Investigating the Bush Administration’s Misuse of Science
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In a just-published map of salt in seawater, Philip Morrison reads two lessons: the world is above all a physical place, so we need science to know about it; and science is telling us startling new things all the time. But according to Kevin Knobloch, the Bush Administration is making an unprecedented and concerted effort to suppress the release of important scientific data, "spin" the presentation of data to the public and in some cases to control the research process itself. "We expect decision-makers to hear what science has to say, then weigh other factors. But the decision-makers aren't even seeing the science," says Knobloch.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has documented an egregious series of cases in which the White House shaped science to conform to its political goals: e.g., at the administration's request, the Environmental Protection Agency altered a report on climate change; the White House concealed research on the devastating impact of mercury on fetal development while Congress debated legislation dealing with power plant emissions; Cabinet secretaries replaced independent scientists with industry representatives on advisory committees dealing with environmental and public health issues. In follow-up remarks, E.O. Wilson scorned this "perversion of science." He said, "Science is not a religion, not an ideology, not a lobby intent on turning Washington around. It's simply the best method hit upon...to acquire knowledge about the real world."
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