And, Philip Ball thinks, we shouldn’t trust people who doubt that. He takes issue with the concerns raised by Anna Krylov here: “I grew up in a city that in its short history (barely over 150 years) had its name changed three times.” Ball has no time for that:
The personal values held by scientists should influence the accolades they receive …
Krylov implies that any reconsideration of science’s practices in the light of Black Lives Matter and well-documented race-, gender- and class-based discrimination is a threat to democracy and the pursuit of truth equivalent to that of the Stalinist Soviet Union. Along with her citation of sources like the 2020 book Cynical Theories (coauthored by a rightwing provocateur), this exposes her article as deeply politicised. (Her frequent citation of Wikipedia as a historical source, meanwhile, exposes it as something else.) As with the recent notorious example in which a review of developments in organic synthesis included a condemnation of efforts to make science more inclusive, we could reasonably feel concerned here that politicised statements are being smuggled into the chemistry literature under the guise of objectivity.
This underscores the point made by historian of science Naomi Oreskes that when scientists argue that they are presenting their work in a value-neutral way, not only should we not believe them but we would be justified in not really trusting them either…
The contrast between Oreskes’ careful discussion of science and values in her recent book Why Trust Science? and Krylov’s simplistic analysis could not be more stark.Philip Ball, “Science is political” at Chemistry World (July 16, 2021)
And we have heard very different evaluations of the work of Naomi Oreskes.
If it is admitted that “science is political,” Why Trust Science? is a very good question indeed.
A bigger question looms: Will frank assertions that science is political, accompanied by a demand for trust, be any good for science? Isn’t this more likely to to be the beginning of a highly politically charged but largely barren period?
We shall see.
See also: We are informed at Nature Communications that geology is not a safe field for persons of color due to rock hammers Is it significant that the same people who simply do not want to accept that Darwin had transparent white supremacy beliefs think that geologists’ rock hammers are a big problem?