Values Voters

JFleck points out that nuclear-power industry welcomes the acknowledgement of global warming with open arms. That makes sense, although that doesn’t do anything to make it more or less true. But then John makes an observation that’s quite a bit broader. He quotes Roger Pielke Jr. saying “There is no such thing as decisions driven by science. Decisions are always driven by values.”

While it’s true that decisions are driven by values, you can’t have a genuinely values-based decision until you are honest about the science, and let the science form the bedrock for your decision.

For example: tobacco. A reasonable decision about tobacco would begin by acknowledging that tobacco is bad for you, and would weigh the right of individuals to endanger their own health and the state’s obligation to provide for the common welfare. You might come to any number of decisions from that debate, but you would start with the science. As we know, the tobacco debate in the US instead was a circus in which the tobacco industry funded dishonest studies and denied the truth as much as possible. We’ve seen similarly dishonest attacks on the science that underlies sound policymaking in the case of alcohol, marijuana, asbestos, leaded gasoline, birth control, sex education, abortion, and global warming, to name just a few.

Obviously, politics and values and belief influence all policy debates and decisions. But to attack the foundation of a just decision, to tamper with evidence, to corrupt or deny the truth for partisan gain– that is beyond the pale. That is what we condemn when we speak out in favor of science-based policy.

One thought on “Values Voters”

  1. Decisions are often driven by either money or emotion, much more often than science or fact. Or are those a subset of “values”?


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