[Politech] Scientific American slams Bush for biased science

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Thu Apr 29 2004 - 21:41:38 PDT

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    It is not unthinkable that scientists have political biases. In fact, it 
    would be remarkable if many were not lifelong Democrats who may be 
    tempted to be a bit more critical of a Republican's science policies 
    than they would, say, a Bill Clinton's. Moreover, many scientists rely 
    on government funding of domestic programs, which arguably increases 
    faster under Democratic regimes.
    That said, this editorial is pretty disturbing and ties enough threads 
    together to be pretty convincing.
    Editorial at:
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Editorial from the Scientific American
    Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 20:57:00 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@private>
    To: declan@private
    Editorial from the Scientific American
    SA Perspectives
    Bush - League Lysenkoism
    Starting in the 1930s, the Soviets spurned genetics in favor of Lysenkoism,
    a fraudulent theory of heredity inspired by Communist ideology. Doing so
    crippled agriculture in the U.S.S.R. for decades. You would think that bad
    precedent would have taught President George W. Bush something. But perhaps
    he is no better at history than at science. In February his White House
    received failing marks in a statement signed by 62 leading scientists,
    including 20 Nobel laureates, 19 recipients of the National Medal of
    Science, and advisers to the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations. It
    begins, "Successful application of science has played a large part in the
    policies that have made the United States of America the world's most
    powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy.
    Although scientific input to the government is rarely the only factor in
    public policy decisions, this input should always be weighed from an
    objective and impartial perspective to avoid perilous consequences.... The
    administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle."
    Doubters of that judgment should read the report from the Union of
    Concerned Scientists (UCS) that accompanies the statement, "Restoring
    Scientific Integrity in Policy Making" (available at www.ucsusa. org).
    Among the affronts that it details:
    The administration misrepresented the findings of the National Academy of
    Sciences and other experts on climate change. It meddled with the
    discussion of climate change in an Environmental Protection Agency report
    until the EPA eliminated that section. It suppressed another EPA study that
    showed that the administration's proposed Clear Skies Act would do less
    than current law to reduce air pollution and mercury contamination of fish.
    It even dropped independent scientists from advisory committees on lead
    poisoning and drug abuse in favor of ones with ties to industry. .
    Let us offer more examples of our own. The Department of Health and Human
    Services deleted information from its Web sites that runs contrary to the
    president's preference for "abstinence only" sex education programs. The
    Office of Foreign Assets Control made it much more difficult for anyone
    from "hostile nations" to be published in the U.S., so some scientific
    journals will no longer consider submissions from them. The Office of
    Management and Budget has proposed overhauling peer review for funding of
    science that bears on environmental and health regulations--in effect,
    industry scientists would get to approve what research is conducted by the
    EPA. None of those criticisms fazes the president, though. Less than two
    weeks after the UCS statement was released, Bush unceremoniously replaced
    two advocates of human embryonic stem cell research on his advisory Council
    on Bioethics with individuals more likely to give him a hallelujah chorus
    of opposition to it. Blind loyalists to the president will dismiss the UCS
    report because that organization often tilts left--never mind that some of
    those signatories are conservatives. They may brush off this magazine's
    reproofs the same way, as well as the regular salvos launched by California
    Representative Henry A. Waxman of the House Government Reform Committee
    [see Insights, on page 52] and maybe even Arizona Senator John McCain's
    scrutiny for the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. But it
    is increasingly impossible to ignore that this White House disdains
    research that inconveniences it.
    THE EDITORS editors@private
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