How Science Works and How Can It Inform Policy?

January 20, 2006

Congress must make numerous critical decisions that need to be informed by science. These range from deciding the best way to prevent an outbreak of avian flu to developing the most effective energy policies. This briefing, featuring two of the nation's most respected scientific voices, is designed to provide an overview of the scientific method, that is how scientists go about trying to understand the world, and of how they can best help us in our work. The briefing is not focused on any specific policy question or position, but rather on how science can and should be used by political decision-makers.

The first portion of the briefing, which will be led by Dr. Donald Kennedy, Editor-in- Chief of Science, our country's leading science journal, will cover such topics as: What is a scientific theory and how are such theories tested? What constitutes a scientific proof? Is there such a thing as scientific fact? What is the role of probability in science and how do scientists deal with uncertainty? How does science tackle so called "non-linear" changes like global climate change or the loss of some species worldwide, when these changes are unprecedented, enormously complex, and on a global scale?

The second part of the briefing will be led by Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (The National Academies comprise the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.) He will look at the role of scientists in general, and the Academy and other non-governmental scientific bodies in particular, in advising policy-makers, and how these advisory relationships might work most effectively.

The program will include:

Welcome and Introductions--Eric Chivian M.D., Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School; Co-Founder, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize

How Science Works--Donald Kennedy Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, Science; former President, Stanford University; former Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

How Can Science Most Effectively Inform Policy--Harvey V. Fineberg M.D., Ph.D., President of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies; former Provost of Harvard University; former Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health

Discussion to Follow
-end-
This briefing is free and open to the public; no reservations are required. For further information, please contact Margaret Thomsen at the Center for Health and the Global Environment (617-384-8533 or margaret_thomsen@hms.harvard.edu).

Harvard Medical School

Related Global Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Global 'BiteMap' reveals how marine food webs may change with climate
Where are small marine animals most vulnerable to getting eaten?

A fraction of global COVID-19 stimulus funds could aid climate change efforts
A modest fraction of worldwide COVID-19 economic stimulus package funds--which have surpassed USD 12 trillion to date--could help put the world on track to Paris Agreement goals for the climate, say Marina Andrijevic and colleagues in this Policy Forum.

Act now on wildfires, global climate change, human health, study says
Immediate actions are needed to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change that helps fuel wildfires, a Monash University study says.

Abrupt global climate change events occurred synchronously during last glacial period
The abrupt climate warming events that occurred in Greenland during the last glacial period occurred very close in time to other rapid climate change events seen in paleoclimate records from lower latitudes, according to a new study, which reveals a near-synchronous teleconnection of climate events spanning Earth's hemispheres.

Climate change: Coastal flooding could threaten up to 20% of global GDP
Coastal flooding events could threaten assets worth up to 20% of the global GDP by 2100, a study in Scientific Reports suggests.

Climate change and the threat to global breadbaskets
Extreme climatic conditions could lead to an increased risk of unusually low agricultural harvests if more than one global breadbasket is affected by adverse climate conditions at the same time.

Global climate change concerns for Africa's Lake Victoria
UH Researcher and team developed a model to project lake levels in world's largest tropical lake

Impact of climate change on global banana yields revealed
Climate change could negatively impact banana cultivation in some of the world's most important producing and exporting countries, a study has revealed.

Study considers sensory impacts of global climate change
Climate change affects not only the growth and survival of marine animals, but also their senses.

Research brief: Climate change is already affecting global food production -- unequally
UMN researchers found that climate change is affecting different areas of global food production differently.

Read More: Global Climate Change News and Global Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.