Persecuting Science Kills Nations


Respected physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a very grave status update for the United States recently. He made the following claim while delivering a warning alongside his claim:

“America is already kind of fading… there’s no future [for a country that ignores science].”

Is Tyson simply a disgruntled scientist complaining about the position the Trump administration has taken with regard to climate change or is he on to something here? Let’s look at history. That is, after all, one of our greatest teaching resources.

Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi: Simply known as Rhazes, he was a pioneer in medicine in the Baghdad of the late 9th and early 10th centuries. He followed the rational and logic methods of Hippocrates and penned a comprehensive medical tome, Continens Liber. The book made him famous but not for the reasons he had probably hoped for.
A Muslim priest, offended by his work, ordered him beaten with the work’s manuscript. The abuse was so severe he was blinded which put an end to his illustrious medical career.

Was religious motivated persecution of Baghdad’s science community the beginning of its end? During the Abbasid caliphate, also called Baghdad’s “Golden Age”, the Islamic theocracy was churning out the world’s greatest scholars, mathematicians and scientists of that time. But as Sunni ruled Baghdad was achieving glory, Shiite Muslims were slowly simmering in their religious rivalries. Rhazes was one of the first casualties of this in-fighting.
The battle of religious ideology supremacy would lead to a weakening that made Baghdad vulnerable to Mongol aggression which eventually destroyed the city a couple of centuries later. But the short-sighted Shiite’s could not see this coming. They were so intent in destroying their rivals, the Sunnis, that they did not consider the consequences of their actions.

You see, the crazy thing is that the origins for the religious rivalry had nothing to do with science. It was all about the rights of succession for religious leaders, whether they be elected (Sunni belief) or a descendant of Mohammed (Shiite belief). Since patronizing the scientific community was a source of strength for the Sunni faction, the Shiite’s strategy for supremacy was to destroy the Sunni’s source of strength, the scientific community. But by persecuting the science community, the Shiite’s also brought about the entire destruction of Baghdad’s empire.

Michael Servetus: This Spanish physician’s work included a book that promoted a reformation of the Christian religion that was dominated by the Catholic Church during his lifetime in mid 16th century Spain. This earned him the label heretic. He fled his native country to avoid imprisonment and torture, the hallmarks of the Spanish Inquisition. He arrived in what he thought would be a more tolerant nation, Protestant dominated Switzerland.

However, it wasn’t just Christian Catholics who wanted to see him dead. John Calvin, who himself was a reformer of Christianity as a founding father of the Protestant Reformation, considered this medical scientist such a threat to the power of the church that he ordered the arrest of Servetus.

You see, although Europeans were being terrorized by Christian leaders of the Spanish Inquisition, Nordic peoples were equally terrorized by the Protestant Inquisition that was going strong in Switzerland. Eventually Servetus was captured and tortured. Religious leaders crafted quite a public spectacle, burning him at the stake with Lake Geneva as the backdrop. Stoking the fire? Copies of his book.

So, if the 16th century is noted by historians as the era of Spain’s Spanish Inquisition, what happened in the next century? Did persecution of scientists make the nation greater or worse? Historians describe the 17th century as an era of Spain’s decline. So, yeah, kill off your scientists and expect your country to fail.

The gringa could go on and on recounting the many scientists throughout history who have endured periods of purposeful persecution from governments of religious extremism that eventually led to the destruction of a nation. The dear reader can do their own homework on the life and times of scientists and their respective countries. Why not start with these:

  • Galileo of 17th century Italy
  • Henry Oldenburg of 17th century England
  • Antoine-Laurent Lovoisier of 18th century France
  • Gerhard Domagk of 19th century Germany

So what should be expected as the anti-intellectual, religious extremists of the Republican party transform the US? Well, right now we are at the brink of what will become known as the cliff this great nation falls off of. Anti-intellectualism will inevitably lead to a less informed democracy. A nation of people who believe false science are incapable of solving the problems that will plague them, whether it be pollution, disease or social conflict. Without the right information, all decisions are the wrong decisions.

What happens then? If religious extremism prevents an embrace of the truth, then when solutions fail blame must be cast. The US can expect, then, a rash of scapegoat classes to be created and systematically persecuted for all the ills in society.

As other nations cultivate their own science communities, eventually one will emerge as the leader, filling in the vacuum the US leaves behind as it abandons real science. We already see this happening with the nations supporting the Paris Climate Agreement. This will result in the US losing its competitive edge in the consumer markets dominated by science and technology. And what can we expect that to do? Affect the US economy disastrously.

So, as the US denigrates, denies and persecutes science, it is stabbing innovation and hope for the future right in the back. The Trump administration may be the catalyst for a destruction the nation cannot recover from. Consider what can happen in 4 short years of no innovation or inspiration. Scientists who cannot pursue their passions, have their work published, implement their methods and are maligned for what their research indicates will go elsewhere. And once settled in a new home that welcomes and supports them, it is highly unlikely they will ever come back.

An exodus of talent will make America’s science community a veritable wasteland not just of scientific talent but of the backers who fund their work. Investors will then put their money where it will be used in the research and development of tomorrow’s technologies that will sell big.

The Trump administration is initiating a chain reaction of scientific abandonment that is not just ideological. Scientists who want to be empowered to fulfill their potential will go elsewhere, hand-in-hand with those who have the money to make their dreams come true. In the next few years the landscape of science and technology will change. Other nations will be developing the cures for AIDS and cancer. A new Silicon Valley will emerge as California’s own becomes a ghost town. Tyson is right.

 

Sources:

Live Science

Thought Co.

Wisconsin History

Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science
Image Credit: Boise State
Video Credit: StarTalk Radio

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The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Chpt 11, Pt 1


Let’s start chapter 11, “Aslan Is Nearer”. Continue the adventure of Book 2 of the “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Edmund is beginning to think he was wrong to trust the witch.

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Chpt 10


Join the gringa in the adventure of chapter 10, “The Spell Begins To Break”, of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, book 2 of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Find out how the children and the Beavers discover the good news.

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Chpt 9


Come and read along chapter 9, “In The Witch’s House” as we continue book 2 of “The Chronicles of Narnia”. In this chapter we follow Edmund as he sneaks away to find Queen Jadis, tempted by his desire to eat more Turkish Delight and be crowned prince of Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Chpt 8


We’ve reached Chapter 8, “What Happened After Dinner” of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, book 2 of”The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Read along with the gringa to find out what the Beavers tell the children about Aslan.

Get Your Ticket To Ride To The Stars


NASA is not the only power player in US space exploration. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are all making a name for themselves. The difference is that NASA is concerned with public service and pure science. The private sector space agencies are more interested in the almighty dollar. That means they will be staging projects geared toward profitable exploration, like mining interstellar bodies for lucrative minerals and space tourism. And whenever there is a buck to be made competition is sure to arise. Americans only need to look East to find competitor nations joining the profitable space race. Who will the gringa be rooting for? Read on and find out. Here are the Asian contenders who have certainly got game:

JAPAN: PD Aerospace acknowledges that the company is lagging behind their US counterparts. However, Shuji Ogawa, the company’s CEO, doesn’t seem at all disheartened by this. He believes there is enough consumer and investor interest to go around. Pretty much every single Earthling would love to realize the dream of a trip into space. Even if PD Aerospace is dead last in the race to launch cosmic tourists, there will still be plenty of money to be made.

PD is looking to use a re-usable spacecraft that resembles a plane. It will have an alternating propulsion system using jet and rocket technologies. Passenger capacity of 8, crew capacity of 2, will make for a very personalized tour. Flight limitation is 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. That is where outer space and Earth’s atmosphere meet.

So when will this bird get off the ground? First flight is expected to launch in just 3 more years. Trials are scheduled for another 3 years. So, in less than a decade the non-average Joe, with an extra quarter million of disposable income, can take to the highest heavens.

It will take some time for revenue to affect the company’s bottom line and lower the cost of a ticket. Eventually, a space flight will become affordable enough for even the regular average Joe. PD hopes to eventually bring ticket cost down to the $3,600 range. That’s a relief to the gringa!

CHINA: Kuang-Chi Science has a bit more swagger to their space travel chatter. They believe Asia is a better market for space tourism than the US. This means that even though they got a slower start than private American space firms, they are confident they will become more profitable much quicker.

The gringa loves their space flight plan to use a giant helium balloon to lift a capsule to the same dizzying heights as PD. With the same passenger capacity the main difference between the two trips will be that PD’s flight will have the fireworks and noise of rocket propulsion while Kuang-Chi will deliver a steady, peaceful glide. A quiet ride is very appealing to the gringa.

The chairman of the company, Liu Ruopeng, points out that passengers have no need of skills training or to be physically fit. The Kuang-Chi balloon trip to the edge of the cosmos is open to everyone. The gringa appreciates this sense of inclusiveness.

Another cool aspect to China’s space tourism model is that it will double as a scientific data gathering mission. On board is a platform that collects meteorological and agricultural information that is transmitted to networks on the ground. Being a tourist means also being a passive citizen-scientist. Your ticket to ride funds research and environmental monitoring that can help make the world a better place.

Kuang-Chi is also determined to be competitive. Although they haven’t announced how much a ticket will be, they have made it clear that it will be significantly less than what their competitors will offer. So start saving up your money. They have already begun test flights with their spacecraft “Traveler” and a turtle was the first passenger! Tourism is scheduled to begin in 3 years.

MALAYSIA: Although one might not equate this southeast Asia nation with innovative technology, with the creation of Independence-X, it is changing people’s minds about the who’s who in space travel. Look for this company to have a robotic spacecraft on the Moon’s surface sometime this year. If successful, it will certainly catch the eye of investors. A successful lunar landing will hopefully spur funding for space tourism technology development. So, although they are not yet in the race, they are definitely warming up in the batter’s box.

So who is the gringa rooting for? Kuang-Chi Science. I must admit my soft spot for positive business modeling that features inclusiveness, consumer affordability, environmental activism and… is pet friendly! I would like to join that turtle in space flight that will not just be a thrilling vacation of a lifetime but will also perform a service to my fellow Earthlings!

Sources:

Kuang Chi Science

PDAS

Independence-X

Image Credit: Cosmos TV

Video Credits:

PD AeroSpace

Bloomberg

Digi Telecommunications

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Chpt 7


We read “A Day With The Beavers” in book 2 of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. The Pevensie children enjoy the hospitality of Mr. & Mrs. Beaver.

Image Credit: IMDB