Monday, February 06, 2006

Political meddling in the scientific process

Thanks to Dr Tara Smith over at Aetiology for the heads-up on Time magazine's recent article on Bush administration meddling in the scientific process. I'm far from being a political blogger, but it's an issue of great concern for all scientists, and not just those in the US.

Missing from the Time article is the outstanding website compiled by Rep Henry Waxman's office on the numerous abuses of scientific inquiry under the current administration.

And, for an eloquent, first-hand example, take a gander at UCSF's Dr Elizabeth Blackburn's sacking from the Presidential Bioethics Commission (if your institutional library doesn't get NEJM, e-mail me and I'll send you my personal copy).

Politics has always driven scientific policy, but usually driven by well-connected scientists and not quite so much in our faces by non-scientist ideologues. Most egregious is the doubletalk: in the wake of the State of the Union address and all the discussion of the need to reduce our addiction to oil, my good friends at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, get their budget cut enough to force layoffs of over 10% of the staff. NREL is one of the nation's premier labs for alt energy research, and an arm of the US Dept of Energy.

So much for putting your money where your mouth is.

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