Monday, September 15, 2014

Where to Invest in Science ?

RE  A first for Q&A   ABCTV --a  panel of scientists

Result : a great and stimulating education session - real Q&A
Response : must have more of them !

The short version for the political process
Same as always ;
  • PCM ( Physics , Chemistry and Maths )
Finally Q&A have done what they should have done years ago -
Proper respect for authority : Let scientists speak --instead of letting  non-scientists speak for them.
Corollary : Be suspicious of researchers responding to recent problems ,Side products of the above pure sciences ( PCM remain the essential building blocks  -  Doherty !)Accept that the  key to sound investment in science is NOT in picking winners or suddenly answering often intractable problems . Dohery's point about "duty of care" rather than "chasing the hare" must be observed . Real progress is slower than many want to know 
We have lots of shells....... but maybe no wheels

Qualification: Considering that way Q&A commonly confuses , it would have been great if the scientists on the panel got together before the Q&A session so they could make a more unified case for a way forward on what to do to sell science. we scientists can be longwinded when audience should get it SIMPLE.
Surprisingly none of thepanel mentioned  the fact that the amount of research money being dissipated in the name of science is now a huge problem . Its so bad that the anathema of "recent" as adjective to research reports  on media is NOT as as it should be---- a reason to suspect it .

After all ,All on panel KNOW good research is built in/from a big stable building . The results are not to the credit of a bright appendage but the stale old insitution .( even robot classes in high school)
The one thing they agreed on ( Physics, Chemistry Maths and Stable research/teaching  houses )  is he thing that Polys too must insist on .
Environmental research has been dissipated by polys giving them constant name changes and them stupidly trying to pick a better boundary than they do for theory and applied - Its parliaments problem.  
 People doing Stats on the latest theory of disadvantage and social science cause and effect need the discipline of tough maths and a history of study in the organisation .
My questions .
1, Why did we miss opportunity to hit hard and cleanly .Why didn't Chubb call for  a consensus on this before the meeting, he knows the problem but did not insist on the first element of a solution ( as much agreement about it as is human possible) Gong on the decades its taken to get such a productive and stimulating debate by real scientists this could be ( we hope not )  be a preliminary to a good conference of this the  rarest of opportunities in Monday nights entertainment.
2 The opportunity to promote the positives lost,The concept of vision well put by a few . An example : We have had for thirty years the chance to sell sound development and environment policy to the world - but its being eroded by a whole of careless bickering by a whole range of people who only know enough science to be dangerous . If that's YOU take scientists who know their stuff seriously and mind your own business and theirs!
Other questions
These subjects were always hard so what's changed since these people were inspired to do pure science?

  1. Science talk has become so popular that people who don't actually practice try to do it . Doherty was very clear and correct on these basic principles which means basic science must be supported at the expense of many of the namers and gamers ( Biology , sports) . The experts were agreed - if we have the choice,  leave the science rewards and winner pickers  to someone else .
  2. We should be proud of the narrow and prime  focus given to Physics  Chemistry and Maths in The 1970's and 1980's .(the people on stage were only a few of many AUSSIES  who have built well on PCM base insisted on before we let science go feral
  3. No use blaming the polys altogether. IF scientists sang with the same tune today the politicians might follow . The tragedy is--- if the trumpet is not sounded clearly - neither the audience or the polys get the real message . KISS stupid