April 13, 2024

Obama courts scientists

Science is about “protecting free and open inquiry”

Bioethics isn’t just
about science, but about the human uses of science. There’s always
a danger of neglecting the ethical dimension because of our
fascination with new technology. Is Barack Obama in danger of
succumbing? Hopefully not, but a speech in late December suggests
that his rhetorical gifts can sometimes outrun his commonsense.
“Today, more than ever before,” he said, “science holds the key
to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a
nation.” Not economics or politics?

Perhaps it is a sign
that the incoming President is going out of his way to court the
favour of scientists. Intially, at least, it won’t be hard, as many
of them believe that the Bush Administration conducted a “war on
science”. So Mr Obama had soaring words for his science supporters:
“The truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing
resources—it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s
about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured
by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our
scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient—especially
when it’s inconvenient.” ~
Dec 20