Science; a relationship of convenience

When the subject of climate change comes up, it is very common to hear people say that, “the science is settled.” This statement emphasizes the importance placed on science to settle issues like this. If science says it, I believe it and that settles it.

Unless, of course, science tells us the wrong thing…

This article at Maclean’s is a fascinating read on the entire GMO debate, but one section in particular really caught my attention.

But the [GMO] discussion shows signs of undergoing an important shift in tone—in part because of climate change. Not only do companies like Monsanto profess to have the tools to feed a world increasingly stricken by drought and pestilence, but the listen-to-the-science mantra that environmental groups espouse when taking on climate-change skeptics has proven difficult to square with their anti-GMO campaigns, which tend to gloss over much of the available scientific research on GM foods. In 2013, British environmentalist and author Mark Lynas became one of the first to publicly admit his anti-GMO stance had become “intellectually incompetent and dishonest,”

So if science tells us what we want to hear, then we exhibit a strict devotion to science. But if science doesn’t happen to tell us what we want to hear, then we just ignore it. Such inconsistency is, unfortunately, all too common these days. Kudos to those who are willing to be inconveniently consistent.

The article strikes an encouraging tone, noting that “for the first time in years, the atmosphere seems conducive to a rational discussion about GM food and its potential.” This is good news, because rational discussion is always more likely to be productive than irrational discussion.

Now if only we could get people to rationally reconsider the “settled science” regarding fossil fuels and climate change.