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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scientists and Politics

At FiveThirtyEight, Ben Wieder writes about the political activity of scientists, noting that Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) is a physicist.
On Saturday, Foster plans to join the thousands of scientists and supporters of science who will take to the National Mall in Washington and to the streets in more than 400 communities across the world to assert the importance of science and protest American policies they see as detrimental to the field and to society. The march, organized in the wake of communication restrictions imposed by President Trump’s administration on government scientists and proposed federal budget cuts to scientific funding, has been described as an unprecedented moment of political engagement by the scientific community.
But scientists, such as those who donated to Foster, don’t necessarily keep politics at arm’s length to begin with. Over the past 10 years, FEC data shows, scientists and engineers have given more than $140 million to federal candidates and parties, with nearly 60 percent of that going to Democratic candidates and party committees.
This analysis considered donations to candidate committees and political parties by individual donors whose self-identified occupation fell within the disciplines of science, mathematics and engineering1 as identified by the National Science Foundation. Social scientists were excluded for the purpose of this analysis. The analysis also excluded donations to candidate-affiliated leadership and joint-fundraising committees as well as independent political groups, which often aren’t affiliated with a particular party. Donation amounts were adjusted for inflation to 2016 dollars. You can find the data on GitHub here.