In US presidential elections, voters are allowed to either pick open enemies of science, called “Republicans”, or habitual liars who distort and disregard science however it befits them, called “Democrats”. Third option: effectively none. Almost everywhere in the world, only devote religious people like Obama are allowed to climb to power. Germany’s chancellor Merkel had to play down that she was a physicist in order to ensure the voters trust her to be aligned with the obsessions of her “Christian Democratic Union”.
This is openly discussed in Western intellectual circles. One aspect is seldom mentioned: In China, scientists decide at the highest level for many years now. Science bloggers, “freethinkers”, libertarians; they dream about secular people occupying the most important political positions; they dream of science having effective influence somewhere up there. While they yearn, secular scientists occupy the most important political positions in the by now most important country in the world.
Liu Yandong: 1964-1970 Student of the Department of Engineering Chemistry of Qinghua University, 1970-1972 technician and workshop head of Kaiping Chemical Plant, 1972-1978 Beijing Chemical Experiment Plant, … . Today, she is one of the world’s most politically influential and powerful females. Scientist – secular – unknown to Western intellectuals of the pretend sciency or feminist variety – go figure.
In China, at least until 2012, science was not a campaign promise forgotten one minute after the vote:
"It's amazing," says Alice Lyman Miller, a China scholar at Stanford University and editor of China Leadership Monitor, "the thought of the entire Politburo sitting around and listening to academics for hours." [time magazine]
The science community pretends to encourage more science inside politics. They demand future directed, secular, peaceful leadership. Hu Jintao is clearly secular, a scientist, a humble person who went through hardship – carrying bricks belongs to his resume. Via the Scientific Development Concept toward a harmonious society, Hu and people like him made science the leading ideology (!) of a quarter of the human population. Hu established "Follow Science, discard Ignorance!" as the third of his Eight Honors and Disgraces. China's former main doctrine has been effectively replaced by secular science as the official leading ideology! [It seems to have been abandoned now however.]
Hu Jintao has a scientific background and worked as an engineer building hydroelectric power stations. He also studied Buddhism in order to facilitate the dialogue with religious.
These are successes for science and secularism, yet science media or "new atheists" never mention it. Why? Of course much of the science in China is pretend, like all political doctrines everywhere (and like much of science anyway). Or is it that in China we see how very undemocratic scientists are, that they perhaps are evil scientists? Because of China, Asia takes over the role of scientific leader, but that does not mean paradise is afoot.
Intellectuals' selective perception and thus loyalty lies with the institutionalized corruption in the power structures that ensure their own positions. Academia is corrupt. Intellectuals want to believe the ridiculous media distortions about other systems. In the West, collaboration with and belief in an ill-defined pseudo-democratic doctrine rationalizes their own lifestyle. In China, something similar of course. Wherever science doesn’t support indoctrination, scientists disregard it.
Hu Jintao is just a single example for a guy from one of the poorest provinces in China being able through dedication to the cause and hard work to influence political decisions. He knows science, and his consensus seeking style has made science important in China. The Chinese political system has made it possible that such could make it all the way to the most important position. The Western systems have to still prove that they can offer similar. Sure, China failed to ensure future stability in this regard, but nevertheless, there were important steps made. Now with Xi, consensus seeking went down the drain, nationalism and mass incarceration seem to come back instead, labor camps have simply been renamed "drug rehabilitation centers" and the brightest of the young people are tortured there in unprecedented numbers instead of being encouraged to contribute to society - China's future seems as black as it has not been seeming in many years.
Some of you see the end coming, global warming and overpopulation killing us, and you desperately want science to have more influence on political decisions soon. China is the only country where science, lowering population growth and city sprawling, and many other crucial topics had been taken seriously. Some of you fear religion to be the biggest future threat of all. China is basically the only country where secularism is still taken seriously, and one hopes it stays that way rather than being turned into some anti-terrorism witch hunt nonsense that just increases the problems again.
In the fall of 2012, the "first among equals" kind of group leadership in the 22 member Politburo and its Standing Committee, has apparently been abandoned. Xi Jinping has some background in organic chemistry, but if this means anything more than the effectively fake degrees of football players in US universities, it means that a science background does not make you interested in science.
You vote every day, with what you eat, what you buy, what you read, what you say, what you do.