Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In the Case of Dubya v. Science . . .

At BBC Online, Harold Evans bemoans "the well-documented readiness of the Bush administration to manipulate and suppress scientific findings - manifestly to appease industrial interests and religious constituencies," which, in tandem with other countries' increased spending in R & D, is contributing to the radical diminution of the U.S.'s contribution to technological innovation.

This is not just on global warming and stem cells, currently in the news, but on a whole range of issues - lead and mercury poisoning in children, women's health, birth control, safety standards for drinking water, forest management, air pollution and on and on.

"It's disturbing," Professor [Neal] Lane [Rice University] told me. "This is the first time to the best of my knowledge through successive Republican and Democratic administrations, that the issue of scientific integrity has reared its head."

Of similar mind is Russell Train, an administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Republican Presidents Nixon and Ford. He says: "How radically we have moved away from regulation based on professional analysis of scientific data regulation controlled by the White House and driven by political considerations."

The White House denies such accusations and says it makes decisions based on the best available science.

But these two speak for what is now a considerable body of alarmed and angry scientists. For more than a year, the nationally well-regarded Union of Concerned Scientists - a non-partisan body - has been receiving hundreds of signatures backing the Union's call for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to policy making. To date no fewer than 7,600 scientists have signed, including 49 Nobel Laureates.

How trustworthy are the White House's predictable protestations, however, when they insist on appointing idealogues to formerly science-heavy positions and Dubya, in the context of the ongoing intelligent design debate, manifests a complete failure to understand what "science" even is.

Anyway, Evans is just a Brit. What does he know?


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