#Science Quotable: AAAS CEO Rush D. Holt


To thrive, science needs the support of the society it serves, and that support must be cultivated. In 1848, a forward-looking group of scientists and advocates formed the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to promote cooperation across various scientific and technical fields and create an encouraging environment for the practice of science.

Today, however, in many places the appreciation, respect, and support for science need attention and renewal. Even as the practice of science becomes ever more advanced, the observations more precise, and the applications more prevalent, there are signs of public misapprehension, distrust, and eroding support. Who better to address this looming problem than AAAS? AAAS should remain the force for science.

-AAAS CEO Rush D. Holt in a Science editorial, “Why Science? Why AAAS?” – More at the link

Previous CauseScience posts on Rush D. Holt and AAAS

What is something that doesn’t exist that would make you a better scientist? AAAS wants to know what you want in your scientist toolbox!!

Do you have an idea for a nonexistent invention that you would use for science? OR that would make you a more effective scientist? Share your idea in this NextGen VOICES survey from AAAS.

Name and describe a currently nonexistent invention that would make you a more effective scientist.

Your invention can be realistic, futuristic, or comical, and it can aid you in any aspect of your scientific process or career.

To submit, go to http://scim.ag/NG_14

Deadline for submissions is 13 February. A selection of the best responses will be published in the 3 April 2015 issue of Science. Submissions should be 100 words or less. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.

AAAS and Pew poll confirms differing opinions between public and scientists on science-related issues.

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If you haven’t already seen the public and scientist opinion poll put out yesterday by AAAS and Pew Research Center, its a must see (the featured tweet above is satire based on a CauseScience hashtag)! If you’ve been paying attention, there isn’t anything overly surprising – scientists and the general public have differing views on many science-related issues. A nice summary of the poll is here at NBCNews.com. Some major highlights of the in-depth poll include:

– Should animals be used in research? 89 percent of the scientists said yes, as opposed to 47 percent of the public.

– Is it safe to eat foods grown with pesticides? 68 percent of the scientists agreed, compared with 28 percent of the public.

– Is climate change caused mostly by human activity? 87 percent yes from the scientists, 50 percent yes from the public.

– Have humans evolved over time? 98 percent yes from the scientists, 65 percent yes from the public.

– Should more offshore oil drilling be allowed? 32 percent yes from the scientists, 52 percent yes from the public.

– Should more nuclear power plants be built? 65 percent yes from the scientists, 45 percent yes from the public.

– Should parents be allowed to decide not to have their children vaccinated? 13 percent yes from the scientists, 30 percent yes from the public.

In good news from the poll:

Science holds an esteemed place among citizens and professionals. Americans recognize the accomplishments of scientists in key fields and, despite considerable dispute about the role of government in other realms, there is broad public support for government investment in scientific research.

#Science Nerds! – Apply for AAAS Mass Media Science Fellowship #SCICOMM


Check out the fellowship and apply here! What a terrific opportunity for people interested in science policy and advocacy!!! Applications due January 15th!

This 10-week summer program places science, engineering, and mathematics students at media organizations nationwide. Fellows use their academic training as they research, write, and report today’s headlines, sharpening their abilities to communicate complex scientific issues to the public.

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Science and politics – Nature editorial and comments debate AAAS appointment of Rush Holt as partisan politics…? #science

This week’s Nature editorials include a column by Daniel Sarewitz titled ‘Science should keep out of partisan politics.‘ The article examines the possible political nature of the recent appointment of retired congressman Rush Holt as the head of the AAAS. It is definitely worth a read, and the comments are certainly worth your time!

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.

Terrific interview with retiring Congressman Rush Holt, New CEO of AAAS! #science #politics


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.

Retiring congressman Rush Holt to lead AAAS

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!

Antiquated view of drugs = holding back brain research + hurting mental health patients #needasolution


Check out the AMAZING AAAS Sci on the Fly blog post, ‘The Risky Business of Using Criminalized Drugs as Therapies.’ The post, written by Dr. Samantha White, describes the politics that are holding back research of criminalized drugs as potentially promising therapies for mental disorders (shout out! AAAS S&T Policy Fellow Sam White, who is an expert and former researcher on cocaine addiction). White has no shame in declaring her support for research on criminalized drugs for the sake of science, as well as for patient benefit:

As a neuroscientist, I believe Congress and the public should champion basic, translational, and clinical research on how psychedelic drugs could impact affective disorders, addiction, and PTSD.  We lack adequate treatments for these conditions, and similar to chronic pain patients forced to fight for narcotic-based relief, to perpetuate the uneducated belief that criminalized drugs and drug-takers are all bad is to do an extreme disservice to millions of Americans coping with these disorders.

White slams our country’s antiquated view of drugs in general, and describes the negative impact it is having on research and patients. As a science policy trainee and advocate, White highlights the desperate need for this research, and offers up a number of steps towards a solution, concluding:

And we can realize that it is no longer 1970, that the levels of depression, PTSD, and addiction have become a public health crisis, and that, instead of shying away from the risky business of prescribing criminalized drugs, we owe it to ourselves to find a solution.

Super cool scientific art: How will humans be represented in the fossil record? #ErikHagen

Artist Erik Hagen considers what the legacy of humankind will be millions of years from now.

Fossils of the Anthropocene runs in the AAAS Art Gallery through November 19.

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Jon Tennant: AAAS attempt at open access publishing = FAIL @ConversationEDU

Top scientific publisher chooses not to advance open access

By Jon Tennant, Imperial College London

Access to research is limited worldwide by the high cost of subscription journals, which force readers to pay for their content. The use of scientific research in new studies, educational material and news is often restricted by these publishers, who require authors to sign over their rights and then control what is done with the published work. In response, a movement that would allow free access to information and no restrictions on reuse – termed open access – is growing.

Some universities and funding organisations, including those administered by governments, now mandate open access, recognising its potential to increase the impact of research paid for by public money. The United Nations is considering the importance of open access to ensure the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications”.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is the largest scholarly society in the world, has recently launched a new open-access journal. But its approach is at odds with that of other major open-access publishers and could impair the goals of the movement.

The journal Science Advances, to be launched in February by the AAAS, plans to publish articles under a license that would prevent commercial reuses by default. This includes publication on some educational blogs and incorporation into educational material, as well as reuse by small-medium enterprises. By definition, this is not open access. AAAS will give authors the option to publish their work under a fully open license, but will levy a US$1,000 surcharge on top of the US$3,000 base publication fee. A reason for this surcharge was not given.

Science Advances is going to be an online-only journal, but AAAS will also charge authors US$1,500 more to publish articles that are more than ten pages long. They believe editorial services are enough justification for this charge, but there is no calculation to support this claim. They reason this limit is also necessary due to concerns about brevity and writing quality. However, these issues can be addressed during peer review – a process by which scientists judge other scientists’ work as objectively as possible and which is done at little to no cost to the journal.

Some scientists worry that a page-limit surcharge could lead to the omission of details necessary for replicating experiments, a core tenet of scientific research. Leading open-access journals from publishers such as PLOS and BioMedCentral offer unlimited page lengths at no additional cost.

A comparison shows that fees to be charged by Science Advances are among the highest in the publishing industry.

AAAS says it is fully committed to open-access publishing, but an examination of its recent actions are cause for concern.

In October, AAAS’s journal Science published a “study”, claiming systemic problems with peer review at open-access journals. But it was severely criticised for its flaws.

In June, AAAS wrote a letter to Farina Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights at the United Nations. Shaheed is preparing a report on open access for the UN Human Rights Council. AAAS expressed reservations about open access, calling the movement “young”, the approaches “experimental”, and encouraging Shaheed not to ignore the potential benefits of the reader-pays publishing model.

In August, AAAS announced that Kent Anderson has been appointed as publisher of the Science journals and will oversee the launch of Science Advances. The choice of Anderson, a vocal sceptic of open-access publishing, was criticised by academics.

Concerns about AAAS’s approach to open-access publishing recently led more than 100 scientists, including us, to sign an open letter to them providing recommendations to improve Science Advances. AAAS have not responded formally to the open letter, choosing instead to publish a FAQ which makes no changes to their policies.

Some of Science Advances’s potential competitors have unfortunately taken a similar approach to open access. Nature Publishing Group (NPG) levies a US$400 surcharge for publishing under a fully open license in its journal, Nature Communications. The Society for Neuroscience will do the same, with a US$500 surcharge for open licensing in its new journal, eNeuro. The American Chemical Society charges US$1000 for upgrading to an open license. In contrast, leading open-access publishers such as PLOS and BioMedCentral offer open licensing as standard for no additional cost.

It is unfortunate that AAAS and others have chosen not to fully embrace open access and maximise the impact of publicly funded research. These are missed opportunities for the world’s largest general scientific society to lead the way in increasing worldwide access to information.

The Conversation

Erin McKiernan co-authored this piece. Jon Tennant receives funding from The National Environmental Research Council.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.