Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Science and Politics, or Policy

Well, I got a first link to my blog from another well-read blog, Chris Mooney's, and I am flattered (not to mention that the counter is going wild on the bottom of the page).

Chris stated that there is not much science or politics here yet. In one sense I agree. This is a new blog, so there is not that much content here yet, particularly not content about science. As I stated below, there will be much more science after the election.

On the other hand, I disagree. I carefully chose the name for my blog. Not "Science Policy", but "Science and Politics". Sure, at one point or another I will address issues of science policy, i.e., on one hand how government affects choice of research area (through earmarking or Presidential decrees), science funding, patents and science-based industry, and science education, and on the other hand how the scientific information is used by the government to craft policy. However, ther is so much information in these areas already, including some great blogs, Chris Mooney's being the top-notch source of such information. I feel that I will only occasionally have something new and unique to add to that discussion and will refrain from parroting existing information here (except for an occasional link) and clogging the cyberspace.

I am more interested in "Politics" in the sense of politicking. I am interested in what science can say about sources of ideology, audience response to media, and the winning electoral strategies. I am a biologist, but most of this stuff is covered by other fields: psychology, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, history, and only a little bit of recent insights from behavioral/cognitive neurobiology. How attitudes about science affect electoral results? How electoral results affect future attitudes about science?

Since everything politicians do is part of (re)election strategy, and there is no downtime between elections when legislation is passed without thoughts of future electoral prospects, we live in an era of perpetual campaigning. I want to know what polls and focus groups' findings really mean. I want to know how use of language affects how people respond to campaign/legislative proposals. I want to know what is happening in voters' brains when they watch ads or debates, or answer the pollsters' questions, or go to a town-hall meeting, or enter the booth on election day.

On all those questions, I have already written several lengthy posts, so I would not agree there is no science or no politics here yet. Still, it feels great to be recognized by Chris and to notice new visitors coming here from his site. And, as I said, there will be some more "policy" in the future.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:34 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink