Re: Names - NAS & ASA?

Allan Harvey (
Tue, 16 Apr 1996 09:18:55 -0600

[Joe Carson writes about the place of Engineering in organizations (NSF,
ASA) with "Science" in their name.]

As somebody with two Engineering degrees who operates about 50% in the world
of "Science" (for example, having published both in the American Institute
of Chemical Engineers Journal and the Journal of Chemical Physics), I have a
few thoughts on the subject.

I have no problem with being subsumed under the "science" label. My view of
engineering is that it is basically "applied science." While there is
perhaps a certain way of looking at things that is a little different from
the "pure science" way of looking at things, I don't think the divide is
that great. I see "Science" in names like ASA as not meaning just pure
science, but as covering the entire continuum of basic and applied work that
rationally seeks to understand nature and to make good use of that
understanding. That would cover what I generally think of as "science"
(both the physical sciences and life sciences), engineering and other
applied science, mostly historical sciences like geology, and maybe even
those fields known as "social sciences." An engineer has a lot more in
common with a physicist or a geologist than with a lawyer or a construction

This does bring up one pet peeve that comes up with regard to Origins
issues. Sometimes some creationists, for example Dr. Henry Morris, are
discounted simply because they have engineering degrees. One sees comments
like "Morris is not even a scientist - his degrees are in Civil
Engineering." I think this is spurious. Believe me, one cannot get a Ph.D.
in an engineering field without being able to "do science." Morris's
problem is not that he is an engineer, rather it is that he appears to be
ignorant of geology, thermodynamics, and the other fields he brings into the
things he writes. Just like Duane Gish's science degree (biochemistry) does
not appear to have helped his knowledge of geology or fossils. And both of
them seem to have warped ideas of how science works, which I think is a
possibility with any degree. The issue should always be expertise (which
someone with an engineering degree might have in a field, for example I
consider myself an expert in many aspects of thermodynamics) and whether the
person's arguments agree with the evidence.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | Phone: (303)497-3555 |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | Fax: (303)497-5224 |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | |
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