I was asked by AP journalist Seth Borenstein for my views on the letter released yesterday by 70 Nobel Prize winners in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president of the United States (the letter actually had 69 signatures).
Indicating the significance of such letters, it merited only a short blurb in an AP election news round up. Below you can see my full response to Borenstein on the letter.
Do experts really want to convey to the American public that the most important reason that they are supporting Clinton are the feathers that she might provide to their nest? Really? In the 2016 election?
Writing in Nature last March, Colin Macilwain took issue with such myopic approaches to politics by experts in the scientific community:
The political structure of the West is in deep trouble, and should it fall apart, there will be plenty of blame to go around. Most will go to political and financial elites, or to rowdy mobs. But some will belong to people in the middle who have taken public funds, defended elites and then stood back and watched as democracy got ridden over a cliff.
Scientists should engage in policy and politics, but they should do so in a way that is considered and informed. A simple endorsement of a candidate based on expectations of how that candidate will treat the self-interests of the scientific community is neither considered nor informed.