Scientists are people too, and so like any of the rest of us they sometimes get derailed by the temptations of fame, money, and personal ambition. Even lay people wanted cold fusion to be real. And physicists really wanted Bell Labs' Hendrik Schön"s work on superconductivity to be true. PhD students have staked their careers on his published results (90 papers in peer reviewed journals in three years).
Many physicists now wonder about Schön's incredible productivity. "I am guilty of extreme gullibility," says Nobel laureate Philip Anderson. "I have to confess it. We should all have been suspicious of the data almost immediately." Ramirez of Los Alamos says, "I find it hard to even read that many papers, much less write the them"
As with every other human endeavor, science ultimately depends upon the integrity of those who practice it for its success.
"Science is scientists," said William Wallace, teacher and head of the science department at Washington's Georgetown Day School. "It's a human activity." Still, Wallace concedes that "A little trust is chipped away every time something like this happens." Pointing to the "heroes I had growing up" -- like Richard Feynman, the maverick Nobel prize winner who inspired generations of physics students -- Wallace notes that now "there's an incredible amount of pressure on young and midcareer scientists. They always need to know where the next grant is coming from." The result is "careerism," not heroism or pursuit of the truth. And that leaves the teacher with a question: "In the end, if there isn't respect for scientific truth, then what have you got?"
For me, what's left is a daily effort to respect the actuality of suffering, the improbability of this whole "faith" matter, and the inevitability of my allying myself with the saints, loved ones, teachers, and friends who have shown me Truth. Though not all of them profess Christian faith, and some explicitly disavow it, I have from their insight and wisdom better understood what it is that I can't help believing, the exquisitely (invisibly?) subtle plot line that weaves the multifarious melodies of the world I observe into a peculiar, idiosyncratic, syncopated, sublimely harmonious non-fictional novel in which we all are characters. They have bound me to the Truth they have taught me, ardently as I sometimes wish I could escape, unlikely as it all looks. They have made me a faithful man against all the odds, and against my own (one-time) deliberate intention, and against the currents that draw me away toward the satisfactions of a life lived without the conundrums that my faith continually raises.
Against these, and toward a joyous affirmation that whatever I have misunderstood or stated poorly, however I have fumbled or fallen short, whomever I have wronged, my cracked pot jumbled full of goodness and foolishness, aspirations to holiness and addictions to self-indulgence, my smallness cannot diminish the grace and constancy by which the Truth makes the most of what I offer, and brings me along despite myself to share in a peace which passes human understanding.
Periodically I've considered writing some kind of credo for public consumption. Having read this one, which is so eloquent, I'm even more hesitant to try.
Another portable storage device: Pandora's MiniBox?
I just read a review of the Sandisk Cruzer from the Chicago Tribune (free registration required, no one says you have to give them real info, although they won't accept a yahoo email address). After giving the device a generally positive notice, the reviewer adds:
The SD Cards are designed to permit a number of copyright protection schemes and are expected to be used in the near future for things like letting a user buy music online and then either play it on the computer or on a portable device that is licensed by the music company.
In the unlikely event that this scheme works, there will be yet another reason to get a Cruzer.
Or NOT. Like I would deliberately purchase a pre-crippled medium. Hah!