O’Reilly Jean – Presidential: Science should be a major topic of discussion


notIts soon between two rounds of this presidential election. There are topics that many candidates avoid or are not interested in when they are important to the future of our country such as culture, climate change or science. We are entitled to ask about the cause-and-effect relationship of this observation: are the French not worried, or are the candidates and the media directing the discussions? Regardless, this must change, with the risk of losing essential issues, such as the role of science, which should inform the vast majority of this campaign’s themes.

Science is broken, exhausted, and upset. It’s unreliable, it has been smeared by many people–including some scientists and clinicians–and it frightens, even paralyzes, most of us until we see the attractiveness of scientific fields in loss of dynamism. However, this is not because there has been a lack of experience in recent years in crash-testing the consequences of scientific fragility for public policies. We can cite poor and unattractive academic research, the impossibility of designing a vaccine against Covid-19, scientists leaving the country, or even still very little private funding. However, without delving into technological solutions, we will acknowledge the importance of giving all French people access to the fruits of progress. Medicine, transportation, communications or even energy are some examples of areas with increased scientific innovation. The economy can benefit.

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Listen to the science

Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions that candidates in the second round must answer and that they should discuss: How do we give public—but also private—scientific research a place for choice in innovation and a country’s economic strategy? How do we encourage private funds to invest in technology start-ups – which come from research work – and at the same time prevent future Moderna from leaving the country due to lack of funding? How do we bring science back to the heart of the school curriculum, starting in kindergarten? How do girls and women develop appetite for science? How do we preserve – not say save – French medical excellence? There is clearly no shortage of questions, unlike answers that are considered secret to many candidates. They may not often be able to answer it.

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We remember Joe Biden, in January 2021, who surrounded himself with scientists and engineers on the first day of his inauguration in the White House to advise him, and took the first actions that informed science, including mandatory mask-wearing and the United States’ return to the Paris climate agreement. The echo must cross the Atlantic to encourage the next French president to listen to the flag. Our country has unusual scientific qualities, it is time to use them.

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