Why Scientists Have Squandered Public Trust

I have commented before about the political problems of the scientific community, which are typically being turned around against RepublicansIn a post last month I recalled the 2004 remark by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin in the New York Review of Books that “Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals,” and the caution of MIT’s Kerry Emanuel about the dangers of “group think” and the “shocking lack of political diversity among American academics.”  He concluded that “Until this profound and well-documented intellectual homogeneity changes, scientists will be suspected of constituting a leftist think tank.”

John Holdren, Age 68

Well, this week the National Academy of Sciences had a chance to do something about this, and . . . completely blew it.  A two-day symposium on science and public policy featured a panel of presidential science advisers, but the panel included only advisers to Democratic presidents, including Obama’s science adviser, the egregious John (sterilize the public) Holdren.  The others were two advisers for Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter’s science adviser, the 87-year-old Frank Press.

Conspicuously missing from the panel was President Reagan’s science adviser Jay Keyworth, who is a spry 72.  (He turns out to be the only living GOP science adviser.)  When asked why Keyworth wasn’t invited, NAS president Ralph Cicerone said, “We didn’t want to go back that far.”

Jay Keyworth, speaking recently at the University of Colorado

So let’s see: having Jimmy Carter’s 87-year-old science adviser apparently isn’t “going back that far,” but having Reagan’s still active 72-year old science adviser would be?  And please tell me again why we shouldn’t regard scientific elites with suspicion?

Maybe the NAS should put together a panel to explore the strange bubble around the scientific establishment that distorts its outlook on the world.  I used to respect Cicerone, in part for staring down the enviros when they tried to prevent an NAS panel on geoengineering.  But no more.  These people deserve every calumny thrown their way.

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