Posted tagged ‘Rick Perry’

Dismissing science

September 23, 2011

Today’s modern society is built upon science. It uses the discoveries of science to find solutions to problems in areas such as health, transport, product development, nutrition, and so forth. Its industry and hence its employment is clustered around science-driven innovation. So you would expect that respect for the potential of scientific discovery lies at the heart of political strategy? Well, yes and no. Many politicians do understand this, and large-scale funding for science (by bodies such as Science Foundation Ireland) reflects this.

But there are other voices in politics, and some of these are becoming influential. Many of them are in America. In fact, at least two leading candidates vying for the Republic nomination for President – Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann – hold views that are profoundly anti-science, calling key scientific theories into question and suggesting bad motives on the part of scientists. There are touches of something medieval here. If someone with such views were indeed to take over the US presidency, the results could be profound, and could easily lead to the United States becoming a backwater in geopolitical terms.

It is not, or at any rate should not be, the task of politicians to second guess science, or to declare its theses right or wrong based on ideology. That approach is total madness. No country can afford it, not even America.

Texas, Part II: are we really so bad at explaining education to the doubters?

June 6, 2011

Here is a statement attributed to Texas Governor Rick Perry regarding higher education research: he and others are said to be wondering ‘whether there’s a need for more critiques of Shakespeare and other esoteric research that doesn’t generate income for the state.’

This is said to have ‘stirred a tempest on Texas campuses’. It is easy to see that it would, but the problem may be that many people don’t understand why research is funded, and universities have not been particularly good at making the case in all circumstances other than where research specifically addresses a very practical need. This extends beyond research, because if Governor Perry believes that Shakespeare doesn’t merit further research, he may not think much of his plays being taught either.

The case for higher education, and the capacity for diversity within, need to be re-explained to the wider public, urgently.