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Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: 43 Steps for the Next Presidential Term

Posted on 22 June 2020 by Guest Author

A guest repost by the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). Fundraising is not the objective of this article but readers may wish to know that CSLDF is currently conducting a summer fundraiser to support the important work of defending research scientists and research integrity from anti-science interference by politicians and industrial interests. 

We’re one of the dozens of organizations working to advance good government, public health, and environmental, consumer, human, and civil rights, who today [June 11] collectively released Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: 43 Steps for the Next Presidential Term.

The COVID-19 crisis shows what can happen when science is sidelined from policy decisions or subverted for political purposes. When data is suppressed or manipulated, or medical experts and scientists are prevented from sharing their expertise with the public, the result is a dearth of information the public needs to operate safely during a pandemic—and more people get sick and die.

The politicization of science isn’t new, but it has escalated into a full-blown crisis under the Trump administration. In the Silencing Science Tracker we maintain with Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Law, we’ve documented 428 instances of science being censored or restricted since November 2016. Many of these actions pose troubling risks to public health.

The next administration must prioritize repairing the culture of scientific integrity in the federal government. Federal scientists must be free to pursue valid research and communicate their findings to the press and taxpaying public without fear of political interference or manipulation. Those in federal agencies who have decision-making authority on matters that involve or use science must fully consider the best available science. And much more.

This series of memos provides concrete steps the next administration can take to restore a culture of scientific integrity across the federal government. These would help rebuild public trust in scientific institutions and ensure that scientific evidence informs government decisions. They also represent simple, low-cost, good government reforms that would improve efficiency, transparency, and accountability.

The memos offer recommendations in eight categories:

  • Federal advisory committees
  • Personnel policy
  • Agency scientific independence
  • Restoring strength to scientific agencies
  • Whistleblower protections
  • Scientific communications
  • Data collection and dissemination
  • Regulatory reform

We will share these recommendations with major presidential campaigns and transition teams. We encourage all who have influence over White House and executive branch priorities in 2021 to read these short documents and take them to heart.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 4:

  1. You better deleat this one.  It is all political.

    And there will be pie in the sky when we die.  What great asperations, all of it gum flapping.  Under Trump we have seen with crystal clarity, what he thinks of science during this C19 crisis and the results??  Thousands of his people dead who should still be alive.  His attitude toward climate change is equally primitive.  Do you think it will be any better under Biden.  The only hope was for Bernie to be elected.  Then these asperations would have born fruit.  The DNC scuppered that. At least under Trump it got people united against his stupidity and cupidity.

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  2. As the piece points out the politicization of science during the current administration, it's necessarily political in nature.

    Politics is where science meets policy.  

    William, your suggestion to "do nothing" seems axiomatically of low utility. 

    Perfection isn't possible but better statistics are. That's why we brush our teeth, fasten seat belts, wash our hands and perform a myriad of other actions offering no guarantee other than improved odds. It's the same with this situation.

    As a statistical matter, we'd have been better off with many of the other candidates the currrent WH occupant faced.

    Advocating "doing nothing" is itself a destructive act of politics. 

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  3. Not only has the Trump administration irresponsibly undermined the hard sciences, the administrations  approach to the economy is far from science / evidence based as well:

    edition.cnn.com/2020/06/24/business/recession-tariffs-europe-immigration-trump/index.html

     

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  4. This is a thorough and very defensible presentation.

    Expanded awareness and improved understanding, what science is all about, becomes political when it exposes a harmful reality of a developed socioeconomic-political system.

    Human systems should be striving to develop sustainable improvements for everyone without harming Others, including helping, not harming, the future generations.

    Thomas Piketty's 2020 book "Capital and Ideology" (published in French in 2019) makes the point that Ideology always exists. It is the explanation and justification of the developed systems. And the history of human developed socioeconomic-political systems is filled with the cases where the harmful inequities of the systems get Ideologically covered-up by Stories made-up without solid evidence to support them.

    All pursuits of expanded awareness and improved understanding, which includes the study of the results of collective human behaviours not just the physical sciences, can expose the harmful weaknesses and flaws of the developed Ideologies and the systems they attempt to justify. When learning does that it triggers political reactions, often primal in nature (fight the corrections to the bitterest of ends).

    Sustainable Leadership must constantly change its Ideology, including the reality of regional differences of Leadership Ideology. A diversity of Leadership that is all Governed by expanded awareness and improved understanding should be what humanity wants to see developed. The Sustainable Development Goals provide an excellent basis, open to improvement, for a regional diversity of Good Leadership. But misleading marketing that can tempt primordial human instinctive liking for greed and intolerance of Others makes it difficult for that Best Future for Humanity to develop and improve.

    One of the greatest threats to the future of humanity is people who resist understanding that their developed Impression of Superiority relative to Others is not deserved.

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