Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama Administration Suppresses Scientific Research

Did the EPA suppress a study that was critical of the Obama administration's line on so-called global warming? It certainly looks that way when you look at a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) pdf that published the email exchanges between a scientist who wanted to run more tests and an EPA that wanted to push the administration's line of taking over domestic production of energy. (CEI is a think tank out of DC that has at least two CMC alums, Marlo Lewis and Richard Morrison, working for it.)


Over at The Forum, I recently got into a heated (you'll pardon the pun) comment exchange with Kim Munoz CMC '10 about the inherent problem with trusting science that is conducted by government regulatory bodies. In short, there's no incentive for the scientists to have their data speak for itself. No scientist ever got more funding by saying, "hey, let's run more tests before we go on a banning crusade." But many scientists get more funding by hyping the threats posed to us all and distorting our country's priorities and potentially even our entire economy.

Well, let's take the climate change report suppression as exhibit A in a very long trial against those who would politicize science. Given that the EPA stands to gain tremendously with more power and a larger budget, it's not suprising that they wanted to suppress a report that would be critical of the threats mankind faces from anthropogenic global warming. Careful readers of the email will note that the EPA administrator in question laments the budget cuts of 66%. It doesn't take a rocket scientist -- or a climate change scientist, for that matter -- to see that the passage of a law that puts the EPA at the center of the economic regulation will probably come with more "grants" and more money for the EPA.

And no, I'm not above saying, "I told you so, Kim."

3 comments:

Josh S said...

"And no, I'm not above saying, 'I told you so, Kim.'"

lol we're shocked.

Bonny Guang said...

"there's no incentive for the scientists to have their data speak for itself"

Unfortunately true. However, although there is not an incentive, I do believe that most scientists want to do what they THINK is right, only the way grants are written into place shape the research in ugly ways. If all scientists were worried about was grants, there would not be so many of them speaking out and protesting against certain issues. (like the nuclear bomb, for example. Too bad that still got built.)

On a different note, data cannot speak for itself. Someone needs to interpret it. Usually that someone is the scientist who conducted the research who will have biases and expectations of her own as well as the institution that is funding her research.

Peer reviewing is supposed to prevent some of this. To an extent it does. The trouble comes when the government decides what to do with it, when the media decides how to phrase it and report it. The best way to get at what the scientist was thinking is to read the study itself and consider the source of the study's funding.

"Well, let's take the climate change report suppression as exhibit A in a very long trial against those who would politicize science"

The problem is that even though science should be independent, it also must be politicized, because the results of science affect real people.

Because it affects real people, everyone cherry-picks results to suit themselves and thus politicizes science. Even you're politicizing science by saying "critical of the Obama administration's line on so-called global warming". So-called global warming? I'm sure there are also many studies that conclude that manmade global warming is happening, and you disregard them. Saying so-called global warming is your belief that global warming is a myth. It's not what "objective" science says.

My thoughts are a little scrambled concerning the responsibility science has to the people and exactly how much science should get involved in politics, so I apologize if I am pedantic and repeat points. (these little comment boxes are not conducive to laying out an organized argument either)

Bonny Guang said...

That really long comment and I left out what I really wanted to say and could've cut that entire thing so short. Damn.

I think you're looking for transparency. Who funded this study, for what purpose, the scientists' beliefs on this subject. (which should be evident in the hypothesis) But not an independence of science from politics.

Transparency in most situations would be nice, really.