Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2004-05-05

Bush-league Lysenkoism



[Can't improve on that headline!] Scientific American has an editorial lambasting the Bush Administration's attitude toward science.




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.



... 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.




This editorial is subjected to some back & forth discussion on the Politech list today. Some sample opinions:



... [T]o say that UCS "often tilts left" is like saying MoveOn.org "often disagrees with the President." – Donald M. Falk


... [T]he SciAm editors... lost a lot of credibility for hosting a shamefully biased and arrogant forum in their magazine two years ago: an 11-page response to Bj�rn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist."... It illustrates the way ideology has created a debate paralysis on the issue of the environment. – Andrew Ackerman


[quoting Michael Crichton] Worst of all was the behavior of the Scientific American, which seemed
intent on proving the post-modernist point that it was all about power, not facts.... Of course, any scientist can be charged as Galileo was charged. I just never thought I'd see the Scientific American in the role of mother church. – Richard Herrell


Calls to action with as scant of firm conclusions as are available at this time strikes [sic] me as no more than political grandstanding. Maybe they'll be less ignored when the models they're using to cry that the sky is falling are at least
acurate to model the past. Premature, macro-economic actions, such as pondered by Kyoto, may indeed do more harm than good. &ndash David Mercer


Scientists get really uncomfortable when they find
themselves arguing against the facts; they change their worldview instead.
A decade or so ago, there was a lot of thinking that climate change would
lead to a new ice age. The studies showed that was wrong. The studies
weren't discarded — instead, the idea of the coming ice age was. – Charles Arthur


I'm not sure I'd characterize Bush's "science policies" as Republican.
They're much more protestant religious fundamentalism than Republican. – Rich



When discussing biased science, don't forget Alan Leshner, the former
head of the the National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.nida.nih.gov),
a U.S. agency well criticized for only funding studies that look for
harmful effects (rather than beneficial effects) from
politically-disfavored substances.



Leshner sent millions of tax dollars to Prof. George Ricaurte, whose
research on MDMA (Ecstacy) was so egregious that ordinary members of
the public were able to point out that his results were totally
fabricated. (His last paper claimed that taking a single dose of
Ecstacy could bring on Parkinson's Disease — though millions of
humans have taken Ecstacy without any big upswing in Parkinson's.)
However, his paper had made it all the way through the scientific
review process, was published in the journal "Science", and was then
used to influence Congress to pass new penalties on Ecstacy users.
After public outcry, Ricaurte eventually tried to reproduce his own
results with a different set of lab animals, failed, and lamely blamed
the problem on a mislabeled vial of "speed" that was "somehow" used in
his original experiment. He was forced to publicly retract his paper. – John Gilmore





It seems to me that Bush is going to rely on Christian Fundamentalists to
get him re-elected. (Un)Fortunately (depending on how you look at it) they
make up a very noisy minority. – Joseph A. Nagy, Jr.


Blog home
Blog archives