Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sound and impartial science: bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment

Treehugger: In an important post highlighting the need for fairer, more fact-based science in government, Mark Hoofnagle advocates for the return of the Office of Technology Assessment, an agency on the Hill that used to provide non-partisan scientific documents to the members of Congress. It was unceremoniously shut down - after 30 years of valuable service - upon being deprived of funding in the wake of the 1994 Republican midterm election rout.

As Mark goes on to elaborate, this "self-lobotomy" helped in great part to facilitate the Bush administration's grievous mishandling of science, with acolytes like Cheney and Rove pushing for the prioritization of industry interests and big oil over all else - even going so far as to appoint former lobbyists and executives to plum leadership positions.

"This is truly should be a non-partisan issue. Everybody should want the government to be operating from one set of facts, ideally facts investigated by an independent body within the congress that is fiercely non-partisan, to set the bounds of legitimate debate. Everybody should want policy and policy debates to be based upon sound scientific ground. Everybody should want evidence-based government."

If you care about sound, rigorous science (and who doesn't?), Mark suggests you help push for the reinstitution of the OTA by e-mailing your local congressman and senators. As he puts it, we need to "ask congress to re-insert their brain, and refund the OTA." Amen.

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