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Political Scientists

  1. Jul 13, 2010 #1

    Pythagorean

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    no, I don't mean the field of study, political science, I'm referring to hard scientists that are politically engaged/interested. How many are there?

    Most of my scientific community isn't really interested much at all in politics. There are couple, but they're kind of nutty (or maybe this is just my opinion based on my aversion to politics).

    Anyway, how many of physicsforums hard scientists are politically engaged? Is this stereotypical of scientists to not like politics? Why do you think?
     
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  3. Jul 13, 2010 #2

    arildno

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    My Dad was a university biologist, and thoroughly apolitical.
    Therefore, he voted the Conservatives all his life. :smile:
     
  4. Jul 13, 2010 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    A physics professor at my alma mater was very active in the anti-nuclear-weapons effort. On the door of his office was a list of near nuclear launches resulting from false detections due to flocks of birds, misidentified aircraft, systems failures and the like. He was very active in opposing automatic response systems that take the human out of the decision loop.

    The origins of the environmental movement is usually credited to the book, Silent Spring, by Rachael Carson - a marine biologist.

    Much of the environmental movement [and others] since Silent Spring finds its roots in science -deforestation, overpopulation, food production challenges, the loss of water supplies, the loss of species, AIDS and other diseases, pollution... Scientists are the ones who tell us that we are now in the middle of the next great extinction. And one can hardly ignore the furor over global warming - perhaps the greatest single issue ever faced by humankind.

    One could hardly address this question without considering Eistein's famous letter to Roosevelt.

    What drives many political issues is the underlying science. So, by definition, scientists play a siginficant role in politics. But it is also likely true that many scientists are focused on one particular problem, rather than all of politics.

    I can't help but think of one marine biologist who was glad to retire. She didn't want to be around to watch the oceans die. Was that a political statement?
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
  5. Jul 13, 2010 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Three physicists have been in Congress: Holt, Ehlers and Foster.
     
  6. Jul 13, 2010 #5
    Would you believe that I personally know a man who is both a physicist and ran for president?
    Ah I have a gem for you: George Phillies- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Phillies [Broken]

    I got my PhD at WPI where George is a professor and the primaries were going on when I was there. Pretty surreal. He is a nice guy though. He taught some interesting classes on game theory I remember.
     
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  7. Jul 13, 2010 #6

    Pythagorean

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    I have no doubt about exceptions (especially when we look worldwide over time).

    But I'm more interested in personal anectodes and opinions from the scientintific community here.
     
  8. Jul 13, 2010 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    I know that Gokul has been active politically. We have a number of Ph.D.s [assuming that's what you mean by scientist] in the sciences who have been active in political discussions. But you haven't defined what you mean by active, or interested.

    In order to have any meaning, we need to know what percentage of the average population is active politically. Frankly, in my experience, most people are pretty clueless.
     
  9. Jul 13, 2010 #8
    What exactly do you mean by "politically engaged"? Do you mean people who pay attention to the national news? I think it is ambiguous. But, that may simply be because of the spectrum of possibilities.

    I don't know many people who actually do like politics. You are forced to pay attention because it impacts your life, but it is horribly corrupt. You know only the rich and powerful really get a say at the national level. Most people I know, regardless of being left wing or right wing, are fairly disenfranchised.

    As a scientist, your research funding likely comes from the federal government is some form, so you are forced to pay attention because part of you livelihood depends on it. I get periodic messages from the various professional societies I belong to asking me to contact my senator or congressman about some issue. I typically do. I have also, on a few instances, sent my opinion to my congressman or senator concerning some issue. You get some dumb form back thanking you for giving your input. It definitely does not give me the impression that they are listening to me.
     
  10. Jul 13, 2010 #9

    Pythagorean

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    The ideal was that Scientists (phd or masters in a hard science) would respond themselves and talk about their relationship with politics.

    Like I said, personal anecdote and opinion. I'm not really interested in scientifically rigid statistics or logical arguments (thus, off topic thread).
     
  11. Jul 14, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Then you might want to pick a better title.
     
  12. Jul 14, 2010 #11

    Pythagorean

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    Interesting...

    Holt
    Ehlers

    Foster





    I guess I'm interested in the whole spectrum, really. The physicists that are politicians like above are admirable. I personally don't think my vote really counts for much. I don't really know how well informed I am, I don't trust any news sources and I don't really watch TV at all. So to me, it's kind of silly to get involved at the lower level like that (watching TV, following closely, voting). Especially since most people just watch the news channel that best represents their party anyway.


    This is true, but I'm not sure how this applies beyond western democratic countries.

    People being disenfranchised and polar parties, that is. I completely agree that the rich and powerful have a significant impact in any country, which is what makes politics futile and frustrating (especially in a supposedly democratic society). I don't have a lot of money and I'm not in the mood to play ball, currently, as your colleague and Vanadium's big three did.

    Well, yeah, kind of. You don't necessarily have to be politically active, just like you don't have to watch the news. All the people around you are always talking about it.

    Similar to you, I feel like it's pretty futile. I don't even bother sending the letters, though. My general strategy is to just adapt to the changes.
     
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