Scientists Form Group To Enter Political Debate
A group of scientists on Wednesday announced the formation of an organization that aims to elect politicians "who respect evidence and understand the importance of using scientific engineering advice in making public policy," the New York Times reports.
Organizers of the group Scientists and Engineers for America said it would be a nonpartisan organization. However, during interviews, group members said SEA was created out of concern over several Bush administration policies, including positions on climate change, stem cell research and over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the group said scientists and engineers have an obligation "to enter the political debate when the nation's leaders systematically ignore scientific evidence and analysis, put ideological interest ahead of scientific truths, suppress valid scientific evidence and harass and threaten scientists for speaking honestly about their research." SEA said that scientists who receive federal funds should be able to discuss their work publicly and that appointments to federal scientific advisory committees should be based solely on scientific qualifications, not political ideologies.
In addition, the group said the government should not support science education programs that "include concepts that are derived from ideology."
SEA Executive Director Mike Brown said the group will focus on political races that involve science policies (Dean, New York Times, 9/28) The group has 10 members and a budget of $250,000 (Nesmith, Cox/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/28).
Members include John Gibbons and Neal Lane, former science advisers in the Clinton administration; Nobel laureates Peter Agre and Alfred Gilman; and Susan Wood, who resigned from FDA last year after the agency delayed the approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception (New York Times, 9/28).