Regardless of your political leanings, for most of us with scientific/technical training and/or leanings, the trend over most of the last decade in government towards science has been challenging. From the way that global climate change science has been treated to how evolution and ecology are handled in the classroom, politics has been placed over science in a way that has significantly inhibited the ability of the government to leverage scientific approaches to solve the problems of our time. There is a great op-ed piece over at the NY Times by Olivia Judson (an evolutionary biologist herself) about the phenomenon, and what will need to be done to turn it around. See here to read.
Science itself … is an attitude, a stance towards measuring, evaluating and describing the world that is based on skepticism, investigation and evidence. The hallmark is curiosity; the aim, to see the world as it is. This is not an attitude restricted to scientists, but it is, I think, more common among them. And it is not something taught so much as acquired during a training in research or by keeping company with scientists.
Funny how the same exact qualities of informed skeptiscim and an interest in validating the world around us by evidence, analysis and disputation are also hallmarks of the hacker culture. I wonder how groups like HacDC, NYCResistor, CCCC, et al. can act as a postive force in facilitating this sea-change. I have been repeatedly impressed with the folks at HacDC and their willingness to get involved with both the local and the global community to address some of the technically-oriented social needs of our society. Perhaps by continuing to serve as a place of education and scientific/technical inquiry, we can inspire others around us to positively and intelligently challenge the status quo(s) of our community and make things better for everyone.