Assorted links


How can science move in the "wrong" direction, assuming it's good science?

Science, or put in more definitive terms, the scientific method of epistemological inquiry, cannot go backwards. We cannot unknow what we have previously discovered, except by destruction of the people who hold that knowledge.

Choosing to not pursue development of certain technologies is not nearly the same thing as "science going backwards". Mistaking technology for science is a glaring, albeit common, error.

I'm a little sad that all the replications are coming back negative. No psi after all, I guess.
Anyway, of the various analyses and reasons of what might actually have been going on, I find this:
(linked to from the above link) the most interesting/useful/probably correct.

Reality not matching up to personal fantasies is not a sign of science going 'backwards'.

As far as technology going backward, when it comes to infectious diseases, technology has to run to stand still. This is a well-understood consequence of evolution.

There is a confusion there between science and its application (technology).

In all the areas mentioned, SCIENCE has progressed markedly: we know more about infectious diseases, we have learned a lot about space, etc.

That bacteria and viruses evolve is no big surprise. As space exploration goes, we could accomplish a lot more if we ignore the costs and the risks....but knowing more about both makes us perhaps a bit more cautious.

2.Also, my two (physicist's) cents: when two events are related by a chain of interactions, we call cause and consequence the one which occurred first and second, resp., along the axis of time. If this study proves anything (which it doesn't), it is not precognition but remote control of the random number generator by the participant.

4. About the different fields:

* Space colonization: The grand visionaries of the 70's usually forgot to factor in a basic issue in their plans: economics. They routinely considered feasible anything with a cost less than the US GDP. After the space race was over, a general overhang came with the realization that there was not much to be reaped from exploring space, after all, except science (better done with robots, as brilliantly demonstrated since) and, well, space exploration technology (the Intl. Space Station boondoggle being the last survivor of that era).

* Supersonic transport (SST): Concorde was a (bi-)government program whose main goals were to revive national aeronautics industries and serve national pride. Developing and building the planes was done at a loss by nationalized companies and the operations were done on a niche market with dubious economics. Ditto for the Tu-144, as you can guess.
The people who designed Concorde then told each other: "Hey, wait, we're in a market economy, right ?" and went on to start Airbus. The US SST was killed after it was realized that supersonic flights over land would lead, more or less, to riots.

If anyone is to be blamed for these, it is the lean-and-efficient-government crowd :^)

* Commercial fusion power: Scientific principles and feasibility demonstrated in the late 90's-early 2000's, a reactor for full-scale technology development is being built. These things take time, yes, but "backwards" !?

For "The origin of life", no idea what is going on....

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