Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where Science and Scientists Are Welcome

It's hard to imagine, but it actually is true: the US is beginning to be on the wrong end of brain drain. Instead of luring scientists from other nations, many US scientists are moving out of this country to others where the atmosphere for scientific inquiry is actually welcomed and well-paid. From today's NY Times:

Singapore, notably conservative on most social issues — including a ban on most types of chewing gum — is emerging as a hotbed for stem cell research, thanks to liberal laws in that field and equally liberal government financing.

Lately the tiny island-state’s ambition of joining the ranks of Boston and the Bay Area as a biotech hub has been getting a hand from an unexpected quarter: the White House. Bush administration policies that restrict federal money for stem cell research have prompted an increasing number of top scientists to pack their bags and head for this equatorial city.

...Scientists say President Bush’s veto last month of legislation to raise limits on federal financing for stem cell research was the latest in a series of setbacks, which they say are stifling the research environment and eroding the edge in basic medical science that the United States has held since World War II.

Shrinking research grants, a greater corporate emphasis on quick profits and the political firestorm over stem cells have left many American scientists frustrated and discouraged. Waiting in the wings with encouragement and cash is authoritarian Singapore, which has begun to earn a reputation as a haven for biomedical freedom.
[Emphasis added]

The anti-science stance of the current regime has been clear almost from its start. Stem cell research is only the latest chapter. Administration plants riding herd on scientists at NASA and other agencies have blunted news on global warming and what could be done about it by this country, one of the major contributers to the green house effect. Budget cuts for these same agencies have stifled any meaningful research into such areas as alternative energy sources to replace our dependency on oil.

Scientists have responded in a totally understandably fashion: they are leaving to find a place that will honor their work. Right now, that place is Singapore.

How embarrassing is that?

And how damaging...


Anonymous Karin said...

I also know of a NY based doctor who started a stem cell research facility in mainland China.

6:35 AM  
Blogger momskids said...

We are so screwed unless we get rid of idiots that think that science has no place in our culture. What did God (if you're a believer) give us intelligence for? To NOT use it?

12:25 PM  

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