As scientists—and science supporters—prepare to march in the United States, Europe, and beyond, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on board. Some point to the dangers of further politicizing science, and some (including many of our astute readers) say it’s far too early to weigh in on the science-related policies of the new U.S. administration. But the key word there is “science-related.” Science touches politics in a host of areas, from funding for health care research to policies that limit—or enhance—international cooperation. Is there a story you think we’re missing? Contact us at the bottom of this briefing to let us know!
The front page
Washington, D.C., won’t be the only place where lab coats and science-inspired signs will fill the streets on 22 April. Groups in eight European countries have announced “solidarity marches” in support of the U.S. March for Science. Meanwhile, the European Molecular Biology Organization has set up the Science Solidarity List, where scientists can offer bench or desk space to colleagues stranded as a result of the measures. More than 480 researchers in dozens of countries have made offers. Science
The march has spurred debate over whether it will help boost public support for research, or make scientists look like another special interest group. Already, three major scientific societies have spoken out in support of the march; at least five others are still considering their positions. Meanwhile, here’s some advice to would-be marchers from a veteran science lobbyist. Science
U.S. public backs mandatory MMR vaccination
In a new Pew Research Center survey, 82% of Americans say the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine should be required for public school entry because of the risks that unvaccinated children pose to their peers. In a similar survey in 2014, 68% of respondents supported a school entry requirement for childhood vaccines generally. Support did not vary appreciably between Republicans and Democrats, though 25% of self-identified conservatives said parents should be able to refuse vaccines for their children, even if the decision puts other children at risk.
Polling, whether done by phone or door-to-door, is extremely labor intensive and expensive: It fuels an $18 billion industry. And it has problems. Not only have response rates fallen to single digits, leaving pollsters to rely on a thin and biased sample of people, but also an analysis last year of more than 1000 polls found evidence of widespread data fabrication. Can mining online data resources like Twitter and Facebook solve these problems, or will it only make the bias worse? Science
It will be the most powerful agency in U.K. science, created to give research a stronger voice, and after a 5-month search, it has a director. Today, the government announced the selection of Mark Walport, currently the chief science adviser to the U.K. government, as head of UK Research and Innovation. The umbrella organization for the existing research councils will serve as the strategic command center of government research funding. Science
In case you missed it:
- Senate Republicans suspend committee rules to approve Trump’s EPA nominee
- Trump’s immigration ban could cost U.S. colleges $700 million
- Dear Mr. President: This is how federal funding to universities works
- Trump wants to blow up the FDA. The drug industry? Not so much
- Rex Tillerson took a different tone on climate change when the cameras were off
What are we missing?
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