Skip to comments.Science and politics: a dangerous mix
Posted on 09/27/2005 12:36:32 PM PDT by Crackingham
"The Republican War on Science" lives up to its incendiary title. The book will undoubtedly raise hackles among conservatives and spawn sharp-tongued counterattacks. But the real test of its efficacy may be whether or not it persuades independents and moderate Republicans that without a new approach toward science America is headed for what the author calls "economic, ecological, and social calamity."
As a good polemicist, Chris Mooney, a journalist who specializes in writing about science and politics, knows to protect his argument by first making two concessions.
First, not all Republicans have been antiscience. Teddy Roosevelt was a great early conservationist. Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to recognize that the White House needed a science adviser. Ronald Reagan's surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, weighed scientific evidence "dispassionately" on subjects like AIDS and the health effects of abortion and declared, "I am the nation's surgeon general, not the nation's chaplain."
Even the first President Bush was largely regarded by scientists as "a friend," Mr. Mooney says. And today, a few GOP mavericks like Sen. John McCain speak the truth on issues like global warming.
Secondly, Mooney wisely - albeit briefly - acknowledges that liberals have also sometimes twisted science for their own political ends. Some of the alarm over genetically modified foods has exceeded what science shows; animal rights activists have argued that animal testing isn't necessary when most scientists disagree; and some Democratic politicians have overstated the likelihood that stemcell research will produce quick cures.
But these transgressions, Mooney says, pale in comparison with the breathtaking audacity of Mr. Bush's "New Right" in its cynical manipulation of science. In a kind of Orwellian newspeak, they label conventional science as "junk science" and seek to replace it with what they call "sound science" - in other words, questionable, fringe science that conveniently props up the interests of big industry and conservative Christians.
All sides might agree that science should inform policy, not make it. Other considerations may trump it. But what irks Mooney is when, in his eyes, science is distorted to defend a policy.
In this regard, Mooney contrasts the Clinton and Bush administrations in their approaches to needle-exchange programs for drug addicts. Numerous reputable scientific studies show that needle-exchange programs reduce the transmission of AIDS without encouraging drug abuse. The Clinton administration acknowledged these findings, but simply decided to ignore them, apparently unwilling to take an unpopular political stance.
The Bush administration also opposed needle-exchange programs but "twisted the science," Mooney says, by insisting that some scientists doubted the findings. Yet when the press followed up, the scientists cited by the White House said they had no such doubts.
A key GOP tactic, Mooney says, has been "magnifying uncertainty" - finding a few dissenting voices on the scientific fringe and calling for "more research" to forestall action - a tactic the tobacco industry used for decades, he says.
I've always felt that our nation's epitaph will be, "Drowned in a tidal wave of ignorance."
CROCK alert! CROCK alert!
Any time anybody says something about knowing THE truth about something as complicated as global climate, he has an agenda behind his back.
PING for later reading.
this one looks like a keeper
Republicans and conservatives have always believed in and supported science and tech more than libs.
The libs came up with the mantra-like plaint of "we spend so much money to send a man to the moon when our own people don't have enough to eat" blah blah blah stuf.
There are a number here on FR, and I think Crackhead is one of them, who post only the same ol same ol propaganda that Bush and his supporters are ignorant superstitious rubes (or worse).
Somebody's smoking something.
Just another shill for infinite federal grants for their prized "scientific" gurus. All the "global warming" scientists want is to be bought off with much bigger federal grants than they get now.
The fact is that scientific research is stifled by the endless scheming to get federal money.
Academic prestige and power consists of being a "rainmaker", getting lots of federal grant money, and very little else except preaching about "multiculturalism makes us strong".
The existing situation is probably hopelessly corrupt. Only very serious pruning may save the rootstock.
I find the name of the source ironic:
Christian Science Monitor
Three-for-one moonbat pun:
1. The article implies Republicans (in thrall to the Religious Right) is against Science, so there is a surface pun about "Christian Science".
2. There is a second pun about "Christian Science Monitor"--are they Christians who are monitoring Science, or are the publishers monitoring Christian pseudoscience? (*)
3. To top it all off, "Christian Science" is neither doctrinally Christian, nor scientific.
Ahhh, the power of words.
(*) E.g. Christian 'pseudoscience' might by YEC and Leftist 'pseudoscience' might be Kyoto treaty.
The Monitor has long been regarded as a pretty good newspaper. I'm not a mormon, but they are the only ones producing good music on TV.
They do seem to have more problems with the FAX machine connecting other MSM outlets to the DNC, if you catch my drift.
I was just having a good pun...
I guess when the left does it, it's "raising questions" and "creating awareness." When the right responds, well, then it's "politicizing science."
More and more the left is looking like "The Emperor's New Clothes." A bunch of third-rate useful idiots being led by pseudo-intellectuals, the whole lot of them blissfully unaware of how foolish they look.
The so called "Christian" Science Monitor is more akin to Scientology world view than the Christian world view. Their name is a misnomer. They are neither represent true Christianity nor true science. Semi-pagan leftists, their theology similar to the Unitarians.
You guys really think this is worth a ping to the list? It's just an article promoting a book. I'll deploy the list if you want me to, because (think Lawrence of Arabia) ... I am a river to my people.
The left has been - and continues to be - against science, against rationality. Radical historicism has been where it's at for decades. It still is today, and anyone who insists the left represents "rationality" is either a pedant or a fool.
Science is inescapably linked to politics. With relation to stem cell research, the government decides whether or not to fund it. NASA is inherently scientific, and obtains federal funding. Whether or not to support the Kyoto treaty or lob wads of cash into the vague black hole of "global warming" relates to politics. Science might make predictions about hurricane activity, which will then cause the government to adjust how much it budgets for federal aid next hurricane season. And yes, like it or not, the issue of creation versus evolution has been brought into the federal court to determine whether or not government schools can even whisper the words "evolution is not 100% proved correct."
Therefore, the point "science and politics do not mix" is wrong.
You're a gay, Arab-loving, motorcyclist? ;^)>
Didn't I just *say* that in point 3 of my earlier post?
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