Politicizing science threatens science

In the old Soviet Union, science was subverted to promote failed socialist policies. The results were disastrous to both Russian society and to Russian science itself. Everything scientists did was for the advancement of the state, meaning the dictators. Individual scientists were imprisoned under torturous conditions, even murdered, if their science did not comport with official propaganda. Of course, in the end, the USSR collapsed.

Incredibly, the same failed trend toward politicizing science has resurfaced right here in the United States. A trio of articles in Scientific American reveal the danger, not as a warning, but in two cases, as actual advocacy.

In a commentary titled, “Universities Should Encourage Scientists to Speak Out about Public Issues,” the authors say this:

“Opioids. Fracking. Zika. GMOs. Scientists should be speaking up about all sorts of science-based issues that affect our lives. Especially now, when Trump administration officials tell us that climate change is debatable and that killing African elephants can benefit the herd, scientists should be constantly exposing misinformation, bogus alternative facts and fake science.”

While it is true that scientists should express their views, it must be true for all sides of a controversial issue, not only for the radical left, which dominates the universities where scientists are taught. It must also be the case that the science aspect of the issue be separated from the personal opinion aspect. Conflating the two is not only increasingly the practice, it is being encouraged by the left.

A second commentary concerned the decision by a noted science personality to attend President Trump’s first State of the Union Address. Bill Nye, the star of the PBS television series, “The Science Guy,” was invited to attend the event with Representative Bridenstine (R-OK), who is the nominee for NASA administrator. The commentary states that, “We anticipated this [attendance] would be a controversial decision, and we were right.”

It is the third commentary, referred to in the second, that poses the greatest threat.

What makes this latest screed so concerning is that the authors insist that science cannot be separated from their own liberal viewpoint. Moreover, it should not. They claim that any other viewpoint is destructive of science. As with most liberal propagandists, it is not enough to agree with them on most matters -- one must be in continuous lockstep with them, every inch of the way. Even the slightest deviation makes you, in their eyes, the devil. Here is an example of their thinking:

“No amount of funding for space exploration can undo the damage the Trump administration is causing to public health and welfare by censoring science. No number of shiny new satellites can undo the racist policies that make our Dreamer colleagues live in fear and prevent immigrants from pursuing scientific careers in the United States. And no new mission to the Moon can make our LGBTQ colleagues feel welcome at an agency run by someone who votes against their civil rights.

As women and scientists, we refuse to separate science from everyday life.”

How can so much deception be crammed into so few words?

The “women” authors are identified as a group known as 500 Women Scientists, who most decidedly do not represent women, nor science, but only the radical left. Of course, they did not name their organization, “Four Radical Leftists Perverting Science,” although that would have been more accurate.

Even as I write these words, a fourth screed has appeared online misrepresenting the president’s policies regarding science.

Science is an exciting and productive feature of the human intellect, and as such, it should (and must) be disciplined by objectivity. Its assertions must be firmly based in fact, not opinion. Those who practice it, especially those whom we pay (though our taxes), must be people whom we can trust to rise above their personal prejudices, and stick to the data. The law of gravity is not contingent on one’s political views.

The so-called “500 women,” while claiming to shield their liberal colleagues from discrimination, are in fact targeting those who disagree with their social worldview, personally attacking them, and by implication, demanding that they be silenced.

Could anything be more anti-science than that?