Scientists are part of the reality-based community

Being annoyed at Bushite Lysenkoism isn’t enough, though.

Well, that isn’t really a surprise, is it?

What’s striking, and depressing, about today’s New York Times piece is how little actual political mobilization — as opposed to mere bitching — it reports. There are lots of voters out there whose own thinking is far from scientific who have a superstitious respect for “science.” If they received the message that Bush and the dominant faction of the Republican Party are hostile to “science” — parallel to the less accurate, but more effectively conveyed message that Kerry and the Democrats are hostile to “faith” or “religion” — that would swing some votes. But it mostly hasn’t happened.

I don’t have any brilliant ideas about how to change this for the future, but I hope someone does. The political cost of ignoring scientific advice is currently too low, and ought to be increased.

Nick Confessore supplies some useful background for interpreting what seemed to me an unduly “even-handed” article. One odd twist in the Times piece: it takes “science” to be coextensive with “natural science.” The social sciences are entirely ignored.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com