President Obama’s remark that his administration would “restore science to its rightful place” was both a shot at the Bush Administration, as well as a misleading statement. First, this comment wrongly suggested that science can somehow resolve difficult policy questions. Insofar as policy differences are based upon normative concerns, science may inform our decisions, but it cannot resolve policy disputes. Nor, contrary to Obama’s explict suggestion, will it magically address health care costs (as Scott Gotlieb explained in the WSJ today). President Obama’s comment also reinforced the meme that Republicans politicize science, while Democrats respect science. Yet, as I explained here, Obama’s selection for his top science advisor, John Holdren, is hardly someone to end politicization of science.
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