Wednesday, February 4, 2009
© 2009, the Institute of Applied Common Sense
Previously, in Post No. 79a, we posted an article discussing where we really are at this point in time, in connection with electric car technology. The Free Press article, which we referenced, also mentioned that the auto industry will need the long term cooperation and assistance of government to pull this off.
While we focused, in that post, on the debate between the competing “private enterprise/let the free market determine,” and the “government intervention/ regulation” factions, we later realized that we had failed to focus on the technology factor.
That realization came about when one of our readers, Robert, perfectly framed the issue, and brought some common sense back into the discussion about the state of technology related to batteries used in electric vehicles. We decided to generate this post to highlight the importance of his comment.
Simply put, Robert indicated that the technology is simply not there. Yet. (We invite you to examine it in its entirety toward the end of the comments to Post No. 79a.)
(Tangentially, Robert’s comment (along with its tone) so impressed The Logistician, who has an engineering and science background, that he suggested that we extend an invitation to him to join us here at the Institute for Applied Common Sense.)
We've often wondered, why it is that some "elements" in our society are always complaining about the failure of our nation (whether it be an attack on our educational system or private industry) to come up with technological advances in various areas, when they feel that we need them, or that it suits their purposes?
By "elements," we mean the non-scientific, non-engineer, non-inventor, political science and English majors, and the lawyers who run for elected office. For the most part, the members of these elements have not invented one single thing in their lives (with the possible exception of babies), and yet they have the gumption to preach about technological failures or miscalculations on the part of others.
Michael Crichton, shortly before his death last year, spoke of how we had, in this country, come to politicize science, to such an extent that it hurts our ability to have a realistic conversation about our technological needs and goals.
In a discussion, with a very well-respected scientist and leader in his field of research late last year, we asked this question: Why are we, the “general public,” not privy to scientific views and conclusions viewed as “givens” by the academic, engineering, and scientific communities, which significantly affect our lives and the quality thereof?
The Professor suggested one basic reason: the fear of being “Saganized,” or not being taken seriously because of one’s popular appeal, once the discussion enters the popular arena. (The term was coined in connection with Carl Sagan, who popularized science.)
We submit that there is a second: the fear of attack, from those factions (usually religious, financial, or political in nature) outside of their respective scientific communities, who have agendas unrelated to the advancement of science.
The conversation, at the national level in particular, has become perverted, and, as with many things in life, perversion of the analysis on the front end leads to perversion of the purported solutions on the back end.
If you have 300 cats in your large home or building, and you let them essentially do what they want to do on a daily basis, you can't exactly complain when, at the end of the day, your structure is not in the “condition” in which you would like.
Similarly, when a nation of 300 million lets its adult citizens pursue whatever educational and vocational interests they desire, and industry to pursue whatever legal goals it desires, we can not later legitimately complain about the state of our nation.
We're not saying that we necessarily need to change our current governance model, if it's what the majority of the citizens want. We're just saying that a responsible nation recognizes the consequences of its freedoms (aka actions), acknowledges them, and then figures out how to minimize the negative costs associated with the exercise of those freedoms.
Disingenuously blaming others does not advance that goal, or the long term interests of the nation, in dealing with scientific and technological issues (or any other issues for that matter).
© 2009, the Institute of Applied Common Sense
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