Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wise words ...

... from the journal Nature:

...scientists need to take care not to overstep their expertise. It is reasonable to expect a Manhattan Project physicist to weigh in on the dangers of nuclear weapons, with which he or she is entirely familiar. It is less clear-cut to, say, support the candidacy of a politician. ... Political advocacy can, in fact, be the trickiest road for a scientist–activist to navigate. Nobel-prizewinning economists, for instance, are routinely recruited to either side of US presidential campaigns, with their names trotted out like endorsements. ... Scientists who want to promote change in the world would be better off selecting their areas of activism carefully. Nobel laureates have a special responsibility, as they are regarded by the public with a level of awe. Many of them do use their names wisely to advance education or underappreciated areas of science. Last week, for instance, 40 of them helped launch a US$10-million fund to support scientific research in the Middle East. Such efforts are targeted, specific and worthy of the Nobel name.

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