The Bush Administration stuck a political appointment inside NASA in the Public Affairs Office who consistently supressed the expression of scientific material that conflicted with the administrations position on the issue of global warming (I may be skeptical of dire anthropogenic climate change but I completely support research that paints a fuller picture of what is going on even if it shows that there is a genuine problem because we can be sure). A scientist has come out publicly and NASA has clarified it's position against this, stating that it is wrong for PR people to be supressing it.
It goes on however to deal with weaseling in
And in December 2004, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory complained to the agency that he had been pressured to say in a news release that his oceanic research would help advance the administration's goal of space exploration.
On Thursday night and Friday, The Times sent some of the documents to Dr. Griffin and senior public-affairs officials requesting a response.
While Dr. Griffin did not respond directly, he issued the "statement of scientific openness" to agency employees, saying, "NASA has always been, is and will continue to be committed to open scientific and technical inquiry and dialogue with the public."
Because NASA encompasses a nationwide network of research centers on everything from cosmology to climate, Dr. Griffin said, some central coordination was necessary. But he added that changes in the public-affairs office's procedures "can and will be made," and that a revised policy would "be disseminated throughout the agency."
Asked if the statement came in response to the new documents and the furor over Dr. Hansen's complaints, Dr. Griffin's press secretary, Dean Acosta, replied by e-mail:
"From time to time, the administrator communicates with NASA employees on policy and issues. Today was one of those days. I hope this helps. Have a good weekend."
Climate science has been a thorny issue for the administration since 2001, when Mr. Bush abandoned a campaign pledge to restrict power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, and said the United States would not join the Kyoto Protocol, the first climate treaty requiring reductions.
Thats bad enough, good science is all about investigating not what is politically acceptable but what is factually right. Political interference where the facts do not factor into it, not even from a cost-benefit analysis of global warming which could make a case to oppose restrictions.
In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.
Factually true, Big Bang Theory while widely accepted and fitted into the standard model has some genuine problems that were overcome with inventive solutions like the inflationary period, not all science obeys the stock "observation, hypothesis, testing, nullification or theory" system, Earth Science and Cosmology sit at places where there are chains of theories that are testable but if one link in the chain breaks then we have to look back and start over
The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.
In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.
The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."
I have said it before but fuck the creationists. There is no DEBATE about the existence of a designer, because it is not a part of science where we have any evidence to suggest that one exist. There is rigorous scientific debate on cosmology in the confines of finding the best model for the all the observation (and one can make a lot of jokes about how the model is revised each time that the data comes in), in biology mechanisms of evolution - population dynamics and computer models of this - they are debated a lot, the origin of life is a topic of naturalistic debate (RNA world for instance) but there is no theistic or designer based position that is widely debated, put forth or published in any peer reviewed journal because so far anything produced is rapidly falsified or it posits something that is not falsifiable.
Yeah were probably not talking about a real brain trust who is being pedantic about using the word theory here (for instance if we started to demand that "String Theory" is really "String Hypothesis" or "String Mathematical Model"). There is a pattern of this administration being duplicitous in it's support - it didn't gut NASA's funding but it does push an agenda - it is technically a form of political correctness in the same way as the USSR and internal history
On Friday evening, repeated queries were made to the White House about how a young presidential appointee with no science background came to be supervising Web presentations on cosmology and interview requests to senior NASA scientists.
The only response came from Donald Tighe of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Science is respected and protected and highly valued by the administration," he said.
NASA should be independent and not have to pimp the agenda of the administration at the urging of some flunkie.