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Bush administration fudging data, top scientists warn

GroovyG

TRIBE Member
Bush administration fudging data, top scientists warn

By OLIVER MOORE
Globe and Mail Update

Twenty Nobel laureates are among the scores of scientists who on Wednesday accused the Bush administration of using dubious science to gain public support for its policies.

In an open letter, the Union of Concerned Scientists charges that supposedly independent advisory panels have been manipulated to suppress or minimize findings contrary to the White House's political agenda.

Russell Train, a Republican who served as EPA administrator under both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, said that he never once felt any pressure from either of those presidents. But on Wednesday he told a conference call: "how times have changed."

Representatives of the group said that this manipulation has been done by appointing unqualified or biased people to the advisory panels, by disbanding some existing panels, by suppressing reports and by forgoing independent scientific advice.

"The concerns we raise here at not academic abstractions," said Kurt Gottfried, Cornell professor of physics and chairman of the UCS. "The cavalier attitude toward science that has provoked us to speak out can produce tangible damage to the health, wellbeing and security of all of us, for generations to come."

In some cases, another member of the group said, politicizing ostensibly neutral scientific advice can leave the public at great risk.

"One of the most egregious cases mentioned in the report was the issue of the panel on appropriate levels of mercury and lead in paint, and in the environment in general," said Neal Lane, a former director of the National Science Foundation and a former presidential science adviser.

"To appoint people who have clear conflicts of interest, because of their association with the paint industry, to panels that have to make difficult judgments on the scientific basis for limiting the amount of lead that is available in the environment, you could in fact do harm to hundreds of thousands of young people."

The substance of the letter — which was signed by 60 prominent U.S. scientists, including Nobel Prize winners Steven Weinberg and James Cronin (physics) and Eric Kandel and Harold Varmus (biology) — was denied by the White House.

"I can assure you that this is an administration that makes decisions based on the best available science," Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan told Reuters.

He also said that the Bush administration had "worked on an independent peer review process to look at how science is used in regulatory decisions."

Dr. Lane said that scientists understand that politicians must make their decisions based on any number of factors, not just the science, but he warned that efforts to fudge the data have gone so far that "leading policy-makers simply don't know what they don't know."

"I've become increasingly concerned, even alarmed, by the Bush administration's actions to manipulate the government's scientific advisory system. Even, I think, to prevent the administration or the upper-level policy-makers of the administration from hearing any advice that might run counter to its political agenda," he said on a conference call with Dr. Train and Dr. Gottfried.

"What you must not have is people on these panels who are unqualified, who have clear conflicts of interest, who have strong ideological views that have been publicly expressed on issues that run counter to the science. That simply confuses the information that then is provided to the policy-makers."
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by GroovyG

In some cases, another member of the group said, politicizing ostensibly neutral scientific advice can leave the public at great risk.

...

"What you must not have is people on these panels who are unqualified, who have clear conflicts of interest, who have strong ideological views that have been publicly expressed on issues that run counter to the science. That simply confuses the information that then is provided to the policy-makers."

That sounds so familiar...
 

divell420

TRIBE Promoter
Originally posted by GroovyG

The substance of the letter — which was signed by 60 prominent U.S. scientists, including Nobel Prize winners Steven Weinberg and James Cronin (physics) and Eric Kandel and Harold Varmus (biology) — was denied by the White House.

"I can assure you that this is an administration that makes decisions based on the best available science," Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan told Reuters.
Gee whz, never saw THAT one comin....

Ma, Pa, Billy-Bob! All y'all gots to git us here some of this new science stuff
 

KickIT

TRIBE Member
The report lists the following as objectionable practices, echoing past complaints from former government researchers:

• The removal of highly qualified scientists from lead-poisoning, environment, health and drug-abuse panels and their replacement with industry representatives.

• Forbidding EPA, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Interior Department scientists from speaking publicly.

• Revisions to the Endangered Species Act that limit scientists from commenting on the protection of habitats.

• The disbanding of advisory panels on nuclear weapons and arms control.

• The dismissal of assessments by national lab experts on the likelihood that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Marburger declined to address the scientists' specific complaints. He said he does not plan to bring the report to Bush's attention but hopes to involve federal agencies in responding to it.
Source

*c*
 
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