Is There Such A Thing?
The power of science lies in its skeptical, rational, evidenced-based approach to understanding the world. David J. Helford
On Saturday, April 22 the American people put on a demonstration about respecting science in today’s politics. This is in response to the Donald Trump and GOP current practice of dismantling and defunding environmental laws and slashing funds for scientific research. The scientific community, and now the American public, are urging precisely the opposite approach. Today there does seem to be alternative facts, false knowledge, fake news, and truthiness. Could it be we are now having alternative science?
The economy, not the environment, seems to be the focus of the alternative science approach of the current administration. Scientists are watching all this in horror, along with the demonstrators. Putting environmental efforts on hold for four or eight years of a Trump presidency is unthinkable for many scientists. Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, co author of the 2014 book National Climate Assessment, compared Washington’s approach to climate change to a person diagnosed with lung cancer continuing to smoke.
The scientific method involves hypotheses and evidence testing. The power of “political alternative science” is that they don’t have to follow the scientific method. Political laws, unlike scientific laws, are not hypotheses. They are not automatically open to scientific review. At this point in our evolution, there is no alternative to science because today there is no other rational, evidenced-based approach to understanding the world.
Republicans seem to not only be fighting democrats, they also seem to be fighting science. We need a government that respects and relies on science. The turnout at the April 22d marches demonstrates the amount of need in the voting public.
In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle that’s what science is for. Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not. Geophysicist Marcia McNutt,
Our government today, fighting against science, doesn’t use it as a method for deciding whether what they choose to believe is true or not. They ignore the laws of science and nature. Government can’t overcome science with legislation. No one can win in the contest against science. Science always bats last.
After I finished writing this blog, President Trump, supported by republicans in congress, separated the U S from the world of science by removing this country from the Paris climate accord. Alternative science?