15 September 2011

Somebody Send Paul Nurse a Copy of The Honest Broker, Fast!

In a commentary in New Scientist, Paul Nurse, Nobel laureate and President of the Royal Society, illustrates that he is well behind the curve on understanding science and politics:
One problem is treating scientific discussion as if it were political debate. When some politicians try to sway public opinion, they employ the tricks of the debating chamber: cherry-picking data, ignoring the consensus opinions of experts, adept use of a sneer or a misplaced comparison, reliance on the power of rhetoric rather than argument. They can often get away with this because the media rely too much on confrontational debate in place of reasoned discussion.

It is essential, in public issues, to separate science from politics and ideology. Get the science right first, then discuss the political implications.
Note to Dr. Nurse: Politicians do engage in "political debate" and not "scientific discussion" hence they often employ the "tricks of the debating chamber," and the linear model of science is so 1945 . . .