Just as we’ve always suspected:
A commentator in the world’s leading science journal advised that science needs to work harder at becoming bipartisan.
Daniel Sarewitz, whose pointed commentaries are often critical of science as it is compared to how it should be, wrote a disturbing “World View” column in Nature (Jan 3 issue) – disturbing, that is, for American Democrats. He accused both individual scientists and scientific institutions of neglecting Republicans and conservatives, appearing to overwhelmingly support the Democratic party. — “Is Science a Special Interest Group for One Party?”, CEH Headlines, January 2, 2013
For politicians to co-opt social establishments — scientific or otherwise — is not a new thing:
Sarewitz discussed how key spokespersons for science are often very partisan, simply assuming that the Democratic Party is their friend, and the Republican party the enemy. — Ibid.
Of course, there’s the vexatious problem of just how “scientific” “science” really is:
He voiced a theory about why Republicans get a bad rap: they typically oppose “social science,” not so much science per se. That’s because “they believe [social science] tilts towards liberal political agendas.” Compounding the trouble is that social science is invading more and more scientific initiatives: “As scientists seek to provide policy-relevant knowledge on complex, interdisciplinary problems ranging from fisheries depletion and carbon emissions to obesity and natural hazards, the boundary between the natural and the social sciences has blurred more than many scientists want to acknowledge.” When leading scientists enthusiastically align themselves with the Democratic party, it’s no wonder that conservatives are suspicious that “all science is social science” when it comes to “contentious issues such as climate change, natural-resource management and policies around reproduction”. — Ibid.
As the CEH commentator notes, Sarewitz’s concern might have a lot to do with the bottom line — money:
One can detect a faint undertone that Sarewitz is more concerned about loss of funding than about political balance. “In the current period of dire fiscal stress, one way to undermine this stable funding and bipartisan support would be to convince Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, that science is a Democratic special interest,” he worried. — Ibid.
Is there a way to quell Sarewitz’s fears?
Well, guess what Sarewitz left out of his equation. When does scientific funding go up? In a booming economy! Republicans should be seen as the greatest friends of science, because they strongly support growth of the private sector by reducing taxes and regulations. When business thrives because entrepreneurs are not punished with stifling taxes and interference, the economy surges, and government becomes one of the key beneficiaries. More growth means more jobs. More jobs means more taxpayers. It doesn’t take high tax rates to increase revenues: it takes a growing and expanding pool of successful businesses and the jobs they create. A strong economy (the Republican model) is the very boost science needs. That’s when revenues are strong, lifting all ships, including science funding. — Ibid.
Such a development, however, is not in the offing, with at least two more years of the status quo:
The redistributionist path we are on under the current administration, though, will damage science along with the rest of the private sector, because all ships will founder on the rocks. — Ibid.
For scientists, suckled in such a creed outworn, to support current economic policy seems to verge on the (fiscally) suicidal:
The Democrats own this economy now. As the debt skyrockets into unprecedented trillions (more than incurred by all previous presidents combined), scientists are getting hurt along with every other American. The value of the currency drops as inflation threatens to rise. Everything becomes more costly. Scientists will have to argue for the smallest cuts rather than affordable increases, with the spectre of complete economic collapse looming on the horizon – a time when all scientific funding by the government would be a fool’s luxury, last on the priority list. The economic crisis America faces, along with many of the world’s democratic nations bent on “equality of outcome” instead of “equality of opportunity,” is being exacerbated by liberal policies. Scientists who align with the Democratic party have a death wish; they love what is destroying them. Instead of pampering the goose that lays the golden egg, they slay it in greed. — Ibid.
Politicized “science” isn’t just a contradiction in terms, it is inevitably a dead — and potentially deadly — end.