Federalist Society gets it Backwards on the March for Science
I seldom expect such backward reasoning from the usually well-respected Federalist Society. But this time Robert Tracinski gets it 100% backassward (I also wonder at how he published a critique of a march happening the next day, but I'll let his talent as a clairvoyant slide for now).
By my reading, Tracinski's proposition regarding a modern citizen's relation to "Science" SHOULD mirror the Church's pre-Enlightenment view of a citizen's relation to the deity:
- mediation through the Church & State,
- acceptance of received wisdom as gospel,
- belief in priestcraft and superstition.
Tracinski is wrong. If Franklin, Jefferson and Priestley represent the first revolution of Citizen Science, The second revolution in Citizen Science is upon us, jump started by the pioneering educational work of Carl Sagan. And the second revolution marched in cities around the world last Saturday.
Science does not follow the Left-Liberal Agenda. Instead, the Liberal-Progressive agenda is shaped by Science. Science, like Liberal Democracy itself, is the flower of the Enlightenment. And the hallmark of the Enlightenment is man's breaking the bonds of tribalism, superstition, and hereditary aristocracy while forging ahead into the great unknown of the future.
Saturday's (22 April 2017), worldwide March for Science encompassed many scientific disciplines, many topics, & many goals. However, supporting a "left - liberal agenda" was not one of them. It is a disservice to the scientists themselves as well as the science-minded citizens who believe and marched in the cause of the Scientific Method and the principle of free inquiry to suggest such motives.
The unifying theme of the March for Science, if there were one, was about the political decision to substitute doubt in the Scientific Method as well as to denigrate the scientific method in public policy, for purely economic and political purposes.
The "left -liberal agenda" progressive agenda hews closely to the scientific consensus, not the other way around.
But this doesn't mean all "left - liberal agenda" folks get it right all the time either. I am constantly embarrassed that some "left - liberal" folks pick and choose their science, as do "right - conservatives."
For instance, many on the progressive end of the spectrum believe in the evidence for evolution and man-made climate change, yet are way outside the Scientific consensus on other topics, most notably regarding vaccines & GMO's. However, many on the right reverse the choices, believing in vaccines but not man-made climate change.
- The March for Science was in support the scientific principles of free inquiry and following the evidence wherever it leads.
- The March for Science was about maintaining and honoring the principles of the scientific method: observation, experimentation, free access to methodology, replication, peer review, & publication.
- The March for Science was against the politically motivated muzzling of scientists working in the Federal realm, regardless of department or agency.
- The March for Science was to express concern over the threatened cuts in funding for ongoing, life saving research at the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.
- But mostly, the March for Science was about the future, our future. It was about continuing the Founder's profound belief in striving to be more, to be better human beings and citizens through observation, experimentation and replication.
- The March for Science was about continuing the Enlightenment of Mankind.
So Mr. Tracinski errs when he denigrates the popularizing of Science by Dr. Carl Sagan. Science is both a process AND a narrative. Citizens need not choose.
Complaining about making Science accessible to the public, democratizing understanding of and enthusiasm for Science, is elitist and the most crass kind of snobbery.
Common citizens may not be able to do the advance math of physics, but, in great part thanks to the new breed of Science educators and Science communicators, the common citizen can understand more than enough to be informed and to make informed decisions.
In fact, through the plethora of Science Faires, and Maker Spaces, as well as Science-based television, YouTube videos, and Podcasts(not to mention the plethora of Citizen Science initiatives available to the public) Americans have never been more Scientifically informed nor more Scientifically engaged.
Not every citizen needs to be Scientist to understand enough Science to be a good citizen and to make informed choices about their lives and the direction of Scientific Policy of the United States.
Which is why "Left - Liberal" politics mirrors the Scientific consensus, not the other way around.