The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Believe Science!’ — But Only When It Conforms to Leftist Notions

For nearly a year now, we have been repeatedly hectored by politicians and the media that we must believe in science, which actually means, “Do what powerful Democrats tell you to do with regard to COVID.” Of course, that directive overlooks the fact that scientists don’t all agree and also that science can’t tell us what trade-offs we should accept or reject.

In today’s Martin Center article, Sumantra Maitra ponders the left’s inconsistency in demanding that we must “believe in science.”

His thoughts were sparked by a controversy in the U.K. (where he lives) over a published paper finding that women in science might be better off with male mentors. Horrors! That can’t be true! The paper must be suppressed. Maitra writes of that paper, “Naturally, it is under extreme criticism and facing activist open-letter campaigns even when the science on same-gender academic competition is quite clear.”

So, we must believe in science — unless it might conflict with elements of “progressive” ideology. If so, the ideology must be protected.

Maitra sees this episode as part of a larger trend, namely the politicization of science. “Sadly, this deification of science is not isolated,” he writes. “It is partly responsible for a hefty mass of people losing trust in the entire idea of scientific expertise, as science is now considered akin to ideological activism. Prior to the U.S. election, Nature came out with four different articles taking sides. On October 15, it argued that scientists should get more political if they are ‘tired of being ignored.’ It also endorsed Joe Biden for president. Prior to that, on October 8, Nature published an editorial arguing that “science and politics are inseparable.”

The Left will politicize anything to gain and cement its control.

I like Maitra’s conclusion: “The short-term political gains by weaponizing science could have long-term costs that leaves society in a worse place. Scientism reinforces dogma, which creates echo chambers, flawed predictions, and erodes trust. For example, there is documented evidence of collapsing trust in expertise in America, as well as evolving polarization along ideological lines, about trust in science.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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