O’Reilly Jean – Presidential: Science should be a major talking point


do notIt is soon between two rounds of this presidential election. There are topics that many candidates avoid or ignore when they are important for the future of our country such as culture, climate change or science. We are entitled to wonder about the causal relationship of this observation: are the French not worried, or are the candidates and the media leading the discussions? Either way, that needs to change, or risk losing key issues, like the role of science, which should inform the vast majority of this campaign’s themes.

Science is broken, exhausted and upset. It is unreliable, it has been smeared by many people – including some scientists and clinicians – and it scares, even paralyzes, most of us until we see the attractiveness of declining scientific fields. of dynamism. But it is not for lack of experience in recent years to test the consequences of scientific fragility on public policies. We can cite mediocre and unattractive academic research, the impossibility of designing a vaccine against Covid-19, scientists leaving the country, or even very little private funding. However, without going into technological solutions, we recognize the importance of giving all French people access to the fruits of progress. Medicine, transport, communications and even energy are some examples of areas where scientific innovation is increasing. The economy can benefit.

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Listen to science

Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions to which the candidates in the second round must answer and which they must debate: How to give to public scientific research but also private a place of choice in the innovation and the economic strategy of a country? How to encourage private funds to invest in technological start-ups – which are the result of research work – and at the same time prevent the future Moderna from leaving the country for lack of funding? How to put science back at the heart of the school curriculum, starting in kindergarten? How do girls and women develop an appetite for science? How to preserve – not to say save – French medical excellence? There is clearly no shortage of questions, unlike the answers considered secret by many candidates. Often they are not able to answer them.

We remember Joe Biden, in January 2021, who surrounded himself with scientists and engineers on the first day of his inauguration at the White House to advise him, and took the first steps that enlightened science, including the mandatory mask-wearing and US policy. back 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 extraordinary scientific qualities, it is time to use them.

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Jessica C. Bell