Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Scientists Are Smarter than Politicians


"One of the best things about being an artist is that nobody can tell you you're doing things wrong. There's no true or false in a Picasso painting, no yes or no in a Mahler composition. That, of course, is how it should be.

The opposite is true for science — and that's how it should be too. The scientific method is defined by the search for the irreducible truth. The riddle of a disease isn't solved till you've isolated the virus; no particle is fully understood till it's been successfully smashed. It's not for nothing that recent news of a neutrino that may have traveled .0025% faster than light is causing such a stir. If that vanishingly tiny anomaly can't be resolved and disproven, a century of physics could collapse.


But the stone walls between art and science aren't nearly as thick as they seem; indeed, in some ways they're entirely permeable. That's a lesson we badly need to learn if we're going to make sound policy decisions in an era in which science and politics seem increasingly at odds.

In the Oct. 3 issue of TIME, theoretical physicist Lisa Randall of Harvard University made a plea for greater deference to reason in the still-young but already-ugly 2012 presidential campaign. Randall lamented "the fundamental disregard for rational and scientific thinking" in a political culture in which Texas governor Rick Perry can dismiss evolution as "merely a theory that's out there," and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann can traffic in poppycock about the HPV vaccine causing mental retardation.

Randall's new book, Knocking on Heaven's Door, takes the case one intriguing step further. The book explores some of the biggest ideas in contemporary physics and how they undergird such everyday matters as risk assessment, logic and even our understanding of beauty. But it's in her chapter on creativity — not a quality always associated with the data-crunching business of science — that she makes her most compelling case against the willful know-nothingism that plagues public debate. (...)"

in Time

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the title, scientists are the ones who make us survive one more day, everyone can be a politician, but not everyone can be a scientist.

September 29, 2011 at 3:17 PM
DesoWave said...

I agree.

September 29, 2011 at 4:28 PM
Sub-Radar-Mike said...

I read this in Time as well, great article.

September 29, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Damon said...

i agree

September 30, 2011 at 3:29 AM
frankcom said...

I do agree, due to the ammount of speciality needed in certain subjects and parts of science, but I disagree with the top commente Entierly. It does take hard work and dedication to become a polititian, and not anyone can make it.

September 30, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Sangy said...

I agree.

October 17, 2011 at 9:45 PM

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