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Monday, February 20, 2006

More - Republican War on Science

Here is the fifth part encapsulating Chris Mooney's book - The Republican War on Science.

[The first installment is here; Second part is here; Third part here; Fourth part here.]

There are several kinds of science information distortions and abuse of science used to justify bad policy decisions begun under the Gingrich Congress and exploited and deepened by the bAdmin. These are listed as :
*Sound science* - a term used as a shorthand to imply more than using “good science” facts and knowledge and magnify and emphasize any incomplete science or uncertainty to stop regulatory policy despite the overwhelming and mounting convergence of scientific opinions on a topic.

*Junk science* - a term which doesn’t really describe inappropriately conducted or fraudulent work, but research that fails to agree with the laissez-faire viewpoint of regulated companies seeking anti-regulatory affirmation.

*Data-Quality Act* - legislation added to a 2000 appropriations bill which created an unprecedented and cumbersome process by which government agencies must field complaints over the data, studies and reports they release to the public. [Or a Chris Mooney calls it: “A science abuser’s dream come true.” It allows companies to challenge the scientific studies before the regulatory process even begins to undermine the ability to regulate just about Anything.

*Attacking the Scientist and their Data* – using the above listed terms to vilify the one set of data behind a policy promulgation and singling out one scientist accusing them of a biased agenda or for political criticism – ignoring the big picture of the overarching basis for the conclusions from other supporting sources.

*Dressing up values in Scientific Clothing - Distorting science to support a pre-determined policy stance based on moral/religious considerations – not scientific ones.

*Magnifying Uncertainty* - the hyping and exaggerating of scientific uncertainty frequently with the goal of preventing political action.

*Relying on the Fringe* - skewing science by relying upon hand-picked experts who’s view coincide with what a politician wants to hear, even when the vast majority of scientists support an opposite result. (Beyond cherry-picking the specific scientific findings to cherry-picking the expertise itself.)

I'll have one final post on the most glaring misuses outlined (chapter and verse) in the book and why this matters - or ought to for the future of our science and policies.


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