20 October 2010


CREATIVITY IN SCIENCE. Behavior therapist Andrea Kuszewski, one of my favorite thinkers and bloggers, has a bone to pick with science. To wit: "Creativity is no longer encouraged in science. Sure, incremental science such as replication or moving a field forward in a direction it's already going, is encouraged and expected. But I'm talking about paradigm-shifting and redirective types of creative output, the kinds of ideas that completely change the trajectory of a field, knocking the science world on its rear end, as Einstein, Feynman, and other pioneers in scientific research did. You just don't see that kind of risk-taking in scientific ideas anymore, and if you do, it's headline worthy and very infrequent.

"So when and why did this big shift in scientific mindset occur?"

Andrea's question, and her proposed explanations, mirror similar stagnations in politics, finance, and the arts that started with the Reagan administration, and have achieved momentum verging on escape velocity -- in short, we may have already crossed the threshold at which we lose control over the institutions which exist to serve us. Or perhaps not. Witness the following --

VAPIDITY IN POLITICS. In the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Delaware, Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell once again demonstrated the ample vacuum which exists between her ears when she "challenged her Democratic rival to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state, drawing swift criticism from her opponent, laughter from her law school audience and a quick defense from prominent conservatives." Um, Christine? It is called the First Amendment to the Constitution. An integral part of the Bill of Rights, the amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the prohibition of a governmental redress of grievances.

O'Donnell has been slipping badly in the polls, as her antediluvian views on evolution, education and now the Constitution itself have caused even the Republican establishment to distance itself from her Sarah Palin-wannabe persona, in spite of fervent Tea Party backing. One university professor noted after the debate that "You actually heard the audience gasp. She seemed genuinely surprised that the principle of separation of church and state derives from the First Amendment." I truly hope that this becomes a case of giving a radical movement enough rope to hang itself. We are barely beginning the long recovery from the carcinogenic Reagan-Bush-Bush years. A relapse now would cause me to seriously consider (A) moving to another country, or (B) fomenting rebellion to save my own country.

A PUBLIC SERVICE. For those of you who maintain a presence at the social networking website Facebook, here is a useful resource for protecting your privacy and making the most of FB resources. How to Get Control on Facebook and How the Algorithms Work is a clear and user-friendly explanation of the software algorithms which govern what appears on your home page, and how you can affect that content. Check it out.

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