Scientists Protest Bush Administration's
Misuse of Science
Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science Recipients,
Leading Researchers Call for End to Scientific Abuses,
Today, more than 60 leading
scientistsincluding Nobel laureates, leading
medical experts, former federal agency directors and
university chairs and presidentsissued a statement
calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore
scientific integrity to federal policymaking. According
to the scientists, the Bush administration has, among
other abuses, suppressed and distorted scientific
analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that
have undermined the quality of scientific advisory
Across a broad range of issues,
the administration has undermined the quality of the
scientific advisory system and the morale of the
governments 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.
The statement notes that while
scientific input to the government is rarely the only
factor in public policy decisions, this input should be
weighed from an objective and impartial perspective.
However, the administration of George W. Bush has
disregarded this principle.
The Earth system follows laws
which scientists strive to understand, said Dr. F.
Sherwood Rowland a Nobel laureate in chemistry. The
public deserves rational decisionmaking based on the best
scientific advice about what is likely to happen, not
what political entities might wish to happen.
We are not simply raising warning
flags about an academic subject of interest only to
scientists and doctors, said Dr. Neal Lane, a
former director of the National Science Foundation and a
former Presidential Science Advisor. In case
after case, scientific input to policymaking is being
censored and distorted. This will have serious
consequences for public health.
In conjunction with the statement, the
Union of Concerned Scientists today released a report
Integrity in Policymaking
that investigates numerous allegations in the
scientists statement involving censorship and
political interference with independent scientific
inquiry at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food
and Drug Administration, and the Departments of Health
Human Services, Agriculture, Interior and Defense.
One example cited in the statement and
report involves the suppression of an EPA study that
found the bipartisan Senate Clear Air bill would do more
to reduce mercury contamination in fish and prevent more
deaths than the administration's proposed Clear Skies
Act. This is akin to the White House directing the
National Weather Service to alter a hurricane forecast
because they want everyone to think we have clear skies
ahead, said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union
of Concerned Scientists The hurricane is still
coming, but without factual information no one will be
ready for it.
Comparing President Bush with his
father, George H.W. Bush and former president Richard M.
Nixon, the statement warned that had these former
presidents similarly dismissed science in favor of
political ends, over 200,000 deaths and millions of
respiratory and cardiovascular disease cases would not
have been prevented with the signing of the original
Clean Air Act and the 1990 amendments to that Act.
The statement demands that the Bush
administrations distortion of scientific
knowledge for partisan political ends must cease
and calls for Congressional oversight hearings,
guaranteed public access to government scientific studies
and other measures to prevent such abuses in the
future. The statement further calls on the
scientific, engineering and medical communities to work
together to reestablish scientific integrity in the
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Among the statement signers are:
Philip W. Anderson*
F. Sherwood Rowland
J. Robert Schrieffer*
Harold E. Varmus*
* National Medal of Science
from Tony Lee