September 27, 2004
Joy Howell: I'd like to welcome you all to the launch of Scientists and Engineers for Change. It's a new political committee formed to ensure that critical issues involving the management of science and technology are included in the election debate, and to mobilize scientists, engineers and technologists to participate in the political process. You will hear from three of the leaders in the scientific and engineering communities today on this call. They are just a representative sample of the participants in this new organization that includes among its founding members, ten Nobel laureates, a former presidential science advisor and part of the National Science Foundation and a national Medal of Technology winner also widely recognized as one of the fathers of the internet. Since there are many scientists and technologists who have not yet won a Nobel Prize, and many of the Nobelists wanted to be more politically active, Scientists and Engineers for Change were formed as an independent committee, which is organizing lectures by prominent scientists and technologists around the US. The first 18 of these events are being announced today, but more are on the way. The names of the first two dozen prominent scholars and engineers who have agreed to participate are also being released today, which you will find on our website at scientistsandengineersforchange.org.
Now I would like to introduce you to the three people you will be hearing from today: Dr. Vint Cerf, is one of the principal architects of the internet and Chair of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN. He will speak first, followed by Dr. Margaret Hamburg, formerly Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. Finally, Dr. Douglas Osheroff, a Nobel Prize winning professor at Stanford will address you, and then we will take your questions. Dr. Cerf, the floor is yours.
Dr. Vint Cerf: Thank you very much Joy, and good day to all of you. Thank you for joining us. I guess I'd like to start out by saying that science counts and it has not counted sufficiently in this administration. I'm a registered Republican, but I'm so concerned about the treatment of science in this administration, that I've joined the Scientists and Engineers for Change in the hope that we bring debate in science and technology into the political debate so that the electorate understands the importance that it has in our society. I think we'd all agree that innovation and invention have been critical to American economic growth for generations, driven productivity and high wage jobs and the US can't afford to fall behind. But, US leadership is at risk because of poor management at the national level. I think you'd agree too, that research is critical to stimulating a continuing flow of inventions and that federal research is essential. I know that because I was fortunate enough to work in the defense department and I helped to invent what's now known as the internet.
The risks were so high with this new technology, that only the federal government was willing to make the investment. And it's true that there's been a boom and a bust in the information and communications business, but that's a risk you always take with radical new technology. No one today would seriously doubt that the information revolution has changed the world. The fact that American inventions led this revolution has been essential to maintaining our economic success, although I have to admit I've been personally involved in the ups and downs of this business, having been associated with the telecom industry for some time. In fact, some of my friends in the telecom industry who know that the internet is really turning telecom topsy-turvy have looked at me and said "what were you thinking?" at the point where we were starting to view this development and turn it into a productive commercial system. Frankly, telecommunications really is being turned on its head by technologies like the internet and we need to reexamine all of the legislation and regulation that goes along with it. But that's another specific example of how science, technology and engineering need to influence the development of policy.
Most of the investment now is private, but federal research was essential at the beginning, as it always seems to be in high risk situations. But now we're at risk of losing the edge because funds for basic research are drying up. Instead of increasing the basic research in the defense department, the Bush administration seems to be planning a major reduction in basic R & D. Instead of doubling the NSF budget, as was recommended by broadly supported legislation last year, NSF's budget is likely to fall. These advanced technology programs and manufacturing extension partnership programs are being cut. Quite honestly, I think if Kerry is elected, I believe he will fulfill his commitment to extend the research and experiment, tax credit, provide substantial research increases for clean energy, medicine advance manufacturing information technology, nanotechnology and other areas of advanced technology to help sustain job growth in the high tech sector. So, that's why I'm on this call and that's why I'm part of this group. Joy, I'll turn it back to you.
Joy Howell: Dr. Cerf. Thank you so much, Dr. Cerf. Could we now hear from Dr. Hamburg?
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: Okay, thank you very much. Well, like Dr. Cerf, I come to this group because of great concerns about how we are supporting science, how we are using science, and what we are failing to achieve despite knowledge and capacity in the scientific arena because of dangerous blurring of ideology and science. I have worked both as a political appointee under Democratic leaders and Republican leaders, so it's not pure politics that brings me to this. I also, in all honestly, have avoided getting involved in political activities to the degree possible, because I really felt that I could most effectively do my job, first as Health Commissioner in New York City and then as an Assistant Secretary to the HHS, by sticking as close as I could to good science and good public health practice.
I think we all recognize that good science is key to perfecting health and preventing disease. It's also an underpinning of public safety and in the modern era, national and international security. And I'm sure that the American public's best interests are being compromised. It's a matter of ensuring that we translate the best possible scientific, medical and public health knowledge into practice, that we protect the health and credibility of our scientific research enterprise so that we can continue to make the enormous advances in scientific understanding and capacities, they're the foundation of future health and well-being, and also, as Dr. Cerf indicated, the health and credibility of our scientific enterprise is key to our economic productivity and our place in the world. So, when you look across a number of critical domains, we can see serious reasons for concern. If you look at the composition of scientific committees and advisory boards under this administration, if you look at important policies and programs, if you look at support for scientific research, both in terms of dollars, but also in terms of interference with ongoing research in some significant ways and also look at other areas of important support for public health, I think we really are at a critical crossroads for our nation and for global public health.
Let me just mention a few examples, since I was asked to be brief. There are many instances where we have now seen inappropriate appointments to important scientific advisory boards, whether it's the HHS Advisory Committee on lead poisoning where we've seen people with scant scientific credentials, but critical ties to industry; we've seen recent dismissals from the bio-ethics council after vetting for positions on key issues like stem cell research, and we've seen the fact that there have been efforts made to put people into critical leadership roles on the basis of their views on non-science issues or non-scientifically based issues such as the recent attempt to appoint an individual as head of the FDA Reproductive Health Drug Advisory Committee, who basically espouses that women read the Bible for treatment of premenstrual syndrome and other things. So, those issues clearly begin to raise your eyebrows about our science policy. Then you look at several critical areas of programmatic activity and you can see that unfortunately the position of ideology over evidence and bias over science is increasingly real. The CDC and the State Department USA ID websites have removed information on the use and efficacy of condoms and replaced it with information that instead, stresses what we don't know rather than what we do know about the role of condoms in preventing HIV transmission and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Information on the National Cancer Institution website that spoke to concerns that have been raised in the past about a possible risk of breast cancer linked to abortions was removed. We've seen, in terms of funding for critical programs, restrictions that limit the ability to make a difference in the lives of real people, linking HIV/AIDS funding to abstinence only programs, for example, cutting finance for International Family Planning groups that provide information or counseling about abortion. We've seen other examples in the international realm of restricting federal scientists from serving as advisors to WHO, unless they are appointed officially by leadership at that agency and restricting the participation of federal scientists in important international meetings. Also, of course, we've seen interference with ongoing research, we all recognize the scientific potential of stem cell research and it recently was acknowledged by the NIH director of stem cell research and the administration may have misinformed the public about the number of viable human embryonic stem cell lines available for research. They initially claimed that there were 60 stem cell lines available for research. Soon thereafter, HHS Secretary, Tommy Thompson did indicate that the number was actually lower in terms of viable cell lines for research - probably somewhere around 24 or 25 - and then, last spring, the NIH director indicated that there really are only 11 available and if you further being complicated by the fact that those worried about…with my feeder cells and really won't be appropriate for human use.
Finally, looking at the issue of funding for scientific research, we all recognize the significant increases in the NIH budget in recent years and that is reflected in the important bipartisan effort and it's very important that there are concerns emerging for the future. The actual budget, while it's been on this significant increase, is slated to decline. They're also, of course, are issues about critical areas of research that remain under funded. But, in addition to dollars for research, we need to make sure that adequate dollars are going to the frontline. I want to just mention one concern there in the area of public health, which is the area of my greatest professional focus. We face an array of serious, potentially catastrophic public health threats, both natural and deliberately caused in the form of bio-terrorism. It is well recognized that our public health is in need of repair. There were very significant, important initial increases in dollars for bio-terrorism after the fall of 2001, but 3 years later, we're not staying the course. We have not achieved critical capacities at the local, state and federal level and we're seeing at a critical time for this whole array of serious public health threats, an actual decrease in the CDC budget, including about $100 million in the bio-terrorism area, as well in other important domains. So, in my view, this is a critical juncture in terms of the health of science, medicine and public health and if we don't address it aggressively, we will surely pay the price.
Joy Howell: Okay, thank you very much, Dr. Hamburg. Dr. Osheroff?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: Yes, thank you very much, Joy. First let me say that I am not a Democrat and I have never played a significant role in politics. I joined Scientists and Engineers for Change because I am concerned about the attitudes and policies of the Bush administration on science and energy, amongst other things, and feel that another four years of these policies will have serious consequences, both for the United States and the world as a whole. 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 input on key national and international issues. The Bush administration's energy plan relies heavily on subsidizing conventional methods of producing fossil fuels, waiving environmental rules in Alaska and other regions to produce comparatively small amounts of energy. He has proposed dramatic cuts in funding for the most cost-effective solution year term for US energy problems, mainly the investment in energy efficiency and conservation. The administration has consistently ignored the advice of the science community on climate change, brought about by greenhouse gases, including the report that the administration itself commissioned from the National Academic of Sciences, a report from the Department of Defense warning that climate changes could lead to serious world problems in the coming decade. Yet, the administration forced the EPA to drop references to the DOD study in its 2003 stated environment report.
Most critically, the administration has blocked ratification of international agreement, attempting to constrain worldwide production of greenhouse gases. This is an absolutely essential role for us to play - pardon me - a task for us as a world, to undertake. There may be reasons to object to the Kyoto Accords, but the administration has made no counter-proposal of any kind to take its place and in fact, we certainly are no longer a world leader in this area. The Bush climate plan appears to rest on voluntary actions by industry - a plan unlikely to bring about significant change. By contrast, Kerry has detailed a program to combine reinvigorated basic and applied research with incentives that encourage US businesses to produce efficient new products that will allow us to get more out of the energy we use, as well as the development of alternative energy sources. Amongst other things, it will create a $20 billion program with incentives that will support the development and production of highly efficient automobiles and trucks as well as clear burning fuels from such sources as coal for the sequestration of evolved carbon dioxide, along with much more vigorous development of renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geological, geothermal and biological. I should add that I was one of the first 500 people to purchase one of the new Honda Civic hybrids in this country and I find it has cut my consumption of gasoline by a factor of 2. Thank you.
Joy Howell: Okay. Thank you very much. Now we'd like to take questions from the press and open up the lines to do that, I guess. If you could indicate your name and affiliation as you ask your question and also, if you want to direct it to a particular person, let us know that as well. Do we have any questions?
Diedtra Henderson, Associated Press: Thank you for doing this. This question is for Dr. Hamburg. You mentioned the decrease in the CDC budget of $100 million for bio-terror. Can you explain what would have happened had the CDC not lost that funding? What hasn't happened because the money wasn't there?
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: Well, this is looking to the future, so, that when budgets are done for future years. So, it is not a question of what hasn't been done because that money wasn't there, but assuming that money won't be restored by congress, as the budget goes to the final stages, I think that we will not be able to continue to build the infrastructure for public health at the state and local level in critical ways and to strengthen the capacity of the public health system to communicate within itself and with other critical partners for response. Things like ensuring that we have the manpower on the ground to detect emerging patterns of concern that may signal an outbreak of disease - to investigate it and then to put in place the proper control and containment measures; that we won't have the laboratory capacity to make rapid and accurate diagnoses; that we won't have the linkage with the health care system, which is truly the first line of response in terms of that's where the cases are going to occur. And we need to have a cavalry of trained health care providers to recognize when they're seeing unusual disease; unusual clusters of symptoms, et cetera.
They need to understand their responsibility to report that information to their local or state health department and to work with that health department and, of course, the health care system needs to have the capacity to be able to surge in response to a major and unexpected onset of disease. In particular, thinking about bio-terrorism, we have a health care system that has been, over the years, honed to save money and contain costs and we need to also think about a system with the flexibility built in that we can handle a mass-casualty situation.
Our emergency rooms in our hospitals are already being overwhelmed by flu in a normal season. Imagine what would happen if we had a pandemic like what this nation and the world saw in 1918 or if we had a bio-attack of a scale larger than what we saw with anthrax. We know from the SARS experience that even health care systems in a highly developed nation such as Canada can be rapidly overwhelmed by a disease outbreak that brings with it concerns about transmission of disease person to person and that has requirements that specialize in infection control measures. So, whether you're thinking about natural disease or deliberately caused outbreaks of disease we have a system that is simply not equipped to rapidly recognize and respond. We need to continue critical investments that have been begun and we need to put in place new programs, as well. So, there is no quick fix. We need sustained commitment and that means both political leadership and dollars.
Diedtra Henderson: Thank you.
Operator: Your next question comes from Barbara Bradley of National Public Radio.
Barbara Bradley: Hi. This is for Dr. Hamburg again. First, I should know this, but which administrations did you serve under?
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: I was an appointee in the Clinton administration, I was Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and I was Health Commissioner in New York City 1991 to 1997, I guess. Three years under Mayor Dinkins and three years under Mayor Giuliani and I was Assistant Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease prior to that time.
Barbara Bradley: Okay, great. Well, let me ask you, do you have…I'm thinking about the Faith Saves Initiative in some of the programs where it seems that spiritual programs have replaced or supplanted more scientifically based programs, well, maybe not spiritual, like abstinence is more of a conservative moral issue, but you have drug and alcohol programs which are kind of, religion based. Do you know if there is evidence that some of these programs that the Bush administration has put in, like the drug and alcohol abuse programs and the abstinence only programs, is there evidence that they don't work as well as more traditional social science or medically based programs?
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: There is a growing body of evidence related to the examination of more comprehensive sex education, pregnancy prevention programs and those that are based on abstinence only. And, while I have to be honest and say that I have not reviewed the most recent data, there is an overwhelming body of evidence that shows that the comprehensive programs are the most effective and that abstinence only programs have not been measurably effective in terms of reducing pregnancy or in the onset of sexual activity, but if that's a question that you're specifically interested in, I'd be happy to take your name and number and connect you with some of the leading researchers in the field.
Barbara Bradley: Sure. Actually, I'd love that.
Operator: The next question comes from Kenneth Chang, New York Times.
Kenneth Chang: Yes, hello. I'm just wondering how this group got started? Who's organizing it; who's funding it and what are your connections to the Kerry campaign?
Joy Howell: Well, there are a number of people, I think, who have wanted to come together and to do something more in this area. I think some people may have signed letters and done things for the Kerry campaign, but the ones that are organizing this campaign are people like Neal Lane, who is the former head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and NSF; Lawrence Krauss, who's a founding member who's a professor of physics at Case Western, Daniel Goroff from Harvard, Dudley Herschbach, Nobel prize winner from Harvard, Vint Cerf who is on the phone today. That's really the core of this group.
Dr. Vint Cerf: This is Vint. I just to be clear, I have made some supporting statements for the Kerry campaign too. So, I hope that's not inconsistent.
Kenneth Chang: And your funding?
Joy Howell: The funding is from - you know, it's interesting. We're not trying for huge dollars here. This is a compliment that some of the 527's that you've heard about that are going out and paying millions of dollars for ads. Our goal here is to raise $100,000. We're well on the way, I think we've got $60,000 or so in the bank right now and we're doing a speaking tour, a real face-to-face, get the word out to people, face-to-face sort of an effort here and we're focusing on ten battleground states.
Dr. Vint Cerf: This is an educational program, it's Vint Cerf again, more than anything else.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: So maybe I should add - I'm giving the first of one of these talks tomorrow up at the University of Oregon. I'll be talking about climate change and global warming.
Joy Howell: That's Dr. Osheroff.
Operator: The next question comes from Jeremy Singer of Space News.
Jeremy Singer: Hello. I wondered if you guys could talk a little bit about your views on space research under the administration, particularly satellite work at NOA and space missile work at the defense department.
Dr. Vint Cerf: Let's see. Doug may have some comments to make about the satellite program - this is Vint Cerf. My interests in space tend to align with robotic exploration by the way of the jet propulsion laboratory among others. I don't know whether that's particularly relevant to your question, so I'll ask you whether you want to pursue that first.
Jeremy Singer: Sure.
Dr. Vint Cerf: Okay. As you know, the administration has proposed a program of exploration on the moon and Mars. My belief, quite frankly, is that we will get a great deal more out of robotic exploration in the near term. The costs of manned exploration are so extraordinarily high and the risks are extremely high. The maintaining of life in very hostile environments is extremely difficult, so if anything, I think I would much prefer to see an emphasis on the robotic exploration programs, which have been largely successful in the recent past.
Joy Howell: And if you're interested in more on that, I can put you in touch offline with some of our other experts whose primary field of research is space.
Jeremy Singer: Sure, sure.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: This is Doug Osheroff. Of course, I was a member of the board that investigated the Columbia shuttle accident and we in fact, had made a statement that appeared that the human space flight program really was without a national goal and I think the President has used that opportunity to propose a national goal, but in fact, providing virtually no funding. Which is to say, we don't even know how much it is going to cost to go to Mars, probably 30 years away, but I think he's promised $1 billion over a five year period. He has also indicated that the shuttle system, the STS system will cease operations in 2010. It's very unlikely that there will be anything yet to replace it and I think there's a concern on the part of the scientific community that a lot of the funds necessary to build the crew exploration vehicle will come out of science budget. Either that, or in fact, the replacement of the shuttle will occur significantly later, probably with continuation to fly the shuttle beyond 2010.
Dr. Vint Cerf: Doug, this is Vint. It occurs to me that if that eventuality occurs, as you suggest, that servicing of some of the important space equipment may also be seriously impaired.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: Well, if you're talking about the Hubble space telescope, of course, there is an enormous debate that is going on regarding that. And I think that that's still not clear what's going to happen there.
Dr. Vint Cerf: I was thinking also of even some of the orbiting satellites for observation that occasionally have been pulled in for repair work, would also be inhibited if we didn't have any kind of a space shuttle capability.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: For sure.
Jeremy Singer: Sure. Anything you might want keep in mind on the defense department side, as far as space or missile defense?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I mean, of course, there is funding now for a missile defense system, which most scientists feel will have rather little impact and provide rather little security.
Dr. Vint Cerf: Well, this is Vint Cerf. I honestly wasn't too enthusiastic about the earlier SDI and I have to say I don't see the physical feasibility of the defense systems being proposed today either.
Jeremy Singer: Are you concerned that may take funds away from you might say, more important efforts?
Dr. Vint Cerf:: Well, yes, because these things…if you look at the way the numbers are being calculated in terms of R & D expenditure, the Bush administration appears to be lumping in its DOD estimates of R & D 6:1 to 6:8 - I'm assuming you know what those mean - and I would only include 6:1 to 6:3 programs as R & D. The space defense programs which get to be extremely expensive on deployment are being counted, I guess, as part of the R & D program and I'm almost certain that they will erode the basic research certainly and applied research.
Jeremy Singer: Okay. Thanks.
Operator:The next question will come from Rick Weiss of the Washington Post.
Rick Weiss: Thank you. I just wanted to get a better picture of how you are going to go about your mission here. You're going to be having individual people giving talks to groups where? Mostly at universities? Who's your target audience?
Joy Howell: Yes, mostly at universities, museums, research labs. That's what we have so far.
Rick Weiss: And the people who are giving the talks are doing this voluntarily or getting paid out of the fund here?
Joy Howell: No, they are totally volunteer. I mean…
Dr. Vint Cerf: Rick, Rick, this is Vint Cerf. There isn't enough money in there to pay my normal fee.
Rick Weiss: Okay.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I should point out that the talk that I'm giving tomorrow is a public lecture, so people from the outside community, I hope will come.
Rick Weiss: So, just to follow up. How explicitly will you cap these talks by urging people to vote for John Kerry?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I don't think I'll do that. I will present what I hope is in fact an accurate picture of what is going on in terms of climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases. But certainly, I'm not…I have in the past urged…talks I've given, I've urged people to vote, but I've not specifically said who they should vote for. I mean it's very clear who I will vote for.
Rick Weiss: But, you're not going to encourage explicitly people to vote for Kerry.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: That's not…I think they can…they should reach their own conclusions as to who they want to vote for.
Rick Weiss: Thank you.
Joy Howell: Someone…you know, this is certainly an individual thing. Does anyone else want to answer that?
Dr. Vint Cerf: I'm sorry, would you ask again?
Rick Weiss: I'm trying to get a sense of whether at these talks and educational events you're going to hold, whether the message at the end is going to be explicitly calling for people to vote against Bush or for John Kerry, or whether that will be just left implicit?
Dr. Vint Cerf: This is Vint Cerf. It seems to me that the way scientists…I like to work anyway, the way I like to work is simply to lay out what I think the issues are and what the consequences are of various choices and then we rely on the voters to make up their minds.
Joy Howell: Okay. Anything else? Um, I know Vint, you've got to leave shortly. Do we have other questions?
Operator: The next question comes from David Malakoff of Science Magazine.
David Malakoff: I guess following up on Rick's question. Is there either an IRS or any other reason why there is going to be some hesitancy to specifically endorse a candidate? I mean, are you guys setting yourselves up as a C3 and that would be C4 activity or something like that?
Joy Howell: No. We're a 527.
David Malakoff: Oh, you're a 527, okay.
David Malakoff: And how many folks are you expecting at these events? I mean what are you going to consider a good crowd?
Joy Howell: Oh, I'd say 100 - 400 people. I mean we do obviously plan to publicize it and meet with the local communities as we go out. The response so far has been good. We're just kicking it off this week, as you know, with speakers in Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but it's looking very encouraging at this point.
David Malakoff: Do you have a date yet when you're going to be in Virginia?
Joy Howell: October 13th.
David Malakoff: And where will that be?
Joy Howell: Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond.
David Malakoff: Great. Thanks.
Operator: Your next question is from Jill Lawrence from USA Today.
Jill Lawrence: Thanks very much. I've been covering the Kerry campaign and politics for many years and I guess I'm a little bit puzzled by the purpose of this group if you're not going to go out and tell people you think that Kerry is better for science and people ought to vote for him. I guess I'm just wondering whether the subtlety of what you're describing is going to get through to voters. Could someone address that?
Dr. Vint Cerf: Well, this is Vint Cerf. It seems to me that your feedback is very helpful and if in fact you believe that one can't be subtle about this at all, you may persuade some of the scientists who are speaking to be less subtle. So thank you for that.
Jill Lawrence: I'm not trying to persuade anyone. I've just been watching this business for quite a while and, if you have a message, what is your message?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: Well, my message certainly is that this administration is largely ignoring issues of greenhouse gases, global warming and these are very serious issues. At the end of my talk, I think people hopefully will be convinced that this administration is not doing an adequate job, it's not listening to scientists on these issues; that it's basically 'business as usual'. But, I think people can decide how important that issue is by themselves.
Dr. Vint Cerf: Well, actually Doug, let's be honest about this. The name of this group is Scientists and Engineers for Change. Now, what do you imagine we want to change? What we want to change is the current administration because the current administration isn't paying any attention to science. It's paying attention to ideology. So, if I were speaking, I guess I would have to say frankly, that's why I'm here.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: I think that the reason that this group is structured not as a direct offshoot of the Kerry campaign, but as an independent group reflects the fact that this is an independent group of scientists who will be speaking about the issues and the evidence as they see it. It is not…you will not find a one-to-one correspondence of Kerry's positions on issues and the content of the presentations that will be made at these meetings and other activities that this group undertakes, but it's a reflection of the fact that I think there is deep concern in the science and engineering community and in the public health and medicine community, more broadly I might add, about the direction that we're going - about the failure of the administration to give science and technology sufficient importance.
That's affected in things that range from actually decreasing of the size of the office of science and technology policy in the White House and demoting the role of the President's science advisor from being an assistant to the President and the quality of people that are brought in - critical committees and advisory boards - but also, I think you can look across many, many domains of the science and technology enterprise and see that we are not acting on the best possible scientific evidence and that we are not putting in place programs and policies that in fact, reflect what science is telling us what we should do and that it matters whether it's in the health of people or in the issues of global climate change or investments we make in manned space programs versus other aspects of space exploration. All the kinds of things that we've talked about in many more arenas, that this stuff makes a difference and that you look at the track record of the current administration and it isn't good enough.
Dr. Vint Cerf: This is Vint. You know what? If we were serious about national security then we'd better be serious about science. I don't feel that this administration has paid enough attention to that.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: I mean, if you look at the role of science and technology in modern life, it's absolutely huge. And if you look at the past preeminence of the United States in science and technology, it's absolutely huge. But if you look to the future, we are not making the investment in people or facilities or programs that we need in order to stay at the frontline and to have that kind of influence in the world and I think that's a very safe concern that we're only just awakening to.
Jill Lawrence: But, Dr. Hamburg, you also mentioned that you were concerned that the Bush administration's ideology is actually distorting science.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: Well, I am concerned about that and I think that there are a critical set of areas where we are no longer providing all of the information that people need to know to protect their health. The critical set of areas where I think we're making investments in a set of issues at the expense of others and that isn't good. I think there are many, many examples I can point to and I raised a few earlier and we could certainly discuss more, where, I think you heard it on the issue of global climate change where the science is pretty strong, but I don't think our policies and programs reflect it.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: Well, it's more than that - this is Osheroff - the administration tends to pick and choose what it's willing to listen to, so when there's a statement that the production of CO2 by mankind is causing global warming - that is not listened to, but the statement that we really cannot predict what will happen to our climate in the future, that the models are not good enough yet - that you hear.
Joy Howell: Dr. Cerf, I know you have to leave. I think we have another couple of questions. Is there anything you want to say in conclusion for your part of the presentation?
Dr. Vint Cerf: Well, thank you very much for that. You're right, I do have to go and make a speech of my own. I want to thank the press on the call today for listening in and I want to urge you to look deeper at the way in which science and technology has been treated by this current administration. I hope that when you do that and you present your findings to the public, that we'll all be better informed and we'll be able to make our conclusions in November.
Joy Howell: Thank you, Dr. Cerf, for being with us today.
Operator: The next question is from Kenneth Chang, New York Times.
Kenneth Chang: Yes, hi again. John Marburger, the President's science advisor, he says he's a Democrat and he swears up and down that the administration isn't torquing (sp?) the science. I guess I wanted to get your reaction to that and to some extent; every administration does some (inaudible) treatment of science to support their position. How can you quantify that this administration is doing it more than previous ones?
Joy Howell: Okay, who wants to answer that?
Dr. Margaret Hamburg:: Well I think that Dr. Marburger has been a very committed public servant and has tried very hard to reflect the needs of science, but I think that you just have to look at the track record that there are real reasons for concern and I think that you can also look at the assessments of the range of the most outstanding scientific publications and organizations and their perspective and they echo what we have to say here.
Operator: The next question comes from Diedtra Henderson, Associated Press.
Diedtra Henderson: Thanks again. I'm curious about the selection of these sites for these lectures, the battleground states, how many voters are you all intending…hoping to sway?
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: Good question. I personally haven't done the math. I'll have to get back to you on that later I guess. Clearly there's an area where we know that people are undecided and it could make a difference in the outcome of this election and because we do have limited resources and limited time to do it, that's where we're focusing. We wish we had more time and greater ability to go further and deeper across the country to take the message to more communities.
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I think I've…this is Osheroff. I think I'm not saying anything that's not obvious, but I think we have to rely on local press to spread what we have said. I'm not sure how effective that will be, but I think we have to do that.
Diedtra Henderson: Would that mean then, that you would expect to reach more than 100 - 400 people who show up at the sessions?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I sure hope so.
Diedtra Henderson: Can you give any sense of how many potential voters, if not pro-Kerry voters, then anti-Bush voters?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I can't figure out how many people are going to come to one of my lectures at Stanford.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: Okay, let me ask you a question, Diedtra. How many readers do you have?
Diedtra Henderson: You know actually, this isn't my event and it isn't my lecture series, so...
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: No, I understand, I guess our point is back to the media amplification of the actual audiences. We would hope that we would reach hundreds of thousands of voters.
Diedtra Henderson: Thank you very much.
Operator: Your next question is from Emma Marris of Nature D.C.
Emma Marris: Hi. I have two quick questions. One is, these are mostly at universities and some of them look like pretty liberal universities. Are you worried about preaching to the choir? And the second question is, have you taken any flack from your colleagues for taking an explicitly political position? I know some scientists are very shy about doing so.
Joy Howell: Okay. Would either of you like to answer that?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: Well, actually most of the people I've talked to; in fact, thank me for being willing to take a political position - most of the scientists, most of my colleagues here at Stanford.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg: Yeah, I would sort of echo that and, as I indicated before, I really think that there are very widespread and deep concerns in the scientific community about the state of science and protecting the future health of the scientific enterprise and feel that there are very important decisions that will be made.
Joy Howell: This is true, I'd just like to say, obviously the latest polls are still showing a certain percentage of undecided who are Nader voters and these voters tend to be on the left. So if we just reach those voters that would be helpful.
Emma Marris: Are you going to address that anyone in your speeches? Ralph Nader?
Dr. Douglas Osheroff: I certainly don't intend to, but I think there are also a rather large number of undergraduate students who are potential voters, and, I dare say, I think frequently they don't vote.
Emma Marris: Okay, thank you.
Operator: And your next question is from Jeremy Singer, Space News.
Jeremy Singer: I understand…your group…are you going to stay together after the election or are you focused entirely on the 04 election and, uh, you have any future plans?
Joy Howell: I think we would like to stay together after the election. We're taking it one step at a time right now, but there certainly is a critical mass of people who are concerned about the direction of the country. So, let's get to November 2nd and we'll see where we go from there.
Jeremy Singer: Okay, thank you.
Joy Howell: Thank you everyone for participating. I really appreciate your interest.