Monday, June 14, 2010

The Obama Administration's War on Scientists

Let's say that the Bush administration had consulted with a group of biologists on stem cell research. Imagine that it had placed summarized that consultation and made some policy recommendations in a memorandum that had then been approved by these scientists. The report went on to stated that the report's recommendation had been peer reviewed by the listed scientists.

But before it was released, administration officials - oh, let's say a Cabinet level secretary - added a recommendation that there be a blanket moratorium on stem cell research. It retained the language that the scientists had "peer-reviewed the recommendations, but the scientists never saw that recommendation for a blanket recommendation. They did not "peer review" it. They do not agree with it.

It'd be another example of the Bush administration's so-called "war on science."

This very thing just happened but not, obviously, in the Bush, but in the Obama administration. A peer reviewed report on off shore drilling was modified - after it was reviewed by its scientists - to include Secretary Ken Salazar's call for a blanket moratorium on off shore drilling. The scientists have now said that they never saw the language on a blanket moratorium (they had only approved the recommendation for a more limited moratorium) and do not agree with it. They say that the "[t]he Secretary should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct, but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions.

Secretary Salazar has apologized. Secretary Browner, apparently unable to understand that there is a difference between acting on information provided by others and stating that the others have reviewed your action, has said that they did nothing wrong.

Glenn Reynolds says he is beginning to lose confidence in there people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I feel a bit silly responding to this, but one incident that ended in an apology does not make a war.

Seriously, Rick, your animosity toward Obama is driving you off the tracks quite a bit lately. You can't even muster a quality policy critique these days. Whether it's claiming the story about an offer to Sestak was going to be "very bad" for the Obama administration, that Obama is "aloof and arrogant" because Obama didn't accept enough responsibility for the oil spill (though simultaneously acknowledging the fact it was BP's fault "may be true"), that not talking directly to BP's CEO somehow says something about Obama's foreign policy of direct engagement with hostile nations, and now that this incident w/ Salazar is akin -- in and of itself -- to the Bush administration's rejective attitude toward science.

Honestly, don't you feel a bit silly, too?