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When Politics Competes with Science

Government plays a large role in scientific research through funding. But how does politics get in the way of scientific research and discovery? As part of our continuing series Exploring Ethics wit

When Politics Competes with Science

Tom Fudge : Missile defense systems. Stem cell technology. Information about global warming. It doesn't take long for you to identify areas of scientific research that have an impact on our lives and our politics. Very often these areas are very controversial. Is embryonic stem cell research vital to curing serious medical problems? Maybe so, but a fair number of Americans think it's also immoral because it destroys new human life. Those Americans include our president, George W. Bush.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from forbidding certain kinds of scientific research. But the government can decide what it is willing to fund. It can also decide what kinds of research it will choose to ignore or, in some cases, keep under wraps.


The government's attitude toward scientific research that may be in the public's interest is a political matter, and an ethical matter. And it's a question that the San Diego Ethics Center is taking on.

The Ethics Center's community forum: "Politics in Science: Who Decides What Gets Done and What it Means?" is Wednesday, October 1, 2008, from 5:30-7pm, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. The forum is free and open to the public.

Gerald Markowitz is giving a Science and Society lecture on Thursday, October 2, 2008, at 3pm at UCSD.


  • Gail Naughton , dean of SDSU's College of Business Administration and is co-founder of La Jolla-based Advanced Tissue Sciences, which develops tissue from cells.
  • Naomi Oreskes , professor of history at UCSD, who studies the history of scientific knowledge of the earth and environment.
  • Gerald Markowitz , professor of history at City University of New York, and co-author of "Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution."