31/01/08

The White House vs Science: what’s a girl to do?

Salon’s Sheila Kaplan, Newshoggers and Michael Clark bring to our attention the latest salvo in the Bush administration’s war on science — this time, it was suppressing information about possible toxicity of trailers used to house victims of Hurricane Katrina because of formaldehyde, though it might just as well be the safety of condoms (which W doubts) or the effectiveness of abstinence (which he doesn’t).

Some warn against hysteria over formaldehyde, and they may have a point. But a bigger issue for scientists is: what should you do when your employer is anti-science? CDC, NIH and the other temples of science in the US are filled with hard-working, dedicated people who’ve chosen a not particularly glamorous or well-paid job because they want to contribute to public well-being. When they see that they are fighting a losing battle against the politicians who employ them, should they just quit? Or should they fight on, in the belief that things would be even worse if they didn’t try to do their bit?

I guess I’m a quitter, having given up on trying to persuade the US to fund clean needles for injectors or work sensibly with the sex industry in Asia. But I have to say I do respect the people who soldier on against the odds, who create elbow room to do things under the radar screen. As long the White House wages its war against science, we need footsoldiers on the side of the facts.

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This post was published on 31/01/08 in Science.

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  1. Comment by Candy, 01/02/08, 01:16:

    >As long the White House wages its war against science, we need footsoldiers on the side of the facts.

    Very cool line.

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