New York Times Examines Criticism From Scientists Over Use of Research in Bush Administration Policy Decisions
The New York Times on Tuesday looked at disagreements between the Bush administration and scientists, who say the administration "has selected or suppressed" research findings to further predetermined policy goals; "skewed" advisory panels or disregarded "unwelcome advice"; and "quashed" discussions within federal research agencies.
Disagreements between the administration and some in the scientific community have arisen over policies on stem cell research, population control, Iraq's nuclear weapons research and climate change. The Times reports that this is a marked shift from the Clinton administration, in which scientists said information was "skewed" but all assumptions were made available.
In response to administration policies, 48 Nobel laureates this year signed a letter endorsing the Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) (Revkin, New York Times, 10/19). In addition, the Union of Concerned Scientists in February released a statement saying that the Bush administration frequently suppresses or distorts scientific analyses from federal agencies -- including research on condoms and abortion -- when the data disagrees with administration policies (California Healthline, 7/9).
According to the Times, scientists' political activities have not been so "forceful" since they rallied against Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964 for backing the deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons.
Experts say the "clash" likely will not be resolved in the near future because of the "growing array of issues either underlaid by science, ... or created by science, like genetic engineering and cloning," according to the Times.
Dr. John Marburger, the president's science adviser, said, "This administration really does not like regulation and it believes in market processes in general," adding that "there's always going to be a tilt in an administration like this one to a certain set of actions that you take to achieve some policy objective. In general, science may give you some limits and tell you some boundary conditions on that set of actions, but it really doesn't tell you what to do" (New York Times, 10/19).