Brian Cox — of wide-eyed BBC science spectaculars fame — is lauded as one of science’s leading advocates, and a ‘science communicator‘.

But for a man who is so keen to extol the virtues of the scientific method, and its unequalled ability to make sense of the world and how to make it a better place, he seems awfully confused:

Granted, it was just a tweet. But it was a tweet that provoked a volume of conversation, in which Cox defended his position.

More about that shortly. But what strikes me immediately about Cox’s words is that although he emphasises science, he is quick to abandon it as the lingua franca of debates of consequence. Better to simply take the piss out of people you disagree with than engage with them on the ground you hold sacred. So much for science, then. And so much for the scientist who seems to have won awards for his expertise in ‘public engagement’ in science. This should prompt some discussion about what is meant by ‘science’, what is meant by ‘engagement’ and what is meant by ‘public’. “Taking the piss” is not science. And telling people what they must think (for fear of having the piss taken out of them by the pop-star-turned-TV-physicist) is not ‘public engagement’ with science. Moreover, the ‘public’ imagined by ‘communicators’ seems to be a mindless body that must be instructed, not individuals who are capable of forming an understanding for themselves until they are anointed.

Cox, as is the wont of most people in his position, who use their elevated status to pronounce on climate change, misapprehends climate scepticism — mostly because he’s more interested in “taking the piss” out of it, than in actually understanding the terms of the debate. He is informed not by the debate itself, but by the polarised view of the debate, which precedes it. The politics of the climate debate precede the science. Thus, on Cox’s view, there is only ‘the science’ and its deniers. All nuance is given up.

This is a surprise, because, as is discussed in a recent post here, Cox had an opportunity to see how the establishment’s own preoccupation with climate change threatened to dominate the research agenda, and his own field of high energy physics. Here he is, arguing with the then UK Chief Scientific Advisor, David King, who argued that the LHC was nothing more than an expensive device for navel-gazing.

It is odd that this exchange did not produce more reflection from Cox on the nature of the climate debate. Here he was, facing a bureaucrat, not even a green lobbyist or environmental activist, telling him that the machine he was so proud of was a waste of money, which would have been better spent on climate change research. “This is part of a journey that we’ve been on for about a hundred years to understand what are the building bocks of matter and the forces that stick them together”, said Cox, after being asked if there was nothing more useful that the money could have been spent on. This answer should have been enough, but Cox went on to spell out what that meant. “The transistor, the silicon chip.. It’s given us the ability to cure cancer, to potentially kill brain tumours. There an endless list… I would argue in fact the modern world has been invented as a result of this quest, and this is the next step”. King disagreed. “This money was spent on curiosity-driven research which may conceivably have some impacts on our well-being in the future. I suspect it wont”, said the Chief Miserablist, “I think we’ve probably driven this type of research far enough that it’s now more navel-searching than searching for potential future developments for the benefit of mankind”.

Scientific research priorities invariably reflect political priorities. In the days of the Cold War, that meant big stunts that demonstrate superpowers’ economic might and military prowess. For better or worse, this meant exploring the infinitesimal and the near-infinite. In today’s political climate, ambitions have been called back from the stars. Science, and the technological progress it has driven, seems to have unleashed risks, even if it has helped to win a geopolitical battle. Hence David King now frames climate change as our ‘moon landing’ — a fitting demonstration of how scientific ambition has been brought back down to Earth with a bump.

What goes up must come down, after all. Cox has since joined the same ranks. Made famous by the BBC, he now speaks more for the establishment than for science.

Asked by Gerry Morrow, ‘why don’t you get some real evidence the future will be catastrophic[?]’, Cox replied,

‘Have you empirical validation for these predictions?’, asked Rupert Darwall.

This is interesting. Cox claims that the necessity of making ‘policy decisions’ makes it imperative to take at face value probabilistic statements, which are not empirically-verified. Better the informed than the uninformed guesswork. But what is this ‘uninformed guess work’ we are asked to compare with ‘informed guesswork’. Moreover, what is the ‘informed guesswork’ informed by? Cox unwittingly reveals that the imperative is political, not scientific, and that his reasoning is circular. Why ‘must’ policy decisions be made? If the answer is that ‘informed guesswork’ suggests that policy decisions are imperative, Cox should admit it, rather than “taking the piss” out of sceptics, who might have something to say about the nature of that guessing. It is not as if Cox can say that there is something in particular, which science has positively identified and which is as tangible, say as the mechanism of evolution, which sceptics have ‘denied’.

There is a difference between being sceptical of something, and sceticism of guesswork. As I have argued before, this produces amongst the hand-wringing tendency to lose grip on what they claim is at the centre of their own argument: the scientific consensus. If the consensus is only so much guesswork — albeit ‘informed’ guesswork — but it is treated as concrete, the scientific consensus becomes a consensus without an object, and ditto, on the same view, scepticism becomes scepticism without an object. The debate amounts to two sides disagreeing about something that the side which claims something exists cannot even identify.

What is it that Cox believes sceptics are sceptical of? As Rupert Darwall makes clear, it is not the warming effect of CO2…

The real object of scepticism, then, might be no more than the over-extension of the climate narrative, which may have rather more read into it than was given to it from science.

This, naturally returns us to the IPCC. Cox was asked what he counted as evidence…

It’s not a particularly well-formulated question, I would argue, since most scepticism isn’t scepticism of “AGW”. But it is a question asked of a celebrated ‘science communicator’, nonetheless… The answer is of course, the IPCC’s synthesis report SPM…

… Which provokes the same response…

To which the award-winning science communicator replies with,

I have read AR5 SR SPM properly. And I still find it problematic. Take for example, this line from page 8.

Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence).

But this is a meaningless statement by itself. It refers to no science. It’s just a headline. To find out what it actually refers to, we need to interrogate the full version of the Synthesis Seport [PDF -10MB], not the Summary for Policymakers, and even that is merely a pointer to the relevant sections of the rest of the AR5 reports.

Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence). Impacts of such climate-related extremes include alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and settlements, human morbidity and mortality and consequences for mental health and human well-being. For countries at all levels of development, these impacts are consistent with a significant lack of preparedness for current climate variability in some sectors. {WGII SPM A-1, 3.2, 4.2-3, 8.1, 9.3, 10.7, 11.3, 11.7, 13.2, 14.1, 18.6, 22.2.3, 22.3, 23.3.1.2, 24.4.1, 25.6-8, 26.6-7, 30.5,Table 18-3, Table 23-1, Figure 26-2, Box 4-3, Box 4-4, Box 25-5, Box 25-6, Box 25-8, Box CC-CR}

So how significant is the vulnerability revealed by ‘impacts from recent climate-related extremes’? How many ecosystems and how many ‘human systems’ are vulnerable and exposed to what degree of ‘climate variability’? So many weasel words litter this statement, I find it hard to take seriously at all, let alone as a summary of scientific evidence. But let’s press on, nonetheless.

The first reference is to WGII SPM A-1. But this is another SPM, not the actual review of the ‘science’. The first paragraph of A1, for instance reads,

In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Evidence of climate-change impacts is strongest and most comprehensive for natural systems. Some impacts on human systems have also been attributed5 to climate change, with a major or minor contribution of climate change distinguishable from other influences. See Figure SPM.2. Attribution of observed impacts in the WGII AR5 generally links responses of natural and human systems to observed climate change, regardless of its cause. 6

More problematically, WGII is concerned with “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”, not the “physical science basis” of climate change. WGI in fact finds,

… there has been a likely increasing trend in the frequency of heatwaves since the middle of the 20th century in Europe and Australia and across much of Asia where there are sufficient data. However, confidence on a global scale is medium owing to lack of studies over Africa and South America but also in part owing to differences in trends depending on how heatwaves are defined (Perkins et al., 2012). Using monthly means as a proxy for heatwaves Coumou et al. (2013) and Hansen et al. (2012) indicate that record-breaking temperatures in recent decades substantially exceed what would be expected by chance but caution is required when making inferences between these studies and those that deal with multi-day events and/or use more complex definitions for heatwave events

So what the Synthesis report referred to as ‘high confidence’ in ‘impacts’ of ‘heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires’ seems to be owed to only a ‘likely increasing trend’ of heatwaves, as far as the science is concerned. And on rainfall..

Given the diverse climates across the globe, it has been difficult to provide a universally valid definition of ‘extreme precipitation’.

And floods…

In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.

On droughts…

the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, owing to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated.

On cyclones…

this assessment does not revise the SREX conclusion of low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.

On extratropical storms…

In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low. There is also low confidence for a clear trend in storminess proxies over the last century due to inconsistencies between studies or lack of long-term data in some parts of the world (particularly in the SH).

I could not see any statement on the frequency of wildfires. What is interesting, though, is how different the Synthesis Report, its SPM and WGII appear to be from WGI with respect to these phenomena, almost to the point of outright contradiction. Similarly, on the impacts of these events, on which the SPM claims ‘high confidence’, the same report claims,

Direct and insured losses from weather-related disasters have increased substantially in recent decades, both globally and regionally. Increasing exposure of people and economic assets has been the major cause of long-term increases in economic losses from weather- and climate-related disasters (high confidence). {WGII 10.7.3, SREX SPM B, 4.5.3.3}

But of course losses from weather have increased, because the wealth that is destroyed by weather — aka development — has increased. As the IPCC chapter admits,

Growth-induced changes in past losses are removed by normalizing to current levels of destructible wealth. So far, only one study analyzes normalized global weather-related insured losses(Barthel and Neumayer, 2012), but the period is too short (1990–2008) to support a meaningful analysis of trends.

Moreover, the IPCC’s Special Report on Extremes (SREX) found that,

“There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change”
“The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados”
“The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses”

Also via Roger Pielke Jr,

“Some authors suggest that a (natural or anthropogenic) climate change signal can be found in the records of disaster losses (e.g., Mills, 2005; Höppe and Grimm, 2009), but their work is in the nature of reviews and commentary rather than empirical research.”

So to Brian Cox, we can say that the IPCC is certainly not the final world on climate science, or its impacts. Nor is it an unchallengeable presentation of the evidence. It is, taken as a whole, internally inconsistent — it’s parts are in contradiction with many of its other parts on important matters. (Some other contradictions are discussed here).

Pointing out these inconsistencies is what will ultimately lead to an improved understanding of the natural world, and to understanding our relationship with it, including an understanding of the extent to which we depend on it. By preferring to respond to climate sceptics by ‘taking the piss’, Cox will deprive science of the very thing that makes it possible: competing perspectives, each attempting to account for some phenomena or other. Cox rules out any challenge to what appears to him as the ‘consensus’ a priori, not as a consequence of an understanding of the science, but as a consequence of who is making the argument… Politics, in other words, at the expense of science.

The only way Cox can sustain his claim to be the champion of science, then, is if we note the difference between science as a process and Science as an institution. For Cox, the two may be the same thing, but we can see for ourselves that the authority of the IPCC and its reports subsists more in its political function as representatives of the consensus than as a scientific analysis.

The point couldn’t be better demonstrated than by Cox himself. He points to the most problematic part of the IPCC’s output: the SPM of the Synthesis report. And he points to it as evidence. And yet it contradicts the rest of the Assessment Report. The IPCC can’t even communicate clear science to a science communicator. All he is left with is ‘taking the piss’.

This is a weird science indeed. And it is a weird science communicator and science advocate who wields the authority of scientific institutions, rather than champions the scientific method, and who allows political expediency to posit half-baked Bayesian waffle in the place of scientific knowledge. On Twitter.

Cox started well. But he is surely a victim of his own success. Not being all that remarkable (as far as the public is concerned) for his science, he was instead made famous by being a relatively pretty face in an era of dumbed down television, in which producers were nervous of otherwise ugly scientists (in)ability to generate ratings. Chosen then to speak for science — to make science cool — Cox was inevitably drawn closer to the establishment and its preoccupations. Perhaps some iron law dictates that as an individual without merit is elevated as a scientific hero, the bigger prick he will turn out to be.

Cox knows very little about climate science, hence he waves the authority of the IPCC AR5 SR SPM in no more a qualified way than the climate campers, who declared in 2007 that they were “Armed… only with peer-reviewed science”. They thought they were, but the pages they were holding aloft like a preacher holds a bible were not from a scientific paper, nor was it peer-reviewed. It was a report called ‘living within a carbon budget‘ from the Tyndall Centre, for the Coop Bank and Friends of the Earth.

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Cox is not so different. But let’s not single him out. More important is understanding what produced Cox. After all, Cox merely reproduces the orthodox view, not even of climate science, but of critics of that view. He preaches the virtues of science, but it is a view of science that looks more like a search for authority than as a liberating form of knowledge — a quest that is shared by the proponents of climate politics. Challenges to that form of politics look to its advocates as denial of science, but it is they, who would so easily dismiss criticism on that basis, who are anti science as a process though not science as an institution. Science is increasingly more about shoring up ailing political institutions than about shedding light on material phenomena. If it weren’t so, it would be hard to explain Cox’s anger and frustration with climate sceptics.

If that sounds too much, consider this. Here is Cox explaining to a TV producer why time goes in one direction, and why the direction you move through time is constrained.

So clearly Cox is an able communicator. But this ability breaks down as Cox nears the climate debate. At this point he becomes sweary and impatient. Perhaps, then, Cox should stick to science, and maybe stick to physics. Outside of physics, he becomes inarticulate and aggressive. Isn’t that tendency in microcosm what we see in the broader climate debate? Science overreaches itself, and then its proponents and heroes are forced to fight what are essentially their own excesses — grand claims made before evidence, supported only by ‘probabilistic’ guesswork, and protected from criticism by the notion of a polarised debate — but which appear to them as ‘sceptics’ and ‘deniers’. It would be harder to be a sceptic of the IPCC if its AR’s were more consistent. And it would be harder to criticise the IPCC and UNFCCC if the process was not so transparently about turning a seemingly scientific idea into a vast political project.

16 Responses to Brian Cox’s Weird Science

  • “It would be harder to be a sceptic of the IPCC if its AR’s were more consistent.”

    Cox is just a climate commentator, like Sir Paul Nurse and the Pope, so it’s natural that he should approach the problem backwards, or ARs first, as we climate experts say.
    The whole IPCC project (I’m talking about IPCC AR5 SR SPM) can be summed up in the old joke: “You can’t get there from here”, or, if you prefer, the children’s game “O’Grady says” (or “Simon says”):

    The science says: “The earth is warming.”
    The science says: “CO2 is a greenhouse gas.”
    “We’re facing catastrophe! We must act! – Ha ha, I didn’t say: ‘the science says’.”

  • When I first saw Cox talking about the LHC I was quite inspired by his enthusiasm and ability to communicate complex science in an understandable fashion, then I saw the Huw Weldon lecture IIRC when he said that sceptics were all talking bollocks and I thought sadly another “scientist” who has sold out.

  • Mike, I was similarly disappointed with Cox’s television lecture, and blogged it here. http://www.climate-resistance.org/2010/12/the-life-of-brian-%E2%80%93-science-messiah-or-very-naughty-boy.html

    The analogy with Monty Python’s Brian seems even more apt today. Broadcasters seem to need to construct their own heroes. And Cox, too, needed to construct a moral story to make his claims about television and science, which sadly reflected not his insight and the virtue of science, but on the contrary, his ignorance and its colonisation by politics.

  • Cox laid out his attitude to climate sceptics a couple of years ago at
    http://www.newstatesman.com/sci-tech/sci-tech/2012/12/brian-cox-and-robin-ince-politicians-must-not-elevate-mere-opinion-over-sc
    Barry Woods, Ian Woolley and I and a few others took it to bits in the comments, but Cox didn’t reply. He hasn’t been back in the mainstream media since though.

  • Interesting article, Geoff. I was particularly struck by this…

    “The loud criticism of climate science is motivated in the main not by technical objections, but by the difficult political choices with which it confronts us.”

    As you rightly point out, Cox and Ince have no idea what motivates the arguments of sceptics because they just don’t read them. The only reason they think we can object to ‘the best we’ve got’ (“science”), is because we don’t like the consequences. They imagine the arguments of sceptics, rather than take issue with them, as straw men. They’re entirely ignorant of the technical criticisms, and of the argument here that there is a problem with the many presuppositions of climate science, rather than its consequences… Many of the consequences are in fact presupposed.

    I wrote a bit about Robin Ince at a similar time. http://www.climate-resistance.org/2013/10/what-is-the-ipcc.html and http://www.climate-resistance.org/2013/11/what-is-science.html

    It seems clear to me that ‘science’ is doing more than just ‘science’ in Ince’s head. And in Cox’s too.

    At best, they have a highly idealised understanding of ‘science’ — institutional science — which is immune to any human errs. But this naivety surely precludes science as such.

  • I think Roger Pielke’s tweet in response to Cox deserves to be added to the post as an update:

    The climate debate in a tweet!
    “climate skeptics” =people we disagree with
    “take the piss” =denigrate, delegitimize

  • Cos is caught out with no actual argument to make in favor of his dogmatic belief. So he takes his cue from zealots throughout history: Shut up those pesky non-believers by any means convenient.
    In other words, Cox is just another ignoramus with a nice title and a soap box from which to shout out his bullying vapid dogma.

  • Cox is caught out with no actual argument to make in favor of his dogmatic belief. So he takes his cue from zealots throughout history: Shut up those pesky non-believers by any means convenient.
    In other words, Cox is just another ignoramus with a nice title and a soap box from which to shout out his bullying vapid dogma.

  • Ben, another study in understatement.

    Which is to say, you let the girly-boy off much too lightly.

    The conversation should have dissolved permanently into guffaws the moment Cox was forced to name an intergovernmental panel’s summary for policymakers as his “scientific evidence.”

    In other words, when he proved unable to name any scientific evidence at all.

    That’s checkmate. Game over. (In a better educated world, it would also be career over.)

    The problem with being thoughtful (and I’m talking to you, Ben) is that you can… well… overthink things.

    It’s really very, very, very drop-dead simple, Ben: Does the IPCC use the scientific method to produce its SPMs, or does it not?

    Does it, or not?

    I hope that’s a rhetorical question. One only has to read the committee’s own tragicomic descriptions of its own processes to know it doesn’t even deserve to be called ‘cargo cult,’ or even ‘pseudo-,’ science. To earn such a dubious distinction it would actually have to bear some outward resemblance to the rituals of science; which the IPCC fails to do, and probably wouldn’t even know how to do if it tried.

    (For starters, are you aware of any provision in any version of any scientific method that allows political attaches to veto findings they don’t like? I’m not. And yet this is one of the ‘features’ IPCC apologists are proud of! They actually advertise this grotesque parody of epistemic ‘quality control,’ safe in the knowledge that most of their intended market is illiterate enough to feel reassured, rather than embarrassed, by it.)

    Since, as you will have gathered by now, the answer is NO, an IPCC SMP is (by definition) a ream of ascientific toilet paper. It’s rather difficult, metaphysically, to use a political method (let’s be frank: the Delphi technique) to write a scientific document, isn’t it? Meaning, it can’t be done. The laws of the universe don’t allow it.

    Anthony gave Cox the chance to put up some scientific evidence or shut up, whereupon Cox humiliated himself by linking to the ‘evidence’ excreted by a bunch of politicians in a tropical resort.

    (This is not to insult the real scientists who sullied themselves by participating in, and allowing their own credibility to be hijacked by, said process—ah heck, yes it is. They should feel like idiots, because they were. I hope they’ll learn from their blunder, but if not, they’ve consigned themselves to the lowest rank of ‘scientist’ in modern history.)

    Or at least: Cox would have humiliated himself if not for his Dunning-Kruger obliviousness to his own incompetence, or if someone had told him (in words he could understand) how much of a cock he’d made of himself.

    End of story.

    (I know I tend to euphemise and pussyfoot around what I really think, but I hope you can read between the lines and detect a tone of disapprobation in my voice for the ‘science’ cited by a certain person who plays a scientist on TV.)

  • Cox appeared on an episode of “Would I lie to you?” where it was revealed that in his pop star days the roadies once gaffer taped him up and suspended him over the stage for an hour at the end of a tour. Apparently the reason being that he was annoying and arrogant and needed taking down a peg or two.
    Nothing much changes and it’s a shame that roadies and gaffer tape are not as common in science.

  • Actual science is a combination of ideation, a moral commitment to rigorous testing, and peer-communication. Ideation requires creative capability; the commitment to testing requires an absolute willingness to go where the data leads, and never to cease searching for further data, by experiment and analysis; the communication requires skills specifically aimed at your peers, and makes demands on them as well as yourself, to sign up to the same commitment to learning. This agreement among peers is the only consensus that logically applies in science – not some consensus on the products of that science, which are always provisional, let alone the institutions of science, which are properly speaking mere conveniences for the processes of scientific investigation.

    Professor Cox is no longer a working scientist; if his scientific values, attitudes and skills conform to my description, then they can have very little application in the world in which he now finds himself. He cannot afford to be creatively ideational, since he is engaged in a fundamentally conformist propagation of other people’s ideas. He cannot engage in a whole-hearted commitment to rigorous testing of those ideas, since he does not, and never has had, sufficient specialist knowledge to apply rigorous sceptical enquiry into those ideas. He has abandoned wholesale any attempt at communication which might elicit a ‘peer’ type response, being oriented entirely to ‘explanations’ which do not encourage the slightest effort on the part of his listeners to understand any difficult concepts – in fact, he appears to particularly discourage active critical discussion.

    In fact, ‘taking the piss’ seems to describe what he does very well, not just with his opponents, but with science itself.

  • I usually enjoy the Infinite Monkey Cage, but the latest episode on the USA Tour was hard to listen to.

    Bill Nye The Lying Guy discussing funding with Brian Cox it gets infuriating. In the middle of an explanation about how society gives support to scientists, discussion changes to why the funding isnt guaranteed. They are astounded that governments demand a return on scientific funding and believe they should be funded for their intellectual curiosity. Then Bill Nye started selling his Planetary Society and why we should throw our money at him

    Bill Nye “If we were to discover an object (asteroid) with our name on it, and we could give it a nudge, we could save the world”

    Brian Cox “Cant we just make it up, cant we just pretend there’s a crisis”

    Unfortunately he was ignored as it would have been interesting to for him to justify his belief. His belief in making up a crisis for funded scientists to fix…….and save the world.

  • I just had to come in and thank you for an excellent post, with which I agree wholeheartedly. Cox’s statement that ‘the science is settled’ on the BBC is my candidate for the most stupid statement ever by a scientist. Cox may know his own subject but in other respects he is just a simple-minded, naive child. What makes him offensive is not his stupidity, it is his monumental arrogance.

  • So far all predictions have failed and the Earth has cooled. Reality refuses to go along with them.
    But never mind that. What charlatans.
    Fraud is punishable by prison. I think tar and feathers suit it better.

  • I like the article especially this line “it is a view of science that looks more like a search for authority than as a liberating form of knowledge” . There is in ongoing collisions of politics and science and Brain Cox could or has become the public face of a burgeoning technocracy, which has a natural tendency to shut radical politics down. There are clearly political decisions and policy that should not be led by scientists working well outside of their field.
    Some of your argument reminds me of when David Knut was fired from being head of ACMD and everyone was up in arms, claiming it as an attack on “rationalism” itself. How could any government not listen to a “Scientist”? My issue with him was he was making huge sweeping generalisations about entire populations and decided that social policy was also within this remit. His politics (or ideological views) were being legitimated by him being a natural scientist.
    Does he know more than your average social worker about the causes of addiction ? NO he probably doesn’t. Does knowing the physiological effect of drugs on the body make you an expert in social theory or what society should do about wide spread addiction? NO of course not.
    Science is having a hubristic moment that I would argue is to the detriment of creative political thought. For me this includes climate change that is so linked to resources that the questions are ultimately about “who gets what” and these clearly political decisions.
    I would also argue that the Scientific opinion and political decision making are an inherently conservative mix. Partly as analytical science largely deals with what there is, empirically, whereas politics is “the art of the possible” that can lead to new empirical realities. What’s more Scientific evidence is used to legitimise political argument frequently to uphold the status quo.

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