Presenting science as a battle for truth against ignorance is an unhelpful exaggeration.
Antimatter annihilates matter. Anti-science, it is said, destroys what matters. And fears are increasing that anti-science forces are on the march. Indeed, on last month’s March for Science, a ‘war on science’ was frequently invoked as a reason for researchers to mobilize. Signs held aloft warned of a conflict.
True anti-science policies — the early Soviet Union’s suppression of genetics research, for example, and its imprisonment of biologists while trying to revamp agriculture — can wreck lives and threaten progress. But it’s important not to cheapen the term by overusing it. And it’s wrong for researchers and others to smear all political decisions they disagree with as being anti-science. For instance, despite being labelled by many as anti-science, the US Republican Party — for all of its flaws — is not trying to hobble innovation or seeking to dismantle the research enterprise.
In fact, Republicans have historically been strong supporters of science. They led the effort in the 1990s to double the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and they enthusiastically support space...