Thursday, 19 February 2004

Politicizing science

CalPundit and Steve Verdon are among those noting a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists over the Bush administration’s use and alleged abuse of science. Steve writes:

Personally I think the notion of impartiality is misleading. All scientists have their own views on the issues and particularly the area they are researching. ... Of course, the fact that scientists and researchers themselves have their own views and biases does not let the Bush Administration off the hook when it comes to possibly distorting science. However, it cannot be ignored that the Union of Concerned Scientists can also be said to have an agenda and that this agenda may be playing a role as well in this report when that agenda diverges from the agenda of the Bush Administration.

There’s not much to disagree with in either post, but something to bear in mind is that science is always politicized when it is used to make political decisions; there’s no way around it. For example, if a hypothetical study shows that tightening emissions standards will save 3000 lives a year, but cost consumers $100 billion per life saved, politics is going to decide which figure gets emphasized.

Update: More at the Dead Parrot Society.