Scientists might make great politicians, but they’re human like everyone else

To the editor: Promoters of the nascent movement of scientists into political life suggest that rational, objective research (and researchers) in government will lead to better policy results for Americans. (“A new take on political science: Training researchers to run for office,” June 15)

They also imply that the scientists running for Congress are somehow immune to personal opinions that may skew their conclusions toward one or another political solution.

As a social scientist, I see this as an interesting hypothesis, but hardly one that has been confirmed empirically.

My job title is “research scientist.” I know I’ve got opinions and personal viewpoints that inform how I understand the world, as does every scientist profiled in this article. To suggest otherwise, that merely by being a scientist one can somehow transcend oneself, is naive.

I’m all for more scientists being socially and politically engaged and running for office, but let’s at least be honest about our aspirations and limitations and the reality of the social and political world.

Richard Flory, Newport Beach

The writer is senior director of research and evaluation at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.


To the editor: I applaud some scientists’ decision to run for political office.

Their intellect notwithstanding, another key advantage is the scientists across this country running for Congress are unlikely to become career politicians if they do get elected.

Aristotle, in his “Politics,” spent much time discussing the citizen-politician. Among the challenges, he thought, was paying enough so that serving would not be a hardship, but not so much that one would seek politics as a career.

You can imagine how I feel about term limits for officeholders.

David Wilczynski, Manhattan Beach

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