C. Glenn Begley and John Ioannidis — researchers who have been courageous and visionary in exposing systemic weakness in biomedical science — concluded that “it is impossible to endorse an approach that suggests that we proceed with an ongoing research investment that is producing results the majority of which cannot be substantiated and will not stand the test of time.” Similarly, an published in June 2015 estimates that $28 billion per year is wasted on biomedical research that is unreproducible. Science isn’t self-correcting; it’s self-destructing.
Part of the problem surely has to do with the pathologies of the science system itself. Academic science, especially, has become an onanistic enterprise worthy of Swift or Kafka. As a university scientist you are expected to produce a continual stream of startling and newsworthy findings. Here’s how the great biologist the life of an academic researcher:
I will not witness on the basis of evolution/creation arguments, because Jesus Christ commands a higher witness in the Great Commission: Acts 1: 6-8. If someone would like to believe in Jesus but has a problem with the idea of creation in 6 days of 24 hours each, I will describe the possibilities that I can accept as consistent with the Bible and the natural world that we know. I will emphasize the most important thing: that mankind was created by an all-powerful and loving Creator who daily nourishes and sustains the human race, and desires Salvation for all mankind (1 Timothy 2:4).
Consider the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Was the location of His birth an accident? Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, according to the prophecy in Micah 5:2: "O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past!" But Jesus' earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, lived in Nazareth in Galilee. Everyone who has ever seen a Christmas pageant should be familiar with the circumstances under which Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as recorded in Luke 2:1 "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." Joseph and his family had to travel to his ancestral home of Bethlehem in order to be counted in the census.
1. The United States Economy.
At the simplest level, we gathered about 76 million people together in one country in 1900, told them to pay their mortgages and that's about it. We started with horse-drawn carriages. Now we have 281 million people and the World Wide Web! We have supersonic planes, heart surgery, and Star Wars movies. All this came just from people paying their mortgages! There were some visionaries along the way, but no master blueprint for the century.
Mrs. Chan's world is plagued by continual rain, due to global warming. Climate change seems to be inevitable - however, science has enabled us to take steps to prevent the seemingly unpreventable. The Hong Kong Observatory has been able to map the effects of global warming on Hong Kong's climate, suggesting hot days and heavy rainfall are in store ahead. Understanding the possible effects is certainly the first step in the fight against global warming.
"Brilliantly creative. An audacious intellectual adventure. His thought experiment is so intellectually fascinating, so oddly playful, that it escapes categorizing and clichés. It sucks us in with a vision of what is, what has been and what is yet to come. The book is addictive…By appealing not just to our fear and guilt but to our love for our planetary home, The World Without Us makes saving the world as intimate an act as helping a child. It’s a trumpet call that sounds from the other end of the universe and from inside us all."
Theodor Benfey was born in 1925 in Berlin but left for England at age 10 because of his Jewish ancestry. Trained in chemistry during World War II, he moved to the U.S. in 1946 and taught at three Quaker colleges, Haverford, Earlham, and Guilford. He became editor of Chemistry for the American Chemical Society and later was editor for the Chemical Heritage Foundation, was the translator of several science-related books, and developed a spiral periodic table. He married the artist and educator Rachel Thomas, with whom he had four children.
Even if heavy rainfall is inevitable, science has developed to reduce its detriments. A radar-based system known as SWIRLS allows the Hong Kong Observatory to track and forecast severe weather. In cooperation with Drainage Services Department, information is disseminated through text-messages and the internet, allowing businesses, such as that of Mrs. Chan's son, to make necessary preparations for flooding. The Geographic Information System also amalgamates geographical and meteorological data to highlight areas most susceptible to landslips, sending out warnings to prevent civilian death.
In Mrs. Chan's world, hundreds of schoolchildren are killed by highly-contaminated fish. Science prevents such a tragedy, by regulating food products for cancer-causing ingredients, in particular in condiments such as soya sauce, which the fish could have been cooked with.
Americans lionize the scientist as head-in-the-clouds genius (the Einstein hero) and the inventor as misfit-in-the-garage genius (the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates hero). The discomfiting reality, however, is that much of today’s technological world exists because of DOD’s role in catalyzing and steering science and technology. This was industrial policy, and it worked because it brought all of the players in the innovation game together, disciplined them by providing strategic, long-term focus for their activities, and shielded them from the market rationality that would have doomed almost every crazy, over-expensive idea that today makes the world go round. The great accomplishments of the military-industrial complex did not result from allowing scientists to pursue “subjects of their own choice, in the manner dictated by their curiosity,” but by channeling that curiosity toward the solution of problems that DOD wanted to solve.
Mrs. Chan's world seems distant and impossible, thankfully because science has considerably improved the range and quality of public service. As technology continues to advance, each and every one of us can hope to live an even better and more comfortable life!