One of the first
things I wrote about on Corpus Callosum was the tense and
ambivalent relationship the current Administration has with the
Note that the ambivalence is one-sided: it occurs entirely on the side
of the Administration. The scientific community is decided
univalent on the subject.
Now, the Center for Inquiry (publishers of the Skeptical
Inquirer) has published a paper calling for reform.
It is a well-researched and charitably-worded examination of
the War on Science, complete with recommended remedies.
The link to the paper can be found
Scientific Integrity: an Update and Additional Legislative Proposals.
The paper itself is presented as a 31-page
PDF file. The report was written by Derek Araujo,
J.D., Daniel Horowitz, J.D., Ronald a. Lindsay, J.D., PH.D, and
reviewed by Paul Kurtz, PH.D., Ruth Mitchell, PH.D., and Toni van Pelt.
They came up with three recommendations:
- Enact legislation to specifically permit
government scientists to communicate freely with the media and the
- Re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment
- Reform the Data Quality Act
Regarding the last point, they state, “The objective of the DQA is to
ensure the quality of scientific information.” That is where
they are being charitable. Everyone knows the intent had
nothing to do with ensuring quality. Rather, the intent was
to insure that any industry with an agenda could get in and muck up the
work that was being done.
Indeed, that is exactly what has happened. :
However, some believe it has been abused
by interests seeking to delay regulatory action by filing frivolous
requests for correction (RFCs). To ensure the DAQ can continue to serve
the objective of improving data quality while at the same time reducing
the incentive to file frivolous RFCs, we recommend that any RFC include
a representation under penalties of perjury that the complainant has
presented all relevant information of which it is aware, whether or not
publicly available at the time of the RFC. Moreover, the complainant
should also be required to consent to making any information it has
submitted in connection with the RFC publicly available.
Makes sense. All they are saying is that communications with
government agencies should consist of a good-faith representation of
something called “the truth,” and that all interested parties have
access to the relevant information. The explain this in
detail on page 20 of the paper. Trying to be helpful, they
provide proposed legislative language that would achieve their goal.
Additionally, they point out that the current system is such that it is
much easier for business interested to file RFCs than it is for members
of the public. They recommend additional congressional
oversight, as well as improved transparency in the process.