Partisan Science

As the debate progressed tonight and online discussions continue well after it ended, everyone once more has something to say. No problem there, the expression of ideas is crucial to furthering our knowledge and spurring innovation. Unfortunately, a large portion of the people discussing those things are doing so in a completely partisan manner with little to no regard for intellectual integrity. They went in supporting one team on every issue and came out the same. Again, probably no surprise there. A lot of this has to do with a lack of education on proper analytical methods and just simple misrepresentation by the political machines.

What did get me a bit upset was this same trend in a group of people who should really know better- many of the economists, statisticians, analysts, and even healthcare professionals that I follow on Twitter. And I do not think my relatively small “following” base is a bad measure for the overall population of such experts because I do follow people in a very diverse set of fields and with leanings on both sides of the political aisle. That being said, I do not quite understand how so many people who have studied and utilize the scientific method in their professional work can resort to silly insults, slurs, and flat out anti-intellectualism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but to be so partisan is just not conducive to conducting good science.

Renowned physicist Richard Feynman, considered one of the greatest minds since Einstein, often spoke of how mother nature [or the truth] would come out as she was whether or not we liked it and that as scientists we should seek to only figure out what her characteristics were. Feynman was not a big fan of politics and although I am not sure of the exact reasons, I would imagine the tendency in politics to pick “teams” even in fact-based issues was one of them.

Economics tends to be connected to politics for a variety of reasons, but it is dishonest to go into an issue with such favoritism for one outcome and to bash other opinions without the proper facts to support it (which we really do not have on a lot of plans just because it is hard to test so many of them). It has been 400 years and sometimes I feel like we are still figuring out the scientific method…

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