Uncommon Ground

A Call to Action: Marshaling Science for Society – AIBS President and Past-Presidents

Greg Anderson, Gene Likens, and I are Past Presidents of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, an organization representing nearly 120 scientific societies, museums, botanical gardens, and universities (including the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UConn). We joined Charles Fenster, current President of AIBS, and 20 of our fellow Past Presidents in writing A call to action: marshaling science for society, which appeared in BioScience today. Here are the first and the concluding paragraphs of what we wrote:

As the current and past presidents of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), we find the assault by politicians and special interest groups on the use of scientific knowledge to guide public policy decision-making alarming and dangerous. The marginalization of scientific information in decision-making has significant negative effects on our public health and safety, our environmental sustainability, and our general well-being. We need not look further than the disruption and deaths that have resulted in many countries, including the United States, from failing to use scientific evidence in making decisions on how to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

The progress of science over the centuries has led to our deep understanding of natural phenomena. We must find ways to benefit from that understanding as we move into the future. Let us join together to insist on acting logically and rationally in a world so plagued by self-centered short-term goals and the false information that they all too often generate.

If you’d prefer a podcast version, here’s the link: http://bioscience-talks.aibs.org/science-leaders-issue-clarion-call-for-evidence-based-policy. Twenty-four organizations have endorsed the statement. You can see them here: https://aibs.wufoo.com/reports/aibs-past-and-current-presidents-viewpoint/.

I hope you’ll take time to read the call or listen to the podcast. If you belong to a society that has not yet endorsed the viewpoint, I encourage you to ask leaders of your society to sign on.

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