I was going to ask this within another discussion, but I think it deserves one of it's own.
Is the human being as a whole known truly by science or by politics? The two cannot go together ultimately.
Maths can help politicians work the numbers--polling can replace public opinion. So also science benefits from democracy's inherent materialism & greed.
What is the political model of science? Tyranny of the wise. If I disagree with a mathematician on mathematics, he does not care--I'm not a mathematician. If millions who also are not mathematicians disagree--he still does not care. Only mathematicians' opinions matter, & even then they had better have proofs in a conventional language; or something like that.
It's impossible to understand politics without understanding its fundamental opposition to modern science; it is impossible to understand modern politics without understanding its apolitical endgame.
A great politician cannot simultaneously be prudent and yet believe that water is H2O? Does his sense of justice necessarily designate his least favorite color as an accident?
I've been listening (audiobooking while I drive, actual reading time is spent on medical books) to a lot of books about US presidents. I've gone through biographies of TR, Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, and am currently over halfway into one on Kennedy (Either FDR or Lincoln is next I think). I also listened to one of Obama's (Audacity).
I don't know what the word is but whatever describes the characteristic that makes a guy follow his plan that he is sure is right and not change it because of how he thinks he will be perceived personally.
Take Bush. Reading Bush's autobio tells me he felt pretty damn sure about the path he was taking in Iraq and despite being called an idiot by much of the free world at the time (including myself I would admit), he stuck to what he thought was the right path for his country. Who knows, maybe 50 years from now we'll be thinking he was right. Contrast this with how Obama shifted gears when the public complained about his reaction (or lack there of) to the BP oil spill. I know this is a minor example but its the only one I can think of at the moment.
Whether either Bush or Obama will ever be considered 'great' is too soon to call. For that we have to go back and pick greats from history. Take Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt for example. Few would doubt their greatness today yet both spent as much of their careers being despised by the voters as they spent being loved. They never changed their focus but popular opinion did (sometimes switching from love to hate and back to love depending on the time period).
I know politicians need to be popular to get elected. But once they are I think they need to worry less about their polls and more about doing what is right. They may never get re-elected and therefore are technically not a 'good' politician but without that element I don't think they will ever be great.
I'd be great in the political arena. My motto? "Bring on the pork barrel spending because I'm not kosher!"
A great politician understands power, pure and simple. What it is, how to get it, how to keep it, how to use it, and what to use it for.
The great politician is not a man who calls water H2O--that is too abstract a way of thinking about water. It is especially removed from the phenomena. Politics requires understanding that things seem--& to understand the seeming that things do. The human perspective, politics implies, must be defended. Scientific abstractions may be necessary, but necessity only excuses them. In politics, justice is what matters, & science is unjust to human beings.
I think you're being too fundamentalist about this. H2O is a human perspective, too, and if H2O is too abstract a way to think of water, then wouldn't politics be too abstract a way of thinking about justice? Or prudence? H2O is no less a phenomenon than water. Water seems to flow, but water also seems to have one hydrogen and two oxygen molecules, when you pay enough attention, and that can greatly help a politician know something more about what is just for his city's aqueducts, for instance.
Scientific inquiry requires an abstraction from the human perspective that sacrifices it in its entirety. That's not paying attention. The payoff is significant: Scientific power, scientific knowledge--the modern world could exist without it, but it would be very different; my bet is it would not be democratic.
Paying attention means seeing better or farther than people do, but in the same way--without sacrificing the human perspective, without abstracting from the opinions & even the language of the polity. The wisest man is still human in the sense in which people are human. That's what political philosophy does, & political science tries to do--if they exist, that is to say, or if they are mere pretense, or noble illusions, then it is nevertheless true that that's what politicians do.
Consider your claim about justice for aqueducts. In a basic sense, it's stupid, ridiculous: Justice is about how people treat each other. But when I think about it, it seems to me you are making a fundamental point about the relation between knowledge & action. That's neither stupid nor yet ridiculous. In fact, it seems to me worth the talking...
But you are deluding yourself or your audience about the political presumption--helping a politician, & therefore helping the people, too, & all mankind--because your political presumption is really the tyranny of the wise. It's impossible for a politician to know all that expert scientists know; it is impossible for him to claim knowledge by scientific standards; & it is therefore irrational for them to obey him--he should obey them, as should everyone. There is scientific truth about the human body, not just about water. Whatever you have scientific knowledge about requires the rule of scientists--they have the most popular claim to knowledge & they have a pretty strong claim to objectivity, which is close to saying they are incorruptible, or could be, theoretically. Why should politicians rule scientists?
When you say 'human perspective', I must have no idea what you're talking about. Why wouldn't it include the obviously human perspective of measured observation of empirical evidence? Your description of such methods as tyrannical is mere hyperbole, and your description of the human perspective seems something like denial.
Scientific knowledge does not require the rule of a scientist, not in the way you mean so as to follow it with "why should politicians rule scientists?" That's simply an equivocation of the word "rule". If that was the case, why should politicians rule anyone, as we are all rulers of our own knowledge?
You are right when you say that scientists do, generally at least, have a strong claim to objectivity, but to say they are near incorruptible is as much of a mistake as to say a politician is incorruptible. Neither politician nor scientist can make a claim to divine justice or knowledge, the difference is a politician often does it anyway. However, you haven't demonstrated that it is actually impossible for a politician to claim knowledge by scientific standards, you only said it.
Empirical evidence is a very derivative, abstract concept, already depending on empiricism &, more worrying, on what is meant by proof or evidence--standards of proof & evidence which are required for scientific knowledge, for example. If you were to call it observation, looking at things trying to figure them out--that obviously is part of the human perspective--that is what theory in the original sense means. Measurement is more complicated--being given to abstraction--but at least in a basic sense, yes, it is--remember the imperial system of measurement... Perhaps modern science's popularity has made it impossible for people to see the obvious. The phenomena make up the human perspective; what appears, that is to say; if you need to be crass, things available to the naked eye, to the senses. Science constructs constructs you think about--but they are not themselves part of the human perspective. DNA & atoms are derivative of scientific assumptions & experiments that have nothing to do with the human perspective. Politics is not like that; you could say politics adds opinions to the facts, but in reality the opinions are already there in the phenomena--dogs do not appear simply as dogs to human beings, but as hunting dogs or guardian dogs or fighting dogs, & as property--in short, they suggest, but do not create, a political context, being part of the human things. Facts & opinions are inextricably connected in the human perspective, because it implies that to be human is good, privileged.
Now, what I meant by scientific tyranny is this, if wisdom is a title to rule in the true sense of the word, then obviously scientists should tyrannize everyone--for everyone's good. I said objectivity is close to incorruptibility; perhaps even scientists are fallible mortals, almost human, but the connection between the two is an insight you may want to follow... Finally, the proof is the saying: Politicians in America are men elected to office, & maybe reelected, who conduct the public's business on their understanding of it & their ability to persuade the public to vote, & all sorts of people to work for them or with them. The peculiarities of politics seem to be that voting is required & that the threat of killing is always there in the doings of politics. Disagree with what politicians typically do--the laws--& you end up in jail... What part of that has anything to do with science? What part of American politics has changed because of science? If common sense doesn't teach you the massive gulf, at least ask yourself this: From the point of view of science, does the politician have knowledge?