science and democracy

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Obama's inaugural promise to "restore science to its rightful place" was apparently a widely appreciated remark. The NYT's Dennis Overbye writes in "Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy' that "you could feel a dark cloud lifting like a sigh from the shoulders of the scientific community in this country." Overbye takes the common complaint about science ("Science teaches facts, not values") and proves it false:

Science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth. That endeavor, which has transformed the world in the last few centuries, does indeed teach values. Those values, among others, are honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view.

[...]

It is no coincidence that these are the same qualities that make for democracy and that they arose as a collective behavior about the same time that parliamentary democracies were appearing. If there is anything democracy requires and thrives on, it is the willingness to embrace debate and respect one another and the freedom to shun received wisdom. Science and democracy have always been twins.

It's refreshing to see such a solid celebration of science after seeing it hidden under a bushel for the past eight years. More, please!

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 30, 2009 2:44 PM.

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