Bush Administration Distorting Objective Science

September 2, 2005

I'd say I've had enough, that I'm ashamed and embarrassed, but the truth is I'd had enough during term one, and now the whole thing just looks absurd to me. Whats happening--and I think this has been pretty clear now for a while--is that the Bush administration is intentionally distorting objective science, peddling misleading or incorrect data as "fact," and outrightly lying to the people in the service of a political, religious and moral agenda. This morning, the NYT reports that the director of the FDA's women's health division resigned over the delay by the administration on the issue of over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill. Just to be clear, a panel of scientists and regulatory staff at the FDA reviewed the literature and made a "collective decision" to approve OTC sales of the pill. Then, the commisioner overruled the findings and delayed the decision on approval indefinately. According to the NYT article, this "almost never" happens, with the implication that this decision to delay is politically motivated. (I commend the FDA director for her resignation--I wouldn't want to work for an agency that doesn't care what I think either. ) So, here we have it, conclusive evidence that the Bush administration is acting contrary to sound medicine and science to put forward a moral agenda and deprive women (and couples) of control over reproductive decisions. Is anyone else outraged?

What? You don't believe such an over assualt on science (not to mention personal freedom) could be happening right under our noses in the USA? Well, who's heard of the "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act"--the proposed federal legislation that would force physicians to read a statement to women seeking abortions after 20 weeks about capacity for fetal pain. Here's part of it: "Congress finds that there is substantial evidence that the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain ..." (The rest and a good analysis is here) That all may sound reasonable (well, the "child" and "killing" rhetoric notwithstanding) if it were true, but (hey, surprise surprise) a recent JAMA article (the American Medical Association's research journal) shows evidence that it's not. The physicians authoring the paper show that pain perception is a function of registering painful stimuli in the higher centers of the brain, which they say, probably doesn't occur until 28 or 30 weeks of gestation. Is anyone else pissed that the Bush administration is putting forward fake science as fact and making it law?

No, not pissed? How about that the Bush administration is supporting the drafting of legislation that would force schools to teach intelligent design (which has absolutely no basis in objective science, and is a sham for teaching creationism) alongside evolution by natural selection (which is founded in the principles of objective science and supported by mountains of irrefutable data--and which, by the way, some ID proponents acknowledge). How is your level of ire? Mine's pretty high. But, wait, there's more. The Bush administration has consistently denied that manmade actions, such as the consumption of fossil fuels and production of greenhouse gasses, has any impact on global climate change. Most of those that study climate change agree that manmade interventions are impacting the climate (sorry, I don't have the data on this but it does exist--the recent series in the NYer highlights some of it.) Who cares, right? Well, this denying of fact has allowed the US to not sign on to the Kyoto protocol or adopt any meaningful action to reduce emmisions. I mean, Jesus, what does it take, a hurricane? Guess not.

So there we have it. Our government doesn't support objective science. And yes, it is impacting our lives, and will for some time to come. And I'm not just pissed, or outraged, but livid. So I guess the way the Bushies see it is that all those things that people do around the world, like producing new medicines and curing disease, or sending the shuttle into space, or engineering public works projects--I guess they think all that just happens randomly. That all those figures in the history of science that have helped us come to where we are today--Gallileo, Koch, Pasteur, Curie, Darwin, Francis & Crick--that, well, they really didn't know what they were talking about after all.

One of the scariest parts of all this is that elections seem buyable now--it just depends who you have working on your side. An article in last month's Harpers (which I've not yet read) goes over all sorts of nefarious tactics that the republicans used in the last election to "win" votes. I mean, if that's what democracy has come to, count me out.

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