Here's a quote from a recent interview in PLoS Genetics [Scientist Citizen: An Interview with Bruce Alberts].
You look at the current political system in the US. It's incredibly depressing. These kinds of statements that “scientists only believe in climate change so that they can get a grant.” This kind of stuff couldn't be said if we actually had a population that understood what science is. We have a fantastic scientific community, and if we don't unleash them and give them credit for working on these things, then I don't think our country is going to prosper.Like I say, science is a way of knowing that involves evidence and rationality. Now you know where I got that from.
Every ten years the Academy publishes a booklet called “Science, Evolution and Creationism” [available online], and before the last one in 2008, the Academy hired one of the companies that put people behind a one-way mirror and interview them to see what they think about some new product. But this question was, “How do they think about science and creationism?”
And the staggering message from these college-educated adults is that they don't see any difference between science as a belief system and religion as a belief system. So basically, the preacher tells them what religious people believe, the scientists tell them what scientists believe, and [they think] “I can choose either one.” And the reason they can say that is that they don't understand what we call “science as a way of knowing”. That it is not a belief system, that it is an evidence-based community process.
This is just unbelievable, that our American public can determine our future without understanding the fundamental issues about scientific facts. If the population isn't prepared to deal with these kinds of issues, to think rationally and respect evidence, then I think the country is really in danger.
The photo was taken at Bruce's 70th birthday party. It shows him with his first three graduate students: Keith Yamamoto (left), me (second from right), and Glenn Herrick (right).