The nerds are rankled by the disrespect shown to science in politics, and they're fighting back.
Shaughnessy Naughton, a chemist who lost a close Democratic primary race for U.S. House this spring in PA-08, announced Monday the formation of 314 PAC, designed to help recruit, train and elect Democratic candidates who have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. "Nothing in our constitution says we have to be governed by lawyers," Naughton said.
She said it is no longer enough for various professional scientific societies to speak in general bipartisan terms because of the "anti-science rhetoric we hear out of the Republican side," such as denying the existence of global climate change.
In addition, Naughton said, federal funding for research is declining.
"We need more people with STEM backgrounds in government, because the current political climate has allowed so-called 'small government' advocates to undermine innovation and strip researchers of much-needed funding," Naughton said.
The 314 PAC is named after Pi, the mathematical constant equal to about 3.14. It s begun raising money and initially will focus on candidates for Congress.
In this midterm year, Naughton said 314 is thinking about helping Bill Foster, a nuclear physicist running for the House in suburban Chicago, and Amanda Curtis, a math teacher who is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Montana as an independent super PAC. Beginning next year, she said, it will operate as a traditional federal PAC that can give directly to candidates.
A board of advisors with prominent scientists and political operatives will help find and recruit possible candidates, Naughton said. Members include: Dr. Benjamin Abella, a Penn medical professor who runs a center for the study of resuscitation science; Dr. Val Arkoosh, a Penn professor and anesthesiologist who ran for Congress in Pa-13; Det Ansinn of Doylestown, founder of the tech firm Bricksimple; Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center; and Joe Trippi, a national political strategist.