Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Tue Mar 10 2009 - 10:47:52 EDT

Doug posted, in part: "public policy should be based on scientific
facts not ideology.
 I think this is an awful statement. It's a false dichotomy.
Scientific "facts" don't make public policy; they form a necessary
informational base, but every action based on that knowledge also
requires a moral/ethical/ideological decision."

I don't see it as "awful," but a simple factual statement. If one
takes it to mean "based ONLY on scientific facts," then, of course,
I'd agree that it is "awful." I'd probably use a stronger term.But it
does not say that.

Relative to the stem cell issue, it really boils down to the question
"does a frozen embryo have personhood -- a soul?" For those asserting
"yes," the issue is clear; stem cell research is immoral. For those
who assert otherwise, stem cell research in morally OK.

Having read a lot on this, I tend toward the latter position, but I do
NOT claim certainty. I don't know that any of us can claim certainty
on the issue.

It is a classic case that whichever side of the issue you choose, you
run the risk of doing harm (or not avoiding harm).


On 3/10/09, David Campbell <> wrote:
> Yes, in the case of embryonic stem cells there is little disagreement
> about the science, and the self-identified "scientific" policy is
> merely one ideology among many.
> In other cases, such as environmental or evolution, there is denial of
> the science that could be described as disagreement about the science.
> Nevertheless, even in such cases, science is still descriptive.
> Science cannot be morally prescriptive, as that is outside its scope.
> --
> Dr. David Campbell
> 425 Scientific Collections
> University of Alabama
> "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Mar 10 10:48:38 2009

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