I don't consciously seek out the Huffington Post, but two stories on Google News that caught my eye recently happened to be from there. I know how you love that site, Hank. Today's find is on the democratization of science, or the fall of experts from grace - what if we can't trust scientists and science? The article makes some thought-provoking points, whether you agree with all of the content or not.

In particular, I like this paragraph:
Our politics now seems to look to expertise more to buttress arguments than to answer questions. The result is that we use science to support value preferences, blurring the important distinction between science and morality. Our media, in giving attention to attacks on scientific work, may inadvertently (and in the partisan media, intentionally) elevate them in the public consciousness and foster the impression that all science is suspect. Our educational system, by failing in its job to teach us how to understand and properly evaluate the work of scientists, makes us inaccurate judges of the claims of expertise at best and cynics of those claims at worst. What we cannot understand, we
become willing to question - or ignore.
This reminds me of various citizen blogger versus paid journalist debates we've had on the site. I think something scientists and journalists and other "experts" have on their side is the objective method by which they gather information, which hopefully imparts some objectivity on the results.
If we become our own experts on important matters where science can lead to more informed judgments, we will too often substitute ignorance for insight. Science will become irrelevant and we'll be left with only our own value preferences.

A society that argues solely on the basis of values will soon find itself in conversations in which the majority will see little reason to listen to anyone else. Science is one of the few tools we have to confront majority opinion. The framers of our Constitution worried about the tyranny of the majority. We need to be equally worried. A majority that feels it can safely ignore science can create far more havoc than science itself, and it will then be woefully ill-equipped for the twenty-first century.

H/t to Huffington Post.