The Politicization and Bastardization of Science

I’ve been meaning to write about this issue for a while; fortunately, Chris Mooney has been doing such a good job that I don’t have to. In a nutshell, the Bush administration is replacing dispassionate scientific analysis with political calculation on issues ranging from climate change to health policy to environmental regulation to the suitability of aluminum tubes for use in nuclear weapons producing centrifuges.

Today, several hundred scientists, including wenty Nobel Laureates announced in no uncertain terms that they’ve had enough:

“Across a broad range of issues, the administration has undermined the quality of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government’s outstanding scientific personnel,” said Dr. Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Whether the issue is lead paint, clean air or climate change, this behavior has serious consequences for all Americans.”

“Science, to quote President Bush’s father, the former president, relies on freedom of inquiry and objectivity,” said Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon and Ford, who joined the scientists in calling for action. “But this administration has obstructed that freedom and distorted that objectivity in ways that were unheard of in any previous administration.”

Several hundred non-Nobel winning scientists also signed. Here’s another highlight, about which Mooney speculates that “If the American public realizes that Bush’s willingness to twist information to support his policies is systematic and fundamental to the way he operates, he will truly be doomed in the 2004 election”

In making the invalid claim that Iraq had sought to acquire aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment centrifuges, the administration disregarded the contrary assessment by experts at the Livermore, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.