“A new administration is in place and it’s an excellent opportunity for young scientists and engineers to engage with many different audiences,” said American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) CEO, Rush Holt, Ph.D., during a January 26 webinar, titled “The Outlook for Science in the New Administration and Congress.” Holt encouraged young scientists to apply for fellowships on Capitol Hill, such as AAAS’s Congressional Science & Engineering Fellowships program, to learn first-hand about policymaking while contributing their scientific expertise to the federal policymaking process.
Guest speaker Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, cited “angry populism” triggered by the 2008 financial collapse as the main motivation behind growing distrust of authority, a broad distrust that he said extends from the political realm to the scientific world.
While Ornstein noted that the use of science as a “political football” dates back decades, he stressed that the misuse, manipulation and de-legitimization of scientific facts to support a particular ideology has “now been taken to a new level as we move into uncharted territory with a Republican Congress and a Donald Trump presidency.” Ornstein and Holt pointed to examples such as the anti-vaccination and climate change denial movements.
Ornstein’s advice to scientists? “Put aside your charts and graphs and tell a story.” He emphasized the importance of communicating science to the public in a way that is relatable.
Holt called on scientists get involved in politics. “It’s not easy but it can be a very satisfying thing to be part of progress,” he said.
Click here to listen to the full webinar.