Should our leaders know about the process of science?

Should our leaders know about the process of science?

Short courses in science and statistics should be mandated for all politicians because of their importance to so much public policy. And because so few demonstrate any knowledge of even the basic process of science.

Ian Chubb, neuroscientist and former Chief Scientist of Australia

Do you know the basic process of science?

Maybe you have a distant memory of a school teacher saying something about cause and effect or experiment or maybe hypothesis. Perhaps you were told to mix a few chemicals in some test tubes and record the colour changes.

Well, that’s it in the formal sense — the testing of hypotheses through controlled experiments. All that stuff about the scientific method.

It began with the Scientific Revolution in Europe towards the end of the Renaissance period and continued through the late 18th century when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry transformed the views of society about nature.

This period is also known as the Enlightenment when a few radical thinkers decided they had had enough of religions telling them obvious lies about the world around them. The likes of Beccaria, Baruch, Spinoza, Diderot, Kant, Hume, Rousseau, and Adam Smith decided a better approach was needed, one based on fact, things known to be true.

Now let’s see what happened next.

The rise of democracy, the industrial revolution, huge increases in health and well-being for more and more people.

The average westerner now lives in more luxury and comfort than Louis XIV, the king who was miffed at all those philosophers bursting his bubble. Way more in fact.

The arts and social science types will not be happy that I am suggesting progress is down to the natural sciences, but you have to admit, it put a rocket under the process. The changes seen in societies across the globe in the last 200 years have been so much faster than at any other time in human history.

In short, science is important.


It makes good sense for leaders as well as thinkers to at least know how science works and something about the philosophy behind it. Especially the idea that the scientific method generates evidence, facts know to be true.

It is vital that decision-makers know what is known and how reliable that information is. We took the piss out of Donald Rumsfeld but actually, he was onto something, although he was lampooned for saying it.

The scientific method and the results from the researchers who apply it reliably generate the facts that give us the full suite of knowns.

Professor Chubb said something else. He also wanted the political muppets to know about statistics.

He is spot on.

Without the basics of probability — how likely something is to happen — combined with an understanding of the scientific method, the results of research and the advice of the experts are meaningless.

Probability seems quite difficult to understand for most people. Here are a few conundrums as examples…

  • If I toss a coin and get five heads in a row, what is the probability of the next coin toss delivering heads? Exactly 50%, just like it was for the previous five tosses.
  • The median is not the same as the mean even though they are both measures of central tendency unless the data is normally distributed.
  • An unlikely event is not impossible — ask Nassim Taleb about black swans.
  • Correlation is not causation.
  • And here is a statistic that everyone should know — 8,000 per hour

These statistics and likelihoods and measures of distributions are not lies, they are vital to understanding risk and opportunity, the very essence of what policy for the collective benefit should be about. Minimising risk and maximising opportunities for as many citizens and visitors as possible.

Politicians are ignorant of this at our peril.


Go ahead and share this extraordinary missive, you know you want to.

Also let us know in the comments section if a short course on the scientific method would be of interest to you

Why we forget to ask if its fake or fact

Why we forget to ask if its fake or fact

Here is a list of some of the choicest statements from the president of the United States, the so-called head of the free world, about then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton…

  • She has a serious chronic illness
  • She is sleeping all the time
  • She founded ISIS “literally” with President Obama
  • Trump blamed the tax code that allowed him to not pay millions in taxes on her
  • She wants to eliminate the second amendment
  • She started the birther movement
  • She will be indicted (after Comey’s letter to Congress)
  • Her Emails (in relation to Anthony Wiener’s computer) are worse than Watergate

Founded ISIS, always asleep, started the birther movement… for goodness sake. And it helped get him elected. What is wrong with people?

This stuff is just ugly and anyone should know that it is fake.

Each one either a blatant falsehood or hugely disrespectful drivel that I really shouldn’t be printing again.

No matter what your political allegiance nobody should have anything to do with such nonsense. It demeans everyone, especially the person who went on the be the president. Please, heaven help us all.

These choice examples are easy to spot as fake. There is not even a loose fact among them.


Source: US academic Professor David Ross


What about these…

  • Urgent: Koalas could be extinct in NSW as early as 2050. We can’t let this happen — WWF website
  • “Climate change has not caused the [2019-20] bushfires, unprecedented arson has” — Australian Liberal MP Craig Kelly
  • An electric vehicle won’t tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot with your family.” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
  • I want to stress that for the vast majority of the people of this country, we should be going about our business as usual.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 3 March 2020

How do you decide if these claims are fake or fact? Do you even bother? It is hard after all.

Most information comes at us all polished and convincing. The presenters are slick, the writers persuasive and the messages short. Why wouldn’t we believe such well-rounded packets of influence?

All of those in the list above are false with only modest provisos.

There are many reasons for our failure to spot fake claims and fake news

Information overload

An average smartphone owner in a mature economy is exposed to more information in a day that many of our ancestors saw in their lifetimes.

Here is what one set of information scientists think goes on…

In 2011, Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986—the equivalent of 174 newspapers. During our leisure time, not counting work, each of us processes 34 gigabytes, or 100,000 words, every day. The world’s 21,274 television stations produce 85,000 hours of original programming every day as we watch an average of five hours of television daily, the equivalent of 20 gigabytes of audio-video images.

The reliability of these numbers is not important here. The point is that we are all awash in information, all the time we are awake.

This can swamp our filters and certainly our reflection time so a lot of information is believed to be true because there is not time to decide otherwise before the next packet of critical information arrives.

Much of the information we receive is true

When your phone beeps an alert that your 9 am meeting is in 10 minutes, it is true. There is no reason to ever doubt it.

When you press the icon in your favourites tab to ring your better half and its answered, hostile takeover or the cleaner being helpful notwithstanding, it will be your better half who answers.

If my phone rings and the icon says it is my sister, I answer. When she tells me that my mother passed away in the night, I believe her.

Read a tweet from Brixton Barry that says “Holy shit, here is a riot going on” and, well, maybe there is, Brixton has had riots before… And why would he call himself Brixton Barry unless he… well, you get the idea.

But hold on, that was a long time ago and who is Barry? In this case I would be sceptical unless more tweets began rolling through the feed, perhaps with an image or two, before I believe what Barry is saying.

It is more likely that the tweet from Brixton Barry passes by my sceptic filter because so much information already has and has not caused an issue.

Plus if I live in Detroit or Hounslow, a riot in Brixton might not be worth a fact check.

An endnote

Here is what the late, great author Terry Pratchett said about the spread of fake news on the Internet back in 1995…

“Let’s say I call myself the Institute for Something-or-other and I decide to promote a spurious treatise saying the Jews were entirely responsible for the second world war and the Holocaust didn’t happen and it goes out there on the Internet and is available on the same terms as any piece of historical research which has undergone peer review and so on. There’s a kind of parity of esteem of information on the net. It’s all there: there’s no way of finding out whether this stuff has any bottom to it or whether someone has just made it up”.

Terry Pratchett

That was 1995 remember, near to the beginning of the whole internet age. It was prescient certainly but it was also sage advice.

Go to the source for any information that is important and if there is no source, go generate that information yourself.


Comment below if you feel the urge and please share with your online folks

Cardiologist

Cardiologist

Just before the lockdown, I made my annual pilgrimage to the hospital to see my cardiologist. It’s a long story to do with genes and familial lines and some inevitabilities of the way biology works.

The visit was a success from my end thanks to a fine doctor who is a sensible and pragmatic professional. His motto seems to be ‘if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it’. This is somewhat unusual in our interventionist times and a bonus for me because the last thing I want is another procedure.

Anyway, we dealt with my heart issues fairly briskly and got onto stress.

This was a problem for me and the cardiologist agreed although he was quick to say that he was not qualified to advise on what I should do about it. My blood tests are good and my blood pressure in the middle of normal so from his perspective not much to be done.

My wife asked if retirement might be a solution.

“Oh no, that would not work,” he said, ‘you’re an environmental scientist right?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Well then, the stress will still be there even if you retire. This country is in a political mess.”

He was actually rather less polite than this but his point was a good one. There is a level of stress and malaise over many scientists right now in the age of spin, fake news and normative science.

Scientists, especially environmental ones, are purposely misunderstood, maligned and ignored.

I experience it every day.

When I try to speak the listeners switch off or glaze over. People seem to have no skills with logic and numbers and have no interest in gaining any. Anything more complex than 2 + 2 is near impossible to communicate.

The really important issues that involve an understanding of settled science, some skills with likelihoods, and the application of proper scepticism — these things are just not even in the conversation.


Why integrity and scepticism are inseparable allies

Time for scepticism

Why can’t I retire

Well, I can and I will, but only from the day job.

A lifetime of buzzing around as a lonely fly avoiding the wafts of the disinterested and the annoyed is debilitating. I’m knackered.

But then there the issues that still get me excited and incited. My normative feelings rush in and I’m wanting to say something, even if it is to extoll the virtue (another normative word) of being objective.

I will be my own worst enemy and keep on thinking about all this until I get hit by a bus.

Meantime there was another thing.

It was a relief to hear that the expert thinks my heart with its grafts is doing fine. Keep doing what you’re doing and come back in a year was the message. I will take that from a fellow scientist.

It was a shock to hear how much trouble he thought the world was in and that was before we had a pandemic.


A short primer

Normative science — science based on preference or value.

This means that it is not true science at all but an opinion or bias towards a particular outcome held by the scientist on her own behalf or by the people who support her.

Food and diet are obviously normative. They are both chockablock full of values. What we eat is what we can afford and what we choose based on our preferences that are rarely free of value.

There are ways to quite quickly decide if the science presented is normative.

1 – Look out for ‘is’ and ‘ought’ and value-laden words

In the English language, the difference between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ is critical. The use of the word ‘is’ determines a fact whilst ‘ought’ refers to an opinion.

Science should be all about the world of ‘is’, the facts about the past, present, or future. So if the language that a scientist uses has too many ‘oughts’ then there is a good chance she is being normative.

The use of ‘should’ is a giveaway too.

Bad, better, bigger, catastrophe, destroy, disaster, good, slashed, tremendous, ugly and all similar value-laden words and phrases are red flags for normative language.

2 – How was the evidence generated

True scientific evidence comes from deduction. This is a process of setting forth an idea as a hypothesis and testing it with an experiment where treatments are assigned to observational units at random.

Some evidence comes from observation alone. As the plane flies low over the savannah the elephants browsing below are counted. This tells us how many elephants there are viewable from the aircraft — an observation.

It is only an estimate of how many elephants there might be all together and tells us nothing about what elephants do or if their numbers are decreasing or on the rise.

The quality of evidence to explain how things work is really what science is about. Observation alone is rarely enough.

3 – Who provided the evidence?

If you are paid $100,000 a week to play soccer for a premier league team you would not want to score goals for the opposition. You are paid to score goals for your team.

Scientists are prone to this employer bias as much as anyone. If your boss wants to see great yield response in trails of the companies new fertilizer it will be hard to present evidence to the contrary. He might say you had a poor design and get you to repeat the experiment or worse.

Ask yourself who generated the evidence as well as how they did it. Academics are less likely to be based than scientists working for commercial companies and those who work for government agencies might be somewhere in between.

Beware though, for no one is immune.


Feel free to browse some more ideas for healthy thinking

Something that should be more worrying than COVID-19

Something that should be more worrying than COVID-19

Insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times, and are essential to the ecosystems humanity depends upon. They pollinate plants, are food for other creatures and recycle nature’s waste.

Damian Carrington, Environment editor, The Guardian, 24 April 2020

Nearly two years ago Alloporus first noted some worrying research on the decline of insects in Europe. with the key finding

More than 75% decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas

Hallman et al (2017)

Alloporus’ comment was this

When an observation so dramatic and material to so many key ecological processes becomes known we dismiss it at our peril. If we ignore these numbers just because we like the idea of fewer midges at summer evening picnics without looking deeper to find out what is going on, we increase the risk to our already precarious food security.

At around the same time this post and research came out, two US researchers returned to a forested conservation reserve in Puerto Rico after 35 years and this is what they said…

We compared arthropod biomass in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest with data taken during the 1970s and found that biomass had fallen 10 to 60 times. Our analyses revealed synchronous declines in the lizards, frogs, and birds that eat arthropods.

They published their results in a peer-reviewed journal of the US National Academy of Sciences

Lister, B. C., & Garcia, A. (2018). Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(44), E10397-E10406.

The declines the authors put down to climate. It was too hot too often for the ground-dwelling invertebrates creating an upwards cascade through the food web.

In Europe insecticide use and habitat change, in a rainforest, climate change. Either way a serious problem.

Just to make sure this was not just an isolated result, Roel van Klink of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, together with colleagues from around Germany and Russia completed a meta-analysis and

‘compiled data from 166 long-term surveys across 1,676 globally distributed sites and confirmed declines in terrestrial insects, albeit at lower rates than some other studies have reported and concluded that ‘Patterns of variation suggest that local-scale drivers are likely responsible for many changes in population trends, providing hope for directed conservation actions.’

So it’s happening. Roughly 25% declines in insects across the board in a generation, with insects faring only slightly better in nature reserves than outside protected areas.

The conclusion, terrestrial insects are declining in numbers and variety and, as is typical for nature, this loss is patchy, occurs at differing rates and from multiple causes.

Klink and his colleagues took hope from this result. You can see why. If climate change was the cause everywhere, then there is a serious global catastrophe in the offing where the rates of decomposition and nutrient transfer are altered across a wide range of biomes and habitats affecting many land uses, especially primary production.

This would not be about species loss in the way it is for the koala. A cute thing that we like to see in the zoo and maybe take a selfie with one held up by a zookeeper, the cuddly critter that might become extinct. This is about the loss of function, loss of ecosystem services that we cannot do without or easily replace.

Instead, Klink and his colleagues found multiple, often local causes. This they interpret as a solvable problem. Conservation and restoration efforts could help local populations recover.

As regular readers will know, Alloporus has to work hard to be this optimistic.

Until the economy through the supply chains feels the hit of the loss of services little will be done. The efforts of the few with the koala saving gene will be epic, they will try their best, but it will not be enough.

If lockdown with its boredom, ingenuity and the appearance of clean air all around the place tells us anything, it should be that we can survive on relatively little.

Only part of that little has to be food and water.

Imagine lockdown with the supermarket shelves empty of food. That would put toilet paper shortages into perspective for us.

It is trite to say it, and sad that it has to be said again and again, but it is true — nature matters to our very existence.


If you enjoyed this post please share it with others.

If it annoyed you share it anyway, it could be a topic of conversation on your next Zoom chat

Game changers must be scalable

Game changers must be scalable

Think global, act local is a decades-old rallying cry. An attempt to bridge the psychological chasm between the enormity of environmental issues and what an individual can actually achieve from day to day.

The assumption is that if every little helps and everyone does a little locally, a collective change will emerge.

In principle, this is a scalable idea.

Each individual benefits from their own effort. Not least because they feel better for making a contribution. Add more and more people and the true benefits appear from a sum of the collective parts.

One conversion to LED lighting is a modest energy saving but when a whole city does it, baseload generation, peak demand, emissions, and energy delivery systems can all change significantly.

Most game-changing ideas are scalable like this. They may start small but grow into high volume and at some point, they are no longer local. They are market-wide. Almost all the successful consumer products from fridges to mobile phones fit this model.

The problem is that many of the ideas that would deliver sustainable environmental solutions, for example, green waste into biochar, only work at scale.

This makes them difficult to get started.

Composting green waste to create mulch and fertiliser is a good thing to do. It can be done at home, even on the balconies of high rise apartment blocks. The problem is what to do with the compost. An average household would need a fair size garden to use what can be made plus the nutrients are not returned to the paddocks where the food was grown. Compost for the farmer’s field needs a system to aggregate and transport household green waste even if the household has already decomposed it down a bit.

In principle this is scalable, only there might not be enough green waste to make the volume needed and there is a risk of contamination from weeds and pathogens.

Burning green waste at high temperatures and low oxygen (pyrolysis) converts biomass into charcoal (biochar) releasing volatile gases and leaving behind stable carbon with a honeycomb microstructure. Put this material on or into the soil and it improves water retention and nutrient exchange through the biology going on in and around the carbon particles.

This sounds like a better solution for household green waste so long as there is a digester handy, a pyrolysis machine to convert the biomass into a stable and safe form of fertilizer. Currently, not many are portable and to build one commercially, high volume is needed to make them profitable. This means starting at scale, not to get there over time.

Any number of agricultural fixes both technical and through management actions are like this. There is a chasm of scale between the individual consumer and the system of production.

This is both practical and psychological. Most city dwellers have never even been on a farm, let alone know what it takes to run one. They might be keen to do their little bit but really have no inkling of the scale needed when it is paddocks and fields that are in need of care.

It may be that this psychological chasm can’t be crossed incrementally. We might need to be ‘at scale’ for the solution to work. And in our current social and economic system this means profitable investment. More strictly, the profit that is easiest to achieve today.

In a positive future…

Everyone will recognise that not all solutions are scalable or need to be. Individual actions are encouraged in scalable directions – reduce, reuse, recycle is a fine example – to tackle the demand side.

Production will become more resilient because the finance for ‘at scale’ solutions will have a much longer time horizon that absorbs uncertainty as a manageable risk. The bond market will embrace agriculture when it sees that unpredictable production is fine when you go long and think like nature.

Farm businesses will cooperate. Not because the farmers turn to socialism but because it will be one of the ‘at scale’ solutions to more concentrated markets.

In the end… and after the virus

Every little action can help sustain us all. Each local act can lead to global solutions so long as there is room for options when the little things do not add up.

There is an opportunity now that with lockdowns we know that we can actually survive on a lot less than we thought. The scale might just have got a bit smaller for some of the options we have suggested if the need for profit has become less acute and the need for stable, reliable supply chains has grown.

You never know.

Social cohesion in a time of isolation

Social cohesion in a time of isolation

A few years ago now a serious bushfire passed just to the north of our house. It destroyed over a hundred homes and our back fence. We are still hyper-vigilant in spring when the hot westerlies push hard across eastern Australia and yet what I remember most from that tense experience is the sense of community that appeared spontaneously during the crisis.

Neighbours helping neighbours and everyone helping the firemen and rural fire service volunteers tackling the blaze. People variously wielded rakes, took turns on the garden hoses, made tea or simply offered nervous encouragement. It felt like a group effort.

David Shearman talks of something similar that happened in Britain during WW2 where people came together through far more severe and prolonged trauma.

“Britain was a united and cohesive community. Young and old worked daily in small ways for the common cause. But most importantly, in the free world, two countries — Britain and the US — had leaders in Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt who could explain the need for duty and sacrifice.”

David Shearman

Our bushfire experience of cooperation was certainly coordinated. The RFS Commissioner was constantly in the media providing information and advice. On the ground, the fire crews listened to their seniors and whoever was on the other end of the radio. Civilians readily followed their lead.

Firebreaks were raked, back burns set and helicopters dumped water judiciously to slow the fire enough for the hoses to protect houses. It was planned and calmly executed with everyone chipping in with what they could.

Most of the people in the street had seen bushfire before. It comes with the flammable treed territory we chose to live in. Recognition of the threat was ingrained through experience, so there was little need for Churchillian scale motivation.

This is probably true whenever something frightening becomes real and dangerous. Humans clearly have the cooperation gene even if it may only express itself in extremis. Even so, some leadership is required. There has to be some sense of need or a clear explanation of it.

Danger felt by everyone is the core ingredient for cohesion. Honest cooperation is contagious enough when a threat is real. Fear can bring people together.

Not all the neighbours were in on the group effort. At least one family were too frightened to leave their home. We actually thought they were out or had left, until at the height of the crisis with a fireman hosing down their wooden deck as some protection from embers, there was movement inside the house. Perhaps they needed the ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech.

Despite this, I easily recollect the cohesion that created much more than the sum of the parts. What I also recall is how fast it dissipated.

It took a day for the fire to burn most of the fuel in the bush around our homes. That night there was still eery red glows from scattered tree stumps. A day later and it was just char and ash. The threat had passed.

Heroic rural firefighter doing a great job in our backyard

Then we began to realise that this wildfire was a devastating event for the community. Everyone knew someone who had lost their home. A collection point for food and clothing was soon overflowing with gifts and volunteers. The fire was the topic of conversation wherever people met purging themselves of their fearful experiences. It was a human emergency for several months and then it wasn’t.

A great purveyor of entropy cut a swath through us and people responded to defy it. They rallied and returned things to our sense of normal with great speed.

Then we all forgot about it.

At least that is what it feels like. Every now and then memory is triggered or a newcomer is told the stories of the fateful day but mostly it is history. Some regulations have changed, fire preparedness is reinforced and we all look up at the sound of a helicopter. But the cohesion has gone.

I imagine that it will come back when the next fire comes along. It will because bushland in this part of Australia burns regularly, every decade or so on average in these parts. So in a short while cohesion will be called and I have no doubt that the residents will respond as spontaneously as they did in 2013.


Sure enough 2019-20 bushfire season was horrific.

Our little community escaped the worst but we had two monster fires, one to the north that burned within a few kilometres of our suburb and one to the south that threatened to do the same for the best part of a month.

People were cohesive. They helped each other out and were endlessly grateful to the fire services and the volunteers that provided assistance to the hundreds of people who lost homes, livestock, infrastructure and in a some tragic cases their lives.

No political leaders emerged during this crisis. The prime minister went on holiday to Hawaii and had to rush back with his tail between his legs. The state leadership did their best but really did not know what to do.

Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, stood up and showed everyone how it should be done. He was truthful, blunt and yet caring all at the same time. His leadership got the collective through.

Locally, it was the mayors that stood up. Ours, Mark Greenhill, Mayor of Blue Mountains City Council, took to FB to give daily updates of the operations in our district. He was tirelessly present with the firefighters and the support staff and went above and beyond to provide the cohesion people needed.

People really do rally around individuals or each other when the heat is on but then readily dissipate into their own worlds when the crisis passes.

The drought crisis that turned into a bushfire crisis that has turned into a pandemic crisis means we have been overdone with cohesion of late.

The question is will vacuum return. Will leadership that is only present in extremis fade away when the calm returns as it surely will.

This is a rare opportunity for it to stick around.


If you like the posts on Alloporus please share with your friends who might need something to read in isolation.

More brumbies

More brumbies

Eighteen months ago Allporus posted a piece on the brumby, what Australians call wild horses, specifically the controversy over the NSW Government passing the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018 that gives protected status to feral horses in the national park. This is a law protects a known driver of biodiversity loss.

It was one of the more bizarre decisions that politics is capable of throwing up and is another example of the worrying trend to ignore science whenever it suits.

A few months after that post came out an aerial wildlife survey of the alpine national parks and surrounding state forests in NSW and Victoria was conducted, a follow up to a similar survey of the same area five years earlier.

In that time between surveys, the feral horse population has more than doubled from 9,187 in 2014 to 25,318 in 2019.

This is a growth rate of 24% per year.

It’s a great ‘I told you so’ story.

These animals are introduced. They are not native, repeat, not native.

They are big, bulky and hard-hoofed grazing animals, features that no other herbivore in these habitats has. The last big herbivores were browsers, the Diprotodons that likely died out 12,000 years ago.

Horses will alter vegetation. It will mean some sensitive plant species will be lost along with the invertebrates that go with them. Other plants will come in on the back of the disturbance and some of them will be invasive themselves.

More importantly than this, the ecological integrity of the alpine systems will be altered by horses.

And we now know who promoted it.


Since this little whinge was written the politicians of all hues have been standing next to scientists, patting them on the back and seeking out their learned advice; as they should.

The politicians who are not listening to their health professionals will have a big problem getting re-elected after COVID-19 has passed through the world on its first journey. The epidemiologists know what they are talking about, they know what it takes to slow a pandemic and the logistics folk know what the limits are to the capacity and capability of the health systems.

The problems of a pandemic are acute and affect everyone. The public expects that all sensible advice should be consulted and heeded.

The thing is that the conservation scientists, the biodiversity specialists and the wildlife biologists, well, they know their shit too. Just because their knowledge might save non-human lives, even whole species, of native plants and animals, it is no less valid as science.

So here is the truth.

Remember that all political decisions are value-based. They are not based on science unless the science aligns with the dominant value.

We are grateful that it does when human lives and livelihoods are at stake.

When the human stakes are lower we would do well to be grateful for science then too.