Science and Public Policy


Science and Public Policy

The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science

9781847204707 Edward Elgar Publishing
Aynsley Kellow, Professor Emeritus of Government, University of Tasmania, Australia
Publication Date: 2007 ISBN: 978 1 84720 470 7 Extent: 232 pp
This book is an examination of a neglected form of scientific corruption – corruption by political attachment to noble causes.

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This book is an examination of a neglected form of scientific corruption – corruption by political attachment to noble causes.
We are used to hearing that economic interests have corrupted scientific findings, but the possibility that science might be corrupted by noble causes is largely overlooked. This book shows that this danger is real, that values can often lead to poor science, and that we are more likely to accept lower quality science when it lends support to our political preferences. Using the examples of biodiversity and climate science and the attack on Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist on these two issues, Aynsley Kellow reveals how the reliance of environmental science on mathematical models and the infusion of values into its conduct have produced a preference for virtual over observational data. It argues that both sides of politics are capable of exerting such an influence, but suggests some reasons why those on the political Left seem to be more prone to do so at present, to the detriment of public policy.

Science and Public Policy is a unique and challenging book. It does not argue that any one political persuasion exerts a corrupting influence on science policy, instead it makes extensive use of peer-reviewed literature to explore scientific controversies and the role of politics in them.

This fascinating book will appeal to high-level general readers as well as to scholars and researchers at all levels of academe working in environmental politics and policy; and science policy.
Critical Acclaim
‘Crusading environmentalists won’t like this book. Nor will George W. Bush. Its potential market lies between these extremes. It explores the hijacking of science by people grinding axes on behalf of noble causes. “Noble cause corruption” is a term invented by the police to justify fitting up people they “know” to be guilty, but for whom they can’t muster forensic evidence that would satisfy a jury. Kellow demonstrates convincingly, and entertainingly, that this form of corruption can be found at the centre of most environmental debates. Highly recommended reading for everyone who doesn’t already know who is guilty.’
– John Adams, University College London, UK
Contents: Preface 1. The Political Ecology of Pseudonovibos Spiralis and the Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Science 2. The Political Ecology of Conservation Biology 3. Climate Science as ‘Post-normal’ Science 4. Defending the Litany: The Attack on The Skeptical Environmentalist 5. Sound Science and Political Science 6. Science and its Social and Political Context Bibliography Index
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