Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Science and politics - 2 items

I really got a kick out of this video, and this one (some overlap), of President Obama at the White House Science Fair.  See here for a press description, and here for the White House's own page on the matter.  Note that Bill Nye was there - how cool is that?  It's great to see a President who uses a bit of the prestige of the office to shine a spotlight on the importance of science education.   

On an unrelated note, on the way home from work today I heard this story on NPR, about the challenges of nonprofits, specifically charities, that fund science research.  There is a tendency for those charities to shy away from politically controversial topics (e.g., human embryonic stem cells) because charities don't want to risk alienating any potential donor.  It is an interesting set of issues.  Charities are of course not obligated to fund any specific thing.  My sense is that one clear ethical line is that charities should be open and honest about what they do and don't support.  No hidden agendas.  If you don't want to fund something, just say so clearly, so that there's no "buyer's remorse" from donors who feel mislead.

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