Friday, June 1, 2012
Science as Referee
A partial explanation for all the craziness we’ve been experiencing, the lack of a referee and the irrationality, is people’s loss of faith in Science.
Science used to be the neutral referee, the generally objective test for public policy and the guide for individual choice. But as big bucks have corrupted it (think of the ‘scientists’ that work for the oil companies) and a few high profile cases of scientists fudging their data have been revealed, certain politicians have accentuated these to discredit all of Science—very much like Reagan did with the welfare cheats and Willy Horton. The public, media-fed resurgence of archaic religious dogma, even as more and more people say they are drifting away from organized religion, and again the media-fed political polarization, have also contributed to Science’s loss of influence.
In spite of all this, Science itself, despite a few bad apples, has not changed and remains our best hope for an honest, objective referee and alternative to irrationality and prejudice. Talking about Mark Henderson’s new book, “The Geek Manifesto”, the Christian Science Monitor’s May 28th issue says: “We now have a strong argument for smart people to get involved in the grubby world of politics, standing up for good public policies that are based on facts rather than gut feelings and prejudice.”
“What is required, writes Angela Saini in a recent New Scientist magazine, is for those citizens who value science to rise up and force it onto the mainstream political agenda.” Good idea! Isn’t it time we got angry about the lack of Science in policy-making, and took action to return its influence?