U New Mexico prof Taylor Dotson, author of The Divide: How Fanatical Certitude Is Destroying Democracy comments in an article excerpted from the book,
Motivated by the belief that science and the political world are entirely distinct, many citizens have begun to see science as something to be isolated and insulated from explicit political influence and politics as something to be almost entirely guided by scientific evidence. People act and talk as if a kind of apolitical scientific politics can steer controversial policy decisions, thus sidestepping or obviating differences in values or worldview. The resulting actions and talk are, however, far from apolitical but instead amount to a form of fanaticism. That is, political scientism starkly divides societies into friends and enemies, the enlightened and the ignorant. Just look at how political polarization over COVID science is spiraling out of control.
In a culture dominated by political scientism, citizens and policymakers forget how to listen, debate, and explore possibilities for compromise or concession with one another. Instead, we come to believe that our opponents only need to be informed of the “correct” facts or truths, harshly sanctioned, or simply ignored. No doubt there are cases where fanaticism may be justified, but political scientism risks turning every debate with a factual element into a fanatical one.Taylor Dotson, “Why Science Can’t Settle Political Disputes” at The MIT Press Reader
Indeed. The expression “concerned about COVID” is now a synonym for “unhinged,” as crazies collide en masse.