Politics and Proof – The misuse of science

It’s no secret that politicians can twist words to make anything sound as if it supports their agenda. There’s even a name for those who are good at this (and a 90s band with the same name) – Spin Doctors.
However, when scientific findings are misrepresented to support policies, what we get is ideological propoganda. It’s probably not a surprise that the recent Monitor on Psychology issue found a glaring example of this in the current white house administration:

Recently, a family planning official in the Bush administration used a study by Dr. Rebecca A. Turner to support his claim that sex with multiple partners should be avoided by unmarried women because it hurts their ability to form bonds. Too bad for him that all the study really found was a link between emotion and the hormone oxytocin.

There are numerous other examples, some from anti-gay groups and surely others from the left side of the political spectrum. Regardless of the slant, it should be obvious that leaving the interpretation of scientific findings to those who can’t truly understand its meaning, or worse, those who seek to distort it, is to be avoided.

If what we want is the truth, the scientific method of testing, retesting, and more retesting of notions, hypotheses, and beliefs, will get us far closer to the truth than merely restating what we think is true.

Then again, for some people, truth is not the ultimate goal. For some, spelling “Truth” is probably a challenge…