Why the March for Science failed, as demonstrated by its own protest signs
Risk; Reason and Emotion

The issue isn’t epistemology or ontology, it’s simply what sort of discourse should hold the commanding position in debate of public needs and goals.

From the New Deal to the Bush II presidency, evidence-based discourse was dominant, regardless of which party was in power. There wasn’t always a unique evidence-based answer to every question or unique evidence-based solution to every problem; with multiple answers and solutions possible, contentious discourse was commonplace. But there was little hope of a victory on a significant policy issue being won by a faction that tried to ignore or deny evidence-supported conclusions. The unspoken consensus was that, at some level, all sides encountered impartially-ascertained facts they had to respect.

During the Nineties, the Republicans became the party of climate-change denial. The more scientific consensus mounted that anthropogenic warming was real and a serious threat, the more the Republicans solidified around a denial position. That began seriously to affect policy under Bush II. Bypassing Congress, the Obama administration took a large number of steps to counteract the danger, most significantly helping forge the Paris Accord.

It’s unnecessary to say what has happened so far under Trump.

Like all other components of public debate, climate change (and some other issues, e.g., alleged deleterious effects of abortion on women’s health) have become increasingly polarized over the years. Regardless of who started that drift into polarization, it now exists. Those of us who continue to want respect for objectively-determined evidence to underlie public decisions have little choice but to “tribalize” in defense of our position.

It’s ironic that the author of the post opposes political effort to support science as a driver of public policy, since his own convictions about cognition are admittedly based on scientific research.

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