Volunteers were briefed not to get pulled into debating “politics” of arms dealing or the fossil fuel industry, lest it distracted from the science. I’ve since heard similar briefings have been issued for science events running over the summer. It’s also a line I heard all too often when I worked at Imperial College.
It’s bullshit. Simple bullshit. Politics doesn’t distract from the science. An over-emphasis on decontextualised science is used to distract from the politics.
It is often assumed science is somehow above political issues, but just because disinterestedness is an aspiration doesn’t mean it’s true in practise. It can be hard to spot ideologies you’re part of, so decent public engagement – which is honest about the uncertainties and arguments in science and actively invites questioning – can help science uncover itself more clearly. This is vitally important, because if you don’t recognise how routinely political science is, you just get played by those who do.”