Saturday, October 25, 2008


Bob Park wrote yesterday in his blog:
Science magazine today has a brief assessment of where the candidates stand on ten science policy issues ranging from national security to space. Obviously staff written, it wasn't much help. We need to know to whom the future President will turn for advice on science-related matters. Presidents can call on anyone: FDR relied on Vannevar Bush, Truman on Isadore Rabi, Eisenhower to Killian and Kistiakowski, and Kennedy to Wiesner, none of whom are any longer available. Alas, the stature of the science advisor diminished seriously under Nixon and Reagan. It may have hit bottom in the 2003 state-of-the-union address when Bush announced his hydrogen initiative; it was clear that he had not bothered to check with his science advisor. The job is no longer seen as the "nation's top scientist." Whatever influence the science community has should be used to persuade the next President to select a wise science advisor as quickly as possible and rely on the science advisor's counsel.
Comment: If you don't want scientific advice, and don't plan to use it if offered, don't appoint a highly visible, highly respected, active and effective science advisor. If you do, both you and the advisor will be bothered.

Lets hope Obama is more interested in getting it right than in satisficing his special-interest constituencies, that he wants and seeks out science advice, and that he is successful in finding someone who can manage the advisory process in the White House and front for its science policies and conclusions drawn on scientific evidence.

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