The assumption that the general public will always perceive science with a reverent and trusting eye is wrong: once the capital runs out, science will be perceived as just another tentacle of the establishment. Politicizing scientific language is a surefire way of accelerating this process.
This is what has already happened with the MSM, of course.
I don't understand the problem here. Isn't science - as in Poppers falsifiability - the only way to legitimize knowledge?
Which is what most people use as the actual heuristics of competence, including journalists and politicians. GP seems to believe that this heuristic will cease to be accepted if things continue, just like "being a religious authority" ceased to be an accepted heuristic for moral authority in many communities.
I agree that this is a problem, since going back to the substrate of hypothesis and experiment is just not very efficient. We need institutions like those.
Once that is addressed upfront (whether it is personal preference, or cultural bias/context), the authors are able to both express themselves more freely as well as be more critical of their own perspective.
I think other social sciences researchers are more OK with this idea, and unfortunately STEM researchers seem to go out of their way to assume they have no perspectives or biases, as the assumption is that 'pure research' is unable to be tainted by such things.
To expose my own personal bias, I find this article to be very heavy handed and reactionary.
I agree with the author's discussion of the complexity of individuals, their beliefs, and their contributions. The desire to simplify a narrative about a person's value or intent common and even effective, but still dangerous. That can be a simplification mores over different times or cultures. One of the best cures I've seen is travel (outside your cultural sphere), but that's not likely to be universally available any time soon.
What I don't really see is that scientists themselves share a greatly disproportionate responsibility or blame for the current situation, which seems historically fraught. Media (social and otherwise), "news", and advertising on the other hand...
There's going to be some number on either side of the issue that genuinely don't believe they're politicizing the issue, they're just right.
If I were to say the sun rises in the east, that would be just objectively correct. If the Penguin Party were to say that it instead rises in the west and not accepting their belief is politicizing the issue, then what are my options here?
Sure there are probably those in the Penguin Party who know the sun doesn't actually rise in the west. But toe the party line, because it antagonizes the other party. And they know that there are those out there who actually believe it. And now they join the Penguin Party because here's a major group that is validating their existence.
But there are both Democrats and Republicans who believe the other party is the Penguin Party. They believe they are right. And they believe the other party is led by people who are telling people lies just to garner support.
Which leads all of us, down here, back to where we started.
And as long as there's support to be had for pushing a fantasy, there's going to be some unscrupulous people who are going to do it. I don't think it can be avoided.
The author seems to be unaware that the word “canceled” [sic], and especially “cancel culture” are themselves only used by one of the two sides in modern U.S. politics. This will cause the article to go unread by the other side.
Indeed, the other side seems to have no corresponding acceptable word for the concept. The closest I have seen is “consequences of a person’s own actions”, but what I have mostly seen is the existence of the concept being denied outright. Thus, the allusion by the author to Newspeak – which tries to eliminate words for concepts it wants to remove – is rather apt.
I believe you, but I have not seen it. On the contrary, I have seen people berated for using the word.
What I'd rather do is try to convince people that it's wrong to apply this kind of ideological control regardless of whether or not you think it's correct. But that's hard, because if it was correct, and people do earnestly believe it is, then what do they have to lose?
I also think that dishonest portrayals of even recent history are a huge problem for understanding that a lot of the moral conundrums we have today are not new. It's mostly the sensationalism and moral panics that are always changing.
The behavior of the medical community during the pandemic has been outrageous. My dad has done public health for 30 years in the developing world. You don’t get vaccine-skeptical people in rural Bangladesh to get vaccinated by telling them they’re idiots and making threats. Yet that’s been the main game plan with less educated rural people here in the US: berate the white ones for not being vaccinated, and then ignore the lack of vaccination among the non-white ones. That’s a profound failure to understand the profession’s role relative to the rest of society.
Yes sure. This is the community, the medical community, that has been absolutely outrageous in its behavior over the past year and a half and must attract our ire in these discussions. We have a really awful medical community (as confirmed by your father) - How do we appropriately censure this absolutely outrageous behavior. I am at loss for words!
Intersectional thinking is killing people!
Do people who do this genuinely believe they are helping to encourage people to vaccinate? My impression is that they just want to feel smug.
But in an intersectional analysis, “non-college rural whites” is near the top of the “oppressor” hierarchy. I think that causes people to perceive their attacks as “punching up” against more powerful people who are being willfully malicious.
You still haven't said who these public health people are, publicly berating the white, less educated rural people for not being vaccinated.
Right now it sounds a lot more like you're summing up someone's twitter trending section, not public health officials, so I'll throw up the old [Citation needed].
And I feel the need to mention, intersectionality does not itself create an “oppressor hierarchy.” Intersectionality is just a way of describing how people can be vulnerable to to subjugation in some ways while having the power to subjugate other people in other ways. This is a good thing, specifically for reasons you identify! Just because you’re white in America and are less likely to be killed at a traffic stop than a black person, does not mean that you have enough money to live comfortably or have adequate access to healthcare, or are abled or have no criminal record and so on. You are arguably making an intersectional argument when you talk about the specific needs of low-information white people in rural areas.
It could be that lower educational level is merely coincidental, and that the relevant characteristic is, instead, an insecure-but-obstinate egoism whose Prime Directive is, "You're not the boss of me!" If that's true, then:
1. scorn, mockery, and threats seem just about as likely to convert obstinate anti-vaxxers — EDIT: that is to say, not likely at all — as any other approach, because by this point in a pandemic, there's little hope that anything will convince stubborn contrarians that they should get vaccinated, not even the deathbed pleas of their fellow contrarians who realize too late that they fatally screwed the pooch; but
2. for the vaccinated, public mockery of anti-vaxxers could help to reinforce their sense of community with other vaccinated folks — and, more generally, with community-minded folks, as opposed to selfish individualists — by evoking primitive us-versus-them feelings, with "them" being the insecure-but-obstinate egoists. That could be socially useful, in a backhanded sort of way.
EDIT: We've seen this kind of behavior before in die-hard (so to speak) smokers; cf. the anti-smoking public service announcements by former smokers such as Leonard Nimoy, who died of COPD after smoking for years. 
And if blue-tribe attacks on anti-vaxxers help to increase blue-tribe and independents' vaccination rates, then net-net the attacks are a good thing from an overall-vax-rate perspective, because (again, by hypothesis) the blue-tribe attacks won't decrease the anti-vaxxers' vaccination rates, which are already at or near zero, and nothing will increase those rates.
EDIT: There's also a question of patience (an exhaustible resource) and cost-effectiveness: when dealing with a toddler screaming for candy in the grocery store, at some point you stop trying to reason with them and just physically remove them from the store. Likewise with anti-vaxxers: At some point the rest of us are going to lose patience and stop being willing to incur costs in terms of dollars, unavailability of ICU beds for other patients, and needless deaths and long-haul illnesses. Personally, I'd be OK with putting voluntary anti-vaxxers under house arrest, akin to being locked up for contempt of court: The key to your cell is in your own hands.
EDIT 2: You persist in labeling the blue-tribe attacks as being on less-educated and rural people. From where I sit, the attacks are on pig-headed voluntary anti-vaxxers — some of whom are well-educated city-dwellers such as the commenters on Fox News (some of them doubtless being vaccinated themselves).
Please re-read that part of my comment: you and I are in agreement.
I'm sorry, but I think today's partisan politics are clouding your memory. There's been multiple points in history where poltically left leaning professionals were systematically kicked out of their jobs and blacklisted from their careers.
> berate the white ones for not being vaccinated, and then ignore the lack of vaccination among the non-white ones.
People around me are being given like $100 and a pat on the back when they get vaccinated around here. Antivaxxers are idiots, but people getting vaccinated are having the gold carpet rolled out to them.
Also it doesn't look good to repeat a racist fox news soundbite that's already been debunked about how the blacks are invading our cities and spreading covid .
This is a strawman argument. The OP proposed that on average whites are more vaccinated than blacks, which your citation supports. So vaccine marketing should target the biggest vaccine skeptics, otherwise the racially inequal outcomes will only grow.
B) There are more white people in America than black people. So, while in relative terms there may be less vaccinated black than white people, in absolute terms, there are more unvaccinated white than black people.
The vaccines don't care about the proportion of various demographic groups. The community benefits from there being more vaccinated people overall.
Careful, you might pull something with those mental gymnastics.
You’re right that more vaccinated people is what matters so everyone should do their part. That means per capita should be the same across all demographics. Any group that has a lower per capita is dragging covid progress, regardless of how large or small the group is.
However, if you look at the cross tabs of opinion polling, supporters of a particular party are much more hesitant to get the vaccine.
Well, communists right? Literal sympathizers with the US' greatest geopolitical foe?
> Also it doesn't look good to repeat a racist fox news [blah blah blah fox news..]
Wait are the vaccination rates between whites and blacks actually substantially equal? And your link is just playing the trick of swapping out percentages for absolute numbers to make a tendentious argument.
Vaccination rates for whites is 10-15 points higher than for Black people in blue states, but about the same in the poorest and most rural states.
That’s my point—what you’re looking at is low vaccination rates among disadvantaged groups. Public health officials have just forgotten that non-college rural whites are one of those groups.
...you're really going to lead with this?
> The behavior of the medical community during the pandemic has been outrageous. My dad has done public health for 30 years in the developing world. You don’t get vaccine-skeptical people in rural Bangladesh to get vaccinated by telling them they’re idiots and making threats. Yet that’s been the main game plan with less educated rural people here in the US
What part of the medical community, specifically, are you talking about here? What concerted pattern, explicitly planned or not, are you referring to here?
It honestly seems more like you're giving a take on popular discourse, with more than a little generalizing.
What I do see is many many medical professionals trying to counsel their patients and communities, finding out Fox News and Facebook have gotten there first, and still trying to do their jobs, sometimes in the face of a lot of abuse.
> berate the white ones for not being vaccinated, and then ignore the lack of vaccination among the non-white ones
Well, first, we know about racial disparities in vaccination rates because it's been measured and reported on as concerning well before people turned it into a talking point.
But I hope this isn't a reference to the Texas Lt Governor's comment, because not only is he stupidly wrong and his comment is a huge distraction for public health efforts and discourse, but he's the one who trotted out relative vaccination rates in different groups out of the blue in an interview that was about (wait for it) public health policy. Can't blame the medical community for that one.
And he's not remotely a millennial.
Always was true always will be.
I think it's cause:
2. Dead people take blame very well, and can't really argue back.
That's also the reasoning the communists and the National Socialists used in their reasoning; turns out they were faced with the same problems their predecessors had to deal with but they didn't really have better solutions. In the end the people paid because it was more important to save face than to admit being wrong.
I’ve always thought that if your children think they are wiser than you it means you have been an excellent parent. If they look back with awe at your superior wisdom, it means things got worse and you perhaps failed to leave a legacy.
If the plan is to create policies based on "the science", then people will lie about what the science is in order to get their policies into play.
It is hard to convince people with that opener, but the evidence is that it works quite well. One of the interesting tricks about Western democracies is that it channels the fleeting madness of crowds in the most productive direction without trying too hard to suppress it.
Or, in my opinion, more frequently - sincerely adhere to, but not actually understand the science and still push those policies anyway.
I've been more concerned with people who claim that some viewpoint is based on "science" while they actually don't even have a surface level understanding of it and whether it's been twisted to support a particular viewpoint. For the sufficiently hardheaded and ignorant, "science" is another form of religion and one-word conversation stopper.
More of a comment, no suggested solution.
Ideally, scientific facts thrive by surviving to experiments that fail to disprove them, but this does not exclude them entirely from that dynamic of social evolution. What experiments are performed is decided on the basis of what is desirable to investigate, according to the beliefs of the type of research that is deemed appropriate.
If they claim to be on the left, point out to them that that type of worldview is actually a form of conservatism. Quoting from Wikipedia, "Traditionalist conservatism places a strong emphasis on the notions of custom, convention, and tradition." and note that "customs
[and] convention" is the same as the "social norms" argument trotted out by the modern left to defend their activities.
This understanding is the basis of the Right's "slippery slope" argument...that in normalizing behaviors today that yesterday were considered "wrong", they tomorrow can we expect ever more and more outrageous behaviors to follow this same template?
The answer is, of course, yes.
In other words, nothing useful.
And, consequently, if you have never changed opinions, your current understanding of things must therefore be correct and unchanging, and policy can be written and implemented with this assumption.
In a way, it is the antithesis of science.
It's the new left who claim to be on the side of liberals but whose continue to espouse illiberal beliefs that need to be called out as to what they are.
Also, I would add that history is not linear, it’s not the progressive challenging of old prejudices.
Sometimes, in our efforts to strive for better morals, we make terrible mistakes. Phrenology come to mind, but there could be many other examples.
There were always sociopaths or people who were cruel for fun.
As in, here you are attacking strawman.
Science is a method of confirming/ dis-confirming / finding truth.
You are conflating the problematic statements of people who believe truth is on their side (using scientific finding to confirm their biases) and the process itself. I suspect you are correct except in your overloading of the word “science”
Science is not about finding the truth. Science can help you find evidence for a hypothesis you formulated. Yet, you still formulated the hypothesis.
The scientific methods help you to be more evidence based. Yet,they don't take away any bias that came in over the research question or hypothesis you formulated.
I am making an argument about the aggregation of knowledge created by all scientific experiments since at least The Enlightenment.
Admittedly truth is difficult to pin down, but science has been the best engine for helping humankind overcome myths and superstitions and give tools for people to use evidence to come to a common understanding of a common objective truth.
Check the nature podcasts I linked to, they go into quite some detail and give good examples.
I don't think, we as humans can understand an objective truth. A concept of knowledge makes only sense if we as species can comprehend it. This means knowledge and intelligence need to be embodied. Yet, if they are, they must be limited by the embodiment.
Foucault makes some interesting arguments around that.
The idea that science is somehow apolitical is dangerous. It's no more true than the idea that journalism is apolitical.
You can try to take more of a metaperspective with both, but to assume politics doesn't enter into the endeavors is dishonest. In many ways the position that science is apolitical is itself political.
The alternative is propaganda, which we already see enough of with journalism, and has happened in science when the government dictates the science. Science and the news should be held to an objective standard independent of any political considerations, even though humans are fallible and have biases, including political views.
> In many ways the position that science is apolitical is itself political.
This is like saying that atheism is religious. If you say everything is X, and I tell you that Ys are not Xs, then your rebuttal that my statement is X is abusing language and conflating X with Y. I could turn around, "everything is political", to be, "everything is scientific", and then claim that your statements to the contrary are scientific. But that would be collapsing meaningful distinctions, and potentially violating the law of identity, since it doesn't make sense for all political things to be scientific.
It depends on what you are modelling. If you're modelling human populations and behavior, they may become loaded with extreme political assumptions embedded in the model; and not all of those will be wiped out by the scientific method.
Eugenics is technically sound science. Selective breeding for traits is something we do with plants and animals. It works. You want pug nosed humans that yield 20% more crops, you can breed for that . There is nothing about selective breeding that technically wouldn't work for humans.
Now. Despite all of that, we should not do it. It is a moral wrong. It would require us to violate the autonomy of people. Don't want short people, you can't let short people reproduce. And so on. That's what makes it icky.
That's why we don't do it. And why we shouldn't. Not because it wouldn't work, it would. But because it would require us to violate another's autonomy.
What an incredibly strained analogy this all is.
And incidentally, both Russia and those regions were destabilized by wars prior that.
It’s the argument Jordan Peterson was making, and probably one of his most misunderstood points.
He’s fine with people asking to be called in a certain way, and he would most likely oblige. He’s not fine with a state law dictating how pronouns should be used.
I think it makes sense.
You have to be pretty creative with redefinitions to equate "someone not using the preferred pronouns of someone" with harassment.
Also, it's the people who has preferred pronouns who are demanding these preferences be codified into law, Peterson isn't demanding anything, just refusing the demands of those who are suspiciously interested in controlling how others use language.
Peterson seems to be full of shit. Can he produce an example of a Canadian who was actually prosecuted for not using the right pronoun? That’s not what the law says.
It does make it a crime to “advocate genocide.” It would take a pretty creative judge to interpret not using a pronoun as advocating genocide. Patent lawyers don’t usually prosecute criminal cases so you are probably safe.
(I do have issues personally with criminalizing any form of speech beyond the absolute most extreme cases. I’m just commenting on what this law actually says.)
Peterson is one of those crackpots who sounds reasonable for a while, then you realize he’s nuts. Go look up his hilarious “lobsters” nonsense.
If you like the stuff about myth and meaning, go read Jung. That’s where Peterson got most of the interesting things he says. Jung is a much better writer too.
What is interesting about Peterson is not original, and what is original is not interesting.
I don't actually live in Canada, and would probably comply with a person's request to call them "Supreme Emperor" if they asked nicely. So I didn't feel very threatened to begin with.
>who was actually prosecuted for not using the right pronoun? That’s not what the law says.
The article you linked has this section, Cossman is a legal professional.
> According to Cossman, accidental misuse of a pronoun would be unlikely to constitute discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, but "repeatedly, consistently refus[ing] to use a person’s chosen pronoun" might.
Now here's the part that rubs people the wrong way: refusing to use the correct pronouns is a prejudice against an ideology, not a person. The person misgendering is not in any way or form advocating for violence or discrimination, just refusing the right of the misgendered to determine their own gender. Unless you somehow include "The right to determine one's gender" among fundamental human rights, misgendering, no matter how consistent or deliberate, isn't an attack on anybody.
Imagine you live with a very vocal minority of otherwise-nice Muslims who are very offended that each time you mention prophet Muhammed you do not follow it with the obligatory "Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH)", do you agree that it's hate speech to repeatedly mention Muhammed without PBUH? It's probably divisive and immature, but it lacks the key component of hate speech: actual hate, of the type "against people". There is no violence in refusing to use language like Muslims do, just the implication that you're not a huge fan of what they believe and do.
>Peterson seems to be full of shit.
Not a fan of Peterson and never read a book by him or watched his videos, he does seem to venture sometimes. But men derive worth from their ideas not the other way around. If the Taliban said they agree with not forcing people to use language in the way a specific group demands, well I would hate to agree with the Taliban but they're right.
*: And before the inevitable "Islamophobia!!!" accusations, I'm a born-raised-living middle eastern ex-muslim regularly forced to pretend I believe things I don't to avoid harm and ostracization. I wouldn't like violence against Muslims because all of my family and nearly every friend I knew and know is a Muslim, but I sure do appreciate the ability to say to someone their beliefs are stupid without that reflecting badly on me.
That's the position I'm coming from here "Your ideas suck", while an unpleasant thing to say and best avoided, is not hate speech. Refusing to use language in the way someone wants is implicitly a "Your ideas suck" statement.
I suggest you avoid ad hominem attacks and discuss ideas, independently of who is expressing them.
Yes, which is why quacks like Jordan Peterson shouldn't be bought up here.
... until it's written into law in some countries / made mandatory in this or that institution's rules ...
It's very cunning, because it forces people to adopt a certain thought framework... against their will, it's not just about being polite. It has subtle ramifications, the people who architect these ideology are fully aware of.
The whole preferred pronoun thing is akin to religion in my book and purely ideologically driven.
10 years ago it was: "why do you use my preferred pronouns?
It costs you nothing". Today it is "Use my preferred pronouns or you're a bigot and group X or Z will shun you".
If the latter, is the state mandating that the state must be ignored?
In answer to your insincere question, no one demands anything as "a matter of state mandate". C-16 does not even once mention pronouns. If I had to guess, I'd say you're probably building the house of this comment on the shaky foundation of a thousand YouTube videos from the same side of YouTube that you've gone out of your way to watch about C-16. The biggest issue you'll have with that is that it means you're going to have a hard time in discussions with people who are actually even somewhat educated on the topics you're trying to jump into.
I am aware one's legal name can be changed, because here everyone has the right to change their name. Doesn't matter if one is or isn't trans.
My point is that if a preferred (rather than legal, by way of ID) pronoun is desired to be mandated (that's the interpretation I've understood, I could be misunderstanding) by the state, why not also mandate that one cannot deadname someone?
Not saying that it would be a bad thing to mandate non-deadnaming. Just that the conclusion seems odd, from the legal perspective, in that time period between when a deadname becomes dead and when that name is legally replaced.
By the way, I don't deadname people. Deadnaming is a combination of being an asshole and sticking one's nose where it doesn't belong. The state's legal opinion on that doesn't affect my behavior.
It's a bit beyond "similar triangles".
First they ask us to stop saying "master/slave architecture". Next it's FORCED FARM LABOR. It's a non-sequitur.
And no, being jailed for anything you can name does not mean we are on a path to following the USSR (or any similar trajectory). The problem with allegations of “slippery slope” is that it discounts that the US and UK have legal tools to challenge bad prosecutions and bad legislation. The courts have the ability to check the prosecution and juries have the ability to reject bad prosecutions (used infrequently, but importantly when the US government went after Dan Ellsberg)
Ex-USSR person here. It absolutely does mean that.
Make that "one or two more steps":
> Prisoners to plug worker shortage in meat industry
I'm more familiar with the Soviet cancel culture and can assure you it's exactly the same. The author just did not show more examples, and it seems a different thing.
In reality, not only Trotsky, but many other early Soviet leaders were removed from books -- by removing mentions of them and photo editing. In fact, most of the early Soviet government of 1918 fell victims of that (the reason was that they lost to Stalin in the fight for power).
A famous example was Interior Comissar (Minister) Yezhov, who initiated the greatest political purge of 1937-38. He was himself arrested and executed based on falsified accusations in 1939. Mentions of him were removed (in fact in my schoolbooks in 1990 I did not see his name), him edited out of photographs. Here's a good collection of such photo editing:
But these examples continued into science and other areas.
Scientists, teachers, book authors and actors, who'd fall in disfavor with management, were "cancelled" the same way, except not sentenced to death.
Various sources mentioned they read books from 1930s-50s in libraries, and saw many pages missing or pieces cut out.
In my favourite child cartoon, "Last Years Snow Was Falling", the voice actor Stanislav Sadalksy's name was not mentioned. Why? He got detained being drunk. The studio immediately "cancelled" him. His name was added to the cartoon ending titles in a separate frame years later.
In 2006-07 I read an interview with Yulia Dobrovolskaya, author of a good Italian manual, who mentioned that librarians were ordered to go and either cut out pieces of books, or paint with black ink their names and citations. The reasons were mere conflicts with management of Education Ministry or even with the University management. She fell victim of that in her unversity (can't recall which one, probably Institute of Foreign Relations) and had to teach in another one (fortunately, there was some competition between them). She (IIRC) also mentioned "photopalming": putting palm trees instead of "cancelled" people in interior group photos.
Importantly, this happened not because of ideological herecies, but of mere turf wars.
The distinction with 1984 might be that the media is not entirely controlled by the government of the day, but that is not for want of effort.
As for today’s problems, why are you so sure the social media mobs aren’t in some instances government controlled? Certainly we have clear evidence of this happening at least partially in the 2016 US election. Lots of investigative journalism has done good work uncovering how the industry around this kind of stuff is financed. In fact, the KGB 100% exploited social divisions in the past for political gains (eg supporting both white nationalists and the black power movements to encourage more political violence and destabilize US politics). Why would you think that a ruthless politician like Putin who came from t be KGB would be so opposed to leveraging those same tools again? In fact, it seems like they’ve learned their lesson about how to engage in such warfare more effectively.
Lives of Others (about the Stasi and a bit later than Stalin, but same concept since East Germany was part of the USSR)
I’m sure there’s more but they escape my immediate recall at this time. Most of the focus of these kinds of examinations is typically on Nazi Germany but the tactics have replicated in a lot of places, and some clearly pop up in the USA (usually in the form of propaganda being rebranded as advertising or PR).
It’s a fascinating (and saddening) period of history to learn more about in terms of how propaganda works, how people exert influence and control of others, retain power, etc.
He worked for communications in the BBC during WW2, and had first hand experience with the language censoring of the time, especially of communication towards British colonies at the time.
He certainly did. Toward the end of his life he produced a list of notable people in the UK and US whom he believed to be Stalinist sympathizers, foreign agents, communists, etc, and passed it to a British Foreign Office employee.
Charlie Chaplain was on it, among others.
Agree or disagree, the OP is substantive and thoughtful and deserves much better than what you posted here. Not only that, but threads are sensitive to initial conditions. Rushing into a new thread with a denunciatory quickie risks destroying the entire thread and is therefore particularly bad.
"Science" is not a singular object, nor a single method, nor even a set of ideas; what we must concern ourselves with is Science as it is practiced in our society.
Can one do Science without funding? Certainly! Any child with a simple telescope can observe celestial bodies in motion, reason about observations, make conjectures, and test them against more data. But this is a toy example, and this young scientist's influence may extend to a handful of child peers, and perhaps an interested parent.
The "Science" that concerns us almost always includes published, peer-reviewed research. And thus, it is inherently and obviously political. First, and most obviously: how does one become recognized as a peer whose work is eligible for publication? It necessarily requires many years of study, apprenticeship, and supervised practice. Admission to these ranks requires scholastic and social preparation, and is literally subject to the vote of a committee. That we pretend this process operates entirely on "merit" is but one of the many delusions and useful fictions we tell ourselves when we speak of a "Science" that is somehow "not political."
Second, consider not the training of new scientists, but the actual conduct of research. All research must be "sponsored" by someone, in rare cases, by the wealthy scientist themself – the exception that proves the rule. The sponsoring entity always has a material interest in the science it is funding, whether it is to extend the shelf life of canned goods, to more cheaply deposit thin strips of metal onto a substrate, or to meaningfully improve the accuracy of a weapon system guidance module. It is left as an exercise to the reader to discern the various ways that this process is clearly and nakedly "political."
I feared the worst upon viewing this article's title, yet held to a slender hope that the author might address the real threats of using science to achieve political ends, such as that posed by eugenics, or by nuclear weapons research. Reader, my hope was in vain.
We appear to have here another member of our society's establishment who has become too accustomed to unquestioning deference, yelping like a hit dog because, for instance, a presumptuous collection of students and faculty has dared suggest that perhaps UC Berkeley's $70,000 annual grants from the Genealogical Eugenics Institute Fund might be not only better named but more prudently distributed.*
One wonders if there is a corollary to Godwin's Law that stipulates that the first person to draw a comparison to Stalin has already ceded the argument?
*(this happened in October of 2020, you can look up the fund by name).
Science is not partisan. Saying "Something is political" is not precise enough for different listeners to really understand what you want to convey when you say it. If you meant "political" in any other way then please explain what you meant. Saying "Everything is political" is a perfect example of sophism in my book.
If science is just another sociopolitical theory, it's hard to explain why people shouldn't do this, because it's entirely legitimate in that space. There's lots of smart, honest experts working on political theories whose fundamental premises I don't agree with, and I feel entitled to ignore their conclusions without necessarily pointing to flaws in specific arguments. If someone showed me a bunch of Islamic scholars with arguments against charging interest, my response would just be that their perspective doesn't interest me because I'm not Muslim.
So returning to your climate change example: the reason why there are so many climate change deniers in the US doesn’t have to anything with science (as you’ve said), it has more to do with the retaliation from the industrial-based conservatives, as well as general distrust against the current political elites. However, that doesn’t mean that we have no responsibility in doing anything political because science is simply the “objective truth”: we need to actively make decisions in social terms so that this distrust towards climate science doesn’t end up preventing ourselves from making important future decisions for humanity. (What we actually need to do is too far out of scope for this comment, but you get the idea.)
And if you look at historically famous scientists of the past 400 years, many of them had interest in politics and were quite politically active. That doesn’t prevent them from doing objectively good research, but it definitely guides what kind of research they are doing.
But personally, I am far more concerned with lobbied interests persuading politicians that climate change is a hoax, or with idiots deciding that masks and vaccinations are something you can make your own mind up about.
These are real problems with substantial negative outcomes.
Whether we stop naming things after Nazis or pedophiles is lower on my list of priorities.
Was just listening to a podcast yesterday about the attempts to develop an AIDS vaccine. It was definitely not prioritized in the early days because it was viewed as a "lifestyle disease".
Obviously the decision as to what gets researched is going to be at least partially political.. there's a finite amount of money to split between NASA and the CDC for example.
But it would be really nice if results weren't politicised.
When some "authority" (some random internet commenter, or the CDC, or Facebook, or whoever) politicizes science, and people detect that they're doing so, then those people tend to "flip the bozo bit" on that authority. That is, they tend to discount any further science-based claims from that authority, because the authority has destroyed its own credibility.
What you're describing also happens, along two paths. Sometimes it happens as a result of what I described - if you've burned your credibility, and now you're claiming "science says X", people may say that you're politicizing the science without actually checking, because you politicized it last time. It also happens because some people just don't like what you're saying and don't want to believe it, and "you're politicizing the science" gives them a convenient excuse for ignoring you.
But my point was going the other direction: When you politicize the science, you set your credibility on fire, and I will no longer believe you when you say "the science says".
 "You" meaning not the parent, but anyone claiming to speak authoritatively.
 "I" meaning not I, AnimalMuppet, but people in general listening to authoritative statements.
What does that mean though?
For example, I would hope most people on HN accept that our current best research indicates that climate change is a real thing and a problem.
But given that (apolitical) starting point, you then need to do something with that information, and that is inherently political. Even doing nothing with it is a political position (the position that government should not interfere).
So how do you avoid politicising science?
Or take vaccines. The data is there that vaccines are helpful. But "get vaccinated or you're a Nazi" is... something else. It's politicizing. It's also stupidly ineffective, because what you're saying is ridiculous, and people know it. So they tune you out.
I'm really trying not to make this about be a one-sided "left vs right" argument (god knows, there are enough dumb ideas on the liberal side around "alternative medicine"), but the two most pressing issues right now (climate change and covid) are markedly worse on one side of the aisle.
That's not "politicising the science", that's acknowledging reality.
> Whereas in 1950, the greater good was advancing the World Revolution (in the USSR; in the USA the greater good meant fighting Communism), in 2021 the greater good is “Social Justice” (the capitalization is important: “Social Justice” is a specific ideology, with goals that have little in common with what lower-case “social justice” means in plain English).
It's just astonishing that it's so reliable even in 2021, so far removed from the cold war, that the journal editors still feel the need to stir the pot this way. Younger scientists don't care about this, lmao.
Science is inherently a political process, and this author seems to lack the self awareness of how her own bias has influenced her.
Sure, what would a former Soviet scientist have to inform us about about the dangers of politics interfering in the scientific process. Not like they have a history of jailing scientists who don't tow the party line, of bright scientists defecting to enemies to escape oppression, of politics dictating what academic conclusions are and are not permitted.
> Science is inherently a political process, and this author seems to lack the self awareness of how her own bias has influenced her.
Or maybe that bias yields some useful historical lessons worth learning from, rather than simply dismissing it as "bias".
Nothing could be further from the truth. Nowhere in the scientific method does it say that you need to be smart, or have a fancy degree from an esteemed university, or that your results must be published and affirmed by The Correct People in appropriate scientific journals.
If you prove or disprove hypotheses by collecting data from experiments you design in a reproducible way, you’re doing science. The result of that is objective truth. What the political machinery decided to do with that objective truth is entirely independent of the process of science.