Good Riddance to Bad Science

I enjoyed Rick Weiss'”Good Riddance” piece directed at the outgoing US administration, and it probably echoes  the views of many US based researchers.

Good riddance to the lies, the deception, the White House-edited pseudoscience reports. Good riddance to the stacked science advisory committees, the faux peer-review of proposed regulations, the junkyard claims of “junk science.”

Good riddance to the scientist manqué at the top of the Environmental Protection Agency who big-footed actual evidence for political convenience. Good riddance to the leadership at the Office of Science and Technology Policy that supported President Bush’s skepticism about the need to address climate change aggressively.

Good riddance to the vice-president who thought the telecom revolution was about better bugging of innocent citizens’ phone calls. Good riddance to the president who cared more about human embryos than he did about children living in the lower Ninth Ward.

footmouthcullI have been hearing lots of positive things about Obama’s science team (mainly from US based colleagues who may or may not have an interest in positions/funding so the traditional academic infighting may resume once the honeymoon is over), so let’s hope that they can deliver on the promises and set an example to the rest of the world.

However having good scientists is not the only criteria for good science. The 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease cost the economy some £20 billion as a result of what is now seen as a disastrously wrong decision by the Chief Scientist Sir David King to slaughter animals rather than vaccinate them (as happened in most other countries), perhaps illustrating the problems of putting a chemist in charge of epidemiology. The result? Half of the countryside out of bounds and pyres of dead carcasses being burned for weeks on end.

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