Bridging Science and Society

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Science  19 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5968, pp. 921
DOI: 10.1126/science.1188231

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The theme of this year's Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) seems especially timely: Bridging Science and Society. Virtually every major issue now confronting society has a science and technology component, and this means that “the need for general scientific understanding by the public has never been larger, and the penalty for scientific illiteracy never harsher.”* Today, science and technology are receiving unprecedented financial and policy support worldwide, as more countries invest in science and science education with the belief that these investments will enhance economic strength and improve the lives of their citizens. In the United States, the current national leadership frequently focuses on science, science education, and science-based policy-making. As well, the U.S. National Science Board just reported in Science Indicators 2010 that the general citizenry continues to hold scientists in high regard, second only to firefighters in prestige. But this confidence and prestige depend on a belief in the integrity and credibility of science, as well as in the scientific community's ability to help solve global problems. A spate of recent incidents has threatened the public's trust and argues that greater attention is essential to maintaining a strong bridge between science and the rest of society.