This book excerpt provides a nice commentary on the relationship between science and policy, which shapes societal development in areas ranging from technology (economic) to medicine (public health). It gives some great examples and historical accounts of science’s political ramifications, starting with Galileo and ending with George W. Bush.
In the excerpt, catch-phrase, “knowledge is power”, is re-examined:
“The simple statement of an observable fact is a political act that either supports or challenges the current power structure. Every time a scientist makes a factual assertion—Earth goes around the sun, there is such a thing as evolution, humans are causing climate change—it either supports or challenges somebody's vested interests.”
It seems “challenge” is the key word, here. Depending on the socio-political organization and the status of economy, those in power sometimes embrace science and sometimes reject (or defer) it because of the disruptions it will cause.
Is knowledge power? How much power do authoritarians have over knowledge? When and where is science most likely to be encouraged, and is it ever better for science to “wait”? In other words, is there a right or wrong time for new knowledge?