The Weekend Wonk: Lincoln, the National Academy, and Trusting Science

October 7, 2012

I did not know that.  Abraham Lincoln was the only President to hold a patent.  Lincoln’s understanding of Science and Technology helped lead to the founding of the National Academy of Science.

More from Richard Alley, and Earth the Operator’s Manual.


8 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Lincoln, the National Academy, and Trusting Science”

  1. omnologos Says:

    You’ll like the last quote here by Abe, won’t like the first one

    I find the concept of a planetary operations manual hubristic to the point of silly. The issue isn’t about “trusting science” as about “trusting scientists”. And the scientific method (including replicability, data sharing, openness to criticism) is exactly a way to remove the need for having to “trust” anybody. That’s where the paths diverge, for the quasi-religious Defenders of Science and the rational skeptics.

    • skeptictmac57 Says:

      We are, without a doubt,changing our environment/ecosystem in negative ways with human activities.Is it your suggestion that we continue forward without any guiding principles (aka an operator’s manual)?
      Trying to recognize and mitigate harm to our world (and thus us) is not hubris,it is common sense.Ignoring the damage we cause now,and leaving it for future generations to deal with,is selfish, callous,and dare I say it,hubristic.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      good find!

    • guylacrosse Says:

      Another quote from the same page.

      “Of all the forces of nature, I should think the wind contains the largest amount of motive power—that is, power to move things. Take any given space of the earth’s surface— for instance, Illinois; and all the power exerted by all the men, and beasts, and running-water, and steam, over and upon it, shall not equal the one hundredth part of what is exerted by the blowing of the wind over and upon the same space. And yet it has not, so far in the world’s history, become proportionably valuable as a motive power. It is applied extensively, and advantageously, to sail-vessels in navigation. Add to this a few windmills, and pumps, and you have about all. … As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of it.” Abe Lincoln

      So he would be for wind energy if he were alive today.

  2. sailrick Says:

    I doubt Lincoln would think a user’s manual silly now.

  3. toby52 Says:

    Lincoln kept up his interest in technology. During the Civil War, he kept up an interest in the development of new weapons, and pushed the War Department to adopt the repeating rifle.

    The point about “scientists” and “science” is that the subversion of science by a groups of scientists is highly unlikely, since it will be in the interests of at least one to spill the beans on the others and further his/ her own career thereby. A conspiracy of thousands of scientists worldwide, extending beyond national boundaries, has virtually 0 chance of prolonged success. The international conspiracy deniers invite us to believe in is even larger than the alleged JFK assassination-coverup “plot”.

    • omnologos Says:

      Sadly there’s no need of a “conspiracy” of scientists. A combination of the ways careers are built, plus a misguided belief in impending doom, are sufficient.

      As for the lone scientist try googling “Reg Sprigg”.

  4. […] come to the rescue with a series of complete, well explained, short, (three minutes) authoritative (explain that the NAS was founded by Lincoln) videos that give a good outline of the scientific case as it is understood by the mainstream. (and […]

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