Illustration: Samantha Moya

Science lacks transparency, here’s why you should care

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By Sylvia Lorico 

I was that kid in love with science.

When I was six, my mom bought me my first chemistry set, a small collection of beakers and a single Erlenmeyer flask. I would spend hours at home, mixing fluids with whatever I could find in my kitchen. Nothing excited me more than experiments.

Science SHOULD be exciting. After all, it consists of the very building blocks of our universe. Every bite of food you eat, or every step you take, science is there, explaining how anything we do is possible.

Ryerson might not be the top performing school when it comes to science, but we’re growing. In fact, undergraduate enrolment grew by 60 per cent between 2010-2015.

This issue celebrates science and technology within the Ryerson community. We look at space, the Earth and the wavelengths in our atmosphere. We dig into the science behind these topics and the people behind the research.

Science is a traditionally objective field. It’s rooted, in fact, in observable things that can be reproduced. Yet the most objective of fields is subject to controversies.

Journalists like to advocate for transparency. We call out instances where someone attempts to restrict our freedom of the press.

But what about our scientists?

According to a survey released in late February by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents more than 15,000 scientists, more than half of respondents said they didn’t feel they could speak freely to the public and the media about their work.

This statistic pales in comparison to that of the Harper era when Canadian environmentalists were discredited and treated as threats to the country. Canada also fares better than our neighbours to the South. Under U.S. President Donald Trump, several key scientists, including those within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have been silenced.

However, a lack of transparency is still a major cause for concern.

In the same Canadian survey, 23 per cent of respondents said they were aware of cases where public health and safety had been compromised because of political interferences since the last election in 2015.

These stats SHOULD concern you. We deserve to know the facts just as much as our scientists deserve to be understood and valued.

This issue celebrates science and technology but it also doesn’t shy away from other, controversial elements. We look at controversial topics from privacy to what defines a STEM program.

In the next decade or so, science and technology will surpass all of our expectations. Cars may become self-driving and cures will be found for diseases we once thought incurable.

I can’t wait for this future. The idea of eliminating problems like disease or hunger because of science is unbelievable.  But before any of this happens, I want to know that our scientists, inventors and innovators can be transparent with me first. Just like any other person looking for the truth, I want to be able to evaluate the facts first.

Here are all the stories in our Science & Technology issue:

Where does whiteness in science STEM from?

Ryerson grad adapts cellphone tech for NASA

What are the dangers of Facebook accessing your person information?

Does nursing belong in STEM?

Scientific myths you might still believe


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