September 30, 2022

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The real problem of scientists running for politics

As a scholar you can be heroes, but as a politician you are just an amateur. You don’t have to put yourself in the worst of the two categories

During the upcoming elections, we will witness a new phenomenon, or at least one occurring on a scale not previously observed: Having candidates drawn from the ranks of the scientific community, as opposed to a larger than usual number of candidates from the region of those who oppose scienceand would like to replace his favorite belief (or rather his own set of alternative conspiracies).

I will not deal with those who have broken the barriers of decency since the days when the Five Star Movement proceeded against outspoken proponents of all sorts of nonsense, so long as they were an expression of opposition to what their predecessors had done; I will not deal with it, though doubtless also in this case we observe at present a phenomenon which operates on levels quite different from that which has been seen hitherto, in which whole lists have been established in frank contrast to the “official facts”, to the “order”” And in support of all kinds of useful nonsense to warm minds.

On the other hand, I am more interested in a brief discussion with my readers about the direct participation in elections and in the political life of the country by academics and researchers who have gained some well-deserved insight during the pandemic for their communicative commitment, have they been put today on the list by this or that party, or when They were not candidates, were strongly proposed or offered themselves political assignments. Bassetti, Lopalco, Crisanti: These are names we all know, and some of them relate to me directly, if not true friendship; My friends and those who know me will forgive me if I raise any objections to their actions, or at least some questions about what I see happening, and be patient with others instead.

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Let’s start from a point in the introduction: those who object to telling scholars, called virostar contemptuously, that everyone ought to do his work, and that one should not ride the tide of gained popularity on the basis of his competence to run for politics, are making a grave mistake. According to this principle, no one with his professionalism and competence can apply, since everyone must be invited “to do their work”; This is not a relevant point, frankly In a country where judges, lawyers, law professors, philosophers, and businessmen are candidates, it is hard to see why researchers and doctors would not submitIt is evident among those who have taken such a vision to be able to reasonably require the vote of citizens.

After surveying the scope of this common, but erroneous objection, let’s get to the point: the specific and most important problem with regard to the nomination of a scientist in politics is Confusion of plans that can come true, when in politics the reputation and power of those who pursue research in a specialized sector are used in a scientific manner, thus widening the field to battle and to the reconciliation of interests which is the appropriate field of politics. That is, if a party uses the voice of the world to attack a hostile political party, then instead of learning the method or sticking to its conclusions to make a decision directed to respect the established scientific consensus, it masquerades as the wolf of politics with the skin of a scientific lamb, claiming to define its role as the bearer of the voice of science, while the One scientist has enlisted in his own lists at most, who, however important and acute, certainly does not represent science.

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Of course, for the party, the important thing is to direct the “vote to the flag”, drawing on the community of experts of the listed character, just as when you put a famous sports champ or other famous person on the list: the process that is performed is always the same, and must be understood exactly for what it is. From the point of view of the candidate scientist, this implies a fundamental moral duty, which is contrary to the interest of the party just highlighted: the difficult task of maintaining a level of scientific-technical communication, at which it is expert, always well distinguished and separate from propaganda and useful communication of the party, and indispensable both in its election and in obtaining the approval of voters and politicians in the private part.

This is the crucial point, for it is a point which necessarily leads to a need for compromise in view of the reconciliation of different interests, which is a typical activity of politics, though the investigation and proclamation of the best truth can be found with Galileo’s method, which is instead the typical way of the scientist at work . attacking someone by saying that by following his directions there would be 300,000 deaths in a given period, something a politician could do, but not a scientist; Second, in order to do so, he must provide evidence and a model for what he claims, so that his peers can mathematically assess the weight of his claim. When we hear this statement from a candidate scientist, it is clear that we are dealing with politics, not science. However, it is not in anyone’s interest to solve the mystery, because this candidate is specifically considered a credible scientist, and stripping claims of scientific authority when they are not proven is exactly the opposite of what he intended to do in the nomination.

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My friends and colleagues will forgive me (I don’t care about others): in this way, they will probably gain votes, but they will surely lose the power gained from their work, unless they return to a greater sobriety and do not. Engaging in a discriminatory act is very difficult, every time one declares oneself as a politician or researcher, remembering data and numbers, separating them from opinions. For, as a candidate scholar, and as scholars, one is sure of the champions, but as a politician one is mere amateurs; And you don’t have to put yourself in the worst of the two categories.