The Muzzling of Science

The latest edition of Scientific American printed a table from the Silencing Science Tracker, created and maintained by the Columbia University Law School, which listed almost 200 actions by the federal government to cut off scientific research and muzzle the reporting of scientific findings.

The federal agencies most involved in muzzling science were the U.S. EPA, the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy, HHS, and the Department of Agriculture. The forms such actions took include distorting or destroying data, restricting government scientists from attending conferences, closing down science advisory groups, removing scientists from such boards, and replacing scientists on science boards.

The vast majority of these actions appear to have been taken to suppress scientific information or expertise contrary to the political agenda of the White House, such as air pollution health data, occupational health exposures, climate change data, and pesticide exposure data. Apparently, when the White House cannot find studies or data to support its political agenda, it just restricts the dissemination of data, muzzles government scientists, or replaces scientists with industry lobbyists… and then ignores any scientist – or anyone else — who suggests that the administration’s actions were motivated for business or political ends.

Those who agree with the administration’s actions seem to believe that scientific findings can be changed by wishing otherwise, or ignored with no impact. In addition to that, it seems as though almost no one outside the science community seems to care about the need for impartial scientific findings, or that science is being muzzled or distorted… and that public health, education, and the environment are being sacrificed to political expediency on the largest scale in U.S. history.

2 thoughts on “The Muzzling of Science”

  1. Alan says:

    I’m not sure what the last department you meant to list was, but you listed the DoE twice. However, on to the point, I don’t generally follow government organized advisory boards that have membership decided by political parties. Too often the membership of the advisory board changes with the changing political winds. This is not a new occurrence.

    It’s certainly not limited to ‘muzzling’ science either. Politicians, and employer or bosses of all stripes, have generally been quick to turn out anyone who disagrees with their views. Facts are largely irrelevant to what they’re putting out, they just get in the way of their agenda. I saw this in the military before I retired, I’ve seen it in politics for years, and I see it in the private sector where I work now.

    1. Thanks for the correction. The second DOE mention should have been Department of Agriculture, and I changed the blog entry to reflect that.

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