I was gobsmacked by a link I followed from a Foresight Institute posting about a nanotechnologist running for the US Congress. From the Foresight posting (which was kept rigidly nonpartisan),
Bill McDonald brings to our attention the U.S. Congressional campaign of Mike Stopa, a Harvard nanotechnologist and physicist.
This is probably the first time that a nanotechnologist has run for Congress.
However, his profession may not get much attention, as his campaign is focusing on other issues.
I too am going to be rigidly nonpartisan as my interest here is in a kind of thought experiment: What happens if you read the campaign literature and realize that the scientist running for political office can’t manage a logical thought process or argument outside her or his own specialty?
I think there’s an assumption that because someone is a scientist that the individual will be able to present logical arguments and come to thoughtful decisions. I’m not saying that one has to agree with the scientist just that the thinking and decisionmaking process should be cohesive but that’s not fair. Humans are messy. We can hold competing and incompatible opinions and we rationalize them when challenged. Since scientists are human (for the near future anyway), then they too are prey to both the messiness of the human condition and, by extension, the democratic process.
I’m going to continue ruminating on science and politics as I am increasingly struck by a sense that there is a trend toward incorporating more and more voices into processes (public consultation on science issues, on housing issues, on cultural issues, etc.) that were the domain of experts or policymakers simultaneous with attempts to either suppress that participation by arranging consultations in situations that are already decided or to suggest that too much participation is taking us into a state of chaos and rendering democracy as per public consultations untenable. Well, that was a mouthful.
As scientists and politics in other countries, do take a look at this Pasco Phronesis posting,
The Conservative Party [UK], when it was still shadowing the Brown government, indicated that it would require all new Members of Parliament in the party to take some training in basic science concepts [emphases mine] as part of their new member training. This was back in 2008, and would take place after the next election (which was to happen at some unspecified point in the future when the announcement was made).
While there is a new person responsible for science for the Conservatives, the plan will be put into action…and expanded.
This notion is along the lines that Preston Manning (founder of the Reform Party and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party [now absorbed by the Conservative Party] in Canada and opposition science critic) has been suggesting. Since leaving the political life, Manning has founded the Manning Centre and continues with his commentary on science and other issues.
That’s it for today.