The relationship between Science and Democracy

Science and evidence have long been used to
better society. Scientific advancements have lead to more
effective medicine, transportation, and communication, just to name a few. But science also plays a crucial role in our
democracy. The discovery and spread of facts and evidence
serves as a check against those in power. Science empowers us to hold our government
accountable by providing the information needed to evaluate their actions and decisions. However, since science can expose information
that may be inconvenient for those in power, science can come under attack. In Canada and other countries, we have seen
governments shut out and shut down science that threatened their agendas. We saw this in Canada with the muzzling of
government scientists and defunding of research programs. It is vital for scientists to be able to speak
openly and freely to the public. When scientists can’t tell the public the
findings of their work, governments can make decisions that go unchecked by scientific
evidence. Communicating science demystifies its process
and results for the public. This allows citizens to act and organize around
relevant issues to create real change and influence government policy and direction. Not to mention that most science is funded
by taxpayers, so of course we should have access to it, it is our science! Roles like science advisors help link the
scientific community with the highest levels of government, further strengthening this
relationship between society, science, and government. But if research programs dwindle and die they
can no longer produce the evidence that is integral to supporting or refuting claims
made by those in power. And decision-makers are left making choices
in the dark. When used properly, science can influence
policy, which results in a safer and more conscientious environment for all of us to
live in. A thriving science system that is well-funded
and open to the public is essential to a strong democracy. You can’t have one without the other. Strong science, strong democracy.

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