Monday, July 16, 2007

Defending Science

As you well know by now, I am in favor of the responsible advancement of science and technology. But not everyone, it seems, shares my opinion. In particular, the current government administration in this country seems to put politics before scientific and technological advancement, and for that reason, the people at Defend Science are on the march.

From their latest e-mail:

No doubt you have heard of the recent testimony of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 10, 2007. Dr. Carmona’s testimony was stunning exposure of the Bush Administration’s willingness to deny scientific truth in the pursuit of a political agenda. Defend Science is calling on people to voice their opinion to newspapers throughout the country with letters expressing outrage at not only the overt politicization of science to an unprecedented level, but its outright denial. As the Defend Science statement says, we must all “insist on an atmosphere where scientists are allowed to seek the truth, even when the truth conflicts with the views and policies of those in power... where science education and the popularization of the scientific method are valued...”

In his testimony Dr. Carmona stated that the discussion in the Bush Administration around stem cell research was “devoid of science” and that the policy around sex education was to “preach abstinence which I felt was scientifically incorrect.” He further revealed that his speeches were vetted for political content and his attempt to educate the public about issues ranging from stem cells to sex education “blocked at every turn.” In each case, Dr. Carmona indicated that science is denied in the face of political, ideological and theological considerations.

Check out for media coverage and links to excerpts from the testimony, and add your voice to the discussion. Dr. Carmona’s testimony alone is an indictment of the Bush Administration’s public health policy, but it also points to the broader issue of why we need to defend science. There is an unrelenting assault on people's access to scientific knowledge, to the scientific method and approach to knowing about the world, to the scientific spirit. The more letters we write to local papers exposing and opposing this agenda the bigger the impact on the public discourse around the critical issue of defending science we will have.

We at Defend Science would appreciate your help in keeping us abreast of this effort. Please send us copies of your letters (send to multiple publications if you can), any posting you make to blogs or comment sections, and similar public outlets--and be sure to identify where you submitted the pieces. And let us know if your letter is published!

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