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Perhaps the most frightening thing to the Democrats and their allies in academia about the change of control in the Congress is the possibility that their junk science gravy train will be shut down. The Democrats have long used junk science, produced by the various academic equivalents of Jerry Sandusky, in order to shape the debate and form policies for reordering American society.
The war over science is heating up on Capitol Hill.
GOP House members have had little success reining in research agencies so far, but, emboldened by their growing majorities, they’re hoping for better luck next year. They plan to push proposals to cut funding for global warming and social science research, put strict new rules on the National Science Foundation’s grant-making process and overhaul how science informs policy making at the EPA.
At the same time, however, researchers and their advocates in the Democratic caucus are taking increasingly aggressive stances of their own: Rather than answer GOP objections one by one, or brush them off, they’re making a larger issue of what they see as heavy-handed interference based on ideology rather than methodology.
What is brewing, contra the article’s trolling title, is not a war on science but rather an effort to establish accountability to science funded by the US government.
The community of academic researchers, though it tries to portray itself as disinterested advocates for truth, are predominantly progressives who are in equal parts duplicitous in the shaping of research to agree with their policy preferences and greedy opportunists who want to use federal seed money to make them rich and famous. At a minimum the attitude in the scientific research community is that the rules simply don’t apply to them because: science. For instance, it wasn’t until 2005 that NIH scientists had to observe the same rules on their financial dealings as mere mortals. It wasn’t until 2008 that research conducted via federal grants had to be placed in the public domain, bringing scientific research under the same rules as any other product developed with federal funds.
My colleague Dan McLaughlin has done all the hard work in documenting how the left uses junk science produced by left wing researchers to bulldoze any opposition to their policies. What Dan cites is merely the tip of the iceberg.
One of the core principles of science is that the results must be reproducible. In order to reproduce the results the data and and the methodology must be transparent. This means two things: you can’t use a “secret sauce” to arrive and your findings and your findings may be challenged, especially when they are used to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and control what we eat and drink. Politically driven scientists don’t like that:
The chamber passed a series of bills this month to tighten its reins on the EPA. One bans the agency from drawing on so-called secret science by requiring the agency to disclose any data it uses in the name of transparency. The EPA has issued air quality rules that drew on major epidemiological studies by the American Cancer Society and Harvard University, for example, but because researchers protected the identities of the individuals who served as subjects, the full data isn’t publicly available.
The excuse used by the EPA is obvious bull****. There have long existed ways of masking survey subject identity while providing datasets used for public policy. The Census Bureau does it all the time, that’s how we redistrict every ten years. The fact that the EPA is relying on confidentiality of survey participants is the first alarm that there are huge problems with either the data or how the EPA is using the data. From a public policy standpoint, we are a nation ruled by the people who have delegated certain powers to the government.We are not ruled by judges (in the Biblical sense though were are increasingly ruled by Article III judges) or philosopher kings.
The other thing academic researchers don’t like is having to actually produce results. If the MGM motto is Art for Art’s Sake (Ars gratia artis) then the scientific research community should adopt the motto Bull**** for Bull****’s Sake. If our scientific research dollar produces anything with regularity that item is academic careers built on successfully cadging federal dollars.
Research groups and universities have traditionally had strong bipartisan support from Congress and are hesitant to take sides or get embroiled in political battles that could isolate supporters.
But they’re coming around to the idea of putting more heat on Congress and trying to involve the business community — which often benefits from the basic research conducted at NSF — in pushing back the tide as well, a House aide said.
That will include battling a bill called the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act, which passed the House Science Committee this year and which Smith said he plans to resurrect in the next Congress. That would place significant new regulations on how the NSF goes about choosing science projects to fund and distributing money. Research groups were strongly opposed to the bill and said it reflected a lack of trust in the NSF.
This resistance probably isn’t going to go too far. Business isn’t interested in origami condoms any more than the general population and most of the business community isn’t interested in providing lucrative sinecures to tenured faculty to research whatever the hell they can convince their peers is not too laughable.
No, there isn’t a war on science being waged. There is a war, however, brewing over corrupt research and tenured academics living at the public trough. It is a war the GOP should be happy to fight.