It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Friday, August 31, 2007

Interesting Talk

Unfortunately I missed it since it coincided in time with me coming to realize I had a kidney stone. :-(

Anyway I thought y'all might enjoy the abstract just the same.
>>Dr. Robert Mace (P.D., 1997)
>>
>> "Policy and Science: An (Ethical) Match Made in Heaven?"
>>
>>In the ideal world, science and policy stroll down the wedding aisle
>>arm in arm, smiling warmly to family and friends, eager to start their
>>new life together. However, after the wedding bells stop clanging, the
>>cake is gone, and those tans earned during that Bahamas honeymoon fade,
>>reality sets in, with science often feeling like it*s tied to the
>>railroad tracks with the policy train asteaming in the distance. A pure
>>scientist, using the scientific method as their creed, wants to see
>>reproducible results and testable hypotheses-and expects policy
>>decisions to be based solely on fact. Policy, on the other hand, is
>>often a complicated equation with the most transiently random variable
>>of all: people. In most cases, the people making the policy decisions
>>are not scientists. What appears as fact to a scientist is far more
>>fuzzy to a policymaker. For the most part, policymakers want to base
>>their decisions on good science. However, if a policy issue is
>>controversial, then the waters get murky quick-with good science getting
>>the murk. Savvy detractors to good science may attack the scientific
>>method as being biased, claim unrealistic certainty to appear infinitely
>>credible, and make mountains out of a study*s molehills. Good science
>>may trip on its own feet because of poor communication, a tepid defense,
>>being non-transparent to the public, or having its scientists cross the
>>"advocate line," a line that separates scientific facts from personal
>>biases and personal opinions. What*s a scientist married to policy to
>>do? Recognize the flaws of your partner (as they recognize the flaws in
>>you...), realize that facts are one small part of policy decisions,
>>ensure that when you speak your voice is understood, remain ethical, and
>>remember that, in the end, good science-as fact-always wins.
I agree, except for the last clause. The truth, unfortunately, may not prevail in any reasonable amount of time. We are still arguing Darwin in this country!

3 comments:

Fergus said...

Perhaps it isn't really a marriage, but an abduction and rape...
:)

David Duff said...

Kidney stone? Ouch! Good luck.

Michael Tobis said...

Thanks so much for your concern, David! It is kind of you to look beyond our disagreements in this way.

It looks like my recent health problem will work out alright, though it was a bit of a setback to my plans of last week to say the least.