Month: November 2014

H.R. 1422: Keep Scientists Out of Science

The U.S. House of Representatives just voted for a bill called the “EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013”. The EPA is, of course, the Environmental Protection Agency, whose job it is to make sure we don’t completely poison ourselves by ruining our land, air, and water. They do so by making decisions on what should and shouldn’t be allowed based on what science tells us about what’s good and bad for the environment.

The bill, H.R. 1422, reforms the advisory committee that guides the decisions they make. This advisory board, who, until now, has operated without controversy, typically consists of experts on issues relating to environmental science – as you would reasonably expect. However, House Republicans would like a broader range of expertise on scientific issues than just scientists. And so the reformations proposed in this bill do two things:

  1. They make sure that advisors CANNOT be excluded “due to affiliation with or representation of entities that may have a potential interest in the Board’s advisory activities, so long as that interest is fully disclosed to the Administrator and the public”
  2. They disallow the participation of those whose own research may be at the core of potential decisions.

So, essentially, the actual experts on particular issues CANNOT ADVISE THE EPA on such issues, while those with monetary interests may do so, as long as they first tell everyone that they really should be the last possible person to be trusted with these issues.

Now, many scientists are outraged at this ruling. I, however, see the House’s point and think that yes, experts, such as scientists, may have a biased view on certain things, such as science. There should be diversity among those who offer expert opinions. I would actually like to extend their logic to several other professions:

  1. Keep surgeons out of surgery. Their surgeon minds may be just too excited to do surgery that they go ham on you and stitch your hand to your ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Have my old roommate do it. I know a few people who can operate on living brains, but I’ve only ever met on person who went an entire semester without doing laundry or telling us his name. Expertise granted.
  2. Keep astronauts out of space. Loading the Westboro Baptist Church into a cannon and firing them into deep space would surely confer a greater benefit on mankind. #godhatesfigs
  3. And lastly, keep Republicans out of the Republican party. They keep messing around and doing things like preventing scientists from advising the EPA. Have P Diddy, or whatever his name is, do it. He’s at least good with money.