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The Sciences

Is Our Representatives Learning?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJune 18, 2008 10:35 PM

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My latest Science Progress column is up: It presents some ideas for improving the relationship between science and Congress other than the most obvious one--restoring the Office of Technology Assessment. The piece starts out like this:

First the good news: The number of physicists in Congress just increased dramatically. And now the bad: That increase was from 2 to 3. Still, if you plot the data, you can see the trend: As physicist Rush Holt (D-NJ) recently joked to The New York Times, "By mid-century, I think, we'll have a functioning majority." In all seriousness, though, to hear Holt and his fellow congressional equation solvers --Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and the recently elected Bill Foster (D-IL)--tell it, they are strangers in a truly strange land. Ehlers, for instance, relates having to occasionally rush to the floor to prevent fellow members from killing science programs they don't even understand--assuming, for instance, that "game theory" research involves sports, and that A.T.M. studies have something to do with banks (actually, this is a communications technology). Many people would probably agree that this gap between science and most of our elected representatives needs closing--but how to make that happen remains a complicated matter....

You can read the entire column here.

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