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Category: 10. 11/7 Science and Democracy (Page 2 of 2)

Science and Democracy

Scientific knowledge is a difficult pursuit, one that excludes some of the human population. Anyone can study basic science and learn its principles, but it is much harder to be able to gain an expertise in a field. Most US citizens have a understanding of science across many fields at a foundational level, but lack advanced knowledge in those fields. Because of this, I believe that science should not be governed by the government or the general population.
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The Pursuit of Science

Science and the successful pursuit of science require a great deal of area expertise and knowledge. I believe that not just any average citizen is able to study, for example, the fundamental laws of physics or examine the orbit of planets. It takes years of dedication, schooling, and commitment to learning each and every detail of these scientific phenomenon for a scientist to achieve the full and effective pursuit of the sought-after knowledge. For this reason, I believe that science should be governed by experts due to its high demand for intellectual capacity. Because of the very nature of science and scientific knowledge, it takes a highly advanced scholar to achieve advancements in the field, and continue the progression of society in the right direction.

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Mertonian Norms

The ideas that Robert Merton introduced allowed for more collaboration within the field of science. CUDOS  was a set of “norms” that promoted a higher level of thinking within the science community.  As we saw in our example in class, there were examples in history that would’ve benefitted from certain CUDOS norms.  As beneficial as the Mertonian norms seem, I would like to talk about the potential detriments that these ideas may cause.

First, although communalism may promote collaboration and ideas of teamwork, it also reduces incentive. Why would one scientist want to go above and beyond to find a scientific breakthrough when he can merely rely on other to further his work? There is no personal drive to be the best as all findings will be rewarded to the group of people and not individuals. Universalism is a concept that would allow for a more inclusive space. Letting anyone contribute to science would provide more literature, but the quality of work would be in question. How could you take a young scientist’s word if he is not established in his field yet. It allows for more contributions but there must be some sort of qualifications before someone can publish their work. Again, disinterestedness is an idea that reduces incentive. In order to be successful, I believe that you need to have a genuine interest in whatever you study. Finally, organized skepticism is one of the norms that I believe is hardest to poke holes in. I agree with the idea of peer review, it helps at all levels, The only negative that I foresee is people who are established in science might become upset with others criticizing their work and findings that they worked so hard to produce.

The Science Community

There are often disparities in the way given structures or ideas should be and the way that they are actually implemented or carried out. Mertonian principles of science- communism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism- succinctly outline the way that science should function. However, there are countless examples of people who prioritize their own fame and reputation over the good of the greater scientific community. Thus, while Mertonian principles successfully characterize the way science should be, they do not portray the way the field exists in reality. Continue reading

Science: Open to the General Public?

When speaking in terms of how to “best” govern society, I think we should think holistically about what is in the best interest of democracy as a whole. This translates to a combination scientists, policy-makers, and country citizens alike  to integrate the facilitation of a democratic country that avoids authoritarian tendencies. As of now, science and technology is mandated by the government, but I believe that all policy-makers should be exhaustively informed of the science they have control of, and be made aware of the possible implications of utilizing such technologies. Otherwise, ignorance exists and with inexperience, comes error and problems.

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Society and Science

I believe science should be governed by a mix of experts and society as a whole. Science is such an important topic that everyone needs to be involved. The progression of science effects society economically, politically, and socially in so many different ways. There needs to be a balance between general people and experts involved in the governance of science.

The huge problem is that often people do not try to understand science. Since the intellectual capacity for scientists is so high, many people consider science a whole different language. The terms and meanings often go over many people’s heads. Most people stop studying science after High School and therefore lack the confidence to attempt to grasp specific implications fully.

Science is too important not to be vetted by people in society. Scientists are humans also and face external pressures every day. They are not hidden from natural biases and subjective thoughts that impact their work. Throughout history, the dangers of science have been exposed. From experiments to mass destruction weapons, scientists have been put in positions to make exceedingly tough moral decisions. While science makes so many important discoveries every day and improves citizens lives, a broader community involvement could help impact many choices.

I believe a natural place to start would be involving people affected a particular subject. Involving patients or people affected with certain disorders could naturally spark conversation. For science to thrive at a peak level socially, innovatively, and morally, society needs to be involved. The public’s perspective can provide insights into the science community that can help improve everyone’s lives. Science needs to be looked at as entertainment, sports, and politics. Everyone spends much time critiquing these topics, but not science. Somehow science needs to appeal to the public in a way other issues do to make an impact.

Gender Barriers in Science

From its inception, science has been an inherently masculine field. God created the earth, “Mother Earth”, and since then,  we have challenged  Mother Earth and defaced it.  In the science community, men have consistently tried to “solve” earth’s theories. Through Amy Bix’s slide we see that women have been pushed away from science, we see that women were allowed on the grounds of technical schools just to fulfill the needs of the men who were studying engineering. Marketing schemes were predicated off of the belief that women did not have the same ability as men to grasp engineering topics. The field has become increasingly accepting as time has passed, now there are not as many barriers to enter for women. It is still not an even playing field, even if men don’t admit it, I believe that powerful men in science will ask more clarifying questions to women than they would to a man.

Ending sexism in science–in any field is not something that can be done with the snap of a finger. It has to end on an individual to individual basis. Every person is brought up differently and has their own feelings towards gender equality. I think the best way to end institutional sexism is to have a powerful voice leading the fight. A man in the science field, someone who is well established and respected has to usurp a role of leadership and convey to his fellow colleagues that this inequality must end.

The idea of sexism baffles me, I don’t understand how anyone can immediately discredit someone’s work based off of their gender. Bill Belichick of the Patriots is notorious for signing players who have had off the field issues and is often criticized for taking these players (Josh Gordon). But he does this because they can play, and people want to play for him because he’s the best coach in the league. The same can be said about the field of science. It doesn’t matter if a woman, a Hispanic, even a child writes a study–if their findings are significant they should be respected. Take politics and gender barriers out of the equation and respect their hard work.

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