Science and Policy: The View from the World of Scientists

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Given the fundamentally different aims of science and politics, questions continue to swirl around the ability of scientists to connect to the policy world. Scientists are accused of being reticent about participating in the political process for fear of compromising their scientific integrity. Scientists are also accused of failing to consider broad societal and ethical concerns when conducting their research. This study uses a survey of United States and CAnadian natural scientists to explore these charges from the point of view of scientists. The survey results show that scientists do not have confidence that either scientists or policy makers have the ability (or desire) to understand each other's way of thinking. Still, it appears that scientists do appreciate the importance of societal and ethical concerns to the development of environmental policy, and are willing to address the question of how values are applied to the scientific process.