2:16 PM

Science in Policy

Check out this editorial by Roland Schenkel in Science Magazine on the difficulties of introducing and using science in policy-making.

Key quotation:  "Likewise, will the scientific community be modest enough to accept that science communication is just one important consideration on the table when decision-makers have to make choices?"

Comments (3)

Personally while this article was very insightful as to the nature of policy, I strongly disagreed with the second point he makes. While I understand that policy makers like to see the debate unfold before them to determine a correct course of action, scientists put a great deal of effort into the peer-review process and by allowing for people that may claim to be experts to have their opinion it opens up the discussion to emotion and swaying based on the most "loud" side.

So...playing devil's advocate here...isn't this what democracy is about? The author isn't advocating that laypeople necessarily be invited in to "do" science the way scientists do science. But he is saying that science is often only one factor among many to influence policymaking. Things like values, politics, and other forms of knowledge also matter. If science is the deciding factor in policymaking, then we have a technocracy, not a democracy.

In other words, while the loud yelling may not be pleasant, it's an integral part of our political process. And the political process is central to our functioning as a democracy (even if it's unpleasant).

The article brought up many points that need to be discussed by society at large. At one points the article talks about the scientific community uniting:
"Have we organized ourselves to protect [funding]?". I have to ask, even if we are able to unite will we represent a large enough majority to sway political issues?