Politics & Media
Oct 30, 2008, 10:59AM

Science as Governing

One of the better political endorsements of the campaign can be found in a science publication.

While some attention is being paid to newspaper political endorsements as a whole, frankly they all sound the same. As an admitted Obama supporter, I still find it disheartening that editorial boards seem to reflect the politics they cover: vague boilerplate.

Yes, Seed Magazine is pro-Obama, but my argument here is not about politics; it's about writing. Give the magazine's editors credit for crafting one of the more eloquent endorsements of this election cycle. The whole thing isn't poetry (it doesn't start off so hot), but there's this:

It is abundantly evident that science can refuel economic growth, address the energy and climate challenge, and help restore America's soft power around the world. President Bush dismissed this potential, turned the very act of defying science into an art, and in so doing diminished US competitiveness and disenfranchised the country's source of innovation. His administration not only disregarded evidence time and time again but also rejected and debased the very enterprise that offered that evidence. Renewing the promise of science starts first and foremost with restoring scientific integrity to government.

Seed is a science publication, so obviously it has agendas and platforms that differ from a general-audience opinion section in a newspaper. What is important, to me, is well-voiced argument—not following the heard. The editorial takes its argument to its apex:

Far more important is this: Science is a way of governing, not just something to be governed. Science offers a methodology and philosophy rooted in evidence, kept in check by persistent inquiry, and bounded by the constraints of a self-critical and rigorous method. Science is a lens through which we can and should visualize and solve complex problems, organize government and multilateral bodies, establish international alliances, inspire national pride, restore positive feelings about America around the globe, embolden democracy, and ultimately, lead the world. More than anything, what this lens offers the next administration is a limitless capacity to handle all that comes its way, no matter how complex or unanticipated.

Gov. Sarah Palin is not mentioned once in this editorial. Lord knows it could and has (Science Blogs is run by Seed).

I wrote earlier this summer on opinion pages needing to do some serious realigning if they want to do their part (however futile it may be) in redirecting newspapers back into calm (and economically viable) waters.

Start with the writing.


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