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Science And Policy Opinions

October 31, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 44

While reading my copy of C&EN today I was struck by the number of goodies and things relevant to my interests, a feeling I am sure many readers often have. I also read the letters, which is something I don’t do for many other professional magazines (C&EN, Sept. 19, page 2).

As name-calling seemed to be in order—“liberal slanted” being my favorite—I thought I would add my two cents. First, as scientists we are often called on to communicate more with the general public, and I believe this has to be on social and policy-related issues since quite reasonably the public tends to show indifference to the details of science. To do that, we need open debates among ourselves, which editorials like those of Rudy Baum encourage. Second, a little more self-insight would be welcome. It is not coincidental that the items that excite the most anger are on topics such as evolution, climate change, or spending decisions that include the war on terror, which according to a recent study from Brown University has cost $4 trillion.

As a scientist, I believe it is perfectly justifiable to raise such issues and argue that more money should instead be spent on science. It is also reasonable to contend with those who challenge the scientific consensus, especially where their arguments seem to be based on an apparently unlimited faith in free-market economics or religious convictions.

By Edward J. Anthony
Ottawa, Ontario


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