From my corner of “Tales from the Sausage Factory”: There’s been a lot of buzz in scientific circles about the Bush administration politicizing scientific policy. The recent issue of Nature reports that Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, an eminent molecular biologist, is being ousted from the US president’s Council on Bioethics. Blackburn disagrees with many of the administrations positions, including stem cell research. She has publicly stated her concerns that Council reports have distorted scientific findings.
In some ways, this is not news. Many see this as just the latest example of the Bush administration’s tendency toward “misrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge,” to quote a statement signed by over twenty Nobel laureates. Other signatories include National Medal of Science recipients sociobiologist E.O. Wilson and particle physicist James Cronin.
The Union of Concerned Scientists have created a section of their Web pages to Restoring Scientific Integrity, with links to their report on this issue. There is no field untouched by the purging of qualified scientists who think for themselves, rather than find justifications for administration policy. The UCI Executive Summary opens with a quote from George H. W. Bush:
Science, like any field of endeavor, relies on freedom of inquiry; and one of the hallmarks of that freedom is objectivity. Now more than ever, on issues ranging from climate change to AIDS research to genetic engineering to food additives, government relies on the impartial perspective of science for guidance.
There are times I wish Dubya would listen to his daddy.