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donkhater 01-08-2013 06:06 PM

Good perspective on the future of Science
 
http://www.nature.com/news/science-m...divide-1.12119

Science must be seen to bridge the political divide

To prevent science from continuing its worrying slide towards politicization, here’s a New Year’s resolution for scientists, especially in the United States: gain the confidence of people and politicians across the political spectrum by demonstrating that science is bipartisan.

That President Barack Obama chose to mention “technology, discovery and innovation” in his passionate victory speech in November shows just how strongly science has come, over the past decade or so, to be a part of the identity of one political party, the Democrats, in the United States. The highest-profile voices in the scientific community have avidly pursued this embrace. For the third presidential election in a row, dozens of Nobel prizewinners in physics, chemistry and medicine signed a letter endorsing the Democratic candidate.

The 2012 letter argued that Obama would ensure progress on the economy, health and the environment by continuing “America’s proud legacy of discovery and invention”, and that his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, would “devastate a long tradition of support for public research and investment in science”. The signatories wrote “as winners of the Nobel Prizes in Science”, thus cleansing their endorsement of the taint of partisanship by invoking their authority as pre-eminent scientists.

But even Nobel prizewinners are citizens with political preferences. Of the 43 (out of 68) signatories on record as having made past political donations, only five had ever contributed to a Republican candidate, and none did so in the last election cycle. If the laureates are speaking on behalf of science, then science is revealing itself, like the unions, the civil service, environmentalists and tort lawyers, to be a Democratic interest, not a democratic one.

This is dangerous for science and for the nation. The claim that Republicans are anti-science is a staple of Democratic political rhetoric, but bipartisan support among politicians for national investment in science, especially basic research, is still strong. For more than 40 years, US government science spending has commanded a remarkably stable 10% of the annual expenditure for non-defence discretionary programmes. In good economic times, science budgets have gone up; in bad times, they have gone down. There have been more good times than bad, and science has prospered.

In the current period of dire fiscal stress, one way to undermine this stable funding and bipartisan support would be to convince Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, that science is a Democratic special interest.

This concern rests on clear precedent. Conservatives in the US government have long been hostile to social science, which they believe tilts towards liberal political agendas. Consequently, the social sciences have remained poorly funded and politically vulnerable, and every so often Republicans threaten to eliminate the entire National Science Foundation budget for social science.

“Politicians would find it more difficult to attack science endorsed by bipartisan groups of scientists.”

As scientists seek to provide policy-relevant knowledge on complex, interdisciplinary problems ranging from fisheries depletion and carbon emissions to obesity and natural hazards, the boundary between the natural and the social sciences has blurred more than many scientists want to acknowledge. With Republicans generally sceptical of government’s ability and authority to direct social and economic change, the enthusiasm with which leading scientists align themselves with the Democratic party can only reinforce conservative suspicions that for contentious issues such as climate change, natural-resource management and policies around reproduction, all science is social science.

The US scientific community must decide if it wants to be a Democratic interest group or if it wants to reassert its value as an independent national asset. If scientists want to claim that their recommendations are independent of their political beliefs, they ought to be able to show that those recommendations have the support of scientists with conflicting beliefs. Expert panels advising the government on politically divisive issues could strengthen their authority by demonstrating political diversity. The National Academies, as well as many government agencies, already try to balance representation from the academic, non-governmental and private sectors on many science advisory panels; it would be only a small step to be equally explicit about ideological or political diversity. Such information could be given voluntarily.

To connect scientific advice to bipartisanship would benefit political debate. Volatile issues, such as the regulation of environmental and public-health risks, often lead to accusations of ‘junk science’ from opposing sides. Politicians would find it more difficult to attack science endorsed by avowedly bipartisan groups of scientists, and more difficult to justify their policy preferences by scientific claims that were contradicted by bipartisan panels.

During the cold war, scientists from America and the Soviet Union developed lines of communication to improve the prospects for peace. Given the bitter ideological divisions in the United States today, scientists could reach across the political divide once again and set an example for all.

BucEyedPea 01-08-2013 07:30 PM

The best way to ensure that science is bipartisan, that is if you mean politically neutral, is to rely on markets.
If you mean being supported by either side of the political aisle, then you're not necessarily asking for the best solution no matter the side who are lobbied by special interests including scientists wanting funds or jobs. There just may be a separate and different solution that is not from either side or group think.

Most science needs to remain free from the state. That is the best chance of advancement technologically.

cosmo20002 01-08-2013 07:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BucEyedPea (Post 9298053)
The best way to ensure that science is bipartisan, that is if you mean politically neutral, is to rely on markets.

So if science shows the right to be full of shit, as it usually does, it should just be put up for a vote--let the market decide!

Gratuitous ad hominem: You are a nut.

BucEyedPea 01-08-2013 08:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmo20002 (Post 9298185)
So if science shows the right to be full of shit, as it usually does, it should just be put up for a vote--let the market decide!

Gratuitous ad hominem: You are a nut.

You obviously cannot read and that's not being used as an ad hominem here. Please respond to the post.
If any science full of shit, no one will put money into it in a market. That's the point. LOGIC FAIL!

No wonder you use so many logical fallacies.

La literatura 01-08-2013 08:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BucEyedPea (Post 9298053)
The best way to ensure that science is bipartisan, that is if you mean politically neutral, is to rely on markets.

Which markets? The market of the scientific community?

petegz28 01-08-2013 08:31 PM

politics and science generally don't mix well

cosmo20002 01-08-2013 08:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by petegz28 (Post 9298300)
politics and science generally don't mix well

Especially when one of the major parties considers science to be the equivalent of voodoo.

petegz28 01-08-2013 08:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmo20002 (Post 9298309)
Especially when one of the major parties considers science to be the equivalent of voodoo.

Sorry, Bubba, I think both sides do it when it favors their argument

BucEyedPea 01-08-2013 08:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmo20002 (Post 9298309)
Especially when one of the major parties considers science to be the equivalent of voodoo.

Deep. Very deep.

petegz28 01-08-2013 08:37 PM

Let me clarify, the only time politicians give a flying **** about real science is when they see a way to exploit it for money or votes or both. Otherwise I don't think most of them give a rat's ass about the actual science of our time.

cosmo20002 01-08-2013 08:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by petegz28 (Post 9298314)
Sorry, Bubba, I think both sides do it when it favors their argument

Many Rs are still rejecting evolution for ****'s sake! That the Earth is more than 10,000 years old is still up for debate! Not really a comparison.

cosmo20002 01-08-2013 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BucEyedPea (Post 9298318)
Deep. Very deep.

Irony

petegz28 01-08-2013 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmo20002 (Post 9298323)
Many Rs are still rejecting evolution for ****'s sake! That the Earth is more than 10,000 years old is still up for debate! Not really a comparison.

And many D's ignore simple biology

petegz28 01-08-2013 08:40 PM

Classic example:

R's want to use\ignore science to embrace "God"

D's want to use\ignore science to play "God"

cosmo20002 01-08-2013 08:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by petegz28 (Post 9298326)
And many D's ignore simple biology

Not sure what that is supposed to mean. Some sort of gay marriage reference?


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