That said, I personally have to agree with most of the commenters. Many support the AAAS appointment of Rush Holt, not as political, but as a leader who is an accomplished scientist and politician. Holt a terrific choice as leader of AAAS – he has knowledge and experience in both science and in Washington, DC politics.
I understand Sarewitz’ points, but I think they are wrongly applied to Holt’s appointment and I think it is far too late for this argument. Why should science keep out of partisan politics, when partisan politics have not kept out of science. Republicans and Democrats can all be blamed for recent decreases in science funding. However, the anti-science platforms, statements, and politics of many Republicans have done damage to science. Beyond funding cuts, they have created an atmosphere where political vitriol and lies often trump scientific evidence.
You may have seen the CauseScience post announcing that retiring Congressman Rush Holt will lead AAAS. This week, ABS news has posted parts of a terrific interview with Rush Holt about choosing science over lobbying. While the title of the article focuses on his Jeopardy wins, rather than his degree in physics, the interview has some inspiring and pro-science points! Very excited for Holt to start working at AAAS, but sad to lose such a staunch supporter of science in Congress. Below is a selected response from Holt to a question about the GOP and whether it is anti-science:
I think over many years, appreciation of science has slipped and education of science has slipped. I think that it shouldn’t be possible to deny and patently reject the preponderance of scientific understanding. That’s not to say every scientist is always right. But the idea that you can just flat out deny evolution or climate change or any number of things that are so well established in the science community would have been, in past years, unthinkable. Now, it’s really quite common that people will blatantly, even proudly get on the political stump and say they deny what the scientists think is right.
Check out the news here! Our favorite scientist-congressman will be stepping down after 8 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives to be in charge of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is a non-profit organization and is typically known as the publisher of Science. Good luck to Rush Holt!