John Marburger’s Bromley Lecture: Illumination or whitewash?


An upcoming April 29 lecture at George Washington University by former White House Science Advisor John Marburger could be an opportunity for him to come clean about his role in enabling the Bush administration to corrupt the science-policy relationship.  Otherwise, the audience should be prepared to throw a few shoes.

See our earlier posts: 
Marburger’s legacy: John Holdren must restore credibility to the White House science office

Climate change in Vanity Fair’s oral history of the Bush White House

John H. Marburger, III, the Bush administration’s Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is scheduled to give the Bromley Lecture on “Policy as Science” at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs on April 29. 

What is “Policy as Science,” we wonder?  Does that refer to how the Bush administration allowed its policy positions to dictate how it used, misused, denied, and manipulated science communication and advice? 

We believe that former administration officials have an opportunity to achieve some redemption by using their post-government freedom of expression to set the record straight on what happened during their tenure on the inside—what they witnessed, what they did about it, and so forth.

But reading this portion of the text that is being used to promote the talk doesn’t lead us to expect that it will provide much illumination:

He and senior OSTP officials led U.S. delegations to critical international negotiating meetings on internet governance, telecommunications spectrum allocations, and climate change including the influential summary reports of the International Panel on Climate Change, securing Administration support for the reports as a foundation for subsequent Administration policymaking. Serving during a time of deep political and ideological divisions, especially regarding climate change and human embryonic stem cell research, Marburger brought high standards of fairness and objectivity to the science policy process, and launched a movement to strengthen the “science of science policy” that achieved international recognition.

Without recapitulating here the numerous pieces we have posted that bear on this subject (see link to earlier post above), suffice it to say here that we consider this statement to be essentially baloney.  It is base revisionist history.  Marburger didn’t tell the truth about the Gerberding testimony censorship, he refused to say climate change was “urgent” as recently as a year and a half ago, he touted Bush climate rhetoric as if it were based on good science, and he allowed political manipulation of climate science communication to occur on his watch.   

If we didn’t have more pressing demands on our time, we would be tempted to show up, wearing some easily removable shoes and a warmed up right arm. 

This entry was posted in Science-Policy Interaction. Bookmark the permalink.