A recent Slate article says that there are too many Democrats in science. Democrats found themselves in a unique position during the Bush administration and were able to "score political points" by accusing Bush of being "anti-science," says Slate's Daniel Sarewitz. Now they're convinced that anyone who disagrees with them on issues like climate change is "fundamentally irrational," he adds. Meanwhile, Republicans say that mainstream science has become corrupted by political ideology and gravitates towards fringe scientists, Sarewitz says.
In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe says Sarewitz's conclusion is "reasonable ... if you're the sort of person who thinks about politics all the time." But not everyone does. Politics is one way people view the world, and an easy way to keep tabs on which side is scoring points, but how much of that goes on in labs? If you're talking about a politically-driven topic like climate change, then Sarewitz may have a point, but, "it's hard to fit disagreements over dark matter or RNA's role in early life forms into a left/right framework, much less intramural spats like the structure of the norbornyl cation, the usefulness of total synthesis, or how much palladium you really need to do a metal-catalyzed coupling," Lowe says.