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February 06 , 2009

Hard Thinking

The Fusion of Politics and Science


In 1512 Niccolo Machiavelli defined politics as the struggle for power. During that same era, science became defined as the quest for knowledge. For more than five centuries now this gap between politics and science – what C.P. Snow famously called “the two cultures” – has steadily widened. Now, Herbert E. Meyer – journalist, author, former top-level Reagan Administration intelligence official – argues that as we move through the 21st century our survival requires that we fuse the two cultures; that we transform politics itself from the struggle for power to the quest for knowledge about how we can best organize and manage our public affairs. Praise for Hard Thinking: “Every scientist interested in public affairs should read this book. So should every politician.” – Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine and Founding Director of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies “Delightful! To infuse the spirit, the methods, and the fundamental good will of science into politics would indeed be a giant step forward.” – Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University Professor and founder of the school of sociobiology Excerpts from Hard Thinking: Only by creating a political culture that parallels the scientific culture will be be able to disperse the intellectual fog in which we are now trapped... We will need to create a political culture based on the sequence of idea, experiment, and observation. It would be a culture in which results count and being right matters, where reality overrides emotion, were policies that fail are set aside no matter how appealing they sound and where policies that succeed are implemented when appropriate no matter who first proposed them and no matter how they go against someone’s personal prejudices or someone’s armchair prediction of how that policy would work...
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