The line between politics and science have always been blurred. It is undeniable that they go hand in hand together, even at some point may cause more problems than good. Science and technology, in many ways, are the field of reason and rationality. People solve their problem through research and proof as it constitute a much believable solution and answers. However, when politicians and the people in power involve themselves in the field of science, what good – or bad – can come out of it?
Politicians and their thoughts on science.
Many would think that politicians would not care about the education in science, or even to invest on laboratory equipment in Malaysia or any part of the world. Which would be true, if science is not that important. However, holding the people’s perception on what science can or cannot do is one of the many ways that can benefit a politician’s career. Science skepticism inspired by politics is nothing new. It has always been a political target because of its political clout.
Science possesses “epistemic authority,” which means it is the most effective tool humans have for determining what is factual about the world. As a result, policy choices are likely to be heavily influenced by scientific findings. As the federal government’s size and reach have grown, so has the importance of scientific research in political decision, making it an even more vulnerable target.
Manipulating science as a political gain.
It’s critical to remember that scientific data isn’t the only factor to consider when making a policy choice. Larger ideological convictions or constituency to satisfy, or (less reasonably) more strategic political reasons may be at stake.
When policymakers and other political players opt to dismiss the science on which a result is based or distort the science to favor their policy viewpoint, it is a concern for science and evidence-based policy. Instead of “evidence-based policy,” call it “policy-based evidence.”
Such bending of science can take many forms, including cherry-picking research and specialists who support your viewpoint; taunting government-sponsored scientists whose findings contradict your preferred policies – through financial constraints or interrogations; and pressuring government scientists to change the wording of reports for political gain.
However, society has historically possessed the authority to pick who is authorized to become a scientist, in addition to the option of whether to undertake research. We can clearly identify the sexist and racial barriers that have allowed white men to dominate science. For many People Of color growing up in a prejudiced environment, being a scientist is one of the most difficult courses to take. Female scientists could only serve as “voluntary” academics, leaving the honors to their male peers.
There’s also the issue of societal control over scientific research. Scientists, like everyone else, are subject to being carried away by the cultural currents of their culture. Problematic research that contribute to political benefit were permitted to continue until society, via politics, decided to make a change. These are moral and ethical modifications that prioritize the individual’s well-being and welfare over the necessity to answer a scientific issue, and they should always be discussed with scientists and policymakers.
Not only that, when we vote in elections, part of what we’re doing is deciding what scientific research will be emphasized. Our elected authorities have power over our money, and hence over our scientific endeavors. What sort of knowledge scientists are allowed to acquire and distribute is determined by society. Our science is decided by our elections.
Favoring science for a better future.
Society shapes politics, politics shapes science, and science influences both society and politics in a healthy democracy. We all know this, yet some of us unwilling to admit the close relationship that exists between society, politics, and science. There is little doubt that scientists are no novices to activism; there is a long history of it.
In his insightful article “The Negro Question”, published in 1946, Albert Einstein addressed racism in America, describing it as a “disease of white people.” Moreover, he also co-chaired a movement against lynching. Not only that, John Holdren, President Obama’s Chief Science Advisor, issued a welcome call for scientists to devote ten percent of their time to government service and advocacy.
The scientific method is an incredible instrument for gathering reliable data, constantly pushing the frontiers of our understanding, and questioning our previous conceptions of what reality is. We’re conducting an inquiry into ourselves. We’ve chosen to pool our funds and distribute them to men and women who strive diligently at the frontiers of knowledge in order to learn more. Furthermore, we made this decision because science enables us to live longer, better, and more fulfilling lives.