Hilariously Useless Comments About Science from the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is not composed of scientists. We’ve seen this before. But they do end up hearing a lot of cases that involve science, and are forced to describe the concepts and technology before them. They do not always rise to the challenge.

Source: io9.com

This article on the technological and scientific shortcomings of the U.S. Supreme Court is both humorous and, sadly, frightening.  Author Katharine Trendacosta does a good job of explaining  how Supreme Court Justices try to understand and rule on the rapid technological developments that are changing society.  Sometimes, their arguments involve convoluted arguments that could better be expressed with plain English.  Other times, their view reflects a scientific naivete that is simply astounding.  All of this could be funny until you realize the court’s decisions will affect science, technology, and even Amateur Radio.  Take the “Amateur Radio Parity Act 2014 (HR.4969)” for instance.  Legislators with little or no knowledge of physics, propagation, or basic communications technology will try to force the FCC into rewriting the rules regarding ham antennas on private property.  While many of us amateur radio operators consider this a good thing, considering the presence of TV antennas, satellite dishes, and even broadcast antennas on some privately-owned buildings, the average citizen has no interest in amateur radio and relegates hams into the same group as CB operators.  For many citizens outside the orbit of amateur radio, any amateur radio antenna is considered an “eyesore” that will reduce property values. I’ve seen this NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude  on Hawaii Island where people oppose cell phone towers, while complaining about poor cell phone reception in their neighborhoods.  These people have no understanding of how communications systems operate, and, more frequently, just don’t care as long as the antenna isn’t near them.  So, when this kind of attitude results in lawsuits, amateur radio operators have to spend a lot of time educating  people who should know better.  I’m amazed that our judicial system functions as well as it does, considering the scientific ignorance that pervades daily life. Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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