Wanted on the Hill: A Few Good Scientists
They've never been big in Congress, but as their work is challenged, that may change
By Bret Schulte
Posted December 6, 2007
Had enough of smooth lawyers and money-minded M.B.A.'s running things? So have scientists. Last summer, the American Association for the Advancement of Science played host to a small workshop on campaign politics. Typically, these wide-ranging workshops draw around 15 people. But on this day, 60 packed into the Washington, D.C., conference room. After the throng listened to Republican and Democratic strategists—including Joe Trippi, chief of the John Edwards campaign—its enthusiasm startled even the organizers. "They were asking things like 'Where do I find a field director?' " says Michael Brown, workshop coordinator and executive director of Scientists and Engineers for America. "They were raring to go."
If ever there was a time for revenge of the (supposed) nerds, this is it. Partisan rhetoric is clouding debates on global warming, birth control, stem cell research, and evolution. "To a great extent, [scientists] see that their way of life is being challenged," Brown says, "and that it's time for them to strike back." That means voters may soon notice an influx of candidates more comfortable working an algorithm than a crowd. Talk about an experiment.