public, more scientists should consider leaving the halls of science to work in the halls of Congress. This great industrial society is represented in its federal and state legislatures by hundreds of lawyers—but only a handful of chemists, biologists, engineers and others with technical training. America needs people with scientific expertise to throw their hats—and their lab coats—into the political ring to help make sound decisions about the environment, space policy, agriculture and other critical subjects.
By raising their level of involvement in these ways, scientists can help rid society of important misconceptions about what society can and cannot expect science to accomplish. In the past, science has spoiled us with its success. Time and again, it has found the silver bullet that can cure whatever ills society faces. But we cannot continue to create messes, counting on science to clean up after us.
Times have changed, and we must change with them. It is no longer acceptable for a governor to duck a tough decision by saying, ''I'm a politician, not a scientist." For the good of our children, governors must know about both politics and science—and scientists must, too. In these days of complex problems and high-tech solutions, it is essential that those who understand the laws of nature be more involved in the making of the laws of man.
July 30, 1989
Thomas H. Kean is governor of New Jersey. This article is adapted from a speech he gave at the National Academy of Sciences.
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