The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Politics in the United States has never been pretty, has always been contentious, and has often been both illogical and despicable. But in recent years, it seems that politics has begun to taint science in ways that are particularly troubling.

Today’s New York Times reports on the Bush administration's efforts to shape science policy by controlling its former Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, who testified before a Congressional panel:
The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

It’s perfectly acceptable for the administration to have political opinions about each of these issues, but these opinions cannot and should not be used to distort or suppress scientific fact. It appears that the Bush administration has decided that ideology trumps science, and that brings them perilously to the kind of ideological ignorance that this country is fighting throughout the Moslem word. It surprises me that no one in the administration sees the irony in their position, but then again, politics is often illogical and despicable.

I suspect that some Right-leaning readers and every Left-leaning reader will agree with this assessment. But understand that ideological dominance of science cuts both ways. The current suggestion that humans are the primary cause of global warming is not supported by any reputable scientific fact. Yet many scientists, most politicians, and virtually everyone on the left side of the political spectrum has decided that ideology trumps science on this important issue. If the Bush administration should be rightly condemned for its ideological attempts to control scientific inquiry and reporting, the Left should be equally culpable for accusing those who suggest that scientists and others (included yours truly) who suggest that global warming may have other, more likely causes, are “deniers.” Deniers of what? Politically motivated ideology? Bad science? Agenda-driven politics? Guilty on all counts.

Whether it’s George W. Bush or Al Gore, the use of science to further ideological goals is both illogical and despicable. It should be condemned by any person who believes that science is the never-ending search for an understanding the world around us.