Aging Minds & Break-through Science | Duo or Not?

Photo: Aaron Goodman via WSJGreenTracker| I read the Wall Street Journal get totally hammered this morning by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. Once again the argument is that all people who question climate science research belong to a right-wing conspiracy, led by WSJ and Sarah Palin.

Sachs is browbeating me into believing that I’ve missed it — that as we prepare to retool global economies, the science should be embedded in my brain by now.

Mea culpa, meal culpa.  I am confused about climate science, and not because I can’t sort through the Sarah Palin logic.

This portrayal of climate scientists as gods compared to the rest of us is really getting on my nerves. I’d like to think I’m a concerned person with a global conscience and if these guys don’t stop insulting my intelligence and right to ask questions, they will have a serious fight on their hands.

Personally, I think we need a commission of intelligent moderates in the middle, sorting through the particulars. All we have is another meltdown of Democrats and Republicans, this time with climate scientists who all but call me stupid and lacking in moral conscience, for not comprehending the ‘self-evident science’.

Back to the WSJ, a publication that I like and find to be more moderate than Dr. Sachs suggests.

Even if it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who isn’t my fav person in life, I find the WSJ a good read, one of the best among 50 or so that cross my eyes in a day.

Murdoch has an agenda, no doubt about it. So does Dr Jeffrey Sachs. Neverthess, I find that the WSJ consistently gives me relevant, traceable, comparatively unopinionated articles. Reading it get trashed so unmercifully by Sachs causes me to defend it.

WSJ is not more biased than the NYT, and it’s not FOX News, where I approach every article with caution.

Frankly, WSJ contributed much more to my learning this morning, than the Dr. Sachs diatribe in the Guardian — which I also read, but let’s not talk about bias, OK. The Guardian is one of the most biased media publications on the planet, which is why they unearth good stories some days and also fail to report just about any new research on global warming that contracts their position. I’ve checked, Dr. Sachs.

WSJ has a MUST READ article today Fleeting Youth, Fading Creativity in Science.

Like it or not, youth is associated with creative, scientific breakthroughs. Frankly, I could go for some young people in our scientific lives.

Isaac Newton was 23 when he began inventing calculus; Albert Einstein published several of his most important papers at the tender age of 26; Werner Heisenberg pioneered quantum mechanics in his mid-20s. At the time, these men were all inexperienced and immature, and yet they managed to transform their fields.

Youth and creativity have long been interwoven; as Samuel Johnson once said, “Youth is the time of enterprise and hope.” Unburdened by old habits and prejudices, a mind in fresh bloom is poised to see the world anew and come up with fresh innovations—solutions to problems that have sometimes eluded others for ages. via Wall Street Journal

In 1980 the majority of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants went to scientists in their late 30s. By 2006, the highest proportion was late 40s. In 2006, researchers between ages of 31 and 33 received 1% of grants. In 2007, there were more grants to 70-year-old researchers than those under 30.

At the risk of undermining my own cause of celebrating sexy, smart older women in America, I must weigh in with the WSJ on this subject.

Ours scientific grant system is not an energetic paradigm for scientific discovery in a globally competitive marketplace. What caused this shift in not funding young scientists? Thinking minds in America should want to know the answer. At least I do.

Does the right-wing conspiracy that Jeffrey Sachs blames for my confusion about climate change science also only support old people in science research? Older minds are less dangerous to the status quo? What’s up here?  Anne

My long comment in ‘Nature’ this week:

Climate Scientists Reluctant to Examine Big Research Picture