Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shut Up, Einstein, It's Election-Time

10,000 US researchers have signed a petition meant to shed light on Republican interference in the scientific process. Their statement sites instances of scientists in federal agencies being asked to change data to reflect current policy. From BBC News:

The [American Geophysical] Union has released an "A to Z" guide that it says documents dozens of recent allegations involving censorship and political interference in federal science, covering issues ranging from global warming to sex education.

The claim is a direct attack on the Republican congress and it's misuse of scientific data to support initiatives, and their disregard for scientific integrity. The guide sites specific instances of censorship and misrepresentation, and claims the practice has been increasingly prevalent in recent years.

Among the 10,000 signatures are those of 52 Nobel Laureates, and previous scientific advisers to administrations dating back to the 1950's. The Union does say they have hope that the incoming Democratic Congress will turn the tide.

The petition includes signatures from both sides of the political fence.

It seems to me this is more than another signal of political arrogance and irresponsible decisions. It is more than hubris. What does it say about a nation that they allow into power a group willing to distort information that in a very real and immediate way effects our daily lives and decisions for the future. What does it say about a people who not only voted these individuals into power, but also show only moderate outrage at the bounds they have so often overstepped?

As Americans, we pretend to pride ourselves on being informed and literate regarding the ways of the world. Those who support the current war will be the first to tell you we are liberating an oppressed people.

One of the greatest tenants of oppression is control and restriction of information. With the distortion of scientific research, our elected officials are not only creating a misinformed public and faulty "way forward," but they are also laying the framework (as eventually, they begin to believe their own perpetuated fallacies) for a fool of a nation, stumbling about spouting jibberish, bullying any who descent, and steadily losing every last semblance of credibility or relevance.

This is more than just a few lying Republican's bent on keeping their power. The fact that this kind of practice can exist in an American congress, alongside the fact that these "leaders" were voted into power by a "free" people, decries a will of the people to not only repress themselves, but also to blindly support and encourage a government that believes we are too inept to be dealt the truth in all matters.

There are many kinds of oppression, some blatant, and some quite subtle. Accepting a misinformed concept of reality, and tolerating any chosen representative who does not afford us the respect of truthful data with which to gauge our support is the first step down a very quick path to what we all, Republican and Democrat alike, fear most: our loss of freedom.

Information and Democracy are inextricably linked. In a large population, once cannot exist without the other.

1 comment:

  1. Let’s not forget that these are the people in charge of federal budgets. If left in power they could actually shape the course of scientific thought and research towards their policies (directed by the social right wing and/or corporate interests) by redirecting funding to those that play along, leaving those who don't without the funds to continue actual scientific research.