Chris Mooney was just at YearlyKos (next year, I swear, I’ll try to go) and wrote his experiences up at HuffPo. He is describing science versus the fantasy-thinking practiced by this White House, and describes it thus:
In other words, you might say that now more than ever before, we’re finally waking up to the fact that the practices of science themselves encode a set of values – a way of approaching the world, understanding it, and acting within it. At its core, it’s a world view that is humble about what we know and don’t know, flexible about what we do and don’t decide to do, and open about admitting past mistakes and listening to contrary opinion. In short, it’s the utter opposite of Bush’s stubborn, inflexible, unwavering certainty about everything.
This is absolutely 100% precisely correct (and I admit being so certain of that may be somewhat ironic).
These are exactly the strengths of science. Many fundamentalist religions want the Universe to be simple, simple enough to be precisely and inerrantly documented in books written thousands of years ago, and simple enough to explain to people in a misleading way that can convince them to do things contrary to their own (and humanity’s) self-interest.
Science is the diametric opposite of that. Reality-based people know the Universe is complicated, that the first explanation that comes to mind might not be the right one, that things can be nuanced, that finding answers means revealing more and ever-subtler questions.
Reality is complicated, and offers little comfort except the fun of the pursuit of understanding, and sometimes – not always, but sometimes – the incredible satisfaction of actually attaining that understanding.