If you haven’t already done so, have a read of this Editorial from Scientific American. It concerns the state of science and anti-science in American politics in general, and the current election campaign in particular. And before you write this off as the meanderings of a bunch of elite, leftist twits, consider that Scientific American has been publishing since 1845, and has been at the forefront of patenting and technology advancement for over 170 years. Sci Am has an enviable reputation for espousing scientific values, scientific thinking, and the kind of creativity that gives rise to discoveries that help improve humanity’s lot.
Scientific journals like Scientific American rarely if ever contribute comments to political debates unless they are responding to specific scientific or technological questions or issues. So for Sci Am to comment in this manner is unusual to say the least. I encourage people to read and think about the issues stated here for two primary reasons:
1. That it cuts to the core of science and the integrity of science (industry in the broadest sense would simply not exist without science and technology); and
2. This issue is not just the purview of American politics (in the most general terms) but concerns politics in many other nations, my own countries (New Zealand and Canada) included, where evidence-based policy, debate, and argument is increasingly taking a back seat to the shallowness of popularity and superficial comment.
The issue(s) stated in the Editorial go beyond party politics. There are many scientific issues that require reasoned debate and comment – issues around medical, environmental and genetic engineering science, to name just three, that impact not just the way science is conducted, but the way we think about human values, ethics, and beliefs. Scientific knowledge is crucial.