that carry the a christian name in their tittle, and they are top ranked among the world, and are not related to some of those honky dory religious creationist cults that you have in some places in the US. So it is no use to bring up religion into this debate, it is Wow who wants to push me into that group to create some polarization. Anyway, the point that I made regarding religion, is that for many people believing in god, is a believing in a deity that will bring them nothing but good things, I used the comparison because Ethan's letter gave the impression that Science is also 'only' about good things, ... the rest of the debate you know by now, so I hope we can put this 'religious' thing to rest.

And no, I'm not psychotic or dealing with some other mental distress, I'm pretty fine, thanks. Regarding my motivation you can jump back to my post at August 10, 11:13 am where I answered a roughly similar response from Sinisa, I try to stick to basic logic thinking.

btw I agree that "Science is not an authority-based system like religion", it is imho driven by ambition and curiosity.

I think Chelle's main agenda isn't science at all... it's religion. This is confirmed way back in her first post when she wrote:

"That was a nice letter to convince a simple soul, but science does good and it does bad, it is not like a religion where it is all good"


I would claim almost the opposite... Religions have been, if anything, horribly bad. Bad for thought, bad for advancement, bad for humanity.


Go read 'mena's post at August 10, 6:55 pm, and my post just 8 minutes before you posted your first here in this thread.

Have fun!


"I try to stick to basic logic thinking."

No, I can't agree that you do. You stick to what your uninformed and ignorant emotions tell you (big bombs are bad, the LHC does things that you don't understand and therefore it is also bad, religion is always good). You try to rationalize it, but your rationalizations fail, and when I have shown you how they fail you skim that part and ignore it and pretend it never happened.

You may say that you're not religious, and maybe you aren't. But you certainly have that religious mindset, that the words of authority figures can support you and therefore you don't have to support yourself:

"I thought that you would have understood and accepted it now by reading those quotes from other people who have far more scientific credibility than I do."

Lise Meitner is not here and neither are any of the people listed on that quote page. Not even the Bible! Resorting to quotes from the Bible and from others is the act of those who rely on authority rather than facts. It is not the act of someone who thinks highly of "logic [sic] thinking."

Your fear and loathing of science doesn't make you brilliant or your ideas worthwhile, it just makes you someone who fears and loathes science.

"Boo hoo, flint.
You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about."
Yes I do, like you I'm screwing up this thread.
Let's see if I can get you to jump to this.
Hold on, you haven't call me a name yet. Reel slowly...slowly...wonder if I'm using the right bait

By fred flint (not verified) on 11 Aug 2012 #permalink

Well 'skeith' if I say that I'm not religious but you still feel the need to keep on painting it all over me, than it makes no sense to continue having a discussion with you. I can't even see what the issue would be if I was religious. btw the name of that site with all those quotes is: Today In Science History

There is little to no use in having a debate here, that is critical about some parts of science, you guys just can't take any heat, the comment section here looks like a bunch of irrational fanatics.

I accept defeat, not in the sense that you ran me over, but simply that I was too naive thinking that it was possible to have an honest debate here, its sad.

Anyway have fun entertaining each-other!

Chelle, you never wanted an honest debate.

Your screed has all been badly worded woomancering and pretending that somehow YOU know science when all the scientists have lied to you.

Now you're insisting religion is always good and science is bad.

You were a fundie idiot, pretending science.

Aquanerd, look at chelle's posts on other threads of Ethan's blogs.

Or don't, they're pretty dire.

But Chelle has after many many laborious attempts to get nonsense nonscience discussed or given credence has then turned to invective and insults.

And now being insulted back, is pretending to be butt-hurt over it.

Yep, their jumping, here’s one taking things out of context.
“I think Chelle’s main agenda isn’t science at all… it’s religion. This is confirmed way back in her first post when she wrote:
“That was a nice letter to convince a simple soul, but science does good and it does bad, it is not like a religion where it is all good”
Aquanerd go and look at chelle’s post August 8, 11:34 am
I took that first letter in the context chelle meant, didn’t need chelle’s message to eric to explain chelle’s meaning.
chelle August 8, 11:34 am
I was just making the comparison that people pray to God for good things to happen, in that sense God is all about good things that will happen.”

“Aquanerd, look at chelle’s posts on other threads of Ethan’s blogs.”
And probably take them out of context as well.
Chelle’s right about one thing, Chelle and you jumpers have wrecked this site.
Fishing's over for me here too.

By fred flint (not verified) on 11 Aug 2012 #permalink

Fred, you merely state there that her "main point" had nothing to do with religion. You didn't actually explain what the neutralisation of "not like a religion where it is all good".

You see fundies pretend that science is a religion ALL THE TIME.

Reasons are varied, but the main ones are that

a) If science is a religion, science is being taught in schools, therefore religion is being taught in schoos, therefore the no state religion requires either removal of science or the inclusion of christianity teaching in school.

b) If science is a religion, then their religion is on equal footing therefore something. What is never really explained, but it's used as if it means that if science asks "what is the proof or evidence of God", then the religionistas can say "what si the proof or evidence there is no God", but that may just be because the religion aren't used to thinking, it being all done for them by someone else or a book.

Like I said earlier, you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Indeed, you may be merely another sock for chelle, she's done it a couple of times before.

And freddie, aren't you taking chelle's and everyone else's comments out of context if you're refusing to read the other comments chelle's made on other threads on SWAB?


weren't you buggering off?

If you look at human thinking as a 'collective intelligence', and regard this discussion here as a reflection of that, than it is starting to look like this: http://youtu.be/DLvIFRNbqOs

One troll saying to the other to go away, ha ha

Anyway off I go :mrgreen:

you've said that before. didnt happen then either.

"you’ve said that before. didnt happen then either."

You didn't got the irony in regards to that clip, that the actual troll is still here even when I'm gone.

"There’s also a big part of the Rainforest that’s being chopped to grow gene-manipulated soya, science has caused overfishing, drugs addictions, enormous pollution … Also look at satellites and the army that is spying upon us. I know that I sound like a paranoid troll, but some science is a cold ruthless business with no compassion for the little people."

You are wrong. Science is indifferent, people are the cause.

i'm looking at the future but with wise concern..... to invest for a better tomorrow is my concern

By Paragontheddy (not verified) on 06 Mar 2015 #permalink