Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Monday, February 09, 2009

With Science on Their Side

The Globe delights in reminding us that George Bush ignored Science to promote his partisan and destructive agenda, while Obama will restore Science to its rightful place. Most recently, your Sunday editorial slipped in a crack on a piece about Obama not wearing a suit in the Oval Office: "The Bush White House may have been decked out in sartorial splendor, but that didn't translate into respect for science, the environment, or the Constitution."

I find this appeal to the authority of science disingenuous. The debate over issues like global warming, stem cell research or safe levels of arsenic in our drinking water are a little bit about science and a lot about politics—enacting legislation and spending public funds. The same facts can lead to opposite conclusions regarding the appropriate political responses. If Democrats claim they have scientific truth on their side rather than defending the merits of, for example, proposed global warming legislation, they are not respecting science; they are exploiting the image of science to cover partisan advocacy.