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Investigating the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science

03/11/2004 7:00 PM 10-250
Philip Morrison, Institute Professor and Professor of Physics, Emeritus, MIT; Kevin Knoblock, President, Union of Concerned Scientists; E. O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University; Honorary Curator in Entomology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology

Description: In a just-published map of salt in seawater, Philip Morrison reads two lessons: the world is above all a physical place, so we need science to know about it; and science is telling us startling new things all the time. But according to Kevin Knobloch, the Bush Administration is making an unprecedented and concerted effort to suppress the release of important scientific data, "spin" the presentation of data to the public and in some cases to control the research process itself. "We expect decision-makers to hear what science has to say, then weigh other factors. But the decision-makers aren't even seeing the science," says Knobloch.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has documented an egregious series of cases in which the White House shaped science to conform to its political goals: e.g., at the administration's request, the Environmental Protection Agency altered a report on climate change; the White House concealed research on the devastating impact of mercury on fetal development while Congress debated legislation dealing with power plant emissions; Cabinet secretaries replaced independent scientists with industry representatives on advisory committees dealing with environmental and public health issues. In follow-up remarks, E.O. Wilson scorned this "perversion of science." He said, "Science is not a religion, not an ideology, not a lobby intent on turning Washington around. It's simply the best method hit upon...to acquire knowledge about the real world."

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Philip Morrison has been at MIT for 40 years (Institute Professor; Physics, Emeritus). A distinguished theoretical astrophysicist, he worked on the Manhattan Project and since then has spoken out widely against the use of nuclear weapons.

Kevin Knobloch is an expert on a wide range of environmental and arms control issues. He holds a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

E.O. Wilson has been at Harvard for 40 years, as professor (Emeritus) of science and curator in entomology. A Pulitzer-Prize winning author, he has discovered hundreds of new species (he has been dubbed "the father of biodiversity") and is one of the leading scientific theorists of our times.


Host(s): Dean for Student Life, Western Hemisphere Project

Tape #: T18353

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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