Scientists on Changing Their Minds

Posted on February 11, 2008  Comments (3)

When the world’s great scientific thinkers change their minds

The obligation of a scientist to do science by Leon Lederman, Nobel Laureate in Physics (author of The God Particle)

I have always believed that the scientist’s most sacred obligation is to continue to do science. Now I know that I was dead wrong. I am driven to the ultimately wise advice of my Columbia mentor, I.I. Rabi, who, in our many corridor bull sessions, urged his students to run for public office and get elected. He insisted that to be an advisor (he was an advisor to Oppenheimer at Los Alamos, later to Eisenhower and to the AEC) was ultimately an exercise in futility and that the power belonged to those who are elected. Then, we thought the old man was bonkers. But today… A Congress which is overwhelmingly dominated by lawyers and MBAs makes no sense in this 21st century in which almost all issues have a science and technology aspect.

It is important for some scientists to take on other important rolls in society – political leaders, popular authors, business leaders, government officials (regulators etc.), political commentators…

Related: Science and Engineering in PoliticsThe A to Z Guide to Political Interference in ScienceDiplomacy and Science ResearchProposed Legislation on Science and EducationGlobal Scientific LeadershipOpen Access Journal Wars

3 Responses to “Scientists on Changing Their Minds”

  1. Mark
    February 12th, 2008 @ 7:46 am

    I’ve been thinking the same thing for some time, actually, just having more people of every field going into politics instead of having politics being a sole profession of politicians seems like a good idea. Switzerland is good example, the government is made up of people with actual jobs, and was developed by using the US system as a basis.

    This is one reason why I’ve been favoring Ron Paul for the US office, he really is the only candidate who has had a significant career in a science/medical related field, a rarity in the US government, and I think the logical reasoning from his medical schooling comes across when he speaks on issues.


  2. CuriousCat: Scientists and Engineers in Congress
    March 9th, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

    A list of Congressmen with science PhDs: Vernon Ehlers, Michigan, physics PhD; Rush Holt, New Jersey, physics PhD; John Olver, Massachusetts, chemistry PhD; Brian Baird, Washington, psychology PhD; and now Bill Foster, Illinois, physics PhD. Other scientists, engineers and mathematicians include: Ron Paul, Texas, biology BS, MD; Jerry McNerney, California, math PhD…

  3. Curious Cat Science Blog » 76 Nobel Laureates in Science Endorse Obama
    October 30th, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

    “76 Nobel Laureates in Science Endorse Obama!. This is the largest number of Nobel laureates to endorse anything according…”

Leave a Reply