Introducing Politech: Our Eye On The Intersection Of Science, Technology, And Policy

Science and math are important. And we’re going to prove it.

Protestors (including Bill Nye) carry a banner and signs as they pass the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the March For Science in Washington — Saturday, April 22, 2017 (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Protestors (including Bill Nye) carry a banner and signs as they pass the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the March For Science in Washington — Saturday, April 22, 2017 (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Yesterday, tens of thousands of scientists, engineers, and those with the bizarre opinion that people paid to study and understand facts should probably be consulted at least once in a while, gathered across the nation and the world in support of one simple idea. The idea that science matters and facts are important. This should not be a controversial issue and there should never be a need for a march to show popular support for it. It needs to be something we take for granted. And yet, here we are, with politicians across the world demanding that experts, scientists, and those educated on important issues give way to whatever agenda politicians want to push that day, no matter how short-sighted, malicious, or ineffective. This is why the thousands who marched felt they had to make a stand. If you needed some sort of a warning, to paraphrase a sign at the Science March, a whole bunch of scientists protesting is a pretty big one.

Our situation is dire. Americans don’t know what fields of engineering and science are more precise and established than others. Fake science news is dominating the headlines and web searches as the media hunts for eyeballs and clickbait to survive. Lobbies are peddling New World Order conspiracy theories in response to climate change, and even trying to convince us that smog made of microscopic soot that settles in our lungs isn’t deadly, despite some six decades of science telling us it is and the same duration of broad, bipartisan support for its regulation. Lawyers are trying to pass bills which would open the door for quacks and cranks to make even more money off desperate terminally ill patients. Politicians deny that computers are really taking our jobs with absurd proclamations with no basis in reality, allow your ISP to make money off your browsing history, and are busy trying to dismantle what made America a technological leader for decades.

And just as a cherry on top of all that, the political body responsible for the fate of science, technology, and space exploration is an embarrassment on a global scale, ran by people who think that salads are secret communist plots and spend their time whining about how scientists are mean to them when they launch witch hunts into research with which they don’t agree. We have moved past the stage when our leaders simply didn’t care about science and left technology to “those nerds in Silicon Valley” into one where they’re now trying to actively sabotage both. They’re barely bothering to conceal their disdain for anyone who knows more than they do, or has the ability to show the real dangers of their backers’ agendas. How did it get this bad? Has the world gone mad? Science and engineering took us to other worlds, unlocked secrets of the universe we used to build the modern world, and with which we’ll build our future here, and perhaps one day, far beyond. Why are we ignoring them?

Well, there are many reasons why in today’s society, when politicians begin responses to scientific questions with “I’m not a scientist” and then instead of concluding “so I will defer to one” just keep saying things their likely voters want to hear, they don’t get a proper admonishment. But perhaps one of the biggest is that we don’t bother to connect why a brand new, briefly covered, soon forgotten scientific or technical development actually matters. There is a line that connects Charles Babbage’s infamous analytical engine, Countess Ada of Lovelace’s fancy mathematical equations, Alonzo Church’s new form of calculus, Alan Turing’s mathematical foundation of computing, Arthur C. Clarke’s idea of using orbiting satellites for communication, a supercollider in Europe built by CERN where Tim Berners-Lee worked, Einstein’s general relativity, a killer robot fleet protecting you from foreign enemies, and your Amazon delivery coming on time and to your door without a hitch. In Politech, we want to very clearly draw that line for you.

Instead of just covering new hot topics in the popular science community, we will explain the science and technology behind it, how it fits within the existing scientific and technical framework, and, most importantly, what it means to you and why you should take note of it. Rest assured that we will not pull punches and call hype or speculation out for what it is, and will be sure to point out obvious problems and concerns. Our goal isn’t simply to cheerlead STEM and scientific research, it’s to apply a critical eye to policy and facts where experts have a lot to say, show why it’s important for you to stay in the know on these topics, and give you the tools to understand the issues and where to find more information. Why? Because the key feature of science is that its true regardless of your political affiliation and desires, and when you ignore reality and the facts, you will pay the price sooner or later, because reality’s bills will always, without a doubt, come due

Politech // Climates / Politics / Science / Tech