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Political Science

Wesley J. Smith

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A new political action committee enters the fray.

WHEN CRITICS BEMOAN the politicization of science, they usually point a bitter finger at the Bush administration. Their condemnation should actually be aimed in the opposite direction. Increasingly, it is the scientists themselves--or better stated the leaders of the science sector--who are devolving science from the apolitical pursuit of knowledge into a distinctly ideological enterprise.

The creation of a new 527 advocacy PAC called Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA) is the latest example of this phenomenon. SEA claims to be entering the political fray because the nation's leaders "systematically ignore scientific evidence and analysis, put ideological interests ahead of scientific truths, suppress valid scientific evidence and harass and threaten scientists for speaking honestly about their research." But most of the problems SEA identifies on its website as supposedly threatening science are actually disputes about ethics, philosophy, or social theory--areas of human concern that are not within the scientific realm.

The brouhaha over President Bush's federal funding limitations on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is a prime example of a dispute that SEA pretends is scientific, but which really centers on values and ethics. "Decisions concerning the future of biological research," the SEA Website asserts, "must always rely on the best available evidence and on transparent decision making processes. Researchers have a strong history of conducting thoughtful ethical reviews of their work and must continue to do so while resisting ideologically driven interference." In other words, the stem cell research community has determined what is ethical in the field and opinions to the contrary are presumptuous and should be disregarded as mere "ideologically driven interference."

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website (new window will open).

Posted: 11-Oct-06



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