Monday, April 03, 2006

She Blinded Me With Science

Some good news in the ongoing War on Science:

WHEN a young political appointee in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration allegedly attempted to muzzle agency climatologist James Hansen, NASA's commitment to science and learning was called into question. NASA Director Michael Griffin has issued a welcome clarification of the agency's public information policy that reaffirms the right of employees to freely discuss their work and personal opinions without screening by censors.

The new NASA guidelines prohibit the editing of reports to alter scientific data, as well as any public affairs management of NASA projects by non-agency institutions. In a key section, the document declares that NASA scientists may draw conclusions from their research and communicate them to the media, but "must make clear that they are presenting their individual views — not the views of the agency — and ask that they be sourced as such."

This comes after George Deutsch, press officer for Nasa and - surprise, surprise! - Bush appointee, had been making major headlines in his "alleged" efforts to censor Nasa scientists on topics ranging from global warming to the Big Bang.

From the pedia that is Wiki:

Deutsch gained notoriety in February 2006, when it was reported he ordered the adjustment of NASA websites mentioning Big Bang include the word "theory" afterwards. His comments in the internal NASA email quoted by the New York Times raised concerns because of its religious overtones. Deutsch wrote,

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... 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.

He also, well, never actually graduated from college- putting him in the unique position of being a high-school graduate assigned to tell this country's top scientists how to think.

My favorite part:

On February 6, 2006, Nick Anthis published on his weblog The Scientific Activist news that Deutsch had lied on his résumé about earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University in 2003. Deutsch did attend A&M, but left school in 2004 to work for George W. Bush's reelection campaign. Following this revelation, on February 7, 2006, Deutsch resigned from his post at NASA. [3]

On February 10th, 2006, the New York Times reported[4] that Deutsch denied he had lied about his college degree on his résumé. They wrote,

'When I left college,' he said, 'I did not properly update my résumé. As a result, it may appear misleading to some. However, I was up front with NASA about my undergraduate status when they hired me.'

I admit to some confusion on this one. How does neglecting to update your resume give the impression that you've graduated from college? Because, wouldn't you need to have written "graduated from college" in order for that correction - sorry, update - to be necessary?

The good news is that Nasa's no longer under this fellow's watchful eye. The bad news is that they hired him in the first place.

(original article courtesy of DKos)


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