News from the AMS Council Meeting

January 22, 2012 · 0 comments

At its meeting this morning, the AMS Council approved its influential Information Statement on Freedom of Scientific Expression for a five-year term. The statement is identical to the one that had been in force and was set to expire soon. The new expiration date is February 2017.

This statement has been welcomed throughout the scientific community as a whole, forming the basis for similar statements by other scientific societies. For example, in 2009 the American Geophysical Union adopted word for word the AMS text for its own Statement on Free and Open Communication of Scientific Findings.

Maintaining this unified position amongst scientific communities facilitates communication to the public about the strongly held values of the profession as a whole.

The AMS and AGU Statements state, for example, that

The ability of scientists to present their findings to the scientific community, policy makers, the media, and the public without censorship, intimidation, or political interference is imperative. In return it is incumbent upon scientists to communicate their findings in ways that portray their results and the results of others, objectively, professionally, and without sensationalizing or politicizing the associated impacts.

It is hard to imagine a statement that could be more apt to the conferences we’re about to launch here in New Orleans.

In other steps related to Statements at its morning meeting, the AMS Council voted to extend the life of the current Information Statement on Climate Change. The expiration date has been extended from 1 February 2012 to 1 September 2012. In addition to maintaining a clear, scientifically sound position on this newsworthy topic, this new step gives the drafting committee for an updated climate change statement more time to respond to detailed feedback from the September 2011 Council meeting.  (See The Front Page post issued yesterday for more about the progress of this committee and of Statements in general.)

Also, this morning the Council encouraged a proposal to update the Statement on Meteorological Drought. However, the Council did not approve the proposal as is, and asked the drafting committee to broaden participation to better include perspectives from the hydrology and water resources communities, and experts from other parts of the world.