Saturday, January 14, 2017

Making Science Political Again



B. Prokop said...

The article ends with the words "I really wish activists and politicians would stop politicizing science."

The problem is, science is political. It always has been, it always will be. It was political when Archimedes was murdered by an invading Roman soldier while he was working out a geometric problem. It was political when the Soviets suppressed genetics and trumpeted Lysenko's theories. It was political when the US government carried out medical experiments on unsuspecting African-Americans. It was political when the tobacco industry basically lied about its research findings to cover up the addictive nature of smoking. It is political today, when climate change deniers insist there's "no consensus" amongst scientists on the subject. (I guess 97 percent isn't good enough.)

Science is part and parcel of human behavior, and Man is a political animal.

SteveK said...

You brought it up, Bob. I'm with Briggs.

B. Prokop said...

The article wonders whether "mankind is necessarily harmful to the environment". Not so sure about the "necessarily" part, but it's beyond dispute that we have been.

I grew up in Arizona (it's where Victor and I met, at Arizona State), and the contrast between the pristine wilderness I used to hike around in in the 1970s and the despoiled, overdeveloped urban sprawl that exists there now is... well, it just is.

I live in Baltimore, Maryland, today, and enormous swaths of the once beautiful Chesapeake Bay, home to crab, fish, mussels, birds of all sorts, etc., are now a toxic waste dump which literally stinks in the summertime. (I live maybe 50 feet from the water's edge, so I know.)

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Read Leviathan and the Air Pump. Science has always been political. It still is, they are still funding scientific research based upon its value to the military.

David Brightly said...

Shadow makes a reasonable complaint: there are better choices than Darwin for celebrating science and its benefits. Over here we have Darwin on the ten pound note. We also have an established Church.

But science always political? Genetic fallacy anyone? Tell it to that least sociable of men, Henry Cavendish.

B. Prokop said...

"there are better choices than Darwin"

Agreed! I nominate Gregor Mendel.

David Brightly said...

At least he did some experiments! I suppose Darwin can be said to have observed the results of natural experiments.