Monday, August 03, 2009

Biased Scientists

People, not inhuman machines, do science. Since all people are biased in one way or another, it follows that all scientists are biased. Since some of the problems scientists work on are politically charged (like, say, global warming), it follows that biased scientists work on politically charged scientific problems.

Now bias is not necessarily an evil, even in science. You must have a bias of some sort even to choose which experiments to run, or (if you are someone who decides where money goes) to decide which theories to support financially. However, bias can be an evil if scientists start interpreting data incorrectly because of their bias.

I propose a new method of deciding policy based on science (at least, whatever policy can be decided on the basis of science!):

1. Determine more than one political persuasion that scientists have, such as big government/little government.

2. Have scientists picked from each political persuasion theorize and run experiments. It would be advantageous if the scientists involved in one political persuasion personally disliked the scientists from the other persuasions.

3. Whatever results the scientists came up with that were the same, could reasonably be treated as less biased than results obtained a different way.

Thoughts on this partly tongue-in-cheek, partly not, idea?

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