GEORGE BUSH AS KING CANUTE….I’ve had a houseguest for the past week, so I’ve missed a few things that I otherwise would have blogged about. The Bush administration’s desire to ban scientific information that doesn’t fit its ideological views is one of them:
Assessing up to 30 years of government efforts to clean up the environment, [an EPA progress report] was overshadowed by a controversy over its global warming section.
Outgoing EPA Administrator Christie Whitman has said she deleted the discussion of global warming after White House aides sought to tone it down and she decided the result would be “pablum.”
David Appell has more about the dodgy study used to justify the decision, which he says “has serious scientific and methodological flaws.” That’s putting it nicely, I think, and overall the arguments and the lame statistics coming from the anti-global warming camp increasingly remind me of the desperate attempts by tobacco companies to deny any link between smoking and cancer back in the 50s and 60s.
Now, a distaste for letting facts on the ground sway your opinions is a problem shared by zealots on both the left and the right, but at the moment it’s the zealots on the right who are in charge, and they just don’t like scientists much. Too liberal, you see, as Nicholas Thompson explains in the July/August issue of the Washington Monthly:
The split between the GOP and the scientific community began during the administration of Richard Nixon. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, protests against the Vietnam War captured the sympathy of the liberal academic community, including many scientists, whose opposition to the war turned them against Nixon. The president characteristically lashed back and, in 1973, abolished the entire White House science advisory team by executive order, fuming that they were all Democrats. Later, he was caught ranting on one of his tapes about a push, led by his science adviser, to spend more money on scientific research in the crucial electoral state of California. Nixon complained, “Their only argument is that we’re going to lose the support of the scientific community. We will never have their support.”
Thompson argues that to the modern Republican party, scientists aren’t scientists, they’re just another interest group. And we all know what to do with interest groups we disagree with, don’t we?
Anyway, read Thompson’s entire article. It’s enlightening.