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Please Stop, You're Interfering With My Research

Thank you, members of Congress, for the opportunity to address you at this hearing today.

By | June 20, 2005

If cell phone use on airplanes is eventually permitted, it should only be allowed when a plane is fitted with a "picocell" that carries all wireless communications between the plane and the ground on a single channel, thereby reducing interference with radio astronomy observations, an important tool for studying the universe.

National Academies of Science press release, based on the National Research Council's Committee of Radio Frequencies comments to the Federal Communications Commission, June 2, 2005

Thank you, members of Congress, for the opportunity to address you at this hearing today. On behalf of the 300,000 members of Scientists for Responsible Progress, we are here to exhort you to pass legislation that will make the future of science a reality. We must ensure that frivolous human activity does not continue to disrupt the forward march of scientific advances. Every day, humans trample on the ability of scientists to do their work.

With that as a preamble, please consider our well-reasoned proposals:

• Lights – these must be kept to an absolute minimum. There are astronomers on the East Coast of the US who have not seen a star in years.

• Animal activists – the sort whose tactics cost millions every year in property damage and delays – should be given counseling on the importance of their fellow human beings and retrained in socially useful roles.

• Banning religion is such an obvious step that we shouldn't need to comment on it, except to say that it will make this whole stem cell controversy go away quite quickly. Another benefit will be the end of this distracting debate between those who believe in evolution and those who believe in creationism.

• The First Amendment, too, must go; allowing the press to report irresponsibly on science, and taking the time to be interviewed by reporters, is a serious hindrance.

• Please stop the world population from polluting. This request is admittedly somewhat controversial, and was the reason that there is now a separate Toxicologists for Responsible Progress. But we are confident we can work out these differences. The end of highway subsidies would go a long way toward achieving this goal, and you should of course realize that all of highway funding should be redirected into basic science research. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to expect that you will do what is necessary to quadruple the NIH budget each year.

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Photo: Mike Lynaugh Photography

• Outdoor activities must be stopped. As skin cells are the best quarry for cloning embryonic stem cell lines, the genetic damage caused by the sun will render these lines as useless as the ones currently approved for funding. Please see to it that the government distributes regular rations of vitamin D pills.

• We must ask that humans stop reproducing sexually. Keeping track of the variations in billions of genomes is difficult enough; we cannot imagine doing more. Members of this august committee can set an important example by seeing one of the technicians we have supplied for a short and relatively painless procedure.

Keep in mind that it is not only the public that we have asked for sacrifices. In the past, the marine biologists among us have urged that sonar testing, which causes whales to head suicidally for shore, be abolished. That did not go over well with our Navy colleagues, but we are committed to science, not to keeping everyone happy.

Respectfully, members of Congress, we know you can see your way past the powerful consumer lobbies that may oppose our wishes. The future of science is at stake. There's one more recommendation that you may have already thought of yourselves: please vote yourself out of office. There's nothing worse than politicians when it comes to interfering with science.

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