Over at Front Porch Republic, Mark Mitchell cautions us against reckless displays of patriotism. Here’s my whimsical recasting of his introduction:
If you are planning to engage in science outreach, here’s a word of advice: you must assert regularly and with great conviction your belief in Scientific Exceptionalism. This seems especially true if you are vying for leadership in a scientific society. The particular phrasing varies a bit, but the general message is the same: science is the greatest force in history; science has done more good for the world than anything else in history; science is the envy of the humanities and arts because it is unique. The flip side of these assertions is less often stated but present nonetheless: don’t question the goodness of science; being pro-science means supporting anything academic basic researchers want; criticism of anything they say is anti-science.
Who needs nuance when you’ve got exceptionalism? Why show humility if you’re convinced that science is a “means to freedom?” I hope scientists realize some grad students leave precisely because they can’t stand this attitude.