He's graciously given me permission to post his address:
I thought I would whet your appetite by reproducing Bob's concluding remarks below. But won't it spoil the 'main course'? Not on your life; if the dessert is this good, imagine what the main course is like!
Let me wrap up with a quote attributed to the late New York Senator Daniel Moynihan:
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts.”
And facts, including probabilities, are what the public and decision-makers need from scientists, not pushing our personal opinions about what policy option should be chosen, nor stealthily advocating in favor of our employer’s policy preferences by slipping into normative science.
One thing that scientists must bring to the political dynamic is a blunt recognition that nothing in policy making is free. This contribution, this reality check, is often not welcome. In fact, scientists who push this reality too forcefully are often ostracized, but there are ecological, economic, and societal consequences associated with all policy options.
Policy “win-win” only exists in the sham arguments pitched in election year political campaigns. Every policy choice involves winners, and losers. There are no free lunches, an inconvenient truth for sure.
To policy-makers, I say: science is important in helping you understand the likely consequences of each policy choice, but it is only one of many inputs. Choosing from among competing values and priorities is what you do. Don’t use science, and scientists, to evade this difficult, often unpleasant, and frequently contentious responsibility.
And finally, to scientists, I say: be fully engaged, but stick to science — tell the truth — tell the whole truth. It may be uncomfortable, it may be unpleasant, it may be unappreciated, but scientists should strive to be unimpeachable providers of facts and probabilities.
Nothing more. Nothing less.