Keep the Scientists Quiet!
Since 1995, a group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has been conducting surveys of scientists working in the federal government. The surveys measure perceptions of the scientific integrity of governmental processes and adequacy of resources. From 1995 onward, the surveys have been completed with no problems, and no interference. This year, that has all changed.
This year, the Bush Administration has ordered scientists within the federal government to keep their mouths shut. The Bush Administration has ordered scientists not to complete a survey designed to assess the scientific integrity and adequacy of resources in the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Bush Administration officials have told scientists that they may not complete the survey, even on their own time, unless the survey’s 42 questions are reviewed, and approved or edited, by the Bush Administration beforehand.
Essentially, the Bush Administration has declared the power to seize the surveys and edit their questions until the survey design is more likely to create a favorable impression of scientific integrity in the Fish and Wildlife Service. Apparently, the people in the Bush White House do not appreciate the irony of skewing the design a study about the integrity of governmental research processes.
400 scientists, who understand the implications of scientific censorship quite well, have defied Bush’s orders to be quiet, and have completed the survey on their own time. They now face disciplinary action from administrators appointed by Bush’s political team in the White House. Many of these scientists may be forced to leave their jobs in the federal government, but I applaud their stand against the medieval, anti-science values of the Republicans who currently run the bureaucracy in Washington D.C.