227. Fears Affect Police Actions

18 Apr
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Fear is a powerful emotion that can affect behavior. The police often deal with violent criminals and as a consequence, their fears can reach a high level and officers can be unjustly harsh. Understanding this, is not an endorsement. But understanding can lead to: better training, better applicant selection, and better procedures. Like most other people, I am angry with bad policing, but my anger does not help. What helps is acknowledgement and new rules. Also very important is really good support for responsible and professional policing. Let’s honor the many that serve well.

. LEARNING TO CONTROL FEAR IS VITAL

There are many recent contentious police actions, maybe due to the effects of covid-19 restrictions. Perhaps the most important fear is that of being attacked during an arrest. Such fears can easily lead to excessive and/or prolonged force. When a vehicle is stopped and an officer is preparing to engage, he must first deal with anger and fear. It is important to develop an interaction procedure that is unassuming, polite, and constructive. The first goal, is to carefully open a dialog dealing with the reasons for the stop. For example, in a recent case, a car was stopped for a missing license plate. A polite dialog could have revealed that this new car had a temporary plate in the back window (not all that visible with window tinting).

A second fear is that their peers will think they are weak. Once an officer gives a command, he/she must have complete compliance or they will lose the respect of other officers and the suspects. Also involved are rigidity and pride. There are times when backing down would be better for all involved, but this rarely happens. For example, if the person has a PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or mild psychosis, a specific command could trigger high anxiety or hysteria. At this point, some discussion or alternate procedures could bring about a better outcome. I have not read police manuals on this, but I suspect that there is a lot of emphasis on exactly conforming to rules. Many rules should be rigid, others should have some situational flexibility. I fully recognize the difficulty of reaching a proper balance.

Here is another thought about the dilemma of police-motorist interactions. Clearly, if every motorist were treated politely and with kindness, there would be great improvements. But the problem is that a small but significant number of motorists could be dangerous criminals. So the police must give up some kindness for their safety. And, I would agree that the interactions between a white policeman and a black motorist can be worsened by racism. Perhaps what is needed is the development, for everyone, of polite police methods that also involve sufficient safety.

Let’s look at the case of the Army lieutenant stopped for not having a license plate. The policemen took out their guns and harshly demanded that he get out of the car. A better alternative would have been to politely ask him to put his hands on the steering wheel, while the policeman approached the car for an initial dialog. A quick discussion would have clarified the situation. Maybe policemen assume that they are safer if they scare the suspect?

The most difficult decision that an officer must make is when to fire at a suspect. Often it is made in less than a second and is entirely based on current emotions, courage, past training, and experience — no time for thinking. Consider the case of 13 y.o. Adam Toledo. According to many accounts, Adam had a gun, was chased down a dark alley, threw the gun away, raised his empty hands, and then was shot dead by the officer. The instinctive shot was based very much on emotion and the effects of emotion on vision. In a very fearful and excited state you might see dangers that do not exist. How someone reacts in this situation may be mostly determined by his general emotional control, and “courage” — traits that our movie heroes always have, but are rare in actual people. Maybe after certain testing, there should be more limitations on who can carry lethal weapons, and where they are used.

Conclusion. It is fair to say that: it is easy to make suggestions, but actual changes can be almost impossible. For example, finding police applicants that have the right temperament, character, and intelligence may be problematic. I guess we can at least try to make the best rules, and hope that they are followed. The development of better, non-lethal weapons would also be of benefit, as well as exploring the best way to diminish fears.

226. Astonishing Aspects of our Current World

29 Mar

I was born in the US more than 80 years ago, and have observed the governing of this country for most of these years. Almost everything described below, I would never have predicted.

The President of the US (DT) in Fall of 2018 re Kim Jong-Un: “We fell in love” (well established in recorded speeches, and by all news outlets). Recently Kim of N. Korea began missile testing again — an astonishing defeat.

US Southern border paradox: it is great to treat immigrants kindly (and I support this) but the effect is a massive increase in this immigration. After decades of this border problem, it is astonishing that the US government cannot agree on a solution.

The dangers of climate-change (aka Global Warming) have been known for decades and yet it is likely the humans of this planet will suffer immensely from this. Even a child (Greta Thurnberg) understands this. World leaders generally agree, but it is astonishing that they still are not sufficiently alarmed to devote major actions to its solution. (Reminder: increased floods, droughts, fires, hurricanes.)

I could never imagine that the United States would some day come close to an autocracy. In past blogs, I have described, in detail, all of the evidence for this. Briefly, it is astonishing that many parts of our government have been undermined by DT, including the DOJ, FBI, and the US judicial system. DT has supported world autocrats over our US Intelligence agencies. DT rejects NATO and admires leaders of Russia, N. Korea, and Turkey. His ugly final attempt at absolute power was the vicious Jan. 6 attack on our Capitol, organized and directed by him.

It is astonishing that the US has allowed a pandemic to kill 549,000 of our citizens, when former President Obama had an official group devoted to this very problem. DT disbanded that group and ignored its findings.

Here is something astonishing, but positive. There are incredible aerial drone movies of scenic areas that are extremely enjoyable, especially for virus shut-ins, who cannot travel. Here is one example:

I have to add another astonishing fact, not in the US, but in Nigeria. About 300 school girls were kidnapped in one raid, by local militia. How can this happen in the modern world?

225. Thoughtless Human Nature May Cause Our Extinction.

22 Mar

Here are the critical areas:

Covid-19 and other similar viruses. These may be a never ending problem, because so many people throughout the world are not wearing masks, distancing, isolating, etc. Young people, older people, poorly educated people and others, simply are not following the rules and most go unpunished. It is human nature. Even our past president had huge rallies with unprotected people packed together, promoting numerous new infections. There is a powerful tendency for people to do what was always, previously acceptable.

It is possible that improved vaccines will ultimately keep us safe, but there will always be a large percentage of the population that will not accept them. Because the viruses evolve, it may never be possible to completely stop them. However, there are current efforts to rebuild an excellent CDC and WHO, and new support for science, which will help.

Climate change problems of increased floods, droughts, fires, and hurricanes are serious threats to our survival and are already killing thousands of people. Much of the resulting disaster is mass migrations, which will gradually increase as weather patterns change that affect food production. Our leaders and the people must all strive to replace the use of fossil fuels with green sources of electricity. It is the nature of the rich business owners to ignore these current and future problems because action will involve unwanted extra expense. It is usually profitable to keep doing things in the same way even if they are indirectly destructive.

People will hesitate to buy electric vehicles, lower home energy use, and to use solar panels. It is human nature to keep life simple and not made improvements when there is no incentive.

Massive migrations have already been mentioned, but deserve additional discussion. I see migrations from Syria and other unstable countries as responsible for much of the world’s problems, probably including BREXIT and some past US government policies. Generally it is the human nature of less-educated people to be fearful of immigrants; and the previous US admin promoted these fears.

It is a human nature to elect our leaders based on their speeches and emotions, rather than on the basis of intelligence and relevant experience. People that appear powerful, good looking, and likable are often elected. Traits necessary for election are not necessarily the ones best for governing.

Ignoring science is the nature of many people, because it is often more complicated. Many want all government problems to be simplified and solved by simple solutions, that they can understand. But it is often the “simple” solutions that create new problems.

Destructive human nature includes excesses in the areas of greed, racism, and revenge. These factors can lead to many kinds of destabilization and distraction from the real problems described above.

224. Why Do Many Doctors Ignore Vitamin C ?

20 Mar

EARLY RESEARCH WITH VIT. C WAS DONE WITH LOW DOSES
These early studies and other factors (see below) established a TRADITION of ignoring this vitamin. However, this research done many years ago did find small beneficial effects.

It is well known that most medical doctors ignore vitamins in helping people with disease. For example, if you listen to current medical scientists discussing covid-19, you see this is usually true. The most we get in this area is hints that immune system health is a factor in determining who will get infected by the virus.

In several of my BasicCauses.com blogs (209, 208, etc) I document scientific evidence (from Pubmed research and top clinic publications) indicating that Vitamin C and other supplements improve the immune system and have a definite effect on disease. Many years ago, double Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling wrote a book (1976) on this subject, including the timing and large dosage of Vitamin C. My personal use of vitamin C and research on this subject began at that time.

To be most effective, a large dose of vit. C (e.g. 4 grams) at the VERY FIRST SIGN of “cold” symptoms, should be taken. High dosage should be continued, every couple of hours, if needed. There is no rigorous research study using this exact method, so it is only “likely”, but not proven. However, indirect and anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. I would add one more consideration. It may be that this method is substantially effective, only if there is a continuing healthy diet with vitamin supplements.

WHY IS THIS EVIDENCE AND VITAMIN PROCEDURE IGNORED.
Here are some of the factors. Maybe most important, is that a very healthy diet is expensive, and taking vitamin supplements is even more expensive. Many Americans can’t afford the expense, and many live in areas where more healthy foods are difficult to obtain.

There is a medical tradition, based on low dosages and ignored timing factors, that vitamin supplements have only minor if any effect on disease. It is also argued that supplements are not necessary if you have a healthy diet. However, I think it is safe to assume that for at least half the population, this is not true.

Another argument: almost all Vitamin C passes through the body and is eliminated, proving that none is utilized. One fallacy of this argument is that while in the body, it could be acting as a catalyst or as a pH regulator.

It is easier for doctors to support health using prescription drugs and vaccines, which they can control. The prescriptions help with monitoring so that encouragement can be provided.

Drug companies would not find it financially beneficial to explore and research this non-prescription method.

Often without an awareness, there is a bias because medical methods based on vitamins are less profitable. Individual doctors are mostly not responsible for this, as it is more a “community” medical problem and tradition.

On the positive side, vitamins in general are extremely safe and provide major generalhealth benefits.

Currently, covid-19 vaccines are becoming widely available, and this is a good thing. But until you get your shot, you could work on this healthy vitamin method (with more safety and POSITIVE side effects). And in the long run, the vitamin method could be more effective, because this virus has evolved other versions for which current vaccines may not be effective.

Final note: I enthusiastically support the use of vaccines. But there is likely a great benefit in generally improving the immune system with vitamins and healthy foods. And remember that most effective is an immediate large dose of vitamin C at the first sign of cold symptoms. There is no reason not to do both: vaccines and vitamins. Huge amounts of money have been spent on the vaccine program; what if a similar amount was spent on improving immune system health.

223. Trump Never Represented Our True USA Values and Policies

4 Feb

Donald Trump was our President for the last four years, but never had the support of a majority of our people. He withdrew from many international obligations, like WHO and the Paris Climate Accord. His election in 2016 was a fluke and a scam. Most knowledgeable world leaders are aware of this, but I often hear commentators who seem to be unaware. They often try to understand his strategies, but many decisions are just whims, and result from the last person he talked to.

Here are some of the factors in his election:

Trump benefited from Russian help through social media and hacked emails.

FBI James Comey made an inappropriate negative statement about Clinton just before the election.

Clinton was sabotaged by TEN Benghazi investigations by Republicans, who found nothing wrong.

Clinton won the popular vote by 2.7 million, but lost in our obsolete Electoral College process.

There was widespread voter suppression in the election, which affected her candidacy.

There are countless articles and speeches regarding his flawed presidency. Briefly, he was impeached twice, he lost the Presidency, House, and Senate in our recent election, he told some 30,000 lies while in office, his policy decisions were mostly based on self-interest and without consulting real experts, he supported violent radical groups, such as “Proud Boys,” and was responsible for the vicious attack on our Capitol.

He often insulted and attacked our traditional allies and NATO, while admiring and supporting Russia, North Korea, and Turkey. He mostly ignored our intelligence agencies. Although members of the Republican Party bear some responsibility for the inappropriate activities, most agree that he provided the major force.

222. Current Virus Extreme

5 Jan

US Daily Cases over Past Year

Why is covid-19 now infecting at extremely high levels. Graphs of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths show great recent increases. Here are current US stats: number of cases: 21-million, deaths: 363-thousand.

In the US, covid-19 began infecting early in the year (2020). Immediate government action at that time could have prevented most of the further infections. Safety rules were quickly established, but there was little government encouragement to use them. In fact, there was discouragement by some leaders. Safety rules of cloth masks, social distancing, avoidance of groups, hand washing, etc. were found to be very effective.

A serious problem is that some of our US population is simply inclined not to follow rules. This is something that is almost impossible to change and will continue to hamper virus control.

The daily number of cases remained fairly low until October, when the weather turned colder. More outside activities were somewhat safer. Major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas led to a lot of travel and group functions. There were also ill-advised political rallies, where supporters were packed together and few wore masks.

The recent, greatly increased virus levels were partially caused by the above factors, but there were other considerations. An important point is that as the virus spread, there were more sources of infection. Early on, very few people were infection sources, later there were many, so you were more likely to catch it later on. There is another related factor. Early in the virus period, many people found that they were safe even if safety rules were ignored. So many continued this neglect even when virus sources increased.

Some people tended to ignore safety rules, when vaccines were developed. They did not realize that actual vaccinations would take a long time to complete, and safety procedures must be continued.

The increased spread of the virus has another subtle negative effect. It is well established that covid viruses evolve and established cures and vaccinations could become ineffective. We may be living under virus restrictions for another year or more. On the other hand, with the encouragement of scientists, I think these scourges can be defeated.

221. Why Elect Biden and NOT Trump

2 Nov

For a number of years, I have been writing blogs about Trump. The election is tomorrow and I feel that I still might have some effect on voters that are undecided. The following is a brief discussion of my main points.

Most serious, Trump has a bad Covid-19 record. Starting with the main virus onset in April 2020, he has a consistently discouraged the use of masks and other safety measures. Medical scientists, such as Dr. Fauci have disagreed with Trump, and they have proven to be correct.

Scientists are 99% in agreement on climate change, but Trump ignores this. Briefly, the dangers are major floods, more serious hurricanes, droughts, and worse fires. These are already well documented. Also, 67% of Americans (Pew Survey) want to work on this problem.

Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear deal, promising a better deal. He could NOT make a better deal, and now there is less control over the Iran nuclear threat. His efforts regarding North Korea missiles, have failed.

Biden clearly wants to help the people, Trump clearly wants to favor himself and his rich friends. Look at Trump speeches. They are mostly about his needs, not the needs of the people.

Trump constantly lies. For example, he says Democrats want to increase taxes, but in fact, ONLY want to increase them for the very rich. He lies about this and many other things. He loves to brag about his successes, but the statements are mostly false. For example, he is NOT the greatest supporter of Black rights since President Lincoln — there is President LBJ, and others.

Repubs and Trump have claimed to have a health care plan, but after numerous promises over many years, there is no documented (written) plan. Repubs simply cannot agree on a plan, yet want to abolish Obamacare, which provides coverage for “pre-existing conditions” and many other rules helpful for people. Trump would take insurance coverage away from millions of citizens, and but for McCain, almost did.

Newspapers like the Wash, Post and NY-Times, and many others have many decades of reliable and honest reporting. Suddenly, when Trump arrives, they are all “fake” news? He started out with lies about Obama’s birth certificate, and exaggerated threats about immigration at our southern border. He lies about the dangers of covid-19, and is responsible for numerous deaths. Robert Woodward has published recordings of these lies.

Biden stands for reasonable and responsible government. Trump clearly wants to be the King, with total power. He has expressed his love for dictators and has undermined most of our policing and intelligence agencies. He caused our Post Office to be sabotaged, to help with his election. He appoints loyalists rather than experts in many areas. He uses the US Attorney General as his personal lawyer.

Trumps foreign policies are erratic and dangerous. Foreign leaders no longer trust him. Under Obama we had great relationships with other democratic countries. Trump has favored autocracies (dictatorships). His policies with regard to China were costly and ineffective, because he would not work as a team, with our allies. He has lied that foreign countries pay his tariffs, when they are actually paid by US importers, causing
increased prices for us. Because of our policy with China, we are now spending huge amounts of money to help devastated US farmers.

Trump was impeached. Many of his associates and staff are convicted criminals. His turnover of personnel is huge. Many past employees, and even his niece and sister, are highly critical. A Secretary of State (Tillerson) called him a “moron.” There is a huge list of traditional Republicans that have turned against him (example: George Will). A number of traditional apolitical organizations have decided to support Biden over Trump, example: Scientific American (magazine).

Biden, on the other hand, is incredibly experienced and reliable. He will hire the best experts and does not need loyalists, like Trump needs for protection. Biden will not govern by whim and tweets, but will work using a consensus of well qualified advisors. Trump has attacked scientists and others dedicated to truth. He has fired and limited the reports of government scientists.

Summary, Biden will provide our country with responsible leadership and care for the people (all of us). Trump will fail with the virus, international leadership, infrastructure, unbiased justice, world respect, survivable wages for workers, and in other ways.

220. Are the Newer Problems in the US, Unique?

17 Oct

When I think about the current problems facing the USA, it seems that they are worse than anything we have experienced in the past. I have been thinking a lot about this and here is my analysis.

Current Problems. I list three as most disturbing and involving large portions of the population. I fear that some current problems may be very long lasting.

The virus, covid-19 is unique for the modern world. In the past few decades, we have never had such a serious disease. It is highly infectious and has already killed 220,000 of our citizens, and many more world-wide. It has severely disrupted and damaged many lives.

Climate-Change. The current status is certainly a unique and a serious problem. Although we have known about this for decades, we had never in the past been so close to the point of no return, that is, where the effects become almost permanent. Scientists generally list the following more serious effects: floods, forest fires, worse hurricanes, and draughts. Many of these will cause mass migrations, which ultimately cause panic, riots, and maybe even wars.

President Trump is unique in US history. He has made 20,000 lies or extreme exaggerations, recorded by the Washington Post. To be brief, we can list: undermining US government agencies, takeover of the Dept. of Justice, calling 90 percent of our news media fake, ignoring and worsening the pandemic, alienating allies, threatening political rivals with arrest, and many other errors. He was impeached. (See my previous blogs).

Past US Problems. My list below is based on my personal impressions, having lived a long time. Others might make a different list.

Two world wars, WWI and WWII, come to mind. The second one ended in 1945. These were very serious and stand out in history. I could also mention Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afganistan, and Kuwait as important but lesser wars.

McCarthyism. According to Google: “a vociferous campaign against alleged communists in the US government and other institutions carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy in the period 1950–54.” I was alive at that time and remember that for many outstanding citizens it was a disaster. It could be compared to “Trumpism,” which I think is far worse.

President Nixon. This president caused some serious national problems, but nothing compared to the Trump era. He was forced to resign for his role in the Watergate crime.

Epidemics in the Last 100 years. Here is a very complete list of world-wide epidemics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_epidemics I lived through many of these diseases and nothing was as serious and wide-spread as the covid-19. Other serious diseases that stand out in my mind are: AIDs, Ebola, cholera, bubonic-plague, malaria, measles, and smallpox. Note: the bubonic plague has a long history and has recurred from time to time for many years — even in the last 20 years.

Conclusions. After writing the above, I still believe that the problems of today have had a more profound effect on our citizens than anything that happened in the past. The virus has affected all of us: deaths, masks, quarantines, isolations, restaurants closed, bankruptcies, evictions, limited travel, etc. Depending on your location, climate-change effects can be lethal and what is worse, will gradually become more disastrous. And Trump presents serious governmental problems, which have never been experienced in our entire US history. So to answer the question in my blog title, YES, the newer problems in the US, are unique. And if you have the courage to think about it, many of today’s problems could last for many years. But, here is a positive thought. I truly believe that all of our current problems have good solutions, but can only be solved by our most sincere and intelligent, global efforts.

219. Republican Senator Critisizes Trump

16 Oct

I found a complete transcript of Senator Ben Sasse phone-call regarding Trump. It is a long statement so I have extracted the important parts. When a quote is negative, I have included any associated positive remarks, to be fair. This phone call, of course, is very significant, because currently, it is rare for any Republican holding high office to make such criticisms. The full transcript is available from the REV.COM blog, with the URL:

http://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/ben-sasse-phone-call-transcript-criticizing-donald-trump (October 15, 2020)

Here are my selected quotations and some comments. (Quotations are in blue (as written, not corrected), my emphasized remarks are in red.)

In the beginning, he states Donald Trump is our president now, so I’ve worked hard to develop a good relationship with him, he’s got a hard job.” Also: “there are definitely places where we agree.” “I think he’s done some stuff well and some poorly.”

The following quotes are concerned with foreign policy. “Kisses dictators butts,” “He ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps” (in China), and has not helped the people of Hong Kong. Fails to lead our allies” and “regularly sells out our allies.“When all of our allies from the Pacific have sided with China because Trump’s isolationism was so weak, that our allies begin to doubt, for the first time since WWII, whether they can trust in US strength, and US will, and US courage, and US virtue and values.”

More quotations on different topics: “the way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor.”he mocks evangelicals behind closed doors.“treated the presidency like a business opportunity.” “Nebraskans, they don’t really want more rage tweeting as a new form of entertainment.” Trump won the 2016 election because “Hillary was unpopular.” (My note, actually, Hillary won the popular vote.)

. TRUMP REFUSED TO TREAT THE VIRUS SERIOUSLY

Re the covid-19 virus: “at the beginning of the COVID crisis, he refused to treat it seriously for months, he treated it like a news cycle, by news cycle PR crisis rather than a multi-year public health challenge, which is what it is.

He remarked that covid-10 it is not “Donald Trump’s fault. But continues “that he careened from curb to curb. First he ignored COVID, and then he went into full economic shutdown mode. He was the one who said, 10 to 14 days of shutdown would fix this. And that was always wrong. I mean, and so I don’t think the way he’s lead through COVID has been reasonable, or responsible, or right.”

Regarding the Senate: “I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican bloodbath in the Senate. And that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump Train. It’s why I didn’t agree to serve on his reelection committee, and it’s why I’m not campaigning for him.”

A summary for this blog, in the actual words of Ben Sasse is: What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV-obsessed, narcicisstic individual to the American people was a good idea?”

218. Science: Its Nature and Early History

11 Oct

Science plays an ever increasing role in global politics and government. It is the basis for climate-change, defeating pandemics and many other diseases, energy use, GMO foods, and many types of manufacturing. So when I saw the book review noted below, I decided to explore its topic.

Michael Strevens wrote a book called “The Knowledge Machine.” A detailed review can be found in The NY Times, October 7, 2020, by Jennifer Szalai. I am not writing a book review. I am writing a blog about the nature of science and responding to some ideas in the book review.

Modern science began its development in the 17th Century. Strevens, in his book presents reasons why it did not develop earlier. Here is one of the main arguments. Science involves long, tedious, and boring measurements and observations, that often are unfruitful. Strevens says that this kind of endeavor is irrational and inhuman. It is argued that for this reason modern science developed slowly. No one wanted to do a lot of boring work.

While there may be some truth to this, we should consider other factors. First, much of scientific work involves processes that are not boring. Spending time in exotic locations like rain forests is fun for many people. Second, spending a few years doing boring work can have the huge rewards of outstanding publications, high salaries, Nobel prizes, powerful academic positions, and a lot of admiration. Many women (or men) are attracted to highly intelligent and successful scientists and professors.

It is not just science that involves some tedious work leading to great rewards. Great paintings can take months of tedious artistic work, but seeing the final picture and showing it in exhibitions is very satisfying. Many of the more artistic and literary professions have tremendous rewards.

Second, it is the nature of science to be progressive. The long delays in the development of modern science depended upon some difficult discoveries. The early growth of science a few centuries ago, depended on some technical factors. One early factor is good communications systems. The advance of science involves the cooperation of many people, and these people must have communication methods like newspapers, for example, which depended on the invention of the printing press. The early ability for people to gather together for the rational discussion of issues was also important. I imagine that many centuries ago, long before the beginnings of modern science, people made some important observations, there was no way to properly communicate these ideas.

Early inventions of certain tools were important in developing scientific topics. For example, it took many years to develop useful glass structures like lenses. These could be used for telescopes, and microscopes. The discovery of electricity was extremely important. Having tools like these allowed for amazing discoveries and stimulated interest in many areas of research.

Final thoughts. First, I want to clarify that Strevens does recognize the value of science. I believe that his main concern is why it started so slowly. I have tried to show that the establishment of key societal structures, and inventions, such as telescopes, microscopes, and electricity were necessary before modern science could take off. The slow development of these necessary factors is understandable. We can also point to the fact that many promising early societies were overrun by powerful, violent armies, like those responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire. The development of science was also slowed by leaders that believed in rigid, traditional dogma.