NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Politics of Science

April 6, 2004

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently issued a report accusing the Bush Administration of suppressing and manipulating scientific evidence on global warming and other issues for the sake of politics.

The mixture of politics and science is nothing new in Presidential administrations. The Clinton administration had its own agenda as well:

  • A Princeton University physicist was fired in 1993 because he did not agree with Al Gore's views on ozone depletion in the stratosphere.
  • President Clinton withheld funding on the implications of human embryo use for genetic research after the National Institutes of Health reported that it was unethical to create human embryos simply for the purpose of such research.
  • In 1993, the EPA manipulated data and hand-picked from several studies on second-hand smoke in order to validate its theory that second-hand smoke caused lung cancer in adults and respiratory problems in children.

Moreover, the UCS has not cited any instances where science was misused for policies that the organization itself favors.

The UCS recommends stricter standards for scientists on federal review panels, and Congressional guarantees that the public has access to its studies. However, many steps to improve the quality of scientific information are already in place. Congress recently passed the Federal Quality Data Act in 1999 issuing guidelines for quality, objectivity and public access to information.

Source: Ronald Bailey, "Political Science - Why Government Isn't the Best Place to Look For Unbiased Science," Reason Online, March 3, 2004.

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