Science and Politics: Giving Up the Delusion

The delusion, that is, that Science can be somehow shielded from Politics.

Science is big and needs public money. Public money distribution is dictated by policy. Policies depend on politics. Therefore science depends on politics.

Therefore science is bound to be politicized. In the US it will forever slide between all-Dems and all-GOP according to contemporary mores.

In the UK, Science will remain forever prisoner of the Establishment. In Italy, it will be allowed to do whatever doesn’t hurt whoever is in charge of the “control room”.

The only way out is to make Science become the Fourth Branch of Government.

3 Replies to “Science and Politics: Giving Up the Delusion”

  1. …Science is big and needs public money….

    No it’s not. Science is neutral – it’s a collection of pretty firm hypotheses and a way of thinking about problems to extend those hypotheses. There’s no reason for it to be big at all. Science wasn’t ‘big’ in the 1730s, or the 1830s, or even the 1930s – and that was when a lot of the clever insights occurred.

    Technology is big, nowadays. And the military/industrial complex, and the scientific/technological elite that service it are big. And they have a stranglehold on lots of public money.

    But they don’t HAVE to be, and they don’t HAVE to have public money. They only have it because we give it to them. We don’t have to…

    And making science the ‘fourth branch of government would be a amazing mistake…

  2. Boy, you got that right Maurizio. Anyone who tries to tell me there’s any such thing as a scientist that is completely without political bias, I’ll tell them they’re delusional on an epic scale. Now science in and of itself, as a principle, may not hold bias but, it is those scientists who practice the science, who hold the bias. Science, as a principle, makes no decisions nor come to any given conclusions. It is the scientists who practice the science which are the ones who think they get to decide when an argument over global warming, for instance, is “over”. Not science, per se. And, I think that needs to be stressed more often. That, when a scientist tries to proclaim science has spoken on some given matter, he/she needs to be corrected and told, “No, scien-TISTS have spoken on some given matter, not necessarily ‘science'”.

  3. Maurizio, I’m not so sure it’s a “delusion” as it is a self-serving construct of practitioners of post-normal “scientific” endeavours (and their acolytes and lesser lights). They want it both ways!

    When such eminent “objective, transparent, inclusive talent” [h/t Rajendra Pachauri] as Canada’s climate modeller par excellence, IPCC-nik, Andrew Weaver can serve as an IPCC Lead Author for AR5 and be a provincial Green Party candidate (and Deputy Leader), clearly the line has been crossed (even though neither Weaver nor the IPCC seems to have noticed!)**

    But Weaver aside, the “leading lights” have yet to demonstrate that their “scientific” credentials in any way qualify them to make the policy/political pronouncements that they do.

    ** See:New, improved “gold standard” IPCC: Business as (conflicted as) usual

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