Biden Has Elevated the Job of Science Adviser. Is That What Science Wants?

“Anybody coming to the science advisory submit with out appreciable expertise in politics is in for some impolite shocks,” Edward E. David Jr., President Richard M. Nixon’s science adviser, mentioned in a chat lengthy after his bruising tenure. He died in 2017.

Someday in 1970, Mr. Nixon ordered Dr. David to chop off all federal analysis funding to the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how, Dr. David’s alma mater. On the time, it was receiving greater than $100 million a 12 months.

The rationale? The president of the USA had discovered the political beliefs of the college’s president to be insupportable.

“I simply kind of sat there dumbfounded,” Dr. David recalled. Again in his workplace, the telephone rang. It was John Ehrlichman, one in every of Mr. Nixon’s trusted aides.

“Ed, my recommendation is don’t do something,” he recalled Mr. Ehrlichman saying. The nettlesome problem quickly light away.

In 1973, quickly after Dr. David stop, Mr. Nixon eradicated the fief. The president had reportedly come to see the adviser as a science lobbyist. After Mr. Nixon left workplace, Congress stepped in to reinstate each the advisory submit and its administrative physique, renaming it the White Home Workplace of Science and Know-how Coverage.

The place, some analysts argue, has grown extra influential in line with scientific feats and advances. However others say the job’s stature has declined as science has change into extra specialised and the advisory work has centered more and more on slim matters unlikely to attract presidential curiosity. Nonetheless others maintain that so many specialists now inform the federal authorities {that a} chief White Home scientist has change into superfluous.

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