Join
Search

Michael Halpern

Author image

About the author: Michael Halpern is an expert on political interference in science and solutions to reduce suppression, manipulation, and distortion of government science. See Michael's full bio.

Rep. Grijalva’s Requests and the Real Problem with Conflict of Interest Disclosure

On Tuesday, Arizona’s U.S. representative Raul Grijalva asked seven academics for their sources of funding and earlier drafts of testimony they have delivered before congressional committees. Since then, many have debated whether the requests cross the line into harassment or witch hunts or McCarthyism. Lost in the discussion around whether the requests are too broad is a bigger question to address: Why don’t we already know who funds the work of those who testify before Congress? Read More

Bookmark and Share

What Kinds of Scrutiny of Scientists are Legitimate?

This morning, Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to seven universities seeking documents related to academics who have testified before Congress on climate change. The requests come in the wake of revelations over the weekend that the Smithsonian Institution agreed not to disclose payments from the Southern Company, a major utility, to fund and review the work of Smithsonian aerospace engineer Willie Soon. As all of the researchers in question have been critical of mainstream climate science, some are wondering if Rep. Grijalva’s requests can be considered a witch hunt. So is it? Read More

Bookmark and Share

Twenty Years of Open Records Attacks

University of Minnesota environmental scientist Deborah Swackhamer studied toxaphene, a chemical once considered a promising replacement for DDT but eventually found to be quite toxic. But when Swackhamer joined a group of researchers exploring why there might be unusual concentrations of the chemical in the Great Lakes, the university received the largest open records request ever made in Minnesota. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Who Should Decide What Happens When Scientists Violate Conflict of Interest Rules?

Scientists and institutions are under increasing scrutiny to be more transparent, especially when they publish research that has bearing on major public policy debates, and with good reason: funding can influence how studies are conducted and results are presented. It’s not easy though; when it comes to disclosure of conflicts of interest, practices vary across scientific disciplines, journals and institutions, and the lines regarding what should be disclosed are sometimes blurry. Read More

Bookmark and Share

In “I’m Gonna Be an Engineer,” Peggy and Pete Seeger Talk Women in Science

Tuesday is the anniversary of the death of legendary folk singer and rabble-rouser Pete Seeger, and over the weekend I pulled out my banjo to go over some of the lesser-known songs he once sang. Pete Seeger’s half sister Peggy is a folk musician in her own right, and one of her gems looks at what discourages women from becoming scientists and engineers. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Interior Department Updates Scientific Integrity Policy and Creates Handbook

The Department of the Interior came out late yesterday with the 3.0 version of its scientific integrity policy, along with a new handbook that describes how the policy will be implemented. The new materials are simplified, streamlined, and more clear, bringing the department once again to the front of the pack in the Obama administration’s quest to create strong scientific integrity standards within federal agencies and departments. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is expected to speak about the new policy in a keynote address today before the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Read More

Bookmark and Share

Seeking Stories of Abuse of Open Records Laws

Have you or your university or government colleagues been targeted with intrusive federal or state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Canadian Unions to Bargain for Scientific Integrity Reform

As Canadian government scientists start bargaining for their next contract, they aren’t asking for more sick days or a sizable raise—they’re asking for scientific integrity protections, such as the ability to share their research regardless of the results. To put it simply, Canadian scientists are prioritizing the public interest over their own self-interest.  Read More

Bookmark and Share

EPA Relaxes the Leash on Independent Science Advisors

The EPA has taken steps to reaffirm the free speech rights of independent scientists who advise the agency, backing away from a memorandum that invited criticism from science and journalism groups late this summer. A clarification of EPA policy has been sent to scientists on the EPA Science Advisory Board and other agency committees that provide scientific analysis and advice and posted on the EPA website. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Have Two Minutes? Call Congress, as the House is Voting on Whether to Paralyze the EPA

UPDATE, November 18, 6:30 PM (see below)

Today and tomorrow, the lame duck House of Representatives will vote on two disingenuous bills that would prevent the EPA from using the best available science to protect human health and the environment.

Please call your member of Congress and ask for a NO vote on the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act and the Secret Science Reform Act. More information and talking points are here. Read More

Bookmark and Share