Abstract: The Interface of Science and Politics: A Porous or Impermeable Boundary?
CHILDRESS, MICHAEL T.
The interface between the political and scientific worlds is complex and messy. The scientific method is (or at least tries to be) objective and empirical--adjectives rarely used to describe a political system or the motives of policy-makers. Indeed, some assert that the two worlds are inherently incompatible; they point to instances of politics spilling over into the scientific arena and compelling scientists to uncover the "right" answer. Moreover, even in an environment devoid of political pressure, there exists an epistemological chasm between the two worlds. Scientists are relatively comfortable with uncertainty and understand the limitations of their trade. On the other hand, policy-makers are generally averse to uncertainty and seek definitive answers to inherently fuzzy questions. This paper explores these tensions and discusses ways to ensure scientific relevance in a political context that frequently discourages objectivity.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90939©1997 AAPG Eastern Section and TSOP, Lexington, Kentucky