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Comment Re:Actually PRO-Science (Score 1) 726

The law goes far beyond 5th hour biology at Ridgemont High, as any state-funded college is a public school. But even accepting your premise, should a High School science teacher be punished for contradicting an outdated textbook or for exposing her class to controversial new discoveries? That's currently possible.

The real issue is not science but censorship.

Comment Actually PRO-Science (Score 1) 726

There is a very fine line between what is settled fact and what is merely dogma. Galileo is commonly presented as the "science vs. religion" poster boy, but what he was opposed for was teaching things which contradicted the accepted science of his day. Copernicus is an even better example, overturning a complete and accepted cosmology which had defined much of science for centuries. Boyle and Priestly were teaching "anti-science" when they disproved the well-accepted Phlogiston theory. In fact, virtually every advance in science has come at the expense of what had previously been accepted as true and, in most senses, settled.

To be sure, many challenges to the accepted views of the world around us are likely to be spurious, and some may even be ludicrous, but to outlaw such challenges is precisely to outlaw true science by prohibiting the questions and hypotheses which define the scientific method. If the New Mexico law protects even one Einstein or, to be sure, a single Darwin, it will have advanced science more than a hundred laws which would mire us in a sea of "settled" but incorrect understanding.

Comment Promising (Score 2) 208

TMS / TCMS has also shown promise in the treatment of migraine [ ] and a simple handheld device has been tested [ ] with positive results. The magnetic fields involved are much more intense than environmental magnetism, but the sensitivity of the brain to these effects raises questions about prolonged exposure to electromagnetic noise.

Comment Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (Score 1) 1073

Without a past we can have no future. If I begin with the premise that "I am a good person" then not only will I have little incentive to say "I can do better" but in fact I won't have any idea what "better" really means. Conversely, if I can look back on my own or our collective past I may shudder in horror and say "I want to be as far from that as I can get."

Comment Voc-Ed or Navel Gazing? (Score 1) 709

The perennial question ought to be "Why should we teach kids to program?" Was it the essence of the industrial revolution to teach every child to operate a spinning jenny or a steam engine? Society's goal ought not to be to make each student a master of the newest tool, but to teach them how to live in a society which that new tool has changed. Some will naturally gravitate toward the technological side, and may become invaluable for the abilities they develop, but the world does not need a population of composers, designers, writers, builders, leaders and more who are first of all amateur programmers.

Certainly those of us who write code needed this vocational education, but it is shortsighted or arrogant to think everyone else does.

Comment Re:And so (Score 1) 346

"Alternative Energy" of any sort is heavily subsidized. Pickens' problem was distribution -- he expected to generate power in the North Texas region and get it to the big demand centers by selling it into the existing grid at near retail rates; inconveniently the "existing grid" didn't amount to much in the desolate area where the wind towers were to go.

Comment Re:Who'll profit? (Score 1) 142

Pure science is generally defined as a process of studying what already is, such as energy, matter and scientific principles. The development of processes is an example of applied science, which manipulates or combines the discoveries of pure science into something new, something which did not previously exist.

Comment Re:Who'll profit? (Score 1) 142

I'm not so sure, Hesiod, but I should be clear that I'm distinguishing "pure" science from "applied" science. Applications of pure science should be patentable, of course, just as applications of unpatentable things like steel, wood or aluminum are patentable, but in my opinion pure science is more like a raw material than a product.

Comment Re:Who'll profit? (Score 1) 142

The best "prize" system for encouraging innovation already exists, and you named it: "... inventing applications for it will make you rich." The patent system as it exists today functions almost exactly opposite to what it was intended to do, which was to share knowledge and ... encourage innovation. One severe failing in that system is the tolerance of preclusive patents, those filed specifically and only to keep a discovery off the market or to keep others from applying concepts which might compete with the patent-holder's core business. To end this practice patents should expire if they aren't developed into marketable form -- and actual products -- within, say, five years.

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