Yesterday, President Obama coupled his lifting of an executive order banning federal funding for embryonic stem cell research with the signing of a memorandum directing “the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making.” In other words, at the very moment he was directly injecting politics into science by forcing taxpayers to fund research that many find immoral – and that could be funded privately – Obama declared that he wouldn’t politicize science.
Don’t insult our intelligence. When government pays for scientific work that science is politicized. Yes, it could be argued that government not funding something is also political, but which is inherently more politicized, government forcing people to fund research, or leaving it to private individuals to voluntarily support scientific endeavors they believe of value?
You don’t have to be a scientist to grasp the obvious answer to that one. And as I’ve laid out very clearly regarding education, this kind of compelled support ultimately leads not only to ugly politicization, but social conflict and division.
Culture wars, anyone?
The rhetoric supporting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research – and lots of other science – may sound noble, but the means-ends calculations are anything but. They are divisive incursions on liberty, and make political conflict inevitable.