Scientists vs the Bushite Assault on Science

by S.R.

Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at

Trained as a scientist, I have been closely following the sweeping attacks on science and the outrage in the scientific community, and both are without precedent in modern times.

After reading the letter last week on the Kansas evolution hearings, I'm reporting on some other aspects of the Bushite assault on science and the protest from the scientific community—in particular the scientists' statement Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policy Making and the report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in conjunction with that statement.


Bush government policy is running rampant over science. And it is no exaggeration to say that the earth is in danger.

On a planetary level, the potential impact of global warming is catastrophic—from flooded coastlines to drastic shortages of fresh drinking water for billions of people. Yet scientific evidence on the nature and causes of global warming is being suppressed and distorted because the Bush administration's horizon on this subject does not extend beyond near-term bottom lines of the energy industry.

The Bush government is essentially redefining fish and wildlife species to over-inflate population counts and thereby remove protections for endangered species. Government environmental and biological scientists who publicize or uphold scientific findings that protect ecology from corporate interests face threats of retaliation from political operatives.

Notions of traditional morality and the overall Christo-fascist "faith" agenda of the Bush government is redefining the scope of scientific research.

Stem-cell research could potentially unlock cures for debilitating and fatal diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, along with figuring out how to replace damaged tissue. Despite these compelling possibilities, research on stem cells has been de-funded by Bush—acting on Christian fundamentalist doctrine that equates embryos with full human life. HIV/AIDS prevention studies that even mention words like "anal sex" are being blocked and restricted—with genocidal implications, given the epidemic proportions of HIV/AIDS in Africa and other parts of the world.

Bush political operatives have forced official government health web sites to comply with the Christian fundamentalist agenda—over the objections of scientists. An egregious example of this was the posting of spurious links between abortion and increased risk of breast cancer on the National Cancer Institute's web site, until massive scientific and public pressure forced its removal.

Key governmental scientific advisory panels are being purged of researchers who disagree with the Bush administration. Ideological and political allegiance are replacing scientific credentials as criteria for appointments in science.

Scientific panels with oversight on reproductive health are increasingly stacked with Christian fundamentalists bent on furthering a theocratic agenda at the expense of women's health.

Industry representatives are being appointed to scientific panels advising the government on issues ranging from acceptable lead levels in house paint to the environmental impact of stripmining.

And there is much, much more.


Glossary of Terms

Global warming
refers to the rise in the average surface temperature of Earth due to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide from the burning of oil and gas.
Stem-cell research
is about determining "why" and "how" embryonic stem cells—undifferentiated cells found in 3- to 5-day-old embryos—become any particular type of cell.
refers to ideas put forward by Lysenko, an agronomist in the socialist Soviet Union in the 1930s. Lysenko claimed to have made breakthroughs in agriculture that would greatly raise crop yields. However, his theories were based on the scientifically incorrect notion of "inheritance of acquired characteristics." Lysenkoism was backed and promoted by Stalin for pragmatic and instrumentalist reasons. For more on Lysenkoism, see Bob Avakian's writings (available online at, including: "Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism," "Soaring to Great Heights...And Grubbing in the Dirt," and "Once Again on the Intellectuals."

Scientists' Statement—Restoring Scientific Integrity

Alarmed by the unprecedented nature, scope and scale of such abuses, 62 prominent scientists in the United States initiated and issued a joint statement in early 2004 titled Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking—exposing and protesting key aspects of these attacks on science and calling for an immediate end to " the distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends ." (See box.)

Co-signers of the statement now number in the thousands (around 6,000 and still counting), from all scientific disciplines, including 48 Nobel Prize winners, 62 National Medal of Science recipients, and 135 members of the National Academy of Sciences. Signatories include scientific advisors to past Republican presidents.

In conjunction with the scientists' statement, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a detailed report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking—Further Investigation of the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science,backing up the scientists' charges.

According to the UCS, the systematic and sweeping nature of these attacks on science across all areas of governmental policy came to light when UCS specifically commissioned a veteran investigative journalist to examine and verify scattered reports of abuse. The report is filled with case after compelling case of the administration's " egregious disregard of scientific study,...censorship and distortion of scientific analysis, and manipulation of the scientific process, [and].distortion of scientific knowledge " and offers " new evidence about the use of political litmus tests for scientific advisory panel appointees. "

Science is increasingly being forced to conform to corporate interests on one hand and a Christian fascist agenda on the other hand. Editorials in scientific journals are exposing and calling for an immediate end to these attacks.

Scientific American titled one of their editorials "Bush-League Lysenkoism—The White House bends science to its will."

Some scientists even organized themselves into a group called Scientists and Engineers for Change and launched a pre-election campaign to expose the Bush administration on these fronts.

Defending Science

Organized political activity at this level among the scientific community is not common and has not been seen since the mobilization in opposition to nuclear weapons. While this phenomenon is part of the greater movement among the intelligentsia who are not down with Bush's lies—from the war in Iraq to Arctic drilling—it also has its own particularity in that they are organizing as scientists.

These current initial efforts from the scientists are even more significant because scientists have started coming together to defend their very own calling—at a time when Bush is making increasingly clear that truth, as we understand it—i.e., correspondence to reality—does not matter.

Scientists are objectively being forced to defend science itself—and the scientific method and approach—which has emerged through centuries of humanity's search for knowledge about life, our planet, and the universe.

As in Kansas, the question is being posed about the very nature of science itself: will it be "natural explanations" or scriptural narratives; scientific method of starting from reality or metaphysical precepts and religious dogma?

This harks back to the days of Galileo-a time in history when scientists were murdered, tortured, and threatened with excommunication from the Church for arriving at truths contrary to the Church's official doctrine.

Sensing the trajectory, Dr. Kurt Gottfried, the Chairman of UCS and a prominent physicist in his own right, recently commented on the current ideological climate, "There are powerful constituencies that reject the premises of the Enlightenment." Other scientists are freely using the term "Taliban" to refer to occupants of high political offices.

Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking

An excerpt from the scientists' statement:


When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions. This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government's own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice. Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front. Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies...

Across a broad range of policy areas, the administration has undermined the quality and independence of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government's outstanding scientific personnel.


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