Science & Citizenry

Yesterday I gave a speech to about 700 scientists and researchers from Canada and the U.S. in Detroit. As almost always happens with me in getting ready for a speech, one image came to mind…


That’s right. A complete black hole and blank white board all in one. I had no clue where to start.

All of the week’s presentations were about science and my keynote was to a group that is known — respected — for its objectivity. Its methodical nature. I was tempted to play it safe and talk about good science=good policy or something like that.

But I felt deep inside my bones that this group needed to hear that they could do the best work possible inside the office. Yet if outside the office (or lab, or field) their work was being undermined, then all the best sampling, modeling and analytics wouldn’t matter much. So I encouraged the group to organize.

When bills like like HR 1430 and 1431 come out, they compromise scientific integrity. Which then compromises public policy decision making. Which then compromises the health of our communities and country. I urged the group of researchers to not just be researchers. But to be citizens, too, as is their right, and weigh in on this kind of scientific bullying.

I had no idea what the reaction would be. At first there was polite applause. Then one person stood up. Then another. Then another. (I was so relieved…)

For our democratic experiment to work, we all have to do double duty: professionals in the office. Citizens beyond. We can contract out for the former. But not the latter.

Join me @aquavate