Science as Democratizer

How might science engender democracy? I’d like to suggest two mechanisms: first, by changing the way people think; second, by altering the interaction among those who make up the community. The more scientifically literate people become, the more they will expect, even demand to participate in the political process, and the more effective they will be at it. Such social evolution may be slow, nonlinear and chaotic, and periodically may even reverse course, but it is probably also inexorable, as the recent history of the former Soviet Union and other Communist countries in Europe shows.
Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Science as Democratizer (American Scientist)

Aligned against science: “individual alienation, religious fundamentalism, extreme environmentalism, and even elements of postmodern scholarship”. While doctors and inventors are often romanticized, the myth of the “mad scientist” permeates the humanities.

Please don’t interpret the following comment as my attempt to brand Kuhn a mad scientist (he’s clearly not)… but Kuhn’ s earnest vision of the heroic scientist stands in the way of social chaos — is the germ of truth behind the “mad scientist” mythology.

To his great credit, Kuhn addresses this issue in the following passage: “When citizens can distinguish among proof, likelihood, opinion and hope—and get into the habit of so doing—democracy cannot long be kept from them.”


Update: 22 Aug. I should have used Frank J. Tipler as an example of a scientist whose rhetoric doesn’t need much exaggeration to be seen shaking his fist and shouting, “Fools! I shall crush them all!”