61 Nobel Laureates endorse Obama

In an open letter to the US public, 61 of the world’s top scientists and scholars – all winners of the Nobel prize in their fields of expertise – unanimously endorse Barack Obama for President. This is the largest number of Nobel winners ever to endorse any candidate. John Kerry only netted 48, apparently.

The list includes Nobel winners from chemistry, physics, and medicine. Of the 61, nearly half (25) won their prizes in medicine. These are the people who cure diseases. The list also includes the people whose discoveries allow us to build mighty machines and grow lots and lots of food. It might be a good idea to listen to their advice about how best to help science, and which Presidential candidate would be more helpful than the other.

I wish I believed that the American people would see that letter and be convinced. Sadly, many Americans will just sneer. To them science is the enemy, the source of facts that challenge their unfounded worldviews. To them, science teaches we are filthy beasts, cast adrift in a planetary casino of death. These same people drive around in cars built on the sciences of metallurgy (chassis, engine), organic chemistry (tires, airbags, brakes, engine), and quantum mechanics (electronics). They take medicine for their diseases (organic chemistry, genetics, physiology) and spend their spare time on the internet (quantum mechanics, again… and physics, metallurgy, polymer chemistry, information theory). These people eat food (organic chemistry, genetics, botany, microbiology, evolutionary biology, ecology). Science is how we figure things out, and figure out how to use what we figure out. Can we please just agree on that, and move on?

Because these 61 people have devoted their lives to learning everything real they possibly can about a part of the universe, the lives of billions of others are improved. The economy we depend on for everything that makes us great is enabled by the depth to which we are willing to interrogate reality. American scientists invent so much because our society is built on the successes of past scientists who were not under a gag rule. We have a lot to work with. But the power given to those who delve the deepest can only be kept if they don’t stop digging. If America keeps turning inward, afraid of its shadow, clinging to dead gods, we will stop digging. Other nations won’t wait for us to catch up, either.

When the people who built your world have an opinion, it’s prudent to take that opinion seriously.

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~ by Planetologist on September 28, 2008.

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