Re: News clips of interest

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Mon Feb 06 2006 - 23:25:09 EST

At 09:40 PM 2/6/2006, Randy Isaac wrote:
Burgy wrote: [snip]

>>3. Scientists say Bush Administration political
>>appointees are trying tocontrol the flow of
>>scientific information from NASA, particularly
>>when that information counters administration
>>policy on issues ranging from global warming to
>>explanations about the origins of the universe.

>.....I think [1] we need to make a clear
>distinction between corporate employees speaking
>on behalf of the company and a government funded
>agency that is missioned to publish accurate and
>objective data on which policy will be
>based. Yes, it might be an ethics issue, but
>not one in which the employees are required to
>say only that which is approved by the
>administration. Rather, one in which the [2]
>employees have an ethical obligation to show the
>implications of the data, whether or not it
>meets anyone's pet policies. ~ Randy

### Re: Your two concerns:

Google Results 1 - 10 of about 425 for

Excerpts from two items:

[1] "...NASA in recent years has seen
environmental projects as potential cash cows. It
has fought with other agencies--through its
Mission to Planet Earth, a project to study
Earth's ecology--for jurisdiction over satellites to monitor the environment.

Typical of its tactics, in February 1992 it made
screaming headlines with its announcement that a
huge ozone hole could be in the process of
opening over the Northern Hemisphere. In fine
print the data were skimpy at best. Still, the
agency got the politically correct headlines as
its funding was being debated. There were few
headlines months later when no ozone hole developed. ..." ~ CATO

[2] Harmful politicization of Science by William Happer

[Huge Snip]

False biology prevailed for forty years in the
Soviet Union because Lysenko gained dictatorial
control. His type of control ­­dependent upon
prison, exile, and bullet­­is not possible in
democratic societies, but the control of research
funding enables those in political favor to
restrict research that might undermine political opinions and positions.

For instance, when I was the Director of Energy
Research of the Department of Energy in the early
1990s I was amazed that the great bulk of federal
funds for environmental studies from the DOE,
NASA, EPA, and other federal agencies flowed into
research programs that reinforced a message of
imminent doom: humanity and planet earth
devastated by global warming, pestilence, famine, and flood.

I was particularly disturbed by the ridiculous
claims by then-Senator Al Gore that recent NASA
studies had shown that there was an ozone hole
over Kennebunkport.” I remember reacting angrily
to a briefing by Mr. Gore’s political ally, Bob
Watson of NASA, when he used the same words, an
“ozone hole over Kennebunkport,” to brief
high-level members of the Bush administration in
the West Wing of the White House.

After the election of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in
the fall of 1992, I was soon the only “holdover”
from the previous Bush administration in the
Departmentof Energy. There I worked with the new
Secretary of Energy, Hazel O’Leary, to defend
basic science in the Department of Energy.
Although most political appointees are replaced
after the White House changes hands in a
presidential election, it is not unusual for
those occupying scientific posts to remain for
some time in a new administration. However, after
a few months, Secretary O’Leary called me in to
say that I was unacceptable to Al Gore and his
environmental advisers, and that I would have to
be replaced. She was apologetic and gracious
during this discussion, and she did not elaborate
on the exact reasons for Gore’s instructions.

The modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy wrote a
poem, Things Ended,” which is worth rememberingas
we contemplate our supposedly dying planet:

"Possessed by fear and suspicion, mind agitated,
eyes alarmed, we desperately invent ways out,
plan how to avoid the inevitable danger that
threatens us so terribly. Yet we’re mistaken,
that’s not the danger ahead: the information was
false (or we didn’t hear it, or didn’t get it
right). Another disaster, one we never imagined,
suddenly, violently, descends upon us, and
finding us unprepared­­there’s no time left­­
sweeps us away." C. P. Cavafy, Collected
Poems, edited by George Savidis (Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton University Press, 1992).


Politicized science is an inevitable part of the
human condition, but society must strive to
control it. Although history shows that
politicized science does much more damage in
totalitarian societies than in democracies, even
democracies are sometimes stampeded into doing
very foolish and damaging things. The Kyoto
Treaty, based on assertions that mankind’s
generation of carbon dioxide will cause global
warming, is an example of such a foolish and damaging thing.

The effects of the Kyoto Treaty, if the treaty is
enacted, are likely to be more like those of
Prohibition, than Lysenko’s biology. The
demonizations of rum and carbon dioxide have much
in common. In 1920, the U.S. Congress passed the
Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States. This amendment, which prohibited
the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcoholic
beverages, was intended to rid the country of the
accidents, disease,and violence associated with those beverages. It didn’t.

It began a disastrous era that helped organized
crime to flourish as never before and nourished
contempt for the law that has not entirely dissipated today.

In 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the
Eighteenth Amendment, the only time in history
that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution has
been repealed. Demonization of anything is hard
to combat,since it is so easy to join the
supposed high ground of virtue, while scorning
those who go through the painstaking effort of
looking at the facts for themselves.

This was why it was so hard to stop the bandwagon
of prohibitionor Lysenko’s biology.

The same human motives that cause other problems
in our lives also drive extreme politicized
science. As the examples here show, a common
motive is the love of power and domination. This
was clearly one of the most important motives for
Lysenko. There is no surer way to build a
powerful bureaucratic empire in a democracy than
to promote a supposed peril and then staff up a
huge organization to combat it.

The intoxication of fame and glory is an
important motive, especially for the scientists
themselves. What bliss to be a sainted savior of
the planet, to be the provider of agricultural
abundance as communism dumps capitalism into the
dustbin of history, or to be a new Prometheus,
bringing the fire of cold fusion to desperate humanity!

Greed is often a motive. The University of Utah
was transfixed by the untold dollars they thought
would flow to the inventors of cold fusion. The
Enron Corporation, a politically correct darling
of many environmental advocacy groups, was a
stalwart supporter of the Kyoto Treaty to limit
carbon dioxide emissions. Enron envisaged huge
profits from the trading of emission rights.

Moreover, Enron’s holdings of natural gas, the
fossil fuel that emits the least carbon dioxide
per BTU of combustion energy, would also greatly
increase in value as the constraints of the Kyoto
Treaty began to hurt the coal industry.

One can go down the list of deadly sins of almost
any religion, and most can be found in politicized science.

This should come as no surprise, since scientists
are as fallible as anyone else in their personal lives.

We recall that the first biblical mention of
science (from “knowing” in Latin) occurs in the
story of Eve’s temptation by the Serpent, “Eritis
sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum; Thou shalt
be as God, knowing good and evil.” Science has
always been associated with good and evil, and it
will always be a struggle to be sure that the good prevails." ~

Reality 101 ~ Janice
Received on Mon Feb 6 23:27:51 2006

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