Bush wants only friendly scientific opinions, example N+1

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.

About Peg.

Peg has a PhD in neuroscience and has a mind like a cocker spaniel. New scientific questions are like squeaky toys. She makes her living consulting with university faculty members on the fine art of grantsmanship, writes fiction for fun, and considers herself a wetware hacker.


  1. Elizabeth Blackburn also had an article in the Washington Post’s Outlook this last weekend. While a naturalized American, she was an Australian. One of the Australian Diaspora that has found a new home.

    One of the more disturbing aspects was that I read in another article that Charles Krauthammer was added to the council. When centralizing power it is in the Executives interest to ensure all conflicting powers are politicized. This binds the individual to the party rather than law. John Howard in Australia politicized the military during the fraudulent “Tampa Affair” and then attempted to politicize the judicial afterwards pertaining to the refugee’s.

    George Bush has pursued similar tactics in an attempt to increase the influence and centralisation of power around the Executive. Anything that can pose as a barrier to the desire for absolute power has been politicized.

    The judicial in the US is being politicized as well, though there is not the same guarantee that it will be successful, though idiots like Scalia going duck hunting with Cheney dont help.

    The media in the US has become politicized, you only need to listen to the right wing radio talkback, which the left is now countering. I dont want to listen to either. I noticed last week when I was in NJ, the politicization has reached so far that even Howard Stern had had his show politicized.

    Mass media is incredibly broken. That the white house was demanding that the CIA match the writings of Krauthammer, Will, Saffire and Hoagland in their intelligence reports is stupefying. The pay off for Krauthammer, whose main claim to fame is unending ad-hominems in newspapers like the Washington Post, is a seat on a bioethics council.

    The media is as ethically bankrupt and politically entwined as any other arm of government. It is no longer a barrier to absolute power. The politicization of the mass media is to control the mass media. Fourth estate my ass.


  2. The whole subject is scary and stupefiying, but nothing more clearly shows what we’re up agaainst than the treatment of the subject of lead poisoning in children.

    One might make arguments — feeble ones–on the Bush side on some of these other issues. Some people of good faith might even believe them. Maybe.

    But nobody who feigns ignorance or skepticism about lead and its effects on children (especially !surprise! poor children) is acting in good faith. To say “the jury is still out” about lead is like saying “the jury is still out on the effects of Sarin nerve gas on children” or “the jury is still out on the effects of cyanide on children.”

    Thanks for your post. I’m going to cally my congressman tomorrow — for the fifth time this month. And I’ll ask my friends to do likewise.

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