How About an “In Defense of Science” Pledge?

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a number of presidential hopefuls sign all manner of pledges regarding tax increases, the federal budget, marriage, sexuality, religion and reproductive rights.

All this in the midst of a final space shuttle mission and the James Webb Telescope’s likely death at the hands of Congress.

So what about an “In Defense of Science Pledge” for U.S. elected officials?

I think it might go something like this:

I PLEDGE that I will only support candidates who are committed to science. I demand that any candidate I support commit to these positions:

FIRST, science is a seamless web of accumulated human knowledge propelling human civilization into the future. It is indivisible and to destroy a part is to rip the whole fabric.*

SECOND, skeptical scrutiny is the means by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.**

THIRD, where science can save human lives or decrease human suffering, it should be pursued indifferently to religious, business or partisan concerns.

FOURTH, where science can prevent the destruction of our planet, it should be pursued indifferently to religious, business or partisan concerns.

FIFTH, science education is crucial to the betterment of the United States and the world.

These are just a few that come to mind, but I bet you have some good ones in mind as well. Feel free to drop them in the comments section.

Of course, candidates would have to be careful to avoid signing the “In Defense of Mad Science Pledge” currently making the rounds. Surely you’ve seen it:

I PLEDGE that I will only support candidates who are committed to mad science and support these positions:

FIRST, science is great, but if it’s not mad enough we’ll never have the robot army we need to conquer the known world and entrench the planet against the coming alien invasion. I will save us all!

SECOND, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating a race of atomic super mutants to power the treadmills in my Iron Death Walker. Cower before me!

THIRD, the beautiful women who spurned my advances in high school will be cloned to create a harem of perfect ninja assassin brides. All major world leaders will be forced to serve as mere chaperones on my DATE of TRIUMPH!

FOURTH, self experimentation is necessary to expedite scientific achievement — even if my very touch now causes things to catch fire and I have to wear this iron mask. I’m very close to a breakthrough however so please, climb into the test pod now!

So there you have it! You can find the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast on iTunes, Zune, and the RSS feed. And don’t forget the free HowStuffWorks App!

Image credit: Jeremy Brooks/Creative Commons

* The paraphrased words of famed science writer Lawrence Lessing.
** The paraphrased words Carl Sagan.

Originally published at HSW: How About an “In Defense of Science” Pledge?


Robert Lamb is a senior staff writer at HowStuffWorks.com and co-host of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast and blog. He is also a regular contributor to Discovery News. Follow him on Twitter @blowthemind.

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