Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker discusses the lasting effect of the Bush administration’s contempt for science.

Americans’ trust in the media, their government and each other has declined over the past four decades. And yet, according to many national surveys, such as the Harris and Gallup polls, trust in science and scientists remains high. In one Harris poll, for example, 68 percent of respondents said they trust scientists to tell the truth — more than the number who trusted the president.

In recent years, however, several areas of scientific research — from global warming to stem cell research to evolution — have become highly politicized, in ways that threaten the credibility of prominent scientists and their findings.

In one notorious instance, the Bush administration fired cell biologist Elizabeth Blackburn and medical ethicist William May from the President’s Council on Bioethics, a decision that many critics alleged was part of an effort to purge the council of dissenting scientific voices. Janet Rowley, professor of molecular genetics at the University of Chicago and a member of the council, later characterized the dismissals as “an important example of the absolutely destructive practices of the Bush administration” when it comes to science and scientific issues.

story

Advertisements