September 27, 2013

CHARLIE MARTIN: Why Are Science And Politics So Hard? “Complicated decision making is complicated. Trying to study how people make those decisions is even harder. . . . People across all points of the political spectrum like to pretend that there is some vast edifice called Science that is intended to arrive at Truth, but the reality is that science is a social process itself, carried out by human beings, with human motivations and frailties. I see no way around it — or rather I think all the other possibilities are worse. Part of that process is what I’ve called the ‘social contract of science’: the understanding that your work must be presented as clearly as possible, that you must make your data available for critical inspection, and that you expect your results to be examined with a critical eye and subject to robust debate. What Kahan’s and Nyhan’s papers may accidentally have done, though, is to call into question whether social science research of this kind can ever be done in a trustworthy way.”