Your call for scientists to “get political” (Nature 592, 660; 2021) echoes many similar injunctions during times of crisis. These have had limited effect. As Jon Beckwith and Franklin Huang argued years ago, “waiting for such crises will not do” (Nature Biotechnol. 23, 1479–1480; 2005). For emergency interventions to be prompt and effective, scientists must be politically engaged all the time.
Even routine science is political. There is little going on in our intersected world that has nothing to do with science; in science, there is little going on that does not have social or political aspects. Researchers should not confine their forays into politics to times when discovery itself stands to win or lose. They must use their authority to help society (J. Gregory Sci. Mus. Group J. https://doi.org/gf87; 2016). A close-but-no-closer relationship might seem to offer freedom, but it removes scientists from arenas in which they could be influential.
The multiplicity of world views in politics can be unsettling, especially when these are nasty or ignorant. The solution is simple: get involved. This might mean adjusting your institutional machinery, communication skills and students’ education. The more that creative and well-informed people contribute, the better prepared the world will be to manage the next crisis.