Science policy: First, ask the right questions

Question 1: Why should we fund science?

The fourth Canadian Science Policy Conference begins Monday in Calgary. The conference has become an annual rendezvous for politicians and researchers interested in the intersection between, well, politics and research.

The other day I noticed Jim Woodgett emitting skeptical noises about the conference on Twitter. Since Woodgett is the Director of Research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and one of the country’s leading molecular biologists I wanted to hear more.

I asked Dr. Woodgett to write his concerns in more detail. What follows is what he sent me. Here it is, in the spirit of debate. — pw

Calgary is the 2012 host of the Canadian Science Policy Conference (November 5-7) with presentations from an illustrious listing of researchers, science administrators, business leaders and political commentators. Several of the topics touch on important developments and the role of science in driving innovation and policy (as well as a promising session on the vulnerability of risk assessment and the inherent uncertainty of research). But the agenda also skirts several of the most pressing issues concerning science in Canada that, together, form an existential threat to the way we fund and conduct science. Here are a few topics I’d like to hear debated.

1. Why should we fund science? Perhaps it is rude, in the presence of Ministers of the Realm, to discuss the impact of the recession on our research budgets? But this problem is not limited to Canada and science worldwide is under enormous pressure. Canada’s scientific enterprise has been relatively well protected from the economic downturn. The Spanish scientific community is reeling from cumulative cuts of almost 50%, for example, and even the mighty National Institutes of Health in the USA, with a $30 billion budget, is facing the prospect of an 8% cut due to sequestration legislation linked to the Congressional impasse. But federal funding for Canadian research has been effectively flat-lined (or worse) since 2007, and represents a double-digit percentage cut in real terms when inflation is taken into account. Of course, we’re in a recession, so why not openly debate whether Canada’s investment in science is in line with national priorities?

2. Who funds science? A necessary corollary to raising questions about science funding is whether we are getting the best bang for the buck. At the federal level science is supported by a plethora of programs and agencies – both for public institutions (universities, institutes, hospitals) and the private sector (largely through tax rebates). The Jenkins report recognized the weaknesses in the latter strategy and there are indications of significant changes in the works. Canada’s private sector investment in R&D has long fallen short of our OECD siblings and makes our public sector investment look good. But surely the convoluted federal funding agencies could be consolidated. Do we really need a separate agency for infrastructure (Canada Foundation for Innovation)? Each of the tricouncils (representing health, social sciences and natural sciences) is picket-fencing its constituencies. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council now diverts social scientists studying health questions to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Is research that arbitrary and encapsulated? Should tricouncil barriers even exist in a multidisciplinary world? Could the Canada Research Chairs (which are still funding salaries at the Y2K level) be rolled into the tricouncils? Is it necessary to separately fund genomics research (Genome Canada) in an era where genomics is now integral to most life sciences research? Part of the problem is that these agencies fall under different ministries and have distinct governance. But is this the most efficient and effective way to coordinate, integrate and administer sparse funding? Does it make sense to run so many independent research bureaucracies? Notably, each of the tricouncil agencies is undergoing or planning reforms but are we missing a bigger issue?

3. What is the role of government(s) in science? While the censoring and filtering of federally employed scientists has raised justifiable concerns, there is also the question of what role governments (federal and provincial) should play in research. Due in part to claims by universities of a direct connection between their work and future job growth, there has been increasing linkage of research to economic development. Job creation is what all governments worry about, leading to significant incentives – and opportunities for new university funding. Clearly, new discoveries, materials and processes can drive new innovations and, ultimately, new industries. But wiring research directly to economic benefit has pitfalls including unrealistic expectations, short term thinking, a shifting focus to late-stage or applied research and unsustainable or premature job creation through artificial subsidy. Research, by its nature, is an unpredictable and high-risk adventure, including the probability of providing a return on initial investment. This is why companies can ill afford to invest in early science. Instead, they focus on commercialization of ideas once applications become visible – often in fruitful collaboration with academia. Yet transformational discoveries are rarely made with applications in mind. If this is accepted, then surely the best role of government is to fund what industry cannot – namely blue sky discovery and evaluation – with the added benefit of educating and training our future workforce.

4. Who appreciates science? Surveys of perceptions of trust often put scientists near the top of public confidence. Science affects our lives more than ever, yet public understanding of science has likely never been so poor and many children opt to drop science from Grade 9. In part, this is due to the complexity (and jargon) that surrounds modern science but that is all the more reason for researchers to engage and communicate. It is the public that provides the dollars for all research – through taxes and donations – and warrants both respect and attention. Continuous public engagement also has the benefit of increasing awareness, access to information and evidence-based reasoning. How might we encourage more communication and interest in science beyond gee-whiz sound bites? Hints may be gleaned from the Perimeter Institute’s gallant outreach efforts.

5. How might our scientific competitiveness be improved? Ask any researcher whether their work is internationally competitive and they, of course, answer in the affirmative. But standards are rising. Chinese science has grown by leaps during a period when we and others have been relatively stagnant – we cannot rest on previous laurels. Evaluation of scientific performance is tricky and cannot be reduced to a single metric but are the current mechanisms by which we measure and support our scientific base appropriate? Do we have too many researchers? Are we training students with the right skills? Are we neglecting some areas? Have we built a self-preserving ecosystem that may not serve our long term needs?

We are fortunate to have an annual national forum to discuss scientific policy in a country which currently lacks an official government science advisor. But it would be even better if more of the discussion addressed the mammoths in the room.

 




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Science policy: First, ask the right questions

  1. “the best role of government is to fund what industry cannot” This thought seems appropriate, however, I see problems with it. For Government to fund science responsibly it must have a process in place to make decisions about funding. Politics can often interfere with this process. The process itself is costly especially when researchers must submit reams of paperwork justifying every little expenditure. A huge bureaucracy is required to ensure this process is done fairly and transparently. Inefficiency and waste abound in the implementation of funding decisions. Money that could go to research ends up getting wasted by the funding process. Surely there are better ways for government to support blue sky research than by funding it directly.

    • We do have processes for evaluating/adjudicating science in a relatively fair way (based on merit) through peer review. There is little political interference in this process as it is quite asinine and comprised primarily of active researchers. Ironically, this type of objectivity may be distrusted by politicians/administrators who see this as an inherently self-conflicted process – scientists deciding which scientists should be funded (they might spend at hour at a grant review to hear how the scientists dissect their peers!). The problem is that we have, over time, accumulated a fragmented series of agencies that basically do the same thing. It’s difficult to justify having separate systems for equipment, salaries, operating funds and for each major discipline. This, in my view, actually impedes science by making it difficult to coordinate and by splitting opinions between multiple constituencies, each vying for the ear of government. The agencies are quite efficient (typically spending less than 6% of their budgets on administration) but that also adds up.

      An alternative to direct funding of blue sky research by government would be to contract it to some other body. In fact, this is how CFI and Genome Canada are currently set up – as arms length foundations created around 1999. But these agencies have no recurrent budgets and depend upon “lumpy” allocations every few years (along with predictable protests when they do not receive anything). I’d argue that this is far more vulnerable to political influence than the tricouncils which have yearly allocations since they must, by the process, be tempted to pander to what they think appeals to the government of the day. The tricouncil model benefits from year to year consistency and can take a longer term view – more akin to how science is done (and is the primary model in the US, UK, Australia, and many other countries). That said, there is room for more than one model, but we have inherited/developed an overly complicated, self-justifying, piecemeal ecosystem that may not be yielding value for money or be in the best interests of competitive research. I think its worth looking at.

  2. What’s not grasped here is that commercial applications of scientific discoveries usually only happen years and even decades after the initial discovery of a particular technology, and then another long time period usually lapses before there is widespread commercial use of that technology. Great example- microwave ovens were first marketed circa 1950, but only became widely commercially viable in the mid-late 70′s. Automotive electronic fuel injection debuted in the 1950′s, but was not really a viable technology until the 1980′s. Couple this with the sheer randomness of how scientific breakthroughs find their way into the marketplace (observations on high speed valvetrain harmonics published by Sochiro Honda in the early 1960′s, coupled with an experiment with a metal cutting tool and a NASA rocket sled led to tremendous advances in machine tool technologies in the 1990′s) and you can see how tying scientific research to some form of public policy is a mug’s game.
    All research needs some form of impetus such as industrial need. At the same time, governments need to grasp that most business “R&D” occurs on the shop floor and is carried out by people looking to find a better way to skin the very cat that they skin on a daily basis. Some welder or machinist or mechanic tries out an idea based on something he read or saw somewhere, and it lives or dies from there. That, kids, is a hard truth that governments simply never grasp.

    • Bill, I think you are ably describing the natural discovery ethic that is enabled by opportunity and an environment that encourages people to continuously think about what they are doing and why. This may be relatively “trivial” such as process improvement/efficiency or truly transformative. Part of any “innovation” agenda has to be to inspire people to be creative and to provide support to foster such thinking (i.e entrepreneurialism). All too often, research and development activities are artificially segregated as though only certain job descriptions can be innovative. But the unreliable, slow, stuttering and failure-laced pathway by which new discovery moves to application requires additional protection during its vulnerable formative years. I’d argue that this is why it is important to reduce artificial barriers (such as the multiple agencies with overlapping research responsibilities) as there are already enough hurdles to jump on the road to better outcomes.

      • The very best way to facilitate a culture of R&D and innovation- shrink government until it hurts. Take an Advil, shrink it some more until it hurts even worse, take a stiffer pain med and then shrink it even more. Get government out of the way of businesses big and small and innovation and job creation will thrive.
        Remember- private industry built the airplanes, cars, and transportation networks our society can’t exist without. Yes, govt. paid for it, but that’s really all it did. Private industry built our energy infrastructure. They drilled the wells, and dug the coal, and made the tools required to do it all. They invented and perfected the tools for all that. Private industry makes our medicines, and invents new ones every day. Just keep the govt. in Ottawa and all will be fine.

  3. I’m not either a policy maker or a university researcher any longer – I have moved on from academic and political work into a third career. But I, for one, think ministers of the crown might welcome a full day discussion on Why should we fund research? I don’t think most elected officials have much of an idea of why they annually appropriate billions and billions of dollars for research. Nor do I think most researchers have a clue why elected officials see this as an issue for discussion. Could be helpful on both sides.

    • Scientists have also been conditioned by their administrators to think that they should be careful with what they say (do no harm) and the messages to politicians are often manicured to numbness. But there are great stories in research and we should be careful not to over manage the messaging. Some organizations are trying to engage – e.g. Research Canada which has organized a science day in Ottawa on Nov 21.

  4. There is a difference between ‘science’ and ‘technology’

    Technology is useful gadgets….like your cell phone. Things that immediately make life better for all of us. Science is what’s happening on Mars right now. The pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

    Private money can easily fund things like cell phones. Govts should fund pure science. There is no known ‘payoff’ to pure science, and certainly not an immediate one….but it’s vital all the same.

    Our current govt wants technology, not science. A quick payoff…nothing wrong with that, but not the only things we should be doing.

    Monitoring is the problem. Tobacco firms and oil companies should not be allowed to do health or climate studies or advertising ….the studies and scientists involved won’t be believed, and for good reason. We’ve at least learned that much over the years.

    Govt should not be allowed to determine science either….or scientists will be ‘searching’ for weapons, not knowledge. Hitler had scientists who did worse than that. Scientists have to live…and eat…too, and it has led them astray before.

    We need an arms-length way of funding science….a legal percentage of the GDP for example….and a foundation made up primarily of scientists running the funding.

    I’d prefer global funding….but that won’t be possible for some time, so it’ll have to be national for now.

    We also need a Science oath….like the Hippocratic one, and a contract
    signed by every funded scientist so they don’t accept payment on the
    side for skewing the results….but that’s another conversation.

    • The cell phone would not be in existence were it not for pure theoretical science being thought of during the ’50 and ’60. Do you really think that cell phone technology just fell out of the sky one day? So naive in your thinking.

      But then again, real scientists like Einstein or Bohr did not need the help of all those government grants to come up with real scientific thoughts.

      • Phones are over a century old….updating them is not a major scientific advance, it’s normal. Slow actually.

        And stop tossing silly partisan nonsense into your posts. The Manhattan project alone was totally govt.

        • Emily, you are so ill informed: the scientific know how for land line phones is completely different from scientific know how for cell phones. They are both phones, you got that part right, but the scientific understanding which let each of the technical inventions come to fruition (the land line versus the cell phone) couldn’t be more different from each other.

          Furthermore: Einstein did not participate in the Manhattan project, but ONLY because of Einstein’s (and others) scientific drive, could the Manhattan project be pulled together at the time after Einstein’s insights were fully revealed, which btw were not funded with public dollars. Einstein did his thinking while working for the patent office, earning an honest dollar WHILE being driven to continue his scientific inquiries.

          • Kindly stop with the nonsense.

            Once something is invented….improving it is no big deal, it’s just tweaking. The first ‘mobile phones’ were in 1946,,,,the year of my birth.

            Perhaps you could read more about Einstein and Bohr’s life before you come up with this partisan clap-trap.

            Einstein did ‘his’ thinking while married…and gave his wife the Nobel prize….that could well mean she came up with it, not him.

          • As someone who holds patents regarding cell phones, I can tell you that improvement is a big deal, and is not just a matter of tweaking. As both the science and technology progresses, improvements get more difficult and complex, far surpassing the difficulty of the ‘original invention’.

            The term ‘original invention’ is without much meaning, and the telephone is a case in point. Cell phone networks are pretty much built on entirely different scientific principles and technology than Bell’s original.

          • It is just tweaking….not a new invention. Improvements are nice, but not a paradigm shift.

          • Are you incapable of reading? Do you understand the difference between improvements and new scientific principles?

            Why do I even bother????? Actually it bugs me to no end that you can be that ignorant. Please EmilyOne: do some reading. Some serious reading.

          • Having a degree in science outweighs hotshot Cons blathering away, every time. Go soak your head.

          • He gave his wife the Nobel prize money as part of the divorce settlement. Not a bad solution for giving Einstein some peace of mind regarding his ex-wife and family. A gentleman I would say.

            I have read a lot about Einstein, but I have also read a lot about his theories of relativity and other Einsteinian scientific insights. And Einstein wrote about many, many more things besides science. All interesting stuff and all written down without public funds given in advance. (note: Nobel prizes used to be given out AFTER important contributions had been made – and even that is changing now too, I understand. Pretty upside down world, wouldn’t you say, EmilyOne?)

          • Mmm actually no. He just gave it to her. All of it. Something many people find odd unless she actually came up with the idea. Since she was smarter than him, but the culture of the time was anti-woman…..

            And what I’d say is that you’re cheap….you want brilliant people to work in obscurity….and poverty….and then come up with fantastic ideas….that you’ll promptly take advantage of.

            Ain’t gonna work buddy….you’ve confused your political ideology with reality….and you’ve stepped backwards into a buzzsaw…..

          • Still haven’t taken up my suggestion! It’s your choice, EmilyOne: Read some things seriously and gain some or read not and gain not!

          • Only the Nobel prize money can be given over to a third party – never the Nobel prize itself. Just so that is clear enough.

          • Albert gave it to Marić…is that clear enough for you?

  5. I think the important question is should Government fund science at all. What have governments scientists invented in the past 20 or 30 years that is useful to society? Government has been providing $$$ for decades now to fund transformational science but when will we start to see some results or do scientists get to navel gaze their entire careers? Scientists that work for private companies are still creating useful things but we are in time of great stagnation and all $$$ and resources we put into non productive government science is part of the problem. Most great inventions invented in private sector, government does not have long history of useful science or inventions.

    Between government bureaucratic demands and union nonsense, hardly any proper science gets done in public sector. I know two scientists who work in food at u of guelph and one of them does a delightful monologue on how it would be impossible to discover penicillin today in petri dish like Fleming or experiment like Pasteur. Eureka moments are highly unlikely now.

    • There is no excuse for that kind of ignorance Tony….none.

      • Actually, Tony brings forth a very valid point. It is you, EmilyOne, and so many others who make a reasonable discussion about public funding so impossible to conduct. You, and others, are mere mouthpieces speaking without thinking.

        • Tony has no valid points, and neither do you.

          You simply want to be miserly. You understand the cost of everything, and the value of nothing.

          • I am certain of the fact that you do not have a scientifically inclined mind; you are much too closed minded for pursuing any type of scientific inquiry.

            Btw, who wouldn’t be miserly when bumping into your ignorant posts time and again?

            I understand the value of much. I understand the value of Einstein’s contributions regarding scientific discovery, all done without a public dime involved!! Hard to imagine these days, EmilyOne, but try harder and you will be able to imagine just that; only free minds are capable of giving us the true gifts of scientific break through. Imagine that………..and more.

          • I am certain of THIS fact….you are full of shit. And you’re cheap and living in the past to boot.

  6. Scientific research is good. Should most of the research be conducted on the public dime? Absolutely not!

    Perhaps the time has come to define the meaning of scientist once again. Are all of these people applying for science grants really scientists? Or are they merely on the public payroll to let their thoughts roam free?

    Ask yourself how much scientific research was done in the past without public money? How many grants did Einstein receive?

  7. Question for journalist Paul Wells: name me one important research development which has come out of public-dime research? Or name a few. That would make it clear to the public at large what science grants accomplish with our tax dollars.

    And the follow-up question would be: would such scientific result have come about without grant giving???

    • I am assuming this is a serious question, and if so, will step in for Paul. I’ll limit my examples to biology as that’s what I’m most familiar with but public sector discoveries in chemistry and physics have driven many new materials, computing, etc, etc.

      The late Michael Smith invented site-directed mutagenesis. This technology helps drive the biotechnology industry today as well as being a fundamental tool that allows researchers to create new genes, precisely alter existing ones, etc. Michael won the Nobel Prize for his work which was conducted entirely at the University of British Columbia. How about monoclonal antibodies? These were developed by university-based researchers and enabled antibody based therapies (such as Herceptin, Avastin, Embrel). The molecular mechanism that causes chronic myelogenous leukaemia was discovered to be caused by a protein kinase that is fused to another protein. A wonder drug that selectively blocks this protein kinase (Gleevec) was developed based on the fundamental insight of how this protein is activated.

      These discoveries and many more were all supported by public (tax) dollars through research grants (which are competitive with approximately 1 in 7 being awarded). Were they worth it? Would a company have done this research with no obvious application in sight? The trillion dollar biotechnology industry emerged from the work of scientists studying bacteriophages (essentially bacterial viruses). The return on initial investment has been stunning. Tens of thousands of jobs created, not to mention lives lengthened or saved.

      If the public does not understand the role publically funded research has in creating todays world, we are surely in trouble.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-how-government-funding-of-science-rewards-us-taxpayers/2012/06/20/gJQApDmJrV_story.html

      • Thank you so much, Mr.Woodgett for your generous response (and yes, it was a serious question!).

        The examples you cite are certainly noteworthy of mentioning. And I’m sure to be grateful when I, or other members of my family, can be cured if the need arises by such technologies having been discovered.

        I looked up your name on google last night and read about some of the work you do. Very interesting indeed.

        I have one follow-up question, if you don’t mind. You mention that the ‘return on initial investment has been stunning’ and I understand such ‘return’ to apply to the biotech industry in general. I hope I am correct in assuming that. But my question is this: Besides a general ‘return on investment to the bio-industry at large, do any of the scientist working under the guidance of grant money, profit personally by taking up patents on any of the discoveries? Or how does it work out for the scientist in question who did discover something new (besides receiving a Nobel prize for instance) when working on grant money? Or does some of the profit come back to the university where the research was conducted?

        The reason for asking is that it is also important for the general public (aka the taxpayer) to know how the rest of the process develops regarding pay-offs etc. I really think much of the general public is totally in the dark on such matters , and now that we have an insider answering questions, we might have a chance to hear some interesting insights as to how the total process regarding grants further develops.

        Thank you so much again for taking the time to interact with us on Paul Wells’ blog.

        • Good question and the answer is somewhat dependent on the Institution. Granting agencies (including charities) that support research do not claim any ownership of intellectual property developed through the use of funding but expect the funded researchers to develop IP where appropriate. Some universities take the position that the scientist owns any intellectual property. This hasn’t worked out so well as the researchers cannot usually afford to prosecute patents, etc. Other universities and research institutes own the intellectual property of their employees and trainees (like in industry) but provide them with partial ownership to incentivise development of IP. The majority of any benefit is gained by the university but since they are not-for-profit, this gets turned back into the operational costs. This commercialization activity doesn’t tend to lead to a great deal of return but plays an important role in encouraging interaction with industry (which is not at all interested if there is no patent protection). The individual scientists have the potential to profit but not too many earn a living that way. I don’t know too many rich scientists – there are some – but the odds aren’t usually that good! We (as an Institution) do spin out companies occasionally and license technologies and use the proceeds to help maintain our research. Of course, most of this work is early stage which is why the returns are less. If a company develops the research which initially cost $100,000, invests millions more dollars and then makes a profit on a resultant product, any proceeds to us are commensurately diluted (as is our risk).

          • Very interesting. Various ways of dealing with the spin-offs. And you lay-out before us the many pro and cons regarding directions taken after the discoveries have been made.Very well explained, thank you.

            We read often now about universities being more concerned about receiving research grants rather than being concerned about teaching the attending students. And we know how universities are always screaming for more money. So forgive me for thinking this: Is the tax dollar well spent if universities become mainly drivers for grant receivers (and gain additional funding when positive research results are available) but as a result leave us with a generation of under-schooled university students? Just a question to think about for anyone interested.

            Everything is connected, of course. In the end it must come down to balance. Discovering where this proper balance might be struck in regards to public funding of scientific research, would be by open and direct dialogue. Misunderstandings arise when interested parties come to stand in isolated corners. From isolated corners nothing worthwhile ends up in the middle from where each and every member of society can come to stand in the clear.

            Here’s to hoping that the upcoming Canadian Science Policy Conference in Calgary will pay attention to all the things connecting. Have a great time!

  8. How to define a journalist? Someone who feels the need to dig deeper for finding some sort of truth within a reporting no matter where the funding for the digging will come from.

    How to define a scientist? Someone who feels the need to explore into the unknowns regardless of the cost associated with that need to know, and technical application (rewards) thereof afterwards.

    Being a true journalist or being a true scientist is by drive of being – not by drive of getting the money beforehand.

    Not all scientists are real scientists and not all journalists are real journalists. Too bad most people don’t understand the difference any longer. Perhaps such shortcomings should be discussed first and foremost. It would help, no doubt about that.

  9. Jim Woodgett writes: ” In part, this is due to the complexity (and jargon) that surrounds
    modern science but that is all the more reason for researchers to engage
    and communicate.”

    —————————————————————————–

    OK Let’s see HOW the scientist communicates: in this case, Helen E. Fisher (an American anthropologist and human behavior
    researcher. She is a professor at Rutgers University and has studied
    romantic interpersonal attraction for over thirty years)

    “Recently,
    when elaborating on the topic of human love and romantic human love in
    particular, anthropologist Helen Fisher, had this to say: “I don’t think we are animals build to be happy; we are animals build
    to reproduce.” (http://www.ted.com/talks/helen… watched January 10, 2011).

    But
    not long after that, the very same scientist, Helen Fisher, had this to say
    when appearing as guest on the Joy Behar Show: “..because there is something odd about not having kids.
    From a Darwinian, evolutionary perspective, you’re choosing to not pass on your
    DNA on into tomorrow and in terms of genetic survival you have lost…..
    Times have changed so
    dramatically, and we’re finally at a time in human evolution when women can
    make that choice (to reproduce) and I think that’s a thrill.” (http://www.ncregister.com/blog… Watched
    January 3, 2011)

    ——————————————–
    This is what I have to say about that:

    Indeed,
    it seems as if confusion reigns supreme when wanting to take the proper
    understanding and placement of reproduction within the theory of evolution
    under consideration. Helen Fisher is not just an anthropologist, but she
    specializes in biological anthropology. The practitioners began calling their
    science ‘biological anthropology’ when the rise of genetics, and successful
    attempts to study non-human primates in their natural habitat, allowed
    anthropologists to rely on evidence other than bones. It seems to me that some
    biological anthropologists do more than just study non-human primates; Helen
    Fisher was clearly talking about the Being of human when she let the above
    mentioned comments fly. Those comments seemed uttered without any further
    thought attached to them. As if the automatic necessity of reproduction was a
    given and had been blindly taken up in turn. But if Helen Fisher would have given
    it some thought, she would perhaps not have uttered one of the two statements
    made, for she could have uttered one, and she could have defended the one, but
    to try and defend both comments in combination would clearly be a sign that not
    much thought had been given to what was being said. Let this be clear enough: either
    the Being of human belongs within the Dawkins understanding of the theory of
    evolution – we are animals build to reproduce – or the Being of human has
    somehow managed to step out of the theory – now having a choice in
    reproduction. Or, a third option could present itself, of course, namely that
    the theory of evolution itself has something left to be further explained. And
    that, within the field of biology, the bottom of understanding has not been
    reached yet; that more than just a few details are needed for coming to the
    bottom of things.

    Houston, we have a problem!

    For more info on scientific misunderstandings see http://www.letteredonline.com/the-big-picture-3/different-directions-happiness/5/

    • This better not be more crap on abortion and evolution.

      • EmilyOne: do me a favor and do some reading. The above mentioned website will give you lots to read about. It’s not so much about evolution as it is about the misgivings about the theory of evolution. Have a look and do some reading. Then get back to me.

        • Listen son, I knew this stuff before you were born, so give up on the patronizing.

          And take the Bible elsewhere.

          • U have no idea what you are talking about.

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