I think that science, especially government and taxpayer-funded research has every obligation to inform the public of their findings, unless doing so would cause large-scale panic. I believe that access to research, especially scientific research, is a right and not a privilege. I also believe that even private research labs have an ethical obligation to publish their research so that others may benefit from it. The only instance I can think of where sharing research would not be beneficial is if doing so would somehow do more harm than good, like in the case of a viral epidemic.
Not even a week after he was sworn in, President Trump made headlines this past January when his administration came under fire for placing a ‘gag order’ on EPA scientists and removing any mention of global warming from the White House website. Additionally, initial budget cuts proposed gutting the National Parks department and cutting numerous government-funded research projects. These actions were immediately met with much criticism, but it raised the question: does the government have the right to silence scientists and researchers?
Regardless of political party, it should be accepted that everyone stands to lose from suppressing scientific research, especially medical research. Most of us will, at some point in our lives, need treatment for a bacterial infection that requires taking antibiotics- something that still requires a significant amount of research. Living in the USA, 40% of us will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in our lifetimes- and although cancer treatments are always improving, there is no definitive cure.
Aside from just medicine, every human on Earth stands to benefit from global environmental and agricultural research. As beings living on a shared Earth, it’s important to remember that even though we may live in different climates, we all still live on the same chunk of rock, hurtling through space together. Earth is a shared habitat, and any changes to the global climate will affect us all. With these ideas in mind, I find it very difficult to think of situations in which scientific research should not be shared with the general population.