We Need More Scientists in Office
John Allen Paulos: Time to put aptitude over attitude
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 14, 2012 1:59 PM CST
Let's get more scientists in office, writes John Allen Paulos.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – In China, eight of the country's nine top leaders have scientific training; wealthy Singapore has scientists for prime minister and president; Germany's chancellor is a chemistry PhD. But among 435 lawmakers in the US House, just a handful have science backgrounds, notes John Allen Paulos in the New York Times. "Given the complexities of an ever more technologically sophisticated world, the United States could benefit from the participation and example of more scientists in government."

Why is the US so averse to the idea? For one thing, "an abstract, scientific approach to problems and issues often leads to conclusions that are at odds with religious and cultural beliefs," Paulos writes. Meanwhile, the political approach "often leads to positions that simply don’t jibe with the facts." The media perpetuates fake controversies over climate change and vaccines that would make most world leaders "laugh." We tend to value attitude over aptitude—but "leaders who push for evidence-based policies and demonstrate a scientific outlook are needed more than glib panderers with attitude."