The New Age of Science and Politics
Things are heating up, and we may just pay the price
Science is becoming more and more contested in today's age because, unfortunately, it is becoming tossed into the same playing field as politics.
This is certainly not what scientists want, nor what they deserve. More to this point, politicians may not deserve this either; the repercussions of cross-pollinating disciplines are likely beyond their political expertise.
Politics, if it could be described as a game with certain parameters, involves a great deal of personal philosophies rooted in upbringing, socioeconomic background, race, gender, geography, family history, and more. There are push factors and pull factors that sway individuals and parties like grass in the wind.
Political views can be difficult to parse apart from someone's individuality and core values, which is neither good nor bad, but this makes them unequivocally subjective and nuanced.
All this is to say, in short: politics is far from an objective game.
But this is precisely what makes our current predicament so dire: mixing objective science into the non-objective game of politics actually does a disservice to both fields.
A politician may believe themself to be benefitting in the short-term (through savvy rhetoric, campaigning, or specious policy) but when the long-term consequences come to fruition, things will not look good.
In the same vein, a scientist who comes to play the political game, prioritizing their role as a political actor rather than field expert, will also be unacquainted with the potential repercussions in social engineering, policy, and public relations.
Science, unfortunately, has become subject to the whims of belief and debate (i.e. "I don't believe in this or that" vs. "the science says ___, whether I believe it or not").
That is to say, science has become politicized, much to our peril as a people.
The point of science is to provide a set of data, facts, and projections for politicians to consult, for political parties to center themselves upon. Scientists aren't the ones with agendas; they do not build campaigns with a predetermined goal.
Politicians, of course, are the ones who have agendas and engage in campaigning. That's part of their job.
What is not part of their job, however, is to bend and twist science to align with their party ideology, or to manipulate scientists to deliver suspect data.
The playing field of science and politics is mingling, and both games have suffered as a result.
Science journalists and writers spend their careers translating the complexities of science into language for everyday audiences. Somewhere along the line, however, the political game and the science overlapped. Scientists suffer from this interplay just as much as their audiences.
Politicians can play their political game and treat science as a flippant rhetorical device, yet this too will result in long-term peril for all parties involved.
So then, we the people are left wondering where will we go from here?
Politics and politicians are wielding science, often improperly, to their own agenda, and often by whimsy. Rather than science dragging politics into their agenda, such as guiding policy toward more ethical climate or agricultural implementations, the opposite is happening.
This happens because politicians attempt to garner credibility by throwing around names of experts and academics. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.
These entanglements, though they do not always have positive outcomes, do prove that science, at the end of the day, still matters. This, above all, remains the sentiment that must prevail above the politics of the day.
What we the people must keep in mind is that science matters not because it is in the mouths of politicians or because it is sometimes used as part of a propaganda outfit, but because it is science.
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