Problems with MIT Technology Review article and unproductive attacks of opposing views

Here is a list of the problems with an article by David Rotman called Fictional Science which attacks supporters and those that work towards living forever or self-replicating nanobots:

1. An example of applying logic to parts of the article. Rotman disparage the opinion of “non-researchers” and claim that they should not be given attention. Yet Rotman states that he is not a researcher but a journalist. Therefore, by his own standard..his own opinion is not important and should not be given attention.

2. Rotman is mistaken in claiming that there are no researchers among the “live-forever crowd” and among what he labels the “self replicating mechanical nanotechnology crowd”. There are researchers of various types working on the side that he disparages.

3. He disparages “wild claims with no empirical support” . Smalley and he create straw men positions of the opposing view and then attack the straw men. The claims that he attributes to those he opposes are not accurate reflections of their claims. The charge that they have no empirical support is also not accurate. “Rotman charges are inaccurate and based on falsified opposing views…very similar to what he accuse others of doing”.

4. I feel that articles and journalists and researchers who spend time publicly attacking and trying to poison the funding atmosphere for alternatives is destructive. If Big Oil attacks the science and funding for solar or wind (even if those alternatives are currently more costly) people would say that it is against the interests of society and potentially improved future technology. If Microsoft competes against other software companies not by making better products but by using public relation attacks and paying Gartner and other sources to trash the opposition and prevent them from being funded that would not be considered to be in societies interest. Mainstream researchers, Big Oil, Microsoft should concentrate on making their product better and competing that way.

Scientists choose to work on what they choose to work towards. Some of that work may not be on what is considered the mainstream path. Some work will pay off and some will not. If the mainstream path is really the best one …it and the people working on it should not be threatened by some alternative proposals.

Completely fictional science (such as Creationism / intelligent design) can be proven to not be science. There is no need to villify the people who promote it. There idea can just be shown to be wrong.

Theories (still scientific) can be shown to be incorrect. Molecular nanotechnology has many theories which could be experimentally tested at some point to show if they are correct or not. If a particular researcher chooses not to investigate those experiments, that is their choice. A researcher claiming that experiments will definitely have a particular result without the empirical data does not make them right. A bad theory can also be shown to be incorrect with a scientifically based theoretical proof.

I think the current biogerontology is a valid and worthy scientific discipline. However, I will laud and pay for the products, services and further research of those who actually can prove that they are able to significantly extend my lifespan and improve my health and body functions as I age.

The best stategies that we have now for that are eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, wear seat belts, get enough rest, avoid disease, detect disease early, get treated where possible etc… Maybe calorie restriction.

I do not see anything that I find interesting in what most Biogerontologist are doing (even if they were successful). I understand that they are researching basic science. So far I do not see many results to laud or pay anyone for. Biogerontologist or not. I am keeping an eye on certain research work and would support it if necessary.


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