I was thinking some more about what the President said yesterday.
This Order is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America. But let’s be clear: promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.
The truth though is that politics certainly has a role concerning science and it comes down to as to whether politics is used to advance an ethic or whether it is used to ignore it. There is nothing inherently wrong with the political process being involved in science.
I do find it rather ironic for Democrats to complain about the mixture of politics and science. They had no problem putting Plan B on fast-track approval (a process that was suppose to be used for life and death treatments). Plan B approval was all about politics in shortening the FDA approval time and to spend less time in clinical trials.
The President’s own decision here is political and not scientifically based. Providing taxpayer funding is purely political. If the science of embryonic stem-call research was so promising, so-called Big Pharma would be funding it out the wazoo. They pretty much have not worried about ethical concerns in the past with the source of cells for immunizations. There is a reason some scientists have been pushing for government funding – because they couldn’t get it elsewhere. Government funding is great for scientists since they don’t actually have to produce anything and can go on for years like that. Look at all the global warming research grants from government. Private funding would dry up pretty quickly on non-results.
I also find it ironic the cries about politics interfering in science. They have no problem attacking the pharmaceutical industry for greed. Last I checked greed was a vice and opposed to a moral value and they are interfering with science by telling companies what they can and can not develop or at what price they must sell it at. Companies base their R&D projects based on prophets so by reducing profits they reduce R&D – but somehow this is not an attack on science. Though what it really amounts to is that really everybody agrees that politics has a place in regards to science and research and when there are restrictions it should be based on morality.
I guess if embryonic stem-call research can find a way to use tumors to cure rather than kill people their research won’t be a total waste. Because so far that is what it is best at. Though of course I only jest here because their research involves the direct death of a human person.
“Obama moves to separate politics and science.” Oh, really? Have there been raging debates in Congress over what constitutes an inclined plane? Have I missed the talk-radio shoutfests in which the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is hotly attacked or defended? Is someone insisting that Schrodinger be the subject of a PETA protest for his cruelty to hypothetical cats?
Today Red Cardigan also wrote along these lines and as always she is well worth reading.