Three Times Science Was Politicized And Everyone Lost
Much has been made regarding the politicization of science during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The issues have divided people across the globe and have proponents of science pulling out their hair. But science has always been political and likely will continue to be political. This is not a new issue. In fact, injecting politics into science has been happening for thousands of years.
Whenever new scientific discoveries emerge that threaten the status quo, those in power scramble to protect themselves and their way of life. The movement to discredit and cover-up good science and new discoveries has been ongoing for a very long time. It is human nature.
Here are three times science was politicized throughout history leading to unfortunate consequences.
Socrates’s way of thinking
Socrates is known for being one of the most influential philosophers in western thinking. Back in his day, science and philosophy were deeply intertwined to the point where much of science fell under the guise of natural philosophy. Socrates's methods of questioning everything around him, questioning the assertions of others, and encouraging others to do the same eventually led to his execution.
The Socratic Method is still used as a valuable tool for thinking through problems today but it rankled the people in power at the time. He was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens due to his demand that his students think for themselves and question the world around them. Those two principles are important pillars of both philosophy and science today. The rulers of Athens at the time found this mode of thinking dangerous and insidious.
Socrates was infamously forced to drink hemlock and killed. While his legacy lived on, there is no doubt a great mind was executed for political reasons and his death scared many young people in Athens who might have picked up his legacy.