Gazette distorted Union of Concerned Scientists' position regarding new federal guidelines, claimed group "pollute[s] the purity of science with politics"

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An editorial in The Gazette of Colorado Springs falsely accused the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) of opposing new U.S. Geological Survey guidelines and claimed the group "pollute[s] the purity of science with politics." In fact, UCS has not criticized the guidelines and has issued a statement -- signed by 10,600 scientists -- condemning political interference in science.

In a December 20 editorial about U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) guidelines that "require USGS staff scientists to submit all reports or conference presentations to managers in advance to ensure they meet agency standards," The Gazette of Colorado Springs falsely claimed that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) "describes these and other administration actions as attempts to undermine the 'integrity of science.' " The UCS has not, in fact, criticized the USGS guidelines. The Gazette also charged that the UCS "has done more than any other group we can think of to pollute the purity of science with politics" -- ignoring the abundant evidence gathered by the UCS that the Bush administration has indeed sought to undermine the "integrity of science."

The Gazette editorial (posted online December 19) cited a December 14 Washington Post article ("USGS Scientists Object To Stricter Review Rules: Pre-Publication Policy Seen as Cumbersome") which reported that "[a] new Bush administration policy for reviewing scientific documents before publication has angered some U.S. Geological Survey scientists, who say the elaborate internal review of their work may impede them from conveying information to the public." The Gazette incorrectly attributed criticism of the USGS rules to the UCS, and then accused the UCS of playing politics with science:

[T]he loudest critiques of these new rules come from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has done more than any other group we can think of to pollute the purity of science with politics. It describes these and other administration actions as attempts to undermine the "integrity of science."

In fact, the UCS has not criticized the USGS rules. The Post article cited by The Gazette reported that, according to Michael Halpern, UCS' outreach coordinator for scientific integrity, "[some USGS scientists] perceive it as another hoop to jump through in order to get scientific documents approved" but "the policy may not be a problem if officials make sure it's a 'valid review process.' "

The Post did note that "[t]he controversy over the peer review process surfaced a day after the Union of Concerned Scientists announced that 10,600 scientists have signed a statement complaining that the Bush administration has undermined the 'scientific integrity' of federal policymaking."

The UCS on December 11 issued a press release on the integrity of science statement, announcing the number of scientists who had signed it and promoting the release of "an 'A to Z' guide that documents dozens of recent allegations involving censorship and political interference in federal science." The press release also detailed the qualifications of the statement's signatories and provided recent examples of "censorship and political interference in federal science":

The integrity of science statement has grown steadily since it was first released in February 2004. Signatories now include 52 Nobel Laureates, 63 National Medal of Science recipients, and almost 200 members of the National Academies of Science. Meanwhile, the new UCS compendium details censorship and political interference in federal science on issues as diverse as air quality, childhood lead poisoning, and prescription drug safety. For example, in late October UCS released documents tying high-level political appointees at the Department of Interior to the manipulation and distortion of numerous scientific documents to prevent the protection of six different species under the Endangered Species Act.

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