More science and politics news, and this time it's heartening: as promised last week, Obama has signed an Executive Order today reversing the ban on federal funding of stem cells. You may recall he promised to do this during his campaign, and made a point of it in his answers for Science Debate 2008. He even went further, adding to the Order a section to protect scientific research against political influence:
Although officials would not go into details, the memorandum will order the Office of Science and Technology Policy to "assure a number of effective standards and practices that will help our society feel that we have the highest-quality individuals carrying out scientific jobs and that information is shared with the public," said Harold Varmus, who co-chairs Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
That is very, very good news. I wrote extensively over the past few years on how the Bush Administration unduly influenced the progress and release of scientific research due to what was clearly partisan and ideological beliefs. Again, Obama promised to do this in the Science Debate 2008 answers, and he has again followed through. The hard work will begin soon, enforcing this policy and making sure narrow ideological beliefs do not impede our investigation of reality. But that's work I bet a lot of people will be eager to undertake.