What is PF doing having a Politics section

  • Thread starter Nereid
  • Start date
In summary: Sure, not everyone has a concern about astronomy, and some members may even think it 'a good thing' for political appointees to try to impose their ID and creationist views on public pronouncements by NASA scientists, but why so little discussion on this here? I have to agree, it's time for a shift in the P&WA forum here. This is, after all, a forum dedicated to science, so discussion based on politics that affect science and academic pursuits in general should be the primary, if not the sole focus.So why have a "Technology" Forum either? You hardly see any posts in there regarding the way "Technology shapes Physics" Typically its, "can you help me fix
  • #1
Nereid
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What is PF doing having a "Politics" section ...

[rant] ... if there are essentially no threads in here discussing the way in which politics (and world affairs) shape (public) policy on physics (and science in general)?

I mean, a political appointee at NASA (with a journalism major, but no science training) https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=108514" the scientists who work there, on the content of the scientific findings those scientists present to the public?

Worse, when that same appointee tells staff, in an email, that "The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion [...] It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." ... and this thread gets a miserly 8 posts and a mere 190 views, while we have dozens of threads that seem to me to have little content than multiple repetitions of certain posters' personal views.

Sure, not everyone has a concern about astronomy, and some members may even think it 'a good thing' for political appointees to try to impose their ID and creationist views on public pronouncements by NASA scientists, but why so little discussion on this here?
[/rant]
 
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  • #2
I have to agree, it's time for a shift in the P&WA forum here. This is, after all, a forum dedicated to science, so discussion based on politics that affect science and academic pursuits in general should be the primary, if not the sole focus.
 
  • #3
So why have a "Technology" Forum either? You hardly see any posts in there regarding the way "Technology shapes Physics" Typically its, "can you help me fix this problem I am seeing"

If you don't want the traffic this forum generates, then by all means you can send it my way :)

And what about "General Discussion" what has that got to do with Science??
 
  • #4
Anttech said:
So why have a "Technology" Forum either? You hardly see any posts in there regarding the way "Technology shapes Physics" Typically its, "can you help me fix this problem I am seeing"
It's a forum for discussing technology. :smile:

And what about "General Discussion" what has that got to do with Science??
General discussion is for "general discussion".

Poiltical forums with the types of discussions we have here are all over the internet. A finer tuned agenda for the political forum here would be a nice differentiator and a move in the right direction.
 
  • #5
Seems to me a case of fixing something till its broken :)

The difference between the debates that happen here compared to the other sites all over the internet is the people who are debating...

Anyway good luck...
 
  • #6
A long time ago I asked why this section isn't included under "Other Sciences" as Political Science, and then have a sub forum within that for current events. That's basically what is discussed here. But even this is different from General Discussion where members joke around and chat about all sorts of trivia. Certainly this is just as serious as Philosophy, Economics, etc., which are no more related to physics or mathematics than politics is.
 
  • #7
Nereid, will all due respect, are they many science issues other than the NASA one you have provided? I did not even know about that one until you presented it, btw thank you for doing so. But to be blunt, I think this kind of topic is, and I am trying to be careful with my words here, of small magnitude compared to some of the things done by Bush's administration. Hence they get little air time on the general media, or in here.
 
  • #8
SOS2008 said:
A long time ago I asked why this section isn't included under "Other Sciences" as Political Science, and then have a sub forum within that for current events. That's basically what is discussed here. But even this is different from General Discussion where members joke around and chat about all sorts of trivia. Certainly this is just as serious as Philosophy, Economics, etc., which are no more related to physics or mathematics than politics is.

Exactly, good point, well presented, couldn't and didnt say it better myself :approve:
 
  • #9
Nereid said:
[rant] ... if there are essentially no threads in here discussing the way in which politics (and world affairs) shape (public) policy on physics (and science in general)?

I mean, a political appointee at NASA (with a journalism major, but no science training) https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=108514" the scientists who work there, on the content of the scientific findings those scientists present to the public?

Worse, when that same appointee tells staff, in an email, that "The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion [...] It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." ... and this thread gets a miserly 8 posts and a mere 190 views, while we have dozens of threads that seem to me to have little content than multiple repetitions of certain posters' personal views.

Sure, not everyone has a concern about astronomy, and some members may even think it 'a good thing' for political appointees to try to impose their ID and creationist views on public pronouncements by NASA scientists, but why so little discussion on this here?
[/rant]
NASA has long been seen as an instrument of the government so I suppose folk just aren't that surprised that the administration would have a resident political officer on site to make sure they all sing out of the right hymn book.

Even as far back as 1960 NASA took part in a government lie to try and cover up the loss of Gary Powers spy plane. They got caught redhanded so once credibility is lost it's very hard to ever regain it.

Four days after Powers disappeared, NASA issued a very detailed press release noting that an aircraft had "gone missing" north of Turkey. The press release speculated that the pilot might have fallen unconscious while the autopilot was still engaged, even claiming that "the pilot reported over the emergency frequency that he was experiencing oxygen difficulties." To bolster this, a U-2 plane was quickly painted in NASA colors and shown to the media.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-2_Crisis_of_1960
 
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  • #10
I agree with AntTech, the wonderful thing here is that people here are insightful, respectful (though some times sharp in their comments) and they do not spout opinions without some reasoning behind it.

In short... Smart people debating politics is a rare thing on the Internet.
 
  • #11
SOS2008 said:
A long time ago I asked why this section isn't included under "Other Sciences" as Political Science, and then have a sub forum within that for current events. That's basically what is discussed here. But even this is different from General Discussion where members joke around and chat about all sorts of trivia. Certainly this is just as serious as Philosophy, Economics, etc., which are no more related to physics or mathematics than politics is.
Hear! Hear! :approve:
 
  • #12
SOS2008 said:
A long time ago I asked why this section isn't included under "Other Sciences" as Political Science, and then have a sub forum within that for current events. That's basically what is discussed here. But even this is different from General Discussion where members joke around and chat about all sorts of trivia. Certainly this is just as serious as Philosophy, Economics, etc., which are no more related to physics or mathematics than politics is.
We discussed making the forum a Political Science forum, but then the type of discussions that currently go on here would not qualify under the new guidelines, and not sure how many people here would qualify as Political Scientists, it would have very specific guidelines. So either way, I'd say we might be seeing a dramatic change in P&WA in the near future. Just what exactly has not been decided.

Since Nereid brought it up, I believe the direction we will see is politics as they relate to science, if the forum stays open at all.
 
  • #13
Evo said:
Since Nereid brought it up, I believe the direction we will see is politics as they relate to science, if the forum stays open at all.
If it is decided to close or substantially change this forum would it be possible to provide sufficient notice for the regular contributors here to organise themselves and find another home? :smile:
 
  • #14
ComputerGeek said:
I agree with AntTech, the wonderful thing here is that people here are insightful, respectful (though some times sharp in their comments) and they do not spout opinions without some reasoning behind it.

In short... Smart people debating politics is a rare thing on the Internet.

Yeah, no reason to throw something away 'simply' because it seems difficult for 'some' to form a coherent argument and behave. As much as PaWA makes at times, there are some truly fine posts and discussion in there (and anyways, take it out and the stuff will just flow to GD).
 
  • #15
cyrusabdollahi said:
Nereid, will all due respect, are they many science issues other than the NASA one you have provided?
The intelligent design thing has been big lately. Hurricane Katrina provided much debate regarding the technical and political issues of the levee system. Energy policy is always an issue.
But to be blunt, I think this kind of topic is, and I am trying to be careful with my words here, of small magnitude compared to some of the things done by Bush's administration. Hence they get little air time on the general media, or in here.
But that's just it (and to others too) - this is a physics forum. It isn't much of a stretch to see the need to discuss other sciences, technology, and engingineering in an expanded-scope scientific discussion, but what use do purely political discussions have on a physics forum?

Important or not, they do not fit the mission of this site.
 
  • #16
Art said:
If it is decided to close or substantially change this forum would it be possible to provide sufficient notice for the regular contributors here to organise themselves and find another home? :smile:
While no decisions have been made yet, it might be wise to start thinking very seriously about that if your only interest in PF is the P&WA forum.

I agree with Nereid. Forums with the sort of content we currently have in P&WA are a dime a dozen on the internet. Forums where science policy is the focus are rather rare, and it makes little sense why a site dedicated to science education should continue hosting political topics that are entirely unrelated to science, when there are plenty of places that can do this better than us. We're not political scientists and don't want to be.
 
  • #17
Forums where science policy is the focus are rather rare, and it makes little sense why a site dedicated to science education should continue hosting political topics that are entirely unrelated to science, when there are plenty of places that can do this better than us. We're not political scientists and don't want to be.

:frown: But I won't get to argue with my buddies, Russ, Chroot, warren, sos, and art. :cry:

I say greg makes a spin off of PF, why it could still be PF, political forums! We could have two PFS! Membership could span to either one! I like where this idea is going!
 
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  • #18
Evo said:
We discussed making the forum a Political Science forum, but then the type of discussions that currently go on here would not qualify under the new guidelines, and not sure how many people here would qualify as Political Scientists, it would have very specific guidelines. So either way, I'd say we might be seeing a dramatic change in P&WA in the near future. Just what exactly has not been decided.

Since Nereid brought it up, I believe the direction we will see is politics as they relate to science, if the forum stays open at all.
I think the same can be said about the "Other Sciences" section. I tried posting economic topics under Economics and got nothing. Since economics is closely related to politics (thus there is such a thing as majoring in political economy), I found much more participation in this section so have stayed in here since.

Certainly it is up to PF/Greg, etc., to choose what the forum consists of. It just seems the logic of the argument then would be to remove all other sciences not related to physics or mathematics. There are a couple of other sites I would be happy to recommend to members if it is decided to close this section.
 
  • #19
PerennialII said:
(and anyways, take it out and the stuff will just flow to GD).
No, political discussions will not be allowed in GD, similar to the decision we made to restrict religious discussions at PF.
 
  • #20
cyrusabdollahi said:
:frown: But I won't get to argue with my buddies, Russ, Chroot, warren, sos, and art. :cry:
I don't see you not being able to post on the new political topics, actually, I can see the discussions being quite interesting.
 
  • #21
Politics touches everything we do, from every gallon of gas we burn to how we intrepret our very existence. Politics is involved in farming as it is in determining how much tuition you will pay at a state University. Politicians ,for the most part, determine how much scientific research is done. Political appointees determine what may and may not be an ingriedient in your McDonalds hamburger (ja wunt fries withat). :smile:

EVO is just looking for an excuse to get her out of having to break up all of the food fights in the current forum.:smile: :wink:
 
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  • #22
SOS2008 said:
It just seems the logic of the argument then would be to remove all other sciences not related to physics or mathematics.
Not really, social science, the new Mind & Brain forum, History stand on their own. "Politics" seems to have become a forum to air gripes about almost anything, there is no real direction, and there are many places on the internet that already do just that. We want to give it some direction.

You've probably noticed how many forum changes have taken place in the last two months, we've had quite an overhaul, we just hadn't reached down to politics yet.
 
  • #23
Has anyone actually passed this by the web master? Do you have any idea how much traffic this one forum generates? Remove it and you will see a lot less... If that is what you want then so be it...
 
  • #24
Fields and subfields of political science include political theory and philosophy, civics and comparative politics, national systems, cross-national political analysis, political development, international relations, foreign policy, international law, politics, public administration, administrative behavior, public law, judicial behavior, and public policy.

Civics and comparative politics involve the comparison of patterns of political development—including forms of government—and processes of political change in different settings or at different times. In the United States and Canada, it may also include regional studies; that is, work focusing on a particular state, province or region.

Political theory involves the study of normative questions of government, ideology, regimes, movements, and the history of political philosophy.

International relations focuses on the study of the dynamics of relations between states, and, more recently, on transnational issues such as the environment, human trafficking, trade, social movements, labor like co-operatives, or preventing terrorism.

The complex interplay of economic and political choices is reflected in the field of political economy where political science tries to understand the normative implications of economic structures and theories.

Public Administration studies the implementation, determination and outputs of public policies. It seeks to explain the role of political structure, bureaucratic politics and interest group activity on the public policy output and the policy performance of public sector entities.

Political elites and political behavior, and the interplay between them, are studied in the field of political psychology.
Also, for a list of basic political science topics - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_science_basic_topics

I doesn’t matter to me—I spend too much time here. But will you have a Political Scientist be a moderator, as well as an Economist, Philosopher, Psychologist, etc. to assist with the other sciences?
 
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  • #25
Wow! 23 posts and 153 posts in, what, a few hours!

And a thread that, IMHO, cuts to the very core of why I'm here (in case folk haven't noticed, I'm a Mentor in the Astronomy and Cosmology section, along with Janus) - political interference in the 'doing' of science at one the world's premier astronomy and space science agencies (OK, in how the work of the scientists at that agency convey their results to the American taxpayers and other global citizens) - garners but <10 posts in dozens and dozens of hours? And that political intervention (apparently) motivated by the same strains of anti-science thinking as brought us the Scopes trial, vigorous attacks on the 'separation of church and state' (is that how it is in the US constitution?), 'evolution is just another theory', and so on?

Oh yes, I make no bones about it - I'm almost as astonished at how little attention Deutsch's (alleged) behaviour attracted here in the P&WA section of PF as I am by how low key the whole affair seems to have been treated in the popular US press.

How do you say 'slippery slope' in political-sciencese? Why aren't (US) regular P&WA contributors out there storming the barrackades? Is it just 'oh well, those astronomers and cosmologists don't do any real physics, so who cares if a total (science) ignoramus muzzles them and/or gets them to add "opinions differ, be sure to add the appropriate scriptual text every time you mention universe or cosmology", the science which I do won't ever be affected by ID-ers and creationists!'?

[Yes, I'm upset; when I cool down I may write in more measured tones]
 
  • #26
To be fair, this is under ---> General Discussion --> Politics and World Affairs. I would not exactly call that clear intention on being ONLY about science related politics. I get so much good information and links from people here, it would be sad to see it go. I don't see why there can’t be two sub forums, for general politics, and another for science related. Although, this is a PHYSICS forum. Someone tell greg to make a politics forum, I think a lot of people here would multi-task between the two forums. Dear god, with the amount of time I waste just in here, two forums would assimliation me and my computer. :smile:


I think Art was quite right in pointing out that NASA has done politically motivated actions since its onset in the 60's with the U-2 shot down in Russia. So there has been a history of its manipulation by the government. I would therefore not be surprised that it’s being censored by the government. I do think it is totally absurd that the government is changing the data as it sees fit.
 
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  • #27
Update: Removing the P&WA forum at this time is not a serious reality. We are working on some simple ways of controling and making it more productive. Some new policies should be announced within the new couple days.
 
  • #28
Ok everybody...
I got a suggestion, which is probably what people around here were basically talking about anyway...
why not renaming P &WA Politics, Public Policy, and the Scientific Enterprise? I don't know how much renaming P & WA would do from detering people from just ranting...but perhaps renaming it and working on simple ways to control it (like Greg is working on above) might make all the difference in some of the quality of discussion to be had there.
 
  • #29
Nereid said:
Oh yes, I make no bones about it - I'm almost as astonished at how little
attention Deutsch's (alleged) behaviour attracted here in the P&WA section of PF as I am by how low key the whole affair seems to have been treated in the popular US press.

How do you say 'slippery slope' in political-sciencese? Why aren't (US) regular P&WA contributors out there storming the barrackades? Is it just 'oh well, those astronomers and cosmologists don't do any real physics, so who cares if a total (science) ignoramus muzzles them and/or gets them to add "opinions differ, be sure to add the appropriate scriptual text every time you mention universe or cosmology", the science which I do won't ever be affected by ID-ers and creationists!'?

[Yes, I'm upset; when I cool down I may write in more measured tones]

I can understand your frustration. I saw and read the thread. I was thinking about posting to it, but realized that I couldn't do that without starting another Bush bash. Bear in mind that the NASA Public relations situation is only single cog on a very nasty wheel that many of us have on our minds.

That wheel of course being that the current administration is trying to rewrite not only science, but the entire constitution. We have been: lied to about Iraq, misinformed about FEMA, are currently being spied on by our own government, and the list just goes on forever.

Many of us are concerned because this type of government controlled information scenario is happening in many areas. However, we each have our own fields of personal interest that tend to push our buttons more than others.

For some that field of interest has become focused on The Bush Administration in general because the Whitehouse cronies seem to have their hands in everything.

George Deutsch, the 24-year-old junior spokesman at NASA's Washington headquarters who joined the agency after working on President Bush's re-election campaign, resigned late Tuesday.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/space/3646353.html

washingtonpost.com
How Bush and Co. Obscure the Science

By Jeremy Symons

Sunday, July 13, 2003; Page B04


Christine Todd Whitman's tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ended last month much the way it began, amid controversy over the Bush administration's unwillingness to craft an effective response to global warming. Whitman arrived just before the president reversed a campaign promise to reduce global warming pollution from power plants. As she leaves, leaked EPA documents suggest that the White House attempted to rewrite an EPA report to play down the risks of global warming
 
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  • #30
If the amount of flaming/ranting/attacking is a drain on the Mentoring time, then perhaps a stricter, "no nonsense" policy will help alleviate the situation ?

Secondly - in regard to SOS's post - very, very little of the stuff that's posted in this forum would count as political science, and you know that.
 
  • #31
Anttech said:
Has anyone actually passed this by the web master? Do you have any idea how much traffic this one forum generates? Remove it and you will see a lot less... If that is what you want then so be it...

But think about this. If you want to discuss political issues, you look for ... er ... a PHYSICS FORUM? What's wrong with this picture?

That makes as much sense as me going to a Psychology forum wanting to discuss the controversy between the phonon picture and the spin-fluctuation picture as the mechanism for High-Tc superconductor. Unless, of course, I'm full of it and I am hoping that people who actually know about such area of study would not tend to be in such a forum. That way, I can bluff my way through all of it, and there wouldn't be that many people who can dispute me.

The "experts" in many of the issues being discussed are not here, the same way that there is very little chance that experts in physics would be found in a psychology forum. If one thinks one has a valid point, then go test it out at the obvious place where there are people more familiar with the issues hang out. Or is this not obvious?

Zz.
 
  • #32
Gokul43201 said:
If the amount of flaming/ranting/attacking is a drain on the Mentoring time, then perhaps a stricter, "no nonsense" policy will help alleviate the situation ?

I could certainly live with that idea. The mentors have my sympathy.

Secondly - in regard to SOS's post - very, very little of the stuff that's posted in this forum would count as political science, and you know that.

Political science has changed. And it never has been something that we could define with empiracle evidence and tuck away neatly in a box.
 
  • #33
In regard to Nereid’s post, censorship has been prevalent particularly under the current administration. We have already had threads about editing of global warming reports, EPA reports, etc., before the more recent thread regarding NASA. I personally am appalled by the suppression of advancement of science that we’ve seen, and agree it is a shame that people aren’t more appalled, especially in a forum like this.

As stated above (I think by Art - ooops edit: it was edward) politics is connected to everything. We’ve discussed nuclear energy and energy in general, global warming, funding for science programs and medical research, etc. I disagree that PFs P&WP section is like all the other politics forums out there—there is a higher quality of debate here than in most.

But if PF is sincere about making the P&WA section more in keeping with the physics and mathematics focus and academic standards, it would be nice to see all social sciences treated alike. Political Science is a social science, actually combining many social sciences as posted above. Also, it might help to consult/recruit a Political Science professor somewhere since this is not a field that current PF staff has much knowledge of. What does the current staff know about Political Science to know how it should be? It would be nice if it were structured according to Political Science curriculum and practices, which BTW includes open debate of current events.
 
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  • #34
SOS2008 said:
But if PF is sincere about making the P&WA section more in keeping with the physics and mathematics focus and academic standards, it would be nice to see all social sciences treated alike. Political Science is a social science, actually combining many social sciences as posted above. Also, it might help to consult/recruit a Political Science professor somewhere since this is not a field that current PF staff has much knowledge of. What does the current staff know about Political Science to know how it should be? It would be nice if it were structured according to Political Science curriculum and practices, which BTW includes open debate of current events.
Again, we decided AGAINST a Political Science forum for a number of reasons. We're not going to go that route.
 
  • #35
edward said:
Politics touches everything we do, from every gallon of gas we burn to how we intrepret our very existence. Politics is involved in farming as it is in determining how much tuition you will pay at a state University. Politicians ,for the most part, determine how much scientific research is done. Political appointees determine what may and may not be an ingriedient in your McDonalds hamburger (ja wunt fries withat). :smile:

I agree with you on that, and it's why I don't think it would be that impossible to focus on the side of each issue that impacts science rather than just ranting about who loves or hates Bush. Many political issues DO impact science in many ways, yet on a SCIENCE forum, we almost never discuss those things. Everything from restricting the dissemination of scientific findings paid for by tax dollars, as sparked Nereid to start this thread, to hindrance to international collaborations due to the increased difficulty in getting visas for visiting scientists, to these insane regulations that now require I fill out umpteen forms in quadruplicate and wait over 6 months to a year to get approval to import a drug for experimental use only because the delivery method of the drug isn't approved by the FDA yet even though the actual drug being delivered has been for ages, and I've already used these devices in the US in two different labs so know all the regulations and requirements and handling precautions to ensure none of it ever gets anywhere near any food supply, and the only reason it isn't approved is because there isn't much of a market for it in the US, so nobody is doing the trials to get it approved here (a larger device for a different species that is otherwise identical in every way is already approved!) That's my current rant. Right, and government affects agricultural practices, how science is funded, what is funded, who gets the funding, what research is prioritized for funding, how the results of that research are disseminated, etc. If everything we talk about here could affect science, why aren't scientists talking about that aspect of it?!

EVO is just looking for an excuse to get her out of having to break up all of the food fights in the current forum.:smile: :wink:
That certainly is a compelling reason to make changes as well. :biggrin:
 

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