Monday, June 18, 2007

Banning Science and Mr. Coffee

Are science education in our schools and scientific curiosity in general being sacrificed in service to Fearful America?

As a result of state laws attempting to squash the home-made production of methamphetamine, once commonly obtained items like beakers and vials, as well as science programs in schools, are now part of an ever-growing list of banned items. Wired magazine talks about the issue here, noting:

In the meantime, more than 30 states have passed laws to restrict sales of chemicals and lab equipment associated with meth production, which has resulted in a decline in domestic meth labs, but makes things daunting for an amateur chemist shopping for supplies. It is illegal in Texas, for example, to buy such basic labware as Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers without first registering with the state’s Department of Public Safety to declare that they will not be used to make drugs. Among the chemicals the Portland, Oregon, police department lists online as “commonly associated with meth labs” are such scientifically useful compounds as liquid iodine, isopropyl alcohol, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen peroxide, along with chemistry glassware and pH strips. Similar lists appear on hundreds of Web sites.

“To criminalize the necessary materials of discovery is one of the worst things you can do in a free society,” says Shawn Carlson, a 1999 MacArthur fellow and founder of the Society for Amateur Scientists. “The Mr. Coffee machine that every Texas legislator has near his desk has three violations of the law built into it: a filter funnel, a Pyrex beaker, and a heating element. The laws against meth should be the deterrent to making it – not criminalizing activities that train young people to appreciate science.”

Or making coffee. Yeah, I wonder if lawmakers considered banning, say Mason jars, too.

Couple that story with others, such as this one, which questions whether any of the recent alleged terrorist plots were even possible:

I don't think these nut jobs, with their movie-plot threats, even deserve the moniker "terrorist." But in this country, while you have to be competent to pull off a terrorist attack, you don't have to be competent to cause terror. All you need to do is start plotting an attack and -- regardless of whether or not you have a viable plan, weapons or even the faintest clue -- the media will aid you in terrorizing the entire population."

An ever-confusing alarmist mindset will not serve anyone except those who use terrorism as political tactic.

Demonizing science can only dumb down the country. Replacing science with superstition isn't moving forward, it's racing backwards in time and abandoning rational thought.

Is this perhaps why we have a growing culture which is embracing ideas such as the one being offered in a 'museum' in Kentucky, where claims are made that the reason the T. Rex had long sharp teeth was so it could eat coconuts.


  1. carpenterjd1:49 PM

    T-Rex and coconuts? Sounds like a Randy Newman song. It sounds as if someone in KY has a brain the size of a T-Rex.

    We must ban any substance that could possibly be used to manufacture illegal drugs. However, it is perfectly legal to own weapons that can be used to steal drugs.

    Besides, Joe, we don't need no book larnin.

  2. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to find another way to add a tax or two for all the new jobs to track every coffee maker and hydrogen peroxide buyer to the ends of the earth.

    ...damn this world, where is my crack pipe?

  3. well< back in my day we only made alcohol in chemistry class - a useful skill

  4. ya know Vol, now that I recall, we used the incubator in our chemistry class to warm up donuts!!