Lots of stuff about the intersection of science and politics in the US today—here are three things to read over breakfast.
Bruce Sterling suggests that American science is experiencing creeping Lysenkoism, and reports that “the Bush administration has systematically manipulated scientific inquiry into climate change, forest management, lead and mercury contamination, and a host of other issues.” He predicts a rather grim end for our science and science policy.
Before long, the damage will spread beyond our borders. International scientific bodies will treat American scientists as pariahs. This process has already begun in bioethics, meteorology, agriculture, nuclear science, and medicine, but doubts will spread to “American science” generally.
It’s not a happy piece. Read it anyway.
Chris Mooney is surprised at the longevity of the critiques of Republican “science”: he says that “a similar pattern–ignore experts, favor ideologues–has been followed by the administration on any number of other science issues, ranging from global warming to the morning after pill,” and seems most impressed by the fact that these problems are being pointed out, over and over again. Where Sterling sees looming disaster, though, Mooney sees some hope: not everyone is blind to what the Bushites are doing, and science policy is becoming an important issue.
But now I realize something more: These questions are proof positive that those who are worried about the politics of science nurture their concern within a much broader context. These Americans are thinking: As science goes, so goes the nation. On some level, the science community has always known that. What’s new is that now, we have a heck of a lot of company.
Now we just have to get all that company motivated to campaign and vote.
Darksyde discusses an bill to protect scientific whistleblowers, people who come forward to politicized, ideological tampering with the science coming out of our premier federal research institutions, like NOAA. As he says, “Once again, the GOP preferred to ignore reality and opt for wishful thinking”: it was killed by the Republicans. The author of the bill, Rep. Brad Miller, (D-North Carolina), was online responding to comments, if you’d like to hear straight from the source.
I think Mooney is right, that the public can see the damage being done to our reputation and the erosion of America’s science and engineering skill set, but there’s the obstacle—as long as the Republicans are in power, we’re not going to be able to slow the destruction.