I’ve never marched for any cause — it’s not my style — but I think tomorrow’s “March for Science” is as worthy as anything could be, despite the inevitable casting of science as some sort of partisan issue. It’s the deniers, who are virtually all Republican, who have made it political. Marching for science shouldn’t be any more partisan than marching for arithmetic.
Sean Carroll has this short essay today in The Atlantic: Marching for the Right to Be Wrong
This principle of fallibilism is less clear, though equally important, to the practice of science. We have our wise heroes, our Newtons, Darwins, and Einsteins. But they are not infallible. There is no Science Pope to whom we can turn for final adjudication of sticky research questions.
Precisely the opposite: Science proceeds by showing how our wise heroes were, in larger or smaller ways, mistaken. Einstein overthrew Newton’s cosmos, and modern biologists are improving upon Darwin all the time. You may have a brilliant theory of the universe, but if it is contradicted by an experiment performed by a lowly graduate student, the data wins.
Science and democracy, in other words, both upend the ancient pyramids of power and knowledge: Answers bubble up from the bottom, rather than being imposed from the top.
Republican ideology, which of course overlaps with fundamental evangelical certainty over matters theological, does think they have all the answers from on high. Which is why they conflict with science.
This denial will eventually, in one or many ways, conflict with reality, as I’ve predicted before. People who deny the efficacy of vaccines, will get more diseases. If our governments think climate change is a liberal conspiracy fantasy, then its effects *will* happen, and coastal cities will be flooded in 50 or 100 years.