In fact, science clashes with the democratic ideal. Though it is meritocratic, it is practiced in the elite and effete world of academe, leaving the vast majority of citizens unable to contribute to it in any meaningful way. Science is about freedom of thought, yet at the same time it imposes a tyranny of ideas.
In a democracy, ideas are protected. It's the sacred right of a citizen to hold — and to disseminate — beliefs that the majority disagrees with, ideas that are abhorrent, ideas that are wrong. However, scientists are not free to be completely open minded; a scientist stops becoming a scientist if he clings to discredited notions. The basic scientific urge to falsify, to disprove, to discredit ideas clashes with the democratic drive to tolerate and protect them.
Read the previous quote of the week.