Obama Administration Endorses Science

by Stuart Shapiro

Okay, so it’s not a terribly controversial position to be pro-science.   But the guidelines issued this week were a reaction to the Bush Administration’s suppression of testimony from government scientists and altering of scientific findings from agencies.  But reading between the lines, the policy is not as strong as it could be:

It’s now up to the government agencies to develop policies that put the principles into practice.

For example, the directive said that government scientists could speak to reporters and the public about their work “with appropriate coordination with their immediate supervisor and their public affairs officer.” It didn’t give details about what this coordination would entail.

It leaves a lot of discretion to agencies and to their politically appointed heads.  It would be easy for a future administration (or this one, for that matter) to say it was adhering to this policy and do much of what the Bush Administration was criticized for.  The policy should have been stronger, but at least the appearance is that we have an administration that favors science rather than opposes it.

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