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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Science should advise public policy

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

12-12-2007 10:36 CST

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I generally try to avoid "getting political," because one of the most striking (to my mind) results of a survey we recently did on our members showed a pretty much Gaussian distribution of political ideologies among them -- about a third centrist, about a fifth each identifying liberal or conservative, and a minority each identifying very liberal or very conservative. I and the Society thus focus our political efforts on policymakers of any political ideology who are in a position to advance the cause of peaceful, international efforts to explore the planets and search for life elsewhere in the universe. However, here is a cause I can get behind, because I think that no matter your political leanings, anyone who is reading this weblog should support the notion that good science (and, I would argue more generally, good research, conducted using well-designed protocols, and peer-reviewed before publication) should play a role in advising public policy, whether it be on space exploration, health care, environmental issues, social policy, whatever. There's an organization called Sciencedebate2008 that is calling for the candidates for the U.S. presidency to participate in a televised debate focused specifically on science, and I'm raising my hand to support that cause.

 
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