A vision for science

A VISION FOR SCIENCE…. Barack Obama used his weekly radio/video address to introduce members of his science team this morning, but just as importantly, he talked a bit about his vision for the role of science in the coming years.

“From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process,” Obama said.

“Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources — it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient — especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. […]

“I am confident that if we recommit ourselves to discovery; if we support science education to create the next generation of scientists and engineers right here in America; if we have the vision to believe and invest in things unseen, then we can lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity.”

I realize that it’s a testament to Bush’s presidency that I get so excited about a new president talking about science is such a progressive way, but I can’t help but feel encouraged about this reality-based rhetoric.

When Obama introduced Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, the president-elect said, “His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science, we will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that the facts demand bold action.”

Greg Sargent noted that the emphasis helped “encapsulate for liberals … just how big the potential of the moment feels right now, since the previous administration’s disdain for ‘science’ and ‘facts’ contributed perhaps as much as anything else to the nightmarish quality the last eight years held for them.”