Friday, March 6, 2015

Moments of Science History

This week I've been discussing history in light of the Women's Studies literature I've read, looking into "where did we go wrong?" Today I want to discuss some of the historical issues with science.

This is a complicated post to write, as I believe in STEM careers, and the ability of science to improve our world... while recognizing that sometimes science has gotten it wrong. It is relevant to several current topics of discussion, most notably the vaccine debate.

There is a meme, "Science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur. The humanities can tell you why that is a bad idea."  The case studies of scientific ethics that I was aware of to begin this post, appear largely to have come after the fact, in reaction to scientific decisions rather than preventative.

My Catholic education has long taught me that the question "Can we?" must also consider "Should we?" on scientific concerns. At the time, it was most applied to reproductive issues, both In-Vitro Fertilization and looking forward to the potential for "designer babies" in the future.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Summer 2009, as part of my Master's program, I took a class on Engineering and Globalization. Those who know me or have followed my blog over the years should recognize this as a natural extension of my interest in international affairs and technology.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

World War II

This is the first post in a history series, discussed yesterday, to examine some of the moments where, perhaps, history "went wrong." The alternate title for this post was "Godwin's law."

Recent advice on Twitter for white women interested in supporting activism is to "stay in your lane." Years ago on my blogs, I would post about technologies for clean water and things that I thought - from my armchair in the United States - might help places like Africa. Since that time, I've learned a great deal more about the importance of culture, location, and tacit knowledge in designing appropriate solutions for global markets.

So this series, in particular, is targeted at my own people, white Americans. I have seen and heard the attitude of peers who didn't care too much about history, or who think that what happened in the past is over and done, and doesn't affect the present. I hope that this will help you to reconsider that position.

There are more recent moments that could apply. Chronologically, there are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, post-9/11. If you really want to read about anti-terrorism politics, I recommend my sister's blogs (current and former). Much of her older blog was written during her deployment and later contract work in Iraq.

The other more recent historical shake-up was the fall of the Soviet Union and the 1990's post-Cold War era. Perhaps another week I'll start discussing that.

Trigger warnings apply to the text below the cut, for discussion of war and particularly the Holocaust.

Also, caveat: I am not a historian, and I have not examined many primary sources on this. The following perspective is largely written from textbooks and secondary / tertiary sources.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The purpose of religion - advice for seekers

At the airport last week, I heard quite a bit of concern about seekers looking for information about religion, and not always knowing how to sort out the good from the bad.

Honestly, I've had that concern myself, which is one reason why I listed many of the links from my series as "what I found on Google" rather than a specific recommendation from me.

One book that I found that had good advice, was this old edition of "Chop Wood, Carry Water." I believe I first read it from the St. Louis County public library. While it might at first glance seem "New Agey," there are several insets about avoiding cults, finding a good teacher, and staying grounded in one's search for meaning.

From a more existentialist perspective, I also recommend Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," as it discusses many of the hard questions of life that came out of his experience in a concentration camp.