When MP Van Meijeren (FVD) recently accused RIVM Director Van Dissel of corruption in a parliamentary debate, called three hundred worlds Take a stand against politicians who “make baseless accusations against scientists”. Chamber President Bergkamp said personal attacks on scientists do not belong in the House, Minister Djgraf stated that scientists must be able to do their work safely, even if the outcome is unwelcome, and Minister Kuipers wants to ensure the freedom of scientists. Because society can protect their rights. It needs results.
However, these commendable statements ignore the reasons for distrust of science.
The term corruption (literally: bribery or abuse of power) is subject to massive erosion in the FVD’s pronouncements. From this point of view, every human is corrupt as the embodiment of interests – like the owner of a tavern, he trusts his guests, I think. But unconsciously, the original meaning of “break, destroy” also resonates with everyone, also outside the FVD, in “corruption”. Something has broken in the relationship between science and society.
It starts with a basic misunderstanding about science. Flag is a huge multinational with many divisions. It is not a box where you can hunt down facts or solutions at will or ask for them. Gathering scientific insight is the process of trial and error, formulating and testing guesses and conflicting with unexpected results, difficult measurement methods, and failure. Researchers, whether motivated by the media and their spokespeople or not, also cause misunderstanding or worse. They exaggerate results, extrapolating irresponsibly – sometimes out of well-intentioned enthusiasm, sometimes out of the hope of funding. Here too there is an inflation of terms: we are on the rise critical pointsChaos threatens today, complete overhaul of the system is inevitable and so on.
Behind all this lies a deeper layer: a difference of opinion about the legitimacy of power. Those who do not have confidence in the long-term self-cleaning effect of science, the critical voice of the press and government regulation will tend to regard their own knowledge as the norm. Anything that does not seem logical or counterintuitive is rejected. A simple example: “natural is healthy” – a phrase that ignores the toxic substances that many plants contain to protect themselves from other organisms.
Then there is the fear of globalization. Many feel neglected because “everything” is decided by dark geopolitical and industrial forces. Knowledge by definition is international. Even local studies are related to what has been done elsewhere, results from the other side of the world are relevant here and the assessment, in principle, is purely international.
If society is to allow science to operate freely, there is a need for more rejection of free accusations in Parliament. Then all kinds of actions to bring scientific facts closer to the population will not help, regardless of the goodwill of all those exhibitions and TV shows. Every politician has a duty to understand how self-experienced knowledge should function as a basis for politics, and why it differs fundamentally from the arbitrariness or intuition of influencers. It’s time for the Friends Program that connects Young Scientists with Representatives!
A version of this article also appeared in the June 13, 2022 newspaper
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