President Barack Obama gave a promising speech on science yesterday to the National Academy of Sciences pledging to devote 3% of our GDP to research and development, proclaiming: “We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the Space Race… This represents the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.”
I’m sure that my standards have been lowered by living through the last 8 years, but this sort of talk is extremely promising:
Fourth, we are restoring science to its rightful place.
On March 9th, I signed an executive memorandum with a clear message: Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. Our progress as a nation – and our values as a nation – are rooted in free and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy.
That is why I have charged the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with leading a new effort to ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information. I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions – and not the other way around.
There isn’t much question to whom those comments were directed. Two examples from recent articles come to mind:
On Plan B (Washington Post, April 23): “In his 52-page decision, Korman repeatedly criticized the FDA’s handling of the issue, agreeing with allegations in a lawsuit that the decision was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ and influenced by ‘political and ideological’ considerations imposed by the Bush administration.”
On greenhouse gases (New York Times, April 17): “Agency scientists were virtually unanimous in determining that those gases caused such harm, but top Bush administration officials suppressed their work and took no action. In his first days in office, Mr. Obama promised to review the case and act quickly if the findings were justified. The announcement Friday [April 17] was the fruit of that review.”
Beyond those cases, I would love to see science restored when it comes to:
3) Sex-Ed classes (No more failed Abstinence-only classes)
4) Curriculums on Evolution (There is no “controversy”)
5) Stem-Cell research
Am I missing more?