Home > Uncategorized > Science Doesn’t Take Sides… But Politicians DO… and the GOP is Taking the Side Against Science

Science Doesn’t Take Sides… But Politicians DO… and the GOP is Taking the Side Against Science

March 11, 2020

I read a recent summary of a CBS Report suggesting that legislators across the country have declared a “War on Science”. As the term “War” suggests, the legislators are viewing science as something that requires one can take sides on, the same way it is possible to take sides on, say, welfare policy. Here are the paragraphs that outline the issue CBS news is tackling:

According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), in 2019 over a dozen bills were introduced in 10 states. One proposed bill in Connecticut, introduced by Republican John Piscopo, has the specific goal of eliminating climate change teaching entirely from the science standards the state adopted in 2015. Most of the other bills cast a wider net, aiming to require teaching “both sides” of an argument with equal weight, even if one does not have the support of the scientific community behind it.

“The bills vary, but they generally have something to the effect of teachers should be encouraged to teach both sides of controversial areas of science, or teachers should be encouraged to teach critical thinking around controversial areas of science,” said Ann Reid, executive director of NCSE. “Lately, the most recent iteration of this kind of bill, is teachers should have academic freedom to teach topics as they see fit.

“So, these bills very rarely pass. But I do think the fact that they’re introduced at all, that they end up in the newspapers, that that people get interviewed about them, and then it’s presented as a ‘both sides’ kind of issue,that can be hard for teachers. That can make it more challenging for them to teach these topics.”

We’ve witnessed this issue before in an area of science that is very clear cut and settled: evolution. But the widespread politicization of science has run rampant thanks in large measure to lobbyists who stand to lose billions if scientific finds are applied to their corporations. The easiest example is the tobacco industry, who for decades tried to promote the idea that smoking was not a health hazard. In a more subtle and insidious fashion the petroleum industry has promoted the idea that scientific conclusions regarding global warming are open to question. The difference between global warming and tobacco, though, is huge. Tobacco use only impacts those who choose to buy tobacco products. Global warming, as the name indicates, will have a universal, global impact.

Ms. Reid is accurate in her assessment of the impact of the media’s coverage, which reinforces the notion that climate science is UN-settled. And who writes these bills that are proposed in various State legislatures? Two guesses— and the first one doesn’t count.

 

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