Why Politics Needs The Scientician?
Why should there be more scientists in politics?
Well, for one, in this day and age of science and fact denial, there should be a louder voice in the world of politics to beat back the intense wave of pseudoscience, fake news, and downright bullshit that is constantly spewed out of the mouths of politicians, wannabe scientists, and media outlets. This phenomenon is seen day in and day out on social media with the like of David Wolfe, Food Babe, Republicans, Democrats, and “Dr.” Jenny McCarthy, spewing absolute nonsense about vaccines, the next cure for cancer, climate change denial, and other miscellaneous pseudoscience. Political affiliation aside, individuals fall victim to pseudoscience beliefs and somehow those beliefs make the pen to paper transition in the form of legislation.
However, beyond the superficial platitudes and self-aggrandizing, scientists are taught to think deeply about the problems at hand, come up with solutions that normally wouldn’t be thought of, and simply, they solve the problems in the simplest and cheapest way possible! Scientists are trained to think of possibilities beyond what is in front of them and to plan for any and all possibilities that may arise with their experiments. They need to account for unknown circumstances, unexpected variables, false equivalencies, and to pierce the bullshit that other people may fall victim to! I am the first to admit my bias in this argument. However, I know my training is to find the best possible answer given the information at hand; Even if this means my preconceived beliefs, opinions and thoughts were wrong. It dictates that, if new information and data arise, I need to concede my argument and move forward with the TRUTH! This simple (and should be universal) truth is clouded by the ignorant, simple minded idiots that run this country (both Dem’s and Repub’s are guilty of this in their respective viewpoints).
Isaac Asimov once said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
This assessment of the cult of ignorance has never been truer than today’s current political environment. Sometimes, but not always, I look around and see the things people believe, and think, “how could one draw that conclusion?” When I see misinformation win the day, I think of the Thomas Jefferson quote: “The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate.” Without proper education, fact checking, and a trustworthy press, this nation is on a downward spiral into demagoguery, fascism, and tyranny. The public is misinformed on a variety of issues ranging from climate change (i.e. the navy, DOD, and military are preparing for changes in the climate), to evolution and how it affects daily life (i.e. antibiotic resistant bacteria and why there is no “one” cure for cancer), and the ACA being repealed will cost more to citizens and the government. These are just the tip of the iceberg caused by erroneous reporting and the hot button phrase “fake news”. I don’t mean CNN and corporate media, however, after I define fake news, I will circle back to why they are failing the American people as well.
How Scientist can play a unique role in politics
Now, I think that there should be more scientists in governmental power, but this isn’t the primary issue. I believe the primary issue to be that the American electorate is science illiterate and this causes misinformation to breed and run rampant! Therefore, “fake news” sites that are designed and built to mimic real sites, or media outlets such as InfoWars and Breitbart, can thrive and spew nonsense to the public. They prey on voters who may not have the time, or the desire, to become fully informed. Hell, there are topics I am not fully educated upon, but I at least try to take some time to cut through the bull. Even then, sometimes I fail. However, to blatantly lie to your audience just to push a message that appeals to their preconceived notions of reality is dangerous. We are seeing this more and more in these outlets, on Facebook, and memes that are patently false. People will see a story and think, “oh by golly gee wiz, that fits with my life narrative.”, and instantly believe it (like I said I have fallen prey to this as well, so I am Not judging anyone). Politicians should be about objective truths, scientists operate in what is objectively true and not what is convenient. Our policies and our media need to reflect this approach, and who better to implement such an approach than a scientist in the political space.
What’s really the problem with today’s politics?
Now, for the reason in my opinion that we are in this mess to begin with: the giant corporate media outlets such as CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. While they all have a sort of bias, they all protect giant corporations buy peddling news that benefits them and other multi-national corporations. They do this in a couple of ways. First, they only tell the side of the story that is beneficial to their way of thinking (such as Fox being conservative and MSNBC pushing neoliberalism). A second way they do this is by having “experts” come on their broadcasts to tell their sides of the argument without fact checking, doing real investigative journalism to report the truth, and pandering to a particular demographic. CNN is notorious for this. They will tell the story “an expert” gives, of the corporation involved, the police, and the authority figure without fact checking the information they are given. Instead, they should strive to put out the correct facts and information, and not just what both sides say. It should be about objective truths, and scientists operate in what is objectively true and not what is convenient. Our policies and our media need to reflect this approach.
For example, the false equivalency with the Dakota Access Pipeline parent’s corporation (Energy Trust Partners), the police (being paid indirectly through the Energy Trust Partners by offering to cover their overtime pay), and former North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple would all issue statements that were patently false alongside of the protestors statements. They did not fact check them, and only put out what both sides said happened. The literally are stenographers reporting what the 2 sides said. They could have easily put a reporter on the ground to report what the facts were, just as The Young Turks did with reporter Jordan Chariton. His coverage can be seen in a series of videos during that period, here. Instead, they chose to present the released statements by the authorities and the protestors in their coverage.
They did not fact check them, and only put out what both sides said happened. The literally are stenographers reporting what the 2 sides said. They could have easily put a reporter on the ground to report what the facts were. Instead, they chose to present the released statements by the authorities and the protestors in their coverage. This multi-billion dollar corporation could not afford to put a reporter on the ground to get the real facts? Malarkey! They easily could afford to pay for a journalist to get there and uncover the truth.
They choose to do this to support this false notion of unbiased reporting, or reporting both sides of an argument, even when one side is clearly factual and the other is BS! They do this with climate change, or any left vs right topic, all the time. Therefore, people do not believe what is being reported, nor why they trust the mainstream media. The media simply does not report the truth anymore. They are acting as stenographers, and not investigating the truth. Without the media doing their actual job, they are letting the American Electorate become misinformed, and in essence, letting democracy fail.
I fully believe the media failing the nation by not reporting the truth, the denouncement of science and scientists, and the failures of the American public to be scientifically literate is why there needs to be pushback from the scientific community. They need to rise to the occasion and take positions in the government to help the healing process and to try and inform the American electorate why we as a nation are great. This country made huge technological advances and is the superpower that it is because of science! As Ronald Regan once said, “The remarkable thing is that although basic research does not begin with a particular practical goal, when you look at the results over the years, it ends up being one of the most practical things government does.” He knew the importance of science and investing in it.
I believe the modern American climate of politics needs to be reminded of the important of science. In particular, scientists taking up power as politicians would greatly benefit the country in the long run by pushing greater expenditure in research and development. Scientist in the political space would mean pushing science literacy to the public and dispelling the bullshit that ordinary politicians peddle on the daily to the American public. We need to turn away from the current path we are on, and turn to science and fact-based reality to solve the problems in front of us. This is my call to scientists to break out of the laboratory and lead the country!