Would You Vote for a Scientist?

Jan 29, 2018

Shaughnessy Naughton was a chemist and entrepreneur, before she decided to run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District. That was 2014. By 2016, she had founded an organization aimed at helping other scientists run for office.

It’s a booming business to be in. Over the past year, some 7,000 scientists have contacted 3-1-4 Action (yes, the group is named for the first three digits of Pi) for support, training, and endorsements. Naughton says the Trump administration has waged a war on science, and that has catalyzed public engagement by the science community. 

Naughton’s view of a pro-science platform goes well beyond securing science funding. She says it’s about fact- and evidence-based policymaking, and changing public perceptions of scientists. And she argues that the nation’s capital would run more smoothly with more scientists around.

“Scientists, really, what they quintessentially are is problem-solvers,” said Naughton. “Looking at the dysfunction in Washington, I think it’s not a hard argument to make that we need more problem-solvers.”

So far, all of the problem-solvers 3-1-4 Action is working to get elected are Democrats. Naughton says they are open to working with scientists of any stripe, but pro-science Republicans haven’t been stepping forward.