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United States Science Technology

USA to Pass Science Crown to China 1247

Posted by Zonk
from the not-even-miss-america dept.
instantgames writes "According to a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research, rapid development of a science and technology base by populous Asian countries soon may threaten the economic position of the United States. Not only is the U.S. losing ground in high technology exports, but its very capacity to develop new technologies is declining rapidly with respect to the rest of the world. According to Richard Freeman, the paper's author, the sheer population of Asian countries may allow them to train more scientists and engineers than the U.S. while devoting a smaller share of their economy to science and technology." From the article: "The phenomenal growth of China's industrial base has been widely publicized, but Freeman focuses on what is perhaps the more important long-term indicator of a nation's prosperity - its re-investment in science and technology education. "
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USA to Pass Science Crown to China

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:26PM (#13169470)
    ...with China's commensurate commitment to freedom of speech, human rights, free flows of information among its citizenry, support of protest and political dissent, and so on.

    That's not the only critical front on which the US will be competing with China: the US will soon pass the oil/fossil fuel consumption crown to China as well if current trends continue.

    Further, China is free to spend for its own growth with little oversight from the populace (such as investing heavily in pebble bed fission reactors [slashdot.org], planning to build 30 new reactors by 2020 [slashdot.org]), allowing it to spend money as it sees fit without the same social and political constraints as the US. And even with what little oversight you think we might have in the US, it's far greater than the influence a typical Chinese citizen has. It's too bad that we'll likely never see new nuclear plants built anytime soon here, with all the political baggage.[1] We'll just keep using the quickly diminishing supply of conventional fossil fuels.[2]

    [1] An environmental research group came to my door the other day extolling the virtues of environmental law, conservation, anti-pollution law, and etc., as you'd expect. All noble causes, when tempered with economic reality. But they continued on to also say opposition to ANY nuclear project was critical. Could they "count on my support?" In a word, no.

    [2] Bush is actually pushing hard for the nuclear plants we're in desperate need of. See the policy speeches [whitehouse.gov] here. Contrast this with some typical opponents' opposition to all ongoing nuclear research under the guise of nuclear weapons nonproliferation.
    • by jahudabudy (714731) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:47PM (#13169787)
      But they continued on to also say opposition to ANY nuclear project was critical.

      Yeah, sometimes (most of the time?) passionate self-righteousness precludes any rational thought. I work on the campus of a liberal arts college, and see a lot of PCU-style protesters. A few years ago, NC was looking to build a waste-disposal site for low-level nuclear waste (generally stuff like rubber gloves used in medical procedures involving radiation or x-ray). I was approached by a protest group that wanted me to sign a petition decrying this horrendous environmental affront. I asked them what they proposed should be done with this waste, they said "Stop producing it." I pointed out that a) chemotherapy patients, dental patients, etc. would object to this "solution", and b) this "solution" would do absolutely nothing for the already existing waste.
      I'm not sure which was louder, the howls of rage, or the giant sucking sound as my points were hurled into the intellectual vacuum.
  • by tcd004 (134130) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:26PM (#13169472) Homepage
    Yep, this has been creeping up on us for awhile, despite warnings from U.S. industry insiders. [foreignpolicy.com] Both government and private funds for R&D are drying up.

    Still, some economists argue [foreignpolicy.com] that China isn't growing nearly as quickly as it could. How could that be?

    One probable cause is that infrastructure for research and development has a long way to go in many developing Asian countries, especially China. Having some history behind your scientific community has its benefits. Thats why, even with our moral and ethical hurdles in the way, we're still winning the "great stem cell race." [foreignpolicy.com] For now.

    (enjoy the plugs for great articles in my favorite magazine)
    tcd004

    • by pete6677 (681676) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:54PM (#13169912)
      Industry insiders are largely responsible for research cuts. When companies like HP, AT&T, Bell Labs, and many other former research giants cut back their activities to become just another consumer electronics company, it's no surprise that research in the US will be lacking. Until someone is willing to focus on more than next quarter's profits, this will be an ongoing trend.
  • by donleyp (745680) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:28PM (#13169489) Homepage

    From an elementary school's billboard in my neighborhood: "Adequate yearly progress, once again!"

    This is what we get for handing our children's education over to the government.

    Moderators, please don't rate this post as "Funny", because it isn't.

    • This is what we get for handing our children's education over to the government.

      Given that government-operated schools are the norm and not the exception among industrialized nations, I am curious as to what kind of alternative system you believe would be preferable.

      Now obviously public schools don't have a 100% success rate, and there are significant pedagogical and bureaucratic problems with the current system that we should address. But the baby needs to stay even if the bathwater goes.

      "Adequate yea
      • by linzeal (197905) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:25PM (#13170297) Homepage Journal
        Get rid of most of the teachers after grade 5 or so and let people who can utilize the vast array of self-tutorials, peer-forums and the sheer power of the internet to learn. My niece is 12 years old and has advanced all the way to precalculus with a mother and father who know only basic arithmitic and has never been in a school or met a teacher. She is self-sufficient and is not some super genius or anything. Teacher-led instruction as the basis for education in a fast paced knowledge driven economy is damaging children before they learn you can learn for yourself, by yourself.
    • by Evro (18923) * <evandhoffman&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:36PM (#13169592) Homepage Journal
      This is what we get for handing our children's education over to the government.

      As opposed to China, where they've handed everything over to the government?
    • by Pxtl (151020)
      As opposed to those charming private institutions that handle Chinese education, and handled American education back in the good old days.

      Oh, wait, good education has been done by many government programs. Oops.

      American education isn't bad because it's run by the government. It's bad because people don't give a crap about fixing it.
      • by donleyp (745680) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:53PM (#13169888) Homepage
        There have been lots of great ideas for fixing it, but every single one of them have been shot down by the NEA.

        It is a sad state of affairs when the major private organization in our country helping to shape education policy is a teacher's union, who's interest lies with teachers, not students.

        Let me refine my point by pointing out that you can track the decline in S&E with the rise in the power of the Department of Education.
      • I think it's more along this line:

        American education isn't bad because it's run by the government. It's bad because it's run by the politicians. If politicians focused more on the future of our students, they'd devote a greater share of our tax dollars on education. Instead, we worry more about the troubles of the day; a pointless war in a country half a world away.

        Giving money to education is not a bold move in America, like it should be. Hell, Gates has given TONS of money to educate kids, and he's
      • by RexRhino (769423)
        Fixing it is an impossibility in most places, because the whole political machine of the Teachers Unions, the suppliers and contracters, etc. Once there is a system in place were people are making so much money from the failing system, only a person with more money will be able to change it... and that isn't an average parent.

        Any sort of educational reform in the U.S. is politically impossible. Homeschooling and private is the only way we are going to get good education for kids in the immediate future.

        Al
      • by gosand (234100) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:17PM (#13170203)
        American education isn't bad because it's run by the government. It's bad because people don't give a crap about fixing it.

        Well, to be accurate, they just give more of a crap about everything else, like funding an unjustified war. Or taking care of big business. Or any of other 1000 things that the government wastes OUR money on. Everyone gives lip service to bettering education, yet they love to say ignorant things like "well, at least teachers get the summer off".

      • by ncmathsadist (842396) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:35PM (#13170416) Homepage
        Ah, it's the perennial bitchfest on American education. Why don't our schools work like they should? Here's a view from the inside (I teach in a public magnet school).

        1. American culture is deeply anti-intellectual. Americans do not value teaching and learning. Look at the behaviour of our largest universities. Americans are interested in their children being credentialed; they for the most part don't give a fig if their children become sentient, civilized adults.

        2. Education has a second-rate image as a profession. Americans think that teachers should work "for the love of it". These same people think that a tepid middle relief pitcher should get 3 megabux a year 'cause its important for the home team. There is no star system for teachers. All are yoked in syzygy into rigid pay scales that do not reward performance. Well, Americans are getting what they pay for.

        3. Education starts in the home. Are you sending your child to school properly socialized so he can function effectively? Do you read to your chyldren? Does junior know his colors and shapes, or is he educated by the television?? This is probably the biggest source of the achievement gap in schools, tho' it ain't PC to talk about it.

        4. Schools STILL function in the industrial revolution model. Your average edhead says "Gee, don't one size fit all....?" Schools are, more often than not, tighly and centrally controlled like factories. Schools push values such as lockstep conformity. "Dont be different! That's bad!" Then their administrations sit and wonder why every kid is doing drugs as a teen. In the 21st century, people need to learn to think for themselves to be effective citizens. (this is a heretical and incendiary idea)

        5. It's OK in america to neglect gifted kids. "They will take care of themselves anyway" Uh, wrong. Tragically wrong. This is a topic for a lengthy disquisition. I have been a specialist in the field of gifted education for many years. The misconceptions held by the public on this issue are legion.

        It is not a pretty picture. And given our yahooish culture (highest cultural value in America: tits wiggling on a video screen) and the loutishness and selfishness of our business and political establishments, change isn't in the cards any time soon. Remember, it's always fat'n'sassy right until the very moment the roof cafes in. Hello Bejing.......
        • by kabocox (199019) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:40PM (#13171078)
          I agree but I'll take your post from a slightly different POV.

          1. The US doesn't generally give a sh*t about math or science look at junior high and highschool. What are the 3 most popular groups? Football, cheerleaders and drillteam. I personally would like all sports banned from school except for intermural PE sports.

          2. I'm sorry, but in this point I strongly disagree with you. Why? Because I think almost all schools are making far too much money as it is. Note: I said schools not teachers. I honestly think that almost all school admin staff across the country should be fired ASAP. Most teachers can tell you that this would radically increase the money that reaches teachers. I'd honestly like fully itemized bills sent home from school in addition to report cards. That would change the educational landscape.

          3. I'm more neutral on this. I agree that any student that has a parent that forces the student to learn will generally outperform those don't. I don't think that teachers should expect any help though. I think teachers should expect any parental help as pure bonus. Honestly parents get pissed at alot of busy work that could be done in class that is assigned as homework that generally happens more in junior high and high school though.

          4. At first, I was going to agree. But then I thought about it. For the most part, you are given a rather wide choice of subjects in junior high and high school. My grip is pre-reqs designed in a why that forces a student into a "career" track. If you didn't take geometery early on, there is no way for you to double up and take Cal later on.

          5. You know. I hate the term gifted students. I was in gifted and talented for awhile. I decided shortly there after to avoid it like the plague. Why? Because most of the individuals that were admitted were trouble makers: those that would crack jokes, interrupt the teacher to gossip, and would talk or pass notes. I was happy that those students were there. They tested well. Testing is extremely easy to the talented. What is difficult is sitting down and listening. Heck, most school work could be done in 5-10 minutes unless designed to take longer. Gifted and talented folks pass through without a problem. Actually, in alot of respects, I think middle school through high school should be taught in the same manner with the same freedoms as college is now.

          I'm not really worried about China. Why? Because they'll cut off contact with the rest of the world once they are 20-30 years ahead of everyone else. In that time frame, the US will re-evaluate alot of things and get its act together. The US only shines when we have a good partner to compete against. China will drive the US forward like no one else could.
        • by Tetravus (79831) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:52PM (#13171214) Homepage
          but I'd mod you up if I could.

          The neglect of gifted children is one of the worst things that occurs in the public education system. For those children who are gifted and could succeed, there is no reason to strive. They would be belittled by their peers and given no additional resources. For those children who are gifted and have concomittant special needs (i.e. can finish assigned reading in 1/2 the allotted time and then disrupt the class because they're bored, does the teacher have anything for them to do afterwards?)

          You know the saying about the first 80% of an objective being easy to achieve? The next 10% is challenging, the 5% after that very difficult and the final 5% almost impossible. For some reason our schools are attempting to get the final 5% onto par with the first 80% through mainstreaming of students who may never produce average results; simultaneously they are ignoring the 10% of potential high achievers who may require more stimulation to really bloom.

    • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:38PM (#13169640) Homepage Journal
      Last I checked, the Government was also handling children's education WAY back in our glory days during WWII and the space race.

      What is a sin and a shame to me is the "one size fits all" mentality that shapes education. When are we going to finally grow up and realize that not everyone is cut out for college. Of course that would also require a measure of respect for the trades as a legitimate line of work, and not simply something for the "special" kids.

      • by dillon_rinker (17944) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:56PM (#13169936) Homepage
        When are we going to finally grow up and realize that not everyone is cut out for college.

        As soon as "elitist" isn't a dirty word. As soon as ethnicity-blind policies become the law of the land. As soon as we recognize that homo sapiens is subject to evolutionary pressures and its various subpopulations are variously adapted to their environments.

        Any leftist with a lick of political sense is now branding me a racist. Odd how anti-evolution the left becomes when you discuss apply the principles of evolution to the human race.
      • "When are we going to finally grow up and realize that not everyone is cut out for college."

        Maybe there should be a college for nerds and a seperate 'college' for jocks?

        Note the use of quote marks...
    • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:44PM (#13169727) Homepage Journal
      This is what we get for handing our children's education over to the government.

      You say that as if public education is a recent development. American Public Education goes back as far as the American Revolution, and has roots that go back even further. It sounds like you are not aware of this history, so here's a primer [pbs.org]. Read and learn.

      Abandoning the poor people is bad for the American economy and American democracy. If anything, you can trace the growing ruin of American society to increased privatization and reduced funding of public services such as Public Education.
    • From what I have seen, and it is a lot, private education and quasi-private education such as charter schools, do an apalling job of science and math education. Sure, exceptions can be cited, but the overall level is well below that of public schools. Teaching these subjects requires smart, motivated teachers with the time and resources to do the job. You are more likely to find these in a public school. We have a fine Catholic school system with a high school and two elementary schools in our area, bu
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:31PM (#13169523) Homepage Journal
    China is still very much more a copier of technology than an innovator. Once they become successful innovators, then we have to worry.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Innovation requires some things. It requires that people have enough surplus that they can spend time innovating. If you're spending your whole time trying to scratch up a meal, you probably aren't innovating much. Innovation does therefore depend on the economy.

      Innovation depends a lot on culture. If you have a culture that discourages innovation then it won't happen. The reason we won the cold war against the Soviet Union was that the Soviets were actively discouraged from innovating. Totalitarian
  • by sczimme (603413) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:32PM (#13169535)

    You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

    I didn't buy the paper, but would like to make one point:

    As long as the culture in the US continues to denigrate academic achievement and to glorify ignorance, this country will continue to fall behind the rest of the world in research and invention.
    • Not all bad (Score:5, Funny)

      by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:01PM (#13169999)
      I say that it's not all bad. What we lose in scientific-ness, we more than make up for with our awesome Jesus-osity! We may be dumber, but we're Holier!
    • by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:22PM (#13170260) Homepage Journal
      As long as the culture in the US continues to denigrate academic achievement and to glorify ignorance, this country will continue to fall behind the rest of the world in research and invention.

      There was an interesting Op-Ed piece in AMS Notices this month. Let me quote the relevant passage:

      "For the next ten years of a now 28 year business career, I hid my mathematics background. It wasn't shame or embarassment that inspired my actions, as I am quite proud of my achievements in the discipline and feel strongly that mathematics is a major contributor to all of my business accomplishments. No it was the knowledge, based on experience, that talking about mathematics with those not steeped in the discipline would steer a business conversation away from business and onto an entirely different plane.

      What was the conversation? I am sure you have had it.
      Person 1: Dr. Schaar, I appreciated your comment on education policy and the role that corporations can play in long-range programs. You seem to have a such a deep understanding of what educators want and need. What is your background?
      Schaar: I am a mathematician and taught at the university level for several years.
      Person 1: Oh, I was never any good at math. Hated the subject actually. I never could figure out how I would use it after school and didn't get along with my teacher...

      I do not have to continue. But over the years I began to realise that there was somethign hidden in Person 1's remarks. There was an insinuation that Person 1's non-mastery of mathematics was a non-issue. She was a successful business person in spite of it. So there! Her lack of matery was validated by the business world, and also by her peers, who eagerly confessed their lack of mathematical savvy as if it invited entry into a secret club. These same leaders trumped their abilities in the business world, while downplaying the significance mathematics played in the equation"


      From "Mathematics in Public" by Dr. Richard Schaar, AMS Notices August 2005.

      I'm sure any other mathematicians here, especially those who have spent time working in the business world, will find that conversation entirely familiar and typical. People take pride in their failure to study and master mathematics. It is all too common. Yet as Dr. Schaar pints out later in the article, mathematics is increasingly necessary skill in the modern compter oriented business world. The skills of logical thought and deduction fostered even by basic mathematics are the foundations for a large amount of IT related tasks, let alone the more advanced mathematics that can be so very benficial in engineering and computer science. Dr. Schaar goes on to describe how he now continues such conversations:

      Person 1: Oh, I was never any good at mathematics.
      Schaar: Well, that is too bad. Were you any good at reading?


      His point is that being good at mathematics, and the logical thought it teaches is as vital in the modern business world as reading. We ought to e taking it far more seriously than we are. I agree.

      I'd like to make a further point though, having had exactly such conversation many many times myself. Whenever I probe a little deeper it is almost always the case that the person liked and was good at mathematics at some point, usually very early primary/elementary school, but at some point along the ay they "had a bad teacher", or were given the impression that mathematics was hard, fell a little behind - and once behind the problems compounded at higher and higher levels and they quickly grew to hate the subject. The "bad teacher" is an all too common explanation.

      Is it any wonder though? The people who most often go into primary/elementary school teaching are precisely thoe people who never liked and struggled with mathematics at high school. They lack the ability to provide a wealth of ways to look at the problem, and lack any interest or enthusiasm for mathemat
      • by Comatose51 (687974) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:22PM (#13171950) Homepage
        I think those Person 1 are in for a big surprise. My work at a hedge fund has opened my eyes to the importance of mathematics. It's not just the analyst who must know math but also the directors. Most of our directors have their degrees in engineering. The financial world is moving away from shooting from the hips and bravado to disciplined, precise engineering of risks.

        What really annoyed in during high school and middle school was the prevalent idea that logic/reason is contrary to creativity. Anyone lacking skills in reasoning/math can compensate to themselves by claiming that they were creative. That's just dandy because there's no good way to measure creativity so they just hide behind that. Random ideas != creativity. From my experience, creativity requires at least a small measure of reasoning. In fact, some of the most creative people I know are very skilled at mathematics and computer science. The two are not exclusive but rather go hand-in-hand.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:32PM (#13169545)
    but rather due to capital flight. Our corporations, in an effort to turn a quick buck, intentionally transfered our high-technology manufacturing assets to asia. Our design centers were sure to follow.

    It only makes sense that a majority of future developments are going to come to us from Asia as we are no longer the experts -- they are.

  • Is it just me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultramk (470198) <ultramk&pacbell,net> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:32PM (#13169546)
    Does this remind anyone else of the dire warnings about Japan "taking over" in the '80s and '90s.

    This just reeks of fear-mongering. I half-way expect Michael Crichton to write some stupid novel about it.

    m-
    • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:52PM (#13169867) Homepage
      Japan had a population roughly equal to half that of the US. In order for Japan to surpass the US, the average Japanese citizen would have to be twice as efficient as the average US citizen.

      China has a population roughly equal to four times that of the US. In order for China to surpass the US, the average Chinese citizen would have to be one quarter as efficient as the average US citizen.

      Now, do you have any reason to believe that the average Chinese citizen cannot be one quarter as efficient as the average American? Now imagine what will happen when the average Chinese citizen is as efficient as the average American. Then, imagine what will happen if/when the average Chinese citizen becomes as efficient as the average Japanese.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:34PM (#13169560)
    So who here spent $5 for the PDF before commenting?
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:35PM (#13169575) Homepage
    ...is to raise taxes and give the schools more money.

    I mean hell, that's always worked so well in the past!

    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." --Benjamin Franklin
    • You only think you're being sarcastic. Actually, that's *exactly* what worked well in the past. During the Eisenhower administration, they passed the National Defense Education Act as a response to Sputnik and massively improved American science education. Taxation on income over 1 million dollars was at 90%. And America has dominated the world in science for the last half century. But with tax-cutters in power for 18 out of the last 25 years, things are starting to suck again. Amazingly, future result
  • What, us worry? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gsfprez (27403) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:35PM (#13169580)
    at least our kids know how to be politcally correct, don't have the stress of having to know how to read their own diplomas, are sensitive to every kind of form of sexual proclivity by the time they are in 4th grade, have shitloads of self-esteem, and can be sure that when they or their neighbors with little or no english skills work so hard that they reach the pinnacle of academic achievement - community college - they can be sure that there will be free childcare for them and their 4 kids when the go to class after working the all night shift at McDonalds.

    why are we worrying about science? Thats for nerds that don't watch American Idol. Which is, in and of itself, a sad state of affairs when you look at it...that those people are who we collectively teach our children to idol.

    just so long as we can yell and scream and blame every problem in the country on Bush and Judge Roberts, why would you want to fill our kids' heads with crap like science? They won't have room for remembering Nelly lyrics! /bitterness and dispair
    • Re:What, us worry? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gosand (234100) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:26PM (#13170308)
      just so long as we can yell and scream and blame every problem in the country on Bush and Judge Roberts, why would you want to fill our kids' heads with crap like science?

      You mean our Jesus-freak President? Who sold our children's and grandchildren's futures to fund a personal-vendetta war that he has NEVER been able to justify? We will be able to blame the Bush administration for the state of things for a long long time. He has had that huge of a negative impact on our society. We haven't even begun to feel the reprocussions of this misguided fool.

      Not that he can be blamed for everything, our society has been trained to be ignorant by the religious right for a while now. Video game that allows you to beat up and kill people? Hmm, OK. Wait, what!? There is a SEX scene in it?!!! AHHHHHHH! RECALL IT! Won't someone think of the children!!!

    • Re:What, us worry? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Coryoth (254751)
      have shitloads of self-esteem

      Now this is one issue that probably is worth picking on. There is much effort in modern education not to damage the self esteem of young people. The problem is the belief that self esteem is actually important for achievement is actually rather poorly founded. There was a very good article in Scientific American [sciam.com] at the beginning of the year that did some analysis of how self esteem actually correlates with the things low self esteem is claimed to case - the results were tha
    • Re:What, us worry? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog (189103) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:39PM (#13170455)
      just so long as we can yell and scream and blame every problem in the country on Bush and Judge Roberts, why would you want to fill our kids' heads with crap like science?

      Especially when we're already the undisputed #1 in Creation Science...

  • Bah.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:35PM (#13169582)
    Bah, what has science ever done for us?

    (queue monty python and the life of brian style response vs the romans)

  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:36PM (#13169587) Homepage
    This is no surprise, but the extension of long-term trends of various sociological effects. When you have a country (USA) that looks down on intelligence (and yes, the culture for the most part does unless you live on the coasts or in academia), and you have huge sections of the country that put religion above science, or at least give it equal time, you have the basis for lower education standards. The geeks fight back, but they are always the minority.

    Now couple that with right-wing attacks on public schooling in general, bleeding the public schools systems dry in order to push private schooling, and things get worse.

    Now add in an economy where many of the jobs that really use your brain get offshored, and what's left are service jobs that require not as much education, and you have an increasing pressure not to care about higher education. Just get one of those service jobs and root for your team and have a beer after work and all is well in your world. Right?

    Meanwhile India gets the tech jobs, and China is our major creditor, and suddenly all those smart Chinese students think why should they bother coming to xenophobic and dopey America when they can get the good science education and jobs back home. Where the economy is strong, education is encouraged, science is not neutered by religion, and things are moving forward.

  • Crown? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slobber (685169) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:37PM (#13169615)
    I don't quite understand what exactly the "scientific Crown" means, but on the balance I think this is positive news - science is not a zero sum game. What's invented in US works the same in China and vice versa. I don't view it exactly as US falling behind but Asian countries catching up because growth is always faster when you have lots of room to grow but then it slows down. Of course, US needs to do more to invest into and encourage better education to stay competitive. The fact that this is not currently the case is alarming.

    It is also good to hear that developing Asian countries are on a way to contribute to progress rather than dig their heels in and do everything in a futile attempt to stop it (as seems to be popular in some Middle East contries now a day).
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:43PM (#13169713) Journal
    A poster above mentioned that ignorance is glorified, and I hate to admit that it's true in our dear sweet USA. People who get good grades and aspire toward academic achievement are labeled and taunted as "brainiacs" or whatever, while some dope fiend who can snap back at the teacher in some incomprehensible slang-based language is held up as the modern-day hero. I doubt that the same is true in China.
  • A huge part of the problem is the way we compensate employees in the US. Engineers simply are not paid as well as they should be, and executives and managers are over paid. This creates a dis-incentive to enter engineering, or at least creates an incentive to view moving out of engineering and into management as "advancement."

    US companies need desparately to eliminate the artificial ceiling on the advancement of pay for engineers. IBM has made some small efforts in that direction by creating the "Distinguished Engineer" title, so that highly skilled engineers can be "promoted" and paid more, without being forced into management. A few other companies have similar initiatives, but that's not nearly enough.

    If we want to attract workers to high tech fields, we have to give them a reason to want to do so. And quit wasting multi-million dollar salaries and millions of dollars of bonuses on inept CEOs like Carly Fiorina.
  • by evilmousse (798341) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:49PM (#13169816) Homepage Journal

    seriously, what good does this thinking do?
    best of luck to all the asians. i hope we do well too. screw this fetish with being #1 in everything.
  • Not Population. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:57PM (#13169950)
    Well, for one, Europe only ceeded its "science crown " to the USA because of the World Wars. Since then, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Western Europe are science and technology powerhouses. Taiwan is especially instructive, as they speak the same language and have many of the same cultural factors. Despite their miniscule sliver of the total Chinese population, they're way ahead. Population don't mean much if most of your people are living in squalor due to repressive and corrupt government.

    The US's open-door policy for researchers from around the globe to study and research in the US had more to do with getting the "crown." The metling-pot mindset, especially popular with educators and institutions, allowed the best and the brightest to come to the US to do their work.

    That, and the US is, like, you know, a first world country? Once China and India and Indonesia can get phone and power service to the medievil huts the majority of its population lives in, then I'd worry about the massive population difference.

    New Zealand and Finland are good examples of miniscule countries in terms of population that are doing very, very, very well for themselves on the science and technology front. New Zealand is isolated by location, and Finland by language. They still have engineering firms and physicists that are world class.

    SoupIsGood Food

  • by 2ms (232331) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:07PM (#13170061)
    It's because technology is created by engineers and in China, India, Germany, etc. engineering is the most prestigious field of all.

    In the US people only value giant houses, rims, expensive watches, luxury cars w/ wine glasses in tv ads for them. Noone even knows what engineers do, they just admire doctors and lawyers for having lots of dolla bills and bling. Meanwhile, legal and medical cost are far and away the highest in the world.

    Visit the engineering building at any university in this country and you wont even find anyone who speaks english -- it's all exactly Chinese and Indian people receiving stipends in addition to free tuition courtesy of US govt grants and then head back to their own countries, contributing nothing to tech in the very country that paid for their education.
  • Good!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:11PM (#13170122)
    All those decades of a culture where intelligence is derided and ridiculed, and vacuous beauty or the ability to do things with a ball are hailed as things to be blindly worshipped are finally coming home to roost.

    The endless raging river of media vomited images of the intelligent person being something that should be made fun of and looked down upon, washing over generation after generation of ill-educated and hyperactive minds, worming its way into every single crevice of the collective coma is appearing as a giant sinkhole after eroding away all support beneath the surface.

    And you think this news will stop the stupidization of this society? Dream on. 99% of the population will never even become aware of it. They'll be blithering about red states and blue states and angels and demons and what whore Justin Dumbass Timberlake is fucking this week.

    Harsh attitude? Tough shit. I have met parents who were bothered when their children did *too* *well* in school, lest they be considered "brainiacs" or "geeks". People aren't remotely harsh enough on these sorts of memes.

    I was tapped out of tolerance on this front years ago. I'm on my way to retire in my early 50's, and then I'm outta this dump. Sit an wallow in your celebrity gossip, sports teams composed of sociopaths who are forgiven every crime by their followers and your endless wasteland of (pseudo)reality television and basing scientific legislation on ancient fairy tales.

  • by tulsadano (901029) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:16PM (#13170177)

    I'm curious why Americans are so shocked that the world preeminence we have enjoyed for a century looks like it will come an end in the next few generations (if we're lucky).

    History is in fact rife with empires that rose to politcal, military and cultural dominance and then (for whatever reason) saw it slip away. The English before US. The Spanish before them. The HRE, Romans, Egyptians...

    Why on earth do Americans think, "Oh, but the American world dominance will be the one that lasts forever?" Didn't the English believe that in the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries? The Spanish in the fourteenth - seventeenth centuries? ...

    It is a fact of history: Cultures rise to dominance and then fade from dominance. America is just fulfilling the eon old historical pattern. Maybe China will be the next in line; Maybe an unified Europe; Maybe India; Maybe a repeat of the middle ages where there was no global power. I don't know. But I do know, that eventually America will fall from its penacle. No doubt about it.

    • by jstott (212041) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:51PM (#13170603)

      I'm curious why Americans are so shocked that the world preeminence we have enjoyed for a century looks like it will come an end in the next few generations (if we're lucky).

      History is in fact rife with empires that rose to politcal, military and cultural dominance and then (for whatever reason) saw it slip away. The English before US. The Spanish before them. The HRE, Romans, Egyptians...

      Because we're even worse at studying history than we are at science?

      -JS

    • by Comatose51 (687974) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:11PM (#13171876) Homepage
      Actually, with the exception of the previous 3-4 centuries, China has been at the forefront of world civilizations. Their level of iron production during the Han dynasty would not be matched by the West until the 17th century. With China churning out 800,000 graduates with technical degrees every year, it looks like they are going to return to the front again, unless they or someone else do something stupid and start a world war.
  • Hardly a surprise. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:19PM (#13170217) Homepage
    This could all be interpreted in many ways, but at face value, this is hardly surprising.

    The United States, at large, pushes ridiculous religious dogma that infiltrates and dillutes science and science education with theology.

    This country spends untold billions on its military and and related conflicts, diverting money from education and research.

    Certain government entities almost routinely intimidate scientists and alter research findings that don't support a money or dogma-driven agenda.

    We have a society that demonizes the educated, and also frequently for religious reasons, blames education for a break-down of morals.

    Corporations pander always to the lowest common denominator when it comes to offering products and services rather than depend on a thinking population.

    We eat junkfood like there is no tomorrow, effectively eliminating the chance of a healthy lifestyle that is essential to a healthy brain and mind. (Yes, bad food makes you stupid.)

    I could go on, but that would just get too boring. Also, none of this would be too hard to defend (I'm not providing refernces because I'm on a cell phone at the moment). Really, when you think about all the nonsense and silly behavor which saturates our society, what do you expect? A population of enlightened thinkers?
  • by EulerX07 (314098) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:25PM (#13170303)
    That North America glorifies cash as the ultimate goal of everything. If you've got 2 phds and are leading breakthrough research for a modest wage, you are considered less of a success then high-school dropouts who are making 6 figure (or more) salaries. Think of all the College drop-outs running amok in the billionaires club, you think for a second they respect the intelligent researchers that make the breakthroughs for their company? Think again, they think they're the smart ones.

    I hear all the time on the radio. The talk-show jocks will mention that they didn't go to college and are making a killing, will take calls from people who started a roofing business or whatnot and are raking 250k, and laugh together at the college graduates making 35-60k a year.

    Not that this is a new phenomena, the history of science is filled with geniuses that contributed monumentally to science but lived modestly.
  • Wanna learn Chinese? (Score:3, Informative)

    by koreth (409849) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:39PM (#13170456)
    I started learning Mandarin earlier this year in part because I think the winds are blowing in such a way as to make it a useful job skill in the not-too-distant future. Also because it's fun and challenging, and because I want to spend time traveling in rural China. Here are some resources for folks who want to dip their toes in.

    "I Can READ That!" [amazon.com] is a gentle introduction to reading Chinese characters, focused on stuff you'd see while traveling in China. Won't really teach you how to say anything, though.

    For self-paced learning of conversational Mandarin, nothing beats the Pimsleur language programs [cheappimsleur.com]. I can say from personal experience that after listening to just the first-level program, you will be able to ask for stuff in restaurants (and drop a few jaws in the process if you don't look Asian!), hold simple conversations with Chinese speakers, and start to make a little sense of the dialogue in Chinese movies and TV shows. There are three levels, each with about 15 hours of material.

    If you have a Palm handheld, PlecoDict [pleco.com] absolutely rocks for building up your vocabulary of both spoken and written Mandarin. It has a great graduated-interval flashcard mode.

    The New Practical Chinese Reader [chinasprout.com] is the latest edition of the textbook that's been used in just about every introductory Chinese language course in the English-speaking world in the last couple of decades. It is available with cassette tapes to help with pronunciation.

    For more vocabulary, both spoken and written, Rosetta Stone [rosettastone.com] is good. Its major weakness is that it uses the same vocabulary words for all the languages it covers, and the word list is based on some Western assumptions; some things that take just one word in a typical western language take several in Mandarin, and you find yourself getting a small flood of new words with no clear idea of exactly what each one means on its own. But once you've learned the basic conjunctions and so on, that's not a big deal.

    For actually learning how to write (stroke order) there's Easy Chinese Tutor [amazon.com], not a great piece of software but the material is decent and it even comes with a bunch of character tracing sheets you can print out and practice on.

    Zhongwen.com [zhongwen.com] has a bunch of good resources.

    What I really want, though, is for someone to do the equivalent of Destinos [learner.org] for Mandarin. Maybe in the form of a historical kung-fu soap opera comedy drama fantasy like the awesome Tian Xia Di Yi [yesasia.com]. I'd pay good money for that!

  • by joelsanda (619660) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:40PM (#13170470) Homepage

    Not only is the U.S. losing ground in high technology exports, but its very capacity to develop new technologies is declining rapidly with respect to the rest of the world.

    So what? In the U.S. we can outlaw evolution. We'll just change science when and if needed.

    "Kansas school board's evolution ruling angers science community" [cnn.com] [CNN].

  • No Wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxhansl (764171) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:07PM (#13170792)
    In no particular order:

    1. Funding slashed for public education.
    2. Lawyers fighting trivial patent battles (instead of that money being used to innovate).
    3. Companies suing their own customers for copyright infringement
    4. "Infotainment" instead of informed news. Fox News anybody?
    5. Controlfreak-behavior everywhere. Controlling what people with their information, controlling foreigners/terrorists/everything, etc.
    6. Manipulated Science Papers to receive funding.
    7. Polically motivated resaerch to bring a certain politically favoured outcome.
    8. Removing of non-PC topics from school books (like "fanatism", "racial issues", in some cases "evolution theory").
    9. Huge defense budget (instead of using the money otherwise).
    10. Religious (christian) fundamentalism.
    11. Campains to make the US the most disliked country on this planet, even by its allies.
    12. etc/etc/etc

    Honestly, who is surprised? This maybe what currently the majority of the (US) people want, but these same people should realize that actions have consequences.

    Europe isn't much better either.
  • haythuns! (Score:4, Funny)

    by flacco (324089) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:57PM (#13171260)
    if jaysus wanted us to be the leeders in th devul majick den he woulda made us the leedres! if jaysus wnts thu chinamen to be the devyl majick peeple then they will be the devyl majik peepul! but ehyt will not be leedres in nuthin becuase they got the devyl eyes an maybe ecept the majik but it will not hep thm anyways!


    now git to yer bible an stop tawkin abot debvul majick! aint no need to be aksin abut the majic until jaysus is in yr hert and hee tells you to look at the majick!

  • Mega Rant and Rage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theolein (316044) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:45PM (#13172103) Journal
    I'd like to start this off by saying that this isn't the first article to stir up fears of an ascendant Asia vs. a descendant America. Slashdot is full of them. Just take a look at any single article noting a technical achievement anywhere, and I mean anywhere outside the US, be it Europe, China, Brazil or India.

    And what is the typical slashdotter's reaction? One of blatant chauvinism, racism and derogatory remarks about backward Chinese spacecraft supposedly copied from the Russians, supposedly socialist Europe supporting a dying dream of having the wrong vision of passenger aircraft future or not even knowing that Brazil has had a working ethanol based gasoline system for more than two decades.

    That is the typical reaction. If you ask me, the problem of the US is perhaps one of arrogance based on ignorance. Ignorance on what happens beyond the US' borders. I suppose it comes from 60 years of superpower status and genuine leadership in many areas. It's gone on for so long that people in the US possibly take it for granted.

    It's also not the first economic scare the US has had. The Japanese frightened many in the 70's and 80's. And now the outsourcing of jobs to China and India is frightening many more.

    So where is the problem? Is it education as so many slashdotters like to believe? Is it the US media that is almost exclusively US centric to the extent that your average slashdotter knows neither the difference between Sweden and Switzerland or between Austria and Australia, and has vague and unsettling notions about the EU being socialist or even communist, let alone about place that have cultures even more remotely removed from the US such as China and India?

    I think it's probably a bit of all of that, but that the real problem is that the US population is simply not interested in the rest of the world. It's US consumers that drive the US media. It's US parents that drive the education system. It's the US population that votes in a President who is only semi-literate. It's the US population that votes to supplant science with dogmatic religion and yet rail against another equally dogmatic religion, that being ironically, one of the few foreign affairs that genuinely, even if only out of fear, interests the average US person.

    Taking an active interest in our world is step one to rejuvinating the US. IMO.
  • my own observations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlightThePower (663950) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @02:21AM (#13174025)
    I teach in an engineering department in a fairly good european university.
    We had a meeting recently where the senior members of the department discussed project work and instructions to students. Their concern was that a pattern was emerging along these lines...

    Domestic students would or would not do what they were told by the deadline. They may or may not introduce some ideas of their own in doing this.

    European students would tend to deliver but had a tendency to deliver what they wanted deliver rather than what was discussed, this would vary a bit as to whether it was a good thing (innovative, neat ideas, rejecting what on balance became bad advice) or a bad thing (willfully ignoring good advice) depending.

    Japanese students tend never to say no, but would sometimes reappear at an advanced point in the project and confess they were stuck. Sometimes this would be a bit too late to do much about it. They'd normally get by though, just on the basis that up until that point they'd have had a damn good go at attacking the problem and there was often on close examination some stuff there that could be re-worked or otherwise given prominence to attract the credit it deserved.

    Chinese students, basically, would never so no and always deliver exactly what was requested, even if they staggered in looking like death warmed up.

    The bulk of the meeting was discussing how we could get our overseas students to loosen up a little and be more proactive. Its a fine balance obviously recognising the needs of individuals but not being discriminatory. But as one Prof quipped, we could probably kill a Chinese student by giving them an insoluable problem to work on whereas a domestic student would probably turn up and call us names (rightly). Be careful with the off-hand suggestions was the message, be clear about what the goals are and what are side issues. This should help all the above in different ways.

    Does this translate into anything nationally? Not sure, but it might be relevant if it says something universal about mentality. Chinese engineers certainly have the work ethic, put it that way.

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