Human Exceptionalism

THE SCIENTIST Defends Bush on Science

The Scientist (no link available) has written a courageous article–for this day and age–claiming that the Bush Administration aren’t just a bunch of anti-science Luddites, after all. It is not my purpose here at Secondhand Smoke to boost President Bush. But as I wrote last week in my Daily Standard piece, many of the policy differences that allegedly make the President “anti-science” are actually legitimate differences of opinion about proper policy or ethics.

Here is perhaps the key paragraph from “Sizing Up Bush on Science,” byline Alison McCook: “Part of what may be fueling many scientists’ distress over the Bush administration’s attitude to science is that many scientists don’t understand that politicians have to consider more than just science, and take advice from more than just scientists. This is how policy works, notes [Jane] Lubchenco, now at Oregon State University. ‘Some scientists seem to imply that ‘if the science says X, then the policy should follow blindly.’ And I don’t think that’s true,’ she says. Scientists often act ‘as if the science automatically tells you what you should do, which it doesn’t,’ and making a decision that’s not responsive to scientific input doesn’t necessarily mean a politician is ‘anti-science,’ notes Sarewitz.”

Pree-cise-ly!

The article also confirms something I have intuited: “The Scientists” have become part of the Democrat political coalition and that is reflected in their almost reflexive opposition to Bush Administration policies. From the article: “Scientists, by their actions, sometimes invite politicization, says [Roger] Pielke [director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado]. For instance, most scientists are Democrats and are public about it. In the 2004 election, the group ‘Scientists and Engineers for Change’ endorsed Democratic candidate John Kerry. When scientists publicly align themselves with Democrats, some Republicans may suspect scientists of having an agenda, says Pielke. Furthermore, Democratic scientists are more likely to criticize a Republican president, given that they likely disagree with him ideologically, not just about science, says [Daniel] Sarewitz [director of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University in Tempe].”

Of course, the truth that Bush is no different than most presidents when it comes to the politics of science will go utterly unremarked upon and unheeded by the mainstream media–who have agendas of their own. But good for McCook for setting the record straight.

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