How Does Scientists Feel About Policies? Science policy is a tangled web and is under threat. Is it time for a change? Is there a place for science in politics? The answer is yes, but how? Is it right for society? And what can scientists do to help? Read on to find out. Here are some ways to help scientists feel better about policies. They’ll be happier and more effective.
Science policy is a tangled web
The federal government uses science as a way to advance its policy agenda. This is a problem because it wrongly uses science to justify the way science is used to make decisions about regulatory matters. This has a variety of consequences, from the way scientists influence government policy, to the shape of funding for future research and development. Politics clearly overrides science, as we see in recent dietary controversies.
President Dwight Eisenhower recognized that entangled science and policy. Similarly, the funding from these agencies sustains a paradigm that is no longer serving society’s best interests. As a result, the number of withdrawn scientific papers and works is increasing. This is partly due to flawed research findings that were passed through review despite inconvenient data. On the other hand, the number of withdrawn works demonstrates the growing importance of research in public policy.
The Bush-Kilgore compromise ushered in the era of Big Science and shifted science in a more political direction. As a result, scientists who insist on freedom of thought and autonomy are increasingly being disempowered. Furthermore, Big Science funding structures combine the interests of scientists with those of the institutions that fund them. Disentangling these interests could help restore balance in the political sphere.
It’s under threat
The use of science to inform government decisions has the power to ‘compel’ decisions. However, the current administration’s policies have the potential to undermine science in government. One threat came to light on 31 October 2017, when EPA administrator Scott Pruitt ordered that scientists with active research grants cannot sit on science-advisory panels. The decision could make it easier for industry scientists to replace academic researchers. Ultimately, scientists feel their policies are under threat.
There is a large, organized constituency of people and organizations that advocate for more restrictions on science. This group includes public interest groups and scholars in science studies. They see the use of science for political purposes as unproductive. In response to this growing threat, scientists began to join the Science-for-the-People movement, which grew out of the 1970s. The group aimed to challenge the privileged position of scientists in the United States over the last half-century. They called for scientific priorities to be decided by the public instead of scientists.