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Is There a Danger in Allowing Politics to Define Science? Essay

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Updated: Mar 20th, 2020

Many people, including politicians, have made connections between science and politics in controversial areas related to “global warming, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” (Strauss 1). Strauss observes that the new law encourages teachers to “present the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught” (Strauss 1).

This attitude of politicians toward established principles and definition of science has disturbed many scientists and the public. They believe that such an attitude is anti-science and it and could challenge the current accepted scientific theories, mainly in evolution and climate change. This essay argues that there is a grave danger when politics is allowed to define science.

Scientific discoveries have changed how people view their worlds. Scientific methods provide means through which people can inquire and answer scientific questions through systematic observations and experiments.

McLelland presents various stages of the scientific method, which are applicable in all studies (McLelland 1-4). This provides credibility in scientific inquiries because scientists must ask questions, conduct background research, formulate hypotheses, test their hypotheses, conduct data analysis, draw inferences, and communicate their findings.

These stages result in fair scientific discoveries and new knowledge as scientists struggle to demonstrate how nature functions. Hence, they develop theories and principles that are fair, have solid evidence, consistent and logically presented, and acknowledge their weaknesses and rival theories.

This leads to new knowledge. On this note, politics, which introduces new concepts and controversies, does not introduce any new ideas in scientific studies because scientists have always recognized limitations of their studies, defined their interests, and acknowledged opposing views. This has expanded current knowledge and critical thinking among learners.

However, one must recognize that the application of scientific methods by scientists may not conform to some sets of rules in certain situations. This allows for innovation and creativity for ground-breaking approaches. Moreover, people have tendencies to falsify scientific theories, but still, scientists can reevaluate and expand existing theories through new evidence. This is fundamental in controversial theories, which require further studies and testing (McLelland 5). This combats the spread of bad science.

In the history of man, scientists have fought politicians to put their theories forward. This was the case of Galileo and the Church (the government of the time) when he attempted to introduce the concept of the Heliocentric Universe. The theory only materialized because of a consensus between the two parties.

Such actions of the government have muzzled and hampered progress in science. Governments have also used some scientific evidence to commit atrocities. For instance, in the 1930s, Germany used consensus from scientists to eliminate races that were perceived as genetically inferior. This was the science of Eugenics. No one had sufficient evidence to ascertain the practical aspects of Eugenics.

Given the influence of politicians and governments, one may wonder whether they have exclusive authorities and the right to decide the fate of science. It is difficult to explain why politicians should take part in deciding the fate of science because science provides sufficient evidence-based studies to stand on its own. Science does not need politicians for the public to accept it. The role of politicians should be limited to protecting the rights of the public and scientific research participants.

From history, one can observe how politicians have twisted evidence from science to support their political ideologies. For instance, politicians have often raised concerns beyond evidence that scientific discoveries show. This is the case with most controversial subjects like genetically modified food, climate change, stem cell studies, and evolution, among others.

According to Mooney, current politicians have gone beyond to label some scientific evidence as ‘junk science’ and want to replace with what they consider as ‘sound science’ (Mooney 31). This is outrageous manipulation of science by politicians. Sound science for politicians is science that must favor their interests, and it is questionable, fringe, and extreme.

Mooney concentrates on controversial topics like global warming, stem cells, evolution, creationism, and intelligent design to elaborate on how politicians politicize and distort scientific facts (Mooney 109). Strauss notes that there are at least six states with anti-evolution bills (Strauss 2). According to her, this is a persistent ‘assault on science’ by politicians, which would make learning difficult for students.

In some cases, politicians and governments have misused scientific evidence to promote their agendas. In most cases, they pretend to have sufficient evidence to support their reform claims.

A consensus requires that politicians and scientists must agree that scientific discoveries should inform national policies rather than make policies. A dangerous situation occurs when politicians distort scientific facts to defend their narrow policies. Politicians have created controversies in science by using concepts that lack solid backing.

Therefore, politicians should embrace nonpartisan approaches when dealing with scientific issues. One must recognize that the future lies in intelligence, research, and discoveries. Hence, supporting strange anti-intellectual habits will not favor the generation of new knowledge for prosperity.

Works Cited

McLelland, Christine V. Nature of Science and the Scientific Method. Geological Society of America, n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2013. <http://www.geosociety.org/educate/NatureScience.pdf>.

Mooney, Chris. The Republican War on Science. New York: Basic Books, 2006. Print.

Strauss, Valerie. Tennessee back to the future with new antievolution. The Washington Post, 11 April 2012. Web. 11 Sept. 2013. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/tennessee-back-to- the-future-withnew-anti-evolution-law/2012/04/11/gIQAJb7g9S_blog.html>.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Is There a Danger in Allowing Politics to Define Science?" March 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-there-a-danger-in-allowing-politics-to-define-science/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Is There a Danger in Allowing Politics to Define Science'. 20 March.

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