I, like many other scientists, participated in the March for Science this past month. Today I wanted to mention briefly my reasons for participating in the March. There are some good questions being raised in the scientific community about whether or not scientists should be involved in politics or influencing public policy. In my personal, humble, opinion people who think that science is “above politics” are full of themselves. We are all human beings, we all have our own goals and we want to have input on public policy because, by its nature, it affects us. I had the great opportunity last Friday to meet with Dr. Franklin Carrero-Martinez, the Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State. Dr. Carrero is a scientist by training and one who is now heavily involved in helping the State Department determine what to do with scientific information. This does not mean hiding any information or presenting a biased view but it does mean forming an opinion and making a decision based on a fair reading of the facts. That’s what I was marching for, a fair reading of the facts. In the field of public policy, opinions should not be formed and then backed up with data after the fact. All facts should be debated and an opinion should be formed from that debate. Of course, new data can always help us to refine or even change our opinions. In my mind, however, the failure to form an opinion and failure to take decisive action is a failure in leadership. So again, I’ll call on everyone to please get involved in scientific research and to think about how it affects your daily life.
Thanks for reading,