Sunday, August 28, 2005

Political Tampering with Science

The article is a discussion of the political tampering that has been so heavily reported with respect to the Bush administration. I've continually been angered by political tampering with the results of scientific works, and the Bush administration has been especially manipulative. The article does bring it all into a reasonable conclusion.
We don't have to postulate a nefarious conspiracy, then, to explain the war on science that has manifested itself during the Bush administration. We need only point to an army of political appointees in government agencies who are going about their jobs the only way they know how--i.e., talking a lot to their industry or religious right allies and frequently rewarding their lobbying attempts in scientific areas. In short, it's a politico-scientific spoils system. And as this particular spoils system proceeds to allocate rewards, it simultaneously undermines, cheapens, and compromises federal agencies as reliable, public-oriented sources of scientific analysis and information.

But if we're looking at a government-wide problem based on staffing and a culture that has developed within federal agencies, that suggests it won't be easily solved. In fact, the damage done could long outlast the Bush administration, because the integrity of the federal government will have been compromised and because taxpayer-funded agencies may not recover quickly (or at all) from the traumas they've been put through. Here's where the political abuse of science becomes a core issue for the nation's future: The crisis promises to leave Americans with a less reliable, less effective, less professional, and ultimately less respectable government. The consequences will be felt in a wide range of areas, ranging from public health to the environment.

This statement makes one wonder just how long the manipulation of government scientific research has been going on. The political appointee system is far from new. I'd conjecture that there has been tampering going on for quite a long time and from all political parties.

You can also note that the author of the article has a book specifically on the republican tampering with science. I'm going to conjecture that he's not completely innocent of political favoritism himself. You can come to that conclusion through the fact that he doesn't even discuss such a possibility of the same tampering having occurred in other administrations. That said, I believe that he has a good point overall.

Fixed the link to the article. Not sure why it wasn't working.


zandperl said...

The president of the American Astronomical Society recently wrote a letter to Bush on the evolution vs. ID issue. I found it well written, and it's available to the public in a AAS press release here.

Granted said...

This is the horror show I saw coming during the Clinton administration. Despite the fact that I agreed with lots of the things he was doing, his methods, bypassing Congress as often as possible, in every way possible, just set up the next administration to do the same thing. But now, of course, the same people cheering on Clinton are apalled at what Bush is doing. Yet, he's using the same tools in the same ways.

geekwife said...

Um... Is it just me, or is the link to the whole article not working?

I did read the AAS letter linked in Zandperl's comment, and I agree that it is well written and pretty much spells out why ID is NOT science. I haven't yet seen or heard anything terribly concrete or persuasive from its supporters as to why it IS science.

It seems pretty clear to me that ID belongs in a comparative religion or philosophy class. Muddying our science education with this kind of religious influence is troubling on many levels.

Martian Anthropologist said...

I actually agree. But...uh. You accuse ME of wearing a tin-foil hat? sheesh. Look at this post.

Nylarthotep said...

Oh please, read the god-damn thing. I more than clearly point out that the writer has a real point and that he has political baggage. I'd say that's far more than MA's little rant without fact or link to a discussion of fact on its blog.

Hmm let's see. Tin foil hat because:
1) A democratic writer puts out an article pointing to political tampering with science. Specifically by republicans. I conjecture that this has been going on for longer than just the most recent administration.
2) I clearly agree with the writer.
3) I clearly point that it is unlikely that the writer has no political baggage to make it clear that the article has too tight a focus, though isn't faulty.

How's that anywhere near the tinfoil band.

Someone should check for a beam in their eye.

Granted said...

There is a looooonnnng history of politics messing with science. It wasn't invented by the "all evil, all the time" Bush administration. That they're doing it too, is bloody wrong. Period. But again, the point is that this is not a new phenomenon and trying to ascribe a "republicans only" approach to this type of information is just nuts.