Federal regulatory policies, whether made by Congress or Executive branch agencies, benefit from the contributions of physical, biological and social scientists. But these contributions are not without controversy because science can inform, but not resolve, policy questions. Policymakers politicize science when they interfere with science, such as by telling scientists what “answers” they are supposed to obtain. Scientists are susceptible to the opposite temptation; they scientize policy when they interfere with policymaking, such as by telling policymakers what policies “science” supports.
In the news this week are examples of two signal efforts to scientize policy.