Science & Society
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after the first anthrax attack last October, the National Science
Foundation made an award of just under $200,000 to sequence the
genetic makeup of the anthrax bacterium. Microbial genome sequencing
is a valuable tool in defending against bioterrorism. This is a
clear example of fundamental research responding to national need.
The anthrax attacks also taught us why it is so important to have
a public educated to the issues of science and technology. Although
anthrax is not an everyday occurrence, there were many, including
public officials, who thought it was contagious. It is vital that
our citizens and all our leaders have a better working knowledge
of the science and technology that defines our very existence.
literate about science and technology serves several goals. It gives
the nation a workforce educated and trained to compete in the increasingly
competitive global marketplace. It promotes good judgment among
voters on both issues and candidates. It serves as strong defense
against delusions of safety as well as threats. I cannot exaggerate
the primary importance of a scientifically literate citizenry. I
cannot stress enough the responsibility of the science community
to help us meet that goal.
as we reflect on our knowledge-driven society, we all know that
knowledge alone is not enough to make a better world. The Founding
Fathers framed a set of primary values for our nation based on the
independence of, and the respect for, individuals. Armed with these
values, science becomes an important vehicle for human progress.
With these values to guide us, we have made appropriate choices
for ourselves as a nation.