Is Science Politicized?

Of course it is. And, as Ron Bailey points out, there’s never been a time when it wasn’t, for all the reasons he describes and more, and the Dems are just as (if not more) guilty of this than the Bush administration (contra Chris Mooney’s ideologically blinkered thesis).

The same applies to space “science” (though in fact much of NASA spending has very little to do with science, despite the popular myth). And in light of how something as supposedly objective as “science” can get politicized, it’s foolish to think that major government-funded engineering projects (like the president’s Vision for Space Exploration) aren’t, or that the politics don’t drive the architecture decisions much more strongly than economics or the loftier goal of building a space-faring civilization.

It may indeed be the case that the “stick” and a Shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicle are necessary to maintain (at least in the short term) Congressional support for the overall program (though that’s not at all clear to me), but we shouldn’t fool ourselves that this will result in significant progress in our space capabilities, particularly relative to more flexible, versatile, diverse and ultimately lower-cost means of achieving the desired goals.