When I used to teach English and what was then called “general studies” to budding scientists, one of the essay questions I most often set for them ran more or less as follows: “Should a country’s science policy be determined by its politicians or by its scientists?” I liked it because it was the only one of the hundreds of essays I must have set over the years that had what I thought to be an indisputably right and wrong answer, though the right one was not usually the one my pupils argued for. Those young scientists would naturally tend to answer in favor, as they saw it, of their chosen profession, but the less narrowly focused among them could occasionally see—or be brought to see—that those who exercised the public trust (namely, politicians) would betray that trust if they turned such a responsibility over to someone else, anyone...


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