I always enjoy James Taranto’s writing. Today, however, he wrote something almost transcendent about the liberal misunderstanding of science’s incredibly important role in a healthy, functioning modern society:
The notion that conservatives or Republicans are “antiscience” is a liberal Democratic talking point of long standing, but what exactly does it mean?
Largely it is an assertion that liberals take the side of “science” in disputes that are cast as pitting science against religion. Sometimes they are right, as when they argue that biblical creation or “intelligent design” should not be taught in science classes as alternatives to the theory of evolution. Ideas about the supernatural belong in the domain of theology or philosophy. They are outside the realm of science, and maintaining this distinction is important to the integrity of science.
On the other hand, liberals are wrong to cast as “antiscience” objections to embryonic stem-call research. Whether or not one agrees with these objections, they are based not on a hostility to science per se but on ethical qualms about particular forms of research. Science is a method for answering empirical questions; it cannot yield answers to moral questions such as whether a human embryo has intrinsic value.
The implicit claim that scientists are better qualified than nonscientists to answer ethical questions points to the broader problem with the liberal attitude toward science. It seems to be more about asserting the political authority of scientists than adhering to the scientific method. This is very clear in the global-warming debate, in which, as last year’s “Climategate” scandal showed, scientists disregarded the scientific method in order to promote an ideologically favored hypothesis. In ignoring the scandal and pushing ahead with its “climate” agenda, the Obama administration has shown that it is more interested in ideology than science.
Right. That’s absolutely and totally right. Science is not morality, scientists are not infallible, and ideology can be as easily cloaked in false science as in anything else.Email This Post To A Friend
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