How politicians resist scholarship

One thing to watch closely in the current US presidential election campaign is how some politicians adopt an ideological approach to what one might call the current state of informed knowledge. This is the case in particular in the approach of many Republic Party candidates, who as has been documented insist that they hold the truth on certain issues even in the face of different academic consensus. This leads them to argue against evolution, climate change and other conclusions of the academy, in terms that suggest that knowledge and science can never trump ideology. It is reminiscent of the rule of Stalin in the Soviet Union, who famously sent the scientist Alexander Chizhevsky to a labour camp, declaring that his research on sunspots had ‘taken an unMarxist turn’.

Knowledge, as long as it is critically evaluated, should of course always trump bias and prejudice, even if that prejudice wears the cloak of political doctrine. It is why the Republicans’ approach must be resisted, as should all attempts to sideline science, including attempts for example to declare that genetic modifications are always wrong irrespective of evidence. Politics should not determine the direction of scholarship or its conclusions.

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8 Comments on “How politicians resist scholarship”

  1. cormac Says:

    Yes, I find it depressing that international media coverage of the Republican nominees has almost completely ignored their stance on climate change. One of the few positions they all share is a rejection of the scientific consensus on man-made global warming – a uniform position of ‘don’t want to know’.

    If a Republican gets to the White House (it doesn’t matter which one) it will halt what little progress Obama has made during his term and set action on climate change back years. Thus the US election has consequences for all citizens of the globe.

    All this is a given – what baffles me that the US and international media seem uninterested in the issue

    • Jane Kidd Says:

      The media is NOT neutral, ever. See below.

      • paulmartin42 Says:

        I doubt “neutral” media would sell many newspapers. I see below you refer to the Unionist segment but to balance it there is the Nationalist one – it even has its own daily publication. Unfortunately for Noam (probably best described as an anarchist according to Wikipedia) there is no suitable paper for him on this side of the Atlantic.

  2. paulmartin42 Says:

    The same might be said of #indyref in this country. The 45% were misinformed & believed that a certain oil price would bring economic wealth to Scotland. The price plummeted & now we go cap in hand begging to Westminster for City Deals etc. Despite this there are still those who believe in independence from the UK but not Europe. Such ideology drives politics and should not be regarded as surprising, how else can such people differentiate themselves.

    In any event you effectively get the same government resulting who spend other people’s money on vanity projects and let important things like education suffer.

    • Jane Kidd Says:

      I think you misinterpreted the whole indyref thing, which had almost nothing to do with oil prices. These were seized on by the Unionist media and dressed up as a main plank of the whole issue in order to deflate the Yes side. Ask Noam Chomsky

  3. cormac Says:

    I don’t expect the media to be neutral on all topics. What surprises me is that there is so little media interest in one of the defining problems of our age, the threat of climate change, when it comes to elections. Unlike the Scottish referendum, this is an issue of global importance…it seems the world’s media just haven’t yet grasped how serious the problem could turn out to be..

  4. Anna Notaro Says:

    Perhaps it is worth stressing that the ‘political doctrine’/ideology many Republican party candidates champions is one based on scriptures, or at least some literal readings of such texts. This latest example from Idaho is truly frightening and indicative of how in the 21st century a modern nation is failing to redefine the most appropriate relationship between knowledge and religion.

  5. e de c Says:

    And of course migration research is frequently ignored by political entrepreneurs but this gets them in deep shit, e.g Cameron and Brexit.

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