Friday, March 2, 2007
One year later, Pro Test controlling research debate
This is some good news coming out of the UK. According to this article, one year after it was formed by 16 year-old Laurie Pycroft, the pro-research group Pro Test has shifted public opinion in favor of research as the new research lab at Oxford nears completion. It seems to me that there are three important factors that have led to Pro Test's success, and I think some ideas about how ARAs should be dealt with in the court of public opinion can be gleaned here. First, is that the British government has, within the past year, seriously cracked down on the country's worst AR terrorists. Virtually all of Britain's most violent AR criminals are now where they belong: behind bars. It's a lot easier to get those who support ongoing research to come out publicly with there support when they aren't facing arson, beatings, death threats, and other such criminal activity. Secondly, the university itself has cracked down on over-the-top, excessive protesting tactics used by ARAs. Now, I fully support the free speech rights of everyone to express their opinions. However, I think it is pretty well established that one person's free speech rights cannot violate the rights of another person. The university has, rightfully, in my opinion, restricted protesters to demonstrations that do not disrupt the day-to-day activities of the university. Other people have the right to pursue their studies without continual disruption from protesters. Finally, and most importantly, is that scientists themselves are informing the public about their work. This, I think, is key. When the public is informed about the goals and methods of research, they are more likely to support it. When the public is ignorant, they are less likely to support it, and more likely to buy into AR propaganda. When a scientist speaks, I don't believe that the word of pseudo-philosophical ideologues can compare to it in credibility. Hopefully the Brits, many of which have long been bogged down in AR insanity, are finally returning to some science and reason.