Government vs. Science

Government vs. Science
Posted on January 10, 2014 | Bob Barrigar | Written on January 10, 2014
Letter type:


Huffington Post

Science needs data.  Data need preservation.  Preservation of scientific data needs government support.
The Federal Government has begun to close federally administered libraries, particularly libraries containing scientific works.  Research staff are dismayed.  A summary of what’s been happening appears at:
It may be a mere coincidence that the contents of libraries being closed include scientific studies and data that have given support in recent years to opponents of Government policy in such areas as fisheries and oceans.
There appears to have been no attempt by the Government to seek alternatives to library preservation of data.  The data will simply be lost forever, it would appear.  Further, the expense of keeping the closed libraries open appears to be quite low – a drop in the proverbial bucket.
The referenced article deals only superficially with the serious problem of preserving digital data. Digital storage media have quite limited lifetimes.  A summary is viewable at Data preservation recommendations are detailed at
Analog recordings tend to have longer lifetimes than digital recordings.  I have read that wire recordings, provided that they do not break nor snarl, can preserve data for as long as a century, perhaps longer.
You are familiar with the information explosion, the vast quantity of data that may be lost in the absence of special steps taken to preserve it, the development of the “Cloud” of data, etc.  Rumours that St. Peter has been appointed overseer of the Cloud have not been substantiated.  Nor have the rumours that monks are laboriously copying longhand all the data in the world.
So we face technical problems, management problems, political problems.  Somehow this all seems familiar.
--  Bob

About The Author

Bob Barrigar's picture

retired patent attorney



Perhaps no better summation of whats wrong with the Science Community these days can be found to exceed the cartoon displayed in this article. They believe they find the Truth. They don't. They find facts. Truths are absolutes. Facts are malleable, changeable, open to debate, and, as science itself has proven for, well, as long as its been practiced, fully and completely discard-able when new data and discoveries are made.

Leave Truths to the philosophers, and stick to facts.