20. Fault Lines In Science Policy

By Victoria Schlesinger|Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Several reports released in 2007 bolstered the case of those claiming the Bush administration stifles scientists and attempts to alter their research findings.

Perhaps most galling, though, according to Bush critics and many scientists, was an internal order by the Department of Commerce in April requiring scientists in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to obtain permission before speaking about scientific matters of “official importance.” The order makes “all employee utterance subject to official review,” says Jeff Ruch, executive director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, “and the impact will be chilly cubicles.” Critics fear the order will hamper a hallmark of the scientific process, the free flow of ideas. “Science works by building on research results and discussion of what’s working or not working,” says Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Scientific Integrity Program. “It’s part of this administration’s reluctance to base decisions on information.”

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