Before Overbye spirals off into an elaboration on China's problems, he lays out values that are essential both for science and democracy:
“Those values, among others, are honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view.”
I agree with him on that, but this is about were similarities end. In its function, democracy serves an entirely different purpose than science, and it uses a different mechanism to reach this aim.
Democracy, as other forms of government, is a way to take people's opinions and come to a common conclusion about what to do, which eventually reflects in the organization of people's lives. In a monarchy, this process is pretty simple: neglect everybody's opinion except that of the king. In a grassroots democracy you might sum everything up and take the majority opinion. In a representative democracy the process is quite involved. It gets even more complicated due to the constraint that legislation should be self-consistent.
The aim of science on the other hand is not to come to a common conclusion about people's opinions by whatever mechanism. The aim is to come to a common conclusion about Nature. The decisions in the end are not made by scientists, but by the evidence we have gathered, whether we like that or not. In this process, opinions hopefully come to largely agree on some insights that then enter the established body of knowledge. Ideally, the evidence becomes so clear that virtually nobody in his right might holds differing opinions.
But if you want to know what the scientific opinion is on a matter that has not yet been settled, you are not going to get a reply in unison. (Possibly not even if you ask one single person.) Indeed, if that was the case it would pretty much mean that science is completely disfunct. Instead, you might be offered a selection of different approaches and their pros and cons, the present status of research and the lacking pieces of the puzzle. But there is no formal process by which a decision about open question is made.
There are certainly also in politics questions that are highly discussed during some period, and later become pretty much settled. Think about slavery, women's right to vote, or homosexual's right to marry. (Well, there are so-called 'civilized' countries that are a bit behind on some of these issues.) But these are questions of opinion, opinions that evidently change over time, and as much as you'd want to argue such neither opinion is “wrong” in the scientific sense as that it can be falsified by experiment.
What I had been writing about in my earlier posts (eg here or more recently here) is a different aspect of democracy in science, which does not address the question of how a scientific fact becomes established, but about the process of knowledge discovery itself. As I have argued many times, the present organization of scientific research leads to an inefficient use of human, financial and time resources. Besides inertia, the dominant reason for this state of affairs to prevail is that scientists have virtually no influence of how the system they operate in is organized. That, sad as it is, currupts the status of the above quoted values Overbye ranks so highly.
Overbye has further many nice words for scientists - he goes so far to praises science as “the most successful human activity of all time.” I would have thought the most successful human activity is sex. But maybe I am confusing matters.