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Politicizing Science: The Alchemy of Policymaking

by Michael Gough (Editor)



Book Description
Politics and science make strange bedfellows. In politics, perceptions are
reality and facts are negotiable. The competing interests, conflicting
objectives, and trade-offs of political negotiations often lend themselves to
bending the truth and selectively interpreting facts to shape outcomes. In
science, facts are reality. This collection examines the conflicts that arise
when politics and science converge. In Politicizing Science: The Alchemy of
Policymaking, eleven leading scientists describe the politicization—through
misapplication or overemphasis of results that favor a political decision or
through outright manipulation—of scientific findings and deliberations to
advance policy agendas. They show how the consequences of politicization are
inflicted on the public, including the diversion of money and research efforts
from worthwhile scientific endeavors, the costs of unnecessary regulations, and
the losses of useful products—while increased power and prestige flow to those
who manipulate science. The authors of three essays describe government
diversions of scientific research and the interpretation of scientific findings
away from where the evidence leads and toward directions deemed politically
desirable. Three more contributions analyze the expensive and extensive efforts
devoted to altering images of risk in order to establish linkages in the
public's mind between deleterious human health effects and various areas of
scientific research. Two essays examine the workings and results of consensus
advisory panels and conclude that their recommendations are often based on
far-from-certain science and driven by social and political dynamics that
substitute group cohesion in favor of independent, critical thinking. Authors of
two essays describe the unfortunate results of application of the "precautionary
principle," which generally requires proof of no risk before a new product is
introduced or an existing product can be continued in use. A concluding essay
describes the personal costs of opposing the politicization of science.

From the Publisher
Politics and science make strange bedfellows. In politics, perceptions are
reality and facts are negotiable. The competing interests, conflicting
objectives, and trade-offs of political negotiations often lend themselves to
bending the truth and selectively interpreting facts to shape outcomes. In
science, facts are reality. This collection examines the conflicts that arise
when politics and science converge. In Politicizing Science, eleven leading
scientists describe the politicization—through misapplication or overemphasis of
results that favor a political decision or through outright manipulation—of
scientific findings and deliberations to advance policy agendas. They show how
the consequences of politicization are inflicted on the public, including the
diversion of money and research efforts from worthwhile scientific endeavors,
the costs of unnecessary regulations, and the losses of useful products—while
increased power and prestige flow to those who manipulate science. The authors
of three essays describe government diversions of scientific research and the
interpretation of scientific findings away from where the evidence leads and
toward directions deemed politically desirable. Three more contributions analyze
the expensive and extensive efforts devoted to altering images of risk in order
to establish linkages in the public’s mind between deleterious human health
effects and various areas of scientific research. Two essays examine the
workings and results of consensus advisory panels and conclude that their
recommendations are often based on far-from-certain science and driven by social
and political dynamics that substitute group cohesion in favor of independent,
critical thinking. Authors of two essays describe the unfortunate results of
application of the "precautionary principle," which generally requires proof of
no risk before a new product is introduced or an existing product can be
continued in use. A concluding essay describes the personal costs of opposing
the politicization of science.

Michael Gough, a biologist, has participated in science policy issues at the
congressional Office of Technology Assessment, in Washington think tanks, and on
various advisory panels.

Contributors: Bruce Ames, Roger Bate, Bernard L. Cohen, Lois Swirsky Gold,
William Happer, Joseph P. Martino, Patrick J. Michaels, Henry I. Miller, Robert
Nilsson, Stephen Safe, S. Fred Singer


Product Details

Paperback: 313 pages
Publisher: Hoover Institution Press (July 15, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0817939326

 

 

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