On the Obama scientific integrity directive


President Obama’s March 9 “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” on Scientific Integrity calls for “transparency in the use of scientific information in policymaking.”  If the President and his science adviser John Holdren carry out that pledge, it will be a major reform after the abuses we witnessed under the notoriously nontransparent Bush administration.

post by Rick Piltz

[Greetings from Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where I am being treated for a couple of days for something that mostly does not keep me from working at my computer.  First time in my life I’ve been held overnight in a hospital.  Hallelujah for the so-far-so-good wireless internet connection here.]

Let’s look at the coverage of the President’s March 9 memorandum on scientific integrity in the New York Times as a foil for a few comments:
In “Obama Puts His Own Spin on Mix of Science With Politics” (read the full article here) in the March 10 NY Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes:

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s directive on Monday to “guarantee scientific integrity” in federal policy making could have a far-reaching impact, affecting issues as varied as climate change, national security, protection of endangered species and children’s health.

But it will not divorce science from politics, or strip ideology from presidential decisions….

Well, of course not.  Obama didn’t say that science would supplant politics and values in decisionmaking and it would be misleading to suggest otherwise.  (Although that didn’t keep the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer from once again deploying his skill at sophistry to suggest otherwise in his Washington Post column, “Obama’s ‘Sci

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