Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I still don't get this framing...

Skeptics discount science by casting doubts on scientist expertise (@ ars technica):
According to the new study, this isn't necessarily the fault of the scientists, though. The authors favor a model, called the cultural cognition of risk, which "refers to the tendency of individuals to form risk perceptions that are congenial to their values." This wouldn't apply directly to evolution, but would to climate change: if your cultural values make you less likely to accept the policy implications of our current scientific understanding, then you'll be less likely to accept the science.

But, as the authors note, opponents of a scientific consensus often try to claim to be opposing it on scientific, rather than cultural grounds. "Public debates rarely feature open resistance to science," they note, "the parties to such disputes are much more likely to advance diametrically opposed claims about what the scientific evidence really shows."
But even if we have evidence for need of action, this is not evidence for need of government action. Even this evidence I doubt is a scientific one (is it a "scientific" consensus or a policy one?), despite very important. The "policy implications of our current scientific understanding" can be debatable and should not be confounded with the scientific understanding itself. Yes, I agree with the authors that ideological bias can affect our acceptance of the science - but even if I accept the science it is valid to question the policies.

As usual, I must mention that I don't question the scientific evidence, but I really don't like one particular policy being conflated with the science. As far as I know, science alone cannot tells us what we ought to do. And that's what democracy is here for.

(via @brasilciencia)

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