reality-based education

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This LA Times op-ed by Alan (Fashionable Nonsense) Sokal and Chris (Republican War on Science) Mooney contains a suggestion to combine “political activism and institutional [governmental] reform:”

Congress needs to establish safeguards to protect the integrity of scientific information in Washington — strong whistle-blower protections for scientists who work in government agencies would be a good start.

We also need a strengthening of the government scientific advisory apparatus, starting with the revival of the Office of Technology Assessment. And we need congressional committees to continue with their investigations of cases of science abuse within the Bush administration, in order to learn what other reforms are necessary.

At the same time, journalists and citizens must renounce a lazy "on the one hand, on the other hand" approach and start analyzing critically the quality of the evidence. For, in the end, all of us — conservative or liberal, believer or atheist — must share the same real world. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria do not spare deniers of evolution, and global climate change will not spare any of us. As physicist Richard Feynman wrote in connection with the space shuttle Challenger disaster, "nature cannot be fooled."

To avoid nature's punishment, we must take steps now to restore reality-based government.

Francis Bacon wrote similar words of wisdom in his Novum Organum, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”

A tip of the hat to PZ Myers, who evaluated the Sokal/Mooney piece this way:

I'd just add that we also need more bottom-up preventive measures: more education. I want a reality-based government, and the best way to get there is to increase the pool of reality-based voters. [emphasis in original]

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 5, 2007 1:31 PM.

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