Question regarding posts that intersect science and politics

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In summary, while I generally support the decision to keep politics out of PF, there are some topics that I believe should be open for discussion, such as how to address climate change, concerns regarding nuclear proliferation, cloning, science policy across different governments, etc. What should be the policy in relation to these topics? Would any of you feel that it may be beneficial to keep these topics open for discussion, as they have
  • #1
StatGuy2000
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Hi everyone! I am aware that a decision was made among the moderators of PF that explicitly political discussions will not be allowed on the General Forum of PF because of the difficulty of moderating such posts.

While I am generally supportive of such a measure, there is a question about how to handle topics that intersect the realm of science and technology (the raison d'etre of PF) and its impact on broader society, including the sociopolitical realm. There are many topics that I feel should be open to discussion such as how to address climate change, concerns regarding nuclear proliferation, cloning, science policy across different governments, etc.

What should be the policy in relation to these topics? Would any of you feel that it may be beneficial to keep these topics open for discussion, as they have educational value on how science impacts on all our lives, so long as we keep out explicit endorsements of politicians or political parties?

I appreciate any feedback any of you can provide on this regard.
 
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StatGuy2000 said:
... such as how to address climate change, concerns regarding nuclear proliferation, cloning, science policy across different governments, etc.

What should be the policy in relation to these topics? Would any of you feel that it may be beneficial to keep these topics open for discussion
No. They open up exactly the kind of partisan arguments that the moderators are trying to avoid. Sure, you THINK they could be kept rational and non-partisan but that's not how it works in the real world.
 
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  • #3
phinds said:
No. They open up exactly the kind of partisan arguments that the moderators are trying to avoid. Sure, you THINK they could be kept rational and non-partisan but that's not how it works in the real world.

I could not agree more. All political discussion or even hints in that direction should be crushed. This is a science forum, not an opinion forum. We don't need the mental and emotional malfunctions and of course the personal abuse that occurs when politics is discussed. You can find all of that on other forums, along with all the censorship from moderators, who of course always have their own viewpoint.

Concerning the effect of science on society, the effect is that knowledge is increased, which is always a good thing. If someone wants to help make society better, then cut down on ignorance by promoting science.
 
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  • #4
phinds said:
No. They open up exactly the kind of partisan arguments that the moderators are trying to avoid. Sure, you THINK they could be kept rational and non-partisan but that's not how it works in the real world.

I understand your concerns, and I agree that partisan arguments should have no place here on PF (hence why I agreed with the decision on PF to stop any discussion on partisan politics), but what I'm specifically bringing up are issues where science and technology is at the core, but have real social impact.

For example, I don't think there is anything partisan about acknowledging the existence of climate change, and the science behind efforts to combat climate change, for example. Nor do I think there is anything partisan about the specific policies that certain countries have passed to limit carbon emissions (again, so long as we keep the discussion on the science, not on the politics).

I'm just concerned that the fear of opening up the political can of worms will unnecessarily limit the scope on which we can discuss important topics related to science and technology.
 
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This is not going to work. The first person to adopt less than the present center-left technocratic position on what to do about climate change will have a hoard of people throwing stones with the cries of "Denier! Denier!". Climate change is not viewed as a societal problem to be solved, but rather as a club one can use against one's political opponents.
 
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  • #6
StatGuy2000 said:
For example, I don't think there is anything partisan about acknowledging the existence of climate change, and the science behind efforts to combat climate change
In my experience, that is a staggeringly naive and unrealistic belief.
 
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  • #7
Vanadium 50 said:
This is not going to work. The first person to adopt less than the present center-left technocratic position on what to do about climate change will have a hoard of people throwing stones with the cries of "Denier! Denier!". Climate change is not viewed as a societal problem to be solved, but rather as a club one can use against one's political opponents.

That is unfortunate, because climate change is a societal problem that needs to be solved, and developments in science and technology (along with science policy) will play crucial roles in this.

From a personal perspective, I think we can have a fair and honest debate about how to best combat climate change. What I think is unacceptable is to reject the science -- the evidence thus gathered is overwhelmingly in support of anthromorphic climate change.
 
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StatGuy2000 said:
That is unfortunate
yes, it is.
, because climate change is a societal problem that needs to be solved
yes, it is
, and developments in science and technology (along with science policy) will play crucial roles in this.
yes, they will.

From a personal perspective, I think we can have a fair and honest debate about how to best combat climate change.
Despite your optimism, that just doesn't happen in an open forum. To discuss the solutions to a problem you HAVE to discuss the nature of the problem and that's where it will run off the rails.
What I think is unacceptable is to reject the science
yes, it is
-- the evidence thus gathered is overwhelmingly in support of anthromorphic climate change.
and now you have broken the forum rules.
 
  • #9
StatGuy2000 said:
From a personal perspective, I think we can have a fair and honest debate about how to best combat climate change.
That's the sort of thing that people say when they haven't been seeing the deleted posts. Perhaps if we maintained a full-time salaried editorial staff it would be possible to host such a debate - but we don't, and without that the debate ends up looking more like reddit or 4chan.

I'm going to close this thread now, as we are not going to change our policy. As always, anyone can request that the thread be reopened if they have more to say.
 
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  • #10
With apologies to @Nugatory, I'm going to add my $0.02 here, as this is really my realm.
StatGuy2000 said:
I understand your concerns, and I agree that partisan arguments should have no place here on PF (hence why I agreed with the decision on PF to stop any discussion on partisan politics), but what I'm specifically bringing up are issues where science and technology is at the core, but have real social impact.

For example, I don't think there is anything partisan about acknowledging the existence of climate change, and the science behind efforts to combat climate change, for example. Nor do I think there is anything partisan about the specific policies that certain countries have passed to limit carbon emissions (again, so long as we keep the discussion on the science, not on the politics).

I'm just concerned that the fear of opening up the political can of worms will unnecessarily limit the scope on which we can discuss important topics related to science and technology.
Note, that for about 10 years I hosted an open-ended energy outlook and policy thread that I closed a year or so ago. I've thought about updating/replacing it, but haven't gotten around to it/felt it that critical right now. Regardless, while there are no current discussions active on such topics, the place for such discussions is in the engineering forums. Unfortunately, @Vanadium 50 is correct and as a result, the scope of such discussions must be narrow and leash short on these to guard against deviating from a strict scientific/engineering approach to solving such problems*.

But even setting aside the political football nature of certain topics and solutions, there are legitimate differences of opinion that are near pure opinion based on aesthetic, political or value judgments. And often those criteria drive the technical solution instead of the other way around. For example, the choice of favoring institutional/governmental, individual or market driven solutions to climate change is based on political beliefs and values and drives you toward certain technical solutions. So it is near impossible to try to solve a problem like climate change from a purely technical perspective. So, for example, a debate between nuclear power and rooftop solar is not fully resolvable from a purely technical point of view.

*Examples:
Can rooftop solar fully supply our energy needs? -- OK
Should we prioritize rooftop solar over nuclear power for our energy infrastructure spending -- Not OK
How much has CH4 utilization reduced CO2 emissions by supplanting coal? -- OK
Should we tax coal power to drive the shift faster, to reduce CO2 emissions further? -- Not OK

Again: the criteria for acceptability is to narrowly focus on an engineering issue, not a policy issue.
 
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Related to Question regarding posts that intersect science and politics

1. What is the impact of politics on scientific research?

Politics can have a significant impact on scientific research. Government funding and policies can influence the direction and focus of research, and political ideologies can also shape the interpretation and dissemination of scientific findings. Additionally, political interference in scientific decision-making can lead to biased or incomplete information being used to inform policies and regulations.

2. How can scientists effectively communicate their findings to policymakers?

Effective communication between scientists and policymakers is crucial for bridging the gap between science and politics. Scientists can make their research more accessible by using clear and concise language and providing evidence-based recommendations. Building relationships with policymakers and engaging in open and honest dialogue can also help to ensure that scientific information is accurately represented and utilized in decision-making processes.

3. What are some examples of scientific issues that are heavily influenced by politics?

There are many examples of scientific issues that are heavily influenced by politics. These can include topics such as climate change, energy policy, healthcare, and genetic engineering. These issues often involve complex scientific information and have significant economic, social, and ethical implications, making them highly politicized.

4. How can the intersection of science and politics be managed to avoid conflicts of interest?

To manage the intersection of science and politics and avoid conflicts of interest, it is essential to have clear guidelines and regulations in place. This can include transparency in funding sources and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, independent scientific advisory panels can help to ensure that political decisions are based on the best available evidence rather than personal or political agendas.

5. What role do scientists play in shaping public policy?

Scientists have an important role to play in shaping public policy. They can provide objective and evidence-based information to inform policy decisions, participate in public debates and discussions, and advocate for policies that are based on sound science. By engaging with the public and policymakers, scientists can help to bridge the gap between science and politics and ensure that policies are informed by the best available evidence.

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