November 04, 2004
George W. Bush, Man of Science
What will science policy look like over the next four years?
by Ronald Bailey
"President Bush and his administration are compromising our future," declared an open letter by 48 Nobel Prize-winning scientists earlier this year. The Nobelists formed an unprecedented scientific lobbying group called Scientists and Engineers for Change. They decried President Bush for reducing scientific research funding, setting unwarranted restrictions on stem-cell research, ignoring the scientific consensus on critical issues such as global warming, and politicizing scientific advisory panels.
So what can we expect, now that the American public has granted President Bush four more years? As I peer deeply into my dusty crystal ball, I first foresee that unless there are soon clear-cut victories in the "War on Terrorism," scientific issues and policies will simply not occupy much of the attention of the public or policy makers. But let's look at some potential issues:Continue reading "George W. Bush, Man of Science"
October 28, 2004
Scientists say Bush is hurting research
Thursday, October 28, 2004
by Mike Lafferty
Taking a different tack on national security, two prominent researchers ripped the Bush administration yesterday for what they called scientific lapses that threaten the nation.
The scientists, speaking to about 40 people in Ohio State University’s Cockins Hall, said their worries extend far beyond concerns for stem-cell and climate-change research.
"We value things like peer review, data, evidence, argument. That’s not the kind of atmosphere and kind of procedures that have been noticeable with the (Bush) administration," Daniel Goroff, a Harvard mathematician and member of Scientists and Engineers for Change, said in an interview.Continue reading "Scientists say Bush is hurting research"
October 25, 2004
Scientists: Bush global warming stance invites stronger storms
by David Royse, Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A coalition of scientists and environmentalists is putting up billboards in the crucial swing-vote region of central Florida saying President Bush doesn't understand that global warming means stronger hurricanes.
The billboards, showing a satellite image of a menacing hurricane off the state's coast, come as many in central Florida are recovering from the state's worst hurricane season in generations.
The billboards say: "Global warming equals worse hurricanes. George Bush just doesn't get it."
The billboards are being paid for in part by "Scientists and Engineers for Change," an organization that includes 10 Nobel winners and two former presidential advisers. It has been critical of Bush in the past and has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.Continue reading "Scientists: Bush global warming stance invites stronger storms"
Vint Cerf: Concerns over packets and politics
by John Blau, IDG News Service, Düsseldorf Bureau
For a technologist, Vint Cerf is plenty opinionated.
In a telephone interview, Cerf -- often called "the father of the Internet" for his co-authoring of the formidable Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) -- fielded questions on an array of topics, including his disdain for the current U.S. administration's handling of science and technology issues. He's one of a few IT executives of this caliber willing to attach their names publicly to a political cause.
In his current function as senior vice president of technology strategy at MCI Inc., Cerf still has his finger on the pulse of the Net. He's concerned about the rise of cyber attacks and encourages everyone to scream at developers of buggy software. He's confident that IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) will come soon if for no other reason than China alone could someday devour more than a third of the Net addresses currently available with IPv4. And he prefers to avoid contributing to what he calls "the current hype" over VOIP (voice over IP) because, in his opinion, this new service is just one of many available via the Internet, whereas telephony is the main service in circuit-switched public networks.Continue reading "Vint Cerf: Concerns over packets and politics"
Two Nobel scientists campaign for 'change'
By Kristin Wilson, October 23, 2004
Two Nobel Prize-winning scientists visited Penn State Dickinson School of Law Friday to encourage people to vote on what they believe are critical election issues.
They are campaigning to increase awareness about scientific issues, including stem cell research.
"We see the Bush administration making important decisions in a totally nonscientific way," says Dr. Harold Varmus, who won a Nobel Prize in 1989 for studies surrounding the genetic basis of cancer. He is now president and chief executive officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Varmus and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Sidney Altman belong to "Scientists and Engineers For Change," formed to show the impact the 2004 presidential election could have on the future of U.S. science and technology. More than a dozen scientists will be visiting swing states leading up to the Nov. 2 election.Continue reading "Two Nobel scientists campaign for 'change'"
October 21, 2004
The Scientist: Scientists vow to vote out Bush
Still, despite press coverage of vocal opponents, there are Bush supporters among scientists
By Eugene Russo
RICHMOND, VA—If you've been following news coverage of how scientists plan to vote in this year's presidential election, you might be forgiven for thinking that many—if not most—are doing everything they can to unseat George Bush.
There's the Bush administration's stance on embryonic stem cell research, which many scientists say is too restrictive. And there's the scientific review process and the appointment process for those scientists who serve on committees. Speaking at an October 13 talk here at Virginia Commonwealth University sponsored by Scientists and Engineers for Change, Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach said that the administration has "put a political clamp" on the research enterprise with a "Soviet-style" handling of science policy. The group, many of whose members were among 48 Nobel Prize winners who signed a July letter supporting Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for president, has been hosting such meetings around the country in which speakers express various anti-Bush sentiments. Groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have issued reports condemning how the Bush administration has tackled science.Continue reading "The Scientist: Scientists vow to vote out Bush"
October 18, 2004
Newsweek: Stem Cell Division
In this razor-thin election, the arcane subject of embryonic-stem-cell research has rallied lawmakers, scientists, patients, celebrities—and the candidates. The issue may cause some voters to swing
By Claudia Kalb and Debra Rosenberg
Oct. 25 issue - Stem cells may not have been the highlight of last week's presidential debate, but there in the front row, wedged between Teresa Heinz Kerry and Kerry's daughter Vanessa, sat a person who stands for the power of science better than words ever could: Michael J. Fox. Diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 and visibly ailing, Fox is a staunch supporter of stem-cell research and has, in recent weeks, become Sen. John Kerry's ambassador for the cause. It didn't bother Fox that the subject barely came up or that his presence was largely symbolic. "I'm happy I could do it. If anyone saw me there, they know that the issue is important to [Kerry]," he told NEWSWEEK. A political junkie who watches C-Span as if it were reality TV, Fox was thrilled to have a ringside seat. He even had some fun: when Vanessa leaned over to tell Fox she was "trying to be Zen" as her father and President George W. Bush went after each other on jobs, the economy and health care, Fox put his hands into the lotus position and said, "Om."
Watching Fox, it was impossible not to think of Christopher Reeve, who died last week at the age of 52. A tireless advocate for stem-cell research—"Superman in a wheelchair," as one friend called him—Reeve's death refocused attention on an issue that has mobilized celebrities, activists, scientists, politicians and even regular folks who barely remember their high-school biology. Human embryonic stem cells, capable of morphing into any one of the more than 200 cell types in the human body, have become a wedge issue in a razor-thin election. For months the Kerry campaign has put biology front and center, vowing to overturn Bush's current stem-cell policy. In a radio address over the weekend, Kerry paid tribute to Reeve as a hero and friend, then charged the president with making "the wrong choice to sacrifice science for extreme right-wing ideology." The White House has been firmly fighting back, with Laura Bush, whose father has Alzheimer's, on the front lines. "Stem-cell research doesn't offer a cure right around the corner, and it's irresponsible to suggest that it does," she told a crowd in Milwaukee earlier this month. The president says his policy is a balance of science and ethics. That pleases social conservatives, who are firmly anti-abortion and adamantly opposed to research on embryos, even if they're manufactured in a petri dish. (According to a NEWSWEEK Poll, just over half of all Bush-Cheney supporters oppose using federal tax dollars to fund embryonic-stem-cell research.) For both camps, the phrase "stem cells" is about more than science: it's code for some of the most loaded vernacular of the culture war.Continue reading "Newsweek: Stem Cell Division"
October 15, 2004
Scientists say Bush distorts knowledge to advance political agenda
Thursday, October 14, 2004
by John Mangels, Plain Dealer Science Writer
Nearly lost in the campaign clamor over Iraq, the economy and the presidential candidates' Vietnam service, many of the nation's scientists are charging that the Bush administration has misused science to advance its political agenda.
More than 5,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel Prize winners and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences, have signed a letter calling on the president to end "the distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends." Some of the most prominent researchers, Republican and Democrat, recently formed a so-called "527" advocacy group to alert the public about their concerns.Continue reading "Scientists say Bush distorts knowledge to advance political agenda"
October 08, 2004
Anti-Bush Bandwagon Rolling, but Does it Matter?
by Marty Logan
MONTREAL, Oct 7 (IPS) - Add the names of some of the most honoured ''brains'' in the United States to the rock & rollers and billionaires who have launched tours designed to beat President George W. Bush in November's election.
The scientists who include five Nobel Prize winners have assembled under the banner Scientists and Engineers for Change, ''to ensure that public policy issues affected by science and technology are widely discussed, and to mobilise the nation's scientists and engineers to participate in the political process,'' according to a news release.
Their lecture tour of 10 states where the race between the Republican Party's Bush and Democrat Senator John Kerry is tightest began last week, just days before Bruce Springsteen launched an all-star team of new and old musicians on a series of concerts in some of the same states.Continue reading "Anti-Bush Bandwagon Rolling, but Does it Matter?"
October 06, 2004
Scientists and Engineers for Change
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
They may not be as hot as Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks and other musicians participating in the "Vote for Change" concert tour launching next month in swing states, but the newly-formed group, Scientists and Engineers for Change, plans to harness its formidable brainpower to make the case that Bush has manipulated and politicized science in dangerous and unprecedented ways.
Like their musical counterparts, these scientists--ten of them are Nobel Prize winners--will crisscross the battleground states to argue against a Bush election. They won't be singing or playing guitar but they will be educating voters about the threat a second Bush term poses for honest scientific inquiry in the 21st century. The group, which has no ties to the Kerry campaign, includes a registered Republican and several scientists who are not members of the Democratic Party.
As Nobel prize winner Dr. Douglas Osheroff put it, "I have never played a significant role in politics, but we must begin to address climate change now. To do so, we must have an Administration that listens to the scientific community, not one that manipulates and minimizes scientific output." In case, you needed to be reminded of the key elements of Bush's war on science, please click here to check out my weblog of last July 20.
Remembering Our History
In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, historian Peter J. Kuznick has a must-read essay about the last election in which scientists got heavily mobilized. The year was 1964, and a vast number of leading American scientists decried Republican candidate Barry Goldwater for his nuclear bluster, which they considered a grave danger to the world. Most notably, many of the original makers of the A-bomb aligned against a political candidate they feared might use it. Scientists and Engineers for Johnson-Humphrey had a powerful impact on the election and Goldwater's resounding defeat.
Fast forward to the present. Although Kuznick does not seem to agree, I would say that we find scientists more electorally motivated today than they've been since 1964. Granted, the issues are very different. Scientists are angry about embryonic stem cell research and climate change, as well as the administration's disregard for their expertise. Nuclear weapons policy provides part of the impetus for scientists' discontent, but only a small part.