by Greg Mayer
Jerry had written earlier about a piece in the New York Times by Dennis Overbye heralding the restoration of science to its rightful place promised by President Obama in his inaugural address. I, too, was thrilled when I heard the new president’s words while watching the speech with a throng of travellers at an airport bar in Philadelphia. Perceptively, Overbye wrote, “Science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth.”
Well, the search for truth by the federal government has resumed. Having reversed or modified some specific Bush administration policies, Obama has now issued a general memorandum on scientific integrity:
Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security.
The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions. If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public. To the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking. The selection of scientists and technology professionals for positions in the executive branch should be based on their scientific and technological knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity.
Update: From Obama’s statement on stem cell research, a clear sign that he understands how research goes, and what a “miracle” is:
Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research, from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit, and from a government willing to support that work.