Keeping Science and Politics Separate

In a blog post written for the American Thinker, Rick Moran discusses the importance of keeping science and politics separate for the well being of each. In the blog he writes:

“Good governance requires accurate, unbiased information from scientists. Good science requires that the facts be laid out without regard to any political agenda. When one demands dishonesty from the other, neither is served well - nor are the people whose lives might depend on the facts and policies that arise as a result of scientific findings.”

Science must be built on a foundation of objectivity in order to thrive. The only outcome that should be favored by scientists is that one which best describes their findings. When political agendas, monetary compensation, promotions, or other extraneous factors begin to cloud scientific minds, the knowledge gathered is a hindrance to the advancement of society.

We must make sure these underlying political agendas or motives are brought into focus by the general public so that these erroneous scientific findings are not propagated further because once they reach our policy makers who knows what will happen.

In the words of Stephen Schneider a Professor of Environmental Biology at Stanford University and prominent climate change figure:

“On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method...On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have...."(Quoted in Discover, pp. 45–48, Oct. 1989)”


What strikes me very deeply about this is how much it corresponds to considerations about religion and politics.  Set aside for a moment, both the fact that many Christians including myself, don't consider Christianity a religion, and also the contrary fact that when in America's founding documents they spoke of "religion," they generally meant exactly Christianity:  " respecting an establishment of religion" meant no establishment by the federal government of any particular Christian confession.  That's an important consideration, but another discussion.

But, particularly in light of the fact that only yesterday, a post by Lauro referred to the essence of religion to Republican principle, the language is striking that refers to a "separation of science and politics."  And, the cited comment specifically highlights the distinctive tasks of disseminating objective truth and what amounts to ethical (imperative) instruction of the masses that makes the prior objective secondary. 

"Separation of church and state," which of course is not in The Constitution, is nonsense for exactly the same reasdon this scientist has described as the first objective of science:  it seeks to relate objective truth.  And also, science becomes essentially what contemporary critics describe as "religion," when it takes up a secondary task of moral instruction.  This a fascinating additional angle on what has already struck me as another need for clarifying descriptions as well as tasks that is worthy not only of its own post but probably substantial parts of a book.

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