Science and Politics

Michael Crichton is a world-famous author, having written great stories such as “Andromeda Strain”, “Jurassic Park”, and “ER” to name just a few.   Crichton is also an accomplished scientist that uses his skills of reason to comment on the misuse of science to advance political agendas.   He delivered a great speech in 2002 entitled “Aliens Cause Global Warming“:

“… as a child I believed that science represented the best and greatest hope for mankind. Even to a child, the contrast was clear between the world of politics-a world of hate and danger, of irrational beliefs and fears, of mass manipulation and disgraceful blots on human history. In contrast, science held different values-international in scope, forging friendships and working relationships across national boundaries and political systems…”

Crichton continues to make a point that many politicians — beyond just Al Gore — attempt to use the facade of science to perpetuate myths and further their agendas.  He is most critical of pseudoscientists such as Carl Sagan who was famous for declaring that the Kuwaiti oil fires in 1991 would cause a “nuclear winter effect”…  On the other hand, Crichton is fairly clear in defining the role of science:

“Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.”

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