Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Mar 10 2009 - 20:22:31 EDT

Ted Davis wrote:
> I quote from the conclusion of George J. Stein, "Biological Science and the
> Roots of Nazism," American Scientist 76 (Jan-Feb 1988): 50-58.
> <We are forced to reassert that science is totally irrelevant in the choice
> of public policies.
> Science, however, always seems to involve scientists. And the
> interrelationships among science, scientists, and public policy remain as
> problematic today as in 1930. Have those scientists who have been
> discussing the "nuclear winter" effects of nuclear war as an effort to
> encourage arms control ceased to be scientists? Is it not precisely because
> they are scientists who base their policy prescriptions on science that we
> are to take their views seriously? If it is true that there can be no
> scientific basis for racist policies, must it not be true that there can be
> so scientific base for advocating nuclear disarmament?
Your points that scientists can be and are political/religious/and
activist humans is good; but I would still argue that science is not the
limb they are standing on whenever they pursue activist agendas.
Whether it be racism or nuclear disarmament, I would argue that neither
comes *from* science, but instead are prior ideologies that find a use
(or abuse) *for* science among other things. (e.g. Hitler using
evolution / "Christianity" / Nietzscheism --or whatever other convenient
tools he could find in his true ideological quest for German world
dominance.) But I don't think pure science as we may define it here
would rank as an ideology --not for lack of trying by those who give it
a capital 'S'. But even then, to the extent that they turn it into
Scientism is the same extent to which it has ceased to be science -- or
actually: never was science from its solidly ideological inception.

I agree that scientists as a class should be listened to and taken
seriously --especially (and not only) about issues informed by their
profession. So should plumbers and piano tuners. Ideologically (let
alone religiously) speaking, the playing field is much more level than
credentials might make it seem.


> Or must we not admit
> that the scientific findings of the natural science of sociobiology or the
> social science of biopolitics are likely to be appropriated by interested
> parties, even scientists, to serve political ends as were the scientific
> findings of the German social Darwinists, racial anthropologists, and
> eugenicists? The history of scientific racism, ethnocentrism,, and
> nationalist xenophobia suggests that this is no mere academic question.>
> Ted

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Received on Tue Mar 10 19:19:50 2009

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