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Ogmius Newsletter

Ogmius News

What's In A Name?

The name of this newsletter, "Ogmius", and our description of Ogmius as the "Gallic god of eloquence," have provoked some discussion. We are grateful to Peter E. Knox, Chair of the University of Colorado Department of Classics, for providing the following information:

"According to a standard work of reference, Der Neue Pauly Enzyklopädie der Antike, Ogmios is attested once by Lucian, the "accomplished belletrist and wit" of the Second Sophistic (born ca. 120 CE). In a passage in the "Herakles", a preface to an unspecified disquisition written late in life, Lucian describes a painting that he saw in southern Gaul, depicting a very old man, balding, wrinkled, and sunburned, looking like a denizen of the Underworld, but wearing an outfit - lion skin, club, and bow - that looks like Herakles'. He is pictured pulling along a crowd of people whose ears are attached to a thread of gold and amber, the end of which is attached to his tongue. Lucian says that a bystander, who happened to be a Gaul, told him that the painting represented "logos" or "speech" and that since the speech of old men is especially characterized by wisdom, "logos" is depicted as an old man. There is no other reference to, or representation of, Ogmios from antiquity. Did Lucian make him up? Some think so: Lucian was a satirist, not a reporter or ethnographer. Apparently others think that he may really have seen such a picture, but doubt the "explanation" offered by Lucian's unidentified interlocutor. And it does happen to be the case that Lucian himself was an old man when he wrote this."

Perhaps it is somewhat of a stretch to describe Ogmius as the "Gallic god of eloquence" as some sources have done. Nevertheless, we find the image of an old man pulling along a crowd of people whose ears are attached to his tongue by a thread of gold and amber a colorful description of what we hope to accomplish through Ogmius the newsletter.

Living with the Genie, March 5-7, 2002

Seven members of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research's SPGrads group attended Columbia University's "Living with the Genie" conference March 5 - 7, 2002. Here are the impressions of two of the students:

As the development of science and technology rapidly continues, it's hard to ignore the question of whether this progress could get out of control. Images of cloned Frankensteins and nuclear Holocausts aside, there is talk among leaders of the scientific, political, and academic communities that the progression of science and technology should be more thoughtful and deliberate, and so more beneficial to society.

This process of trying to manage science and technology was the focus of the "Living with the Genie" conference last March at Columbia University in New York. Eleven University of Colorado students and faculty members, coming from fields as diverse as public policy, journalism, and atmospheric science, attended the conference. In addition to the conference's innovative design, which imitated real conversation by substituting traditional conference lectures with impromptu panel discussions and small group meetings, the conference's focus on science and technology policy was unique.

"As far as content goes, I found the meeting very stimulating," said Tara Fortin, a graduate student in chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "It really got me thinking about personal and institutional responsibility and the sheer complexity of trying to direct the 'genie' that is science and technology."

This "genie" of science and technology is threaded throughout modern society, and so, conference participants said, is something society should learn how to live with and to manage. Proposals for accomplishing that goal varied from establishing legal control for the funding and development of science, to developing technology that is advanced enough to govern itself.

Many of the discussions during the three-day conference focused on whether there is a problem with science and technology. Panels and working groups covered issues such as the history of science and technology, the best goals for science and technology, and the optimal way to govern scientific and technological progress in the modern world.

Although participants did not reach concrete conclusions, they considered several key ideas. First, science and technology progress is already restrained, typically by funding organizations; second, the development of science and technology is faster and more complex than it has been in the past; and third, this development often evades issues of human values and ethics.

"Yes, I want TV. Yes, I want a helicopter. But beyond that, I want tranquility," said Thomas Odhiambo, the founder of the African Academy of Sciences and of the Forum for Science-led Development in Africa, during a panel discussion. "We should be looking at what really makes us human. And what really makes us human is spirit, and we have forgotten that… It is the spirit that I'd like to bring back to science and technology."

Performances of musicians and other artists throughout the conference symbolized this creative human spirit behind scientific and technological discovery.

By the end of "Living with the Genie," most participants had a sense that the conference was only a starting point for redirecting science and technology innovation so it is more beneficial to society. The discussion the conference initiated will continue in the future, and is intended to spark a movement toward developing better guidelines for managing the relationships between science, policy, and technology. Click here for more information.

Kate Daniels and Susan Bacon

Center Staff Testify Before Congress

Center staff members were busy this spring sharing their views on science and technology policy matters with members of Congress:

On March 13, 2002, Center Director Roger Pielke Jr. testified before the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The subject of his testimony was the economic and environmental risks associated with increasing greenhouse gas emissions. For more information and to download a copy of Roger's remarks, click here.

On April 17, 2002, Visiting Scholar Rad Byerly testified before the United States House Science Committee. The subject of Rad's testimony was "New Directions for Climate Research and Technology Initiatives." For more information and to download a copy of Rad's remarks, click here.

Wanted: Next Generation of S&T Policy Leaders

The Center for Science, Policy, & Outcomes (CSPO) announces the "Research Symposium with the Next Generation of Leaders in Science and Technology Policy," to be held in Washington, DC on November 22 and 23, 2002. This conference is a joint project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and CSPO.

In supporting the newest leaders in science and technology policy, the program committee is accepting proposals for papers from scholars and practitioners who have received their terminal degree no earlier than 1995, as well as those who have completed all degree requirements with the exception of a thesis (ABD or equivalent). Two papers will be chosen to represent eight themes in science and technology policy, as described in the proposal request. Authors whose proposals are accepted will receive travel funding to attend the workshop and will be given an honorarium of $750 upon presentation of a completed paper, which will be published in a multi-authored volume from the Symposium.

The Symposium is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SES-0135170. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. For more information about the Symposium please visit its web site.