HSCI S-111 Science and Politics: Current Debates in Historical Perspective
This course aims to understand the complex relationship between science and politics. We shed light on current debates by analyzing a selection of historical turning points. People often assume that the objectivity of science depends on the separation between science and politics. However, science and politics have always been interrelated. Scientists are frequently subjected to the decisions of the politicians who finance them and who speak in their names. Moreover, scientists often have to be savvy politicians, using strategies to gain position, funding, and recognition. Publicizing a new discovery or promoting a new theory requires not only scientific evidence, but also political skills, especially when scientists seek to overthrow a dominant theory. What does this mean for the objective ideals of science? How can we expect the public to trust science when politics is often accused of distorting science? What is the line between normal interactions between science and politics and extraordinary or dangerous ones?