Science, the Long-Lost Friend of Policy
Over at The Wild Side, Olivia Judson is cheering the return of a government that does not simply embrace scientific thinking, but uses it as a force for improving people’s lives. She looks back on the Bush years:
The distortion and suppression of science is dangerous, and not just because it means that public money gets wasted on programs, like abstinence-only sex “education” schemes, that do not work. It is dangerous because it is an assault on science itself, a method of thought and inquiry on which our modern civilization is based and which has been hugely successful as a way of acquiring knowledge that lets us transform our lives and the world around us. In many respects science has been the dominant force — for good and ill — that has transformed human lives over the past two centuries.
She is careful, and correct, to note that researchers (and policymakers) bring their own ideological bias to doing science and interpreting the results. But crafting effective policy requires a critical recognition of those biases, rather than a fanatical posture that selectively highlights or igores the work of a vast global network of smart people producing useful knowledge.
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