miércoles, 25 de septiembre de 2013

Silencing scientists


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/silencing-scientists.html?_r=1&

September 21, 2013
Silencing Scientists
By VERLYN
KLINKENBORG<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/K/verlyn_klinkenborg/index.html>

Over the last few years, the government of Canada - led by Stephen Harper - has made
it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public
and with other scientists.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the
federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications
officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of
scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change,
fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands - source of the diluted
bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists
find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves
have organized public protests.

There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists
were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But
nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.

Science is the gathering of hypotheses and the endless testing of them. It involves
checking and double-checking, self-criticism and a willingness to overturn even
fundamental assumptions if they prove to be wrong. But none of this can happen
without open communication among scientists. This is more than an attack on academic
freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

It is also designed to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the northern
resource rush - the feverish effort to mine the earth and the ocean with little
regard for environmental consequences. The Harper policy seems designed to make sure
that the tar sands project proceeds quietly, with no surprises, no bad news, no
alarms from government scientists. To all the other kinds of pollution the tar sands
will yield, we must now add another: the degradation of vital streams of research
and information.

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