And so perhaps we have now discovered the rightful place of science: not on a pedestal, not impossibly insulated from politics and disputes about morality, but nestled within the bosom of the Democratic Party.
But ownership of a powerful symbol can give rise to demagoguery and self-delusion.
Can "science" be owned, or have a place? Well, maybe if it was a proper noun; Science. So what is it? What is science, or Science? OK, definitions aren't hard to come by and you can probably dig up something along the lines of "scientific method", "hypothesis, experiment, results, conclusions, repeat" etc. but it doesn't help in the context in which that the word is used above; what the word means in everyday usage. So what do I think it means in everyday usage?
I think it means "beliefs founded on evidence".
Evidence is exactly what the majority of people understand it to mean. It is results of experiment, data etc. It is not conjecture, hypothesis nor opinion. And I like this definition because it has the following corollaries:
- Belief not founded on evidence is "faith" - hence faith is "belief not founded on evidence".
- There can be no indisputable "Science" (because evidence can never be complete nor infallible). This corollary also puts the phrase "the Science is beyond question" straight in to garbage disposal where it belongs.
- Science cannot be owned or have any place. Beliefs can be held by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- There can be scientific consensus (this is quite controversial in the politics of climate Science). However, this simply means many people hold the same evidence-based belief. It does not make it correct (see the second corollary) and does not preclude others from seeking more evidence.