Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Bush Administration IS NOT and WAS NOT anti-science
So much has been written about the supposed anti-science stance of the Bush administration (see for example Chris Mooney, AFP, many Nobel laureates, etc and even me). But I have been obsessing about this in my head for some time now. And I think it misses the point. Bush and his administration have not really been anti-science. There I said it. Ready to smack me over the head?
Before you do that. Wait. What I think Bush is is even more insidious. He is anti-evidence. Or, in other words, he does not believe science should be used to discover things but instead simply as a means to an end. Sound familiar? This was his approach to weapons, torture, Guantanamo, gathering intelligence about US citizens, and so on. All these things were justified because evidence and objectively testing multiple possibilities was not really needed - we knew the answer and just had to back it up with something consistent with the theory. In essence, everything he did titled against evidence in all sorts of areas.
So - even though he was not anti-science per se. The anti-evidence attitude hit scientists really hard. Science is NOT about just trying to get to an end. It is also about discovery. And thus I look forward to a president who believes science is a way to discover things about the world that we do not already know.