Science should get political: That competent researchers are apolitical is false

#1
C C Offline
Cynical Sindee: Amazing. They're publicly bragging now about having preset ideological orientations, the associated conspiracy frameworks guiding their cognitive interpretations, and deliberately indulging in motivated reasoning -- not just being unconsciously vulnerable to such. Understandable with regard to aspects of the pandemic, anti-vaxxers, etc as a part of addressing pseudoscience -- but there seems to be an underlying broad endorsement for indulging in it everywhere. (Which has been happening for some time anyway, as part of the erosion of science and loss of confidence in its objectivity.)

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02854-9

EXCERPT: . . . The presidents of the non-partisan US National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences have publicly expressed alarm at the growing political interference in science. Working researchers’ relative silence about such larger societal issues, often under the guise of professionalism, doesn’t make for good science, although it might make for safer scientific careers. In the middle of a pandemic, good science identifies how to save lives.

[...] For health professionals, COVID-19 has revealed how epidemics are political, tracking through the fissures of society. Many health workers, some for the first time, are breaking the unspoken ‘commitment to neutrality’ and criticizing President Donald Trump’s administration for its failures and its attacks on science. They are drawing attention to inequitable social policies, segregated neighbourhoods and inadequate labour protections as root causes of this tragedy.

A minority of researchers are working with activists on racial justice, but many avoid doing so out of worry that an ‘activist’ label could have negative implications for their careers. This is typically self-censorship, enforced by norms of ‘professional’ behaviour, but I think recent White House moves against providing racial-sensitivity training and acknowledging the impacts of racism will have a further, chilling effect. I have been cautioned more than once that my talking about racism was ‘off-putting’.

[...] At a minimum, let’s ensure that we researchers apply our expertise to political advocacy. I am not saying that expertise in one area of science makes us experts overall. Still, when we decide that issues such as structural racism, climate change or income inequality are ‘outside our lane’, we betray both the professional reputation of our field and the health of the people we serve... (MORE - details)
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#2
Syne Offline
And if they could manage to apply the least bit of scientific methodology, they'd find that the most "inequitable social policies, segregated neighborhoods" exist in cities and states run by Democrats for decades. They'd find that many Democrats were publicly promoting large gatherings and criticizing Trump's travel ban, and every mainstream news outlet was downplaying Covid. They'd find that BLM is a political front that doesn't care about black lives at all, using extremely rare cases to distract from the epidemic of black on black violence. IOW, those scientists and health workers are abandoning/denying science to vent their own, preexisting, and partisan ideology.
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#4
Syne Offline
"The publication did support Barack Obama back in his 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections They also stood on the side of Hillary Clinton during the last Presidential election."

Yawn.
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#5
Yazata Offline
Epidemics are certainly as political as they are scientific. Should policy be aimed at driving new cases down to as close to zero as possible, without regard for the economic and social costs, and for the elimination of civil liberties associated with the imposition of Coronafascism? Of should the costs of the epidemic be weighed against the costs of perhaps over-zealous efforts to fight it? A balance has to be reached between death and infection on one hand, and economic collapse and social devastation on the other. Not everyone is going to agree on where that policy equilibrium should fall. And determining it is not a scientific question.

Regarding "attacks on science", if "science" is going to attack the rest of us, then the rest of us can damn well express our skepticism about science. Somebody putting on a white coat no more makes them immune from criticism than putting on priest's vestments. When the subject is religion or something like that, we hear a lot about 'skepticism' and 'critical thinking'. Well, those things don't go away when the subject is science. They are applicable to all claims of intellectual authority.

Nature's editors don't seem to see that what they are calling for simply undermines the public's trust in science. When science is perceived as objective and unbiased, driven entirely by facts, evidence and logic, then the people have a lot of respect for it. (Perhaps more respect than it deserves, since as we saw above not every question is a scientific question.)

But when science is perceived as having a political agenda, when there's a strong suspicion that the scientific process been manipulated to produce predetermined conclusions, public trust in what scientists are telling them will plummet. We are already seeing that happening.
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#6
Syne Offline
Yes, it's always the overreach of science, into non-scientific fields, that breeds distrust. Them trying to leverage their scientific authority into social/political authority. But after so much education and socialization in academia, it seems their elitism is a negative, natural result.
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