America leads by innovation. I don’t need to tell you how much science and innovation have helped make America the great country that it is, but I do want to mention Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers. That trend has continued right up to today with the amazing achievements of Silicon Valley and other tech and academic centers around the country.
Becoming a scientist is not easy. It takes years of work and study, often alone and in quiet labs. But we need to encourage young talented people to pursue science despite the sacrifices that it requires. If we want to continue to have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world, then we will need to depend on continuing science leadership.
But the trend in Washington, especially within the Republican Party, has been to discount science and to reduce the financial support of science. Unfortunately, this trend has now been greatly accelerated with the new President and his administration. He and his cabinet have denied obvious science and threaten massive cuts to science, even within such important programs as Traumatic Brain Injury programs within the Veterans Administration. His hiring freeze of federal workers and drastic cuts to science grant programs are now casting a pall over science in this country and causing great alarm within the entire science community.
Science is built around facts – physically verifiable facts. Any true scientist will submit to the data no matter how much it goes against past work and beliefs. That defines science. Making facts relative to ideology or even to personal ego is completely unacceptable. That’s why it’s so disturbing that Republican leaders are denying that climate change is happening, contrary to obvious data, and that the Administration is now using phrases such as “alternative facts.”
The good news is that scientists across the country are organizing and are preparing to be heard. Some are considering running for political office, any so many others are getting involved in politics like never before. Science communities are planning a national march for science day to show solidarity and advocate for science.
The discoveries and applications of science have made modern life possible. It has made it possible to feed, house, clothe, and keep warm much of the world’s population, especially here in the United States. Other countries around the world are striving to surpass us in scientific achievements – and they are spending the money to lure the best talent from our country, including scientists that we have educated in our world class institutions. We need to change this trend of discounting science and cutting funding for science programs.