Thursday, February 09, 2017

Defending Science is a Priority for ALL. not just Scientists.

While there are multiple drivers for the current war on science; an anti-science media, religious ideologies, postmodern fuzziness; but it should be enlightening to look at the ways in which those on the political left and right have decided which science to challenge and which to accept. As we know more about the universe that we live in, it is increasingly difficult to know enough to make rational decisions about anything scientific. It has just become too complex.

As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nicholas Murray Butler defined an expert, "someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about nothing". In that final sense, we are all scientific experts.

The attacks of the anti-vaxers on the left: citing relatively fringe authorities, some even having been soundly debunked, claiming government collusion, relying on anecdotal evidence; are very much like those from the climate deniers on the right. They use the same tactics. There is an anti-authoritarian element in that neither believes the government nor government funded studies. There is a difference in that progressives tend to be convinced the industry lies about everything to make a bigger profit while the climate denying conservative tends to support the industrial technology that promises them more jobs and says that it will all be OK.

That is an oversimplification. But these difference prevent science becoming a partisan agenda item for the Democratic Party and thus it is not part of our national discourse. We need a new focus on science and that will require a new way of examining these issues. As a Green, perhaps even a Deep Green, I feel that it should be done through an ecological lens. Need to think about this a bit more and see where that applies. I know it does to pollution (a left issue in general) and to GMO use (an anathema to most of the left.)