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Blinding You With Science

Sunday, Feb. 05, 2006 12:01 AM

Michael D. Griifin, administrator of NASA, has released a statement calling for, "scientific openness," throughout the agency. He specifically addresses the subject of public affairs officers editing, "engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff."

This follows a charge by James E. Hansen, a leading climate expert, who charges that appointees of the Bush Administration threatened him about openly addressing emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Other NASA scientists and employees have come forward to offer other instances where statements were delayed or altered to mesh with Bush Administration policies. A web page mentioning the Big Bang was corrected to state, "big bang theory."

The man responsible for editing Hansen's work, as well as the, "big bang memo," is George Deutsch, a 24-year-old wunderkind whose chief qualification was working as an intern for the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign. He has a journalism degree, but apparently never mastered journalistic ethics.

Deutsch, you see, believes it's all about Creation. Wouldn't want the kiddies to go to NASA and get a one-sided view, right? That would, "... mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

If I'm asking questions of NASA, I expect to get scientifically accurate information, not pre-chewed cud carefully approved by the Ministry of Acceptable Doctrines.

Deutsch cites the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, which does, in fact, specify the use of, "big bang theory." It should be noted that the Stylebook is a guide to capitalization and usage in print, and that the entry goes on to explain the difference between the oscillating and steady-state views of the big bang theory. At no point is Creation or intelligent design mentioned.

This isn't the first time accusations of scientific flimflammery have been leveled against the Bush Administration. Less than a year ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a statement accusing the Bush Administration of distorting findings and expert advice to avoid information that doesn't fit in the Bush Universe.

White House Science Advisor John Marburger answered the charges at the time with a statement sounding more like Tony Soprano than Carl Sagan, commenting that, "... we are not communicating with them as we should, and I'll have to deal with that."

The response to this year's charges comes from Donald Tighe over at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy:

"Science is respected and protected and highly valued by the administration."

Except when it isn't.

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