“Politics and science don’t mix.” “Religion and science don’t mix.”
These are comments posted on an article about a skeptical physicist who researched global warming under a grant provided by the Charles Koch foundation and found that land temperatures are indeed rising. I read this article not long after reading an MSNBC article entitled “Do Science and Politics Mix?”. It focuses on some comments made by Mitt Romney and their interpretation by Lawrence Otto, author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. He says that today’s political framework is based on “values” rather than facts. In other words, politicians are dogmatic about certain positions that they figure will stand them firmly in the good graces of their constituents and tend to dismiss scientific challenges.
Well, hell, what is science for if not to inform your decisions and opinions about politics and religion and education and health and economics and…everything? I mean, why bother to make observations at all if you’re going to ignore them? Why not just walk around blindfolded? And the same goes for science itself. Let your political and religious and educational and economic observations inform your decisions and opinions about science. It doesn’t make sense to be dogmatic in any of these areas.
Isn’t our world an interconnected web of infinite variables? There will always be more data to gather and look at, and there will always be vast areas where we have no data at all or no conclusive data. Mystery still abounds. But the point is, keep your eyes and ears and mind open. Make your decisions and form your opinions with as much humility and flexibility as you can muster. Always be willing to entertain and embrace new information and ideas.
What would you call that posture?
Well, the media calls it “flip-flopping” or “waffling”. The media seems to like dogma and dislike progressives. People are fed up with the status quo and call for change, but those who embrace change are mistrusted and “hog-tied” by various conflicting structures. So we get nowhere new. What a pity. What a waste.
Have you ever heard the Zen koan, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”?
If you believe you have the correct image of what it means to be Enlightened, you’re wrong. Throw it out and keep practicing and meditating. As applied to our political situation: if you believe you have the correct platform to reform America, you’re wrong. Throw it out and keep listening to the people, keep observing the environment in the cities and the farms, keep choosing and deciding and recording consequences. Keep moving forward. Even if something seems to work, things will change. Review and renew. Be light on your feet.
Now, who’s got the courage to do that?